US Open Daily Preview: Emma Raducanu Begins Her Title Defense Against Alize Cornet - UBITENNIS
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US Open Daily Preview: Emma Raducanu Begins Her Title Defense Against Alize Cornet

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Emma Raducanu two weeks ago in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

A year ago, Emma Raducanu made the most shocking title run in the history of Grand Slam tennis.  Ranked 150th in the world, she came through qualifying and won 10 consecutive matches in straight sets to win the US Open in only her fourth WTA event.  The 19-year-old Brit has understandably struggled since that life-altering event, arriving in New York with a losing record on the year.  And in the opening round, she faces the dangerous Alize Cornet, who has made a career out of upsetting top names at Majors.

 

Tuesday also sees the 2022 US Open debuts of Rafael Nadal, Venus Williams, Naomi Osaka, Iga Swiatek, and Carlos Alcaraz

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


Sebastian Baez vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – 12:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

It was a year ago at this tournament when Alcaraz made his Major breakthrough.  The teenager thrilled the New York crowd by upsetting Stefanos Tsitsipas in a fifth-set tiebreak on his way to the quarterfinals.  And Carlitos is a superb 44-9 in 2022, with four titles.  In the first round, he’s drawn the highest-ranked player not seeded in the draw.  Baez has accumulated 34 match wins this year at all levels, and has reached three ATP finals.  However, those finals all came on clay, and Sebastian only has two main draw victories this season on hard courts.  When these players met at last year’s NextGen Finals, Alcaraz prevailed in straight sets.  The outcome on Tuesday will likely be the same.


Alison Van Uytvanck vs. Venus Williams (WC) – Second on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Venus is making her 23rd appearance in the main draw of women’s singles at the US Open, and her 91st singles appearance at a Major.  In her main draw debut here 25 years ago, Venus went all the way to the final.  And five years ago, the two-time champion reached her most recent Slam semifinal.  But the past five years have been a struggle for Venus, as she’s battled multiple injuries, and hasn’t advanced to the second week at any Major.  She’s now lost 11 of her last 12 singles matches dating back to February of last year, and is 0-3 in 2022.  Van Uytvanck is a former Roland Garros quarterfinalist who won two lower-level events this year on grass.  But injury has prevented Alison from a completing a match this summer on hard courts.  Venus will surely find inspiration from her sister’s performance on Monday night, and we saw during that match how much of a factor the US Open crowd can be.  I would not be surprised by another Williams victory on Tuesday.


Emma Raducanu (11) vs. Alize Cornet – 7:00pm on Louis Armstrong Stadium

Raducanu is only 13-15 this season, but two weeks ago in Cincinnati, she played her best tennis since last year’s US Open.  Emma dominated Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka by scores of 6-4, 6-0, 6-0, and 6-2.  She’s hired Dmitry Tursunov on a trial basis, and his guidance greatly benefited both Aryna Sabalenka and Anett Kontaveit.  However, Cornet is having a strong season, highlighted by her first run to the quarterfinals of a Major in Melbourne.  And at Wimbledon, she ended Iga Swiatek’s 37-match win streak.  Cornet thrives in situations where she can upset top names on big stages, as she once defeated Serena Williams at Wimbledon as well.  Despite all the pressure on Raducanu in her title defense, her level in Cincinnati was impressive enough to consider her a slight favorite in this tough opening round matchup.


Naomi Osaka vs. Danielle Collins (19) – Last on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Neither player comes into this blockbuster first round contest with much form.  Osaka has only played four matches since May, and she’s lost three of them.  An Achilles injury forced her to miss Wimbledon, and she retired in Toronto with a lower back injury.  Meanwhile, Collins hasn’t played in nearly two months due to a neck injury.  Danielle achieved her first Major final this past January in Australia, yet is just 6-7 since.  And their rivalry has been completely one-sided, and not in Danielle’s favor.  Osaka leads 3-0, winning all three matches in straight sets.  And across those six sets, Collins has only managed to win 10 games.  They most recently played five months ago in Miami, where Naomi won 6-2, 6-1.  And considering Danielle’s inactivity, the two-time champion is the favorite again on Tuesday.


Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Jasmine Paolini – Swiatek is 50-7 this season, but only 2-2 this summer on hard courts.  Paolini is a 26-year-old Italian who lost her only previous meeting with Iga 6-2, 6-1.

Garbine Muguruza (9) vs. Clara Tauson – Since winning the WTA Finals last November, Muguruza has lost her confidence, and has a record of 9-14 this year.  Tauson is a highly-talented 19-year-old who missed much of this season due to a back injury. 

Qinwen Zheng vs. Jelena Ostapenko (16) – Ostapenko is 25-14 in 2022, but has never advanced beyond the third round in New York.  Qinwen is another talented 19-year-old, and already owns wins this year over Simona Halep, Ons Jabeur, and Bianca Andreescu. 

Elena Rybakina (25) vs. Clara Burel (Q) – Rybakina is 4-3 since her surprising triumph at Wimbledon.  Burel is a 21-year-old who survived the last round of qualifying in a third-set tiebreak by the score of 12-10.

Rinky Hijikata (WC) vs. Rafael Nadal (2) – Nadal is yet to lose a match this year at a Major.  Since withdrawing from the Wimbledon semifinals due to an abdominal injury, he’s only played one match, which was a loss to Borna Coric.  Hijikata is a 21-year-old Australian making his main draw debut at a Slam.


Tuesday’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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