US Open Daily Preview: The Quarterfinals Conclude with Swiatek, Alcaraz, Tiafoe - UBITENNIS
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US Open Daily Preview: The Quarterfinals Conclude with Swiatek, Alcaraz, Tiafoe

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Carlos Alcaraz after his fourth round victory (twitter.com/usopen)

The quarterfinals conclude on Wednesday in New York, and we are guaranteed a new champion in both men’s and women’s singles.  In the women’s draw, world No.1 Iga Swiatek is the only Major singles champ remaining.  In the quarterfinals, she faces American No.1 Jessica Pegula

 

On the men’s side, all of the remaining players are looking for their first Major in singles.  Wednesday’s ATP quarterfinals feature two of the sport’s most charismatic young players, Carlos Alcaraz and Frances Tiafoe, and two big-swinging gingers, Jannik Sinner and Andrey Rublev.


Karolina Pliskova (22) vs. Aryna Sabalenka (6) – 12:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

These are two of the WTA’s biggest ball strikers, and both already defeated other big ball strikers in the last round.  Pliskova took out another loud Belarussian in Victoria Azarenka, while Sabalenka eliminated Danielle Collins.  That was Pliskova’s third three-set win of this tournament, as she also survived tight encounters against Belinda Bencic and Magda Linette.  Sabalenka seemed all but out of this tournament in the second round, before coming back from a set and 5-1 down to defeat Kaia Kanepi. 

They have split four previous meetings, yet Pliskova claimed the last two.  Most notably, Karolina was victorious 6-4 in the third over Aryna in one of the biggest matches of both players’ careers: the semifinals of last year’s Wimbledon.  And just last month in the semis of Toronto, Pliskova prevailed in straights.  Her superior serving prowess, and Sabalenka’s double fault issues, make Pliskova the favorite despite her recent 0-3 record in US Open quarterfinals.  And while Karolina can be a bit too hard on herself at times, she has a much more subdued temperament than Aryna, who can become quite aggravated on court.


Andrey Rublev (9) vs. Frances Tiafoe (22) – Second on Arthur Ashe Stadium

This is a rematch from an electric five-setter at last year’s US Open, when Tiafoe upset Rublev in a match that ended at 2:14am.  Ranked 50th in the world at the time, Frances has seen his ranking halved in the year since, and is coming off the biggest win of his life.  On Monday afternoon, Tiafoe handed Rafael Nadal his only loss at a Major this season. 

Six months after their meeting here a year ago, Rublev avenged that heartbreaking loss at Indian Wells with a straight-set victory.  Andrey outlasted Denis Shapovalov in a fifth-set tiebreak two rounds ago, then easily dispatched of one of the ATP’s most consistent performers, Cam Norrie, in straight sets.  Will Frances be able to emotionally recover from such a career milestone to reach his first Major semifinal just 48 hours later?  Rublev is also vying for his first Slam semi, and this has been a huge stumbling block for Andrey, as he is 0-5 in Major quarterfinals.  He had lost the first four of those quarterfinals in straight sets, before losing another heartbreaker three months ago at Roland Garros to Marin Cilic in a fifth-set tiebreak.  That’s a lot of scar tissue for any player to overcome.  And with a partisan New York crowd raucously behind the American, Tiafoe is a slight favorite to advance.


Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Jessica Pegula (8) – 7:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

This is a rematch from the same round at this year’s French Open, where Swiatek easily won 6-3, 6-2.  They also met earlier this season in the semifinals of Miami, with Iga prevailing 6-2, 7-5.  Their only other matchup occurred three years ago in Washington, with Pegula winning in three. 

Jess has become one of the WTA’s most consistent performers.  The 28-year-old has reached the quarterfinals at three of four Majors this year, as well as the quarters or better at four WTA 1000 events.  Her losses this summer in Toronto and Cincinnati were far from bad ones, as they were at the hands of the eventual champions (Halep, Garcia).  And as great as Swiatek has been in 2022, with a record of 54-7 and six titles, she is not fully comfortable on the fast hard courts in New York, or with the balls that are used at this tournament.  Iga advanced to this quarterfinal despite some poor form, especially in the first half of her fourth round match against Jule Neimeier.  And while Pegula is 0-3 in Slam quarterfinals, this feels like her moment to achieve a new career milestone and upset an uncomfortable world No.1.


Jannik Sinner (11) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – Last on Arthur Ashe Stadium

These men have played three times within the last year.  At November’s Paris Masters on an indoor hard court, Alcaraz was victorious after two tight sets.  In the fourth round of Wimbledon in July on grass, Sinner prevailed in four sets.  And in the Umag final on clay, Jannik won again in three sets.  Now they’ll meet on an outdoor hard court, assuming possible showers don’t force the roof to be closed. 

Both of these young men survived grueling five-setters on Monday night.  Sinner came back from a break down in the fifth against Ilya Ivashka, while Alcaraz defeated Marin Cilic at 2:23am.  That was an extremely late finish to recover from for Carlitos, though it will help that he won his first three rounds in straight sets.  Meanwhile Sinner has now played two five-setters and a four-setter, so he’s encountered more hiccups than Alcaraz.  And in front of a New York crowd that fell in love with Carlitos a year ago, Alcaraz should be favored to use their energy, as well as his speed and power, to become a Major semifinalist.


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Ons Jabeur’s Latest Withdrawal Raises Doubts Over Season Ambitions

Ons Jabeur will be hoping to re-energize herself ahead of a big few months in her career.

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Ons Jabeur’s latest withdrawal in Dubai has raised doubts over how successful the Tunisian can be this season.

 

Despite having high hopes for revitalizing her season in Dubai, Ons Jabeur has had another setback in 2024.

The Tunisian was forced to withdraw from one of her favourite tournaments of the year in Dubai due to a knee injury.

This withdrawal came days after Jabeur said she was ready for the challenge in Dubai and was excited to compete in front of a passionate crowd in Dubai.

In a statement Jabeur explained her injury and why she was unable to compete in Dubai this week, “After consultation of my doctors and team we have decided that I will have to withdraw from Dubai this week and go for more medical treatments,” Jabeur was quoted by tennishead as saying.

“Looking forward to reconnect with all on the courts for the US swing. Thank you for your continuous support.”

This latest setback isn’t a coincidence though as Jabeur has struggled with injuries ever since her Wimbledon final.

The mental and physical toll that the last eight months have taken of Jabeur are starting to show.

There doesn’t seem to be a plan in place as Jabeur has been open about her mental health struggles since that comprehensive defeat to Marketa Vondrousova at Wimbledon.

That’s a potential problem for Jabeur going forwards as it continues to get tougher for the world number six to find motivation going forwards.

A long break away from tennis may be beneficial for Jabeur as it feels like this summer may be the Tunisian’s last opportunity at Grand Slam glory.

An innovative and new approach may be required for Jabeur as her physical and mental stamina continues to fade with every week.

However will Jabeur manage reinvent herself before it’s too late? Only time will tell and SW19 may be the final destination in that bid.

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Iga Swiatek ‘Proud’ After Claiming Doha Title

World number one Iga Swiatek won her 18th career title in Doha.

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Iga Swiatek defeated Elena Rybakina 7-6(8) 6-2 to claim the title in Doha.

 

The world number one sealed an 18th career title with a straight sets win over Rybakina.

Swiatek had previously struggled to beat the Kazakh and that continued at the start of the opening set with the Pole conceding a double break deficit at 4-1.

However Swiatek was resilient as she won four games in a row to get back on track in the opening set.

Rybakina broke in the eleventh game and had the opportunity to serve for the opening set but couldn’t take the opportunity.

In the tiebreak, Swiatek converted her fourth set point as she claimed a mammoth tiebreak 10-8.

After that Swiatek seized control as she broke twice after saving two break points in the second game.

The Pole held comfortably to claim her maiden title of the 2024 season in what was her first tournament since a third round exit at the Australian Open.

In her-post match speech Swiatek admitted that she is proud of her performance in Doha this week, “You don’t even know hard it was not to think about it,” Swiatek was quoted by France 24 as saying after winning her 13th match in Doha.

“I came here and was pretty stressed because I felt the expectations. I wanted to do everything step by step like I always do. I’m really happy. I’m really proud of myself.”

Swiatek will now look to continue that form in Dubai next week where she takes on either Sloane Stephens or Clara Burel in her opening round match.

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Ons Jabeur Ready For Dubai Challenge Despite Injury Struggles

Ons Jabeur is looking to overcome injury struggles and revitalize her form in Dubai.

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Ons Jabeur is looking to be ready for Dubai this week after struggling with injuries this season.

 

The year could have started better for the Wimbledon finalist who continues to struggle with injuries.

Having struggled with knee injuries, Jabeur enters Dubai in very inconsistent form as she went out in the first round in Doha to Lesia Tsurenko.

However despite recent struggles Jabeur seems determined to continue working on solutions as she prepares for the upcoming challenge in Dubai.

Speaking ahead of the event in Dubai Jabeur reflected on her recent retirement to Tsurenko, “I think it’s the worst decision you can take because my heart wants to play and my body is not allowing me so much,” Jabeur told The National.

“I feel like I need to take the right decision and sometimes you have to take decisions where your heart is not agreeing with it. But all I know is that I’m doing my best to be ready for this tournament and be ready to play here and compete in front of amazing fans.”

The Tunisian will look to pick up form in what should be an incredible atmosphere for Jabeur in Dubai.

In recent tournaments there have been football-like atmosphere for Jabeur in Dubai and that’s something she is looking to capitalise on, “I think everybody knows the match against Simona was unbelievable,” Jabeur reflected on her epic match with Simona Halep in Dubai in 2020.

“We got the Tunisian fans, the Arab fans and the Romanian fans. So it was unbelievable. I would never forget that match because it was right before Covid and after that the crowd completely disappeared so I always tried to think about that match when the stadium was empty.”

Jabeur has a first round BYE in Dubai and will play a qualifier in the second round before potentially facing the in-form Jelena Ostapenko in the third round.

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