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Australian Open Daily Preview: The Quarterfinals Conclude

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Stefanos Tsitsipas on Monday in Melbourne (twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

Wednesday’s men’s singles quarterfinals feature four top 10 players.  Daniil Medvedev faces Felix Auger-Aliassime in a rematch of the US Open semifinals.  And in matchup between ATP Next Gen champions, Stefanos Tsitsipas takes on Jannik Sinner.

 

On the women’s side, 2020 Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek is joined by three players who have never reached a Major final.  Danielle Collins was a semifinalist here three years ago, Kaia Kanepi is 0-6 lifetime in Slam quarterfinals, and Alize Cornet had never previously reached the quarters.  With both of Wednesday’s WTA quarterfinals being first-time matchups, there is plenty of room for new territory to be seized.


Danielle Collins (27) vs. Alize Cornet – 11:00am on Rod Laver Arena

Both players survived grueling matches on Monday in scorching afternoon temperatures.  And the forecast is even hotter for Wednesday.  Collins required nearly three hours to hit her way through Elise Mertens, while Cornet and Simona Halep suffered during the hottest part of the day.  Both Collins and Cornet eventually prevailed 6-4 in the third.  The American is much more accustomed to playing in the heat, and is much more capable of controlling her destiny with her aggressive groundstrokes off both wings, especially her crosscourt backhand which was on fire in the last round.  With Danielle’s previous experience at this stage of a Major, she should be favored to achieve her second Australian Open semifinal.


Iga Swiatek (7) vs. Kaia Kanepi – Not Before 1:00pm on Rod Laver Arena

Swiatek overcame a considerable hurdle on Monday.  Prior to her fourth round match, she had lost three of her last four matches at Slams when dropping the first set.  But as per Tennis Abstract, every time in her career when she’s then won the second set, she’s gone on to win the third as well, just as she did against Sorana Cirstea.  For Kanepi, this round presents the biggest hurdle of her career, as she’s lost all six times she’s appeared in a Slam quarterfinal.  Kaia has only won one of 13 sets in those matches, which have occurred at the other three Majors.  Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also held an 0-6 record in Slam quarterfinals, before breaking through in her seventh try at last year’s Roland Garros.  While the big-swinging Estonian seems due for a similar breakthrough, Swiatek’s more consistent, versatile style will likely draw plenty of errors from Kanepi.  Iga remains the favorite to reach her second Slam semifinal.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Jannik Sinner (11) – Not Before 3:00pm on Rod Laver Arena

A big factor in this match will be how much Tsitsipas has left physically, and how his elbow feels coming off a five-set battle with Taylor Fritz.  Stefanos also contested back-to-back four-setters in his two rounds prior.  Sinner has advanced much more comfortably, losing only one of 13 sets, and should be the far fresher player.  Tsitsipas leads their head-to-head 2-1, though all three matches have taken place on European clay.  Sinner feels primed for a breakthrough, and his authoritative groundies may keep Tsitsipas on the defensive.  Despite Stefanos’ significant edge in experience, the 20-year-old Italian has a great chance to achieve his first Major semifinal.  However, it likely won’t come without a huge fight from the Greek.


Daniil Medvedev (2) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime – 7:30pm on Rod Laver Arena

Their aforementioned US Open semifinal from this past September was pretty one-sided, with Medvedev prevailing in straight sets.  And their rematch just a few weeks ago at the ATP Cup was even more so, with Daniil dominating Felix 6-4, 6-0 in only 68 minutes.  Their first meeting was by far their tightest, when the Russian needed a third-set tiebreak to beat Auger-Aliassime at the 2018 Canada Masters, when the Canadian was ranked outside the top 100.  As impressive was Felix’s last two victories have been over Dan Evans and Marin Cilic, Medvedev has appeared completely unbothered by Auger-Aliassime’s game.  And I expect Daniil to remain much more positive today after his unprofessional conduct against Maxime Cressy, where he openly complained his opponent was “lucky.”  He will be happy to be back on Rod Laver Arena, as he expressed frustration with getting scheduled on Margaret Court Arena multiple times.  He’ll also be happy not to be facing a tricky serve-and-volleyer like Cressy.  Medvedev should be able to advance to his fourth consecutive semifinal at a hard court Major.


Wednesday’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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