Roland Garros Daily Preview: Iga Swiatek Goes for her 31st Consecutive Victory - UBITENNIS
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Roland Garros Daily Preview: Iga Swiatek Goes for her 31st Consecutive Victory

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A shot from the grounds of the French Open (twitter.com/rolandgarros)

This century, as per the WTA, Iga Swiatek is tied for fifth-most 6-0 sets won in a season.  And it’s still only May.  The 2020 champion will look to continue her dominance on Saturday against Danka Kovinic, won who an ITF-level clay event earlier this month.

 

Other third round action on Saturday includes Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Paula Badosa.

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


Andrey Rublev (7) vs. Cristian Garin – 11:00am on Court 14

Rublev won a clay event in Belgrade last month, yet went just 2-2 between Madrid and Rome.  Thus far, he’s dropped a set in each of his first two matches.  So Andrey is not currently in his top form.  And his history at this event is rather up-and-down: he reached the quarterfinals in 2020, but lost in the first round in his other two previous appearances.  Garin excels on this surface: all five of his career ATP titles have come on clay, and he advanced to the fourth round here a year ago.  After surprisingly struggling on clay this February in South America, where he went 0-3, the Chilean was a semifinalist in Houston and a quarterfinalist in Madrid.  Andrey is 2-0 against Cristian, which includes a win on clay three years ago in Hamburg.  Garin should certainly test Rublev, and if he does, Andrey needs to avoid allowing his temper to get the best of him as it recently has.  But the seventh seed has the necessary fire power to dictate play and prevail.


Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Danika Kovinic – 12:00pm on Court Philippe Chatrier

Kovinic is a 27-year-old from Montenegro who, after never getting beyond the second round of a Major for eight years, is now into the third round at the second consecutive Slam  At January’s Australian Open, she upset US Open champ Emma Raducanu.  And she’s 12-4 this year on clay at all levels.  But defeating another Slam champ on Saturday will be a daunting task.  Swiatek has not lost since February 16th, and she’s 16-2 lifetime at this event, with her only losses coming against top 10 opposition (Halep, Sakkari).  Iga is a huge favorite to make the second week of this event for the fourth straight year, something she’s never failed to do.


Daniil Medvedev (2) vs. Miomir Kecmanovic (28) – Second on Court Suzanne Lenglen

Coming off a near two-month layoff for hernia surgery, and an 0-1 record on clay this season, not much was expected of Medvedev heading into this fortnight.  But he’s played at a high level this week, and is yet to drop a set.  However, Kecmanovic will be a big step up in competition.  The 22-year-old is in the top 20 of the year-to-date rankings, thanks to 25 match wins.  Miomir has achieved six quarterfinals this season, and he’s coached by a man who knows plenty about playing on clay: two-time French Open semifinalist David Nalbandian.  Medvedev and Kecmanovic have never played before, and an upset of the No.2 seed would not be shocking considering Miomir’s recent form, as well as Daniil’s lack of play and lack of love for this surface.


Paula Badosa (3) vs. Veronika Kudermetova (29) – Third on Court Suzanne Lenglen

This is their third meeting this season, and Badosa crushed Kudermetova in their first two.  In Indian Wells, Paula won 6-3, 6-2.  In Madrid, it was 6-3, 6-0.  However, Veronika claimed their three earlier encounters, two of which occurred last year, and one of which was on clay.  Kudermetova reached a clay final last month in Istanbul, but then promptly lost three straight matches heading into this event, including the Madrid loss to Badosa.  Paula was an excellent 17-3 on clay last year, though she’s yet to play at her top level this season on this surface.  But based on their recent history, Badosa is a considerable favorite to even their overall head-to-head.


Holger Rune vs. Hugo Gaston – Not Before 8:45pm on Court Philippe Chatrier

These are two of the ATP’s most exciting young stars, who will deservedly receive the spotlight of the night session on Saturday night in Paris.  21-year-old Gaston made his Major breakthrough at this event two years ago, as the Frenchman electrified the Parisian audience with his surprising run to the fourth round.  Hugo defeated two-time finalist Dominic Thiem in five sets, and then almost upset another Major champion Stan Wawrinka, eventually losing in five, but not before hitting an astounding 58 drop shots.  19-year-old Rune made a name for himself at last year’s US open by taking a set off Novak Djokovic.  And within the last two months, Rune has claimed two clay titles, one at Challenger level and one at tour level.  Holger is yet to drop a set this week, while Hugo again enthused his home country with a victory over Alex de Minaur in a fifth-set tiebreak.  The French crowd played a huge role in that outcome, and they’ll look to do the same on Saturday evening.  But in their first career meeting, the more in-form player should be favored, and that definitively is Rune.  Prior to this tournament, Gaston was only 4-9 on the year.


Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Aryna Sabalenka (7) vs. Camila Giorgi (28) – These are two of the WTA’s hardest ball strikers.  They have split two previous meetings, with their clay court matchup going to Sabalenka.

Jessica Pegula (11) vs. Tamara Zidansek (24) – Pegula has required 19 match points across her first two matches to advance.  Zidansek was a surprise semifinalist here a year ago, but had a losing record on the year coming into this event.  Two years in Auckland, Pegula defeated Zidansek 6-2, 6-3.

Hubert Hurkacz (12) vs. David Goffin – Hurkacz has advanced via two three-setters, while Goffin has advanced via two four-setters.  Just a few weeks ago in Rome, Goffin overcame Hurkacz in two sets decided by tiebreaks.

Marin Cilic (20) vs. Gilles Simon (WC) – Simon is one of the best stories of this first week.  Gilles was 1-4 at tour level this season, but in his last Roland Garros, the Frenchman has thrilled the Parisian crowd with surprising victories over Pablo Carreno Busta and Steve Johnson.  And he’s 6-1 lifetime against Cilic, with Marin’s only win coming in a five-setter at the 2014 US Open.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Mikael Ymer – Tsitsipas has really struggled through two rounds, already spending nearly eight hours on court.  Ymer is yet to go beyond the third round of a Slam, and is 0-3 against the Greek.

Elena Rybakina (16) vs. Madison Keys (22) – Rybakina was a quarterfinalist here a year ago, though Keys has reached the quarters or better twice.  This is their first meeting.

Casper Ruud (8) vs. Lorenzo Sonego (32) – Despite owning seven ATP titles on clay, Ruud is 0-3 in the third round of Roland Garros.  Sonego reached the fourth round two years ago, and is yet to drop a set this week.  Ruud is 3-0 against Sonego, and has won six of their seven sets.


Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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“I Thought The Ship Had Sailed’ – Nick Kyrgios Reaches Maiden Wimbledon Semis

The 27-year-old reacts to achieving a new milestone in his career.

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Nick Kyrgios (AUS) - Credit: AELTC/Jonathan Nackstrand

Nick Kyrgios has achieved his best-ever result at a grand slam tournament after beating Cristian Garin in straight sets in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon. 

 

Kyrgios, who was playing in the last eight of the tournament for the first time since 2014, rallied to a 6-4, 6-3, 7-5(5) win over his Chilean rival. Becoming the first player from his country to reach the last four of the men’s draw since Lleyton Hewitt did so back in 2005.  


”I felt I was playing on the back foot a lot. He’s a hell of a player,” Kyrgios said afterward. “He’s obviously very confident. Hell of a tournament for him to make the quarter-finals. I got lucky on a couple of break points here and there. It could have been him standing here (giving the winner’s interview).”

In what was a largely controlled match from Kyrgios, he produced a total of 17 aces alongside 35 winners against 29 unforced errors. There were the occasional outbursts and criticism of the lines officials but it was by nowhere as controversial as his previous encounters against Stefanos Tsitspas in the third round and Paul Jubb in the first.

The breakthrough comes during what has been a turbulent career. Kyrgios has been a player involved in many controversies and was at one stage issued with a suspended ban from the Tour due to unsportsmanlike conduct. However, his talent was never doubted but many were unsure if he could be consistent enough to have a deep run at a major event. He once was at a pub until 4 am on the same day he was due to play Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon.

“It was an amazing atmosphere out here (on court one). I never thought I will be in the semifinal of a grand slam. I thought my ship had sailed.” He admits. 
“I didn’t go about things earlier in my career great and I may have wasted (time).’
‘I’m really proud of the way I’ve come back out here with my team and with that performance.”

As one of the few top 100 players who travel without a coach, Kyrgios paid tribute to those around him. 

“I don’t have a coach I would never put that burden on someone,” he jokes.
“Each and every one of my team plays an important role. I feel like nobody knows my tennis better than I do. I’ve been playing this sport since I was seven and to be in the semi-final of a slam I am pretty happy.”  

Kyrgios is the lowest-ranked Wimbledon semi-finalist since 2008.

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Simona Halep Beats Erractic Anisimova To Reach Wimbledon Semis

The former world No.1 dropped six games against her opponent who produced a series of costly errors.

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Simona Halep has stormed into the last four at Wimbledon after producing a comprehensive win over Amanda Anisimova. 

 

The 2019 champion survived a last-minute resurgence from her rival to prevail 6-2, 6-4, over the American on the Center court. Halep was able to dictate the play throughout with the use of her aggressive shot-making in a match that resembled their meeting in Bad Homburg just two weeks ago. It is the first time she has reached the last four of a major since the 2020 Australian Open.

It’s great to be back in the semi-finals. I am very emotional right now because it means a lot,” said Halep. 
“I played a tough opponent today who could crush the ball in the end and I didn’t know what to do. I just believe in myself. I believed until the end that I could win.”

The 16th seed hit fewer winners than her rival (11-13) but the most telling factor was the unforced error count. Halep’s tally of six was more than four times less than that of Anisimova (28).

Out of the active players on the WTA Tour, Halep is only the third to reach a fifth Wimbledon quarter-final after both of the Williams sisters. Taking on Anisimova, the Romanian got off to a blistering start by breaking just three games into their clash. Producing some powerful ball-striking Halep forced her rival to commit back-to-back forehand errors which granted her the early break. Two games later the lead was extended further after yet more Anisimova errors moved the former champion to 4-1. She took the opener after exactly 30 minutes of play with the help of a serve down the line Anisimova returned.

It was a case of deja vu in the second set with Halep’s game simply overwhelming her error-stricken opponent who looked growingly lost on the court. Anisimova continuously looked towards her entourage out of frustration. It eventually all got too much for the world No.25 who began to cry during a changeover after going down 1-4 once again. 

Halep’s only struggle in the match occurred when she was tasked with serving it out. With Anisimova hitting more freely and with nothing to lose, suddenly she was the aggressor and retrieved one of the breaks to gradually close her deficit to 4-5.  Prompting a big cheer from the crowd. 

After going through a period where 13 out of 16 points played went to her opponent, Halep eventually held her nerve to clinch victory. 

“I am definitely playing my best tennis (since winning the 2019 Wimbledon title),” she said.
“Last year I struggled a lot and now I am just trying to build my confidence back. My tennis here and all I need to do now is to start to believe in myself.”

Halep is yet to drop a set at Wimbledon after five matches played. 

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Tatjana Maria – Reaching Wimbledon Semi-Finals is ‘Amazing’ But It Doesn’t Beat Parenthood

The underdog is enjoying her best-ever run at a major 15 years after making her debut.

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Image via twitter.com/wta

Germany’s Tatjana Maria reveals people once doubted her ability to return to tennis after having her first child. Now a mother-of-two, she has secured a place in the Wimbledon semifinals. 

 

The fairytale run of the world No.103 continued on Tuesday when she ousted compatriot Jule Niemeier 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, in her quarter-final match. Until the tournament, Maria had never been beyond the third round of a major event. However, that changed with high-profile wins over Sorana Cirstea, Maria Sakkari and Jelena Ostapenko prior to Niemeier.

“It’s amazing. I mean, I tried to calm down a little bit in the locker room and to realize something, but it’s still hard to realize it,” she said of reaching the last four at Wimbledon.

Whilst some players prepare for their Grand Slam matches in the gym, Maria’s routine is somewhat unique. She began her day by taking her 8-year-old daughter to her tennis lesson. It wasn’t enough to keep her busy, she also has a 15-month-old baby.

“Outside of the court, nothing changes for me for the moment,” she said.  “I try to keep this going, everything the same. We keep going (to the tennis lessons) even if I’m playing the semifinals.”

Incredibly the 34-year-old returned to the circuit following maternity leave less than a year ago. It was during that absence that she decided to switch to a one-handed backhand. She has been ranked as high as 46th in the world and has two Tour titles to her name. 

“A lot of people who never believed I would come back. This was already after Charlotte and when I changed my backhand,” she said.
“I showed it last time already that I am back. I reached the top 50 with Charlotte, and now I’m back with my second child. Still, everybody was doubting.’
“I’m still here and I’m a fighter, and I keep going and I keep dreaming.”

Relishing in her best-ever performance at a major event, Maria is another example of a player having a breakthrough later in their career. To put her run in perspective, in the Open Era only five other women have reached the semifinals at Wimbledon after turning 34.

However, in Maria’s eyes, her achievements on the court can’t beat her top priority off the court.

“To be a mum is for me on the top of my life. So I think it helps me in tennis too because now my priority is my kids,” she explains. “I play tennis, I want to do my best, that’s all that I want. But my kids are the priority.’
“If I go out there, I want my kids to be happy, that they are healthy, that everything is okay. That’s the most important thing for me in my life.”

Maria made her Grand Slam debut back at Wimbledon in 2007. 

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