WIMBLEDON: Day One Talking Points as Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray begin with victories - UBITENNIS
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WIMBLEDON: Day One Talking Points as Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray begin with victories

British duo Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray were the headline act on day one of Wimbledon.

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Emma Raducanu (@Wimbledon - Twitter)

The oldest tournament in tennis began yesterday and it didn’t disappoint.

 

Brits on fire

British interests were kept alive and three big stars performed well on their comebacks.

Having had abdominal injury concerns coming into the tournament, but both Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray allayed such worries in some style.

The US Open champion won on her debut on Centre Court with some glee as she swept aside Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck 6-4, 6-4.

Two-time champion, Murray, shook off some rust as he dropped the opening set against Australian James Duckworth, before storming through 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

The British number one Cameron Norrie also got off to a impressive start as he downed Spaniard Pablo Andújar in straight sets 6-0, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.

Narrow escapes – Alcaraz survives in five

The rising star Carlos Alcaraz of Spain overcame a huge scare to see off the plucky German Jan Lennard Struff in five sets.

Twice the Miami Open and Madrid Masters 1000 champion came back from a set and two sets to one down.

Eventually prevailing 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4.

The fourth set tie-breaker and the teenager’s superior fitness in the fifth, proving to be the crucial difference.

With no grass-court practice going into Wimbledon, it seemed natural that Alcaraz needed time to find his groove.

He faces Dutchman Talloon Griekspoor next who beat a poor Fabio Fognini (pun intended) in four sets.

Meanwhile, defending champion Novak Djokovic overcame a scare of his own as he dropped the second set against South Korea’s Soon-woo Kwon 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

SHOCKS

The biggest shock of the day came as the Halle Open champion, Hubert Hurkacz lost in five enthralling sets.

Last year’s Wimbledon semi-finalist shot to prominence in beating eight-time champion Roger Federer on Centre-Court, including a final set bagel.

There were high hopes for the Pole going into this year’s championships but he was narrowly beaten by Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

In the women’s, Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins of the United States was left stunned.

The American seventh seed going down to Czech Marie Bouzková 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

And Olympic Champion Belinda Bencic is also out after losing to China’s Wang Qiang 6-4, 5-7, 6-2.

Having reached the final of the Berlin Open on grass, the Swiss will be particularly disappointed by this result.

Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi made a strong start to season after the 37-year-old veteran made the quarter-finals in Australia.

But the 31 seed lost to France’s Diane Parry 6-4, 6-4.

Best of the rest

Stan Wawrinka’s unlikely quest for the career Grand Slam was ended, as he went down to Italy’s Jannik Sinner 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

It remains to be seen if the Swiss will prolong his career into next season after a year out with a knee injury.

Injuries to Spain’s Pablo Carreño Busta and Danish teen Clara Tauson forced both to pull out mid match against Dušan Lajović and Mai Hontama.

But Ons Jabeur, the third seed and Berlin Open winner stormed past Mirjam Bjorklund 6-1, 6-3.

And the second seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia is also through as she beat Bernarda Pera of the United States 7-5 6-1.

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Serena Williams Set For Raducanu Challenge In Cincinnati

Serena Williams will play US Open champion Emma Raducanu in one of her final tournaments before the end of her career.

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Serena Williams (@BleacherReport - Twitter)

In what could be the penultimate tournament of her career, 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams takes on US Open champion Emma Raducanu in Cincinnati.

 

Potentially two more tournaments to go before a legend of the sport retires in the form of Serena Williams.

Williams began her farewell tour in Toronto where she went out in the second round to Belinda Bencic and will look to make a bigger impression in Cincinnati.

However an intriguing task awaits in her opening match in Ohio as she will take on US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the opening round.

Raducanu enters the match in uninspiring form having reached the quarter-finals in Washington before an opening round exit against Camila Giorgi in Toronto.

It will be interesting how this match fairs as Williams gets a taste of facing the younger generation before she departs the sport.

That match is in a packed part of the draw where the winner of that match will play the winner of Kaia Kanepi and Victoria Azarenka.

There is also a huge match between Bianca Andreescu and Camila Giorgi with the winner taking on seventh seed Jessica Pegula in the second round.

As for Serena’s sister, Venus Williams, she hasn’t fared much better with her draw as she takes on 14th seed Karolina Pliskova in her opening round.

Also in this section of the draw is fourth seed Maria Sakkari who takes on either a qualifier or Alison Van Uytvanck.

Other highlights of the bottom half of the draw will see Sofia Kenin take on Shelby Rogers while Amanda Anisimova takes on Daria Kasatkina.

Naomi Osaka is also in the bottom half of the draw where she takes on Shuai Zhang.

Meanwhile in the top half of the draw Iga Swiatek will look to bounce back after an early exit in Toronto as she takes on Sloane Stephens or Alize Cornet in her opening round.

Other exciting matches in the top half of the draw sees Simona Halep take on Karolina Muchova while Beatriz Haddad Maia takes on Jelena Ostapenko.

Here is the full Women’s singles draw with Serena Williams expected to play on Monday night:

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ATP Montreal: Ruud Thrashes Auger-Aliassime To Reach Semis, Mixed Results For Brits

Casper Ruud eased past Felix Auger-Aliassime to set up a semi-final meeting with Hubert Hurkacz in Montreal.

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Casper Ruud (@OBNmontreal - Twitter)

Casper Ruud only dropped three games against Felix Auger-Aliassime to reach the semi-finals in Montreal.

 

The Norwegian is into the semi-finals in Canada after a dominant performance over home favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Ruud dominated from the start of the match as he produced a sublime performance only committing nine unforced errors throughout the match to reach the last four.

Ruud has had a good season on hard courts this season and is looking to make his second consecutive hard court Masters 1000 final after reaching the final in Miami.

Speaking after the match Ruud admitted he got a bit lucky but is happy to be in the last four in Canada, “It was one of those days where everything goes in one favour and luckily it was in my favour,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“With a player like Felix, you need to rely on some margins going your way. I didn’t expect them to all go on my side. It was a bit of a difficult start. I got broken but then was able to turn everything around. I hit my spots, made the shots I needed to and make him hit a lot of balls. That was the game plan and it worked well.

“The last hard-court tournament I played in was in Miami where I reached the final. I wanted to make a deep run here. I didn’t think it was too likely, being the first hard-court tournament back, but I have been playing great from the first point in the first match.”

Ruud will look to claim his first Masters 1000 title this week and rise to four in the world in the ATP rankings.

Next for Ruud is the only Masters 1000 champion left in the draw in the form of Hubert Hurkacz.

Hurkacz defeated the in-form Nick Kyrgios 7-6(4) 6-7(5) 6-1 to reach the semi-finals in Canada.

The eighth seed produced some big-serving and bold decision making as he reached his first semi-final since winning the Halle title.

Heading into their match, Ruud leads the head-to-head 1-0 where the Norwegian was victorious at Roland Garros this year.

Mixed results for British hopefuls

Meanwhile it was a mixed night for British players as Dan Evans reached his second career Masters 1000 semi-final while Jack Draper exited the tournament in the last eight.

Evans defeated Tommy Paul 1-6 6-3 6-4 to reach a landmark moment in his career in Montreal.

After his win Evans described the win as ‘extra special’ as he looks forward to a semi-final meeting with Pablo Carreno Busta, “The crowd, that’s what they buy their tickets for. That’s live sport,” Evans told the ATP website.

“You never know what’s going to happen. It was an amazing match, amazing atmosphere. I played on the court before. In the day it was amazing, but at night, there’s something about playing sport at night, it’s extra special.”

Evans will now play Carreno Busta in the last four after the Spaniard defeated British qualifier Jack Draper 7-6(4) 6-1.

Draper defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas earlier in the week but was no match for the resilient Spaniard.

Saturday’s semi-final will be the first meeting between Evans and Carreno Busta.

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Canada Daily Preview: Semifinal Saturday Features Ruud/Hurkacz and Pegula/Halep

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Simona Halep on Friday in Toronto (twitter.com/NBOtoronto)

The singles and doubles semifinals will be played on Saturday in Canada.  In Montreal, a new men’s singles champion will be crowned, and Hubi Hurkacz is the only semifinalist to have previously won a Masters 1000 event (Miami, 2021).  Hurkacz is also in the doubles semifinals, so it will be a busy day for Hubi.  In singles, he faces a finalist from this year in Miami, Casper Ruud.

 

In Toronto, Simona Halep is the only former champion remaining, and is two wins away from her third title at this event.  On Saturday, she plays Jessica Pegula, who is into the semifinals in Canada for the second straight year.  Like Hurkacz, Pegula is also in the doubles semifinals.  She’s teaming with Coco Gauff, who will become the new doubles No.1 if they win the title.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Saturday’s play gets underway at 12:00pm local time in Montreal and 1:00pm in Toronto.


Hubert Hurkacz (8) vs. Casper Ruud (4) – Not Before 3:00pm on Court Central in Montreal

Hurkacz ended the winning streak of Nick Kyrgios on Friday, taking him out in three sets for the second time this season.  But Ruud was even more impressive on Friday, bouncing back from a marathon victory on Thursday over Roberto Bautista Agut to overwhelm Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, dropping only three games.  Predominantly known as a clay court player, Casper is also establishing himself as a considerable threat on hard courts.  That’s especially true in North America, where Ruud has claimed 16 of his last 19 matches.  But Hubi’s success on this surface remains superior, as does his serving prowess.  While Ruud prevailed in their only previous encounter, just a few months ago at Roland Garros, Hurkacz is the favorite on a hard court.


Jessica Pegula (7) vs. Simona Halep (15) – 1:00pm on Centre Court in Toronto

Halep has been dominant through four rounds this week, advancing without the loss of a set.  Simona has quietly put together a strong record of 36-10 this season, though she’s yet to achieve a big result, with only one title at the 250 level at the start of the year.  Pegula only dropped one set this week, to defending champion Camila Giorgi.  And similar to Halep, she’s accumulated a solid record this year (29-14) without winning a title.  This will be the first career meeting between these two players.  Considering Halep is now 25-6 lifetime at this event, and the way in which she has easily prevailed all week, her superior movement and defense should be enough to reach her fourth final in Canada.


Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Dan Evans – Carreno Busta has played superbly this week, eliminating the likes of Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini without losing a set to this stage.  Dan Evans has survived two grueling three-setters in as many days.  This is their first career meeting.

Beatriz Haddad Maia vs. Karolina Pliskova (14) – Haddad Maia has earned three big wins across the last three days over Iga Swiatek, Belinda Bencic, and Leylah Fernandez.  Pliskova is looking to reach the Canada final for the second straight year.  They have split two previous encounters, both on hard courts.


Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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