Australian Open Daily Preview: The Women’s Singles Championship - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Daily Preview: The Women’s Singles Championship

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Danielle Collins earlier this fortnight in Melbourne (twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

World No.1 Ash Barty has simply demolished all competition this fortnight.  She’s won every match in straight sets, dropping 21 games across 12 sets.  Barty has averaged just one hour and one minute on court per match, and been broken only once.  Over the last few seasons, the Australian has separated herself from all competition, and is on the verge of claiming her third Major singles title.  Ash is the first Aussie to reach the Australian Open women’s singles final since 1980, and is vying to become the first Australian winner since 1978.

 

Just nine months ago, Danielle Collins underwent endometriosis surgery, which involved the removal of a cyst the size of a tennis ball.  ESPN has a great profile here, detailing how much pain Collins endured prior to the life-changing procedure.  And since surgery, the 28-year-old American is playing the best tennis of her career.  After winning back-to-back titles last summer, Danielle has now achieved her first Slam final, at the same event where she was a semifinalist three years ago.  She came through two tight three-setters in the middle rounds, and dominated Iga Swiatek in the semifinals.

Also on Saturday, the all-Aussie men’s double championship match, where it’s Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios (WC).  Kyrgios and Kokkinakis have defeated three of the top six seeds, while Ebden and Purcell took out two of the top four seeds.


Ash Barty (1) vs. Danielle Collins (27) – 7:30pm on Rod Laver Arena

This will be their fifth career meeting, and their third straight time playing in Australia.  Their first two encounters were on clay, and both went to Barty.  Two years ago in Adelaide, Ash prevailed in a third-set tiebreak.  And last February in Adelaide, Collins secured her first victory, by a score of 6-3, 6-4. 

All evidence supports Barty being considered a prohibitive favorite in this final: her current form, her variety, and her significant edge in experience.  Thus far, Ash has struck 35 aces, only nine double faults, and won 83% of first serve points.  Her biggest obstacles on this day will be the pressure that comes with vying for her home Slam, as well as the powerful groundstrokes of Collins, especially on the backhand side.  During Thursday’s semifinals, Iga Swiatek had no answers for Danielle’s punishing power, with the American breaking six times, and claiming over 50% of receiving points.  If Collins can maintain that level in Saturday’s championship match, she has a real chance to prevail.  However, doing so against the World No.1’s excellent serving prowess, and in the biggest match of your life, is a daunting task.  I like Barty’s chances of becoming a three-time Major singles champion on Saturday.


Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev And Taylor Fritz Looking Forward To Diriyah Cup

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Taylor Fritz will start their Australian preparations in Saudi Arabia next week.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas (@WeAreTennisTR - Twitter)

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Taylor Fritz are looking forward to boosting their Australian Open preparations when they compete in the Diriyah Cup in Saudi Arabia.

 

The tournament takes place from the 8th-10th of December with the 12 player tournament offering the perfect preparation for the first Grand Slam of the year.

As well as Tsitsipas, Rublev and Fritz, the field includes some of the world’s best players including Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Cameron Norrie, Nick Kyrgios, Dominic Thiem and Stan Wawrinka.

Speaking ahead of the event Tsitsipas claimed that the event will be very good preparation ahead of the Australian Open which starts on the 16th of January, “This is going to be very good preparation for me,” Tsitsipas told The National.

“Most players choose to have an off period from tennis but for me, it’s very important to get matches in before I travel to Australia. So having good competitors to compete against (top players), this is the best preparation that I can have before starting the 2023 season.

“I know that the people in Saudi Arabia may not have the opportunity to see tennis players like us very often. So, for sure, I’m going to give it my best. I’m going to have a good time.”

Saudi Arabia has held a whole host of events including formula one and Golf events with there being more and more concerns from fans over sports-washing given the country’s human rights record.

However the Greek isn’t too concerned about that and is looking forward to exploring the country’s culture:

“I’m happy they’re introducing a big event like this, and in the heart of Saudi Arabia to give opportunities to citizens from all over the world to explore this beautiful country, through its sports, through its very rich heritage and culture, and through other activities that are available within the country.”

As for Fritz, the American is coming off a career best season having won his maiden Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells as well as reaching the semi-finals at the ATP Finals.

The 25 year-old said that playing against the best players in the world will only help his preparations for the Australian Open, “I think it’s going to help prepare for the Australian Open and for the rest of the year because I can start out by playing against the best players in the world,” Fritz claimed.

“The field is so strong, so it’s always great to surround yourself with a lot of great players. People should come to support because hopefully it’ll be a lot of good tennis.

“Hopefully they’ll be cheering for me to win. They can expect a lot of big hitting, big serving, and hopefully some nice shot-making.”

Finally Rublev said that competing in Saudi Arabia will help find his level with the Russian having an inconsistent end to the season at the ATP Finals.

Rublev is looking to break more ground in 2023 as he searches for his Grand Slam breakthrough, “I think it’s really great because sometimes when you finish the season and you have eight weeks of not playing tournaments, you start to feel a bit stressed or nervous because you can’t tell if you’re improving or not,” Rublev admitted.

“So these kind of events help to check how your level is at the moment because you compete against other great players.”

The tournament begins on Thursday and will last for three days.

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Emma Raducanu Draws Inspiration From Andy Murray Ahead Of 2023

Emma Raducanu spoke about Andy Murray’s influence on her career.

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(@HeartThamesNews - Twitter)

Emma Raducanu has spoke about Andy Murray’s influence on her career and is optimistic about turning her form in 2023.

 

The former US Open hasn’t had too bad of an off-season after receiving her MBE for her services to sport.

Raducanu made history in 2021 as she won the US Open as a qualifier at 18 years of age.

However the Brit has yet to back that up with Raducanu changing coach on a number of occasions as she looks for some stability in 2023.

Speaking in a recent interview with Grazia Raducanu said that she believes that momentum can change quickly in tennis and that confidence is the key to success, “[In tennis] it could look like it’s all going down, down, down and just not getting any better,” Raducanu was quoted by tennishead as saying.

“Just one match can have a big influence on your confidence and once you have confidence and the momentum comes, you feel like you can’t lose. It’s a very individual sport – people are friendly but it’s difficult to be really close with those you’re competing with.”

One player that can relate to what Raducanu is saying is Andy Murray with confidence being a key theme of the highs and lows of Murray’s career.

Raducanu said that she talks to Murray regularly about the highs and lows of tennis, “Andy Murray is so good to talk to because he’s been through pretty much what I’ve been going through,” Raducanu said.

“I have always looked up to him and watched him winning his first Wimbledon and the Olympics.”

Raducanu will hope that she can use Murray’s words as inspiration for next season as she currently sits at 75 in the world.

The Brit will start her season in 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand on the 2nd of January.

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Fernando Verdasco Given Two Month Doping Ban

Fernando Verdasco has been banned from tennis until the 8th of January.

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Fernando Verdasco (@UniversTennis - Twitter)

Fernando Verdasco will miss the first week of the 2023 season after being provisionally suspended for two months after testing positive for the drug methylphenidate.

 

The former world number seven tested positive for the drug at the Challenger event in Rio De Janeiro and has accepted a voluntary ban until the 8th of January.

As well as testing positive for the drug methylphenidate, Verdasco had also forgot to renew his Therapeutic Use Exemption despite the Spaniard admitting that he was diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

In a statement published today the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA), explained why his ban has been shortened from two years to two months, “The ITIA accepts that the player did not intend to cheat, that his violation was inadvertent and unintentional, and that he bears no significant fault or negligence for it,” they said in a statement on his website.

“In the specific circumstances of this case, based on the player’s degree of fault the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme allows for the applicable period of ineligibility to be reduced from two years to two months.”

The 39 year-old will as a result miss the first week of the new season with the Spaniard being currently ranked at world number 125.

In 2022, Verdasco’s best results on the ATP tour were quarter-final performances in Buenos Aires and Estoril while he also won a challenger title in Monterrey in March.

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