Wimbledon Daily Preview: Andy Murray Faces John Isner in the Second Round - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Andy Murray Faces John Isner in the Second Round

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Andy Murray during his first round victory on Monday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Six years ago, Andy Murray won his third Major title at The Championships, and ended that year by achieving another career milestone: becoming the No.1 player in the world for the first time.  Unfortunately, the following years were filled with injuries and surgeries.  In 2022, despite an ab injury he suffered leading up to this fortnight, Murray appears as fit as he’s been since his last Slam title run in 2016.  But in the second round, 2018 semifinalist John Isner stands in his way.

 

Wednesday’s Centre Court schedule is headlined by the same three names as Monday, as Murray shares the stage with defending champion Novak Djokovic and US Open champion Emma Raducanu.  Other action on Wednesday features 2018 champ Angelique Kerber, Roland Garros finalist Casper Ruud, and two multi-time champions in 2022: Ons Jabeur and Carlos Alcaraz.

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


Casper Ruud (3) vs. Ugo Humbert – 11:00am on No.2 Court

Ruud has become a formidable player on both clay and hard courts, yet his first round victory on Monday was only his third career win on grass, and his eighth match on the surface overall.  By contrast, Humbert is quite accomplished on grass.  Ugo advanced to the second week of this tournament in 2019, and went 8-2 on this surface last season, which included a title run in Halle.  But after battling injuries and fatigue in recent months, the 24-year-old Frenchman is just 7-17 this year, and only 2-3 on grass.  Humbert leads their head-to-head 2-1.  He has prevailed in both their hard court meetings, while Ruud prevailed on clay.  All three of their matches have gone to a deciding set.  But despite his lack of experience on grass, Casper should be favored to even their head-to-head based on recent form.


Angelique Kerber (15) vs. Magda Linette – Second on No.2 Court

Kerber is now 37-12 lifetime at Wimbledon, but she also has a recent history of losing early at Majors.  Angie has failed to make the second week in eight of her last 12 Slam appearances.  And Linette upset a top seed just a month ago at a Major, when she took out Ons Jabeur in the first round of Roland Garros.  However, Magda has only played accumulated seven tour-level win on grass in her career.  Their only previous encounter occurred earlier this year on clay in Strasbourg, with Kerber prevailing in three.  On grass, a much stronger surface for Angie, the 2018 champion should be able to prevail comfortably.


Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis – 1:30pm on Centre Court

Djokovic overcame a stern test in the opening round from Soonwoo Kwon, eventually winning 6-4 in the fourth.  That was Novak’s 80th win at The Championships, making him the only player to ever win 80 matches at every Major.  On the same day, Kokkinakis procured his first-ever victory at SW19, and only his fourth tour-level win on grass.  Thanasi’s battles with injuries are well-documented, but the Australian has been healthy and more active on tour the past 18 months than he has in many years.  Earlier this season in his hometown of Adelaide, he captured his first ATP title.  But defeating the three-time defending champion, who is 61-3 in the second round of Majors, would be a monumental upset.  While Kokkinakis has some weapons that can provide Djokovic with another test, Novak remains a considerable favorite to advance.


Emma Raducanu (10) vs. Caroline Garcia – Second on Centre Court

Raducanu overcame a lot of pressure in the opening round, as well as a tough opponent in Alison Van Uytvanck, who was 12-2 on grass this season at all levels.  But the 19-year-old’s draw gets no easier on Wednesday.  Garcia is a former top five player who won her second French Open doubles titles a few weeks ago, and is currently on a six-match win streak in singles.  Last week on the grass of Bad Homburg, Caroline won tight three-setters over both Alize Cornet and Bianca Andreescu to win her first singles title in three years.  When these players met earlier this year in Indian Wells, Raducanu was victorious 6-1 in the third.  If Emma can continue to withstand the overwhelming attention she’s currently receiving from the British public and press, she possesses enough firepower and consistency to collect another win over the Frenchwoman.


John Isner (20) vs. Andy Murray – Third on Centre Court

While they have not played in nearly six years, their history has been completely one-sided.  Murray is 8-0 against Isner, and has secured 20 of 24 sets contested.  And John did not arrive in London with much form.  The 37-year-old is just 14-12 on the year, and played no grass court warmup events.  On Monday, he required five sets to get past a player ranked outside the top 200.  While Isner’s serve always makes him a threat to pull out a tight match, gaining his first victory over an in-form Murray on Wednesday would be surprising.  Andy is coming off a run to the final of Stuttgart earlier this month, and appeared uninhibited on Monday by the ab injury that forced him to withdraw from Queen’s Club. 


Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Anett Kontaveit (2) vs. Jule Niemeier – On Monday, the second seed broke a three-match losing streak, and also won her first match on grass in over a year.  Niemeier is a 22-year-old who in the opening round claimed her first main draw victory at a Major.

Carlos Alcaraz (5) vs. Tallon Griekspoor – Alcaraz defeated Jan-Lennard Struff on Monday 6-4 in the fifth, which is only his second career win on this surface.  Griekspoor took out Fabio Fognini in four, and has never advanced beyond the second round of a Slam.   

Ons Jabeur (3) vs. Katarzyna Kawa (Q) – Jabeur is now 31-9 on the year, and has taken 16 of her last 18 matches on grass.  Kawa is a 29-year-old who had never earned a win at a Major prior to this tournament.


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

ATP

Dominic Thiem Rules Federer Out Of GOAT Debate

The Austrian puts forward his theory on who should be regarded as the best player in history.

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Dominic Thiem; e-motion/Bildagentur Zolles KG/Martin Steiger, 27.10.2022

The honour of which player deserves to be regarded as the greatest of all time (GOAT) should be decided based on one factor, according to Dominic Thiem. 

 

The former world No.3 has weighed in on the debate by suggesting that the argument should be settled by the number of Grand Slam titles a player has won as they are the most prestigious tournaments in the sport. In tennis, the four major tournaments are the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. 

Thiem’s GOAT criteria have therefore ruled Roger Federer out of contention. The Swiss maestro was at one stage the frontrunner due to the numerous records he has broken throughout his career. However, he retired from the sport last year with 20 Grand Slam trophies under his belt which is less than both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic who are currently on 22 each. 

“In my opinion, the Grand Slam titles should be the defining criteria when determining the best of all time, they are the four most important tournaments in tennis,” Eurosport quotes Thiem as saying. 
“Everything else is fine, but it’s not the same. The Slams are what counts, so the GOAT will probably be the one with the most Grand Slams.”

Others will argue that more factors should be taken into account in the subjective debate. For example, Federer has won 103 ATP titles which are more than his two rivals, Djokovic holds the record for most weeks as world No.1 and Nadal has won more tournaments on clay than any other player in history. Furthermore, there is the players’ win-loss rate on the Tour and their records against the top 10 players. 

Recently at the Australian Open Djokovic won the men’s title for a historic 10th time in his career. An achievement that has been hailed by Thiem who was runner-up to the Serbian at Melbourne Park in 2021. 

“I am not very surprised, Djokovic still looks young,” he said. “Physically and mentally, because of the way he moves on the court. It’s like he was 25 years old.
“We have to be honest, he is the best, so his victory was not very surprising.”

Thiem has won one Grand Slam title which was at the 2020 US Open when he became the first man in the Open Era to come back from two sets down to win in the final. He has also been runner-up at the French Open twice, as well as the Australian Open once. 

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Andreescu edges Kostyuk to reach semis in Hua Hin

Bianca Andreescu is into the semi-finals in Thailand.

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Bianca Andreescu (@BenLewisMPC - Twitter)

The Canadian is into the final four in Thailand after beating the Ukrainian in straight sets.

 

Bianca Andreescu booked her spot in the semifinal of the Thailand Open in Hua Hin after beating the Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk in straight sets 6-0, 7-6 in one hour and 28 minutes.

The number one seed hit 19 winners and won 69% of her first serve points in a match where she had an amazing start but was dealt some adversity in the second set.

“I don’t think I started playing bad in the second set,” Andreescu said. “I think she just raised her game and she is always a tough opponent so I wasn’t expecting anything easy.”

The Toronto native who was making her first trip to Thailand came out to a flying start breaking three times in the first set en route to serving a bagel 6-0 set in a mere 25 minutes on court.

Riding the momentum into the second set, the Canadian broke again in the first game and at 3-1 went up a double break and found herself up 5-1 and a game away from the semis.

That’s when the number five seed started fighting back and at 5-2 broke Andreescu for the first time in the match and won the next two games to level the set at 5-5, using her powerful forehand to do it.

The set and the match were ultimately decided by a tiebreaker where the top seed got the early lead at 4-2 and served out the set and match at 6-3 in the breaker to secure the win.

After the match in her on-court interview, she was asked about her chances in the next match.

“I am hoping to win the tournament and I really believe in myself and if I get the support I need hopefully I can win the next two matches.”

Andreescu will face another Ukrainian in the semi-finals Lesia Tsurenko who had no issues getting past the German Tatjana Maria in straight sets 6-1 6-1 in one hour and 16 minutes.

In the other two quarterfinal matches, Lin Zhu of China beat the Slovenian Tamara Zidansek in straight sets 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 15 minutes to set up an all-Chinese semi-final with the number seven seed Xinju Wang.

Wang needed three sets to get past the Brit Heather Watson 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 in two hours and 40 minutes.

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Australian Open Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas Play for the Men’s Championship

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Novak Djokovic this week in Melbourne (twitter.com/australianopen)

A year ago, Novak Djokovic experienced quite an embarrassing debacle.  After the unvaccinated Djokovic was initially granted an exemption and allowed to enter Australia, he was later detained, and eventually deported and prevented from competing at this tournament.  His refusal to get vaccinated continues to prevent Novak from competing in North American tournaments, missing Indian Wells, Miami, Canada, Cincinnati, and the US Open last year. 

 

But at the events Djokovic has been allowed to participate in over the past seven months, he has been nearly unstoppable.  Since the beginning of Wimbledon last June, he is now 37-2, with five titles.  Novak comes into this championship match on a 16-match winning streak, with seven of those victories against top 10 opposition.  With a win on Sunday, Djokovic not only ties Rafael Nadal in their ongoing race for history with 22 Major titles, but he also regains the World No.1 ranking, despite all the tennis he’s missed.

However, standing in his way is a hungry and confident Stefanos Tsitsipas.  This is the Greek’s second Major final, and the second time he’s encountered Djokovic in this round of a Slam.  Two years ago in the championship match of Roland Garros, Tsitsipas secured the first two sets, before losing to Novak in five.  If Stefanos can win one more set on Sunday, he’ll not only win his first Major title, he’ll also become the World No.1 for the first time.

Also on Sunday, the women’s doubles champions will be crowned.  Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, who have won six Majors as a team, face Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara, who are vying for their first Major as a team. 


Stefanos Tsitsipas (3) vs. Novak Djokovic (4) – 7:30pm on Rod Laver Arena

Djokovic’s excellence in the latter rounds of the Australian Open is rivaled only by Nadal’s excellence at Roland Garros.  Novak is now 19-0 in the semifinals and finals of this tournament, which is quite staggering.  He’s also won his last 27 matches at this event, and his last 40 in Australia in general, a streak that dates back over five years.  While Novak suffered a hamstring injury a week before this fortnight, he has still advanced to this final rather easily, dropping only one set through six matches.

Tsitsipas has now reached the semifinals or better in four of the last five years at the Australian Open, but this is his first time reaching the final.  He enjoys plenty of Greek support at this event, and appears to have some extra swagger in his step during this fortnight.  Stefanos has dropped three sets to this stage, and has been superb at saving break points.  Through six matches, he has saved 44 of 53 break points faced.

Both men feel fully at home on Rod Laver Arena, and have described it as their favorite court.  But this is their first meeting on RLA.  They’ve met plenty of times on other courts though, in a rivalry that’s been thoroughly dominated by Djokovic.  The Serbian leads 10-2, and has claimed their last nine matches.  That includes four matches that took place in 2022, in which Novak won eight of their nine sets.  They played three times within a six-week period this past fall on indoor hard courts, with their closest and best matchup taking place in the semifinals of Bercy, where Djokovic prevailed in a final-set tiebreak.

Djokovic is undeniably a huge favorite to win his 10th Australian Open.  But that common knowledge takes a lot of pressure off Tsitsipas, who was so close to defeating Novak the last time they met in a Slam final.  Djokovic has been rather unbothered by all competition during this tournament, even with an injured hamstring.  Can Stefanos pull off one of the bigger surprises in recent tennis history?  I expect him to challenge Novak on Sunday, but Tsitsipas’ backhand remains a liability. And with Djokovic determined to avenge what he sees as mistreatment a year ago in Australia, a Novak loss would be truly surprising.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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