Hard-court Queens continue to dominate the Miami Open - UBITENNIS
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Hard-court Queens continue to dominate the Miami Open

Naomi Osaka leads the quarter-final line-up at the Miami Open.



Naomi Osaka (@divinesabalenka - Twitter)

We’re now at the quarter-final stages of the women’s edition of the Miami Masters, and there are names there that have lit up the tour elsewhere at other hard-court events.

Analysis by James Spencer (Twitter – @jspencer28)

Let’s look at Naomi Osaka to start with.

This the obvious example as she has twice won each of the Australian Open and US Open.

She is therefore very well placed to win in Miami as the conditions are similar to that in New York in the final Grand Slam of the year, where she has enjoyed such success.

If the Japanese plays her best tennis, there is no doubt that she can be champion on the East Coast.


Her tennis has translated well to these courts, but is her run to the quarter’s a surprise considering recent events and distractions?

The former world number one has slipped to 78 in the world and has cited her mental health as being majorly affected in recent months.

This has been reflected by poor performances on the court.

She exited in the second-round of last year’s French Open and didn’t fare much better at the US Open, as she went out in the third-round.

More recently, this year, Osaka went out in the third-round of the Australian Open and was in tears as she lost in the round of 64 at Indian Wells after heckling and abuse from the crowd.

However, she hasn’t dropped a set and is still looking good.


Her next opponent is Danielle Collins another Queen of hard-courts.

The 28-year-old from Florida reached the Australian Open final in January, and has only played in Dubai since then.

There she lost in the round of 32, so has had no recent form going into the Miami Open, yet has played some superb tennis.

Her latest victory coming against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur; 6-2, 6-4, a player many on the WTA Tour are wary of.

She will have nothing to lose against Osaka and that could well be the pick of the quarter-finals.

Fifth seed Paula Badosa of Spain is another who can play very well on hard-courts.

The 24-year-old won the winter edition of Indian Wells last year, and reached the semi-finals of the WTA Finals in Guadalajara.

This year, she has won the Sydney International in January and came very close to defending her title at Indian Wells, just coming up short in the semi-finals against Maria Sakkari.

But her next match will not be easy as Jessica Pegula of the United States is also strong on hard-court.

The New Yorker got to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open before falling to eventual champion Ash Barty.

Perhaps she hasn’t made it as a total queen in this category but she can certainly draw on her experience Down Under.

We also have Swiss star Belinda Bencic who won the Olympics in Tokyo on hard-court last summer.

She has now gone deep in Miami and is yet to drop a set.

And finally, how can we not mention the new world number one, Iga Świątek.

Having won the French Open in the autumn of 2020, many tennis fans could be forgiven for thinking she was merely a clay-court specialist.

However, her title win at Indian Wells last week has solidified her claims that she can mix it up on other surfaces.


She also made it to the semis in Australia before losing to Collins.

Now she has the chance to win a historic Sunshine Double and after an impressive victory over young American star Coco Gauff, anything is possible.

Tonight’s quarter-finals should be lit!

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Rafael Nadal makes a winning come-back against Flavio Cobolli in Barcelona



Rafael Nadal made a winning come-back by beating Italy’s Flavio Cobolli 6-2 6-3 in 1 hour and 26 minutes at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. The twelve-time Barcelona champion won his third match this year. 

Nadal is playing just his second tournament of the year and his first since last January, when he reached the quarter final in Brisbane. 

Nadal converted two of his eight break points and held four service games in the first set. The Spaniard held serve from 0-30 down in the first set. Cobolli faced two break points in the fourth game and saved them. The Italian player wasted a game point and was broken on Nadal’s third break point after a backhand error. Nadal consolidated the break by holding serve with a service winner to take a 4-1 lead. Cobolli faced four break points in the sixth game, but he saved three of these break points with service winners and held serve with a powerful serve to reduce the gap to 2-4. Nadal held serve at love in the seventh game with a service winner.

Cobolli missed a game point after Nadal’s backhand crosscourt winner, as he was serving to stay in the set in the eighth game. Nadal earned a set point after a forehand error from Cobolli and converted it, when the Italian player netted a forehand. 

Cobolli earned his first break point in the opening game of the second set. Nadal fended it off with a drop shot winner to hold serve after Cobolli’s forehand error. 

Nadal earned two break points, as Cobolli netted a backhand in the second game. The home star converted his break point to open up a 2-0 lead, as Cobolli hit a forehand long. Cobolli broke back in the third game after Nadal made a backhand error. 

Nadal broke serve again in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead, when Cobolli made a double fault. The former world number 1 player held his service game with a service winner in the fifth game to open up a 4-1 lead. 

Cobolli held serve to love in the sixth game with a forehand winner to reduce the gap to 2-4. Nadal held serve in the seventh game after a forehand error from Cobolli to open up a 5-2 lead forcing the Italian player to serve  to stay in the match. Cobolli held at love to cut the deficit to 3-5. 

Nadal served out the win with a hold at 15 after Cobolli’s backhand error. Cobolli made 41 unforced errors, including 27 in the opening set. 

Nadal set up a second round match against Alex De Minaur. The 92-time titlist leads 3-1 in his four head-to-head matches against his Australian opponent. 

“Every time it is more difficult and especially when you are at an advanced age. It makes things even tougher. I am going through tough moments but at the same time, when I am able to be on Tour for a few days and practise with the guys then be able to compete a little bit, it means a lot to me. It’s still enjoyable enough to keep going. I am happy to start with a victory without a doubt”, said Nadal.

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Rising Star Mirra Andreeva Teams Up With Wimbledon Champion Martinez



Mirra Andreeva – Australian Open 2024 (foto: X @WTA)

Teenage sensation Mirra Andreeva has begun working with a former Grand Slam champion on a trial basis ahead of the French Open.

The 16-year-old has linked up with Conchita Martinez, who is overseeing her run at this week’s Rouen Open in France. Martinez peaked at a ranking high of No.2 during her career and won 33 WTA titles. After retiring from the sport, she has coached Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova. 

Andreeva’s latest partnership was formed with the help of her agent ‘two or three weeks ago.’ According to the WTA website, their practice week went well and now they are testing working together during a tournament. 

“So far, so good,” said Andreeva“I like it, I hope she likes it too. We will see how it will go and then we will decide about our next tournaments. I cannot say there are special aspects we are working on. But the first thing we worked on was my slice, because she was a good slicer. So she told me some tricks, and I’m trying to use it when I have time and a good possibility on court.”

Andreeva is currently ranked 43rd in the world and is the youngest player in the top 100. She has already reached the fourth round of both Wimbledon and the Australian Open but is yet to win a WTA title. So far this year the Russian’s best result was a quarter-final appearance at the Brisbane International. 

Martinez, who also reached the last 16 of a major at the age of 16, spoke about the teenager with Ubitennis during last year’s Wimbledon Championships. At the time she pointed out that consistency is key for the youngster.

“The most important thing is that she keeps practising and focusing on what she has to do to get better. It’s great what she is doing now but she has to maintain it,” she commented.

Andreeva kicked off her campaign in Rouen with a 6-1, 6-3, win over Nadia Podoroska. 

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence



Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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