Internazionali d’Italia Daily Preview: A Jam-Packed Schedule with Three of the ATP Top Five, and Seven of the WTA Top 10 - UBITENNIS
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Internazionali d’Italia Daily Preview: A Jam-Packed Schedule with Three of the ATP Top Five, and Seven of the WTA Top 10

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Rafael Nadal practicing on Sunday in Rome (twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia)

Wednesday provides an overabundance of tennis, with dozens of appetizing matchups around the grounds throughout the day.  Rafael Nadal will play his opening match against John Isner, a player who has tested him on clay in the past.  Other top ATP names in action include Sascha Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Jannik Sinner, who plays fellow Italian Fabio Fognini.

 

Second-round WTA matches on Wednesday are headlined by world No.1 Iga Swiatek, who has been unstoppable in her last four tournaments.  And two-time Major champion Simona Halep faces Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins.

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s two most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Wednesday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.


Rafael Nadal (3) vs. John Isner – Second on Center Court

Nadal is now 22-2 in 2022, yet is coming off a loss to Carlos Alcaraz last Friday in Madrid.  This will be Rafa’s fourth match since returning from a rib injury that forced him to miss Monte Carlo and Barcelona.  11 years ago at Roland Garros, Isner became one of the few people to push Nadal to five sets at that event, when he went up two-sets-to-one in the opening round.  Overall, eight of the 19 sets they’ve contested have gone to 7-5 or deeper.  However, Rafa has won six of those extended sets, with their French Open meeting remaining the only time Isner has taken such a set from Nadal.  And considering John is only 11-10 this season in singles, and 0-7 lifetime against Nadal, the King of Clay is a heavy favorite to prevail.  But Isner’s serving prowess still makes him an undesirable opponent for most players, and he can often garner a set if it remains tight.  And this is the one clay Masters event where the American has previously been a semifinalist, in 2017. 


Danielle Collins (7) vs. Simona Halep – Fifth on Pietrangeli

Last summer in Canada, Collins defeated Halep 6-4 in the third, after a near three-hour battle.  That was the last victory in a 12-match win streak for Danielle, who claimed back-to-back titles in Palermo and San Jose.  But since reaching the Australian Open final in January, Collins is only 4-3, as she’s battled back and abdominal issues.  Meanwhile, it feels like Halep is on the verge of a big season.  She is 19-5 in 2022, with her only losses since March coming at the hands of Iga Swiatek and Ons Jabeur, two of the this year’s top performers.  With Patrick Mouratoglou as her coach, and the injury issues of last year seemingly behind her, a third Major title could be in Simona’s near future.  At an event where Halep is 20-8 lifetime, and where Collins is 2-2, the Romanian is the favorite to advance.


Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Sascha Zverev (2) vs. Sebastian Baez (Q) – Zverev will be only three days removed from the thrashing he suffered in the final of Madrid.  Meanwhile, between his title run in Estoril and coming through qualifying in Rome, 21-year-old Baez is on an eight-match win streak.

Belinda Bencic (12) vs. Amanda Anisimova – This is a rematch from January’s Australian Open, where Anisimova upset Bencic in the second round 6-2, 7-5.  Amanda is 8-2 on clay this season, while Bencic is 9-1.

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Elena-Gabriela Ruse (LL) – Swiatek is now on a 23-match win streak, with four consecutive titles dating back to February.  Ruse took out American Shelby Rogers in the first round.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Grigor Dimitrov – Last week in Madrid, Tsitsipas comfortably beat Dimitrov, just as he did in Barcelona as well.  Overall Stefanos is 4-1 against Grigor, and 3-0 on clay.

Leylah Fernandez vs. Daria Kasatkina – Both players are 4-4 in their last eight matches.  This will be the first career meeting between these two extremely creative players.

Jannik Sinner (10) vs. Fabio Fognini – Sinner is now 21-5 on the year, and 5-2 on clay.  Fognini is 12-8, with nine of those wins coming on clay, including a victory on Monday over Dominic Thiem.

Cameron Norrie (7) vs. Marin Cilic – A year ago in the Estoril semifinals, Norrie took out Cilic in two tight sets.

Paula Badosa (2) vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich (Q) – Badosa went 17-3 on clay last year, but is a meager 5-3 in 2022.  Sasnovich started the season by reaching a tour final in Melbourne.


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Kei Nishikori Confirms Safety Amid Hurricane Ian, Sets Out End of Year Plans

Kei Nishikori is set to return to tennis in November.

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Kei Nishikori (@WSOpen - Twitter)

Former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori has confirmed that he and his family are safe as Hurricane Ian continues to cause destruction in America.

 

Nishikori lives and is based in Florida, where Hurricane Ian is doing most of its destruction at the moment.

So far at least two million people are without power with a handful of people losing their life due to the hurricane.

Some of Nishikori’s fans were concerned about his safety but the former top ten player confirmed that he and his family are safe, “Hi everyone, just a quick note to say my family and I are safe,” Nishikori confirmed on social media.

“Thank you for all the messages. It was a scary day and hope things will be back to normal as soon as possible. My thoughts are with all the people facing the results of the storm. I hope everyone stays safe.”

It’s pleasing to hear Nishikori is safe as the storm continues to cause destruction on many people’s livelihoods in the US.

Speaking of Nishikori, the Japanese star has been fairly muted on the court with him not playing a single event this season.

Injuries have been the story of Nishikori’s career and it looks as if that trend has continued in 2022.

However Nishikori could be expected to make his return to the tour in November on the Challenger tour.

That’s because Nishikori has been confirmed to compete in the Calgary and Drummondville challenger events.

The two events take place between the 6th and the 20th of November with Nishikori looking to gain some match time ahead of next year’s Australian Open.

Tournament directors Alain Calle and Danny Da Costa had this to say on Nishikori’s participation, “We’re thrilled to have Kei at our tournaments,” they jointly said in a press release.

“He’s been one of the most prolific players on the Tour since the start of his career, and even though he’s coming back from a major injury, he remains a very talented player. We’re looking forward to seeing him play again in Canada, and there’s no doubt our fans will be, too.”

The events will be Nishikori’s first since Indian Wells in 2021 where he lost to Dan Evans in the second round.

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Novak Djokovic Praises ‘Passionate’ Tel-Aviv Crowd Ahead Of Quarter-Finals

Novak Djokovic is into the quarter-finals in Tel-Aviv and will play Vasek Pospisil on Friday.

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Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic spoke about the crowd in Tel-Aviv ahead of his last eight showdown with Vasek Pospisil.

 

The Wimbledon champion progressed to the quarter-finals in Tel-Aviv with a dominant display over Pablo Andujar.

Djokovic dropped only three games as he returned to imperious form as he looks to boost his ranking over the coming weeks.

Speaking after the match Djokovic spoke about the ‘passionate’ crowd in Tel-Aviv and how it boosted his performance, “Fantastic atmosphere here tonight, thank you very much,” Djokovic said in his on-court atmosphere.

“I like the court, it’s very intimate and it’s very loud. The crowd here is very passionate about the sport, about tennis and I’m really, really happy to be here and to perform here in front of you, so thank you for your support.”

Djokovic’s last appearance in Tel-Aviv came as a teenager in 2006 when he played a Davis Cup tie.

Now 16 years later, Djokovic is relishing the occasion playing in Israel again as he looks to make up significant ground on the world’s top ranked players.

Djokovic will now play good friend Vasek Pospisil in the last eight with the Serb leading the head-to-head 5-0.

Here are the other quarter-finals that will take place on Friday in Tel-Aviv:

Arthur Rinderknech v Roman Safiullin

Constant Lestienne v Maxime Cressy

Liam Broady v Marin Cilic

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Iga Swiatek Annoyed By Scheduling Dilemma Ahead Of Season Finale

Iga Swiatek has admitted it’s unlikely that she will play the Billie Jean King Cup Finals after a scheduling dilemma.

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(@thenet_m - Twitter)

World number one Iga Swiatek admits she is annoyed by facing a scheduling dilemma ahead of the end of the season.

 

Swiatek has dominated the 2022 season having won two Grand Slam titles and five other titles this season.

This means she has qualified for the WTA Finals which will take place on the 31st of October in Texas.

However Swiatek is now becoming the victim of her own success as she now faces a dilemma over whether to represent Poland at the Billie Jean King Finals.

The BJK Cup Finals, take place the week after in Glasgow where Poland will face the Czech Republic and the USA in their Group.

Speaking to Polish media Swiatek admitted she is unsure whether she will compete in Scotland and criticised the WTA for their lack of organization over the events, “I am dissatisfied, although I know that arranging everything is complicated,” Swiatek was quoted by Give Me Sport Women as saying.

Certainly, the fact that the WTA and ITF federations in a sense did not cooperate to facilitate our task is irritating to me. I will definitely take steps to let them know about my dissatisfaction.

“I don’t understand the scheduling. I’m not gonna lie that I’m happy about the fact that if I go deep in [the] Finals, I will have to not only play tired but also jetlagged the next day. So I can’t confirm whether I’ll represent Poland or not. I’m sorry.”

Swiatek’s father, Tomasz, backed up his daughter’s criticism and wishes for more communication between the WTA and players in the future, “It’s an extremely unfortunate deal,” he said.

“And yet we have a very difficult group for that in the BJK Cup. The dates of both events are missed. There is a clash between the ITF (organisers of the BJK Cup) and the WTA (organisers of the WTA Finals). Instead of taking care of the development of women’s tennis, they cannot communicate.”

So far both Swiatek and Ons Jabeur have qualified for the WTA Finals with Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula expected to join them.

Caroline Garcia, Aryna Sabalenka, Daria Kasatkina and Simona hold the other four spots with just weeks left of the season.

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