US Open Daily Preview: Will Two Teenagers Advance to the Women’s Championship Match? - UBITENNIS
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US Open Daily Preview: Will Two Teenagers Advance to the Women’s Championship Match?

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Emma Raducanu on Wednesday afternoon in Flushing Meadows (twitter.com/usopen)

The biggest stories of this women’s tournament have been the shocking runs of 18-year-old Emma Raducanu and 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez.  Raducanu is the first qualifier to ever reach the semifinals of the US Open, and has not dropped a set through three matches in qualifying and five matches in the main draw.  Fernandez has won back-to-back-to-back three-setters against three of the sport’s top players: Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, and Elina Svitolina. 

 

On Thursday evening in New York, these new stars will face two recent Major semifinalists.  Aryna Sabalenka was two games from advancing to the final at Wimbledon, while Maria Sakkari was one point from advancing to the final of Roland Garros.  Are these more-established players ready to take that next step, or will they tighten up as others have against these phenomenal teenagers?

Aryna Sabalenka (2) vs. Leylah Fernandez – 7:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Since dropping a set in her opening round match, Sabalenka has simply cruised to this semifinal, averaging only five games lost per match in her last four wins.  Normally, drawing an inexperienced semifinal opponent who had never been beyond the third round of a Slam would feel like a blessing.  But Fernandez has become the giant killer in this event, defeating two former champions and the reigning Olympic bronze medalist.  How will her aggressive style, where she hugs the baseline and uses her lefty-ness to create dynamic angles, match up against the ferocious power of Sabalenka?  I’ve been doubting Leylah’s ability to maintain her incredible level for several rounds now, and she has continually proven me wrong.  The New York crowd has fallen in love with her, and their energy has inspired her play.  And Sabalenka will feel plenty of pressure as the favorite, and as a player who is yet to reach a Major final.  However, Aryna’s pace of shot won’t allow Leylah as much time to be aggressive while standing inside the baseline.  That should enable Sabalenka to dictate play, and to become a 2021 US Open finalist.

Maria Sakkari (17) vs. Emma Raducanu (Q) – Last on Arthur Ashe Stadium

If a teenager is going to become a finalist, Emma may be the more likely candidate.  Despite a few nervy starts this past week, she has quickly rebounded to scorch the competition.  And she has participated in significantly less-taxing matches than Fernandez, allowing her opponents less than five games per match, going all the way back to qualifying.  As Ben Rothenberg highlighted on Twitter, Raducanu and Sakkari hit exactly the same amount of winners (23) and unforced errors (12) in their quarterfinals on Wednesday.  However, Sakkari has been simply clobbering her groundstrokes, and serving excellently.  In her matches against big-serving Czechs Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova, she won a combined 49 of 54 first serve points (91%).  However, against a much better returner in Bianca Andreescu, that dramatically decreased to 52 of 81 first serve points (64%).  Sakkari’s serving prowess should be similarly challenged by Raducanu, who will get a lot more serves back than Kvitova or Pliskova.  And the biggest factor in this match will be who better handles the moment.  Like Aryna, Maria will know she’s expected to win, and she’ll also remember how she blinked at the finish line in Paris.  Away from all the scrutiny of the British press which she had to endure at Wimbledon, Emma has been thriving in New York, playing freely and with the composure of a player beyond her years.  If Raducanu can continue to do that on Thursday night, she could become the most improbable US Open finalist of all-time.

Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (4) vs. Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey – Ram and Salisbury saved four match points in the quarterfinals, eventually defeating Australia’s Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell 7-6(7), 6-7(6), 7-6(10).  Prior to this event, Johnson and Querrey hadn’t won a match as a team since the 2020 Australian Open.

Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares (7) vs. John Peers and Filip Polasek (8) – Murray and Soares took out Cincinnati champions Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos in the last round, while Peers and Polasek eliminated French Open champs Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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