Australian Open Daily Preview: Matteo Berrettini Plays Andy Murray in the First Round - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Daily Preview: Matteo Berrettini Plays Andy Murray in the First Round



Matteo Berrettini at this season’s United Cup (

On Tuesday in Melbourne, Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray will meet in an early round for the second consecutive Major.  In New York, Berrettini defeated Murray in a tight four-setter.  Can the five-time Australian Open runner-up avenge that loss against one of Netflix’s newest stars? 


Tuesday’s action also sees two Slam champions, and two 2020 finalists in Australia, take on seeded opposition, as Garbine Muguruza faces Elise Mertens, and Dominic Thiem faces off against Andrey Rublev.  Plus Ons Jabeur, the runner-up at the last two Slams, plays a recent Major semifinalist.  And Novak Djokovic will play his first match at the Australian Open since the infamous deportation debacle of 2022, but how healthy is Djokovic after suffering a hamstring injury a week ago in Adelaide?

Each day this preview will highlight the four most intriguing matchups, while outlining the other notable matches on the schedule.  Tuesday’s play will begin at 11:00am local time.

Garbine Muguruza vs. Elise Mertens (26) – 11:00am on Margaret Court Arena

Muguruza was the runner-up three years ago in Melbourne, and won the third biggest title of her career at the 2021 WTA Finals.  But 2022 was a rough year for the two-time Major champion.  Garbine suffered from injuries, as well as a severe loss of confidence, going just 12-17 last season.  And she went 0-2 the past two weeks in Australia, including a loss to Bianca Andreescu despite being up a set and a break.

Mertens was a quarterfinalist five years ago in Melbourne, which started a streak of reaching the third round or better at 18 consecutive Majors, which was broken this past summer at the US Open.  Elise also won the women’s doubles title at this event in 2021.  Mertens was a modest 27-22 last season at tour level in singles, but won a hard court title in October.

Muguruza is 2-0 against Mertens, with both matches taking place on hard courts.  Most recently, Garbine defeated Elise in the semifinals of the WTA 1000 event in Dubai.  But based on Muguruza’s recent form, as well as Mertens’ prior success in Melbourne, I like Elise’s chances to prevail on Tuesday.

Andrey Rublev (5) vs. Dominic Thiem (WC) – 11:00am on John Cain Arena

This is a blockbuster first round encounter between two of the sport’s hardest hitters.  Since winning his first Slam title at the 2020 US Open, Thiem has endured a challenging few years.  He’s suffered from multiple injuries, most notably to his right wrist.  Between 2021 and 2022, Dominic won just 27 matches at tour level.  But he ended last season showing some signs of his previous form by reaching a Challenger final on clay, and an ATP semifinal on a hard court, where he lost to Rublev.

Andrey went 51-20 in 2022, with four titles, three of which were on hard courts.  However, the quarterfinal round at Majors remains his stumbling block.  Rublev is now 0-6 in the quarters at Slams, most recently losing in straight sets to Frances Tiafoe in New York.

Rublev leads their head-to-head 4-2, and 3-1 on hard courts.  Thiem claimed their first two matches, back in 2017 and 2018, but Andrey has now taken the last four.  While it’s dangerous to discount the chances of a former Australian Open runner-up, Rublev should be favored on this day.

Matteo Berrettini (13) vs. Andy Murray – Third on Rod Laver Arena

Berrettini was a semifinalist here a year ago, but went just 32-13 on the year.  He battled multiple injuries, and COVID prevented him from playing Wimbledon, where he was one of the favorites to win the title.  Matteo started this season by helping Italy advance to the final of the inaugural United Cup, though he lost his last two matches at that event to Stefanos Tsitsipas and Taylor Fritz.

Murray was only 29-20 in 2022, and spoke openly regarding his body wearing down easily in warm conditions.  Unfortunately for Andy, Tuesday is forecast to be the hottest day of the week in Melbourne, and this match is scheduled during the hottest part of the day.  The Brit’s run to the fourth round of this tournament six years ago is the last time he reached the second week of a Major.

Berrettini is 3-1 against Murray, and has won their last three meetings.  That includes two matches from last year: the aforementioned four-set battle in New York, and the final of Stuttgart on grass.  Both matches were closely-contested, and Andy is certainly eager to reassert himself as a true contender.  However, Matteo is still a slight favorite to gain his fourth straight victory over the three-time Major singles champion in what I expect to be another close battle.

Tamara Zidansek vs. Ons Jabeur (2) – 7:00pm on Rod Laver Arena

Jabeur took her career to a new level last season, achieving her first two Slam finals, and accumulating a record of 47-17.  She was forced to withdraw from this event in 2022 due to a back injury.  Ons advanced to the semifinals of a tournament in Adelaide to begin 2023.

Zidansek was a shocking semifinalist two years ago at Roland Garros, but went only 14-19 at tour level last season, and lost her first two main draw matches this year.  And Tamara has not defeated a top 20 player since her 2021 run in Paris.

This is technically their first meeting, though they’ve previously split matches played in qualifying and at an ITF-level event.  Jabeur is a strong favorite to win her opening round match on Tuesday, at an event where she was a quarterfinalist three years ago.

Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Aryna Sabalenka (5) vs. Tereza Martincova – Sabalenka started this season with a dominant title run in Adelaide, where she didn’t drop a set.  Martincova is just 4-11 in the main draw at Majors.

Leylah Fernandez vs. Alize Cornet – Fernandez is yet to regain her form after suffering a foot injury at the French Open.  Cornet achieved a career milestone at this event a year ago, advancing to her first Slam quarterfinal in her 63rd attempt.  Leylah is 1-0 against Alize, having defeated her in straight sets at the 2021 edition of Indian Wells.

Katherine Sebov (Q) vs. Caroline Garcia (4) – Garcia is another Frenchwoman who reached new heights in 2022, achieving her first Major semifinal, and winning the WTA Finals.  Sebov is a 24-year-old Canadian ranked 191st in the world making her Slam debut.

Juan Pablo Varillas (LL) vs. Sascha Zverev (12) – Zverev went 0-2 at the United Cup in his first tournament since the terrible foot injury he suffered in the semifinals of Roland Garros.  Varillas won 51 matches last season at all levels, though 49 of them were on clay.

Thanasi Kokkinakis vs. Fabio Fognini – Kokkinakis won the men’s doubles title here a year ago alongside fellow Aussie and close friend Nick Kyrgios.  He reached the semifinals this past week in his hometown of Adelaide, a year after he claimed his first ATP title in the same city.  Fognini had a losing record in 2022, and is 0-2 against Thanasi.

Tomas Machac vs. Casper Ruud (2) – Ruud advanced to his first two Major finals last season, and ended the year by reaching the championship match at the ATP Finals.  However, he lost all three of those finals, and is 1-2 to begin 2023.  Machac is a 22-year-old who won 47 matches at all levels last season, winning two Challenger titles on hard courts. 

Roberto Carbellas Baena vs. Novak Djokovic (4) – Djokovic won a title in Adelaide just over a week ago, where he saved a match point in the final against Sebastian Korda.  But he also injured his hamstring during that title run, and has now cut short or outright canceled multiple practices within the last few days, including on Monday evening.  Novak defeated Carbellas Baena in straight sets at the 2019 US Open.

Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.


ATP RANKINGS UPDATE: Novak Djokovic, No.1 once more



After the US Open the Serbian champion reclaims top spot. Alexander Zverev is back in the Top 10


By Roberto Ferri

Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion”

Rudy Tomjanovich coined this maxim just after his Houston Rockets won the NBA championship in 1995. He was paying homage to Akeem Holajuwon. It perfectly suits the heart of Daniil Medvedev, who proved 99% of tennis fans in the world to be wrong, convinced as they were that he would lose the semifinal to former No 1 Carlos Alcaraz.

But his dream to win a second US Open, after his triumph in 2021, was shattered by another champion, whose heart and class is even greater: that’s Novak Djokovic, who affixes his seal on his return to No.1, equalling Margaret Court Smith’s record of 24 majors.

Djokovic dethroning Alcaraz is not the only change in the top 20: Sascha Zverev is back in the top 10 after almost one year and Ben Shelton, great protagonist of the Us Open, debuts in the top 20 best players in the world.

TOP 20

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A few comments:

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrei Rublev and Alexander Zverev gain 2 positions.

Ben Shelton devours 28 positions.

Sinner, Tiafoe, Norrie and Dimitrov lose one.

Casper Ruud and Karen Khachanov, runner up and semi-finalist respectively  at the 2022 US  Open, drop 4 positions.

One step forward for Fritz, de Minaur, Paul, Auger-Aliassime and Hurkacz.


From 12 to 19 November the 8 best players of the ranking based on the points earned in the ongoing solar season will be playing the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.

Will Novak Djokovic succeed in winning a second straight title? He appears to be heading in the right direction.


Thanks to his triumph at the US Open the Serbian overtakes Alcaraz also in the Race to Turin.

Jannik Sinner holds fourth spot while Andrei Rublev overtakes Stefanos Tsitsipas and is now fifth.

The eighth position is occupied by Alexander Zverev.

Last year runner up, Casper Ruud is currently 10th. This means he would feature in Turin as a reserve.


The Next Gen Finals, dedicated to the best under 21s, (8 effectives and 2 reserves) of the season will take place this year in Gedda, Saudi Arabia.

The 2022 winner, Brandon Nakashima, will not be defending his title, since he was born in 2001.

PositionPlayerCountryPtsYOB ATP rank
6Van AsscheFrance597200469
12Llamas RuizSpain3702002133

Taking for granted that Alcaraz and, most likely Rune, will be playing the ATP Finals, we have included in the chart the 12 current top under 21s.


Besides Ben Shelton, other 11 players have achieved their career highest this week.

We tribute a double applause to the four players who are making their debut in the top 100.

The 25-year-old Croatian Borna Gojo, 22-year-old Australian Rinky Hijkata and the Swiss next gen Dominic Stricker all reap the reward for their brilliant runs at the US Open. Seyboth Wild, the Brazilian who stunned Medvedev in the first round of Roland Garros leaps to No.76 after winning the Challenger in Como last week.

Seyboth Wild76Brazil30

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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COMMENT: Novak Djokovic Proves His Greatness At US Open



Love him, or hate him. But respect him.


No tennis player has ever been better than Novak Djokovic.

Even Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer have to take their hats off to Novak, and admire him.

Now that Rafa and Roger have left Djokovic on his own stage at least for now, tennis fans love Novak.


Djokovic’s performance on Sunday evening in the U.S. Open final was simply amazing. Daniil Medvedev also played his heart out, but Djokovic went one step further. He was sensational.

It was a thrill-a-minute three-set match. It lasted well into the night after starting at mid-afternoon. The second set alone lasted 104 minutes.

Djokovic was the winner, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3, but New York still loves 2021 champion Medvedev.


At 36, the oldest U.S. Open men’s champion ever, Djokovic obviously has a special place in his heart for the number four. It’s the number of times he has won this tournament and the 24th time he has won a Grand Slam title.

The number 24 also was displayed prominently on the white jacket. Novak, his team members and family wore for the victory celebration as a tribute to the No. 24 jersey of deceased friend Kobe Bryant.

Djokovic lost his footing at least three times in the tight second set, stumbling to the surface once, apparently due to the length of the rallies.

Djokovic could look like he was almost completely wiped out of it physically one minute, and then play like Superman the next minute.


Both men played great tennis, especially in the thrill-a-second second set in which Medvedev gained one set point in the 12th game before Djokovic recovered to force a tiebreaker.

Medvedev appeared to be in charge after out-playing Novak to win one of his drop shots to take a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker. The match may have been decided on the next three points, all won by Djokovic on errors by the 6-6 Russian.

The big question now is what happens next January in the Australian Open. Right now, Djokovic probably wants to play . . . and win what has been his favorite tournament as far as success. But things can change quickly for players in their mid-30s. Just ask Roger or Rafa.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at

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Alcaraz Fell Victim To Unbeatable Medvedev

Carlos Alcaraz was no match for Daniil Medvedev in the US Open semi-finals.



(@RelevantTennis - Twitter)

A star had to fall. There was no other way.


This time, Carlos Alcaraz was the victim. Daniil Medvedev was unbeatable.

The 6-6 Russian was everywhere, playing almost perfect tennis in a 7-6 (3), 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over Alcaraz.

So, one former champion went down while one advanced to Sunday’s final at the U.S. Open.

And then there was Novak Djokovic, another former champion headed for the title match.


The U.S. Open couldn’t lose once Djokovic dominated young American Ben Shelton, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (4).

Djokovic appeared to be content with just winning while getting the preliminaries over with. He seemed to be a little miffed by Shelton’s cockiness. There were no hugs or embraces when the match ended. Just a handshake.

Shelton has huge potential, but it’s going to take some time before he’s ready to join the likes of Djokovic, Medvedev and Alcaraz. He’s a better athlete than he is tennis player.

Novak is ready to go for a record 24th Grand Slam title.

Believe it or not, Medvedev will be playing in his fifth Grand Slam final.

Sunday should be a great day in Arthur Ashe Stadium, with two former champs, Djokovic and Medvedev, going against each other.


The women’s final will be interesting. Can Coco Gauff compete with Aryna Sabalenka?

Sabalenka looked helpless against Madison Keys’ big strokes and serves in the first set of their semifinal on Thursday.

Sabalenka couldn’t win even one game in that set. She looked helpless.

But she obviously felt all along that she could beat Keys anytime she wanted. Or why else would the powerful Sabalenka go for broke on almost every shot? And it almost cost her.

Amazingly, Sabalenka waited almost to the final moments to decide to play within her game and stop the wildness.

Once Sabalenka decided to settle down and play to win, Keys went just the opposite way, similarly to her one-sided loss to Sloane Stephens in the 2017 U.S. Open final.

Keys appeared ready to win this time as she held a 6-0, 5-4 advantage over new world’s No. 1 Sabalenka, who seemed to be stumbling all over the court as she repeatedly hit wild shots in every direction.

Just like that, everything changed. Sabalenka started hitting winners everywhere as Keys reversed roles with Sabalenka. Not only did Sabalenka win the second set while dropping just one point in a tiebreaker, she stormed through a decisive 10-point third-set tiebreaker to win the match.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at

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