Wimbledon Daily Preview: Serena Williams Plays Her First Singles Match in a Year - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Serena Williams Plays Her First Singles Match in a Year

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Serena Williams during media day on Saturday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

One year ago, Serena Williams left Centre Court in tears, as she was forced to retire after just six games of her first round match due to a leg injury.  On Tuesday, she returns to Centre Court in what will be her first singles match since that emotional moment. 

 

Also on Tuesday, Rafael Nadal begins his quest for a third consecutive Major title.  After winning both the Australian Open and Roland Garros, he now owns 22 Slam titles, two more than both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.  And for the second straight year, one of “The Big Three” arrives at SW19 halfway to the calendar year Grand Slam.

Other top names playing their opening round matches on Day 2 include Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek, RG runner-up Coco Gauff, Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini, as well as Wimbledon champions Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza, and Petra Kvitova.  With 10 matches postponed from Monday due to rain, and six more to be concluded, Tuesday will be an extremely busy day, as 80 singles matches are scheduled around the grounds of The All England Club.

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


Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Jana Fett (Q) – 1:30pm on Centre Court

In the absence of the defending women’s singles champion Ash Barty, Swiatek has been selected to open Centre Court play on Day 2.  And it has now been over four months since Iga has lost a match.  The definitive world No.1 is on a 35-match win streak, and is coming off her second Major title in Paris.  However, Swiatek remains an unproven commodity on grass.  She’s only 4-4 lifetime on this surface.  Three of those four victories came last year during this event, when she advanced to the fourth round and lost to Ons Jabeur in three sets.  Fett is a 25-year-old whose most memorable tennis moment is unfortunately a painful one.  At the 2018 Australian Open, she was up 5-1 in the third over eventual champion Caroline Wozniacki, yet failed to convert two match points and eventually lost 7-5.  Jana will be a huge underdog in her first meeting with Iga, who has rarely been challenged in 2022.


Simona Halep (16) vs. Karolina Muchova – Second on No.1 Court

After missing last year’s tournament due to injury, this will be Halep’s first match at The Championships since defeating Serena Williams in the 2019 final.  And she faces perhaps the toughest draw any seeded player has been presented in the opening round.  Muchova has reached the quarterfinals in both of her previous appearances at The Championships.  She also was a semifinalist at the 2021 Australian.  Karolina missed the first few months of this season due to injury, yet despite the lack of play, upset Maria Sakkari at Roland Garros.  Yet in the very next round, injury again struck Muchova, as she rolled her ankle and was forced to retire in tears against Amanda Anisimova.  She seemed to recover quickly, as she was back on court two weeks ago in Berlin, where she lost her only grass court tune-up match to Ons Jabeur.  Halep is a solid 26-8 on the year, and went 6-2 this month on grass, achieving two semifinals.  Her partnership with Patrick Mouratoglou is yet to pay significant dividends, but perhaps that is about to change, as Patrick knows all about coaching players to Wimbledon titles.  Halep and Muchova have never played before, which makes this match all the more unpredictable.  But based on recent form, I give Simona the slight edge to provide Karolina with her first early-round loss at The Championships.


Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Francisco Cerundolo – Second on Centre Court

This will be Nadal’s first match at Wimbledon, and first match on grass, in three years.  But the last two times he played at The Championships, Rafa reached the semifinals, where he was stopped by players name Djokovic and Federer.  After requiring injections to his injured foot before every match he played at Roland Garros, Nadal has stated his foot is feeling much better heading into this fortnight.  Cerundolo was a shocking semifinalist at this year’s Miami Open, which was the first ATP event not played on clay where Francisco ever won a match.  Since that run, the 23-year-old has struggled mightily, with a 2-5 record.  An upset over Nadal on Tuesday would be startling, though all eyes will be on how comfortable Rafa looks on his injured foot.


Felix Auger-Aliassime (6) vs. Maxime Cressy – Third on No.3 Court

Auger-Aliassime made a Major breakthrough at this tournament a year ago, defeating Sascha Zverev in five sets to reach his first Major quarterfinal.  But on Tuesday, he faces a challenging first round opponent in Cressy.  The 25-year-old advanced to the fourth round of this year’s Australian Open, and is coming off a title run on grass two weeks ago in Eastbourne, where he beat three top 20 players (Opelka, Norrie, Fritz).  His serve-and-volley style is a perfect fit for this surface.  And we’ve seen Felix play tightly early on in Majors, including just last month when he lost the first two sets of his opening round in Paris to a player ranked outside the top 100.  With the Canadian’s good friend Hubi Hurkacz getting upset on Monday, a similar upset on Tuesday of a player who went deep at this event a year ago feels fully possible.


Harmony Tan vs. Serena Williams (WC) – Third on Centre Court

It is quite startling to see Serena Williams as a wild card.  But the former multi-time world No.1 finds herself without a ranking after not competing for a full year.  She played two doubles matches last week in Eastbourne with Ons Jabeur, though this match will be much more revealing regarding her status as a contender to secure her 24th Major singles title.  Serena has said she enjoyed not training for much of the past year, partially due to injury, though she’s surely confident in her physical conditioning if she entered this singles draw.  Tan is a 24-year-old ranked 113th in the world, and is only 2-6 lifetime in the main draw of Majors.  And Harmony has never won a tour-level match on grass.  This is as kind of a draw an unseeded Serena could ask for, and should enable her to earn her first singles victory since last year’s Roland Garros.


Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Matteo Berrettini (8) vs. Cristian Garin – The 2021 finalist is an undefeated 9-0 on grass this season, coming off titles at both Stuttgart and Queen’s Club.  By contrast, Garin is 0-2 this season on this surface, and is 5-8 lifetime.  Matteo leads their head-to-head 2-1.

Coco Gauff (11) vs. Elena-Gabriela Ruse – Gauff followed up her run to the final of Roland Garros with a semifinal run on grass in Berlin.  Ruse is a 24-year-old who captured a WTA title on clay last July. 

Petra Kvitova (25) vs. Jasmine Paolini – On Saturday, Kvitova claimed her first title in over a year in Eastbourne.  Paolini is a 26-year-old Italian who won her first WTA title last September in Slovenia.  Petra has taken both their prior encounters in straight sets. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Alexander Ritschard (Q) – Tsitsipas is only 3-4 at The Championships, though he won a grass court title on Saturday in Mallorca.  Ritschard is a 28-year-old making his main draw debut at a Major. 

Garbine Muguruza (9) vs. Greet Minnen – After winning the 2021 WTA Finals, Muguruza has struggled with her form and injury.  The 2017 champion is only 8-11 on the year.  Minnen is a 24-year-old who reached the third round of last year’s US Open. 

Taylor Fritz (11) vs. Lorenzo Musetti – Fritz was a champion on Saturday in Eastbourne.  Musetti is a 20-year-old Italian who is 0-2 on grass in 2022. 

Bianca Andreescu vs. Emina Bektas (Q) – Andreescu is vying for her first win at The Championships.  Bektas is a 29-year-old looking for her first main draw win at any Major.

Sloane Stephens vs. Qinwen Zheng – Stephens was a quarterfinalist here nine years ago.  Qinwen was the only player to take a set off Swiatek at the French Open.  Two months ago in Charleston, Zheng defeated Sloane 6-0 in the third. 

Denis Shapovalov (13) vs. Arthur Rinderknech – Shapovalov was a semifinalist a year ago, but arrives at SW19 on a five-match losing streak.  Rinderknech reached a final in Adelaide to start the season, and won a Challenger title on clay a few weeks ago.  And in Doha, Arthur upset Denis 6-4, 6-4.


Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Dominic Stricker cruises past Luca Nardi at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah

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Third seed Dominic Stricker cruised past Luca Nardi 4-1 4-1 4-2 in 54 minutes in the fastest match in the history of the Next Gen Finals at the Next Gen ATP Finals at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah bouncing back from his defeat in the first match against Flavio Cobolli on Tuesday. 

 

Stricker converted four of his six break points and hit 13 winners, including 3 aces. 

Stricker came back from 15-40 down in the first game after two double faults from Nardi and broke serve with a return winner on the deciding point to take a 1-0 lead. The world number 94 saved three break-back-back points in the second game from 15-40 down before breaking for the second time in the fifth game to win the first set 4-1. 

Stricker broke serve at 30 in the second game of the second set and held serve at love in the third game to race out to a 3-0 lead. Stricker served it out on his second set point. 

Stricker earned an early break in the first game of the third set on the deciding point and held his next service games. Nardi saved the first match point but he hit his backhand into the net on the second match point after the longest rally of the match. 

“We had a long discussion yesterday evening about how to do it today. I think it was really good that we talked a lot after what maybe was not my best performance. Now to come out today like that, I think nobody expected that. I am just happy that I did it and now I am going to try my best to recover for the third group match”, said Stricker. Stricker is now 1-1 in Green Group. The Swiss player is aiming to reach his second consecutive semifinal at the Next Gen Finals. He is looking to crown a good year after reaching the fourth round at the US Open. 

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Jannik Sinner, Arnaldi End Italy’s 47-Year Wait For Davis Cup Title

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An in-form Jannik Sinner has secured Italy’s first Davis Cup title in almost half a century after crushing Alex de Minaur in straight sets. 

 

The world No.4 headed into the crucial match with his country boasting a 1-0 lead over Australia after Matteo Arnaldi won his clash against Alexi Popryin in three sets. Taking on a fiery de Minaur, a composed Sinner surged to a 6-3, 6-0, victory in Malaga to hand his country an unassailable lead and the title. The dominant performance saw Sinner produce a total of 25 winners with 18 of them coming from his forehand side. It is the sixth time he has beaten de Minaur on the Tour and he is yet to lose against him. 

“It helps a lot to play for the whole team,” Sinner said of his latest win. “It has been an incredible thing for all of us and we are really happy.”

Sinner first broke three games into his encounter with de Minaur after the Australian hit a lob shot that landed out. In control of proceedings, he rallied his way to 5-3 before opening up a 40-0 lead against his opponent’s serve. With three set points at his disposal, Sinner converted his second with the help of another unforced error coming from across the court. 

Closing in on the historic victory, the 22-year-old was in clinical form throughout the second frame as he raced to a 5-0 lead in under 30 minutes. Destroying whatever hopes Australia had of a shock comeback. Sinner closed out the match on his third attempt after a De Minaur backhand drifted wide, prompting an almighty smile on his face. 

Thanks to Australia. I know with the new format it is a little bit different to have to all come to one place. it means a lot.” Said Sinner.

In the first match of the day, Arnaldi ousted Popryin 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, in a two-and-a-half-hour marathon. The world No.44, who made his Davis Cup debut in September, held his nerve throughout a tense deciding set where he saved all eight break points he faced. Overall, he hit a total of 40 winners past Popryin and was visibly emotional afterward. 

“This match was very important and emotional for a few reasons,” Arnaldi told reporters. 
“This year for me was the first time playing for my country. I played when I was junior, but Davis Cup is just different.’
“And three weeks ago, an important person passed away. I think he gave me the power to try to stay there (in the match). It wasn’t easy to play, but they gave me the power at the end to try to win.”

It is the second time in history Italy has won the Davis Cup and the first since 1976. The triumph caps off what has been a memorable week for the team who 24 hours earlier beat Novak Djokovic’s Serbia in the semi-finals with Sinner saving three match points against the world No.1 in the singles. 

“I’m really thankful and proud to have these guys,” Italian captain Filippo Volandri commented.
“We have had to manage with a lot of emergencies during these past two years but we did it and we did it like a family.” He added.

Italy, who has become the 11th country in history to win Multiple Davis Cup titles, currently has six players in the ATP top 100 with four of those being in the top 50. 

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Alexander Zverev Deserves More Respect According To Boris Becker

According to Boris Becker, Alexander Zverev deserves more respect from tennis journalists.

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Alexander Zverev (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Boris Becker has claimed that Alexander Zverev deserves more respect despite Zverev failing to live up to his potential at Grand Slams.

 

Zverev has only reached one Grand Slam final in his career despite being a regular inside the world’s top ten as well as performing at regular ATP events.

This season Zverev played a limited schedule after recovering from an ankle injury but still managed to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals.

However most critics have been loud when judging Zverev’s career as it was looking likely that he would be a regular Grand Slam champion.

The German has failed to live up to expectations but former Grand Slam champion Boris Becker believes Zverev deserves more respect.

Speaking to Eurosport Becker also said that Zverev’s father being the coach is a more than successful approach when it comes to the former US Open finalist’s career, “In my opinion, he doesn’t get enough respect from the tennis experts internationally,” Becker explained.

“They’re all talking about the young three or four, but don’t give Zverev, Medvedev or Rublev enough respect. He’s playing with his fist in his pocket a little bit, wants everyone show that he is not a thing of the past, but that his best time is yet to come.

“Surely his father knows best what is good for his son, but if you look into the box at the competition, you can also see changes.”

Becker has followed Zverev for most of his career so knows that the best is yet to come from the German.

Alexander Zverev will look to prove himself next season when he starts his 2024 season when he represents Germany at the United Cup.

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