US Open Daily Preview: How Will Friday’s Breakout Stars Perform on Sunday? - UBITENNIS
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US Open Daily Preview: How Will Friday’s Breakout Stars Perform on Sunday?

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Carlos Alcaraz after his thrilling upset over Stefanos Tsitsipas (twitter.com/usopen)

In back-to-back-to-back matches Friday on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Carlos Alcaraz, Leylah Fernandez, and Frances Tiafoe upset top five seeds in deciding sets.  However, backing up the biggest win of your young career is one of tennis’ biggest challenges.  How will these burgeoning stars fare in the round of 16?

 

We are indeed down to 16 men and women in the singles draws, with all players only four matches from the title.  That includes Novak Djokovic, who is just 12 sets away from an historic calendar-year Grand Slam.  Day 7’s play is highlighted by four fascinating women’s matchups, as well as Friday’s late night delight, Frances Tiafoe, facing Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, who also prevailed that evening in five sets.

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

Elina Svitolina (5) vs. Simona Halep (12) – 12:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

This has been a dynamic rivalry over the last several years, and it’s tied at 5-5.  Halep famously made a huge comeback against Svitolina at the 2017 French Open, saving a match point going down 5-1 in the second set, and taking the third set 6-0.  Their only other match at a Slam occurred in the 2019 Wimbledon semifinals, where Simona dominated 6-1, 6-3.  After suffering a serious calf injury in May, Halep had only played two matches leading into this event.  Her leg may still be taped up, but she’s performed excellently through three rounds, especially in a three-set win over Elena Rybakina on Friday.  Svitolina is having a good summer, winning the bronze medal in Tokyo, and capturing a title just last week in Chicago.  And Elina is yet to drop a set this fortnight.  It seems she could be poised to earn her first win over Halep at a Major, and return to the US Open quarterfinals for her second straight appearance.

Angelique Kerber (16) vs. Leylah Fernandez – Not Before 1:00pm on Louis Armstrong Stadium

Fernandez took full advantage of Naomi Osaka’s inability to close out their third round match, thrilling Arthur Ashe Stadium with her energetic game.  However, Angelique Kerber is back in a big way.  There was talk she was thinking of retiring from the game just a few months ago, but the German is now on a 17-2 run, with those two losses against World No.1 Ash Barty.  Angie reversed what had been a one-sided rivalry with a red-hot Sloane Stephens in the last round, and should be brimming with confidence.  In their first career meeting, the 2016 champion should be able to advance beyond the promising 18-year-old Canadian.

Aryna Sabalenka (2) vs. Elise Mertens (15) – Third on Louis Armstrong Stadium

These two are good friends, and up until recently, frequent doubles partners.  Mertens is currently the No.1 doubles player in the world, and now teams with Su-Wei Hsieh.  Together, they won the women’s double championship at Wimbledon.  Sabalenka decided to take a break from playing doubles to focus solely on singles, which perhaps was a factor in reaching her first Major semifinal in singles at The Championships.  And she leads Mertens 5-2, claiming their last four matches.  The last three have all been straight-setters.  Elise’s singles results have stagnated over the last few months, with an 8-7 record since the grass court season began.  On these fast courts, the power game of Sabalenka should be able to hit through her close friend.

Felix Auger-Aliassime (12) vs. Frances Tiafoe – 7:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Tiafoe’s five-set win over Andrey Rublev was simply electrifying.  But at nearly four hours long, and ending at 2:14am, it is not conducive to allowing the American to further capitalize on his momentum.  And Frances has failed to win four straight matches at tour level since his run to the 2019 Australian Open quarterfinals.  If he was able to play at the same level he attained on Friday, he could easily win this contest.  But maintaining that level from match-to-match has proven to be difficult for Tiafoe.  And it won’t help that Auger-Aliassime has elevated his game this year, as was fully evident in his own impressive victory on Friday evening over the perpetually-tough Roberto Bautista Agut.  In their first-ever encounter, I like Felix to advance to the quarterfinals at his second consecutive Major.

Barbora Krejickova (8) vs. Garbine Muguruza (9) – Last on Arthur Ashe Stadium

As Ben Rothenberg highlighted, this is the first Slam match between two WTA top 10 players in nearly two years, since Ash Barty played Petra Kvitova at the 2020 Australian Open.  And this is a rematch from just a few weeks ago in Cincinnati, which Krejickova won 6-2 in the third.  In that final set, Barbora served excellently, getting in a high percentage of first serves, and winning almost all of her first serve points.  They also met earlier this year in the final of Dubai, with Muguruza prevailing in straight sets.  But six months later, Krejicikova is the much hotter player.  She is 28-3 since mid-May, with her only three losses coming to women who went on to win those events (Barty at Wimbledon and Cincinnati, Bencic in Tokyo).  Krejcikova has won all six sets she’s played this week, and she should be favored to keep on winning come Sunday.

Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Diego Schwartzman (11) vs. Botic Van De Zandschulp (Q) – Schwartzman is yet to drop a set, and will be a considerable favorite against the 25-year-old qualifier, who played 14 sets in his last three matches. 

Daniil Medvedev (2) vs. Dan Evans (24) – The 31-year-old Brit survived a fifth set tiebreak on Friday against Alexei Popyrin.  But he’ll be hard-pressed to contend with Medvedev, as he’s been dismantling the competition through three rounds.

Carlos Alcaraz vs. Peter Gojowczyk (Q) – What will Alcaraz have left physically and emotionally after his dramatic, epic victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas?  This is an excellent fourth round draw for the 18-year-old, as Gojowczyk is ranked 141st in the world, and like Van De Zandschulp, already played 14 sets this week.

Sunday’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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