Nick Kyrgios’ United Cup Withdrawl A ‘Precautionary Mesure’ Ahead Of Australian Open  - UBITENNIS
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Nick Kyrgios’ United Cup Withdrawl A ‘Precautionary Mesure’ Ahead Of Australian Open 

Will the world No.27 be ready in time for the first Grand Slam of 2023? 

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Image via https://twitter.com/Wimbledon

Team Australia has suffered a blow less than 24 hours before the inaugural United Cup gets underway after Nick Kyrgios pulled out of the competition due to injury. 

 

The Wimbledon finalist was scheduled to play on Thursday in what would also be the first time he has played on Australian soil since reaching his first Grand Slam final in the summer. Confirmation of Kyrgios’ withdrawal was published via a statement on social media. He had been practising on the courts in Sydney just hours before making his decision. 

It is understood that the 27-year-old is currently nursing an ankle injury that he suffered whilst playing an exhibition match in Abu Dhabi last week. A member of Kyrgios’ camp has confirmed to The Sydney Morning Herald that his decision not to play is a ‘precautionary measure’ and he has been advised to rest ahead of the Australian Open which will begin on January 16th. 

“Nick suffered an ankle injury while playing in Dubai and he has been advised by his team that he needs to take precautionary measures for two weeks leading into the Australian Open to give him the best chance at being fit and healthy,” a member of Kyrgios’ camp told smh.com.au.
“Australian Open is his priority, so we must do what it takes to make sure he is able to play at the best of his ability. He is disappointed that he can’t help the launch of the United Cup and fingers crossed he will get another opportunity next year to lead the team.”

Sam Stosur, who is the co-captain of the Australian United Cup team, told reporters that she hadn’t spoken to Kyrgios about his injury. The team found out about the withdrawal just minutes before they conducted their pre-tournament press conference. 

“He was here. We literally just found out 10 minutes ago … so obviously news to all of us,” Stosur said.
“We just move forward now. We’re all happy to be here and keen to get out there.
“Now that’s out there and we move forward with the placings of the team and do our best on the day.
“As far as the men’s side of this team goes, we’re in very capable hands still.
“So I’m not concerned that our chances have just diminished greatly or anything like that. We’re out here to do everything we can possible to try and win this competition.”

Kyrgios was set for a mouthwatering showdown with Rafael Nadal in the coming days. The last time the two were set to lock horns also failed to happen after the Spaniard pulled out of their semi-final meeting at Wimbledon due to an abdominal injury. 

As a result of the development, Alex de Minaur will move into the No.1 position in his team and play Cameron Norrie on Thursday followed by Nadal later in the competition. Meanwhile, world No.107 Jason Kubler will take over Minaur’s original place in the draw. 

The United Cup will be held across three cities in Australia and has a prize money pool of $15M. The mixed event will also offer up to 500 ranking points for both ATP and WTA players. 

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Casper Ruud Topples Rune To Reach French Open Semis

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Casper Ruud came out on top in his all-Scandinavian clash with Holger Rune to seal his place in the semi-finals of the French Open. 

 

Ruud, who is seeded fourth in the draw, battled to a 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, win over his Danish opponent in what was a topsy-turvy encounter on the Philippe Chatrier Court. It is the second year in a row that the Norwegian has defeated Rune in the last eight of Roland Garros and he now leads their head-to-head 6-1. He is through to the last four of a major for only the third time in his career. 

“I’m very relieved. I came into this match trying to not play with pressure but it is not easy when you’re playing a big match against Holger who is never easy,” Rune said during his post-match interview. “He is very aggressive. Luckily for me the first two sets he wasn’t feeling it too well. He made a lot of errors and I got a lot of points for free.’
“That helped settle my nerves but he fought back in the third set. In the fourth set, I was lucky to keep that break.”

The highly anticipated nighttime clash began in one-way fashion with Ruud claiming 12 out of the first 15 games with relative ease as an erratic Rune struggled to find his game on the court, hitting a total of 40 unforced errors during the first two sets. 

It wasn’t until the third frame that Ruud finally faced some resistance on the court as his opponent orchestrated the crowd to get behind him. Prompting the 20-year-old to hit a series of impressive shots to revive his hopes.

However, Rune’s comeback was short-lived as Ruud broke once more midway through the fourth set as he moved to a game away from victory. He earned his first match point at 5-2 following a double fault from his rival but failed to convert. Two more opportunities then came and went for Ruud before he managed to serve the match out in the following game.

“I think I did well,” he replied when asked about how he handled his nerves. “I kind of looked at it (the match) as if he was the favourite. He won the last time we played and he has had a better year than me so far.’
“He was hoping to get into his first (Grand Slam) semi-final and I was hungry to get into another semi-final. Luckily it worked out well for me.”

Awaiting the 24-year-old in the semi-finals on Friday will be Alexander Zverev who defeated Tomás Martín Etcheverry in four sets. He trails their head-to-head 1-2 but they have never faced each other on clay. 

“Ruud has been there before. He was in the final here last year, so he knows exactly what it means and what it takes,” Zverev told reporters.  

Ruud is now 16-5 this season when it comes to playing matches on the clay. Since the start of 2020, he has registered 86 wins on the surface which is more than any other player on the ATP Tour.

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Roland Garros Daily Preview: Iga Swiatek Plays Coco Gauff in a Rematch of Last Year’s Final

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A look at last year’s trophy ceremony after the women’s championship match (twitter.com/rolandgarros)

The quarterfinals conclude on Wednesday in Paris.

 

A year ago in the women’s singles championship match, Iga Swiatek defeated Coco Gauff 6-1, 6-3 to win her second Roland Garros title.  Swiatek leads their head-to-head 6-0, having claimed all 12 sets they’ve contested.  Can Coco provide any real resistance on Wednesday?

In the other WTA quarterfinal, Ons Jabeur and Beatriz Haddad Maia vie to reach their first French Open semifinal.

On the men’s side, we have another prominent rematch from last year’s tournament.  A year ago in this same round, Casper Ruud eliminated Holger Rune in a contentious Scandinavian battle.  Yet in 2023, Rune has been the better player.  Who will prevail this time around?

And one year after the serious ankle injury Sascha Zverev suffered in the semifinals of this event, he looks to return to that round, and faces a surprising quarterfinalist in Tomas Martin Etcheverry.


Beatriz Haddad Maia (14) vs. Ons Jabeur (7) – 11:00am on Court Philippe Chatrier

Jabeur is only 15-6 on the year, after missing time this season due to multiple leg injuries.  But she has rounded into strong form at a good time, dropping only one set to this stage.  This is the farthest Ons has ever advanced in Paris, as she plays for her third Major semifinal, all within the past year.

Haddad Maia had never previously advanced beyond the second round of a Slam, with an 0-7 record in that round.  Yet here she is in her first Major quarterfinal, on the surface where the least amount of previous success had come.  Beatriz has survived three consecutive three-setters, including an over three-and-half-hour one in the last round against Sara Sorribes Tormo.

These players met just two months ago in the same round on the same surface, with Jabeur easily prevailing 6-3, 6-0 in Stuttgart.  Ons will surely be the fresher player, and has an obviously huge edge in experience.  I like Jabeur’s chances of achieving her first Roland Garros semifinal.


Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Coco Gauff (6) – Not Before 12:30pm on Court Philippe Chatrier

In their 12 aforementioned previous sets, most have not even been close.  Only one, their very first, has gone to a tiebreak, and Gauff has averaged just 2.4 games per set. 

Coco is also yet to play her best this year.  While her record of 23-8 is far from embarrassing, she had not reached a quarterfinal in three months before this fortnight.  She continues to tinker with her forehand and serve, and has made recent changes to her coaching team.

Swiatek is 32-6 this season, and has lost only nine games through four rounds, though she did receive an unfortunate retirement in the last round from an ill Lesia Tsurenko.  So while Gauff always remains a threat, a Coco upset on Wednesday would be a bit of a shock.


Sascha Zverev (22) vs. Tomas Martin Etcheverry – Not Before 3:00pm on Court Philippe Chatrier

Zverev arrived in Paris with little form, and even admitted to feeling emotional returning to the scene where such a devastating injury happened a year ago.  But he has played excellently through four rounds, dropping just one set against his only opponent seeded higher than him (Tiafoe).  Sascha is playing for his third straight semifinal in Paris.

Before this year, Etcheverry had never won a match at a Major, and only owned four career victories at ATP level.  But the 23-year-old has won 19 tour-level matches this season, and reached two clay court finals (Santiago, Houston).  Tomas Martin is yet to drop a set this tournament, defeating three seeded players (de Minaur, Coric, Nishioka).

But in their first career meeting, Zverev is a huge favorite.  His power and experience should allow him to comfortably dictate matters on Wednesday.


Holger Rune (6) vs. Casper Ruud (4) – Not Before 8:15pm on Court Philippe-Chatrier

Ruud got off to a modest start in 2023 after achieving his first two Major finals in 2022, and accumulating 51 match wins.  But he’s now 15-5 on clay this season, and took three tight sets from Nicolas Jarry in a straight-set fourth round match that lasted nearly four hours.  Casper is 2-0 in his previous Slam quarterfinals.

Rune has been on a tear since last fall, reaching seven ATP finals, and winning three of them.  That includes three clay finals within the last two months (Monte Carlo, Munich, Rome).  He survived a grueling round of 16 contest against Francisco Cerundolo, decided by a fifth-set tiebreak.  This is Holger’s second Slam quarterfinal, after losing in four sets here a year ago to this same opponent. 

These two men exchanged words both at the net and in the locker room after that quarterfinal.  Casper, like many players, has voiced how immature he finds Holger’s on-court behavior to be.  Ruud won their first four meetings, but just two weeks ago in the semifinals of Rome, Rune came from behind to win in three.  All five of those matches took place on clay.

Holger appeared physically fatigued during much of his match on Monday against Cerundolo.  The outcome on Wednesday may heavily depend on his physical condition.  But if he’s feeling close to 100%, I give Rune the slight edge to achieve his first Major semifinal.


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Argentina’s Tomas Etcheverry Pays Tribute To Sister After Milestone French Open Win

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Moments after booking his place in the quarter-finals of the French Open for the first time, Tomas Etcheverry paid tribute to his sister who passed away last year. 

 

The world No.49 overcame a tough opening set before storming past Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 7-6(8), 6-0, 6-1, on Monday night. His win continues what has been a fairytale run for the 23-year-old who is yet to drop a set in Paris. Prior to the tournament, he had only ever won one main draw match at a Grand Slam in his career. 

Speaking to ESPN after his victory, Etcheverry mentioned his sister Magui who died in 2022 at the age of 32 following a two-year battle with breast cancer. She had two children called Galo and Juana. 

“The truth is that lately I’ve been asking my sister for strength a lot… Today, before a serve, I asked her: ‘Magui, please help me’. And she helped me. I hit an ace,” Etcheverry said

Etcheverry has already shown his credentials on the clay this season by reaching the final of ATP tournaments in Houston and Santiago. However, he has at times struggled for consistency. Coming into this year’s French Open, he had failed to win back-to-back matches at four consecutive tournaments before reaching the final of a Challenger event in Bordeaux. 

Besides Nishioka, the Argentine has also recorded convincing wins over Alex de Minaur and Borna Coric at the French Open. Making it the first time in his career that he has defeated players currently ranked in the world’s top 20. His next opponent will be Alexander Zverev who he has never played before on the Tour.

“In the next round it’s going to be tough,” Etcheverry said in his press conference. “Sascha Zverev, I think he has a lot more experience than me, but I feel really good to play against him.’
“I am playing incredible tennis this week, and just I have to focus on my game and try to do the same.”

Should Etcheverry upset Zverev, he will become the first Argentine to reach the last four at Roland Garros since Diego Schwartzman in 2020. 

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