Internazionali d’Italia Daily Preview: Semifinal Saturday - UBITENNIS
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Internazionali d’Italia Daily Preview: Semifinal Saturday

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A look at Foro Italico in Rome (twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia)

Iga Swiatek is on fire.  The 20-year-old has won 26 consecutive matches, and is two wins away from defending her title in Rome.  On Saturday, she faces third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka in the semifinals.

 

The WTA’s other red-hot player is Ons Jabeur.  The Madrid champion is on a 10-match win streak of her own, and came back from 6-1, 5-2 down against Maria Sakkari to prevail in the quarterfinals.  She’ll play close friend Daria Kasatkina on Saturday. 

The ATP semifinals feature four of the top five seeds.  Novak Djokovic is a five-time champion of this event, and holds a record of 11-1 in Rome semifinals.  He’ll look for his twelfth semifinal victory on Saturday against Casper Ruud.

And for the third consecutive Masters 1000 event on clay, Sascha Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas meet in the semifinals.  In Monte Carlo, Tsitsipas prevailed in straight sets.  In Madrid, Zverev avenged that loss in three sets.  The rubber match is on Saturday in Rome.

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s two most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Saturday’s play begins at 12:00pm local time.


Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Aryna Sabalenka (3) – 12:00pm on Center Court

Swiatek survived a first-set scare from Bianca Andreescu on Friday, before easily taking the second set 6-0.  Meanwhile, Sabalenka came back from a set down to earn her first victory in five tries over Amanda Anisimova.  This Is a rematch from the final last month on indoor clay in Stuttgart, where Swiatek dominated proceedings 6-2, 6-2.  That’s been the story for much of this season: Iga dominating her opponents, who struggle to provide significant resistance.  She also beat Aryna three months ago in Doha by a similar score (6-2, 6-3).  However, last November at the WTA Finals, Sabalenka got the best of Swiatek 7-5 in the third.  Aryna certainly possesses the fire power to dictate play, but not the finesse, defense, or composure of Iga.  On this surface, and considering Swiatek’s current level of confidence, I like Iga’s chances of extending her win streak to 27.


Sascha Zverev (2) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) – Not Before 2:30pm on Center Court

Tsitsipas holds the edge in this rivalry, with a 7-4 record overall.  Between 2018 and 2020, Stefanos went on a five-match win streak against Sascha, but Zverev has now taken three of their last five.  On clay, Tsitsipas leads 3-1, with the German’s only victory coming last week in Madrid.  After surviving two three-setters earlier in the week, Stefanos took our Italy’s Jannik Sinner in straights on Friday, despite a fierce challenge by Sinner in the first set.  Zverev has not dropped a set all week, though he’s also yet to face a seed.  Sascha won this tournament five years ago, and was the runner-up a year later.  The Greek’s best performance in Rome was reaching the semis in 2019.  Based on their history, as well as recent form, Tsitsipas should be given the slight edge on Saturday.  He leads the ATP with 29 wins this season, and is 12-2 on clay.  Zverev is 9-3 on this surface in 2022, which is far from poor, but he’s been again battling the double fault woes of his past.


Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Ons Jabeur (9) vs. Daria Kasatkina – Jabeur is vying for her second WTA 1000 semifinal in as many weeks.  Kasatkina is going for her second WTA 1000 semifinal ever, and her first since Indian Wells in 2018.  Ons leads their head-to-head 3-2, and has claimed their last three matches, which all occurred within the past year.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Casper Ruud (5) – Djokovic is 2-0 against Ruud, having yet to drop a set.  That includes a match in the same round of this event two years ago.


Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Cincinnati Daily Preview: A Loaded Schedule Features All Third Round Matches

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Emma Raducanu on Monday in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

Thursday’s schedule in Cincinnati is overflowing with appealing contests.  ATP third round singles action is especially stacked, featuring 11 of the world’s top 20, including world No.1 Daniil Medvedev and Carlos Alcaraz.  WTA action features top names such as world No.1 Iga Swiatek and reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu.

 

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Thursday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Jessica Pegula (7) vs. Emma Raducanu (10) – Not Before 7:00pm on Center Court

It’s been a tough season for Raducanu, but she seems to be peaking just in time for her US Open title defense.  The 19-year-old followed up her comfortable victory over Serena Williams by dominating Victoria Azarenka 6-0, 6-2.  She is currently in a trial coaching relationship with Dmitry Tursunov, who in recent years guided the careers of two other WTA players to new heights (Sabalenka, Kontaveit).  That partnership appears to be paying immediate dividends for Emma, much like Tursunov’s coaching did for Aryna and Anett.  Pegula has become the American No.1, and since last August, has reached the semifinals at three WTA 1000 events in North America, including just last week in Toronto.  But in their first career meeting, Raducanu’s blistering form this week makes her the favorite.


Felix Auger-Aliassime (7) vs. Jannik Sinner (10) – Not Before 7:00pm on Grand Stand

This is a rematch from three months ago at the Madrid Masters 1000 event, where Auger-Aliassime crushed Sinner 6-1, 6-2.  That was an especially surprising result on clay, which is not Felix’s best surface.  The 22-year-old Canadian is now 35-19 on the year, and defeated Alex de Minaur in straight sets on Wednesday.  Sinner has a slightly better record of 38-10, and on Tuesday, outlasted Thanasi Kokkinakis in an over three-hour match decided by a third-set tiebreak.  Over the last few months, Sinner has been the more in-form player.  Jannik has won nine of his last 11 matches, while Felix has only managed five of his last 10.  With not much separating their abilities, confidence may be key, and that’s to Sinner’s advantage.


Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Taylor Fritz (11) vs. Andrey Rublev (6) – Fritz easily dismissed of an obviously-hampered Nick Kyrgios on Wednesday.  Rublev came back from a set down to take out Fabio Fognini.  Taylor is 3-2 against Andrey, which includes a straight set victory earlier this year at Indian Wells.

Petra Kvitova vs. Ons Jabeur (5) – Jabeur saved three match points on Wednesday against Ohio native Katy McNally.  A round earlier, Kvitova saved match point against last year’s runner-up, Jil Teichmann.  Petra leads their head-to-head 3-1, though Ons earned her first win in their friendly rivalry this season.

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Madison Keys – On Wednesday, Swiatek outlasted the other finalist from the 2017 US Open, Sloane Stephens.  On the same day, Keys ousted another French Open champion, Jelena Ostapenko. 

Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Denis Shapovalov – This week, Shapovalov has earned his first back-to-back wins since May.  He has split four previous meetings with Medvedev, though Daniil has claimed their most recent two. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Diego Schwartzman (13) – Schwartzman already survived two three-setters this week.  He’s 2-2 overall against Tsitsipas, though Diego has taken both of their matches on hard courts. 

Marin Cilic (14) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – Cilic won this event in 2016.  He’s 1-1 against Alcaraz, who is now 43-8 in 2022.


Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Cameron Norrie Makes Murray Pay In Last 16 Bid At Cincinnati

Cameron Norrie edged past Andy Murray to reach the last 16 in Cincinnati.

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Cameron Norrie (@the_LTA - Twitter)

Cameron Norrie capitalised on missed opportunities from Andy Murray as he reached the last 16 in Cincinnati with a 3-6 6-3 6-4 win.

 

Norrie won the all-British match in three sets, relying on his mental strength to survive a wave of aggression from Murray.

The three-time grand slam champion missed an array of opportunities as he once again suffered cramping issues towards the end of his defeat.

Norrie will play either Casper Ruud or Ben Shelton in the last 16 on Thursday.

After an exchange of breaks to start the match, it was Murray who took the initiative early on dictating play from the baseline with good shot selection.

Murray bounced back from wasting two break point opportunities in the fourth game as he grinded out the break in the eighth game, forcing some uncharacteristic errors from Norrie’s racket.

Although the British number one pushed for the break back, it was Murray who continued to pile on the aggression as he converted his second set point to hold and take the opening set 6-3.

Murray continued to dominate proceedings against an under-par Norrie in the second set and it would be the start of a frustrating theme for the three-time grand slam champion as he missed a plethora of break points.

In total Murray converted two of eleven break point opportunities as Norrie slowly grew into the match, hitting more confidently.

Norrie’s mix of variety and power saw him break in the eighth game as Murray was punished for passive play on big points.

The Brit missed three more break points in the next game as Norrie forced a deciding set.

In the final set both players produced their best tennis of the set as they produced accurate and smart serving.

As Murray continued to be clinical on serve but he couldn’t repeat the same feat on return as he missed simple forehands and groundstrokes to convert his break point opportunities.

Norrie took advantage of denying Murray the break in the sixth game as he went for the break in the ninth game.

Murray’s cramping issues would come back to haunt him as a double fault sealed the break for Norrie, with the ninth seed closing out the match with some spectacular tennis.

After the match Norrie admitted it was one or two points that was the difference between victory and defeat, “There were a couple in the second and third set as well, when he had a couple of break chances, and then I was able to play the bigger points a little bit better. It came down to one or two points and that was the difference,” Norrie told the ATP website.

“I just needed to put a lot of balls in the court. At the start of the match nothing was really working for me, I was not really being physical, I was not really executing how I liked.

“Credit to Andy, he came out and was using his slice a lot, coming forward well. He reads the game incredibly, so credit to him and it was not easy towards the end, I managed just to find a way.”

Norrie will look to play better when he takes on Casper Ruud or Ben Shelton on Thursday.

As for Murray he will look to improve his stamina and tactical play just in time for the US Open which starts on the 29th of August.

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Gael Monfils Withdraws From US Open Due To Foot Injury

Gael Monfils will miss his third consecutive grand slam after another injury setback.

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Gael Monfils (@JCPGATA - Twitter)

Gael Monfils’ injury-hit season continues as he withdraws from the US Open due to a foot injury.

 

The Frenchman started the season in fine fashion as he reached the Australian Open quarter-finals and also won a title in Adelaide beating Karen Khachanov in the final.

However since the Australian Open, Monfils has only played five tournaments and has been struggling with injuries and consistency.

Th 35 year-old has only managed six victories since January and just when Monfils’ return to the tour looked successful in Montreal, the Frenchman suffered a foot injury against Jack Draper in their last 16 match.

After returning to Europe for scans it now turns out that Monfils will miss further weeks on the tour and will be unavailable for the US Open in a couple of weeks.

Speaking on Twitter the Frenchman revealed he will have to undergo further treatment, “Dear all, following the latest medical exams that I took upon returning in Europe, I will sadly not be able to play at the US Open this year,” Monfils told his fans on the social media website.

“I am forced to undergo a new period of treatment before being able to resume tournaments. I will keep you informed as soon as I can with regards to my next tournament.”

The news means that Monfils will miss his third grand slam in a row after being ruled out of Roland Garros and Wimbledon earlier in the year as the Frenchman will look to be refreshed for the end of the season.

Monfils’ best result at the US Open was reaching the semi-finals in 2016 where he lost to Novak Djokovic in four sets.

The 35 year-old will aim to be back at the Masters 1000 event in Paris in November while the US Open will take place without Monfils on the 29th of August.

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