Wimbledon Daily Preview: The First Sunday of Wimbledon is No Longer A Day of Rest - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Daily Preview: The First Sunday of Wimbledon is No Longer A Day of Rest

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A look at the grounds of The All England Club (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Historically, tradition has dictated the first Sunday of Wimbledon sees no play.  But that changes this year, with fourth round singles matches spread across Sunday and Monday.  This marks the end of Manic Monday, when those matches were all scheduled on the second Monday of the tournament.

 

Sunday’s schedule is headlined by a clash between two top 10 seeds, who are also two of the sport’s fastest rising stars, as Carlos Alcaraz takes on Jannik Sinner.  Three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic looks to extend his 24-match win streak at Wimbledon against Tim van Rijthoven, who is an undefeated 8-0 at tour level this past month.  And in what should be a matchup full of guile and finesse, Ons Jabeur faces Elise Mertens.

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


Frances Tiafoe (23) vs. David Goffin – Second on No.2 Court

Both players have advanced rather comfortably to this stage, dropping only one set each.  Tiafoe is vying for his second Major quarterfinal, while Goffin is vying for his fourth, and his second at The Championships.  Tiafoe’s far-superior power game would seemingly make him the favorite over Goffin on this surface.  But ahead of this tournament, Frances was only 5-4 at SW19, compared to a 12-7 record for David.  And their head-to-head has been quite one-sided.  Goffin leads Tiafoe 4-1, which includes a four-set win in the second round of the last Slam in Paris.  The American’s only victory came three years ago in Miami.  And David owns a much better record this season (25-16 compared to 15-13).  Over the course of five sets, Goffin’s speedy defensive skills may be enough to propel him to his fifth victory over Tiafoe.


Jelena Ostapenko (12) vs. Tatjana Maria – 1:00pm on No.1 Court

Ostapenko is looking to advance to the quarterfinals or better at this event for the third time.  And the 2017 Roland Garros champion is in the midst of a strong season, with a 23-11 record and a title run in Dubai.  And just last week, Jelena was a finalist in Eastbourne.  In a wide-open quarter of the draw, where she is the only player ranked above No.97 in the world, Ostapenko is a considerable favorite to reach her second Wimbledon semifinal.  And before this week, Maria was on nine-match losing streak at Slams.  A year ago during this event, Tatjana was giving birth to her second child.  But she’s returned to the tour with a vengeance in 2022, accumulating 34 match wins at all levels.  Her game is well-suited for grass, and she upset Maria Sakkari in the last round.  In their first career meeting, Ostapenko’s current form and aggressive groundstrokes make her the favorite.  But her game can also be quite unreliable, and Jelena can rack up unforced errors in large bunches.  If she does, a Maria upset is entirely possible.


Carlos Alcaraz (5) vs. Jannik Sinner (10) – Second on Centre Court

19-year-old Alcaraz and 20-year-old Sinner are extremely inexperienced on this surface.  Before this tournament, Carlos had only played two matches on grass, while Jannik was 0-4 in the main draw of grass court events.  Yet both have proven this week that they are formidable opposition on this surface.  Alcaraz survived a tight five-setter in the first round against Jan-Lennard Struff, and Sinner earned wins over both Stan Wawrinka and John Isner.  They’ve played once at tour-level, with Carlitos winning two tight sets last November in Bercy on an indoor hard court.  Both players are having very strong seasons, with Alcaraz owning a record of 35-4, and Sinner 30-8.  But Sinner’s game seems a better fit for this surface, so I give him the slight edge to prevail in what should be another close matchup between these two.


Ons Jabeur (3) vs. Elise Mertens (24) – Third on No.1 Court

Their paths to this matchup could not be much different.  Jabeur has only dropped 13 games across six sets, while Mertens came back from a set down in both her first two matches, saving two match points in the second round.  However, in their only previous meeting at last year’s US Open, it was Mertens who was victorious in straight sets.  Elise has advanced beyond this round of a Major three times, though she’s 3-8 in the round of 16 at Slams, and has stalled in this round at the last three.  Ons is now a two-time Major quarterfinalist, and is looking to match her result from this event a year ago.  Jabeur is currently playing with great confidence, and is an excellent 33-9 on the season.  I like her chances of evening her record against Mertens on Sunday.


Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Tim van Rijthoven (WC) – Third on Centre Court

Van Rijthoven has come out of nowhere during this grass court season.  Prior to last month, the 25-year-old had never played a main draw match at tour-level, as multiple serious injuries had derailed his career.  Yet as a wild card ranked outside the top 200, he became the champion in s-Hertogenbosch, where he defeated three top 20 players (Fritz, Auger-Aliassime, Medvedev).  And now in his Major debut, he’s taken out two seeded players (Opelka, Basilashvili).  But can he challenge the 20-time Major champion?  Tim certainly has plenty of confidence right now, and has a booming serve that can earn him some easy holds.  He’s struck 53 aces across his first three matches.  I would not be surprised if he takes a set off Djokovic, but I would be truly shocked if he can take three.  Novak has not lost at this event since 2017, and has solidified himself as the best grass court player of the last decade.  And in his last two rounds, he surrendered only seven games per match.


Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Caroline Garcia vs. Marie Bouzkova – Garica survived a third-set tiebreak in the first round, then defeated two seeded players in straight sets (Emma Raducanu and Shuai Zhang).  Bouzkova took out three straight Americans thus far (Collins, Li, Riske), and was just 3-12 in the main draw of Majors prior to this fortnight.  When they played on grass last year in Birmingham, Marie prevailed 6-3, 6-0.

Jule Niemeier vs. Heather Watson – For 30-year-old Watson, this is her first appearance in the round of 16 at a Major.  22-year-old Niemeier had never won a main draw match at a Slam before this run.  Earlier this year in Monterrey, Heather overcame Jule in a third-set tiebreak.

Cameron Norrie (9) vs. Tommy Paul (30) – This is Norrie’s first appearance in the round of 16 at a Slam, after previously going 0-5 in the third round.  This is also Paul’s debut in this round at a Slam, coming off two quarterfinals on grass last month.  Cam is 2-1 against Tommy, with all three matches taking place on hard courts.

Jamie Murray and Venus Williams (WC) vs. Jonny O’Mara and Alicia Barnett (WC) – Jamie and Venus prevailed in three sets in a highly-entertaining first round match on Friday.  O’Mara and Barnett are British wild cards who upset the No.5 seeds in their opening round.

Nicolas Mahut and Shuai Zhang (3) vs. Jack Sock and Coco Gauff – Three of the four players in this match advanced to the third round in singles.  The outlier, Mahut, participated in one of the most famous matches in Wimbledon history, which went to 70-68 in the fifth, and also won the men’s doubles title here in 2016.


Sunday’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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