US Open Daily Preview: Serena Williams Plays the First Match of her Last Event - UBITENNIS
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US Open Daily Preview: Serena Williams Plays the First Match of her Last Event

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Serena Williams this month in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

The 2022 US Open will be the last tournament in the illustrious 27-year career of Serena Williams.  The 39-time Major champion (23 in singles, 14 in doubles, 2 in mixed doubles) will play 81st career Slam in singles, and her 21st US Open.  On Monday night, Serena faces Danka Kovinic in a highly-anticipated first round match.

Serena is one of 15 Major singles champions in the women’s draw.  Other notable names include her sister Venus Williams, world No.1 Iga Swiatek, two-time US Open champ Naomi Osaka, and last year’s shocking finalists Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez.

The men’s draw is headlined by 22-time Major singles champion Rafael Nadal and defending champion and Daniil Medvedev.  But with neither arriving in New York in dominant form, and the unvaccinated Novak Djokovic ineligible to play, this men’s event feels truly open.  Other notable names include 19-year-old sensation Carlos Alcaraz, 2021 Roland Garros runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas, and 2012 champ Andy Murray.

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


Francisco Cerundolo (24) vs. Andy Murray – 11:00am on Louis Armstrong Stadium

It’s been a tough summer for Andy Murray.  He’s lost four of his last five matches, and told ESPN this past week he’s been battling cramping issues when playing or practicing in the heat.  Cerundolo made a shocking run to the semifinals this year in Miami, and also won a clay court title last month in Bastad.  But outside of Miami, Francisco has not won a match on a hard court since the first week of the season.  In their first career meeting, Murray should be favored, especially since Monday’s forecast does not call for extremely hot temperatures.


Pablo Carreno Busta (12) vs. Dominic Thiem (WC) – Third on Court 17

This will be Thiem’s first match at the US Open since winning the title in front of no fans in 2020.  Since returning in March from a wrist injury, Dominic is 10-12 at all levels.  This past week, he played his first hard court event since March of 2021 in Winston-Salem, where he went 2-1.  And this is an extremely tough first round draw for Thiem.  Carreno Busta is a two-time semifinalist in New York, and is coming off his first Masters 1000 title just a few weeks ago in Montreal.  However, their rivalry has been completely one-sided.  Pablo is 0-7 against Dominic at tour level, and 0-4 on hard courts.  But considering Thiem’s recent form, Carreno Busta should be able to earn his first victory over the 2020 champ on Monday.  


Danka Kovinic vs. Serena Williams – 7:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

This will only be Serena’s fourth event since last year’s Wimbledon, and she’s gone just 1-3 this summer.  Most recently in Cincinnati, she was blitzed by the reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu 6-4, 6-0.  Serena’s knee was bothering her in Cincy, but she has appeared healthy during some grueling practice sessions this week in New York.  Per the advice of Rennae Stubbs, who has joined Serena’s team for her last tournament, Serena has been practicing with other WTA players this week, something she’s rarely done throughout her career.  Stubbs hopes this will help compensate for Serena’s lack of match play. 

Her opponent in the opening round of her last tournament is a 27-year-old from Montenegro who reached the third round of both the Australian Open and Roland Garros this season.  Drawing the 80th-ranked player in the world is a pretty good draw for the unseeded Williams, though Kovinic should not be overlooked.  She owns victories this year over both Emma Raducanu and Karolina Pliskova.  However, Danka is currently on a five-match losing streak.

Nerves will play a huge factor in this match, as both players will inevitably feel anxious considering the occasion.  Serena will be determined to not lose in the first round of her last event before retirement, and she’ll feel a lot of pressure to perform well.   But with a sold out crowd of 23,000 people vociferously behind her inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, I expect Serena to pull off the victory.  And in an open part of the draw, a run to the second week of this tournament is entirely plausible.


Nick Kyrgios (23) vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis – Last on Arthur Ashe Stadium

These Australians are close friends and frequent doubles partners, even winning the men’s doubles title this year in Melbourne.  They have never met at tour level, but Kyrgios claimed both their Challenger matches, back in 2013 and 2014.  Nick is having a strong season, with a record of 31-9.  Since June, he is 19-6, which includes a title run in Washington and his first Major final at Wimbledon.  But Kokkinakis is also having a decent season.  After battling injuries for many years, a healthy Thanasi won his first ATP title this past January in his hometown of Adelaide.  Aussie Darren Cahill stated on ESPN that Nick’s family is dealing with a health issue right now, and considering how much Kyrgios values his time at home, he’s likely eager to return to Australia.  While that may impact Nick’s focus or motivation, current form makes Kyrgios the favorite on Monday night.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Tatjana Maria vs. Maria Sakkari (4) – Tatjana was a surprise semifinalist at Wimbledon, but is just 3-4 since.  Sakkari was a semifinalist here a year ago, but has lost four of her last five matches.  One of those losses came at the hands of Tatjana at Wimbledon.  The also played at January’s Australian Open, where Sakkari prevailed.

Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Stefan Kozlov – Medvedev started the month of August by winning the title in Los Cabos, yet went just 3-2 between Montreal and Cincinnati.  Kozlov is a 24-year-old American who is on an eight-match losing streak at all levels.

Simona Halep (7) vs. Daria Snigur (Q) – Halep was the champion earlier this month in Toronto.  Snigur is a 20-year-old Ukranian who is making her main draw debut at a Major.

Harmony Tan (WC) vs. Bianca Andreescu – Tan upset Serena at Wimbledon, and went on to reach the second week of The Championships.  Andreescu was the champion here three years ago, but injuries continue to derail her career.  Bianca is only 2-2 on hard courts this summer. 

Stan Wawrinka vs. Corentin Moutet (Q) – Wawrinka is 3-9 this season at all levels since returning from two foot surgeries.  And he’s 0-2 against Moutet, which includes a four-set loss at this year’s French Open.

Leolia Jeanjean (Q) vs. Coco Gauff (12) – This will be Gauff’s first match since rolling her ankle and retiring during her opening match in Cincinnati.  Jeanjean is a 27-year-old from France who advanced to the third round of this year’s Roland Garros in her Slam debut.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) vs. Daniel Elahi Galan (Q) – Tsitsipas is only 5-4 in New York, and is yet to reach the second week of the US Open.  Elahi Galan advanced to the third round of Wimbledon last month, benefitting from the withdrawal of Roberto Bautista Agut.

Leylah Fernandez (14) vs. Oceane Dodin – The 2021 runner-up is just 1-2 since injuring her foot in Paris.  25-year-old Dodin has lost 9 of her last 10 matches. 


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas downs Sinner; now aims for Third Title in Monte Carlo

Stylish Greek completes comeback win and re-enters the top ten.

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After winning two in a row in 2021-2022, Stefanos Tsitsipas is now in reach of a third title at the prestigious Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, after beating World number two Jannik Sinner in three gruelling sets.

The 25-year-old had to battle hard and come from a break down in the third to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 and now plays Casper Ruud in tomorrow’s final. The Greek has had an indifferent start to the year with a 11-6 win-loss record, but today was his first top three victory since the 2022 Cincinatti Masters – where he beat Daniil Medvedev – and ensures a return back into the top ten of the men’s rankings.

Tsitsipas recognised how hard he had to fight and revealed after the match just how satisfied he was of his performance:

“It was tennis at its highest level that I have been able to play. Jannik was an extremely difficult opponent and it can be seen throughout the year so far. He has been very consistent and I could see that throughout today with his game. He is one of the toughest opponents I have faced so far and to find ways when there weren’t that many, I am proud of that. He gave me a very difficult game and the way I overcame it is true excellence.”

Sinner double faulted at 30-40 to gift the break early with the score at one game all. From there, Tsistipas rallied with poise and confidence in a brilliant opening set lasting 44 minutes including a stunning backhand down-the-line winner to open the game when serving at 4-3. He took the first set 6-4 after a tiring 18-shot rally – where both players hit all angles of the court – before Sinner hit a forehand wide.

However, 22-year-old Sinner struck back immediately on his first breakpoint at the start of the second set when he won a close exchange at the net and then took a 3-0 lead.  He later survived a breakback point when 4-2 up and crucially held on for 5-2. He faced more pressure when serving for the set at 5-3 and was taken to deuce but levelled the match at one-set-all on his second set point to give the crowd exactly what they were asking f

Sinner was now in full flow hitting powerfully from the baseline and once again broke early at the start of the final set to take a 3-1 lead. But with the match now entering the third hour he began to tire physically and called for the trainer during the changeover with the score at 4-3.  When the match resumed, he lost the next three games and the Greek had completed a remarkable turnaround, handing his opponent just his second defeat of the season in two hours and forty minutes.

“It helps a lot knowing I have a win like this under my belt. Having a win like this and getting to the levels of tennis again brings a lot of satisfaction to me,” Tsitsipas said. “When there is a lot of work put in each day, these are the type of matches you are aiming for.”

Sinner’s only loss prior to today was against Carlos Alcaraz in Indian Wells semi-finals. He has been the stand out player this year after already winning titles in Rotterdam, the Miami Open, and his maiden Grand Slam in Australia. Despite having won 25 matches overall though, he now trails Tsitsipas 3-6 in their head-to-head rivalry.

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Casper Ruud Reveals Shock After Knocking Out Novak Djokovic In Monte-Carlo

Casper Ruud is into his second career Masters 1000 final after beating Novak Djokovic for the first time.

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Casper Ruud is into his second Masters 1000 final of his career after recording his best ever win by beating Novak Djokovic 6-4 1-6 6-4.

The Norwegian defeated the world number one for the first time in his career as he overcame a mini-comeback from Djokovic to seal his place in the Monte-Carlo final.

Having lost his five previous meetings to Djokovic, Ruud played some fearless tennis under pressure as the eighth seed broke to close out a career-best win.

Speaking after the win Ruud admitted he was in a state of shock and was pleased with the victory, “I am super happy,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“This is a day I will remember for a long time. Beating a World No. 1 is something I have never done and beating Novak is something I have never done. I am very, very happy. I am a little bit in a state of shock right now.”

After achieving the seemingly improbable, Ruud will now look to win his first ever ATP title that’s above a Masters 1000 event when he takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Monte-Carlo final.

That’s a prospect Ruud is looking forward to as he prepares for one final challenge, “There is always one more match in tennis,” the Norwegian explained.

“Tomorrow is going to be a special day, playing a final here in Monte-Carlo. It is a great result but I have been chasing a big title for a few years now and tomorrow I will have another shot at it. I am going to give it my all. Stef is playing well. He is a great player on clay and on other surfaces as well, but I guess clay is maybe where he has had the most success and especially this tournament.

“So it is going to be another tough task, but I am up for it.”

The final will take place at 14:00 BST.

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Rafael Nadal Set For Opening Round Test Against Cobolli In Barcelona

Rafael Nadal will look to make his ATP tour return in Barcelona this week.

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Rafael Nadal is set for his return to tennis in Barcelona as he has been drawn against Flavio Cobolli in the opening round.

Nadal has been struggling with injury after being injured again in Brisbane this year.

The tournament in Brisbane was his first tournament back for a year as he suffered a hip injury at the Australian Open last year.

Now Nadal aims to return to competitive action in Barcelona as he has been drawn against Flavio Cobolli in the opening round.

Speaking earlier in the week Nadal was hopeful of a return to the tour in Barcelona, “Excited to be here for a few days before the start of the tournament,” Nadal told the ATP website.

“I’m here to see how it goes… can’t wait to try and play. I’ll let you know. Important to say that I don’t want to confirm I’ll be playing, but I hope so. We’ll see.”

Should Nadal play and win his opening round match then the Spaniard will play fourth seed Alex De Minaur in the second round.

The former world number one has won the title on 12 different occasions but hasn’t won the title since 2021.

Elsewhere in the draw defending champion Carlos Alcaraz will begin against Luca Van Assche or Zhizhen Zhang with the Spaniard projected to meet Borna Coric in the third round.

Alcaraz suffered an injury in Monte-Carlo and will be beginning his clay court campaign in Barcelona.

Also in action in Barcelona are Andrey Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud.

Main draw action will begin on Monday.

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