US Open Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Faces Matteo Berrettini in a Rematch of the Wimbledon Final - UBITENNIS
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US Open Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Faces Matteo Berrettini in a Rematch of the Wimbledon Final

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Matteo Berrettini walking onto Louis Armstrong Stadium on Monday (Andrew Ong/USTA/usopen.org)

This will actually be the third straight Major where Novak Djokovic and Matteo Berrettini collide.  In the Roland Garros quarterfinals, as well as the Wimbledon men’s singles championship match, Djokovic prevailed in four sets.  This is the round where Novak’s path to the Grand Slam becomes more complicated, with a likely semifinal against Sascha Zverev, and a potential final against Daniil Medvedev, awaiting him.  Can Matteo’s blistering serve-and-forehand combination derail Novak’s quest on these fast courts?

Also on Wednesday, Olympic gold medalists Sascha Zverev and Belinda Beneic will take on a pair of first-time Slam quarterfinalists: South Africa’s Lloyd Harris and 18-year-old British sensation Emma Raducanu.  And Wimbledon runner-up Karolina Pliskova will do battle with Greece’s Maria Sakkari, who took out 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu in an epic three-and-a-half-hour affair.

Belinda Bencic (11) vs. Emma Raducanu (Q) – 12:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

These are two of the sport’s most in-form players, and that could make for a stellar quarterfinal.  Neither player has dropped a set during this event, and in Emma’s case, that includes three qualifying matches.  Since Wimbledon, the teenager is now 18-4 at all levels (including qualifying), and has completely dominated her last two opponents by scores of 6-0, 6-1, 6-2, 6-1.  Since the Olympics, Bencic is now 13-1, and impressively outlasted Iga Swiatek two days ago in a first set tiebreak by the score of 14-12.  And comparing Bencic to Raducanu’s last two opponents, Belinda has a lot more offensive weapons than Sara Sorribes Tormo, and is unlikely to make as many errors as Shelby Rogers did on Monday.  Bencic would seem to be the favorite to reach the semifinals in her second consecutive appearance in New York.  However, Emma will certainly feel inspired by seeing fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez upset Elina Svitolina in Tuesday’s quarterfinals, and the crowd will likely get behind the young underdog.

Sascha Zverev (4) vs. Lloyd Harris – Second on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Zverev is two wins away from returning to the final of this tournament, where he was two points from winning a year ago.  He’s won 15 consecutive matches, and only lost three of 36 completed sets during this streak.  And he’ll be a considerable favorite against Harris, who had only once advanced to the third round of a Slam prior to this event.  But the 24-year-old South African is in the midst of a career-changing season.  He was a finalist in Dubai, upset Rafael Nadal in Washington, and took out three significant seeds this fortnight (Khachanov, Shapovalov, Opelka).  They’ve played twice on hard courts within the past year, with both matches going to Sascha.  The German won a deciding set 6-0 last fall in Cologne, and defeated Lloyd in straight sets just a few weeks ago in Cincinnati.  With the way Zverev has been serving and striking his groundstrokes, it’s hard to imagine him not returning to the semifinals.

Karolina Pliskova (4) vs. Maria Sakkari (17) – 7:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Sakkari’s arduous victory over Bianca Andreescu ended at 2:13am Tuesday morning.  She is one of the fittest athletes in the sport, but that had to take a lot out of her both physically and emotionally.  This is easily the Greek’s best result since the heartbreak she suffered at Roland Garros, losing 9-7 in the third of her semifinal against Barbora Krejcikova after holding a match point.  Between the French Open and this event, she was only 5-4.  Pliskova was having a subpar year until Wimbledon, where she reached her second Major final, nearly five years after her first.  Later in the summer, she was a finalist in Montreal and a semifinalist in Cincinnati.  Their two previous encounters occurred in Rome in consecutive years.  In 2018, Sakkari won 7-5 in the third.  In 2019, Pliskova prevailed in straight sets.  In the rubber match, the fresher player will be Pliskova, whose power game on these fast courts should enable her to achieve her first US Open semifinal since 2016.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Matteo Berrettini (6) – Last on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Overall Djokovic leads their head-to-head 3-0.  In addition to their two recent four-setters at Majors, Novak beat Matteo soundly at the ATP Finals by a score of 6-2, 6-1.  So could Wednesday be any different than their three past matchups?  Well, Berrettini’s serve and forehand always provide him with a puncher’s chance, especially on courts as fast as these.  Notably, with a chance of rain on Wednesday evening, this could become an indoor match.  That would seem to favor Djokovic, who has a much better indoor record than Berrettini, and cooler and slower conditions would help smother the Italian’s power.  But the X factor in this match may be the same as many other matches this fortnight: the crowd.  Matteo is an extremely likeable player, and a big underdog in this matchup, so I expect the New York audience to strongly support him against Novak, who has never been a crowd favorite in Flushing Meadows.  Berrettini’s best chance to overcome Djokovic is to use the crowd to energize himself, and to distract Novak from the task at hand.  However, Djokovic is no stranger to people cheering his opponent, and often uses that as fuel.  And let’s be clear: Djokovic remains the favorite to reach his 12th US Open semifinal, as he has never lost in this round of the tournament.

Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Daria Kasatkina And Alejandro Davidovich Fokina Lead Calls For VAR In Tennis

There have been calls for VAR to be introduced into the sport.

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Daria Kasatkina and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina have called for VAR to be implemented in tennis.

The calls have came after Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final with Alexander Bublik in Dubai.

As Bublik lead 6-5 in the final set, Rublev shouted in the face of an umpire allegedly swearing in Russian which was picked up by one of the officials.

This saw Rublev be disqualified from the event with Bublik reaching the final in Dubai.

However as a result of the incident players have called for a VAR review system with the video showing inconclusive proof of whether Rublev did swear in Russian.

Leading the calls for such innovation are Daria Kasatkina and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina as the duo called for VAR to be introduced on twitter, “So you can just disqualify a player, take away all his points and money, without even checking the video? What a joke, yet another confirmation that we need VAR in tennis and an electronic appeal system in all tournaments,” Kasatkina said on social media.

VAR has been implemented in football and also a similar system in rugby with mixed results.

It’s clear though that more technology would help umpires identify whether a grounds for disqualification would be necessary.

So far VAR has been trialled at the Next Gen Finals and the Nitto ATP Finals.

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Casper Ruud Overcomes ‘Tough Start’ To Set De Minaur Final In Acapulco

Casper Ruud is into his first ATP 500 final after defeating Holger Rune in three sets.

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Casper Ruud is into his second consecutive final in Mexico after defeating Holger Rune 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Acapulco.

The Norwegian had to overcome an electric start from Rune to prevail in 2 hours and 24 minutes.

It was a clinical performance from Ruud who is now into his second consecutive final in Mexico after reaching the final in Los Cabos last week.

Speaking after the match Ruud admitted it was a tough start but he’s pleased to be in another final, “It was a tough start,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“Holger just came out firing bullets from the forehand, from the backhand and I had not too much time to play my game. I was frustrated at times, especially at the end of the first set, beginning of the second.

“I didn’t really feel like I got to play any points how I wanted to, so there was some frustration towards myself, towards my box, because I didn’t feel like we were doing the right thing.

“But luckily with one break in the second, it turned around a bit and in the third set it got a little physical. I think maybe Holger seemed like he was struggling a little bit and started firing even more and a couple of games it went in and he broke me, which is frustrating.

“Some unforced errors crept up on him and I served really well in the last game to close it out.”

Ruud is now into his first ATP 500 final in Acapulco where he will face defending champion Alex De Minaur.

De Minaur overcame Jack Draper after the Brit retired at 4-0 down in the deciding set.

Heading into Saturday’s final, De Minaur leads the head-to-head 1-0 although that was in a completely different scoring format in the Next Gen Finals.

Whatever happens on Saturday, Ruud will return to the world’s top ten.

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Andrey Rublev Disqualified In Dramatic Dubai Semi-Final

Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final in Dubai.

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Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final with Alexander Bublik after being accused of swearing in Russian.

The event took place in Dubai where Rublev had more than enough opportunities to win the match having been 4-2 40-0 up in the deciding set.

However Bublik came back into the match as he caught up with Rublev in what was turning into a fascinating contest.

The score was at 6-5 Bublik when Rublev’s frustrations boiled over when he allegedly told the official at the side of the court that he was a ‘f****** moron’ in Russian.

One of the officials on the sidelines at the side of the court reported the incident and the supervisor ruled that Rublev should be defaulted.

The incident below means that Rublev will now lose all his ranking points and prize money, resulting in Rublev exiting the world’s top five.

An ending that didn’t warrant the dramatic contest and after the match Bublik agreed that the consequences, “I highly doubt Andrey said something crazy,” Bublik was quoted by Sports Illustrated.

“He’s not this kind of guy. But I guess that’s the rules. That’s what they did, they just follow the procedure.”

Bublik will hope for a smoother finish to the final when he takes on Ugo Humbert for the title.

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