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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Serena Williams Set For Raducanu Challenge In Cincinnati

Serena Williams will play US Open champion Emma Raducanu in one of her final tournaments before the end of her career.

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Serena Williams (@BleacherReport - Twitter)

In what could be the penultimate tournament of her career, 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams takes on US Open champion Emma Raducanu in Cincinnati.

 

Potentially two more tournaments to go before a legend of the sport retires in the form of Serena Williams.

Williams began her farewell tour in Toronto where she went out in the second round to Belinda Bencic and will look to make a bigger impression in Cincinnati.

However an intriguing task awaits in her opening match in Ohio as she will take on US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the opening round.

Raducanu enters the match in uninspiring form having reached the quarter-finals in Washington before an opening round exit against Camila Giorgi in Toronto.

It will be interesting how this match fairs as Williams gets a taste of facing the younger generation before she departs the sport.

That match is in a packed part of the draw where the winner of that match will play the winner of Kaia Kanepi and Victoria Azarenka.

There is also a huge match between Bianca Andreescu and Camila Giorgi with the winner taking on seventh seed Jessica Pegula in the second round.

As for Serena’s sister, Venus Williams, she hasn’t fared much better with her draw as she takes on 14th seed Karolina Pliskova in her opening round.

Also in this section of the draw is fourth seed Maria Sakkari who takes on either a qualifier or Alison Van Uytvanck.

Other highlights of the bottom half of the draw will see Sofia Kenin take on Shelby Rogers while Amanda Anisimova takes on Daria Kasatkina.

Naomi Osaka is also in the bottom half of the draw where she takes on Shuai Zhang.

Meanwhile in the top half of the draw Iga Swiatek will look to bounce back after an early exit in Toronto as she takes on Sloane Stephens or Alize Cornet in her opening round.

Other exciting matches in the top half of the draw sees Simona Halep take on Karolina Muchova while Beatriz Haddad Maia takes on Jelena Ostapenko.

Here is the full Women’s singles draw with Serena Williams expected to play on Monday night:

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ATP

ATP Montreal: Ruud Thrashes Auger-Aliassime To Reach Semis, Mixed Results For Brits

Casper Ruud eased past Felix Auger-Aliassime to set up a semi-final meeting with Hubert Hurkacz in Montreal.

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Casper Ruud (@OBNmontreal - Twitter)

Casper Ruud only dropped three games against Felix Auger-Aliassime to reach the semi-finals in Montreal.

 

The Norwegian is into the semi-finals in Canada after a dominant performance over home favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Ruud dominated from the start of the match as he produced a sublime performance only committing nine unforced errors throughout the match to reach the last four.

Ruud has had a good season on hard courts this season and is looking to make his second consecutive hard court Masters 1000 final after reaching the final in Miami.

Speaking after the match Ruud admitted he got a bit lucky but is happy to be in the last four in Canada, “It was one of those days where everything goes in one favour and luckily it was in my favour,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“With a player like Felix, you need to rely on some margins going your way. I didn’t expect them to all go on my side. It was a bit of a difficult start. I got broken but then was able to turn everything around. I hit my spots, made the shots I needed to and make him hit a lot of balls. That was the game plan and it worked well.

“The last hard-court tournament I played in was in Miami where I reached the final. I wanted to make a deep run here. I didn’t think it was too likely, being the first hard-court tournament back, but I have been playing great from the first point in the first match.”

Ruud will look to claim his first Masters 1000 title this week and rise to four in the world in the ATP rankings.

Next for Ruud is the only Masters 1000 champion left in the draw in the form of Hubert Hurkacz.

Hurkacz defeated the in-form Nick Kyrgios 7-6(4) 6-7(5) 6-1 to reach the semi-finals in Canada.

The eighth seed produced some big-serving and bold decision making as he reached his first semi-final since winning the Halle title.

Heading into their match, Ruud leads the head-to-head 1-0 where the Norwegian was victorious at Roland Garros this year.

Mixed results for British hopefuls

Meanwhile it was a mixed night for British players as Dan Evans reached his second career Masters 1000 semi-final while Jack Draper exited the tournament in the last eight.

Evans defeated Tommy Paul 1-6 6-3 6-4 to reach a landmark moment in his career in Montreal.

After his win Evans described the win as ‘extra special’ as he looks forward to a semi-final meeting with Pablo Carreno Busta, “The crowd, that’s what they buy their tickets for. That’s live sport,” Evans told the ATP website.

“You never know what’s going to happen. It was an amazing match, amazing atmosphere. I played on the court before. In the day it was amazing, but at night, there’s something about playing sport at night, it’s extra special.”

Evans will now play Carreno Busta in the last four after the Spaniard defeated British qualifier Jack Draper 7-6(4) 6-1.

Draper defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas earlier in the week but was no match for the resilient Spaniard.

Saturday’s semi-final will be the first meeting between Evans and Carreno Busta.

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Canada Daily Preview: Semifinal Saturday Features Ruud/Hurkacz and Pegula/Halep

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Simona Halep on Friday in Toronto (twitter.com/NBOtoronto)

The singles and doubles semifinals will be played on Saturday in Canada.  In Montreal, a new men’s singles champion will be crowned, and Hubi Hurkacz is the only semifinalist to have previously won a Masters 1000 event (Miami, 2021).  Hurkacz is also in the doubles semifinals, so it will be a busy day for Hubi.  In singles, he faces a finalist from this year in Miami, Casper Ruud.

 

In Toronto, Simona Halep is the only former champion remaining, and is two wins away from her third title at this event.  On Saturday, she plays Jessica Pegula, who is into the semifinals in Canada for the second straight year.  Like Hurkacz, Pegula is also in the doubles semifinals.  She’s teaming with Coco Gauff, who will become the new doubles No.1 if they win the title.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Saturday’s play gets underway at 12:00pm local time in Montreal and 1:00pm in Toronto.


Hubert Hurkacz (8) vs. Casper Ruud (4) – Not Before 3:00pm on Court Central in Montreal

Hurkacz ended the winning streak of Nick Kyrgios on Friday, taking him out in three sets for the second time this season.  But Ruud was even more impressive on Friday, bouncing back from a marathon victory on Thursday over Roberto Bautista Agut to overwhelm Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, dropping only three games.  Predominantly known as a clay court player, Casper is also establishing himself as a considerable threat on hard courts.  That’s especially true in North America, where Ruud has claimed 16 of his last 19 matches.  But Hubi’s success on this surface remains superior, as does his serving prowess.  While Ruud prevailed in their only previous encounter, just a few months ago at Roland Garros, Hurkacz is the favorite on a hard court.


Jessica Pegula (7) vs. Simona Halep (15) – 1:00pm on Centre Court in Toronto

Halep has been dominant through four rounds this week, advancing without the loss of a set.  Simona has quietly put together a strong record of 36-10 this season, though she’s yet to achieve a big result, with only one title at the 250 level at the start of the year.  Pegula only dropped one set this week, to defending champion Camila Giorgi.  And similar to Halep, she’s accumulated a solid record this year (29-14) without winning a title.  This will be the first career meeting between these two players.  Considering Halep is now 25-6 lifetime at this event, and the way in which she has easily prevailed all week, her superior movement and defense should be enough to reach her fourth final in Canada.


Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Dan Evans – Carreno Busta has played superbly this week, eliminating the likes of Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini without losing a set to this stage.  Dan Evans has survived two grueling three-setters in as many days.  This is their first career meeting.

Beatriz Haddad Maia vs. Karolina Pliskova (14) – Haddad Maia has earned three big wins across the last three days over Iga Swiatek, Belinda Bencic, and Leylah Fernandez.  Pliskova is looking to reach the Canada final for the second straight year.  They have split two previous encounters, both on hard courts.


Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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