US Open Daily Preview: Rafael Nadal Plays Frances Tiafoe in the Fourth Round - UBITENNIS
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US Open Daily Preview: Rafael Nadal Plays Frances Tiafoe in the Fourth Round

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Rafael Nadal on Saturday night in New York (twitter.com/usopen)

Rafael Nadal is now an undefeated 22-0 at Majors this season.  While he is not contending for the calendar Grand Slam due to his withdrawal from the Wimbledon semifinals, Rafa is just four matches away from his third Major of the year, and his record-extending 23rd overall.  But on Monday, he faces a confident and popular American in Frances Tiafoe.

Monday’s schedule features many highly-appealing fourth round contests.  They include four other Major singles champions, as well as Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins and 19-year-old phenom 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.  Monday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.


Frances Tiafoe (22) vs. Rafael Nadal (2) – Second on Arthur Ashe Stadium

The only time Tiafoe advanced to the quarterfinals at a Major, three years ago in Australia, Nadal controlled proceedings 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.  A few months later on clay in Madrid, Rafa again easily prevailed 6-3, 6-4.  But in 2022, Frances feels he is now prepared to challenge Nadal.  In speaking to the press after his thrilling third-round victory over Diego Schwartzman, Tiafoe said, “Now I believe I can beat him.  I’m definitely going to come after him.”  As great as Nadal has been this season, with a record of 38-4, he could be a bit vulnerable.  Rafa has only played four matches in the past two months, and lost the opening set in his first two matches of this fortnight with some sloppy play.  And while Nadal will have plenty of support amongst the 23,000 fans inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, the American crowd will be mostly pulling for Tiafoe, especially as he’s the underdog.  So while it’s hard not to favor Rafa, a Frances upset would not be shocking.  Tiafoe plays his best in front of energized crowds, and has been working hard for a moment like this.


Victoria Azarenka (26) vs. Karolina Pliskova (22) – Third on Louis Armstrong Stadium

This is only the second time this season Azarenka has won three matches in a row, with the other being the other hard court Major in Melbourne.  But hard court Majors are her specialty, as she’s a five-time finalist as such events.  Pliskova has reached two Slam finals of her own, including here in 2016, and seems to be peaking at this time.  Karolina has now claimed eight of her last 10 matches, and pulled out a grueling three-set win over Belinda Bencic in the last round.  She is playing to reach her fifth US Open quarterfinal out of the last seven years.  Azarenka and Pliskova are 4-4 lifetime against each other, and they haven’t played in over three years.  But on these fast courts, I give the slight edge to Pliskova and her powerful game.


Danielle Collins (19) vs. Aryna Sabalenka (6) – 7:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Speaking of powerful games, these are two of the sport’s hardest ball strikers, and fiercest competitors.  Collins missed all of the hard court lead-up events before this tournament to rest an injury, and it paid off, as she’s not dropped a set through three rounds.  And that includes two impressive victories over Naomi Osaka and Alize Cornet.  Sabalenka has suffered from some severe double fault issues throughout the year, yet has still fought her way to some good results.  Aryna was a semifinalist a few weeks ago in Cincinnati, where she lost to eventual champion Caroline Garcia.  And she is 3-0 against Collins, which includes two matches at the US Open within the last four years.  However, Danielle was also 0-3 against Osaka before their first round matchup.  And the American’s current form is reminiscent of her run to the final this past January in Australia, when she was dictating play with her ferocious backhand.  Her return game, combined with Sabalenka’s problematic serve, makes Collins the favorite to reach her fourth Major quarterfinal.


Marin Cilic (15) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – Last on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Alcaraz has looked sharp in his first three matches, not dropping a set.  Carlitos leads the ATP with 47 match wins, and with another victory on Monday, would become the youngest man to achieve back-to-back US Open quarterfinals in 70 years.  Of course Cilic was the champion here eight years ago, and was a semifinalist three months ago in Paris.  This is a rematch from a few weeks ago in Cincinnati, where Alcaraz was victorious in straight sets.  He also defeated Marin earlier this year on another American hard court in Miami, while Marin got the best of Carlitos last year on clay in Estoril.  But Alcaraz remains the favorite to earn his third straight victory over Cilic of the year on this surface and in this country.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Cameron Norrie (7) vs. Andrey Rublev (9) – This is an elite battle between two top 10 seeds.  Norrie has advanced economically, having yet to drop a set.  Rublev survived two five-setters in the first week, including a fifth-set tiebreak in the last round over Denis Shapovalov.  They split two previous meetings, both on hard courts.

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Jule Niemeier – Swiatek has dominated in her first three rounds, as she has for much of this year, allowing her opposition only 15 games across six sets.  Niemeier was a surprise quarterfinalist at Wimbledon, as she had never won a main draw match at a Major prior to that fortnight.  This first career meeting should be a lot of fun to watch given their contrasting styles.

Petra Kvitova (21) vs. Jessica Pegula (8) – Kvitova saved two match points against fellow two-time Slam champ Garbine Muguruza in an epic match on Saturday.  Pegula is the third best WTA player of 2022, and is vying for her fourth quarterfinal out of the last eight Majors.  Petra is 2-0 against Jess, which includes a match two years ago at this event.

Ilya Ivashka vs. Jannik Sinner (11) – Ivashka has matched his best result at a Slam with this fourth round appearance.  Sinner has reached this stage at five consecutive Slams, and is looking for this third Slam quarterfinal of the year.  This is another first-time encounter.


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Karen Khachanov to advance to the semifinal in Monte-Carlo

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Two-time champion Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Karen Khachanov 6-4 6-2 in 83 minutes to reach the semifinal at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Tsitsipas has extended his head-to-head lead against Khachanov to 8-1. 

Tsitsipas will chase his third title in Monte-Carlo after his previous two triumphs in 2021 and 2022. 

Tsitsipas broke Khachanov’s serve in the opening game. Khachanov broke back in the second game to draw level to 1-1. Tsitsipas earned his second break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead and held on his next service games to win his first set 6-4. 

Tsitsipas broke in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead, as Khachanov sent an easy overhead wide. Tsitsipas earned a double break in the eighth game and served out the win on his second match point in the next game. 

Tsitsipas won 84% of his first service games. The Greek player finished with seven aces and 20 winners to 8 unforced errors. 

Tsitsipas set up a semifinal clash against either Jannik Sinner or Holger Rune.

“I would lie if I said it does not bring good memories stepping out on this court. It’s something that I attribute some of my performances here over time to. I came back here, and I relive those memories of the past. It gives good feelings to me when I am able to play in front of crowds like this and be able to try and strive for excellence with my game”, said Tsitsipas. 

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Iga Swiatek is set to return to the Billie Jean King Cup for the first time since 2022

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Eight Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers take place from 12 to 13 April. The winners will secure their spot at next November’s season-ending Finals in Seville alongside defending champions Canada, 2023 runners-up Italy, and wild card Czechia. 

World number 1 Iga Swiatek, world number 5 Jessica Pegula, former number 1s Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep, and WTA Tour stars Elina Svitolina, Emma Raducanu, Caroline Garcia and Beatriz Haddad Maia will headline the Billie Jean King Qualifiers. 

The winning teams from the Qualifiers advance to the year-end Finals in Seville. Twelve players will compete in the Finals over six days next November. 

Switzerland vs Poland – Swiss Tennis Arena Biel

World number 1 Iga Swiatek will play for Poland in Billie Jean King Cup for the first time since winning both of her matches in the 2022 Qualifiers. The Polish team will be looking to improve on her five-match winning streak. Swiatek won the WTA Finals in Cancun in 2023 and two WTA 1000 titles in Indian Wells and Doha in 2024. Swiatek has a record of nine wins from her twelve matches in the Billie Jean King matches across singles and doubles. She has won seven of her nine singles matches and has not beaten in Billie Jean King Cup since February 2019.  

Swiatek will play against Simona Waltert in the opening match. Swiatek beat Waltert at Wimbledon Juriors in 2018. 

“I know how she plays a little bit but, tactically, I need to prepare as we have not met on the WTA Tour. It’s never easy to play as a guest because the whole stadium is going to be cheering for Switzerland, but I am ready to do my job. I am going to focus on myself”, said Swiatek. 

Swiatek will be joined by Magdalena Frech, Magda Linette, Katarzyna Kawa and Magdalina Chwalinska. 

Poland will play against 2022 Billie Jean King Cup champions Switzerland for the third time. These teams are tied 1-1 in their two head-to-head clashes. 

A Polish team missing Swiatek did not get through to the 2023 Billie Jean King Finals, as they were beaten by a Kazakh team led by Elena Rybakina. Poland were given a wild card into the 2023 Billie Jean Cup Finals in Seville, but they failed to win a match. 

The Swiss team will be looking to repeat their previous triumph in Glasgow in 2022. Swiss team captain Heinz Guenthardt has named Viktorija Golubic, Celine Naef, Simona Waltert and Jil Teichmann. Belinda Bencic has taken one year off from tennis as she waits to welcome her first child. 

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Defending Champion Andrey Rublev Suffers Shock Defeat To Popyrin In Monte-Carlo

Andrey Rublev suffered his third consecutive defeat after failing to defend his Monte-Carlo title.

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Defending champion Andrey Rublev has suffered a shock opening round defeat against Alexei Popyrin in Monte-Carlo.

The world number six suffered a 6-4 6-4 defeat in one hour and 40 minutes against the aggressive Australian.

It’s Rublev’s third consecutive defeat with the 26 year-old only winning one match since his disqualification in Dubai against Alexander Bublik.

However it was a landmark win for Popyrin as he looks to be seeded for Roland Garros with the Australian currently at 46 in the world.

Speaking after the match Popyrin detailed his game-plan to defeating the defending champion, “I enjoyed coming out on centre court for the first time. First tournament on clay of the year and I have good memories from clay last year,” Popyrin told the ATP website.

“I am feeling really comfortable on it and happy to beat a guy who was in form, confident and the defending champ. It was an awesome match.

“The idea was not to give him the same ball. He is probably the best player from the baseline when you give him rhythm, so I tried to change the pace, height and spin and I think it worked really well for me today.”

Should results go against Rublev this week than he could drop to outside the world’s top ten.

As for Popyrin, he will now face compatriot Alex De Minaur in the third round.

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