Cincinnati Daily Preview: Championship Sunday - UBITENNIS
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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Championship Sunday

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Ash Barty has definitely been the WTA’s best player this year (twitter.com/CincyTennis)

Six months ago, many were questioning whether Ash Barty was a legitimate world No.1.  Due to the pandemic, she hadn’t played a match in nearly a year, with the frozen ranking system maintaining her top spot.  But Ash has silenced all those critics with a stellar season.  She is 39-7 with four titles, including her second Major singles title at Wimbledon.  On Sunday, she faces a stunning story from this week: wild card Jil Teichmann, who had lost nine of her last 12 matches coming into this event.

Speaking of stunning stories, Sascha Zverev was 0-6 lifetime at this tournament prior to this year.  But the Olympic gold medalist is 4-0 this year, and currently on a 10-match win streak.  He plays for his fifth Masters 1000 title against Andrey Rublev, who earned his first victory over fellow Russian Daniil Medvedev on Saturday.

Each day, this preview will analyze the most intriguing men’s and women’s matchup, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Sunday’s play gets underway at 12:00pm local time with the men’s doubles championship match, featuring Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos vs. Steve Johnson and Austin Krajicek.  Granollers and Zeballos are four-time Masters champs, while this is the first time the Americans have teamed up since last year’s event, when they reached the semifinals.

Ash Barty (1) vs. Jil Teichmann (WC) – 2:00pm on Center Court

Since losing the first set on Thursday night to Naomi Osaka, Jil Teichmann has been on fire.  The 24-year-old Swiss has claimed six straight sets over top 10 seeds: Osaka, Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic, and Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova.  In her last two matches alone, the lefty has struck 50 winners and only 19 unforced errors, dictating play against some of the sport’s best.  But no one has been better this year than Barty, who is 2,000 points ahead of the entire field in the WTA Race.  Even if Teichmann takes a set, she’s facing a player who is 14-2 this season in deciding sets.  Also, Ash has taken nine of her last 11 finals.  And while Jil is yet to show any signs of nerves this week, she’ll surely feel some in the biggest match of her career against the world No.1.  Barty is a significant favorite to win her third WTA 1000 title, all of which have come on American hard courts.

Sascha Zverev (3) vs. Andrey Rublev (4) – Not Before 4:30pm on Center Court

Both men survived grueling, dramatic three-setters on Saturday against the top two seeds.  However, Zverev’s battle with Stefanos Tsitsipas was a bit longer, ending in a third-set tiebreak, and concluding about five hours later than Rublev’s.  Sascha was also fighting illness during that match, getting sick on the side of the court before mounting a surprising comeback in the third set.  The head-to-head between these two friends has not been close.  Zverev leads 4-0, and has won all nine sets they’ve contested.  Rublev will have to overcome an entirely lopsided rivalry for the second consecutive day in order to win his first Masters title.  He’s certainly been enjoying the extremely quick conditions in Cincinnati, but Sascha is currently playing some of the best tennis of his career.  His first serve remains a consistent weapon, while his second serve issues of the recent past have faded away.  And as Mark Petchey outlined on Tennis Channel, Zverev has been hitting more forehand winners than backhand ones, which is a new improvement in Sascha’s game.  While the German has lost four of his last five Masters finals, he still possesses a vast experience edge at this level, as this is just Rublev’s second career 1000-level final.  After losing his first six matches at this tournament, Zverev should win his fifth straight match to take the title.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Jack Draper Points To Mental Fatigue As Reason For Queen’s Club Exit

Jack Draper is aiming for a big Wimbledon result despite recent mental fatigue.

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Jack Draper has revealed mental fatigue has caught up to him after his Queen’s Club exit against Tommy Paul.

The Brit was a bit flat-footed as he lost 6-3 5-7 6-4 to the American in his quarter-final match.

It was a tiring performance in what has been an action-packed last week for Draper having won his first ATP title in Stuttgart which was followed by a career-best win against Carlos Alcaraz at Queen’s Club.

However, Draper revealed after the match that the recent success has had a price in the form of mental fatigue, “It was tough to play the tennis I wanted to play, but we have to deal with that. It’s part of the game. I felt like I was having to really get myself going. Maybe because the last couple of weeks are catching up with me a little bit,” Draper was quoted by The Independent as saying.

“Physically, I felt good, my body has been great. It just becomes mentally quite taxing having to go day after day. I finished Stuttgart on Sunday, I got here very, very late on Sunday. I was training and then went in again on Tuesday. Then the match yesterday, it felt like there was quite a lot of emotional energy invested in that.

“I’m definitely having to pick myself up, I felt quite flat at times, and I think that showed in my decision-making at times in the match. I played a few more sloppy shots than I wanted to. But if I want to be one of the best players in the world, then I have to keep backing up my performances and get used to going deep every week. That’s what I want to do and what was disappointing about this one.”

It was still a positive tournament for Draper who will now enter the world’s top 30 in the rankings next week.

Now Draper will head into Wimbledon as a seeded player and the last few weeks have been a stern reminder as to the work it takes to succeed at the highest level, “If you want to be a top, top player in the world, you have to back up results week by week, day by day. You know you are in a great place and are one of the best in the world when you are able to do that,” Draper explained.

“Every day we are facing amazing tennis players who can beat you. If you are not quite on your game, for instance today, you lose the match. That is the next stage for me now. I want to try to go deep in tournaments and back it up every week.

“My body is in a good place, these are just things I have to get used to at the highest level and learn. I’m still young so I’m trying to piece a lot of things together. It was my first title last week, I’ve done it at Challengers and Futures, but it’s very different on the main tour so I probably need a bit more time.”

Draper will look for his best ever Wimbledon result when he competes in the third Grand Slam of the season, which starts on the 1st of July.

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Karolina Muchova Ready For Tennis Return, Aiming For Olympic Debut

Karolina Muchova is looking forward to the Olympics as she prepares to make her return to tennis in Eastbourne.

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Karolina Muchova is ready for her long awaited return to tennis with Wimbledon and the Olympics being her main goals.

The Czech Republican has not played since reaching the semi-finals at the US Open last year with the result in New York capping off a brilliant 2023 for Muchova.

Before that run at the US Open, Muchova also reached the final at Roland Garros and Cincinnati.

However, since then Muchova has struggled with a wrist injury as she detailed in a recent interview with Czech Republican TV, “The operation fixed a loose tendon in the right wrist,” Muchova was quoted by the WTA website as saying.

“After the operation, I had my arm in a solid splint for six weeks, then two or three weeks in a wrist brace, and then I slowly started with rehabilitation and training. My wrist was very stiff. At the start, I wasn’t even able to hold a fork, so I was asking myself how it would be possible to play a forehand or hold a racquet.

“I didn’t have that much free time because the rehabilitation process takes up much more time than you think, compared to when I train and travel to tournaments.

“Apart from the first few weeks when my arm was in a splint, I didn’t have much spare time. I went abroad from the Czech Republic one weekend, and to my family in Moravia, but otherwise it was work, morning to evening.”

A long process for Muchova to overcome as she will hope the injuries behind her and she can focus on being a threat at the top of the women’s game again.

Next up for the Czech Republican is Eastbourne in her comeback tournament as she will face a qualifier in round one.

That will be followed by playing Wimbledon as well as her first Olympic games at Roland Garros.

In particular, the Olympics is something that excites her as she has always wanted to play on the biggest stage, “At the end of this week, I’ll fly to Eastbourne with the team, where we’ll finally try to play some matches in preparation ahead of Wimbledon,” Muchova explained.

“After Wimbledon I’ll return back to the clay, maybe play a tournament, or straight to the Olympics. I’m really excited for the Olympics. I’ve never been to one, and it’s around the corner in Paris, so I can’t be more excited.

“Representing my country is definitely a huge honor. I’ve signed up to play doubles with Maky [Voundrousova], and I hope it goes well for us.”

Wimbledon starts on the first of July while the Olympics will take place on the 27th of July.

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Andy Murray Faces Race Against Time For Wimbledon After Back Procedure

Andy Murray faces a race against time to be fit for Wimbledon.

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Andy Murray faces a race against time to be fit for Wimbledon as he undergoes a back procedure on Saturday.

The procedure comes after seeing a specialist on Thursday after suffering an injury against Jordan Thompson at Queen’s Club.

It was in the warm-up, Murray suffered the injury before the five-time champion eventually retired after five games.

A bitter blow for Murray, who has given strong hints that this may be his last Wimbledon and may also retire after the summer.

There is also the Olympics for Murray as it would be a fitting end to his career given he has won two gold medals in his career.

However, this year’s Olympics is at Roland Garros and that may mean that Murray would be less eager to play in Paris.

As for Wimbledon, Murray has won the event on two different occasions and his potential appearance at SW19 will be the 16th time he takes to court at Wimbledon.

The third Grand Slam of the season takes place on the 1st of July.

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