ATP & WTA Finals Daily Preview: Play Begins in Turin as the Round Robin Stage Concludes in Guadalajara - UBITENNIS
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ATP & WTA Finals Daily Preview: Play Begins in Turin as the Round Robin Stage Concludes in Guadalajara

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The ATP singles field during a photo shoot this week in Turin (twitter.com/atptour)

After 12 years at the O2 Arena in London, the ATP Finals have moved to the Pala Alpitour in Turin, Italy.  Round robin play commences on Sunday and Monday. The top four seeds account for four of the last five champions: Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Sascha Zverev, and Stefanos Tsitsipas.  Andrey Rublev and Italy’s Matteo Berrettini return to the event for the second time, while Hubi Hurkacz and Casper Ruud make their debuts.

 

In Guadalajara, the WTA Finals will play the last matches of the round robin stage between Sunday and Monday.  In Group Teotihuacan, Anett Kontaveit is undefeated and has already qualified for Tuesday’s semifinals.  But Barbora Krejcikova, Karolina Pliskova, and Garbine Muguruza all have a chance to join her, with the scenarios covered in the below table provided by the WTA:

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Each day, this preview will analyze the most intriguing matchup at each event, while highlighting the other matches on the schedules.  Sunday’s play get underway at 11:30am local time in Turin, and 2:00pm local time in Guadalajara.

Sascha Zverev (3) vs. Matteo Berrettini (6) – Not Before 9:00pm in Turin

This should be an exciting opening night session in Turin, featuring a loud crowd cheering on the Italian No.1.  But Berrettini is an unproven commodity on indoor hard courts.  At this event two years ago, he went 1-2.  And he’s just 2-2 across the last two fall seasons on indoor hard courts.  The same cannot be said for Zverev, who has won three indoor hard court titles since last October.  And on this surface overall, Sascha has claimed 27 of his last 30 contests.  Zverev leads their head-to-head 3-1.  Their only hard court meeting was two years ago in Shanghai, which the German won in straight sets.  All evidence suggests another Zverev victory on Sunday, but we’ve seen many cases in recent months where raucous crowds have had a loud say in the outcome.  I’ll be curious to see if the audience’s involvement impacts either player.

Garbine Muguruza (6) vs. Anett Kontaveit (8) – 7:30pm in Guadalajara

Who can stop Anett Kontaveit?  And how do you not vote for Dmitry Tursonov as the WTA Coach of the Year?  Under his guidance, she has won 28 of her last 30 matches, and as Ravi Ubha highlighted on Twitter, 25 of those have been straight-set victories.  Muguruza came back from a set down on Friday night against Krejcikova to keep her semifinal hopes alive.  A straight-set win on Sunday would guarantee Garbine’s advancement, while any other outcome leaves her qualification dependent upon the result of the Krejcikova/Pliskova matchup.  These two players have split four previous encounters, but just a few weeks ago in Moscow, Kontaveit dominated Muguruza 6-1, 6-1.  A similar result seems likely on Sunday, which would be Anett’s 13th consecutive win.

Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Daniil Medvedev (2) vs. Hubert Hurkacz (7) – Medvedev is the defending champion of this event, as he went 5-0 last year.  They met twice in 2021, and both encounters were quite epic.  At Wimbledon, Hurkacz prevailed in a five-setter spread across two days.  In Canada, Medvedev was victorious in a final-set tiebreak.

Barbora Krejcikova (2) vs. Karolina Pliskova (3) – With a record of 0-2, Krejickova’s only chance of advancing is if she wins, and if Kontaveit wins in straight sets.  Pliskova has a few more qualification scenarios with a record of 1-1.  Their only tour-level meeting was three years ago at Roland Garros, which went to Pliskova in straight sets.

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (1) vs. Kevin Krawietz and Horia Tecau (8) – Mektic and Pavic were easily the best team of 2021 with nine tournament wins, which included Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics.  But they have cooled off in recent months, losing six of their last nine matches.  Krawietz and Tecau won two titles this season, both in Germany.  When these teams played this past August in Toronto, Mektic and Pavic prevailed in two tiebreaks, with the second decided by a score of 14-12.

Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (4) vs. Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek (6) – Granollers and Zeballos were champions at two Masters events this year, while Dodig and Polasek won the Australian Open. 

Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara (2) vs. Sam Stosur and Shuai Zhang (5) – The Japanese team have already advanced to the semifinals, while Stosur and Shuai have been eliminated from qualification, so this will be a dead rubber.

Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Demi Schuurs (4) vs. Darija Jurak and Andreja Klepac (7)  – Advancement scenarios here are simple: whichever team wins will earn a spot in the semifinals.

Sunday’s full Order of Play in Turin is here, and for Guadalajara is here.

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Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman

The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.

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Diego Schwartzman (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired. 

 

The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona. 

Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori. 

“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”

The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas. 

Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33. 

“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said. 
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”

The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match. 

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Team Europe Goes for a Fifth Straight Laver Cup

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The lineup for Day 3 (twitter.com/lavercup)

Heading into Day 3, the 2022 Laver Cup is feeling extremely familiar.  Team Europe has an 8-4 advantage, and only needs two wins on Sunday to secure their fifth consecutive Laver Cup.  Team World needs to win three matches to pull off the upset and obtain their first. 

 

Sunday’s play gets underway in London at 12:00pm local time.  And each match on Sunday is worth three points.


Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock (Team World) – 12:00pm

Berrettini was victorious in both singles and doubles on Saturday, defeating Auger-Aliassime in singles, and teaming with Djokovic to overcome Sock and de Minaur in doubles.  So Matteo gained victories over both of his Sunday opponents on Saturday.  Murray lost to de Minaur in singles on Friday.  Andy and Jack are the most accomplished doubles players in this match, as Sock is pretty much Team World’s doubles specialist.  If he and Felix cannot pull of the victory on Sunday, it could be a pretty short day.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World)

Like Berrettini, Djokovic won in singles and doubles on Saturday, comfortably dispatching of Tiafoe in singles.  While it was his first match in over two months, Novak showed no rust whatsoever.  Auger-Aliassime’s loss to Berrettini on Saturday will not help his confidence against the 21-time Major champion.

Novak and Felix have only played once before, and that occurred four months ago in Rome on clay.  It was a pretty tight affair, but Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 7-6(1).  And there’s not much evidence to support a different outcome on Sunday.  Novak is surely eager to re-assert his authority after missing so much of this season due to his vaccination status.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – If Necessary

Tsitsipas easily beat Diego Schwartzman on Friday, dropping just three games.  He is 3-2 against Tiafoe, and 3-1 on hard courts.  However, Frances claimed their most recent encounter, last fall in Vienna, which was also on an indoor hard court.


Casper Ruud (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – If Necessary

Ruud defeated Sock on Friday, while Fritz defeated Norrie on Saturday.  If this match takes place, it will be their first career meeting.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic to Play Singles and Doubles on Saturday

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The lineup for Day 2 (twitter.com/lavercup)

In the wake of Roger Federer’s incredibly emotional retirement on Day 1, the focus of this event shifts to the rest of the competitors on Day 2.  And for the first time in the five-year history of the Laver Cup, Team World goes into Day 2 without a deficit.  With both Federer and Rafael Nadal replaced by alternates for Day 2 and Day 3, is this Team World’s opportunity to capture their first Laver Cup? 

 

Each day, this preview will look at all four scheduled matches, while taking an extended look at the most notable match of the day.  Saturday’s day session gets underway in London at 1:00pm local time, and the night session at 7:00pm.  And each match on Saturday is worth two points.


Matteo Berrettini (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World) – 1:00pm

These two good friends have played four times, with Berrettini winning on three of those occasions.  Matteo’s wins came three years ago in the final of Stuttgart on grass, in the quarterfinals of last year’s Wimbledon, and a year ago in this event.  Auger-Aliassime’s only win occurred last summer in Cincinnati.  Matteo is coming off a quarterfinal run in New York, as well as three victories last week in Davis Cup.  Felix was upset in the second round of the US Open by Jack Draper, and went 2-1 in Davis Cup.


Cameron Norrie (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – Second in the Day Session

Norrie was also an alternate in last year’s Laver Cup, but did not play.  Fritz was a part of Team World in 2019, when he went 1-1 in singles, defeating Dominic Thiem during Sunday’s play in a must-win match to keep his team alive.  Cam is now 45-22 on the year, while Fritz is 36-17.  Both men achieved their best-ever Major performances two months ago at Wimbledon.  They played each other just last week in Davis Cup, with Norrie prevailing after three tight sets.  Overall they have split 10 previous meetings.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – 7:00pm

Is Tiafoe ready to upset another member of “The Big Three” on Saturday?  He earned the biggest win of his career by taking out Rafael Nadal at the US Open, and defeated Nadal and Federer in doubles on Day 1 alongside Jack Sock.  Meanwhile, this will be the first match for Djokovic in over two months, since he won the Wimbledon final over Nick Kyrgios.  The unvaccinated Novak was unable to travel to North America for the hard court summer season.

Djokovic has only played seven tournaments this year, amassing a record of 23-5.  Tiafoe is 26-19, and is coming off his exciting semifinal run in New York.  Their only previous matchup was at the 2021 Australian Open, when Novak defeated Frances in four sets.  Frances is certainly the much more match-tough player on this day.  But despite his recent inactivity, Djokovic should still be considered the favorite.


Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Alex de Minaur and Jack Sock (Team World) – Second in the Night Session

Novak will have only a few minutes of rest ahead of this doubles match, so the length of his match with Tiafoe could impact the result here.  This will be Novak’s first time playing doubles since last year’s Davis Cup finals.  Berrettini played three doubles matches this past January at the ATP Cup, going 1-2.  De Minaur overcame Andy Murray in singles on Friday in what was a grueling contest, while Sock was defeated in singles and victorious in doubles.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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