Australian Open Daily Preview: Young Phenoms Coco Gauff and Emma Raducanu Play for the First Time - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

ATP

Australian Open Daily Preview: Young Phenoms Coco Gauff and Emma Raducanu Play for the First Time

Published

on

Coco Gauff on Monday in Melbourne (twitter.com/australianopen)

On Wednesday in Melbourne, 2021 US Open Champion Emma Raducanu faces 2022 Roland Garros Runner-up Coco Gauff, in what could be the first of many matches between these two young superstars.

Overall WTA action on Day 3 features eight Major singles champions, including World No.1 Iga Swiatek.  And two women who have recently made deep runs at this event, Danielle Collins and Karolina Muchova, collide in the second round.

On the ATP side, Defending Champion Rafael Nadal takes on Mackie McDonald, who advanced to the second week of this tournament two years ago.  And two other top men’s seeds, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev, play two Aussie wild cards in Rinky Hijikata and John Millman, both of whom prevailed in dramatic five-setters on Monday.

Additionally, a number of first round singles matches are to be concluded on Wednesday due to extreme heat preventing play for several hours on Tuesday.  But with rain possible throughout the day in Melbourne, it could be a challenging day for players on the outer courts.

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


Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Mackie McDonald – Not Before 2:00pm on Rod Laver Arena

Nadal arrived in Melbourne having lost six of his last seven matches, but grinded his way to a four-set victory on Monday over a cramping Jack Draper.  Can the defending champion now find his confidence and settle into the tournament?

McDonald arrived in Melbourne having lost five matches at Majors where he held a two-set-to-love lead.  He again forfeited a two-set-to-love lead to Brandon Nakashima on Monday, despite holding match point in the fourth-set tiebreak, yet managed to close out the match 6-4 in the fifth.  The American has twice reached the fourth round at a Slam, including two years ago in Melbourne.

Three years ago at Roland Garros, Nadal easily defeated McDonald in their only previous meeting, dropping just four games.  On this surface, and against this less-than-100% version of Rafa, I expect Mackie to provide much more resistance.  And unlike Draper, McDonald will not be cramping, as Mackie is one of the fittest players on tour.  But the American does not possess any weapons that can seriously threaten Nadal, so I like Rafa’s chances of advancing to the third round of this event for the 17th time in 18 appearances.


Emma Raducanu vs. Coco Gauff (7) – 7:00pm on Rod Laver Arena

Gauff has been on fire to start the season, with a 6-0 record.  She was the champion in Auckland two weeks ago, and is yet to drop a set this year.  And Coco is coming off a landmark 2022 season, when she achieved her first Major singles final.

Raducanu of course achieved that feat a year earlier, when she completed the most shocking Slam title run in tennis history at the 2021 US Open, winning the tournament as a qualifier.  Emma has understandably endured disappointing results since that time, losing more matches than she won last year.  And two weeks ago in Auckland, she was forced to retire due to an ankle injury, though she comfortably prevailed in straight sets on Monday.

In their first career meeting, Gauff must be considered a strong favorite.  Coco’s form across the last 12 months has been substantially higher than that of Emma’s.  But I am curious to see how both players handle this highly-anticipated matchup, with the tennis world expecting this to become a leading WTA rivalry for years to come.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (3) vs. Rinky Hijikata (WC) – Last on Rod Laver Arena

Tsitsipas has reached the semifinals of this tournament in three of the last four years, but is yet to advance farther.  In the opening round, he looked sharp against an in-form Quentin Halys, who won two Challenger events on hard courts this past fall.

Hijikata is a 21-year-old Australian who electrified the Aussies on Monday night, coming back from two-sets-down to defeat Yannick Hanfmann in five.  That was Rinky’s first main draw victory at a Major.  He won 53 matches at all levels last season, 47 of which were on hard courts.  And in his Slam debut last August in New York, he made a name for himself by taking the first set from Rafael Nadal.

Of course Tsitsipas is a prohibitive favorite in this matchup.  But seeing the entertaining and charismatic youngster play on his country’s biggest court should be fun, and Rinky is fully capable of making this a highly competitive contest.


Karolina Muchova vs. Danielle Collins (13) – Last on Margaret Court Arena

Collins was the runner-up here a year ago, but is currently battling a knee injury.  Despite having her knee heavily taped on Monday, she weathered an arduous battle against Anna Kalinskaya, in a match that lasted over three hours.

Muchova was a semifinalist here two years ago, but after suffering multiple injuries the past two years, is now ranked outside the top 100.  Yet she lost just three games in her opening round match, spending nearly two hours less on court than Collins.

Certainly Karolina will be the fresher player in this first-time encounter.  And she possesses much more variety and guile in her game than Danielle.  With Collins at least slightly-injured, as well as under the pressure of defending finalist points at this event, Muchova should be favored to prevail.


Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Camila Osorio – Swiatek survived two tight sets against Jule Niemeier on Monday evening.  Osorio is a 21-year-old who was ranked as high as 33rd in the world during 2022. 

Cristina Bucsa (Q) vs. Bianca Andreescu – Andreescu beat the 25th seed, Marie Bouzkova, in straight sets in the first round.  Bucsa is a 25-year-old who won 49 matches at all levels last season.

Jessica Pegula (3) vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich – Pegula dropped just one game in her opening match, which lasted less than an hour.  In the second round of last summer’s US Open, she defeated Sasnovich 6-4, 6-4.

Alex Molcan vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (6) – Molcan took out 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka in a nearly four-and-a-half hour five-setter on Monday night.  And he’s 1-0 against Auger-Aliassime, having outlasted him last April on the clay of Marrakech in a final set tiebreak.

Juncheng Shang (Q) vs. Frances Tiafoe (16) – On Monday, 17-year-old Juncheng became the first Chinese man to win a match at the Australian Open in the Open Era.  On the same day, Tiafoe survived a stern four-set test from Daniel Altmaier.

John Millman (WC) vs. Daniil Medvedev (7) – Medvedev lost only three games in his first round match.  Millman came back from two-sets-to-one down to prevail in five over Marc-Andrea Huesler. 


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

ATP

Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

Published

on

Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

Continue Reading

ATP

Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

Published

on

The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ HEATING UP

Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

Continue Reading

ATP

Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

Published

on

Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

Continue Reading

Trending