Miami Open Daily Preview: Major Champions Sabalenka and Krejcikova Meet Again on Monday - UBITENNIS
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Miami Open Daily Preview: Major Champions Sabalenka and Krejcikova Meet Again on Monday

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Barbora Krejcikova on Sunday in Miami (twitter.com/wta)

All WTA fourth round singles matches will take place on a busy Monday in Miami.

2023 Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka and 2021 Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova will meet for the third time in as many events.  Krejcikova prevailed in three sets in Dubai, while Sabalenka prevailed in three sets at Indian Wells.  Who will win the rubber match on Monday?

Meanwhile, ATP third round action concludes on Monday.  Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev are the top seeds on the bottom half of the draw, and are just a few rounds away from a semifinal which would renew a bitter rivalry that started five years ago in this very city.  But many formidable foes, like Felix Auger-Aliassime, Hubert Hurkacz, and Frances Tiafoe, stand in their way.  However, Medvedev’s path has become a bit easier, as he has received a walkover on Monday from an injured Alex Molcan.

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


Jessica Pegula (3) vs. Magda Linette (20) – Not Before 1:00pm on Stadium Court

Pegula is 17-5 in 2023, and was a semifinalist here a year ago.  Linette is 12-6, and reached her maiden Major quarterfinal in Melbourne, a feat Jessica is still trying to achieve.  Magda currently sits at a career-high ranking of 19th in the world, and would improve on that with a deep run at this tournament.

In their first career meeting, the American should be favored.  Her consistency, paired with her penetrating groundies, have made her one of the WTA’s toughest outs across the last few seasons.  But Linette has plenty of finesse and defensive skills that could drag more errors out of Pegula, so this could be an interesting contest.


Barbora Krejcikova (16) vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2) – Not Before 8:30pm on Stadium Court

Overall Sabalenka leads their head-to-head 3-1, with all matches taking place on hard courts.  Three years ago in Linz, Aryna was victorious in three sets.  Two years ago at the US Open, she was again victorious, this time in straights.  They’ve also both met many times in doubles, as both are Slam champs in women’s doubles as well.

Sabalenka is now 19-2 on the year, and has dropped only 10 games in her four sets played so far in Miami.  Krejcikova is 15-5, and has also advanced to this stage without dropping a set.

I expect another tight battle on Monday between two of the WTA’s top five performers of the year.  But with her huge serve and groundstrokes clicking, and with all the confidence she’s currently playing with, Sabalenka must be considered the favorite.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Cristian Garin (Q) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (2) – Tsitsipas is 11-3 this season, and is yet to play a match this fortnight, as he received a walkover in his opening round from Richard Gasquet.  Having now qualified for both Indian Wells and Miami, Garin has won nine matches between the two events.  But he is 0-2 against Stefanos at tour level, though both matches were on clay.

Felix Auger-Aliassime (5) vs. Francisco Cerundolo (25) – Auger-Aliassime survived a prolonged two-set battle against Thiago Monteiro on Saturday, which lasted nearly three hours.  Cerundolo was a shocking semifinalist here a year ago.  Felix has already defeated Francisco twice this year, at both the Australian Open and Indian Wells.

Elena Rybakina (10) vs. Elise Mertens – Rybakina is 18-4 on the year, and the Indian Wells champ is currently on an eight-match win streak.  She’s already won two three-setters this past week in Miami, and Elena is 2-1 against Elise, having taken both of their hard court encounters.

Hubert Hurkacz (8) vs. Adrian Mannarino – Hurkacz saved five match points against Thanasi Kokkinakis on Saturday night, winning the longest three-set match of the year at tour-level.  Mannarino took out breakout American Ben Shelton in three sets on the same evening.  Hubi is 2-1 against Adrian.

Lorenzo Sonego vs. Frances Tiafoe (12) – Tiafoe loves playing in Miami, as he’s vying for his fifth consecutive fourth round appearance at this event.  Frances overcame a stern test from Yosuke Watanuki on Saturday, but has split two previous matches against Sonego, both of which took place this past fall.


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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

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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. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

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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. 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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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. 

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