Australian Open Daily Preview: The Quarterfinals Commence - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Daily Preview: The Quarterfinals Commence

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Rafael Nadal was pumped up on Sunday in Melbourne (twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

Rafael Nadal is only nine sets away from a record-breaking 21st men’s singles title at a Major.  On Tuesday, he faces fellow lefty Denis Shapovalov, who upset Sascha Zverev in the round of 16.  The other men’s quarterfinal sees Matteo Berrettini take on Gael Monfils, in a rematch of an epic contest from the same round at the 2019 US Open.

 

On the women’s side, World No.1 Ash Barty has been dominant through four rounds, but will the Australian begin to feel the pressure of vying for her country’s biggest title?  In the quarterfinals, she meets American Jessica Pegula.  And reigning Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova will play another American, Madison Keys.


Barbora Krejcikova (4) vs. Madison Keys – Not Before 12:30pm on Rod Laver Arena

Krejcikova is into the quarterfinals for the third time in the last four Slams.  This is the first Major quarterfinal for Keys since Wimbledon 2019.  Both women dropped only four games in their fourth round victories: Krejcikova dominated an injured Victoria Azarenka, while Keys played excellently against Paula Badosa.  This will be Barbora and Madison’s first career meeting.  It is forecast to be extremely warm when this match begins.  Thunderstorms are possible for the rest of the day, but likely not until this match is over, meaning this should remain an outdoor contest.  Madison’s power game thrives in fast conditions, and the Floridian is usually unbothered by high temperatures.  That could be the perfect recipe to enable the American to achieve her fifth Major semifinal, which would extend her current win streak to 10.


Rafael Nadal (6) vs. Denis Shapovalov (14) – Not Before 2:00pm on Rod Laver Arena

Of course it was in August of 2017 when Shapovalov made a name for himself by upsetting Nadal at the Canada Masters in a final set tiebreak.  But since that time, Nadal has owned this rivalry, claiming their last three meetings.  Two of those were on clay, which includes a huge comeback from a set and 4-1 down last May in Rome.  The other was a Davis Cup match in 2019.  Denis played one of the best matches of his career in taking out third-seeded Sascha Zverev on Sunday.  But it’s important to remember he had lost 17 consecutive matches against the top five prior to that victory.  While Nadal is not currently a member of that club, defeating the King of Clay in best-of-five remains a daunting task.  Rafa himself is still publicly minimizing his chances of winning this title, in just his second tournament after foot surgery.  But the 20-time Major champion has looked superb, and is yet to lose since returning.  While Nadal has lost seven times in the Australian Open quarterfinals, including three out of the last four years, I like his chances of overcoming the aggressive Canadian on Tuesday.


Ash Barty (1) vs. Jessica Pegula (21) – 7:00pm on Rod Laver Arena

Like Nadal, Barty remains undefeated in 2021.  And the World No.1 is yet to lose a set this fortnight, dropping her serve only once.  This is the second year in a row Pegula has reached this stage of the Australian Open, and she’s also won all eight sets she’s contested.  Like Keys, Jessica is an American who resides in Florida, so she is fully accustomed to hot conditions.  And she would not be the first American to upset Barty on a warm day in Melbourne in the latter stages of this event, just as eventual champion Sofia Kenin did two years ago.  However, this may turn into an indoor match based on the rain in the forecast.  And thus far, Barty has remained unphased by the pressure of trying to win her home Slam.  Ash’s all-around skills have been smothering the opposition, and I don’t see that changing on this day.


Matteo Berrettini (7) vs. Gael Monfils (17) – Last on Rod Laver Arena

This is a rematch of an epic US Open quarterfinal from 2019, when Berrettini prevailed in a fifth-set tiebreak.  They also met at last year’s ATP Cup, where Matteo was also victorious.  The Italian has endured a far-more complicated path to this quarterfinal, playing 16 sets and spending over 12 hours on court.  Monfils has won all 12 of his sets, and spent less than eight hours on court.  The Frenchman has been playing some of the best tennis of his career, coming off a title run in Adelaide to start the year.  But Gael has been known to wilt under pressure throughout his career, and is only 2-7 lifetime in this round of a Major.  And he’ll surely feel plenty of pressure from Berrettini’s serve, especially if Matteo serves as well as he did on Sunday.  Facing Pablo Carreno Busta, he struck 28 aces, served 77% on his first serve, and won 87% of those points.  And considering he should feel rather fresh coming off that straight-set victory, Berrettini should be favored to advance to his third Major quarterfinal.


Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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ATP and WTA removes rankings points from Wimbledon

Players playing Wimbledon have no ranking points to play for.

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(@FOS - Twitter)

The ATP responded in regards to the ban on Russian and Belorussian players that was made by the tournament.

 

The ATP has officially responded to Wimbledon banning all Russian and Belorussian in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine which has wreaked havoc on the world of sports.

Russian and Belorussian players up to this point have been playing under their name and not their country.

The ATP released a statement in regards to the decision that was made.

The move essentially makes Wimbledon an exhibition event meaning players who decide to play won’t be able to move up in the world rankings and points won’t have to be defended.

Wimbledon made the announcement in April that they would placing the ban as the All England Club stated the possibility of the Russian government using players success as propaganda for the reason behind the move.

The ATP responded by saying the ban violated their agreement and discriminating against players since they compete as individuals. Removing points seemed like the only feasable move to make.

Russian and Belorussian players are allowed to play at the French Open which begins this Sunday in Paris. Danil Medvedev who is currently the 2nd ranked player in the world was asked about the move.

I’m not in ATP taking the decisions, I’m not in Wimbledon taking the decisions. Maybe it’s government pushing them, maybe it’s their decision. There a lot of mistakes behind this. So if I can play I’m going to be happy to play. I love Wimbledon as a tournament.”

He also added that if he couldn’t play there this year he would try to play next year and play good.

The WTA has also followed suit but this time has also penalized some of the warm-up tournaments.

Wimbledon is currently scheduled to start on June 27th and will culminate with the final on Sunday July 10th.

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Rafael Nadal Dismisses Favourite Status And Talks About Foot Pain Ahead Of Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal begins against Jordan Thompson on Monday.

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Rafael Nadal (@RolandGarros - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal has dismissed that he is the favourite for Roland Garros after admitting that his foot pain is still present.

 

Nadal searches for his 14th Roland Garros title over the next two weeks but enters with doubts.

This is after the Spaniard went out at the quarter-final stage in Madrid to eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz.

That was followed by a third round exit in Rome where he, literally, limped out to Denis Shapovalov.

Now Nadal approaches the tournament in a situation where it is unknown whether he can claim a 22nd grand slam title in the French capital.

Speaking in his pre-tournament press conference Nadal dismissed his chances and claimed his foot pain is still present, “I mean, for sure not, because the results says that I am not, but is something that never worried much to me, no?,” Nadal said when asked if he was the favourite to win the title.

“Of course one of the candidates. I considered myself during all my tennis career one of the candidates here, because I achieve tournaments before here, and now on Friday, before the tournament start, I don’t think I am the
favourite at all. But you never know what can happen.

“It’s not about gonna disappear now. It’s about if the pain is high and strong enough to allow me to play with real chances or not. But in my case, is something that I live every day with that, so is nothing new for me and is not a big surprise.

“So I am here just to play tennis and to try to make the best result possible here in Roland Garros, no? And if I don’t believe that this thing can happen, probably I will not be here.

“So I am just working as much as I can, and practicing as good as possible. My real goal is just put me in a position that I am healthy and playing enough good tennis to give myself good chances.”

Time will tell whether Nadal has healed in time to be a contender for Roland Garros and claim his second grand slam of the season.

One thing we do know though is that the Spaniard has a tricky draw with Novak Djokovic looming in the last eight and Carlos Alcaraz awaiting in the semi-finals.

Despite the tough draw Nadal admitted he doesn’t really think about the draw until he faces the players he has to play, “I mean, mentally for me it doesn’t matter,” Nadal said.

“In terms of tennis, of course the top of the draw you see the names, of course is a very tough one. But we are in a Grand Slam, and you never know what can happen, no? You know, remain a lot of things to happen, to probably arrive to the matches that you are thinking, you know.

“I mean, the only thing that I can say is of course I know everything. For me never have been a problem that. I am probably humble enough in that case to just be focused on my first match. Doesn’t matter if I know where I am exactly and what, you know, possible opponents I can have.

“Only thing that I would like is be the player that, one of the players that you think can face these other great players.”

Before Nadal can think about Djokovic or Alcaraz, the 21-time grand slam champion will have to overcome his first obstacle in Jordan Thompson on Monday.

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Novak Djokovic Drawn Against Nadal And Alcaraz In Top Half Of Roland Garros Draw

Novak Djokovic begins his Roland Garros campaign against Yoshihito Nishioka.

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Novak Djokovic (@RolandGarros - Twitter)

World number one Novak Djokovic has been drawn against Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz in the top half of the men’s draw at Roland Garros.

 

Djokovic is looking to claim a record-equalling 21st grand slam title at Roland Garros as well as successfully defend his title.

However to do that the Serb will have to go through both Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz en route to the final.

In his opening match Djokovic will face Yoshihito Nishioka before possibly facing Alex Molcan who is coached by Djokovic’s former coach Marian Vajda.

Jenson Brooksby and Diego Schwartzman stand in Djokovic’s way of a blockbuster quarter-final with 13-time champion Rafael Nadal.

The winner of that match could face Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals with the Spaniard projected to meet Alexander Zverev in the last eight.

Meanwhile Nadal will open his campaign against Jordan Thompson before potentially facing Stan Wawrinka in a rematch of the 2017 final.

Botic Van De Zandschulp and Felix Auger-Aliassime are potential opponents for Nadal before a titanic quarter-final match.

Meanwhile in the second quarter of the draw Alcaraz and Zverev both face qualifiers in the opening round.

Alcaraz could face Sebastian Korda, who he lost to in Monte-Carlo, and Cameron Norrie en route to the last eight.

While Zverev would face Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Taylor Fritz before a showdown with Alcaraz.

In the bottom half of the draw Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas could meet in the last eight.

Tsitsipas, who was two sets to love up in last year’s final, will face Lorenzo Musetti in the opening round.

There could be a last 16 meeting for Tsitsipas with Denis Shapovalov however the Canadian will face in-form rising star Holger Rune in the opening round.

Ruud’s opening match will be against Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, who is playing his final Roland Garros of his career.

In the bottom quarter, Andrey Rublev will meet Soonwoo Kwon in his opening match with the Russian potentially facing Jannik Sinner in the last 16.

While Daniil Medvedev takes on Facundo Bagnis in his opening match in what will be his second tournament back since surgery.

Medvedev could be scheduled to meet Miami Open semi-finalist Miomir Kecmanovic in the third round.

Here is the draw with play beginning on Monday:

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