Australian Summer Daily Preview: Championship Sunday - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Focus

Australian Summer Daily Preview: Championship Sunday

Avatar

Published

on

Ash Barty earlier this week in Adelaide (twitter.com/AdelaideTennis)

Between singles, doubles, and the ATP Cup team event, there will be 11 titles decided across Australia on Sunday.  In Melbourne, multi-time Major champions Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep both play in singles finals.  In Adelaide, World No.1 Ash Barty goes for championships in both singles and doubles, while the two top seeds collide in the ATP singles final.  And in Sydney, Canada faces Spain to become the winners of the third annual ATP Cup.

 

Sydney: The ATP Cup, a Round Robin Team Event between 16 Nations

Order of Play is here.

Denis Shapovalov [CAN] vs. Pablo Carreno Busta [ESP] – 5:30pm on Ken Rosewall Arena

This will mark the highest-ranked opposition either man has faced in singles at this event.  Shapovalov is 2-1, while Carreno Busta is 4-0, and is yet to drop a set.  And the Spaniard leads their head-to-head 4-1, claiming all four of their previous hard court meetings.  Most recently, in the quarterfinals of the 2020 US Open, Pablo defeated Denis in five.

Felix Auger-Aliassime [CAN] vs. Roberto Bautista Agut [ESP] – Not Before 7:00pm on Ken Rosewall Arena

Auger-Aliassime is 2-2 in singles.  While he scored an impressive upset over Sascha Zverev, he was dominated by Daniil Medvedev on Saturday.  Like Carreno Busta, Bautista Agut is 4-0, and prevailed in a third-set tiebreak against Hubi Hurkacz in the semifinals.  Felix is 2-1 against Roberto, and outlasted the veteran at last year’s US Open in five.  If Canada and Spain split the singles contests, a doubles match will decide the champions.


Adelaide: a WTA 500 Event, and an ATP 250 Event

Order of Play is here.

Ash Barty (1) vs. Elena Rybakina (7) – Not Before 4:00pm on Centre Court

Barty has easily dismissed two Slam champs in her last two matches: Sofia Kenin and Iga Swiatek.  After a heartbreaking loss in the bronze medal match of the Tokyo Olympics, Rybakina ended 2021 by going only 10-8.  Their only prior encounter occurred two years ago in this same country, when Barty was victorious over Rybakina in the third round of the Australian Open.  Later in the evening, Ash will team with Storm Sanders in the doubles final against Darija Jurak Schreiber and Andreja Klepac, who won two titles last season.

Gael Monfils (1) vs. Karen Khachanov (2) – Not Before 6:00pm on Centre Court

As per the ATP, Monfils has now reached a final in 18 consecutive seasons.  For Khachanov, this is his first final since Bercy in 2018.  Monfils has not dropped a set this week.  Khachanov has, though he notched a strong straight-set win in Saturday’s semifinals over Marin Cilic.  Surprisingly, this is their first career meeting.


Melbourne: Two WTA 250 Events, and an ATP 25 Event

Order of Play is here.

Amanda Anisimova vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich (Q) – Not Before 3:00pm on Rod Laver Arena

20-year-old American Anisimova has played extremely well this week during a trial run with Darren Cahill as her coach.  In the semifinals, she crushed Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-0.  As Ravi Ubha highlighted on Twitter, this is Sasnovich’s first final since four years ago in Brisbane.  And she excels in Australia, as she also reached the semis in Sydney back in 2019.  This is another first-time encounter.

Simona Halep (2) vs. Veronika Kudermetova (3) – Not Before 5:00pm on Rod Laver Arena

After injuries derailed much of her 2021 season, Halep is now into her second final out of her last three tournaments.  Kudermetova survived three tight matchups earlier this week, and received a walkover from Naomi Osaka on Saturday.  These women played twice in 2021, with both matches going to Halep in straight sets.

Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Maxime Cressy (Q) – Not Before 7:00pm on Rod Laver Arena

Nadal only required two victories to make this final, as he received a bye in the first round, and a walkover in the quarterfinals.  Cressy is a serve-and-volleying 24-year-old American ranked 112th in the world, who came through qualifying and already defeated two of the top three seeds (Opelka, Dimitrov).  Notably, Maxime went 6-0 in tiebreaks this week.  And when asked about the prospect of facing Nadal, he said “I have the game to beat him.”

Focus

Italian Journalist rates Camila Giorgi, Matteo Berrettini, Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Sonego’s Australian Open hopes

The Italians are making big strides in Melbourne as they search for a place in the second week.

Avatar

Published

on

Matteo Berrettini (@Tennis - Twitter)

The Australian Open continues on Friday with day five of the action.

 

In the women’s draw, world number one and home favourite Ash Barty takes on Italy’s Camila Giorgi on Rod Laver Arena.

But before that, top ranked Italian and last year’s Wimbledon finalist, Matteo Berrettini, continues his campaign against rising star Carlos Alcaraz of Spain.

On 1573 Arena, 25th seed Lorenzo Sonego goes in search of his first fourth-round appearance in Australia, as he entertains Miomir Kecmanovic.

Saturday will see 2019 Next Gen Finals winner, Jannik Sinner, play Andy Murray’s conqueror, Taro Daniel, for a place in round four.

I managed to catch up with our very own Vanni Gibertini, and ask for his thoughts on Italian tennis’ hopes for this tournament.

Question 1: On Friday, can Camilla Giorgi cause Ash Barty any problems, if any? What is the strongest part of the Italian’s game?

Answer: Camila has only one way to try to win this match; just prevent Barty from playing tennis, going all-out on any chance she gets.

Barty has too much tennis for her. Actually, Barty has too much tennis for just about anyone on the WTA Tour, so she could be overpowered.

Luckily for Camila, that’s the game she’s been playing all her life, but she will need to be at the top of her game, and her serve needs to help her in a big way.

Question 2: Is this the Slam that we will see Jannik Sinner make a real statement of intent, in your opinion?

Answer: Sinner has not been very lucky with draws at Slams, except for Roland Garros 2020 when he faced a very subdued David Goffin in the first round (the Belgian had just had his wedding postponed by the pandemic).

He then went on to reach the quarter-finals where he lost to Rafa Nadal.

In this tournament, he finds himself with a viable path to the quarter-finals, and needs to prove to the world, and, himself, he belongs in the top 10 club he entered in, at the end of 2021.

I see him getting to the quarters where he will face Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the semis.

Question 3: Is the draw opening up for Lorenzo Sonego to get past Miomir Kecmanovic and go further on in this tournament?

Answer: This is a chance of a lifetime for Sonego.

Kecmanovic in the 3rd round of a Major, with the prospect of Gaël Monfils or Cristian Garin to reach the quarter finals, is a draw that would raise a lot of money, if it was auctioned off.

But the same goes for Kecmanovic, so it will be a fight.

Sonego worked on his shots during the off-season: the motion of his serve has been tweaked, as well as his backhand grip.

That may take time to digest, so it’s a question mark whether this Sonego 1.2 will pass the stress test.

But he’s in good shape, eager to play and has a great heart, and he won’t give up until he hasn’t a drop of energy left in his body.

Question 4: With Novak Djokovic‘s absence, could Matteo Berrettini win the Australian Open, or will the powerhouse of Carlos Alcaraz provide a potential stumbling block to his tournament hopes?

Answer: Matteo is an example of self-belief, so he definitely believes he’s in the mix to raise the trophy a week on Sunday.

Physically he’s probably still around 60%, and he’s going into a match with Alcaraz where he has everything to lose.

Bookmakers have him as the underdog, but he has the weapons to make his own fortune.

If he can get past the young Spaniard, it could be the win he needs to go very deep into this tournament.

Continue Reading

Focus

Australian Open Daily Preview: Friday Provides Many Excellent Third Round Matchups

Avatar

Published

on

Ash Barty on Wednesday in Melbourne (twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

Seeded players begin to collide in the draws on Friday, making for some stellar contests throughout the day.  Major champions Rafael Nadal, Naomi Osaka, Ash Barty, and Victoria Azarenka all face significant opposition, while some of the ATP’s most impressive young stars will square off to secure their spots in the round of 16.

 

Normally this preview will highlight the five most intriguing matchups, while outlining the other notable matches on the schedule.   But with so many great matchups on Day 5, that number has been expanded to six.  Friday’s play will begin at 11:00am local time.


Elina Svitolina (15) vs. Victoria Azarenka (24) – 11:00am on Rod Laver Arena

Azarenka has been dominant through two rounds, losing only seven games.  She’s keeping her momentum going after her great run at Indian Wells in October.  By contrast, Svitolina came into this tournament on a four-match losing streak, dating back to a dismal 6-1, 6-1 loss at the hands of Jessica Pegula at Indian Wells.  And this rivalry has been completely one-sided to date.  Azarenka leads 4-0, and that includes a straight-set victory last March in Doha.  With warm temperatures forecast for Friday, conditions will be quick, which should reward the dictating style of Azarenka.  I like Vika’s chances to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time in six years.


Matteo Berrettini (7) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (31) – Third on Rod Laver Arena

This should be a lot of fun, with two of the ATP’s heaviest hitters trading blows.  They first played just a few months ago in Vienna, in an extremely tight match which Alcaraz claimed in a third set tiebreak.  Berrettini is yet to play his best tennis this month.  Coming off an oblique injury that forced him out of the ATP Finals, Matteo went only 1-2 at the ATP Cup, and needed four sets to prevail in both of his first two rounds.  Meanwhile, Alcaraz has looked phenomenal, not dropping a set at the next Major after his thrilling Grand Slam breakthrough in New York.  Berrettini will need a high percentage of first serves, and a high number of winners off his blistering forehand.  But over the course of five sets, a fully-fit Alcaraz should be able to wear down the Italian and advance.


Denis Shapovalov (14) vs. Reilly Opelka (23) – Third on Margaret Court Arena

Shapovalov has struggled his way through two rounds, playing a total of nine sets.  On Wednesday, he spent nearly four-and-a-half hours on court against Soon Woo Kwon.  Opelka has required three less sets, and four less hours, to reach the third round.  This will be the first main draw meeting between the left-handed Canadian and the big-serving American.  Reilly seems primed for a deep run at a Major.  Last season, he reached two Masters 1000 semifinals, and made his first appearance in the fourth round of a Slam in New York.  If he can push several sets to a tiebreak, he has a strong chance to prevail, especially if Denis is feeling physically drained.  But considering Shapovalov’s returning prowess, Denis remains the favorite.  He’s a great shot-maker, and enjoys having a target to aim for.  Opelka will likely provide him with plenty of targets, as he came to net 30 times during his three-set win on Wednesday.


Ash Barty (1) vs. Camila Giorgi (30) – 7:00pm on Rod Laver Arena

Barty’s victories thus far have been comprehensive, allowing her opposition a total of three games through four sets, and spending less than an hour on court in each match.  Giorgi has been impressive as well, having yet to drop a set.  And it was only five months ago, on this same surface, when Camila earned the biggest title of her career, at the WTA 1000 event in Canada.  She has made great strides in better controlling her aggression, and choosing when to go for a winner.  But she is 0-3 against Barty, with their most recent encounter occurring four years ago at this event.  Giorgi is capable of beating almost anyone on almost any day, but Ash’s well-rounded game makes her a significant favorite.


Naomi Osaka (4) vs. Amanda Anisimova – 7:00pm on Margaret Court Arena

Both women are undefeated to start off 2022.  Osaka won three matches in a tune-up event on these same grounds before withdrawing, while Anisimova won a tune-up event at Melbourne Park.  With Darren Cahill added to her coaching team, Amanda has rediscovered the form that made her a French Open semifinalist in 2019.  Her backhand is formidable, yet overall her groundstrokes and serve don’t quite compare to that of Osaka’s.  Naomi has appeared rather confident on court despite taking a near-four-month break from competition to end 2021.  But a matchup against an in-form player of Amanda’s caliber is a dangerous draw for Osaka, who has only played five matches since early September.


Rafael Nadal (6) vs. Karen Khachanov (28) – Last on Rod Laver Arena

Nadal has also only played five matches since last summer, when he underwent a procedure on his foot.  And he’s often been tested by Khachanov, most notably at the 2018 US Open, when they played a high-quality four-setter which lasted well over four hours.  Out of their last 10 sets played, six of those sets have been decided by tiebreaks, and two of the others ended with a score of 7-5.  Yet, Rafa has managed to prevail all seven times they’ve met, with five of those occasions coming on hard courts.  The big-swinging Russian possesses a style which has often flustered Nadal throughout his career, but is yet to maintain a high enough level to secure more than one set in a match.  And all six of those aforementioned tiebreaks have gone the way of Rafa.  Despite Nadal not being fully match tough, there’s not much evidence to support a probable outcome other than an eighth victory for the 20-time Major champion.


Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Barbora Krejcikova (4) vs. Jelena Ostapenko (26) – It’s a matchup of surprising Roland Garros champions.  In Dubai last March, Krejcikova allowed Ostapenko only four games.

Paula Badosa (8) vs. Marta Kostyuk – When asked about facing Kostyuk after her second round win, Badosa stated “When they ask me who can be the next star, I always say Marta.”  Kostyuk took out Sara Sorribes Tormo on Wednesday, while Badosa has lost only seven games through four sets.

Maria Sakkari (5) vs. Veronika Kudermetova (28) – Neither woman has lost a set yet.  Last summer in Canada, they participated in an extended contest, with Sakkari prevailing 6-4 in the third.

Cristian Garin (16) vs. Gael Monfils (17) – Through two rounds, Garin has played 10 sets and spent over nine hours on court, while Monfils has easily claimed all six sets he’s played, and spent only three hours on court.  Two years ago at the inaugural ATP CUP, Monfils defeated Garin in straight sets.

Pablo Carreno Busta (19) vs. Sebastian Korda – Both men prevailed after grueling five-set battles on Wednesday.  After testing positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Australia, and barely practicing leading into this event, what will Korda have left after a nearly five-hour second round match? 

Sascha Zverev (3) vs. Radu Albot (Q) – Zverev is yet to drop a set, and Albot is yet to face a player ranked inside the top 100.  Though three years ago at the US Open, Radu pushed Sascha to five sets.


Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

Continue Reading

Focus

Australian Open: Daniil Medvedev powers past home favourite Nick Kyrgios

Daniil Medvedev edged past Nick Kyrgios in four sets to reach the third round at the Australian Open.

Avatar

Published

on

Daniil Medvedev (@TennisChannel - Twitter)

2nd seed Daniil Medvedev kept his hopes of winning successive Grand Slam titles alive as he beat a fired-up Nick Kyrgios.

 

The US Open champion overcame tricky conditions, with the Rod Laver Arena crowd firmly behind their Aussie hopeful.

But Medvedev was simply too good for Kyrgios, who’s lack of match practice eventually showed, going down 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

To his credit, Kyrgios put on a real show. Although, question marks remain about his long-term commitment to the sport.

Medvedev, 25, goes on to face Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp, who was one-set all and 4-0 up before injury forced Richard Gasquet to retire.

In this highly anticipated match-up between two feisty figures of our sport, both players demonstrated their astounding serving ability.

The first set saw an exchange of breaks, however, as Medvedev broke the Australian in his second service game, to take a 2-1 lead.

But Kyrgios showed the fighting spirit that has made him a regular selection in John McEnroe’s Laver Cup team.

At 4-2 down and the crowd behind him, Kyrgios roared back breaking Medvedev and holding serve to take a 5-4 lead.

Both players remained resolute as the first set went to a tie-break with Medvedev edging it 7-1.

The second set went on serve until at 5-4 up, Medvedev showed why he was one of the best returners of serve in the game as he applied pressure on Kyrgios.

The 26-year-old could only fire long, after a tense baseline exchange, as Medvedev took a two-set lead.

The crowd did their best to fire-up Kyrgios and Rod Laver Arena erupted at 3-3 in the third set.

With Medvedev serving, Kyrgios found himself 30-15 up and earned two break points in arguably the point of the match.

Both players were simply bludgeoning the ball from the baseline.

Medvedev tried the drop-shot to shorten the point, but Kyrgios magnificently got to it.

And Medvedev’s driving backhand cannoned off the Kyrgios racquet into the open court, sending the Melbourne crowd into raptures as Kyrgios raced around the back of the court in celebration.

Kyrgios captured the break of serve to move 4-3 up and another majestic point soon followed.

At 30-0 up, it looked like being a comfortable hold for Kyrgios but Medvedev began to mix it up, slicing and dicing, and played a cheeky drop-shot.

Kyrgios reached it, only for Medvedev to lob the Australian, who sprinted back and delighted the crowd with his signature hotdog shot.

Kyrgios began to return everything Medvedev was throwing at him, and blasted the ball straight at him, unable to return it, the ball bounced in to send the crowd into hysteria.

Kyrgios served out the third set 6-4, sealing it with a classy drop shot.

At 3-2 in the fourth set, Kyrgios began to wilt and was broken by Medvedev.

A smashed racquet and a point violation saw the wheels eventually come off Kyrgios’ challenge, as he was overheard saying to wheelchair tennis player Dylan Alcott: “I’m throwing the kitchen sink at him.”

It wasn’t enough however, as Medvedev proved far too strong sealing another break in the final game, to wrap up the fourth set 6-2 and his place in round three.

After the match, Medvedev voiced his displeasure with the crowd, after some boos during his service games.

Legend Jim Courier tried to diplomatically restore peace and order, but Medvedev won’t care.

He professionally swept aside a raucous crowd and a dangerous opponent, and will only get stronger as the tournament progresses.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending