Madrid Open Daily Preview: Former Champions Alcaraz and Zverev Meet in the Fourth Round - UBITENNIS
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Madrid Open Daily Preview: Former Champions Alcaraz and Zverev Meet in the Fourth Round



Carlos Alcaraz on Sunday in Madrid (

All fourth round men’s singles matches will take place on Tuesday, as well as the first two women’s singles quarterfinals.

In a match between two recent Madrid champions, defending champ Carlos Alcaraz takes on two-time champ Sascha Zverev.  The day also sees two all-Russian encounters, as Andrey Rublev faces Karen Khachanov, and Daniil Medvedev plays Aslan Karatsev.  And other fourth round ATP action includes Stefanos Tsitsipas and Taylor Fritz.

Tuesday’s WTA quarterfinals feature 2021 champ Aryna Sabalenka and two-time Major semifinalist Maria Sakkari.

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.

Karen Khachanov (10) vs. Andrey Rublev (5) – 11:00am on Manolo Santana Stadium

Rublev is 23-9 on the year, and 10-1 across the past three weeks on clay, which includes claiming the biggest title of his career in Monte Carlo.  He defeated both Stan Wawrinka and Yoshihito Nishioka in straight sets to reach this quarterfinal.

Khachanov is 18-8 in 2023, and 5-2 on this surface.  He’s outlasted the opposition in two three-setters thus far, including a near three-hour battle with Roberto Bautista Agut on Sunday.

These friends and doubles partners, who are still alive in the men’s doubles draw, have split six meetings at all levels.  But Rublev took the only one on clay, which occurred just a few weeks ago in this same round of Monte Carlo.  And with Andrey being the fresher of the two, he should be favored to advance to the Madrid quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.

Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Sascha Zverev (13)  – Not Before 4:00pm on Manolo Santana Stadium

Alcaraz is 25-2 this season, despite missing all of January due to injury.  He’s now won 17 straight matches in his home country, after taking out Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets on Sunday. 

Zverev is just 12-11, as he continues to regain his form after the serious ankle injury he suffered nearly a year ago at Roland Garros.  He dominated French qualifier Hugo Grenier in the last round, dropping just one game.

Sascha is 3-1 against Carlitos, though they are 1-1 on clay.  Last year in the final of this event, Alcaraz crushed Zverev 6-3, 6-1, just a day after playing a three-and-a-half hour marathon against Novak Djokovic.  But a few weeks later in the quarterfinals of the French Open, Zverev would avenge that loss, prevailing in a fourth-set tiebreak.  That would be the last match Sascha would complete in the 2022 season.

In their clay rubber match on Tuesday, Alcaraz is a considerable favorite.  In the absence of Nadal and Djokovic, he is definitively the best clay court player in this event.  And Zverev is not yet back to his level from a year ago when he defeated Carlitos.

Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Mayar Sherif vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2) – Sabalenka is now 26-4 this year overall, and 6-1 on clay.  She hasn’t dropped a set to this stage.  Sherif only owned one main draw win at a WTA 1000 event prior to this surprising quarterfinal run, during which she has upset three seeded players (Kalinina, Garcia, Mertens).  This is their first career meeting.

Aslan Karatsev (Q) vs. Daniil Medvedev (2) – Medvedev leads the tour with 33 match wins, and survived a stern test from Alexander Shevchenko on Monday.  Meanwhile this is the farthest Karatsev has ever gone at a Masters 1000 event.  Aslan actually leads their head-to-head 3-1 at all levels, and 1-0 on clay, having defeated Daniil two years ago in Rome in straight sets.

Borna Coric (17) vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (29) – Coric upset Hubert Hurkacz in the last round, in only his ninth victory of the season.  Davidovich Fokina upset Holger Rune in an epic encounter that went into the early hours of Monday morning, decided by a third-set tiebreak.  Their only prior encounter has also quite dramatic, with Alejandro prevailing 7-5 in the third last March at Indian Wells.

Taylor Fritz (8) vs. Zhizhen Zhang – Fritz in 27-8 on the year, and now 7-2 on clay.  Zhizhen is the first Chinese man to reach the round of 16 at a Masters 1000 event, and outlasted both Denis Shapovalov and Cam Norrie in third-set tiebreaks. 

Maria Sakkari (9) vs. Irina-Camelia Begu (31) – Sakkari eliminated Paula Badosa in straight sets on Monday.  Begu is yet to drop a set, and has now advanced to the quarterfinals of Madrid for the third time.  Maria is 2-1 against Irina, with all three matches taking place on hard courts.

Bernabe Zapata Miralles vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) – Tsitsipas has already withstood two three-setters, against Dominic Thiem and Sebastian Baez.  Zapata Miralles had never won a main draw match at a Masters tournament prior to this fortnight in his home country. 

Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.


Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid



Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon



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Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive £2,700,000 in prize money. 

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Carlos Alcaraz And Novak Djokovic Wouldn’t Yield To Medvedev And Musetti At Wimbledon



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Carlos Alcaraz seemed to be on his own against a vastly improved Daniil Medvedev. The defending Wimbledon champion appeared to be out of tricks.

And Medvedev sensed it.

Alcaraz still scored a 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Medvedev. It may look rather easy on paper, but there was nothing easy about Alcaraz’s victory. The young Spaniard just came through when he needed it to advance to what he hopes will lead to his fourth Grand Slam title.


Medvedev was always there, ready to pounce on any mistake by Alcaraz. But mistakes didn’t happen that often after Medvedev took the first set in a tie-breaker.

Alcaraz hadn’t served that well in the first set that Medvedev had taken in a tiebreaker. But it was a different story once Alcaraz found the mark on his serves. He just kept holding service until the match was his.

Remember, he’s only 21 years old. But now he faces someone in this Wimbledon final almost twice as old in 37-year-old Novak Djokovic.


Early in the match, Djokovic looked like he might have problems against Lorenzo Musetti. He appeared to have a slight limp in the right knee that was covered by a band. Of course, it’s been less than six months since Novak underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in that knee.

Djokovic didn’t always chase after balls in situations where his service game wasn’t in jeopardy. He just hit winners when the opportunities came along, and his serve was always ready to win a point, a game or the match.


Young 25th seed Musetti had been so strong and talented in his quarterfinal upset of Taylor Fritz. The 22-year-old Italian had looked like he might be a threat to the likes of Djokovic and Alcaraz in the last two rounds in London.

Musetti appeared to be able to run down everything against the speedy Fritz, until Fritz seemed to grow tired in a fifth set that Musetti won easily.

The Italian wasn’t the same against Djokovic.

Djokovic was just too good and too consistent to allow Musetti to stop his bid for another title.


The setting was completely different this time with Djokovic looking questionable at the start. But Musetti could hardly push Djokovic, and ended up losing by a 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-4. Once Novak charged through the second set tiebreaker, dropping only two points, Musetti couldn’t get back into the match.

And then Novak came out pretending to play a violin on his racket for his precious 6-year-old daughter Tara, whom Novak said has been learning to play the violin for about six months.

Some fans apparently didn’t like this, but then there probably were others who became Novak Djokovic fans. Novak obviously is a great guy and dad these days.

After all, Novak has just played his 97th Wimbledon match, and he’s hoping in his 37th Grand Slam final to tie Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles.

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 

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