United Cup Daily Preview: Mixed Doubles Takes Center Stage on Sunday - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

ATP

United Cup Daily Preview: Mixed Doubles Takes Center Stage on Sunday

Published

on

Iga Swiatek on Saturday in Brisbane (unitedcup.com)

On Sunday in Australia, the second of three ties in each of the six round-robin groups of the inaugural United Cup will be decided.  The current group standings can be found here.

On Saturday, Rafael Nadal lost his first match of the new season to Cameron Norrie in Sydney.  A day later, he is scheduled to return to the court in mixed doubles alongside Paula Badosa, in a match that may end up deciding the tie between Spain and Great Britain.

In Brisbane, Iga Swiatek is scheduled to team with fellow Polish No.1 Hubert Hurkacz.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most prominent matches on the schedule.  Sunday’s play in each city gets underway at 10:00am local time.


Paula Badosa and Rafael Nadal [ESP] vs. Harriet Dart and Dan Evans [GBR] – Last on in Sydney

Great Britain leads Spain 2-0, so Spain needs to win all three matches on Sunday to secure the tie.  Badosa and Dart will square off in singles earlier in the evening, followed by Evans facing Pablo Carreno Busta.  If Spain wins both of those matches, this mixed doubles match will decide the tie.  Great Britain defeated Australia in the opening tie of this group, so Team GB only needs to win one match on Sunday to secure their advancement out of this group, and end Spain’s hopes.

This will be an extremely rare opportunity to see Nadal participate in mixed doubles, and will surely be a career highlight for his partner, Badosa.  And Rafa is quite an accomplished doubles player.  Alongside Marc Lopez, who is now a part of his coaching team, he won the gold medal in men’s doubles at the 2016 Rio Olympics.  Nadal also owns three Masters 1000 titles in doubles. 

But Dart and Evans have also achieved success in doubles.  Dart was a finalist in mixed doubles at Wimbledon in 2021, while Evans has reached three Masters 1000 finals in doubles across the past two seasons.  However, with an all-time great and one of the WTA’s best players on the other side of the net, I give the advantage to Team Spain in this mixed doubles matchup.


Iga Swiatek and Hubert Hurkacz [POL] vs. Zhibek Kulambayeva and Alexander Bublik [KAZ] – Last on in Brisbane

These countries split their two matches on Saturday.  In Sunday’s singles action, Hurkacz and Bublik will collide, while Kulambayeva will take on Magda Linette.  If the countries split those two matches, this mixed doubles contest will decide the tie. 

With all her success in singles last season, Swiatek did not play any doubles on tour.  Hurkacz owns two Masters 1000 titles in doubles, including last season’s Miami Open.  Bublik was a runner-up in men’s doubles at the 2021 French Open.  Kulambayeva is a 22-year-old ranked outside the top 200 in both singles and doubles.

Despite her lack of recent doubles play, Swiatek was a runner-up in women’s doubles at Roland Garros in 2021.  So she and Hurkacz are threats on both the singles and doubles courts, and will be the favorites to prevail on Sunday.


The United Cup daily schedule is here.

ATP

Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

Published

on

Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

Continue Reading

ATP

Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis

Published

on

Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

Continue Reading

ATP

Andrey Rublev Reflects On Recent Struggles Ahead Of Monte Carlo Title Defence

Published

on

Andrey Rublev admits he continues to struggle to maintain his emotions on the court after his disqualification from a tournament earlier this year.

The Russian world No.6 hopes to get back on track after a disappointing American swing where he won just one out of three matches played. In Indian Wells, Rublev beat ex-No.1 Andy Murray before falling in straight sets to Jiri Lehecka. Then in Miami, he lost his opening match against Tomas Machac. 

“At Indian Wells, I was so focused on trying to control my movements that I was completely stuck,” the 26-year-old recently commented
“I had no energy left, I had no strength. And in Miami, I exploded. I could no longer control myself, my actions, my nerves. I felt paralyzed, I couldn’t move.”

As to why Rublev felt so paralyzed, he acknowledges it could be linked to an incident that happened earlier in the season. At the Dubai Tennis Championships he was defaulted from his semi-final clash against Alexander Bublik for unsportsmanlike conduct after he was accused of saying an obscenity in his native language at an official. He then successfully appealed against the penalty and retained the ranking points and prize money he earned, barring a fine of $36,400 for a code violation.

“Maybe what happened in Dubai remains in my mind,” said Rublev. 

Rublev’s focus now switches to his title defence at the Monte Carlo Masters. It is the only Masters 1000 event he has won so far in his career. 

“I feel better. These last two weeks I have been training a lot. But it’s one thing to train well, it’s another to play well in a match.” He evaluated of his current form. 

Rublev has yet to defend a Tour-level title so far in his career. Should he do so, he will become only the fifth player in the Open Era to win multiple Monte Carlo trophies. 

Continue Reading

Trending