Indian Wells Daily Preview: Can Andy Murray and Leylah Fernandez Continue Their Thrilling Runs? - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells Daily Preview: Can Andy Murray and Leylah Fernandez Continue Their Thrilling Runs?

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Andy Murray on Sunday in Indian Wells (twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN)

On Sunday, Andy Murray and Leylah Fernandez energized the crowds with enthralling three-set victories.  Murray overcame Carlos Alcaraz in the afternoon, and Fernandez outlasted Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the evening.  On Tuesday, Andy faces Olympic gold medalist Sascha Zverev, while Leylah takes on American Shelby Rogers, who has dropped only eight games across her last five sets.

 

Tuesday will be a busy day in tennis paradise.  It will see the bottom half of the men’s singles draw complete third round action, while the entire women’s draw will contest their fourth round matches.  And thankfully, the rainy and windy conditions of Monday evening will not continue, as the forecast calls for clear skies and cool temperatures.

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

Leylah Fernandez (23) vs. Shelby Rogers – Second on Stadium 1

Fernandez has continued to create magic just as she did in New York.  After a straight-forward victory over Alize Cornet, she came back from a set down against tenth-seeded Pavlyuchenkova to prevail 6-4 in the third.  But as aforementioned, Shelby Rogers has been dominating the competition this fortnight.  She also had a great run at the US Open, upsetting World No.1 Ash Barty in a third set tiebreak.  However, she was derailed in the next round by the event’s other breakout teenager, Emma Raducanu.  The eventual champion thumped Rogers 6-2, 6-1.  These two played last summer in Lexington as the tour restarted, when both were ranked outside the top 100.  On that day, Shelby won in straight sets.  The American crowds have fallen in love with Leylah’s infectious energy and competitive spirit, though they’ll be less likely to cheer for her so ferociously against an American.  And based on Shelby’s current form, I like her chances of advancing to the quarterfinals.

Sascha Zverev (3) vs. Andy Murray (WC) – Third on Stadium 1

Murray has oddly been the player asked more than anyone about the domestic abuse allegations against Zverev, and has been outspoken in recommending the sport be more proactive in addressing them.  Last year at the Western & Southern Open, Murray claimed what was likely his biggest win since 2017, when he took out Zverev 7-5 in the third.  Andy also won their other previous matchup, at the 2016 Australian Open, when Zverev was ranked only 83rd in the world.  Murray has looked more like his old self at this event than he has in some time, but he must be physically drained coming off an over three-hour encounter in the heat of the afternoon against Carlos Alcaraz.  Zverev also played a three-setter on Sunday, though he needed less than two hours to dispatch Jenson Brooksby.  Andy would love to defeat a top name and reestablish himself as a true title contender, especially after coming so close to upsetting Stefanos Tsitsipas at the US Open.  But having won 18 of his last 19 hard court matches, Zverev is a significant favorite to reach the round of 16 at Indian Wells for only the second time in his career.

Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Elina Svitolina (4) vs. Jessica Pegula (19) – Svitolina narrowly escaped the last round, defeating Sorana Cirstea in a third set tiebreak.  Pegula is yet to drop a set.  These players split two meetings early this year.

Matteo Berrettini (5) vs. Taylor Fritz (31) – Their only prior meeting was two years ago in the revamped Davis Cup, when Fritz won in three sets.

Iga Swiatek (2) vs. Jelena Ostapenko (24) – This match features two recent and surprising French Open champions.  Swiatek has only allowed opponents five games through two matches thus far.

Pablo Carreno Busta (12) vs. Karen Khachanov (24) – It’s a battle between the Olympic silver and bronze medalists.  In that event’s semifinals, Khachanov won in straight sets, though they are 3-3 lifetime, with their other five matchups all coming at Masters 1000 tournaments.

Barbora Krejcikova (3) vs. Paula Badosa (21) – Krejcokova’s incredible run continues, as she’s 31-3 since late-May.  Badosa eliminated Coco Gauff on Monday evening, and defeated Krejcikova back in April in Madrid.

Su-Wei Hsieh and Elise Mertens (2) vs. Leylah Fernandez and Coco Gauff – On Monday, Hsieh and Mertens avenged a painful Roland Garros loss to Mattek-Sands and Swiatek.  Gauff and Fernandez have not lost a set through two matches in their first event as a team.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (2) vs. Fabio Fognini (25) – Tsitsipas is 2-0 against Fognini, and neither match has been close.

Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Anett Kontaveit Set To Battle For WTA Finals Spot After Lifting Moscow Crown

It is the third time Kontaveit has won a tournament within the past six months but will she be able to qualify for the season-ending championships?

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Anett Kontaveit (image via https://twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN)

Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit has continued her recent surge in form on the Tour by fighting back from a set down to win her fourth career title at the Kremlin Cup on Sunday.

 

The world No.20 was on the verge of losing to home favourite Ekaterina Alexandrova before battling to a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, victory. At one stage in the match Kontaveit was trailing by a set and 0-4. Then in the decider she was broken at 4-4 before going on to win three games in a row to clinch the title. Overall, she won 69% of her first service points and broke her opponent five times.

“Of course, I am very happy, the match was extremely difficult, I feel relief and joy,” she said afterwards. “I got lucky at match-point, but during the match there were moments when she (Alexandrova) got lucky too. It always takes a little luck to win. She took the lead, controlled the match, it was very difficult for me, I tried to fight for all the points and this helped me to win.”

Kontaveit, who defeated former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza and Markéta Vondroušová earlier in the tournament, has now won 14 out of the last 15 matches she has played on the Tour. Her only loss was to Ons Jabeur in the quarter-finals at Indian Wells. She has played in five finals this year which is the second-highest on the WTA Tour after world No.1 Ash Barty who has played in six.

The 25-year-old is now on the verge of qualifying for the WTA Finals for the first time in her career. However, the prospect of her playing in the season-ending event depends on the results of next week’s tournaments. Kontaveit is playing in Romania and she needs to win the tournament and for rival Jabeur to lose before the semi-finals to qualify.

Meanwhile, runner-up Alexandrova exits Moscow frustrated with her missed opportunities in the match. It was the first time she has played in a final this season and only the third time in her career. Prior to Kontaveit, she scored back-to-back wins over Aryna Sabalenka and Maria Sakkari.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to win, I’m very sorry. But I will work on it and I hope next time I will be able to get a better result,” Alexandrova said during the trophy ceremony.
“I want to congratulate Anett, she played great, it was hard for me to do something.” She added.

Kontaveit, who has won three WTA titles since August, is the first Estonian player to win the Moscow trophy. Compatriot Kaia Kanepi reached the final of the tournament back in 2011.

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Bad news for the Transylvania Open as no fans are allowed

There will be no fans for next week’s event that includes Simona Halep and Emma Raducanu.

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(@TransylvaniaOpn - Twitter)

Mere days before the event was going to start the government announced a new measure that won’t allow for spectators.

 

The Transylvania Open a brand new WTA 250 event being held at the BT Arena in Cluj-Napoca got some bad news when the government announced due to a spike in covid cases the event will be held without fans.

The tournament was able to get some big names for its tournament with the likes of Simona Halep, Paula Badosa, and 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu who were hoping to feed off the crowd energy.

Now they will have to play in an empty stadium which is something that happened a lot last year and another hurdle the players will have to go through, it’s disappointing because things were getting better but the fourth wave of Coronavirus keeps ravaging the world.

This will be the first tournament back for Raducanu after being upset in Indian Wells and was supposed to be a homecoming since she is of Romanian descent.

The tournament went on Twitter to announce the news that they will be hosting the event behind closed doors.

Halep was hoping to be able to also play in front of her home fans but will now look to win another title in her native country without any spectators or fan support.

As mentioned in the tweet the effect won’t happen till Monday so the fans will still be able to attend the qualifying matches that will happen on Saturday and Sunday.

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‘I Know How To Get There’ – Karen Khachanov Targets Return To Top 10

The world No.31 has showed signs of his talent this season with a run to the Olympic final but a lack of consistency and changes to the ATP ranking system has hindered him too.

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Karen Khachanov - Credit: AELTC/Ian Walton

It wasn’t that long ago when Karen Khachanov was the highest-ranked Russian man on the ATP Tour and billed as the next big thing from his country.

 

A breakout 2018 season saw Khachanov claim three Tour titles with the biggest of those being at the Paris Masters which remains his most prestigious trophy to date. He also reached his first major quarter-final at the French Open during the same season and scored five wins over top 10 players. Those triumphs helped elevate him in the ranking to a high of eight.

However, since that breakthrough Khachanov has found himself on a a rollercoaster journey. He is yet to win another title since Paris but came agonisingly close at the Tokyo Olympic Games where he finished runner-up to Alexander Zverev. In his nine previous Grand Slam tournaments his best run was at Wimbledon this season where he reached the last eight before losing to Denis Shapovalov.

Now ranked 31st in the world, the 25-year-old is aiming to claim back up the ladder after the ATP changed their ranking logic to the method used prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The rankings turned out to be a big pun, it was frozen for a year and a half, only now normal counting has begun. I am not fixated on this,” Khachanov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday. “My main goal is to get back to the Top10. I know how to get there. And the intermediate goals are to be healthy and motivated.”

Khachanov has been ranked outside the world’s top 20 since February and hasn’t been in the top 10 since October 2019. He is currently coached on the Tour by Jose Clavet who has previously worked with a series of top Spanish players such as Feliciano Lopez, Alex Corretja, Tommy Robredo and Carlos Moya.

“He travels with me everywhere, for which I am grateful to him. I trust him as a specialist, as a coach and as a friend,” Khachanov said of Clavet.

Khachanov has returned to his home country this week where he is playing in Moscow at the Kremlin Cup. A tournament he won three years ago by defeating Adrian Mannarino in the final. Seeded third in the draw this time round, he began his campaign on Wednesday with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, win over James Duckworth. In the next round, he faces another Australian in the shape of John Millman which he believes will be a far from easy task.

He is a fighter, a complete player, he does everything well, forehand and backhand with good intensity. He does everything at a good level, but the main quality is that he fights till the end, so it will be hard for me,” he said of his next opponent.

Moscow is the seventh tournament this year where Khachanov has reached the quarter-final stage.

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