Wimbledon Daily Preview: The Third Major of the Year Begins on Monday - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Daily Preview: The Third Major of the Year Begins on Monday

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A look at Centre Court, Wimbledon (twitter.com/Wimbledon)

Day 1 at Wimbledon is one of the most special days of the tennis year, with play commencing on the nearly-pristine green grass at the sport’s most historic tournament.

Novak Djokovic is the four-time defending champion, and as tradition dictates, he will open Day 1’s play on Centre Court.  The man he faced in last year’s final, Nick Kyrgios, will play only his second match of the year on Monday, against a quarterfinalist from a year ago, David Goffin.  And three-time Major champion Stan Wawrinka faces one of the ATP’s most promising young players, Emil Ruusuvuori.

But it’s the WTA schedule on Monday that boats both of Day 1’s most blockbuster matchups.  Five-time Wimbledon ladies’ singles champion Venus Williams takes on former semifinalist and new mom Elina Svitolina.  And Coco Gauff, who four years ago made a name for herself as a 15-year-old when she upset Venus, squares off against fellow American and 2020 Australian Open champ Sofia Kenin.  Other WTA action features World No.1 Iga Swiatek as well as former World No.2 Anett Kontaveit, in what may be the last match of Anett’s career.

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s four most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Monday’s play begins at 11:00am local time.


Venus Williams (WC) vs. Elina Svitolina – Second on Centre Court

Venus recently turned 43-years-old, and this will be her 24th appearance in singles at Wimbledon, since first appearing 26 years ago in 1997.  And while she’s only played 10 singles matches within the last two years, and only won two of them, she showed what she is still capable of just two weeks ago in Birmingham.  In an over three-hour affair, and despite suffering a knee injury early in the match, Venus upset Camila Giorgi in a third-set tiebreak.

A month ago in Paris, Svitolina inspired by reaching the quarterfinals in just her fifth tour-level tournament since returning from child birth, taking out two seeded players (Trevisan, Kasatkina).  And a week before that, she was the champion in Strasbourg.  Elina’s first-ever Major semifinal came at Wimbledon in 2019, yet she actually has a losing record at The Championships outside of that run.

Svitolina is 3-1 against Williams, and has taken their last three meetings in straight sets.  A grass court would assumedly be Venus’ best chance to earn a victory over Elina, especially on this specific court, where so many of the biggest moments of her storied career took place.  But Svitolina is clearly the more in-form player, and should be favored on Monday.


David Goffin (WC) vs. Nick Kyrgios (30) – Second on No.1 Court

This is only Kyrgios’ second match since October of last year.  A knee injury has prevented him from playing, and during that time, he pled guilty to a common assault charge filed by his ex-girlfriend.  And in a recently-released episode of Netflix’s “Break Point,” Nick revealed that he contemplated suicide in 2019, wearing a sleeve on his arm to cover self-inflicted scars, and checked himself into a psychiatric ward in London. 

Goffin has struggled since his quarterfinal run here a year ago, with a losing record at tour level, and missing the Australian Open due to illness.  David is just 7-12 at ATP-level tournaments in 2023, and lost his only match at a grass court warmup event.

Kyrgios leads their head-to-head 3-1, though they haven’t played in nearly six years.  While both players are currently far from their top form, and both have the pressure of defending a lot of points from their performances a year ago, Nick should be favored on this surface.


Sofia Kenin (Q) vs. Coco Gauff (7) – Last on No.1 Court

Gauff’s record of 27-11 on the year is strong, yet her results feel a bit underwhelming.  She has not reached a final since the first week of the season, and has lost her two semifinals since, including one just a few days ago to Madison Keys on grass in Eastbourne.  And Coco has not advanced beyond the quarterfinals at a Major since her Roland Garros final in June of last year.

Kenin has been on the comeback trail from injuries, illness, and a lack of confidence for some time now.  She’s shown signs of her 2020 form on a couple of occasions this year, most recently in an upset of Aryna Sabalenka in Rome.  Wimbledon easily remains Sofia’s worst Slam, where she is just 3-3 in the main draw.

They have split two previous meetings, both of which occurred in Australia.  Three years ago at the Aussie Open, Kenin prevailed in three sets, on the way to her Australian Open title.  And to begin this year in Auckland, Gauff prevailed in straights, on the way to her most recent title.  In the rubber match on Monday evening, Coco is the favorite, based on her 12-0 record in opening round matches this season.


Emil Ruuusuvuori vs. Stan Wawrinka – Not Before 4:30pm on Court 18

Wawrinka is now 13-11 this year, after competing in two epic five-setters In Paris.  He defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas in five, before losing to Thanasi Kokkinakis in five.  But grass is his weakest surface, and Stan is just 20-16 lifetime at SW19.

24-year-old Ruusuvuori of Finland is 21-19 in 2023, and reached the semifinals of a grass court event in June, where he upset Jannik Sinner in straight sets.  A year ago here at Wimbledon, Emil defeated Yoshihito Nishioka in the first round.

These players met last summer in Canada, where Ruusuvuori was victorious in three sets.  But in the best-of-five format, I give the slight edge to the three-time Slam champ.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Pedro Cachin vs. Novak Djokovic (3) – This will start the Djokovic campaign for his record-extending 24th Major singles title, his record-tying eighth title at Wimbledon, and the third of four legs in the calendar-year Grand Slam.  Novak hasn’t lost a completed match at The Championships since 2016, when he was upset in the third round by Sam Querrey.  Cachin is an accomplished clay court player, but he has never won a main draw match on grass.

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Lin Zhu – Swiatek is 38-6 on the year, and won her fourth Slam just three weeks ago in Paris.  However, she’s only 5-3 at SW19 thus far in her career.  Lin is a 29-year-old who reached a semifinal on grass two weeks ago in Birmingham, and won a WTA title earlier this season in Hua Hin. 

Laurent Lokoli (Q) vs. Casper Ruud (4) – Ruud has now reached three of the last five Major finals, but he’s just 3-5 lifetime on grass.  Lokoli is a 28-year-old Frenchman who survived a five-setter in the last round of qualifying to reach the main draw of a Major for the first time in over six years. 

Yannick Hanfmann (9) vs. Taylor Fritz (9) – Fritz suffered some considerable heartbreak here a year ago, losing a final-set tiebreak to Rafael Nadal in his first Major quarterfinal.  Hanfmann is a dangerous first round draw, as he’s already accumulated 35 match wins this season at all levels, and upset Stefanos Tsitsipas just a few days ago on grass in Mallorca.  And two months ago on clay in Rome, Yannick defeated Taylor 6-4, 6-1.

Anett Kontaveit vs. Lucrezia Stefanini (Q) – Kontaveit was No.2 in the world just over a year ago, and is only 27-years-of-age, but has announced she will retire after this tournament due to a degenerative back injury.  She’s just 6-8 this season, and only 7-8 lifetime at Wimbledon.  Stefanini is a 25-year-old Italian who outlasted Su-Wei Hsieh in a third-set tiebreak during the last round of qualifying. 


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis

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Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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