Canada Daily Preview: Caroline Wozniacki Returns to Active Competition - UBITENNIS
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Canada Daily Preview: Caroline Wozniacki Returns to Active Competition

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Caroline Wozniacki in Montreal this past week at media day (twitter.com/OBNmontreal)

On Tuesday in Montreal, 2018 Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki comes out of retirement, playing her first match in over three-and-a-half years.

Wozniacki retired after the 2020 Australian Open, but shortly before this year’s Wimbledon, the mother-of-two announced she was coming out of retirement.  Caroline faces Australian qualifier Kimberly Birrell in her return to tennis on Tuesday.

Due to rain on Monday in Montreal, Tuesday is scheduled to be a busy day of WTA action, though more rain in the forecast may complicate matters.  The Order of Play includes Canadian stars Bianca Andreescu and Leylah Fernandez, newly-crowned Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova, and a clash of Major champions between Victoria Azarenka and Sloane Stephens.  And last year’s Wimbledon champ, Elena Rybakina, faces a resurgent Jennifer Brady, who upset Jelena Ostapenko in just Brady’s third tour-level singles match in nearly two years.

ATP matches in Toronto in Tuesday feature Andy Murray, Casper Ruud, and Canada’s own Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s most prominent match in both Montreal and Toronto, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule in each city.  Tuesday’s play begins at 11:00am local time in both cities.


Caroline Wozniacki (WC) vs. Kimberly Birrell (Q) – 12:30pm on Court Central in Montreal

In January of 2020, Wozniacki walked away from the sport after a third round defeat to Ons Jabeur in Melbourne.  But in an essay for Vogue at the end of June, Caroline announced she would be returning to WTA action.  Feeling she was hitting the ball better than ever on the practice court, she decided to begin a new chapter of her career at the age of 33.

Wozniacki won this event back in 2010, and was the runner-up in 2017.  Overall she is 16-10 in Canada.  Birrell is a 25-year-old Australian making her main draw debut at this tournament, and playing only her second match at WTA 1000 level.

This is a rather kind draw for Wozniacki’s comeback, especially at this level, in an opponent who has never been ranked inside the top 100.  It will be extremely interesting to see how Caroline’s confidence from the practice court translates to the competitive court in her return.


Lorenzo Sonego vs. Andy Murray – 12:30pm on Center Court in Toronto

Murray is 25-12 in what is easily his best season since 2017.  But at this point in his career, the Majors are the definitive priority for the 36-year-old, especially Wimbledon, and he must be bitterly disappointed by his failure to reach the second week of a Major, which he now hasn’t done in over six years.  At Wimbledon, he lost a heartbreaker in the second round to Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets.

Sonego is 19-20 on the year, yet is a streaky player who is capable of taking out top names.  We saw that a few months ago at Roland Garros, when he upset Andrey Rublev in the third round. 

Their only previous meeting took place just six months ago on a hard court in Doha, with Murray outlasting Sonego in a third-set tiebreak after saving three match points.  And with a record of 26-7 lifetime in Canada, and being a three-time champion of this event, Andy is again a favorite to defeat Lorenzo on Tuesday.


Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Danielle Collins (Q) vs. Elina Svitolina – Collins has a losing record in a season where she’s played only 23 matches.  Svitolina is 15-7 at tour-level since returning from becoming a mother just this past April, with a French Open quarterfinal and a Wimbledon semifinal to her name.  Danielle dominated their only prior encounter three years ago in Brisbane by a score of 6-1, 6-1.

Leylah Fernandez (WC) vs. Peyton Stearns (Q) – Fernandez is currently ranked 88th in the world, as she’s yet to rediscover her form after the foot injury she suffered at last year’s Roland Garros.  Stearns is a 21-year-old American who has 38 wins this year at all levels, and she defeated Leylah earlier this year in Rabat on clay.

Marketa Vondrousova (9) vs. Mayar Sherif – This will be Vondrousova’s first match since her shocking triumph a few weeks ago at Wimbledon.  Sherif is at a career-high ranking of No.31 thanks to 27 wins this year at all levels, most of which came on clay.

Camila Giorgi (Q) vs. Bianca Andreescu (WC) – Andreescu is only 15-15 on the year, though she is 9-3 at her country’s biggest tournament, having won the title four years ago.  Giorgi was the champion here in 2021, and also won a hard court title earlier this season in Merida.  Six years ago in Washington, a young Bianca beat Camila in three sets.

Felix Auger-Aliassime (10) vs. Max Purcell (Q) – It’s been a rough season for Auger-Aliassime, who has battled injury and illness and is just 13-12.  Purcell has an impressive 41 match wins this year at all levels, and he upset Felix two summers ago at the Tokyo Olympics.

Victoria Azarenka (16) vs. Sloane Stephens – These two have a controversial history, as in the 2013 Australian Open semifinals, Azarenka took a nearly 10-minute medical timeout after failing to convert five match points, saying she has having trouble breathing due to a rib injury.  Vika would eventually prevail and win the title, and overall narrowly leads their head-to-head 5-4.

Jiri Lehecka vs. Casper Ruud (3) – Ruud reached a final a few weeks ago on clay in Bastad, and has advanced to the quarters or better in both of his appearances in Canada.  Lehecha survived a third-set tiebreak on Monday against Brandon Nakashima.  Last year on clay on Gstaad, Casper overcame Jiri in straights.

Elena Rybakina (3) vs. Jennifer Brady (PR) – Rybakina is 37-9 this year, and this will be her first match since a disappointing defense of her Wimbledon title, losing to Ons Jabeur in the quarterfinals.  Brady’s aforementioned upset of Ostapenko on Monday night ended in a third-set tiebreak, after Jen saved two match points. 


Tuesday’s full Order of Play for the WTA is here, and the ATP is here.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Karen Khachanov to advance to the semifinal in Monte-Carlo

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Two-time champion Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Karen Khachanov 6-4 6-2 in 83 minutes to reach the semifinal at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Tsitsipas has extended his head-to-head lead against Khachanov to 8-1. 

Tsitsipas will chase his third title in Monte-Carlo after his previous two triumphs in 2021 and 2022. 

Tsitsipas broke Khachanov’s serve in the opening game. Khachanov broke back in the second game to draw level to 1-1. Tsitsipas earned his second break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead and held on his next service games to win his first set 6-4. 

Tsitsipas broke in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead, as Khachanov sent an easy overhead wide. Tsitsipas earned a double break in the eighth game and served out the win on his second match point in the next game. 

Tsitsipas won 84% of his first service games. The Greek player finished with seven aces and 20 winners to 8 unforced errors. 

Tsitsipas set up a semifinal clash against either Jannik Sinner or Holger Rune.

“I would lie if I said it does not bring good memories stepping out on this court. It’s something that I attribute some of my performances here over time to. I came back here, and I relive those memories of the past. It gives good feelings to me when I am able to play in front of crowds like this and be able to try and strive for excellence with my game”, said Tsitsipas. 

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Iga Swiatek is set to return to the Billie Jean King Cup for the first time since 2022

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Eight Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers take place from 12 to 13 April. The winners will secure their spot at next November’s season-ending Finals in Seville alongside defending champions Canada, 2023 runners-up Italy, and wild card Czechia. 

World number 1 Iga Swiatek, world number 5 Jessica Pegula, former number 1s Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep, and WTA Tour stars Elina Svitolina, Emma Raducanu, Caroline Garcia and Beatriz Haddad Maia will headline the Billie Jean King Qualifiers. 

The winning teams from the Qualifiers advance to the year-end Finals in Seville. Twelve players will compete in the Finals over six days next November. 

Switzerland vs Poland – Swiss Tennis Arena Biel

World number 1 Iga Swiatek will play for Poland in Billie Jean King Cup for the first time since winning both of her matches in the 2022 Qualifiers. The Polish team will be looking to improve on her five-match winning streak. Swiatek won the WTA Finals in Cancun in 2023 and two WTA 1000 titles in Indian Wells and Doha in 2024. Swiatek has a record of nine wins from her twelve matches in the Billie Jean King matches across singles and doubles. She has won seven of her nine singles matches and has not beaten in Billie Jean King Cup since February 2019.  

Swiatek will play against Simona Waltert in the opening match. Swiatek beat Waltert at Wimbledon Juriors in 2018. 

“I know how she plays a little bit but, tactically, I need to prepare as we have not met on the WTA Tour. It’s never easy to play as a guest because the whole stadium is going to be cheering for Switzerland, but I am ready to do my job. I am going to focus on myself”, said Swiatek. 

Swiatek will be joined by Magdalena Frech, Magda Linette, Katarzyna Kawa and Magdalina Chwalinska. 

Poland will play against 2022 Billie Jean King Cup champions Switzerland for the third time. These teams are tied 1-1 in their two head-to-head clashes. 

A Polish team missing Swiatek did not get through to the 2023 Billie Jean King Finals, as they were beaten by a Kazakh team led by Elena Rybakina. Poland were given a wild card into the 2023 Billie Jean Cup Finals in Seville, but they failed to win a match. 

The Swiss team will be looking to repeat their previous triumph in Glasgow in 2022. Swiss team captain Heinz Guenthardt has named Viktorija Golubic, Celine Naef, Simona Waltert and Jil Teichmann. Belinda Bencic has taken one year off from tennis as she waits to welcome her first child. 

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Defending Champion Andrey Rublev Suffers Shock Defeat To Popyrin In Monte-Carlo

Andrey Rublev suffered his third consecutive defeat after failing to defend his Monte-Carlo title.

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Defending champion Andrey Rublev has suffered a shock opening round defeat against Alexei Popyrin in Monte-Carlo.

The world number six suffered a 6-4 6-4 defeat in one hour and 40 minutes against the aggressive Australian.

It’s Rublev’s third consecutive defeat with the 26 year-old only winning one match since his disqualification in Dubai against Alexander Bublik.

However it was a landmark win for Popyrin as he looks to be seeded for Roland Garros with the Australian currently at 46 in the world.

Speaking after the match Popyrin detailed his game-plan to defeating the defending champion, “I enjoyed coming out on centre court for the first time. First tournament on clay of the year and I have good memories from clay last year,” Popyrin told the ATP website.

“I am feeling really comfortable on it and happy to beat a guy who was in form, confident and the defending champ. It was an awesome match.

“The idea was not to give him the same ball. He is probably the best player from the baseline when you give him rhythm, so I tried to change the pace, height and spin and I think it worked really well for me today.”

Should results go against Rublev this week than he could drop to outside the world’s top ten.

As for Popyrin, he will now face compatriot Alex De Minaur in the third round.

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