Roland Garros Daily Preview: Naomi Osaka Plays Amanda Anisimova in an Australian Open Rematch - UBITENNIS
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Roland Garros Daily Preview: Naomi Osaka Plays Amanda Anisimova in an Australian Open Rematch

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Naomi Osaka practicing in Paris (twitter.com/rolandgarros)

In the third round of January’s Australian Open, Naomi Osaka and Amanda Anisimova played an excellent match.  Osaka would hold two match points, but it would be Anisimova who would eventually prevail in a final-set tiebreak.  Now they meet again, in a highly-anticipated first round matchup in Paris.

 

Also on Monday, three of the favorites to win this event will play their opening matches: Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Iga Swiatek.  Nadal is vying for his record-extending 22nd Major singles title, while Djokovic is looking to tie Nadal by defending his title and winning his 21st

Swiatek arrives in Paris on a 28-match winning streak, and has established herself as a strong favorite to procure her second Slam.   And Barbora Krejcikova starts her title defense on Monday, in what will be her first match since February.

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


Amanda Anisimova (27) vs. Naomi Osaka – 11:00am on Court Suzanne Lenglen

This will be Osaka’s return to an event where a year ago she withdrew after much controversy surrounding her decision to not participate in press conferences.  And this will be just her third match on clay this season, after withdrawing from Rome due to an ankle injury.  Anisimova is 10-3 on clay, having reached the quarterfinals or better in each of her three tournaments on this surface.  It was in Paris three years ago when the American made her big breakthrough with a run to the semifinals.  In their Australian Open thriller, struck 46 winners, while Osaka only accumulated 21.  That’s a stark contrast, especially considering how Naomi is usually the one dictating play.  On this surface, where Osaka has only played seven matches in the last three seasons, Anisimova is a considerable favorite to earn another victory over the four-time Major champion.


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

How will Swiatek cope with the pressure of being the prohibitive favorite to win this tournament?  This is new territory for the 20-year-old, as she has separated herself from the pack following the sudden retirement of Ash Barty.  Iga is 37-3 on the year, with five straight titles (Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stutthart, Rome).  This is her first career meeting with Tsurenko, who is a former top 25 player and a 2018 US Open quarterfinalist.  But Lesia hasn’t played since retiring from a round of 16 match last month in Istanbul, and hasn’t won a main draw match at a Slam in three years.  Sunday’s first match on Chatrier saw the WTA’s other red-hot player, Ons Jabeur, go down in defeat.  But I don’t see another upset to start the day on Monday.


Barbora Krejcikova (2) vs. Diane Parry – Second on Court Philippe Chatrier

Defending your first Major title is never easy, but doing so when you’ve been inactive for the last three months is nearly impossible.  Krejcikova hasn’t played a match since February due to an elbow injury.  Her opponent on Monday is a 19-year-old from France who won four titles at lower-level events last season, all on clay.  With the Parisian crowd behind her, a Parry upset would not be shocking, especially against an out-of-form defending champion who has a lot of ranking points to defend.  Krejcikova could fall out of the top 10 with a first-round loss.  Barbora’s chances will be contingent upon how healthy her elbow is, and if she can overcome her lack of form.


Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Jordan Thompson – Third on Court Philippe Chatrier

Nadal’s achievements at this tournament are well-documented: a mind-boggling record of 105-3, with 13 titles.  But questions surround his condition coming into this fortnight.  Despite his history here, and despite his excellent 2022 record of 23-3, his chronic foot injury was causing him a lot of pain just over a week ago in Rome.  Rafa was noticeably limping during his three-set loss to Shapovalov in the quarterfinals of that event.  He remains a huge favorite against Thompson, who is 4-11 the last two seasons on clay, and 3-6 lifetime in the main draw of the French Open.  But all eyes with be on Nadal’s feet, as a relatively-healthy Rafa should of course be considered the favorite to win Roland Garros for a 14th time.


Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Yoshihito Nishioka – Not Before 8:45pm on Court Philippe Chatrier

Considering Nadal’s foot, many consider Djokovic to be the favorite to defend his title.  While he missed much of the 2022 season due to his vaccination status, Novak rounded into form nicely on clay.  After gritting his way to the final in Belgrade in spite of some lackluster form, Djokovic reached the semifinals of Madrid, where young phenom Carlos Alcaraz required nearly four hours to stop him.  And in Rome, Djokovic won his first title in six months, and did so without dropping a set.  And that included his three victories over top 10 opposition since last November.  Nishioka has won his first round match in three consecutive years at Roland Garros, but that run will most likely end here.  Yoshi is 0-4 this season in the main draw of clay events, and in two previous encounter with Djokovic, he has been defeated soundly.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Bianca Andreescu vs. Ysaline Bonaventure (Q) – This is just Andreescu’s third main draw match at Roland Garros.  After missing the first three months of the season, Bianca has gone 6-3 on clay.  Bonaventure does own a victory over Andreescu, from a Canadian ITF-level event five years ago.

Stan Wawrinka vs. Corentin Moutet (WC) – Wawrinka has only played four tour-level matches since March of 2021 due to surgery on his left foot.  And the 2015 champion is 0-1 against Moutet, as the Frenchman defeated him in three sets two years ago in Doha.

Anett Kontaveit (5) vs. Ajla Tomljanovic – Kontaveit was easily the WTA’s best player during the latter stages of 2021, but she’s now just 3-4 since March.  Tomljanovic has been struggling as well, with an 11-13 record on the season.  Anett claimed both of their previous meetings in three sets.

Emma Raducanu (12) vs. Linda Noskova (Q) – The reigning US Open champion is 5-4 on clay this season.  Noskova is a 17-year-old from the Czech Republic, and is the reigning Roland Garros girls’ champion.

Angelique Kerber (21) vs. Magdalena Frech – Kerber has lost in the first round of this event five out of the last six years.  But she’s coming off a title run this past week in Strasbourg.  Frech is a 24-year-old from Poland whose only previous main-draw victory at a major came four years ago in Paris.


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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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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Wimbledon: Nick Kyrgios Shakes off Injury Trouble During Epic Clash To Reach Quarter-Finals

The Australian is through to the last eight but how will his body fair in the next round?

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Nick Kyrgios has reached his first Wimbledon quarter-final in eight years but fresh concerns have risen over his current health. 

 

The world No.40 ousted America’s Brandon Nakashima 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-1, in a marathon last-16 encounter but at times looked to be in discomfort. Throughout the match, Kyrgios clinched his right shoulder on multiple occasions and required a medical timeout during the third set. The issue comes two days after his dramatic clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas who has since accused the tennis star of bullying. 

Despite the injury scare, Kyrgios still managed to produce a total of 35 aces and dropped serve only three times in the match. Overall, he hit a total of 78 winners against 42 unforced errors. 

“It was a hell of an effort by Brandon. He is a hell of a player. He is 20-years-old and he is going to do some special things (in the future), that’s for sure,” said Kyrgios.
“It wasn’t anywhere near my best performance but I’m super happy to get through. I fought really well today and the crowd was amazing. it was special stepping out here (on center court) once again.”

Kyrgios’ use of unorthodox antics was on display from the start. Besides a series of heavy-hitting, his first use of the underarm serve occurred just three games into the match. Although it was canceled out by a let call. It was soon after that when the alarm bells first began to ring with the Australian showing visible discomfort with his right shoulder. Appearing to clutch it after almost every point. At 5-4, Nakashima was the first to draw blood after a forehand shot from his rival landed beyond the baseline to hand him the break to clinch the opener.

Whilst Kyrgios initially looked to be far from his best, he was handed a lifeline at the start of the second frame. 20-year-old Nakashima produced a double fault followed by a forehand shank to hand Kyrgios an early break. The American was making his second main draw appearance at the tournament and sixth overall in a major.  Seizing the moment, Kyrgios consistently served around the 130 mph mark to close in on leveling the match. Doing so with a serve down the middle of the court his rival returned into the net. 

However, the shoulder still proved problematic for the 26-year-old who had to take a medical time out for treatment half-way through the third frame. Visibly bothered by the issue and shaking his head, he continued playing on Center Court and somehow managed to go ahead. During the third set tiebreak, a Nakashima double fault handed Kyrgios an early break as he worked his way to a 6-2 lead. He then sealed the set with a blistering forehand return.

The roller-coaster continued into the fourth frame with Kyrgios buckling after hitting back-to-back errors to go down a break. It was at this point that he fumed at a comment made by somebody in the crowd.

“It’s the same sh*t over and over again. I’m trying to obviously make my first serve. Stop saying that. Obviously, I’m trying to f**king make my first serve.” He was heard saying during the changeover.

Nakashima continued the momentum with a three-game winning run to force the encounter into a decider. 

Despite the blip, Kyrgios managed to find another level by storming through the decider by winning six out of the last eight games played.

“I’ve played a lot of tennis in the last month-and-a-half. I’m just proud of how I managed to steady the ship,” Kyrgios replied when asked about his shoulder. “He came out firing in the fourth set. My five-set record is pretty good and that is what I was thinking about.’
“I was like ‘I’ve been here before, I’ve done it before and I can come through again.’”

Kyrgios is the sixth Australian man in the Open Era to reach the last eight of Wimbledon on multiple occasions after also doing so in 2014. The run continues his fine form on the grass this season where he has already reached back-to-back semi-finals in Stuttgart and Halle.

In the next round, he will play Chilean underdog Christian Garin who edged out Alex de Minaur 2-6, 5-7, 7-6, 6-4, 7-6 in an epic clash to become only the fourth man from his country to ever reach the quarter-final stage. Garin saved two match points en route to victory after four hours and 34 minutes of play. 

“I was really excited to play de Minaur, to be honest. He has been flying the Aussie flag for so long. I came on the court when he was two sets to love up and I was expecting to play him but I’m not going to think about that,” said Kyrgios.
“I need a glass of wine for sure tonight.”

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