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

Focus

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

Avatar

Published

on

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.

Focus

Novak Djokovic Storms Past Van De Zandschulp To Reach Astana Quarters

Novak Djokovic is into his eighth ATP quarter-final of the season.

Avatar

Published

on

Novak Djokovic (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic stormed past Botic Van De Zandschulp 6-3 6-1 to reach the Astana quarter-finals.

 

The Serb cruised past a valiant Van De Zandschulp to reach the last eight in Astana.

Djokovic is looking to make up significant ground as he looks to climb up the ATP rankings having missed a flurry of tournaments this year.

Next for Djokovic is Karen Khachanov in the quarter-finals on Friday.

Despite the win, the world number seven had to overcome a clean first set from his Dutch opponent, with Van De Zandschulp returning effectively.

The world number 34’s efficient baseline play saw him test Djokovic in the early stages as he forced the 21-time Grand Slam champion to Deuce in the fifth game.

However the Wimbledon champion survived the early pressure from Van De Zandschulp and went on the attack in the next game, breaking with ease for a 4-2 lead.

The Dutchman continued to apply the pressure on return but to no success as Djokovic saved a break point with bold play as he took a 5-2 lead.

That would be Van De Zandschulp’s only sign of returning threat as Djokovic served out the opening set to love in 39 minutes.

Although the Serb’s return made the headlines like always, it was his returning that was the dominant force in the second set as Van De Zandschulp found no way through Djokovic’s precise baseline game.

The former world number broke on three consecutive occasions as he claimed victory and a place in the quarter-finals of an ATP event for the eighth time this season.

After the match Djokovic praised his serve which was the key to success in Astana, “I think my serve worked very well when I needed to get out of the trouble in the first set particularly,” Djokovic told the ATP website.

“There were some 30/30 games, and when I broke his serve for 4-2, I faced a break point and I came in, and he had a look at that passing shot and he missed it. The match is decided in these moments. [Between] 5-2 or 4-3 up there is a big difference, and I served well to end the first set.

“[In the] second set I think I started to read his serve better and just started swinging through the court more. Botic is a quality tennis player. When he has time, he can hurt you, so I tried to take away that time from him and I’m very pleased with the way I played, particularly in the second.”

Djokovic will now play against Karen Khachanov who defeated Marin Cilic in three sets earlier on in the day.

There was also a 6-4 6-4 victory for Hubert Hurkacz over Alexander Bublik, who is searching for a late spot at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Continue Reading

Focus

Iga Swiatek Demands Talks With ITF And WTA After Withdrawing From Billie Jean King Cup

Iga Swiatek is not happy with the ITF and WTA after withdrawing from the Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

Avatar

Published

on

Iga Swiatek (@IgaSwi_France - Twitter)

The world number one has announced that she will not compete at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in November after criticising tennis’ governing bodies for not looking after player welfare.

 

The event is set to take place the week after the WTA Finals in Glasgow which causes a huge problem and obstacle for many players.

This is definitely the case for Swiatek who has qualified for the WTA Finals which takes place in Texas on the 31st of October.

A huge dilemma which now means Swiatek will not compete for her country at the Billie Jean King Cup.

Speaking on Instagram the Pole criticised the decision from the ITF and WTA and wants to speak to them about player welfare to prevent future decisions from happening, “I was thinking it through a lot and discussing it with my team all over again, but I will not be able to play at the Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow,” Swiatek said in her Instagram story.

“And it makes me sad. I’m very sorry because I play for Poland whenever it’s possible and I always give it my best. Playing in Poland this year was an honour and I hoped to do this again at the end of the season.

“I’m disappointed that tennis governing bodies didn’t come to an agreement on something as basic as the calendar of tournaments, giving us only one day to travel through the globe and changing the time zone. This situation is not safe for our health and could cause injury.

“I’m going to talk to the WTA and ITF in order to change something. This situation is difficult not only for the players like me, but mainly for the tennis fans that support our fans.”

It’s clear Swiatek wants change in terms of player welfare and communication between governing bodies on how to facilitate the schedule.

However Swiatek now turns her attention to preparing for the WTA Finals and first up for the Pole is Ostrava this week.

In her opening match Swiatek will face either Ajla Tomljanovic or Shuai Zhang.

Continue Reading

Focus

Cameron Norrie Withdraws From Tokyo After COVID Positive Test

Cameron Norrie will miss the rest of the Asian swing due to COVID.

Avatar

Published

on

Cameron Norrie (@the_LTA - Twitter)

After withdrawing from his quarter-final in Seoul, Cameron Norrie has now withdrawn from the ATP 500 event in Tokyo.

 

The Brit’s absence from the latter stages of the ATP 250 event in South Korea, raised eyebrows with Norrie suffering from illness.

However Norrie then withdraw from the ATP 500 event in Tokyo where he was due to play Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Now his absence has been explained as Norrie confirmed on social media that he tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement originally posted on Instagram, Norrie explained he had no symptoms but has to quarantine in his hotel room in Seoul, “Unfortunately I had a positive COVID test in Korea and wasn’t able to compete in the rest of my matches,” Norrie said.

“I have no symptoms and I am feeling 100%. It’s been a complicated situation and I appreciate the Republic of Korea trying their best to be amicable in a very tough situation.

“I was really hoping to go to Tokyo but because of the quarantine period I will not be able to play there. Looking forward to getting back to Europe for the indoors. See you guys soon!”

This is the second time Norrie has tested positive for COVID with the first time being before the start of the season.

Norrie’s scheduled next tournament will be in Stockholm which will take place on the 17th of October.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending