US Open Daily Preview: Can Teenagers Leylah Fernandez and Carlos Alcaraz Extend Their Thrilling Runs? - UBITENNIS
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US Open Daily Preview: Can Teenagers Leylah Fernandez and Carlos Alcaraz Extend Their Thrilling Runs?

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Leylah Fernandez on Sunday after defeating Angelique Kerber (twitter.com/usopen)

Leylah Fernandez and Carlos Alcaraz are two of three teenagers to reach the US Open quarterfinals, along with Emma Raducanu, who will play on Wednesday.  It was only two years ago when a then-19-year-old Bianca Andreescu won this title.  Will another teenager become champion this week in New York?

Fernandez and Alcaraz have two well-established stars standing in their way: Elina Svitolina and Felix Auger-Aliassime.  They are joined on Tuesday’s schedule by another improbable quarterfinalist, qualifier Botic Van de Zandschulp, who will face 2019 runner-up Daniil Medvedev.  And the day’s most blockbuster matchup sees two top 10 seeds square off, in Aryna Sabalenka and Barbora Krejickova.

Daniil Medvedev (2) vs. Botic Van de Zandschulp (Q) – 12:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

What an effort by the 25-year-old Dutchman, ranked 117th in the world, to advance to the quarterfinals.  Botic dropped the first set in each of his three qualifying matches, as well as his first three matches in the main draw.  He’s taken out two top 15 players in Casper Ruud and Diego Schwartzman, the two best wins of his career.  But what could be possibly have left after 18 sets played across four main draw matches, and 27 sets played over the last 13 days?  Meanwhile, Daniil Medvedev has been purely dominant through four rounds, dropping only 32 games through 12 sets.  This should be a straightforward victory for the World No.2, who is looking to advance to the US Open semifinals for the third straight year.

Elina Svitolina (5) vs. Leylah Fernandez – Second on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Can Leylah Fernandez upset a third consecutive top player?  Her shocking wins over Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber, each after losing the first set, exhilarated the New York crowd.  The Canadian will be the underdog again on Tuesday, and will certainly have the audience behind her.  If she can maintain her level from the last two sets of her last two matches, while taking balls early and using her lefty-ness to create sharp angles, she has a legitimate shot of becoming a semifinalist.  However, Svitolina is yet to drop a set this fortnight, and is playing with supreme confidence coming off her Olympic bronze medal in Tokyo.  She’s also on a nine-match winning streak, dating back to her title run two weeks ago in Chicago.  Svitolina claimed their only previous meeting in straight sets, last year in Monterrey, which incidentally is the event where Fernandez won her first WTA title this year.  Elina’s speed around the court will counteract some of Leylah’s offense, and her experience should prove to be a crucial asset.  Svitolina was a semifinalist in her last appearance here two years ago, and I like her chances to repeat that feat.

Aryna Sabalenka (2) vs. Barbora Krejcikova (8) – 7:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

The biggest question in this match could be the condition of Krejcikova.  At 6-5 in the second set of the last round against Garbine Muguruza, Barbora took an extended medical timeout off court, later describing that she couldn’t breathe and felt dizzy.  Once returning to court, Krejcikova would close out the match in a second set tiebreak, much to the chagrin of Muguruza and her team, who were not happy about the long break, or the time Barbora was taking between points.  If the French Open singles and doubles champion is fully recovered, she’s the favorite on this day.  Krejcikova has now won 29 of her last 32 matches, and is another player who has not dropped a set thus far.  Notably, Sabalenka did take their only prior meeting in three sets, last fall in Linz.  But Barbora is a completely different player now, with few holes in her game, and more variety than Aryna. 

Felix Auger-Aliassime (12) vs. Carlos Alcaraz – Last on Arthur Ashe Stadium

This is the only singles quarterfinal of the day where neither player has previously reached a Major semifinal.  Auger-Aliassime was one match away from doing so at Wimbledon, but lost in four sets to eventual runner-up Matteo Berrettini.  Alcaraz only debuted at the Grand Slam level this year, and is now the youngest men’s singles quarterfinalist of the Open Era, and the youngest man into the quarters of any Major since Michael Chang at 1990’s French Open.  These two men both find inspiration in the Nadal family.  Carlos idolizes Rafa, while Felix is currently coached by Rafa’s uncle and longtime coach, Toni.  Felix’s considerable edge in experience, as well as his superior serve, should enable him to achieve his first Major semifinal.  However, this is another case where the crowd will be firmly cheering on the teenager, and Carlos has embraced that energy and used it to propel himself to victory.  Alcaraz plays with a level of belief rarely found in players his age, while Auger-Aliassime has been known to tighten up under pressure.  But the Canadian has displayed impressive composure in recent wins over Sascha Zverev and Frances Tiafoe, and I think he’s ready to take his career another step forward.

Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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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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Acapulco Faces Safety Issues Ahead Of ATP 500 Tournament

Acapulco faces safety and infrastructure issues before the ATP 500 tournament next week.

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Acapulco has faced safety concerns ahead of the tournament as players have been advised to stay in the tournament hotels or tennis venues.

As exclusively revealed by James Gray of the i newspaper, Acapulco is facing security and infrastructure concerns ahead of the tournament.

ATP players have reportedly been told in an email to stay confined to the tournament hotels and the tennis venue as crime rates have increased in the city.

Organisers in Mexico have reassured people that players will be able to train safely with the following statement, “The Arena GNP, venue for the Mexican Open of Tennis, and the host hotel are currently operational to carry out the tournament,” the tournament organisers told the i newspaper.

“Since Tuesday, we have been receiving players in Acapulco, and they have already had the opportunity to train at the venue.”

However there are still infrastructural problems including lack of flights to Acapulco as well as other safety concerns which have been affected by Hurricane Otis.

Despite the problems the ATP seem confident that the event will be safe and secure ahead of the ATP 500 event, “It is not uncommon for players to receive security advisories from ATP as a precautionary measure across more than 250 Tour and Challenger Tour events each season,” A spokesperson told the i newspaper.

“The advisory sent for Acapulco factors in the additional complexity of Hurricane Otis’ disruption. There have been major efforts and investment to restore the Acapulco venue in recent months.”

The ATP 500 event in Acapulco will take place next week with Alex De Minaur being the defending champion.

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