US Open Daily Preview: Third Round Action Features Seeded Players Facing Off - UBITENNIS
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US Open Daily Preview: Third Round Action Features Seeded Players Facing Off

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Frances Tiafoe practicing last week in New York (twitter.com/usopen)

Saturday’s schedule features top names such as Rafael Nadal, Iga Swiatek, and Carlos Alcaraz.  But the day’s tightest contests may be the matches where seeded players clash.  And one of those encounters is a battle of two-time Major champions, as Garbine Muguruza faces Petra Kvitova

 

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


Garbine Muguruza (9) vs. Petra Kvitova (21) – 11:00am on Louis Armstrong Stadium

Neither of these champions have been in top form this year, but recently, they have shown glimpses of their best stuff.  Muguruza arrived in New York with a record of 9-14 on the year, but has already earned straight-set victories over two young promising players (Tauson, Fruhvirtova).  Likewise, Kvitova started the year 10-12, but found her form on the grass, winning the title in Eastbourne.  And just a few weeks ago, she reached the final in Cincinnati, defeating names like Ons Jabeur and Madison Keys.  Their head-to-head has been quite lopsided.  Garbine took their first meeting seven years ago at the WTA Finals, but Petra has taken the last five, including a fourth round match at this event in 2017.  Based on that history, as well as Kvitova’s recent results, Petra is the favorite to win her sixth consecutive match in this rivalry.


Denis Shapovalov (19) vs. Andrey Rublev (9) – Second on Grandstand

After defeating Rafael Nadal in Rome, Shapovalov promptly went on a six-match losing streak, and lost nine of his next 10 matches.  But perhaps he’s beginning to turn things around.  Denis defeated Grigor Dimitrov and Tommy Paul in Cincinnati, and while he required nine sets in his first two rounds here, he survived them.  Rublev is a strong 38-14 this season, yet had lost three of his last four matches coming into this tournament.  Like Denis, Andrey also endured a five-setter this week.  They have split four previous meetings, all on hard courts.  Both are former quarterfinalists at this event, and both love to bludgeon the ball.  Without much separating these two, I give the slight edge to Rublev, as he’s been the better performer across the last several months.


Diego Schwartzman (14) vs. Frances Tiafoe (22) – Not Before 2:00pm on Louis Armstrong Stadium

Tiafoe is likely disappointed this match is scheduled during the day instead of at night, as he thrives performing under the lights, especially in front of American audiences.  But he’ll still have a big audience inside the US Open’s second biggest stadium.  Frances is vying to reach the round of 16 in New York for the third straight year.  52 weeks ago, he overcame Rublev at this event in a thrilling five-setter.  However, the American has suffered some heartbreaking losses of late: to David Goffin in five sets at Wimbledon, to Nick Kyrgios despite holding five match points in Washington, and to Taylor Fritz after leading the third set 4-0 in Montreal.  Schwartzman is having a solid yet unspectacular year, especially on hard courts, where he was just 7-6 coming into this tournament.  And Diego benefited from the retirement of Jack Sock in the opening round.  Schwartzman is 2-1 against Tiafoe, though they’re 1-1 on hard courts.  On this surface, and in front of a partisan New York crowd, Frances should be favored to gain another big victory at the Open.  It feels as if Tiafoe is due for another big win.


Karolina Pliskova (22) vs. Belinda Bencic (13) – Third on Grandstand

It’s a two-time Major finalist against the Tokyo Olympics gold medalist.  Pliskova missed the first two months of this season due to a hand injury, and struggled until the summer hard court season began, advancing to the semifinals in Toronto.  But she’s reached the quarterfinals or better of the US Open in four of the last six years.  Bencic was also a quarterfinalist a year ago, and a semifinalist in her last appearance before that.  Belinda is 33-15 in 2022, and advanced to the semis of Miami six months ago.  Their only prior matchup occurred three years ago at Indian Wells, when Bencic prevailed in three.  In another of many matches on the day that could easily go either way, Pliskova’s power makes her the favorite on these fast courts.


Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Jenson Brooksby vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – Brooksby reached the fourth round a year ago, and took out Cincinnati champ Borna Coric in straight sets on Thursday, saving seven set points in the second set.  Alcaraz is yet to drop a set, and has advanced to the second week at three of the last four Majors.

Richard Gasquet vs. Rafael Nadal (2) – Nadal has appeared a bit vulnerable thus far, dropping a set in each of his first two matches.  But he is 17-0 against Gasquet, and claimed their last 31 sets.

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Lauren Davis – Swiatek has only dropped nine games through four sets, and defeated another American, Sloane Stephens, in the last round.  Davis has survived consecutive three-setters, but is 0-4 in the third round at Slams.

Alize Cornet vs. Danielle Collins (19) – Cornet upset defending champion Emma Raducanu in the first round, and as per ESPN’S Chris McKendry, has won her last seven matches at Majors against top 20 players, a group Collins is currently a part of.  Collins eliminated Naomi Osaka in the first round, and of course was the runner-up this past January at the Australian Open.  In the quarterfinals of that event, she defeated Cornet in straight sets.


Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Emma Raducanu Draws Inspiration From Andy Murray Ahead Of 2023

Emma Raducanu spoke about Andy Murray’s influence on her career.

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(@HeartThamesNews - Twitter)

Emma Raducanu has spoke about Andy Murray’s influence on her career and is optimistic about turning her form in 2023.

 

The former US Open hasn’t had too bad of an off-season after receiving her MBE for her services to sport.

Raducanu made history in 2021 as she won the US Open as a qualifier at 18 years of age.

However the Brit has yet to back that up with Raducanu changing coach on a number of occasions as she looks for some stability in 2023.

Speaking in a recent interview with Grazia Raducanu said that she believes that momentum can change quickly in tennis and that confidence is the key to success, “[In tennis] it could look like it’s all going down, down, down and just not getting any better,” Raducanu was quoted by tennishead as saying.

“Just one match can have a big influence on your confidence and once you have confidence and the momentum comes, you feel like you can’t lose. It’s a very individual sport – people are friendly but it’s difficult to be really close with those you’re competing with.”

One player that can relate to what Raducanu is saying is Andy Murray with confidence being a key theme of the highs and lows of Murray’s career.

Raducanu said that she talks to Murray regularly about the highs and lows of tennis, “Andy Murray is so good to talk to because he’s been through pretty much what I’ve been going through,” Raducanu said.

“I have always looked up to him and watched him winning his first Wimbledon and the Olympics.”

Raducanu will hope that she can use Murray’s words as inspiration for next season as she currently sits at 75 in the world.

The Brit will start her season in 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand on the 2nd of January.

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Fernando Verdasco Given Two Month Doping Ban

Fernando Verdasco has been banned from tennis until the 8th of January.

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Fernando Verdasco (@UniversTennis - Twitter)

Fernando Verdasco will miss the first week of the 2023 season after being provisionally suspended for two months after testing positive for the drug methylphenidate.

 

The former world number seven tested positive for the drug at the Challenger event in Rio De Janeiro and has accepted a voluntary ban until the 8th of January.

As well as testing positive for the drug methylphenidate, Verdasco had also forgot to renew his Therapeutic Use Exemption despite the Spaniard admitting that he was diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

In a statement published today the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA), explained why his ban has been shortened from two years to two months, “The ITIA accepts that the player did not intend to cheat, that his violation was inadvertent and unintentional, and that he bears no significant fault or negligence for it,” they said in a statement on his website.

“In the specific circumstances of this case, based on the player’s degree of fault the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme allows for the applicable period of ineligibility to be reduced from two years to two months.”

The 39 year-old will as a result miss the first week of the new season with the Spaniard being currently ranked at world number 125.

In 2022, Verdasco’s best results on the ATP tour were quarter-final performances in Buenos Aires and Estoril while he also won a challenger title in Monterrey in March.

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Canada Thumps Australia To Win Historic Davis Cup Title 

The dream of the North American team has finally become a reality.

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MALAGA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 27: Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2022 at Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena on November 27, 2022 in Malaga, Spain. (Photo by Silvestre Szpylma / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

109 years after making their Davis Cup debut, Canada has finally claimed the trophy after producing two clinical wins over Australia in the final on Sunday. 

 

The duo of Denis Shapovalov and Felix-Auger Aliassime both shined in their matches to give the North American nation an unassible 2-0 lead in the three-match tie. It is the first time Canada has won the title with 2022 being only the second time they have reached the final. Three years ago they missed out on the title to Spain. 

“The emotions are tough to describe,” said Auger-Aliassime. “All of us here, we’ve dreamt of this. All of these guys grew up together dreaming of this moment, dreaming of winning the Davis Cup. It’s a great moment for me and my country…. I am happy we were able to get our first Davis Cup with this group.”

Shapovalov kicked-off the final with a 90-minute 6-2, 6-4, win over Thanasi Kokkinakis who also lost his semi-final match against Borna Coric. The world No.18 blasted 28 winners past his opponent and broke him four times in the match. Besides handing Canada the crucial lead, it was a much-needed confidence boost for Shapovalov who earlier in the week lost to Lorenzo Sonego and Jan-Lennard Struff. 

“I’m very happy with my performance today,” said Shapovalov. “I had a long one against Sonego yesterday and was struggling with my back a little bit. So huge credit to the medical staff for putting me back in shape. There were a lot of doubts if I’d be ready to play today. It was amazing to play pain-free today.”

Closing in on the title, Felix Auger-Aliassime secured victory for his country with a 6-3, 6-4, triumph over world No.24 Alex de Minaur. Producing a total of six aces and saving all eight break points he faced. 

https://twitter.com/DavisCup/status/1596895388077674497

Canada’s run to their first title occurred with a bit of luck on their side. Originally they were eliminated from the finals after losing to the Netherlands at the start of this year. However, they received a wildcard to play in the group stages following the removal of Russia from the competition. Russia and Belarus are currently suspended from team events due to the war in Ukraine. 

In Group B they scored wins over South Korea and Spain to secure a place in the finale this week. Before dismissing Australia, they beat Italy 2-1 in the semi-finals and Germany 2-1 in the quarter-finals. 

“From juniors it was our dream, growing up watching Vasek (Pospisil), Milos (Raonic), and [Daniel Nestor] taking Canada to new [heights],” Shapovalov said. “We wanted to grow up and help the country win the first title. It’s so surreal right now. After we lost in the final in 2019, we really wanted this bad. It’s such a team effort; everyone was putting in 120 percent every day.”

Canada’s team captain is former player Frank Dancevic who has held the role since 2017. 

 “This is a historic moment,” Dancevic commented on the achievement. “We’ve never won this title in the past. It’s the first time for us. It’s an incredible feeling.”

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