Madrid Open Daily Preview: Andrey Rublev and Stan Wawrinka Meet in the Second Round - UBITENNIS
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Madrid Open Daily Preview: Andrey Rublev and Stan Wawrinka Meet in the Second Round



Stan Wawrinka on Wednesday in Madrid (

A busy Friday schedule features the 2023 Madrid Open debuts of many top names.


The day’s most star-powered matchup sees recent Monte Carlo champion Andrey Rublev take on three-time Major champ Stan Wawrinka.  Also, the top seeds in both the men’s and women’s singles draws, Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek, will play their opening matches, as will Elena Rybakina, Casper Ruud, Holger Rune, and many others.

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

Stan Wawrinka vs. Andrey Rublev (5) – Not Before 1:00pm on Manolo Santana Stadium

Rublev is 21-9 this year, and 8-1 on clay.  Two weeks ago, he achieved his first Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo.  And just a week later, he advanced to another final in Banja Luka.  Andrey is only 3-2 lifetime in Madrid, having advanced to the quarterfinals a year ago.

Wawrinka is 11-8 this season, and just 2-2 on clay.  On Wednesday, he outlasted Maxime Cressy in a third-set tiebreak to advance.  Stan was a finalist in Madrid 10 years ago, losing to Rafael Nadal in straight sets.  He’s now 17-13 at this event.

Wawrinka leads their head-to-head 2-1, with all three meetings taking place on a hard court.  However, they haven’t played since 2020, and Rublev is currently playing with more confidence than ever before.  On Friday, Andrey should be favored to even this rivalry at 2-2.

Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Emil Ruusuvuori – Not Before 4:00pm on Arantxa Sanchez Stadium

Alcaraz is now 23-2 on the year with three titles, including one just last week in Barcelona, where he didn’t drop a set.  Carlitos is the defending champion in Madrid, as a year ago he had a career-defining run, when he defeated Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic on back-to-back days.  And even though the semifinal with Djokovic lasted over three-and-a-half hours, he came back the next day to easily dispatch of Sascha Zverev in the final.

Ruusuvuori is 14-11 this season at tour level, and now 3-1 on clay.  He upset Frances Tiafoe last week in Barcelona, and took out Ugo Humbert in the first round of Madrid on Wednesday.  This is his main draw debut at this event.

Their only previous encounter occurred two years ago in Madrid, when Emil defeated Carlitos 7-5 in the third.  However, at the time, Alcaraz was still ranked outside the world’s top 100.  Now ranked No.2, the Spaniard is a significant favorite to avenge that loss at his country’s biggest tournament.

Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Casper Ruud (3) vs. Matteo Arnaldi (Q) – Ruud is a modest 11-8 on the year, but did win a clay court title earlier this month in Estoril.  Arnaldi is a 22-year-old Italian who won a Challenger title on clay that same week. 

Anna Kalinskaya vs. Elena Rybakina (7) – Rybakina is a superb 24-6 in 2023, but had to retire mid-match last week in Stuttgart with a lower back injury.  Kalinskaya was a quarterfinalist earlier this month in Charleston on clay, though she lost to Elena 6-3 in the third last month in Miami.

Alycia Parks vs. Victoria Azarenka (15) – Azarenka is 12-8 this season, and reached back-to-back finals in Madrid back in 2011 and 2012.  Parks is a 22-year-old American who claimed her first WTA title earlier this year in Lyon, yet is just 2-7 since. 

Jessica Pegula (3) vs. Magdalena Frech (Q) – Pegula is 24-7 this year, and was the runner-up in Madrid a year ago to Ons Jabeur.  She’s 1-0 against Frech, having defeated her 6-3, 6-0 two years ago in Chicago on a hard court.

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Julia Grabher (LL) – Swiatek is now 20-4 in 2023, and was the champion last week in Stuttgart.  Grabher is a 26-year-old Austrian who accumulated 55 match wins last year at all levels. 

Alexander Bublik vs. Holger Rune (6) – Rune is 21-8 on the year, and is coming off a title run in Munich, just a week after he was the runner-up in Monte Carlo.  Bublik survived a near three-hour first round match on Wednesday, which included a 32-point first set tiebreak.  Last September on a hard court in Metz, Bublik beat Rune 6-4 in the third.

Friday’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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