Miami Open Daily Preview: US Open Champions Bianca Andreescu and Emma Raducanu Collide - UBITENNIS
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Miami Open Daily Preview: US Open Champions Bianca Andreescu and Emma Raducanu Collide

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A look at the grounds of the Miami Open (twitter.com/HardRockStadium)

On Wednesday, Major champions Bianca Andreescu and Emma Raducanu will meet in a blockbuster first round matchup.

Main draw action is already underway in Miami.  The women’s singles draw started play on Tuesday, with the men joining them on Wednesday.  Just like Indian Wells, the top 32 singles seeds receive first round byes, so the big names will begin play later this week.

Those top names include Indian Wells champion Carlos Alcaraz, who needs to defend this Miami title in order to maintain the No.1 ranking he just regained on Monday.  WTA No.1 Iga Swiatek looks to defend this title after failing to do so at Indian Wells, and is one of 11 Major singles champions in the women’s draw, which also includes Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka and newly-crowned Indian Wells champ Elena Rybakina.

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 11:00am local time.


Bianca Andreescu vs. Emma Raducanu – 12:00pm on Stadium Court

Andreescu is just 6-6 on the year, but played well against Swiatek earlier this month at Indian Wells.  She’s only played the Miami Open twice, reaching the fourth round in 2019, and the final in 2021, eventually retiring during that championship match against Ash Barty.

Raducanu is 5-3 in 2023, and also lost to Swiatek at Indian Wells.  While Emma only managed to claim four games against the World No.1, but she did manage to win three matches earlier in the event.  Raducanu made her Miami Open debut last year, losing her opening round match 7-5 in the third to Katerina Siniakova.

Their only previous meeting did not reveal much.  It took place last May on clay in Rome, with Andreescu prevailing after Raducanu retired during the second set.  Both players have suffered from many injuries of late, so hopefully they’re both fully healthy for what could be a great match if they are.  But based on recent form, as well as her previous success at this event, I like Bianca to win again on this day.


Sloane Stephens vs. Shelby Rogers – Not Before 7:00pm on Stadium Court

Stephens is just 4-6 to start the year, and lost in the first round of Indian Wells two weeks ago to another American, Sofia Kenin.  Sloane won this event in 2018, the only WTA 1000 title of her career.

Rogers is 5-6 this season, and had a losing record in 2022.  She’s only 5-4 lifetime in the main draw of the Miami Open, but two of her biggest results have come on American soil: a US Open quarterfinal as well as an Indian Wells quarterfinal.

Surprisingly, this is the first career meeting between these two WTA veterans.  Both are now 30-year-old, after Stephens celebrated her birthday on Monday.  I give Sloane the slight edge in this all-American matchup based on her superior movement, as well as her fond memories of playing in Miami.


Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Alexander Bublik vs. J.J. Wolf – Wolf reached the second week of the Australian Open in January, and the semifinals of the Dallas Open in February.  Bublik has struggled this season, losing his first eight matches in 2023.  This past October in Florence, Wolf defeated Bublik in three sets.

Andy Murray vs. Dusan Lajovic – Murray is now 8-4 on the year, and has played and won some of 2023’s most dramatic matches.  Lajovic is 7-5 this season, but hasn’t won a hard court match in six months.

Sofia Kenin vs. Storm Hunter (Q) – Kenin is 6-7 this year, but is showing signs of her 2020 level, losing two very competitive sets at Indian Wells against Rybakina.  Storm has not won a WTA tour main draw singles match in nearly two years.

Ugo Humbert vs. Gael Monfils (PR) – Monfils is 0-2 at all levels since returning from an extended injury leave.  His fellow countryman is a former top 25 player who reached a Challenger final on a hard court earlier this month.


Wednesday’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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