Wildcard Dominic Thiem Cautiously Optimistic Ahead Of Australian Open  - UBITENNIS
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Wildcard Dominic Thiem Cautiously Optimistic Ahead Of Australian Open 

With his injury woes behind him, the Austrian is eager to find his way back to the top once again. 

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Dominic Thiem at the Erste Bank Open 2022 - (© e-motion/Bildagentur Zolles KG/Martin Steiger) ausschließlich für diesen Zweck honorarfrei zur Verfügung.

A lot has changed for Dominic Thiem since he reached the final of the 2020 Australian Open during a year where he went on to win his maiden Grand Slam title a few months later. 

 

Thiem, who has been ranked as high as third in the world, had to put his career on pause for months due to a serious wrist injury. Between July 2021 and February 2022, the Austrian didn’t play a single match on the Tour. Then when he returned to action, Thiem suffered seven straight losses on the Tour before winning. At his lowest, he was ranked outside the world’s top 300. 

Fortunately for Thiem, he regained some momentum during the second half of 2022 by reaching the semi-finals of three ATP events. 

“It was an interesting experience, you know,” the 29-year-old said of his injury battle. 
“Probably no top athlete will go through his career without a major injury. I had mine one-and-a-half years ago on the wrist, which was tough, but still [an] experience which helped me. I’m trying to get on my way back and let’s see if I can make it.”

Currently ranked 99th in the world, it hasn’t been the best of starts to the new season for Thiem. Last week he lost in the first round of qualifying at the Adelaide International 1 to Kwon Soon-woo. Then on Tuesday at the Kooyong Classic, an exhibition event held in Melbourne, he was beaten 6-4, 6-4, by Alex de Minaur. 

The duo of defeat is far from ideal preparation ahead of next week’s Australian Open which he has received a wildcard to play in. Due to his ranking, he just missed the cut for automatic entry into the main draw. 

“The body is good,” Thiem replied when asked about his current fitness. 
“Last year was a good step, you know, in a good direction. I just hope I can continue it this year. Hopefully, Australian Open next week is a good start for that.”

Thiem’s level of optimism is the same as what he displayed throughout his injury battle. However, the former US Open champion is well aware of the challenges he will be facing during the first Grand Slam of 2023. Especially as an unseeded player. 

“I’m ready to go in the grand slam, but I don’t know how good I am at the moment,” he said.
“Obviously it’s very difficult to go deep in a slam. All the players are on a high level. But we’ll see. I had a good preparation. I should be ready. Let’s see how the first match is going.”

Thiem has a win-loss record of 19-8 at the Australian Open. Besides finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic in 2020, he has reached the fourth round on three separate occasions.

The 2021 Australian Open was the last Grand Slam where Thiem won back-to-back matches. 

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Miami Open Daily Preview: Elena Rybakina Plays Jessica Pegula in the Semifinals

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Elena Rybakina two weeks ago at Indian Wells (twitter.com/bnpparibasopen)

Due to rain on Wednesday, only one WTA semifinal will be played on Thursday.

 

Elena Rybakina is just two wins away from completing the “Sunshine Double,” which is winning both Indian Wells and Miami.  But in Thursday’s WTA semifinal, American No.1 Jessica Pegula stands in her way.  The other semifinal is still to be determined, and will not be played until Friday, as Petra Kvitova and Ekaterina Alexandrova will contest their rain-delayed quarterfinal on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the ATP quarterfinals will be completed on Thursday.  Indian Wells finalist Daniil Medvedev faces American Chris Eubanks, who has been the breakout story of this tournament thus far.  Also, Karen Khachanov takes on Francisco Cerundolo, who is vying for his second consecutive semifinal in Miami.  And delayed from Wednesday night, Carlos Alcaraz battles Taylor Fritz in another ATP quarterfinal.

You can find a preview of the Alcaraz/Fritz and Kvitova/Alexandrova quarterfinals in yesterday’s daily preview here.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Thursday’s play gets underway at 1:00pm local time.


Chris Eubanks (Q) vs. Daniil Medvedev (4) – 1:00pm on Stadium

Medvedev leads the ATP with 26 wins this season, as well as with three titles.  Daniil has not dropped a set to this stage, though he’s only played two matches thus far due to a walkover earlier this week.

Eubanks has already won six matches this fortnight after coming through qualifying.  And the 26-year-old achieved a career goal of breaking into the top 100 with this quarterfinal run.  Chris became emotional on-court after clinching that feat on Monday, and followed it up with another upset the next day, over Adrian Mannarino.  The American is projected to become ranked 85th in the world on Monday, but a win on Thursday would propel him into the top 60.

In their first career meeting, of course the self-proclaimed “hard court specialist” Medvedev is a strong favorite.  But I’m quite interested to see how Eubanks performs in the biggest match of his career.  During a rain delay on Monday, Frances Tiafoe provided Eubanks with some advice in the locker room, which Chris credited with helping him come back in the second-set tiebreak once play resumed.  He’s played more freely since that comeback, and Eubanks may feel as if he has nothing to lose on Thursday.


Elena Rybakina (10) vs. Jessica Pegula (3) – Not Before 8:30pm on Stadium

Rybakina is 20-4 this season, and is currently on a 10-match win streak.  If her 2,000 points from winning Wimbledon last summer counted, she’d currently be ranked third in the world.  Elena easily dispatched of Martina Trevisan in the last round.

Pegula is 19-5 on the year, and 10-3 in Miami.  This is her second consecutive semifinal at this event, and she’s the No.3 player in the world without Rybakina’s Wimbledon points counting.  She saved multiple match points to come back and defeat Anastasia Potapova during Tuesday’s quarterfinals.

Pegula is 2-0 against Rybakina, with both matches taking place on hard courts during 2022.  A year ago at this same tournament, Jess prevailed in straight sets.  And last fall in Guadalajara, Pegula outlasted Rybakina in a final-set tiebreak, another match in which the American saved multiple match points.  As confident as Elena currently is, with her big serve and groundstrokes dictating play, it’s hard not to favor the reigning Wimbledon champ.  But based on their recent history, as well as Pegula’s rising confidence after saving match points in the last round, I give Jess the slight edge in Thursday’s semifinals on home soil.


Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Francisco Cerundolo (25) vs. Karen Khachanov (14) – Cerundolo was in danger of falling out of the top 40 with an early loss in Miami, defending the best result of his career at this level, but has impressed by returning to the quarterfinals, defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime on the way.  Khachanov upset Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last round, and is looking to reach his first Masters semifinal since 2019.  Last summer in Canada, Karen defeated Francisco in three sets.


Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Miami Open Daily Preview: Indian Wells Champs Carlos Alcaraz and Taylor Fritz Collide

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Carlos Alcaraz two Sundays ago at Indian Wells (twitter.com/atptour)

On Wednesday in Miami, 2023 Indian Wells champion Carlos Alcaraz faces 2022 champ Taylor Fritz for the first time.

 

Alcaraz is just three wins away from defending his Miami title, which he needs to do in order to remain World No.1.  Wednesday’s other ATP quarterfinal sees Indian Wells semifinalist Jannik Sinner take on Emil Ruusuvuori, who is the first Finnish quarterfinalist at a Masters 1000 tournament in a decade.

In the WTA singles draw, Aryna Sabalenka and Petra Kvitova are one round away from a big-hitting semifinal.  But first, they must get past Sorana Cirstea and Ekaterina Alexandrova, respectively.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Wednesday’s play gets underway at 1:00pm local time.


Ekaterina Alexandrova (18) vs. Petra Kvitova (15) – Not Before 7:00pm on Stadium

Kvitova is 14-5 this season, and has now reached the quarterfinals of both Indian Wells and Miami this month.  Petra has also now advanced to the fourth round or better of this event for the fifth straight time, and has not dropped a set this fortnight.

Alexandrova had a losing record this year before arriving in Miami.  She defeated Belinda Bencic two rounds ago, and advanced in the last round after Bianca Andreescu’s upsetting ankle injury.  This is Ekaterina’s second WTA 1000 quarterfinal, after first achieving that feat last year in Madrid, when she advanced to the semifinals.

Their only previous encounter occurred three years ago at the Australian Open, when Kvitova comfortably prevailed 6-1, 6-2.  Ekaterina does not possess the same offensive weaponry of Petra, so on a hard court, the two-time Wimbledon champion is a considerable favorite to win again on Wednesday.


Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Taylor Fritz (9) – Not Before 8:30pm on Stadium

Alcaraz is 17-1 on the season, despite missing all of January due to injury.  His only loss came to Cam Norrie in the final of Rio, a match in which Carlitos reaggravated his leg injury.  He’s yet to drop a set during this tournament.

Fritz is 20-5 in 2023, and has now reached the quarterfinals or better at his last five events.  This is Taylor’s first quarterfinal in Miami, and his third consecutive quarterfinal as Masters 1000 events in North America.  Like Alcaraz, he’s also yet to lose a set in Miami, but he’s 1-4 in his last five Masters quarterfinals.

This is the first career meeting between the World No.1 and the American No.1.  Fritz certainly has the firepower to threaten Alcaraz on this day.  But based on Carlitos’ recent sharp form, the 19-year-old is the favorite to advance to the semifinals.


Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Sorana Cirstea vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2) – Sabalenka is now a stellar 20-2 on the year, and has allowed her opponents this past week an average of just 2.5 games per set.  Cirstea is having an excellent March, having advanced to her second consecutive WTA 1000 quarterfinal, a stage she hadn’t reached since 2017.  This is another first-time career meeting.

Emil Ruusuvuori vs. Jannik Sinner (10) – Sinner is vying for his second consecutive Masters semifinal, and has not dropped a set thus far in Miami.  This is Ruuuvuori’s maiden Masters 1000 quarterfinal, at the only Masters event where he had ever previously advanced beyond the third round.  Jannik is 4-0 against Emil, with all of those wins in straight sets, except a match in Miami a year ago that went to a third-set tiebreak, and saw Sinner save three match points.


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Miami Open Daily Preview: Two Matches Between Top 10 Seeds Headline Fourth Round ATP Action

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Taylor Fritz earlier this month at Indian Wells (twitter.com/atptour)

All ATP fourth round singles matches will take place on Tuesday in Miami.

 

And in a rarity, two of those fourth round matches include meetings between top 10 seeds.  2022 Indian Wells champ Taylor Fritz takes on 2022 Bercy champ Holger Rune.  And in a battle of the gingers, Andrey Rublev faces Jannik Sinner.  Other ATP matches on Tuesday include three of the four top seeds: Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev, and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Also on Tuesday, the WTA quarterfinals begin.  American No.1 Jessica Pegula will look to avenge a loss her doubles partner Coco Gauff experienced earlier in the tournament to Anastasia Potapova.  And Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina plays Italy’s Martina Trevisan, who took out another Major champ, Jelena Ostapenko, on Monday.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Tuesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Jannik Sinner (10) vs. Andrey Rublev (6) – 11:00am on Grandstand

Rublev is a modest 13-7 this season, but was a semifinalist in Miami two years ago.  He comfortably defeated Miomir Kecmanovic in the last round by a score of 6-1, 6-2.

Sinner is a strong 18-4 this season, and is coming off a semifinal run at Indian Wells.  He was the runner-up at this tournament two years ago.

These two have split four prior meetings, the last three of which occurred on clay.  Their only hard court matchup took place three years ago in Vienna, with Sinner retiring after just three games.  But considering Jannik’s impressive form this season, he should be favored to advance on Tuesday.


Taylor Fritz (9) vs. Holger Rune (7) – 12:00pm on Stadium

Dating back to the end of September, Rune is now 33-8.  The 19-year-old achieved four consecutive finals to end last season, winning two of them (Stockholm, Bercy).  This is his Miami Open debut.

Fritz is 19-5 in 2023, and is vying for his fifth consecutive quarterfinal of the year.  This would mark his seventh Masters 1000 quarterfinal, all achieved since the start of 2021.  But Taylor is 0-2 in the fourth round of this tournament, losing in the past two years to Bublik and Kecmanovic.

In their first career meeting, it’s hard to pick a winner.  Fritz has become a pretty reliable performer, while Rune remains quite a streaky player, with impressive highs and some immature lows.  Both possess similar weapons on court, and neither have dropped a set through two matches.  I’ll give the slight edge to Holger based on his recent hard court success.


Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Martina Trevisan (25) vs. Elena Rybakina (10) – Rybakina has now won nine matches in a row.  Trevisan was only 3-8 on the year ahead of this quarterfinal run.  This is another first career meeting.

Karen Khachanov (14) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (2) – Tsitsipas survived a tight three-setter against an in-form Cristian Garin on Monday, while Khachanov easily dispatched of up-and-coming 21-year-old Jiri Lehecka.  Stefanos is 6-0 against Karen, which includes a four-set victory at this year’s Australian Open.

Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Tommy Paul (16) – Alcaraz is now 16-1 this season, and has claimed his last 17 completed sets.  Paul is 16-5, and was a semifinalist in Melbourne, as well as a finalist in Acapulco.  Tommy took their only previous encounter, last summer in Montreal, in a three-set match that lasted three hours and 20 minutes.

Jessica Pegula (3) vs. Anastasia Potapova (27) – Pegula has now reached the quarterfinals or better at seven of the last nine WTA 1000 events.  This is Potapova’s first quarterfinal at this level in over two years.  At the last WTA 1000 event, in Indian Wells, Pegula came from behind to beat Potapova 7-5 in the third.

Quentin Halys vs. Daniil Medvedev (4) – Medvedev is 25-3 on the year, and received a walkover on Monday from Alex Molcan.  Halys upset Alex de Minaur on Saturday, and had never won a main draw match at Masters 1000 level prior to this fortnight. 


Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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