US Open Daily Preview: 83 Matches on Thursday’s Jam-Packed Schedule - UBITENNIS
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US Open Daily Preview: 83 Matches on Thursday’s Jam-Packed Schedule

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Ash Barty on media day at the US Open (twitter.com/usopen)

The tournament was lucky to complete all singles matches scheduled for Wednesday’s day session despite the rain, but they have loaded up Thursday’s Order of Play with 33 matches in singles and 50 in doubles. 

The singles World No.1’s, who are also the reigning Wimbledon champions, headline play on Arthur Ashe Stadium.  Novak Djokovic is just six matches away from completing the Grand Slam, and will surely be looking for a bit crowd support than he received on Tuesday against an 18-year-old from Denmark.  By coincidence, Ash Barty will face an 18-year-old from Denmark on Thursday, and one who won a Challenger event just two weeks ago in Chicago.

Each day, this preview will analyze the five most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Thursday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.

Anett Kontaveit (28) vs. Jil Teichmann – 11:00am on Court 11

These are two of the most in-form players on tour.  Teichmann shockingly reached the final of Cincinnati last month, after arriving at that tournament on a six-match losing streak.  And just last week, Kontaveit was the champion of a new event in Cleveland.  Anett recently started working with Dmitry Tursunov, a former top 20 player who coached Aryna Sabalenka during some of her formative years.  That new coaching arrangement has paid immediate dividends for the Estonian, who dominated 2011 champion Sam Stosur on Tuesday 6-3, 6-0.  Kontaveit was ranked as high as No.14 in the world two years ago, though was just 18-13 on the year prior to last week.  But her run in Cleveland paled in comparison to Teichmann’s in Cincy, as Jil defeated two top 4 players: Naomi Osaka and Karolina Pliskova.  However, following up on such a huge career breakthrough so soon after is challenging.  And with the expertise of Tursunov on her side, I like Kontaveit to advance.

Ash Barty (1) vs. Clara Tauson – 12:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

These are two more of the WTA’s hottest players, both of whom won titles in August.  Tauson also won a WTA-level title this past March in Lyon, so the aggressive teenager has the ability to test the two-time Major singles champion.  But Barty has propelled herself into elite status in the sport.  Since the start of 2019, she is 109-23, with 10 titles.  And Ash is 22-1 this year against players ranked outside the top 50, with her only loss coming against Paula Badosa, who is now ranked inside the top 30.  While this is a matchup we may enjoy for years to come, Barty remains a strong favorite against the 78th-ranked player in the world.

Kei Nishikori vs. Mackie McDonald – Not Before 3:00pm on Court 17

This is a rematch from the semifinals of Washington, where McDonald upset Nishikori in a thrilling three-set, nearly-three-hour affair to reach his first tour final.  Both men’s careers were sidelined by serious injuries in 2019, and it has been an arduous road back for both.  McDonald started the year ranked No.194, but has risen quickly with a run to the second week of the Australian Open, some strong Challenger results, and the aforementioned Washington final.  Nishikori has struggled to regain his form of years prior, and was forced to withdraw a few weeks ago in Toronto due to a shoulder injury.  These players have extremely similar styles, which resulted in compelling yet exhausting rallies last month.  This could easily become another extended encounter, and that should favor Nishikori if he’s healthy.  McDonald is 1-7 lifetime in five-setters, and had lost his previous three main draw appearances at the US Open in five.  By contrast, no one is more clutch in fifth sets than Kei, who is 26-7 in five-setters.  The reward for the winner?  A likely appointment with Novak Djokovic on Saturday.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Tallon Griekspoor – 7:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Griekspoor is a 25-year-old from The Netherlands who won his first-ever match at a Major on Tuesday, taking out Jan-Lennard Struff 7-5 in the fifth.  He’s claimed three Challenger titles this season, but all on clay.  So this does not have the makings of a legitimate challenge to Novak’s Grand Slam quest.  But it will be extremely interesting to see when Djokovic begins revealing some nerves during this fortnight, which feels inevitable.  Much was made of the New York crowd favoring a young unknown on Tuesday evening, and Novak believed they were saying “boo” and not “Rune,” his opponent’s last name.  They were clearly saying “Rune,” but I do not foresee this audience fully embracing Djokovic despite the history he is creating.  Novak will never be as well-liked as Federer or Nadal, and has done himself no favors with some of his recent actions and comments, such as hosting a super-spreading COVID event, or carelessly striking a lines judge with a ball to get defaulted from last year’s US Open.  The lack of cheers clearly bothers him, but will he turn that into fuel, or will it rattle him during this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?

Karolina Pliskova (4) vs. Amanda Anisimova – Last on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Three weeks ago in Montreal, Pliskova overcame the Anisimova in straight sets, marking her third straight-set victory over the 20-year-old American out of three hard court encounters.  Karolina is having a great summer, with a 16-4 record since Wimbledon.  Amanda’s season has never rebounded after testing positive for COVID in January and missing the events in Melbourne.  She’s only 12-12 in 2021, and her ranking has dipped to 75th in the world.  Considering their current form, as well as their entirely lopsided history, Pliskova should be able to make it four in a row over Anisimova.

Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Iga Swiatek (7) vs. Fiona Ferro – The 2020 Roland Garros champion is just 2-2 this summer on hard courts.  Ferro won a clay court title in Palermo last August.  Iga defeated Fiona at this year’s Australian Open 6-4, 6-3.

Shuai Zhang vs. Emma Raducanu (Q) – The 18-year-old Brit was a sensation at this year’s Wimbledon, and has won 17 matches at all levels since June (including qualifying).  Shuai won a doubles title two weeks ago in Cincinnati alongside Sam Stosur.

Sara Sorribes Tormo vs. Su-Wei Hsieh – If you’re a fan of long, grueling rallies and groundstrokes without a lot of pace, this is the match for you.  This should be quite compelling.  Su-Wei is 2-0 against Sorribes Tormo at tour level on hard courts.

Matteo Berrettini (6) vs. Corentin Moutet – Berrettini took out another Frenchman, Jeremy Chardy, in the opening round.  Prior to Tuesday, Moutet had lost his last five main draw matches, dating back to June.

Sascha Zverev (4) vs. Albert Ramos-Vinolas – Zverev comfortably dismissed Sam Querrey on Tuesday.  When these players met at a Challenger event on clay in 2014, the Spaniard defeated the then-16-year-old German 6-1, 6-0.

Jannik Sinner (13) vs. Zachary Svajda (WC) – Sinner was the champion in Washington just last month, his third title since November.  Svajda is an 18-year-old American ranked 716th in the world, who earned a wild card into this event by winning the USTA Boys’ National Championship for the second time in three years.

Bianca Andreescu (6) vs. Lauren Davis – Andreescu gritted her way through an in-form Viktorija Golubic on Tuesday night.  Davis famously pushed Simona Halep to 15-13 in the third set at 2018’s Australian Open.

Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Andy Murray Makes Retirement Hint After 500th Hard Court Win In Dubai

Andy Murray won his 500th hard court match in Dubai, placing him fifth on the all-time list.

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Andy Murray further hinted at retirement after securing a 500th hard court win of his career in Dubai.

The former world number one picked up his second win of the year with a 4-6 7-6(5) 6-3 victory over Denis Shapovalov.

In typical Andy Murray fashion, the Brit came back from a set down to defeat the out-of-sorts Canadian as he progressed to the second round.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUVj537F-wQ

The win means Murray now has 500 career wins on a hard court and that is an achievement the world number 67 is proud of, “It’s not bad,” Murray told the ATP website as he sits fifth on the all-time list of hard court wins.

“Obviously hard court has been a great surface for me over the years and 500 is a lot of matches so I’m very proud of that. There are not many players that have done that, so great to get to 500 before I’m done.”

However those post-match comments weren’t the most shocking ones as Murray once again hinted at retirement this season.

The Brit has made subtle remarks that this year may be his last one but Murray’s comments today suggests that he may have already made his decision, “I probably don’t have too long left but I’ll do as best as I can these last few months,” Murray was quoted by ESPN as saying.

“I still love competing and still love the game but it gets harder and harder to compete the older you get, to keep your body fit and fresh.”

If the end is near for Murray than the Brit will look to end his career on a high for the next few months.

Before thinking about retirement Murray will look to go further in Dubai when he takes on either Ugo Humbert or Gael Monfils in the second round.

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Perspective And Fatigue: The Two Sides Of Iga Swiatek’s Dubai Defeat

Iga Swiatek spoke about perspective and fatigue after her semi-final exit in Dubai.

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Iga Swiatek showed two sides to her defeat in Dubai as the world number one surprisingly failed to win the title despite being the favourite in the semi-finals.

Heading into her semi-final in Dubai, Swiatek was heavy favourite to win her second consecutive WTA title after claiming the title in Doha the week before.

However Swiatek was unsuccessful in her bid to reach the final as she lost to Anna Kalinskaya 6-4 6-4.

It was a bitterly disappointing defeat for Swiatek who missed a golden opportunity to establish even more dominance ahead of Indian Wells.

As all champions do Swiatek offered perspective to her defeat as she looks ahead to the rest of the season, “I mean, I’m angry but on the other hand, there aren’t many players that actually survive these kinds of tournaments so I just kind of have to let it go and accept it,” Swiatek was quoted by Tennis Majors.

There was not only perspective offered but also fatigue as expectations and pressure can force simple mistakes from the best players in the world.

The world number one acknowledged Kalinskaya’s performance but did admit her own performance contributed to the defeat, “Today I would say, I mean she [Kalinskaya] played well and for sure she deserves to be in the final, but I feel like it was more about me and my level,” Swiatek told Tennis Majors.

“I wanted to be focused on myself and I wasn’t really able to implement any tactics that I had. Usually, when I tell myself what to do, I can improve my game but today I was so out of power and tired that I just couldn’t. Day by day, it was a little bit worse.”

Swiatek will hope to re-energize herself ahead of the sunshine double in America.

Last year Swiatek lost to eventual champion Elena Rybakina in the semi-finals at Indian Wells before withdrawing from Miami.

The Pole will look to improve last year’s performance when she plays Indian Wells, which starts on the 6th of March.

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‘Speechless’ Mensik Reaches Maiden ATP Final In Doha

Jakub Mensik is into his first ATP final in Doha.

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Jakub Mensik admitted he was left speechless after reaching his first ATP final in Doha.

The 18 year-old continued his remarkable week with a 6-4 1-6 6-3 semi-final victory over Gael Monfils.

The Czech Republican produced clinical tennis as he beat the 2018 champion to reach his maiden ATP final.

After the match Mensik admitted he was left ‘speechless’ and spoke about the influence Monfils had on his career, “It is amazing. Hopefully not the last one [final]. Incredible week so far,” Mensik told the ATP website.

“Today again with Gael, he played unbelievable. I know it is tough to play against him, especially with his good movement. For me every point I have to play my best game.

“I have to say this performance was one of the best in my entire life. I am so glad I reached this level in the semis, so hopefully tomorrow I play like this. An amazing feeling with my first ATP final. I am speechless.

“I told him when I was young I watched him a lot on the TV. One of the biggest showman on court. He is a great guy, so hopefully in the future we will meet once again. The rallies were so fun with him.”

Mensik has so far beaten three former champions this week as he also defeated Andy Murray and Andrey Rublev this week.

Now Mensik will aim to win his first ATP title as he takes on Karen Khachanov in Saturday’s final.

Should Mensik win the title he could climb to 75 in the world as he started the week at 116 in the world.

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