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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Novak Djokovic Storms Past Van De Zandschulp To Reach Astana Quarters

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Cameron Norrie Withdraws From Tokyo After COVID Positive Test

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

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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.

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