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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Felix Auger Aliassime Wins First Ever Roland Garros Match In Five Sets

Felix Auger-Aliassime earned his first ever victory at Roland Garros.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime (@MatchPointCAN - Twitter)

The Canadian found himself down two sets to none but fought back to pull off the comeback in a thrilling five set victory.

 

Felix Auger Aliassime is into the second round of the French Open for the first time in his career after battling back to beat the Peruvian qualifier Juan Pablo Varillas in five sets 2-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 in three hours and 14 minutes.

The Montreal native finished the match serving 14 aces and hitting 52 winners in a match that featured a lot of long rallies from behind the baseline.

“It was a dream for me to play here, it was an honor and my first time on Phillipe Chatrier and my first win at Roland Garros and I had to work hard to get it and credit my opponent he played very well today.”

The Peruvian started the match by breaking the number nine seed right out of the gate and at 3-1 managed to turn that break into a double break as he served out the first set with ease.

The first two games of the second went on serve but again the world number 122 seemed to play better as the Canadian looked stunned, searching for answers.

The Lima native once again took an early lead to take a 3-1 lead and again that seemed like enough for the Peruvian as he served out the second set and was one set away from an improbable upset.

The third set is where the Canadian started to turn things around and his groundstrokes seemed to have more precision. At 2-1 it was the Montreal native who got the first break of serve.

After consolidating the break the world number nine was hungry for more and turned that break into a double break and it looked like the match was turning in his favour.

The Canadian served out the third set to send it to a fourth looking to send it to a decider.

The Montreal native rode the momentum from winning the third into the fourth set where after holding the opening service game got the early break once again taking a 2-0 lead.

At 5-3 with the Peruvian looking to stay in the set, Auger Aliassime managed to get another break to win the set and send the match to a fifth set.

The fifth set stayed on serve until 4-3 when the Canadian had four chances to break and at the fourth time of asking he was able to break and serve out the match to complete the comeback.

After the match in his on court interview he was asked about the adjustments he made in the third set to turn the match around and pull off the win.

“I tried to give myself some more space and a little more time, my opponent at the beginning was playing very quick, aggressive, and flat so I tried a couple things and I also served better and after that it was easier.”

The Canadian will next face either Aslan Karatsev or Camilo Ugo Carabelli in the next round.

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Ons Jabeur Suffers Shock Exit At Roland Garros To Magda Linette

Magda Linette handed out the first upset of Roland Garros by defeating Ons Jabeur.

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Magda Linette (@RolandGarros - Twitter)

Ons Jabeur has become the first major casualty of this year’s Roland Garros after a 3-6 7-6(4) 7-5 defeat to Magda Linette in the opening round.

 

The Tunisian was one of the most in-form players of the clay court swing having won Madrid and made the final of Rome.

However Linette took the match to Jabeur and played some of the best tennis of her career to stun the sixth seed.

Linette will play Martina Trevisan or Harriet Dart in the second round.

Jabeur made a great start to the match as she broke the Pole early for a 2-1 lead with a good mix of power and variety.

However Linette seemed confident in her tactics and shot-making as she broke straight back, seemingly deflecting everything the Tunisian had to offer.

Jabeur used her experience and great angles though as she improved her level as the set went on, breaking in the fifth and ninth games to claim the opening set.

The Pole went off court to have a medical time-out after the opening set after finding some pain in the upper leg.

Despite the break Jabeur continued to cause Linette troubles with the Pole having to dig deep and save a couple of break points with bold patterns of play.

In the eighth game Linette turned up the aggression and made Jabeur cover a lot of ground as the Tunisian was forced to save three break points in the eighth game.

Jabeur was becoming frustrated and a comfortable straight sets victory turned into a second set tiebreak with the Tunisian looking tighter than usual.

Linette capitalised on this and continued her confident ball-striking and decision making to take the tiebreak 7-4 and force a deciding set.

The Madrid champion lacked a clinical edge and with the rain falling in Paris, Jabeur couldn’t find a consistent answer to Linette’s power.

A break to the Pole saw the Tunisian contingent in Philippe-Chatrier stunned but like the champion she is Jabeur fought back with an immediate break back.

Some big serving in the eighth game fended off another wave of Linette aggression as Jabeur created a half-chance in the tenth game to seal a break to claim victory.

However Linette continued to be bold and was met with the ultimate reward as from 40-15 up, Jabeur missed a smash to give the Pole hope.

That was all the world number 56 needed as Linette converted her only match point with a forehand unforced error from Jabeur as the first shock of this year’s Roland Garros occurred.

A disappointing result for Jabeur given her clay court form and she would have felt she was the best placed to challenge Iga Swiatek for the title.

However Swiatek’s compatriot Linette played the match of her life to seal a place in the second round at Roland Garros where she will play Martina Trevisan or Harriet Dart.

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Naomi Osaka Speaks About Mental Health And Lack Of Preparation Ahead Of Roland Garros

Naomi Osaka has a blockbuster opening round against Amanda Anisimova at Roland Garros.

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Naomi Osaka (@RolandGarros - Twitter)

Naomi Osaka has spoken about mental health and lack of preparation ahead of this year’s Roland Garros.

 

It was this time last year that Osaka decided to withdraw from Roland Garros and Wimbledon due to her mental health after her announcement about not participating in press conferences.

Fast forward 12 months and the three-time grand slam champion is in a good shape mentally as she aims to be back at the top of the sport.

Speaking in her pre-tournament press conference, Osaka spoke about mental health and reflected on her experiences from last year, “I know like after last year’s French Open that the next slam I played was the US Open and they have like these little like retreats or things like that in the players lounge,” the Japanese star said.

“I found it to be a very interesting experience to go to the Olympics and to like walk through the Village and people were thanking me and stuff. So I think athletes kind of all go through the same thing. It’s just like people don’t really talk about it.

“Like when I first came here, I was very worried. I was just kind of worried if there would be people that like — of course I also didn’t like how I handled the situation, but I was worried that there were people that I offended some way and I would just kind of bump into them.

“But I think like everyone has been really positive, for the most part. Of course I’m still thinking about it, and I’m like kind of also prepping just in case like I go on the court and a fan says something like in Indian Wells. Yeah, for the most part I think I’m okay.”

It’s good to see Osaka in a good mental state as she looks to face her demons and continue to make progress up the rankings.

On the court, it’s been a frustrating clay-court swing for Osaka who faced an early exit in Madrid before withdrawing from Rome.

Speaking in her press conference Osaka said there was no way she was going to miss the event in Paris, “There is no way I’m not going to play this tournament, so like of course you kind of have to manage things, but at the same time, like, I’m going to pop a few painkillers, like it is what it is,” Osaka admitted.

“I have actually played a lot of Grand Slams with something. I actually, Australia, when I played Kvitova, like for five matches I had this really bad back thing. So I think maybe there is a possibility I could play really good when I have an injury, because I feel like I don’t have anything to lose.

“I don’t know, for me I find it a bit ironic, like this clay court season is the one that I spent the most like preparation on, and it was really unfortunate that I had to pull out from Rome and I couldn’t do that well in Madrid.”

Osaka will begin her Roland Garros campaign against the in-form Amanda Anisimova.

The duo met at the first grand slam of the season in Melbourne where Anisimova edged out the match in a last set tiebreak.

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