US Open Daily Preview: Djokovic, Andreescu Headline Monday Evening on Ashe - UBITENNIS
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US Open Daily Preview: Djokovic, Andreescu Headline Monday Evening on Ashe

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Novak Djokovic on Sunday in Flushing Meadows (twitter.com/usopen)

The fourth of seven hurdles on Novak Djokovic’s path to the Grand Slam is a relatively-unknown 20-year-old American.  But Jenson Brooksby has the ability to deeply frustrate opponents, and could do just that against the 20-time Major champion.

 

Bianca Andreescu is now 10-0 at this event, and seems to be rounding into form after a disappointing season.  But she faces Maria Sakkari, who is having a great season, and played an epic match against Bianca this past March in Miami, in a match decided by a third set tiebreak.

Also on Monday, Olympic gold medalists Sascha Zverev and Belinda Bencic take on two other dangerous, fast-rising 20-year-olds.  And two of the first week’s most exciting players, Shelby Rogers and Emma Raducanu, will play for a spot in the quarterfinals.

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

Iga Swiatek (7) vs. Belinda Bencic (11) – 11:00am on Louis Armstrong Stadium

Swiatek is the only WTA player to reach the second week at all four Majors this year.  However, she’s only gone beyond the fourth round once, back in June at the French Open.  These two players met seven months ago in Adelaide, with Iga comfortably prevailing 6-2, 6-2.  But Bencic is a much different player now, coming off her gold medal in singles and silver medal in doubles at the Olympics.  She’s won 12 of her last 13, and is yet to drop a set this fortnight.  Swiatek has gritted her way through back-to-back tough victories, but overcoming a red-hot, uber-confident Bencic may be too much to ask.

Sascha Zverev (4) vs. Jannik Sinner (13) – 12:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

They played twice last fall, and split the two meetings.  Sinner upset Zverev at Roland Garros, while the German avenged that loss a few weeks later in Cologne.  Sascha explained he was sick during their French Open encounter, which seemed an odd omission to make during a surging pandemic.  Jannik would later question that claim, telling Italian Newspaper Corriere he thought Zverev was just making excuses for his loss.  So there is definitely some bad blood between these two.  Considering the way Zverev has been easing his way through this draw, and his current 14-match win streak, the higher seed remains the favorite to advance.  Sinner’s results are continually improving, but he is coming off a tiring five-setter with Gael Monfils, which won’t help his chances on Monday.

Shelby Rogers vs. Emma Raducanu (Q) – Second on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Rogers’ comeback from 5-2 down in the third to upset World No.1 Ash Barty in a tiebreak was scintillating.  A year ago, she also pulled off some late night magic at this event, saving three match points in a third set tiebreak to take out Petra Kvitova.  Can she return to the quarterfinals for the second straight year?  Raducanu was impressive in a whole different way on Saturday, utterly dominating Sara Sorribes Tormo, one of this season’s toughest outs, by a score of 6-0, 6-1.  Through six matches these past two weeks, including qualifying, Emma has not dropped a set, or even been pushed to a tiebreak.  Returning to the round of 16 at the very next Major after she had to retire in this round of Wimbledon due to breathing issues is quite remarkable.  Based on current form, Emma is the favorite.  But as Shelby mentioned in her on-court interview after defeating Barty, the crowd has often been the entity deciding who wins this past week, and they will certainly be strongly behind the American.

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

This would seem like a generous fourth round draw for Djokovic, but Brooksby has quickly become a force.  He hits a heavy ball, and possesses a strong tennis IQ.  At tour level this summer, he’s 11-3, having reached the final of Newport, and the semifinals of Washington.  But I question how fresh he will be having already played 13 sets through three matches, especially for a player not accustomed to best-of-five tennis.  While the crowd will certainly boost his energy, Djokovic should be able to advance, though likely after the American causes him some frustration.

Bianca Andreescu (6) vs. Maria Sakkari (17) – Last on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Let’s hope this is at least half as good as their aforementioned classic earlier this year in Miami.  That was the last event Andreescu played at the level we have come to expect from the 2019 champion.  Since that tournament, she was only 4-6 before arriving in New York.  But after grinding her way through a tough opening round against Viktorija Golubic, she’s rediscovered her form on the same grounds where she won her Major title.  But Sakkari has played excellently throughout the year, and comfortably closed out all six sets she played last week, including a solid win over two-time Slam champ Petra Kvitova.  In that match, she won 89% of first serve points.  Andreescu’s returning was one of the keys to her triumph here two years ago, which will be crucial against a player protecting their serve so well.  But with Bianca getting her mojo back, I’m not betting against her.

Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Reilly Opelka (22) vs. Lloyd Harris – The 24-year-old “Servebot” is yet to drop a set, and has taken nine of his last 11 matches.  Harris upset Rafael Nadal last month in Washington, and Denis Shapovalov two days ago here.  When they played just a few weeks ago in Toronto, Opelka prevailed in a third set tiebreak.

Matteo Berrettini (6) vs. Oscar Otte (Q) – Otte is one of four qualifiers to make the fourth round in singles, and also came through qualifying at Wimbledon, eventually winning his main draw opening round 13-12 in the fifth.  Berrettini won in five on Saturday against Ilya Ivashka.  Three years ago at Roland Garros, Matteo defeated Oscar in four sets.

Karolina Pliskova (4) vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (13) – It’s the Wimbledon runner-up against the Roland Garros runner-up.  Pliskova claimed their first sets meetings, though Pavlyuchenkova has won the last two.

Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Emma Raducanu Draws Inspiration From Andy Murray Ahead Of 2023

Emma Raducanu spoke about Andy Murray’s influence on her career.

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(@HeartThamesNews - Twitter)

Emma Raducanu has spoke about Andy Murray’s influence on her career and is optimistic about turning her form in 2023.

 

The former US Open hasn’t had too bad of an off-season after receiving her MBE for her services to sport.

Raducanu made history in 2021 as she won the US Open as a qualifier at 18 years of age.

However the Brit has yet to back that up with Raducanu changing coach on a number of occasions as she looks for some stability in 2023.

Speaking in a recent interview with Grazia Raducanu said that she believes that momentum can change quickly in tennis and that confidence is the key to success, “[In tennis] it could look like it’s all going down, down, down and just not getting any better,” Raducanu was quoted by tennishead as saying.

“Just one match can have a big influence on your confidence and once you have confidence and the momentum comes, you feel like you can’t lose. It’s a very individual sport – people are friendly but it’s difficult to be really close with those you’re competing with.”

One player that can relate to what Raducanu is saying is Andy Murray with confidence being a key theme of the highs and lows of Murray’s career.

Raducanu said that she talks to Murray regularly about the highs and lows of tennis, “Andy Murray is so good to talk to because he’s been through pretty much what I’ve been going through,” Raducanu said.

“I have always looked up to him and watched him winning his first Wimbledon and the Olympics.”

Raducanu will hope that she can use Murray’s words as inspiration for next season as she currently sits at 75 in the world.

The Brit will start her season in 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand on the 2nd of January.

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Fernando Verdasco Given Two Month Doping Ban

Fernando Verdasco has been banned from tennis until the 8th of January.

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Fernando Verdasco (@UniversTennis - Twitter)

Fernando Verdasco will miss the first week of the 2023 season after being provisionally suspended for two months after testing positive for the drug methylphenidate.

 

The former world number seven tested positive for the drug at the Challenger event in Rio De Janeiro and has accepted a voluntary ban until the 8th of January.

As well as testing positive for the drug methylphenidate, Verdasco had also forgot to renew his Therapeutic Use Exemption despite the Spaniard admitting that he was diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

In a statement published today the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA), explained why his ban has been shortened from two years to two months, “The ITIA accepts that the player did not intend to cheat, that his violation was inadvertent and unintentional, and that he bears no significant fault or negligence for it,” they said in a statement on his website.

“In the specific circumstances of this case, based on the player’s degree of fault the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme allows for the applicable period of ineligibility to be reduced from two years to two months.”

The 39 year-old will as a result miss the first week of the new season with the Spaniard being currently ranked at world number 125.

In 2022, Verdasco’s best results on the ATP tour were quarter-final performances in Buenos Aires and Estoril while he also won a challenger title in Monterrey in March.

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Canada Thumps Australia To Win Historic Davis Cup Title 

The dream of the North American team has finally become a reality.

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MALAGA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 27: Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2022 at Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena on November 27, 2022 in Malaga, Spain. (Photo by Silvestre Szpylma / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

109 years after making their Davis Cup debut, Canada has finally claimed the trophy after producing two clinical wins over Australia in the final on Sunday. 

 

The duo of Denis Shapovalov and Felix-Auger Aliassime both shined in their matches to give the North American nation an unassible 2-0 lead in the three-match tie. It is the first time Canada has won the title with 2022 being only the second time they have reached the final. Three years ago they missed out on the title to Spain. 

“The emotions are tough to describe,” said Auger-Aliassime. “All of us here, we’ve dreamt of this. All of these guys grew up together dreaming of this moment, dreaming of winning the Davis Cup. It’s a great moment for me and my country…. I am happy we were able to get our first Davis Cup with this group.”

Shapovalov kicked-off the final with a 90-minute 6-2, 6-4, win over Thanasi Kokkinakis who also lost his semi-final match against Borna Coric. The world No.18 blasted 28 winners past his opponent and broke him four times in the match. Besides handing Canada the crucial lead, it was a much-needed confidence boost for Shapovalov who earlier in the week lost to Lorenzo Sonego and Jan-Lennard Struff. 

“I’m very happy with my performance today,” said Shapovalov. “I had a long one against Sonego yesterday and was struggling with my back a little bit. So huge credit to the medical staff for putting me back in shape. There were a lot of doubts if I’d be ready to play today. It was amazing to play pain-free today.”

Closing in on the title, Felix Auger-Aliassime secured victory for his country with a 6-3, 6-4, triumph over world No.24 Alex de Minaur. Producing a total of six aces and saving all eight break points he faced. 

https://twitter.com/DavisCup/status/1596895388077674497

Canada’s run to their first title occurred with a bit of luck on their side. Originally they were eliminated from the finals after losing to the Netherlands at the start of this year. However, they received a wildcard to play in the group stages following the removal of Russia from the competition. Russia and Belarus are currently suspended from team events due to the war in Ukraine. 

In Group B they scored wins over South Korea and Spain to secure a place in the finale this week. Before dismissing Australia, they beat Italy 2-1 in the semi-finals and Germany 2-1 in the quarter-finals. 

“From juniors it was our dream, growing up watching Vasek (Pospisil), Milos (Raonic), and [Daniel Nestor] taking Canada to new [heights],” Shapovalov said. “We wanted to grow up and help the country win the first title. It’s so surreal right now. After we lost in the final in 2019, we really wanted this bad. It’s such a team effort; everyone was putting in 120 percent every day.”

Canada’s team captain is former player Frank Dancevic who has held the role since 2017. 

 “This is a historic moment,” Dancevic commented on the achievement. “We’ve never won this title in the past. It’s the first time for us. It’s an incredible feeling.”

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