Australian Summer Daily Preview: Two Blockbuster WTA Quarterfinals on Friday in Adelaide - UBITENNIS
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Australian Summer Daily Preview: Two Blockbuster WTA Quarterfinals on Friday in Adelaide

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Iga Swiatek acknowledging the crowd after her victory on Thursday (twitter.com/AdelaideTennis)

Friday’s quarterfinals in Adelaide feature two matchups between Major singles champions.  World No.1 Ash Barty will play 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, and 2020 Roland Garros champ Iga Swiatek will face two-time Slam champ Victoria Azarenka.

 

Action in Melbourne includes three other multi-time Major singles champions: Rafael Nadal, Naomi Osaka, and Simona Halep.  And in Syndey, the first semifinal tie of the ATP Cup will be decided, with Spain taking on Poland for a spot in Sunday’s final. 

Each day, this preview will highlight the most prominent matches from around Australia.


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

Order of Play is here.

Hubert Hurkacz [POL] vs. Roberto Bautista Agut [ESP] – Not Before 4:00pm on Ken Rosewall Arena

Both players went 3-0 in during the round robin stage.  Bautista Agut is 2-0 against Hurkacz, with both matches taking place on hard courts within the past few years.  This could easily become a must-win match for Poland, as the earlier singles contest will see Pablo Carreno Busta heavily favored over Kamil Majchrzak.  Russia and Canada will play in the second semifinal tie on Saturday.


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

WTA draw is here, ATP draw is here, and Order of Play is here.

Ash Barty (1) vs. Sofia Kenin (6) – Not Before 3:00pm on Centre Court

Barty came back from a set down to defeat Coco Gauff on Wednesday, while Kenin saved three match points on Thursday in a comeback victory over another Australian, Ajla Tomljanovic.  Barty leads their head-to-head 4-2, though their last encounter went to Kenin.  And it was a significant one: two years ago on an extremely hot day, the American prevailed in the Australian Open semifinals.

Iga Swiatek (5) vs. Victoria Azarenka – Not Before 7:00pm on Centre Court

Swiatek has started the year in stellar form, dropping only nine games through her first two matches.  But so has Azarenka, who is also yet to lose a set, and on Tuesday easily dispatched of her doubles partner, Paula Badosa.  Their only previous meeting occurred at the 2020 US Open, which Vika claimed 6-4, 6-2.


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

The WTA draws are here and here, and the ATP draw is here.  The Order of Play is here.

Simona Halep (2) vs. Viktorija Golubic (6) – Second on Rod Laver Arena

Like Swiatek, Halep has also allowed her opponents only nine games through four sets.  Golubic was a surprise quarterfinalist at Wimbledon last July.  During the 2018 Billie Jean King Cup (formerly Fed Cup), Halep beat Golubic in three sets on clay.

Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Tallon Griekspoor – Not Before 3:30pm on Rod Laver Arena

Nadal prevailed in straight sets in his return to singles on Thursday.  Griekspoor is a 25-year-old from the Netherlands who has already earned solid wins this week over Dominik Koepfer and Alexei Popyrin.  This is their first career encounter.

Naomi Osaka (1) vs. Andrea Petkovic – Not Before 8:30pm on Rod Laver Arena

Osaka looked a lot more sharp in her 6-1, 6-1 victory on Thursday than in her first match against Alize Cornet.  Petkovic is a former top 10 player making a bit of a resurgence.  Last summer in Romania, she won her first WTA title since 2015.

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Novak Djokovic Survives Almighty Sinner Scare to Reach Wimbledon Semis

The dramatic encounter featured a fight back, multiple breaks of serve and even an injury scare.

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Reigning champion Novak Djokovic staged an epic comeback to keep his hopes of winning a seventh Wimbledon title alive after ousting Jannik Sinner in a five-set thriller.

 


Djokovic, who only dropped six games against Sinner in their previous Tour meeting, was forced to battle back from two sets down to prevail 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, in a roller-coaster encounter on Center Court. The triumph marks Djokovic’s 84th win at the tournament which is the joint-second highest tally in history alongside Jimmy Connors. Only Roger Federer has won more.

“Huge congratulations to Jannik today for a big fight. I’m sure that there are going to be a lot of opportunities for him on the big stage. He’s mature for his age and is already an established top 15 player over the last few years,” said Djokovic.
“He was unfortunate today but he has plenty of time.”

Taking on one of the most promising future prospects of men’s tennis, Djokovic’s latest encounter was a match of two halves. Initially, he appeared as if he would suffer a shock loss to world No.13 before he managed to conjure up an emphatic comeback. Breaking Sinner’s spirit who was bidding to become only the third Italian man to reach a Wimbledon semi-final in history.

“We had two different matches. He was the better player for two sets. (Then) I went out for a toilet break, had a little pep talk (with myself) in the mirror,” the 20-time major winner revealed.
“Sometimes in these circumstances where not much is happening positively for you on the court in terms of tennis. These things are necessary – a little break and pep talk to try to recuperate.’
“I was fortunate to start well in the third set by breaking his serve and that gave me the confidence boost. I saw a bit of doubt in his game and my experience of these kinds of matches helped me.”

The first set was a roller-coaster encounter between the two tennis titans on Center Court. Reigning champion Djokovic started out guns blazing by winning seven points in a row before Sinner got onto the scoreboard after prevailing in a 17-shot rally. The top seed looked to be in full control until a double fault on break point enabled his rival to bounce back. Continuing to play some inspired tennis with blistering shot-making, a cross-court winner enabled the Italian to break once again and this time had the chance to serve the opener out. A task he passed with flying colors.

Continuing to take his game to Djokovic, Sinner appeared unfazed about trying to become the youngest men’s semi-finalist at SW19 since 2007. Producing powerful hitting from the baseline, the 20-year-old extended his lead two games into the second frame. A stunning backhand volley followed by a Djokovic error elevated him to a 2-1 advantage. Spurred on by the crowd, the unprecedented onslaught continued with the help of some costly errors from the Serbian. He sealed the double break with the help of a successful Hawk-Eye challenge before securing a two-set lead in his favor with the help of a 122mph service.

Facing a swift exit, Djokovic once again illustrated the fighting spirit that he is renowned for. Capitalizing on a blip in form from Sinner, he cruised through the third set to resurrect his chances. 

Steaming rolling his way into a decider, Djokovic continued his dominance during the fourth frame by winning four straight games. However, closing that set out was full of drama. First, Sinner suffered an injury scare after going over his ankle before continuing. Then Djokovic fended off a break point and squandered two set points before closing it out. 

A stunning sliding passing shot in the decider set Djokovic up with a chance to break and move to a game away from victory. Something he did with the help of a Sinner error which the Italian instantly regretted by putting both his hands on his head. After that mishit, Djokovic ended the clash with a love service game. 

“I’ve been blessed to play professional tennis for 20 years but nevertheless I go through those doubtful moments like everybody else. The inner fight is always the biggest fight. Once you win the fight the external circumstance is more likely to go in your favor. I knew I could turn this match around. I have done that a few times in grand slams.” Djokovic concluded.


 

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(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Why Rafael Nadal Faces His Biggest Test Yet

Tennis Hall of Famer Steve Flink joins UbiTennis to reflect on the highs and lows of day 8 of Wimbledon.

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Will the upcoming quarter-final be Rafael Nadal’s hardest match yet? How will Nick Kyrgios’ shoulder recover?

 

The second Monday at Wimbledon was one full of intrigue in the men’s draw. Whilst on the women’s side, Simona Halep was in impressive form against Paula Badosa but tennis commentator Flink explains why he thinks her upcoming clash with Amanda Anisimova will be tougher.

Alongside Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta, Flink also looks at Jannik Sinner’s chances of causing a huge upset against reigning champion Novak Djokovic. 

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WIMBLEDON: Rafael Nadal Coy Over New Injury Speculation

After the foot problems in Paris, there is a strong possibility the Spaniard could be experiencing another injury issue.

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image via twitter.com/atp

There are fresh concerns surrounding Rafael Nadal after he declined to go into the reason why he was wearing abdominal taping during his fourth round match at Wimbledon. 

 

The 22-time Grand Slam winner was seen wearing some kind of protection in the abdominal area after changing his t-shirt during one of the breaks. In recent weeks Nadal has been dealing with physical issues due to a long-term foot condition he has. At the French Open he revealed that he had to undergo injections in order for him to continue playing en route to winning the tournament for a 14th time.

Playing 21st seed Botic van de Zandschulp, Nadal battled his way to a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(6), win. Speaking to reporters after his latest win at The All England Club, the Spaniard sidestepped a question about a potential abdominal problem he could be experiencing. 

“I am a little bit tired of talking about my body. It’s not that I don’t want to answer your question, but at the same time sometimes I am tired of myself, all the issues that I am having. I prefer to not talk about that now,” he replied.
“I am in the middle of the tournament and I have to keep going. All respect for the rest of the opponents. I am just trying my best every single day. For the moment I am healthy enough to keep going and fight for the things that I want.”

Continuing to stay coy about his form and health, Nadal offered an alternative perspective when asked if he was nearing his best level once again. He has dropped just two sets in four matches played so far at Wimbledon which is his first grass-court event since 2019. 

“It’s always the same here. It’s not about how close I am to the level or not. I don’t know that. I can’t predict what can happen.” He said.
“But the positive thing is the first two matches haven’t been good. Then two days ago I played at a high level for the first time. And today most of the matches, again, at a very positive level.”

The straight sets scoreline failed to tell the true story of Nadal’s roller-coaster win on Center Court. Taking on Zandschulp, a player who burst onto the main scene last year by reaching the US Open quarter-finals as a qualifier, the 22-time major champion engaged in a match of two halves. Nadal looked on the verge of an easy victory after breaking once in the first set, twice in the second and storming to a 5-2 in the third. However, the Dutchman refused to go down without a fight by displaying his best tennis of the match to draw level. 

Now engaged in his first real test, Nadal was under intense pressure to close it out in three. If he didn’t there would have been an inevitable delay for the roof to come on due to poor light. If that occurred, there would be less than two hours of play left before the 11pm curfew began.

Nevertheless, Nadal didn’t need the roof as he squeezed through the tiebreaker. After squandering three consecutive match points, he prevailed on his fourth with the help of a lob that triggered Zandschulp to smash the ball out. 

Nadal is through to his 47th major quarter-final and is only the third man in the Open Era to do so at Wimbledon after celebrating his 36th birthday. In total, he has won 309 main draw matches at Grand Slam tournaments.

In the last eight, the Spaniard has a shot of revenge when he takes on Taylor Fritz who ended his 20-match winning streak earlier this year in Indian Wells. During that match, Nadal had a rib injury and he had beaten the American earlier that month in Mexico. 

“That last match (in Indian Wells) was zero because I had a stress fracture on my rib, and it was difficult to learn many things because the pain was terrible playing that match.” He said. 

As for Fritz, he believes their upcoming clash will be at a higher standard given the form both players are currently in. Fritz is currently on a eight-match winning streak after recently claiming the Eastbourne Open title. 

“It’s going to be a lot different match obviously. Indian Wells was kind of crazy with both of us being extremely beaten up before the final. This time I think we’ll get healthier versions of both of us, we’ll see.” Fritz previewed.

The question for nadal, is how healthy is the current version of him really is? Only time will tell. 

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