Wimbledon Daily Preview: A Unique Fortnight in London Begins on Monday - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Daily Preview: A Unique Fortnight in London Begins on Monday

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The All England Club is ready to host The Championships (twitter.com/wimbledon)

In the same year Wimbledon celebrates the 100th anniversary of Centre Court, it will stage The Championships under unique circumstances.  The AELTC has banned Russian and Belarusian players due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  In retaliation, the ATP and WTA stripped this year’s tournament of its ranking points. 

There are some prominent names absent from Wimbledon in 2022, due to not only the ban, but also injuries.  They include Daniil Medvedev, Sascha Zverev, Aryna Sabalenka, and Andrey Rublev.  And most notably, eight-time champion Roger Federer will miss The Championships for the first time since his professional career began in 1998.

However, many other top names are present, and are eager to win this Major despite the lack of ranking points it normally comes with.  Six-time champion Novak Djokovic is looking to defend his title and procure his 21st Major.  That would move him just one Slam behind two-time champ Rafael Nadal, who is vying for her 23rd overall, and is currently halfway to the calendar year Grand Slam.  Another two-time champion, Andy Murray, would love to make his first deep run at a Major since 2017 on his favorite courts. 

The women’s singles draw is headlined by Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek, who arrives on a phenomenal 35-match winning streak.  And 23-time Major champ Serena Williams returns for her 21st appearance at SW19, a full year since her last singles match, where she was forced to retire due to injury at the 2021 event.  The WTA draw also includes Wimbledon champions Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber, Garbine Muguruza, and Petra Kvitova.

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.


Hubert Hurkacz (7) vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina – 11:00am on No.3 Court

Hurkacz should be considered one of the top contenders for this title.  He was a semifinalist a year ago, and is coming off a grass court title a week ago in Halle, where he defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime, Nick Kyrgios, and Daniil Medvedev.  However, this could be a tough first round draw for Hubi.  Ranked 38th in the world, Davidovich Fokina is the highest-ranked unseeded player in the draw.  And while he’s 0-1 at Wimbledon, he’s advanced to the second week of two other Majors on the other two surfaces.  And earlier this season, he was a finalist in Monte Carlo.  These players have split their four previous encounters.  The last two went to Hurkacz, though both went the distance.  On grass, Hubi is certainly the favorite.  Normally he would feel the pressure of defending semifinal points at a Slam for the first time, but that pressure has been lifted by the lack of ranking points this year.  And his formidable serving prowess will continue to be rewarded on this surface.


Ons Jabeur (3) vs. Mirjam Bjorklund (Q) – 1:00pm on No.1 Court

What a few months it’s been for Jabeur.  In Madrid, she captured her first WTA 1000 title.  A month later in Berlin, she was the champion on the grass of Berlin, where she overcame Coco Gauff and Belinda Bencic.  That run propelled her to a career-high ranking of No.3 in the world.  And this past week in Eastbourne, Serena Williams asked her to be her doubles partner, which Ons referred to as an honor.  But after two victories for that partnership, they withdrew from the event, citing a knee injury suffered by Jabeur.  Hopefully that was mostly precautionary, as a healthy Ons is one of the favorites this fortnight.  Her opponent on Monday is a 23-year-old qualifier who is looking for her first main draw win at a Major.  While Bjorklund won an ITF-level event on clay this April, this will be the first time she’s ever faced a top 40 player.  In the first match of The Championships on the mostly-pristine green grass of No.1 Court, Jabeur should easily prevail.


Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Soonwoo Kwon – 1:30pm on Centre Court

As per tradition, the defending men’s singles champion receives the honor of playing the first match of the fortnight on Centre Court.  Djokovic is vying for his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title, and has not lost at this event since 2017, when an injured Novak was forced to retire against Tomas Berdych.  He arrives at SW19 having not played any warmup events on grass, though that’s not abnormal for the 20-time Major champion.  Kwon is a 24-year-old who won his first ATP title last September in Nur-Sultan.  But he will be a huge underdog against Djokovic, as Soonwoo only possesses one career ATP victory on grass, which came during this tournament a year ago.   And in their only previous meeting, last year on clay in Belgrade, Novak prevailed with the loss of only four games.  The Serbian’s winning streak at The Championships does not feel like it’s in much jeopardy on Monday.


Jannik Sinner (16) vs. Stan Wawrinka (WC) – Third on No.2 Court

This may be the most highly-anticipated matchup on Day 1’s schedule.  Wawrinka is fighting to rediscover his form after missing over a year of action due to multiple foot surgeries.  Since returning to the tour in April, he’s gone just 3-4, yet has shown signs of the competitive level that made him a three-time Major champion.  In his absence, Sinner has become one of the ATP’s top performers.  The Italian accumulated 49 wins last season, moving him inside the top 10.  And Jannik has now achieved two Major quarterfinals.  However, grass is not either player’s favorite surface.  Wawrinka is only 20-15 lifetime at SW19, yet what’s most troubling is Sinner’s 0-4 career record on grass.  But asking Stan’s body to hold up in the best-of-five format against one of the sport’s best young players may be too tall a task this early in his comeback.  That leaves Jannik as the slight favorite to pick up his first victory on grass  And Sinner will certainly benefit from the coaching wisdom of Darren Cahill, who recently joined his team.


Emma Raducanu (10) vs. Alison Van Uytvanck – Second on Centre Court

It was a year ago at Wimbledon when Raducanu made her Major breakthrough at what was also her first tour-level event.  As a wild card ranked 338th in the world, Emma made a thrilling run to the second week.  Later that same summer, she made the most shocking run of all-time, coming through qualifying to win the US Open.  And she did so without dropping a set.  Now Raducanu returns to her home country’s Slam, with an indescribable amount of pressure and expectations on her.  In the fourth round last year, all that attention overwhelmed her, as she was forced to retire due to breathing issues.  Emma comes into this event without much confidence, as she’s only 7-10 on the year.  And Van Uytvanck is a threatening first round draw.  She’s also reached the fourth round of this tournament, back in 2018, and is a former French Open quarterfinalist.  And Alison is 12-2 on grass across the last four weeks at all levels, with two ITF titles during that span.  This matchup should be considered an upset alert on Day 1 of The Championships.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Casper Ruud (3) vs. Albert Ramos-Vinolas – Ruud is coming off his first Major final three weeks ago in Paris, but lost his only match on grass this season, and is 2-4 lifetime on this surface.  Ramos-Vinolas is 5-8 at Wimbledon, and has lost his last four matches at SW19.  They’ve met four times, all on clay, with three of those matches going to Ramos-Vinolas.

Anett Kontaveit (2) vs. Bernarda Pera – Kontaveit earned her No.2 seeding based on strong results outside the Majors, yet she’s 3-4 at the last four Slams, and is currently on a four-match losing streak.  Pera is a 27-year-old who is 0-3 at The Championships.

Carlos Alcaraz (5) vs. Jan-Lennard Struff – Alcaraz is a stellar 32-4 on the year, though he is 1-1 in his career on grass, and has been battling an elbow injury.  Struff reached the second week of this event in two of his last three appearances, but is only 2-12 in 2022, as he’s been struggling with a foot injury.  Struff defeated Alcaraz in the first round of last year’s Roland Garros in straight sets.

Angelique Kerber (15) vs. Kristina Mladenovic – The 2018 champion was a semifinalist here a year ago, though she’s a modest 11-10 this season.  Mladenovic won her fourth French Open doubles crown a few weeks ago, yet in singles, she’s 2-8 this year at tour level.  Kerber leads their head-to-head 4-2.

Andy Murray vs. James Duckworth – Murray advanced to the final of Stuttgart earlier this month, but had to withdraw from Queen’s Club due to an abdominal injury.  He’s 2-0 against 30-year-old Duckworth, with both victories coming on hard courts.


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Roland Garros 2024: ‘Proud’ Iga Swiatek Seeks Consistent Improvement

Iga Swiatek continues to find improvement despite her dominance ahead of her Roland Garros opener.

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Ubitennis/Francesca Micheli

Iga Swiatek had admitted she is ‘proud’ of her clay court season but is seeking consistent improvement over the rest of the season.

The world number one is aiming for a third consecutive Roland Garros title and heads into Paris in dominant form.

Titles in Madrid and Rome with two contrasting wins over Aryna Sabalenka means she is the overwhelming favourite heading into the fortnight.

Speaking ahead of her opening match Swiatek spoke about how she is a better tennis player from 2022 and how proud she is of her clay court season so far, “I think I’m a better player because I just grew and I worked hard during the past two years,” Swiatek explained in her press conference.

“I feel like I’m progressing, so I guess I should be a better tennis player. Comparing the results, or my feelings, two years ago it was all kind of new for me, and I think I won so many matches also because nobody really expected it.

“When the streak started, I wasn’t even second in the rankings, so I think other players were also unprepared maybe for my game sometimes. Now it’s different. Now they are prepared, and I feel like I keep having a target on my back, because I’m No. 1. So I think actually I’m more proud of what’s happening right now and winning all these titles this year already has shown that we are going on the right path.”

Despite her recent dominance, Swiatek isn’t resting on her laurels as she continues to seek improvement.

The Pole has been working on several areas on her game including the serve as she has become a more aggressive player over the last couple of years.

Swiatek spoke on the changes she has made with her coach as she seeks more consistent improvement, “Changing the technique, I think it allowed me to serve faster. We worked on my placement as well, so it got better for sure. I feel like I have more options when I’m serving,” Swiatek told the Roland Garros website.

“As you could see in Rome, for example, I had many situations when I was a break point down, and I was able to kind of save the game with my first serve. So this tournament showed that we are going in the right direction. Next goal is to keep my serve at a consistent level throughout the whole season. We’ll see how that’s going to go.

“But I think overall my coach from the beginning had a great idea about my serve. The other thing is me implementing it, so we are working hard for the movement to be smooth and to get muscle memory, so even under the biggest pressure and stress, I’m going to be serving the same way.”

Swiatek will begin her campaign against qualifier Leolia Jeanjean in her opening round match on Monday with potentially Naomi Osaka awaiting in round two.

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Roland Garros 2024: Practice Makes Perfect For Carlos Alcaraz In Roland Garros Title Bid

Carlos Alcaraz is looking to overcome the pain barrier as he searches for Roland Garros glory.

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Carlos Alcaraz is bidding for a first Roland Garros title but the Spaniard will need to overcome the pain barrier in order to achieve his goal.

The world number three enters this year’s tournament with mixed preparations having suffered an injury during practice in Monte-Carlo.

Alcaraz failed to play in Barcelona, where he was defending champion, before exiting Madrid at the quarter-finals stage to eventual winner Andrey Rublev.

Despite Alcaraz’s lack of fitness, the Spaniard will feel he has a good chance of achieving a special landmark as he has the opportunity to win 75% of the career Grand Slam.

Speaking ahead of the fortnight Alcaraz admitted he is feeling better but needs to change some psychological feelings when hitting the forehand again, “I’m feeling better. At least I can practise, hit balls without pain. That’s a really good point for me,” Alcaraz explained in his pre-tournament press conference.

“I’m not feeling any pain in the practices when I step on the court. But I’m still thinking about it when I am hitting forehands. Probably I’m gonna say I’m a little bit scared about hitting every forehand 100 percent. So I have to change it in my first match.”

Roland Garros holds a special place in Alcaraz’s heart having had good memories and matches in the past with the Spaniard reaching the semi-finals last year.

Now Alcaraz is aiming to win his maiden title in Paris as he continues his development at an elite level.

The Spaniard spoke about how special Roland Garros is and spoke about how wide open this year’s tournament is given the form and fitness of Novak Djokovic and Jannik Sinner, “Right now, I don’t see a clear favourite to win the tournament, but there is a wide range of players who can do it,” Alcaraz explained.

“It’s Roland-Garros and it’s a really special tournament. Everybody wants to do good results here. This tournament is one of the main reasons that I’m practicing every day. I want to be a better player, to be able to win these kinds of tournaments.”

Alcaraz starts his Roland Garros on Sunday against lucky loser J.J. Wolf.

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Tomas Machac Stuns Novak Djokovic To Reach Maiden ATP Final In Geneva

Tomas Machac is into his first career ATP final after stunning Novak Djokovic in Geneva.

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Tomas Machac is into his first ATP final after defeating Novak Djokovic 6-4 0-6 6-1 in Geneva.

The world number one seemed to be struggling physically throughout the contest as Machac earned the biggest win of his career.

After trailing 4-1 in the opening set, Machac played aggressive tennis against a sub-par Djokovic to win five games in a row and take the opening set.

In the second set Djokovic was back to his brilliant best as he won six consecutive games to level the match at one set all.

However the Serb was clearly struggling with his fitness and conditioning as Machac secured the biggest win of his career, reaching a first ATP final.

Speaking after the match Machac was lost for words as he looks ahead to Saturday’s showdown, “I have no reaction right now, I just fought for every ball,” Machac told the ATP website.

“When you play against Novak you just hope. You just try to play your best and see what it looks like. I am looking forward to playing in a final for the first time.”

As for Djokovic, the Serb is yet to reach a final this year and will need to get his form back on track as he prepares to begin his Roland Garros title defence against Pierre-Hughes Herbert.

Meanwhile Machac will play either Casper Ruud or Flavio Cobolli in the final.

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