US Open Daily Preview: The Most Improbable Major Final of All-Time - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Focus

US Open Daily Preview: The Most Improbable Major Final of All-Time

Avatar

Published

on

Leylah Fernandez after winning her semifinal on Thursday evening (twitter.com/usopen)

Two months ago, Leylah Annie Fernandez lost in the first round of Wimbledon 6-1, 6-2.  Following that one-sided loss, Fernandez described she felt “embarrassed” by that effort, and vowed to improve.  Well just one Major later, she has made gigantic strides forward.  Leylah has won four consecutive three-setters over top players, including three top five upsets (Osaka, Svitolina, Sabalenla).  She turned 19-years-old during this event, yet has demonstrated more composure than her superiors in crucial moments.  Leylah is the daughter of an Ecuadorian father and a Filipino Canadian mother, an immigrant family who have become emotional when speaking of how Canada opened its doors and helped their dreams come true. 

 

Two months ago, Emma Raducanu was ranked 338th in the world.  She was offered a wild card into Wimbledon qualifying, which she declined, and her coach successfully fought for a wild card into the main draw.  The 18-year-old thrilled British audiences, reaching the fourth round without dropping a set.  Emma would have to retire from her fourth round match due to breathing issues, as it seemed the pressure and scrutiny that came with her overnight success was a bit too much.  But the way she has rebounded so quickly, becoming the first qualifier to ever reach a Major singles final, and winning nine consecutive straight-set matches, is an extraordinary accomplishment.  Emma is the daughter of a Romanian father and a Chinese mother, and shares a Canadian connection with Leylah, as she was born in Toronto.

Both Leylah and Emma have taken full advantage of their older, more-experienced opponents tightening up under the pressure of facing a teenager, exposing the fragility of their superiors.  They will compete in the first unseeded final in Grand Slam history, and it will be fascinating to watch.

Leylah Fernandez vs. Emma Raducanu (Q) – 4:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Three years ago, these two players met in the second round of the junior event at Wimbledon, with Raducanu prevailing 6-2, 6-4.  This will be the first of what the tennis world hopes will be many matches at tour level.  Their roads to this championship match have been strikingly different.  Fernandez has endured six extremely tight matches, going 5-0 in tiebreaks this fortnight.  Raducanu has claimed all 18 sets contested since qualifying, and done so without even playing a tiebreak.  Emma’s best chance of winning may be to avoid tiebreaks and keep the sets straightforward, as unlike Leylah, her poise is yet to be tested in a tiebreak.

Both players have been hugging the baseline, taking shots early and taking time away from their opponents.  Raducanu’s serve and groundstrokes provide her with a stronger opportunity to dictate play, and she’s kept her stats extremely clean.  Through six rounds, she has struck 132 winners, and only 88 unforced errors, and she’s only been broken five times.  But how will her game hold up against the lefty-craftiness of Fernandez, which has frustrated so many right-handed opponents? 

The biggest factors today will go beyond tactics.  Leylah has spent over five hours longer on court across their six main draw matches, which must have taken a toll.  And we’ve seen many times before how the player who upsets many top seeds on the way to the final often loses that final.  However, the most important factor will be which teenager better handles this incredible moment.  Fernandez has thrived as the underdog throughout this event, but how will she perform as the higher-ranked player?  Raducanu has looked nothing like the player who could not complete her fourth round match at Wimbledon, showing a remarkable amount of growth in such a short time.  Considering she will be the fresher player, and should feel less pressure as the lower-ranked competitor, I like Emma’s chances of becoming the 2021 US Open women’s singles champion.

Also on Saturday, the mixed doubles championship will be decided, as the No.2 seeds Desirae Krawczyk and Joe Salisbury play Giuliana Olmos and Marcelo Arevalo at 1:00pm local time on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

Focus

Home hope Ash Barty stays on course to win the Australian Open

Ash Barty has cruised into the second week at the Australian Open without dropping a set.

Avatar

Published

on

Ash Barty (@TennisAustralia - Twitter)

World number one Ash Barty comfortably confirmed her place in week two of the Australian Open beating Camila Giorgi 6-2, 6-3.

 

In recent seasons, Barty had been weighted down by expectations on her home territory.

This was far from the case against Giorgi as Barty snuffed out any chance of an upset with a near fault-less performance.

Both players came out striking the ball well, but it was the top seed that broke first racing into a 2-0 lead.

Giorgi was landing some stunning groundstrokes, but this was not enough to stop Barty, who broke again at the end of the first set to clinch it 6-2.

The Australian held to love at the beginning of the second set as the Italian looked to find a way back into the match.

Barty began to find her groove and moved her opponent around the court with some sublime shot making.

The Italian kept things interesting but was eventually broken as the top seed took a 4-2 lead.

With the crowd behind her, Barty continued to hold serve, engineering three match points, but she only needed one.

After the match, Barty chatted to former champion Jim Courier and had this to say.

“Yeah, I thought tonight was really clean. I thought I looked after my service games really well. I did well to come out of a really tricky one at love-40 down. Overall, a pretty good performance I think,” she said.

The home favourite also praised Giorgi’s performance.

“Yeah, I thought I was out of my weight class, that’s for sure. The way she hits the ball and can control the centre of the court is incredible.

“It was my job to get her off that baseline, whether it was short, or it was deep, or it was out of her strike zone.

“It’s tough when you’re up against the wind but I think I was able to use my slice effectively,” she said.

A much tougher test awaits the Aussie in American star Amanda Anisimova, as the 20-year-old stunned four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka in three sets.

Continue Reading

Focus

Amanda Anisimova Knocks Out Naomi Osaka In Australian Open Thriller To Reach Last 16

Amanda Anisimova is into the last 16 of the Australian Open with a thrilling win over defending champion Naomi Osaka.

Avatar

Published

on

Amanda Anisimova (@Tennis - Twitter)

Amanda Anisimova continues her unbeaten start to the season by knocking out defending champion Naomi Osaka 4-6 6-3 7-6(10-5) in a classic match at the Australian Open.

 

The American hit brutal shots and powered past the Osaka defence to knock out the defending champion in a classic match.

Osaka had two match points but ultimately couldn’t be aggressive enough in the big points to outmanoeuvre Anisimova.

Next for Anisimova is world number one Ash Barty in the fourth round on Sunday.

It was a tentative start from Anisimova as the American hit a couple of double faults and failed to establish early control.

The defending champion took advantage to break in the opening game and her defensive game was causing trouble to Anisimova’s power game.

Osaka threatened with the double break but Anisimova found her stride in the crucial moments to fend off break points.

In the middle of the opening set, Anisimova started to anticipate Osaka’s serve better and created her first break point of the match.

However Osaka remained firm and with good angles and devastating power managed to hold serve to take the opening set 6-4.

In the second set both players had to produce their bold patterns of play on big points to resist opposition pressure.

Despite Osaka’s great returning ability, Anisimova managed to fend off the Osaka power and turn defence into attack.

For all of the American’s attack it was her variety that earned her the break as a drop shot slice sealed the break for 3-1.

From then on Anisimova controlled the tempo of the second set and produced big serving as the American took the second set 6-3 to level the match at one set all.

The final set saw both players bring their best tennis at the same time as both players had early opportunities to break.

Neither converted although it was Osaka who always looked the more dangerous with her angles and different heights causing Anisimova problems.

Towards the tail end of the set, Osaka had two match points to seal the victory but Anisimova’s brutal power saw her hold for 5-5.

In the end a tiebreak would settle this thrilling contest and it was Anisimova who raced to an early lead and never looked back as she clinched one of the best wins of her career.

After the match Anisimova admitted she was speechless, “I’m speechless. I can’t stop smiling. I’m just laughing. I absolutely love this,” the American said in her on-court interview.

“Going into this match I knew I had to be playing sharp if I wanted to give myself a chance. She is an absolute champion so I knew I would have to step up my game and be aggressive.

“I’m honestly so grateful that I was able to play so well today and get this win. It means a lot. Every single day here is an amazing opportunity. I’m just thinking about having fun and I’m looking forward to my next round.”

A history-making win for Anisimova who will play world number one Ash Barty for a spot in the quarter-finals.

As for Naomi Osaka she will look to recover in time for March when she plays Indian Wells and Miami.

Continue Reading

Focus

Italian Journalist rates Camila Giorgi, Matteo Berrettini, Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Sonego’s Australian Open hopes

The Italians are making big strides in Melbourne as they search for a place in the second week.

Avatar

Published

on

Matteo Berrettini (@Tennis - Twitter)

The Australian Open continues on Friday with day five of the action.

 

In the women’s draw, world number one and home favourite Ash Barty takes on Italy’s Camila Giorgi on Rod Laver Arena.

But before that, top ranked Italian and last year’s Wimbledon finalist, Matteo Berrettini, continues his campaign against rising star Carlos Alcaraz of Spain.

https://twitter.com/SK__Tennis/status/1483716802408431620

On 1573 Arena, 25th seed Lorenzo Sonego goes in search of his first fourth-round appearance in Australia, as he entertains Miomir Kecmanovic.

Saturday will see 2019 Next Gen Finals winner, Jannik Sinner, play Andy Murray’s conqueror, Taro Daniel, for a place in round four.

I managed to catch up with our very own Vanni Gibertini, and ask for his thoughts on Italian tennis’ hopes for this tournament.

Question 1: On Friday, can Camilla Giorgi cause Ash Barty any problems, if any? What is the strongest part of the Italian’s game?

Answer: Camila has only one way to try to win this match; just prevent Barty from playing tennis, going all-out on any chance she gets.

Barty has too much tennis for her. Actually, Barty has too much tennis for just about anyone on the WTA Tour, so she could be overpowered.

Luckily for Camila, that’s the game she’s been playing all her life, but she will need to be at the top of her game, and her serve needs to help her in a big way.

Question 2: Is this the Slam that we will see Jannik Sinner make a real statement of intent, in your opinion?

Answer: Sinner has not been very lucky with draws at Slams, except for Roland Garros 2020 when he faced a very subdued David Goffin in the first round (the Belgian had just had his wedding postponed by the pandemic).

He then went on to reach the quarter-finals where he lost to Rafa Nadal.

In this tournament, he finds himself with a viable path to the quarter-finals, and needs to prove to the world, and, himself, he belongs in the top 10 club he entered in, at the end of 2021.

I see him getting to the quarters where he will face Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the semis.

Question 3: Is the draw opening up for Lorenzo Sonego to get past Miomir Kecmanovic and go further on in this tournament?

Answer: This is a chance of a lifetime for Sonego.

Kecmanovic in the 3rd round of a Major, with the prospect of Gaël Monfils or Cristian Garin to reach the quarter finals, is a draw that would raise a lot of money, if it was auctioned off.

But the same goes for Kecmanovic, so it will be a fight.

Sonego worked on his shots during the off-season: the motion of his serve has been tweaked, as well as his backhand grip.

That may take time to digest, so it’s a question mark whether this Sonego 1.2 will pass the stress test.

But he’s in good shape, eager to play and has a great heart, and he won’t give up until he hasn’t a drop of energy left in his body.

Question 4: With Novak Djokovic‘s absence, could Matteo Berrettini win the Australian Open, or will the powerhouse of Carlos Alcaraz provide a potential stumbling block to his tournament hopes?

Answer: Matteo is an example of self-belief, so he definitely believes he’s in the mix to raise the trophy a week on Sunday.

Physically he’s probably still around 60%, and he’s going into a match with Alcaraz where he has everything to lose.

Bookmakers have him as the underdog, but he has the weapons to make his own fortune.

If he can get past the young Spaniard, it could be the win he needs to go very deep into this tournament.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending