Cincinnati Daily Preview: Saturday’s Semifinals Feature Medvedev/Tsitsipas and Kvitova/Keys - UBITENNIS
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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Saturday’s Semifinals Feature Medvedev/Tsitsipas and Kvitova/Keys

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A look from above at the grounds of the Western & Southern Open (twitter.com/cincytennis)

Three years ago in Cincinnati, Daniil Medvedev and Madison Keys won this event, which was the first 1000-level title for each.  Now both are just two matches away from winning this tournament for a second time.  But in the semifinals, they each face significant opposition, in Stefanos Tsitsipas and Petra Kvitova.

Saturday’s other singles semifinals will see Aryna Sabalenka take on Caroline Garcia and Cameron Norrie against Borna Coric.

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 11:00am local time.


Madison Keys vs. Petra Kvitova – 11:00am on Center Court

Both women are playing their best tennis this week, as the fast courts in Cincinnati are rewarding their aggression.  Following a pretty terrible 2021 season, Keys got off to an excellent start to 2022, winning 11 matches in January alone.  She failed to immediately continue that momentum, but she has been on fire this week.  Madison is yet to drop a set, and defeated the two most recent Major singles champions back-to-back (Swiatek, Rybakina).  Kvitova went into the grass court season with a losing record on the year, yet has now taken 11 of her last 13 matches.  This week, Petra defeated last year’s finalist Jil Teichmann as well as Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur.  These two big servers have played eight times since 2013, and they have each won four times.  Their most recent meeting was last year at this same event, when Kvitova prevailed in straight sets.  But based on recent form, and with a large, partisan crowd on hand for this semifinal, Keys is the favorite to return to the finals in Cincinnati.


Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) – Not Before 3:00pm on Center Court

This is a blockbuster semifinal between two of the top four seeds, and two men who have had their issues in their past.  Their first encounter at the 2018 Miami Open ended with both men arguing and the chair umpire stepping between the two.  They’ve now played a total of nine times, and Daniil has dominated their rivalry 7-2.  However, two of their last four meetings have gone to Tsitsipas.  Their most recent battle, in the semifinals of January’s Australian Open, was another fiery one.  It included Medvedev screaming at the chair umpire after receiving a visible obscenity warning, calling the umpire “a small cat” for not penalizing Tsitsipas for the illegal coaching he was receiving from his father.  His complaints were effective, as later in the match, Stefanos received a coaching warning after a Greek chair umpire was positioned near his player’s box to listen in.  Tsitsipas often does not fare well against players he does not like, with his performance against Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon serving as a prime example.  And in the absence of Novak Djokovic, Medvedev is the best hard court player in the world, and should be favored to advance.


Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Caroline Garcia (Q) vs. Aryba Sabalenka (6) – Garcia has already defeated two other top 10 players this week (Sakkari, Pegula).  She’s 1-2 against Sabalenka, with all three of their meetings taking place in 2018 on hard courts, including at this event.  When they played here, Aryna prevailed 7-5 in the third.

Cameron Norrie (9) vs. Borna Coric (PR) – As Jim Courier highlighted on Tennis Channel, Coric is a whole new player following shoulder surgery, as he’s been serving excellently all week, holding 43 of 45 games this tournament.  Borna has defeated three top 20 players this week (Nadal, Bautista Agut, Auger-Aliassime), while Norrie took out Carlos Alcaraz on Friday night in a thrilling three-setter.  They have split two prior encounters.


Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

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The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ HEATING UP

Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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