Canada Daily Preview: Iga Swiatek Faces Jessica Pegula in the Semifinals - UBITENNIS
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Canada Daily Preview: Iga Swiatek Faces Jessica Pegula in the Semifinals

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Jessica Pegula on Friday in Montreal (twitter.com/OBNmontreal)

It’s Semifinal Saturday for the men in Toronto and the women in Montreal.

The women’s singles semifinals include three of the top four players in the world.  The most blockbuster matchup in either city on Saturday sees World No.1 Iga Swiatek face World No.4 Jessica Pegula.  They have split two meetings this season, who will win the rubber match and advance to Sunday’s final?  The other WTA singles semifinal in Montreal features Elena Rybakina and Liudmila Samsonova.

In Toronto, we are guaranteed to have a first-time Masters 1000 champion after a series of upsets across the last few days.  Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who already took out Sascha Zverev and Casper Ruud, faces Alex de Minaur, who has eliminated Cameron Norrie, Taylor Fritz, and Daniil Medvedev.  And in the other singles semifinal, Tommy Paul, who upset top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz on Friday night, takes on Jannik Sinner, who is the highest seed remaining and the favorite to claim this 1000-level title.

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.  Saturday’s play gets underway at 12:30pm in both cities.


Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Jessica Pegula (4) – 12:30pm on Court Central in Montreal

Swiatek picked up her 50th win of the season on Friday, outlasting an in-form Danielle Collins in three sets.  This was a second consecutive three-set victory for Iga, who defeated her French Open final opponent, Karolina Muchova, 6-4 in the third on Thursday.  As per Tennis Abstract, those are two of only seven three-set victories out of her 50 wins this year, so Swiatek has been forced to work a lot more this week than she’s used to.

Pegula picked up her 40th win of the season on Friday, by a score of 7-5 in the third over her friend and doubles partner, Coco Gauff.  That was an especially impressive win for Jess, as Coco has been playing stellar tennis these past two weeks.  However, Pegula is just 1-5 in WTA 1000 semifinals, compared to Swiatek’s excellent record of 7-1.

Overall Iga is 5-2 against Jess, with all seven matches taking place within the last four years.  They played four times in 2022, with Swiatek claiming all four matches.  This season, Pegula won 6-2, 6-2 at the United Cup, while Swiatek won 6-3, 6-0 in the final of Doha. 

Their aforementioned contrasting record in semifinals at this level is startling.  And considering Iga has separated herself from the pack these last two seasons on clay and hard courts, she should be favored to reach her eighth WTA 1000 final.


Tommy Paul (12) vs.  Jannik Sinner (7) – Not Before 7:00pm on Center Court in Toronto

Paul’s upset over Alcaraz marked the second straight year he defeated Carlitos at this event.  Tommy is now 34-18 this year, and 20-7 on hard courts.  This is his first Masters 1000 semifinal, after previously going 0-2 in Masters quarterfinals, and he’s vying for his third tour-level final of the year.

Sinner survived a late night battle on Friday that went three sets, and went past midnight.  He’s now 39-11 this year, though he hasn’t won a title in over six months.  This is Jannik’s fourth Masters 1000 semifinal out of his five appearances this season, and he’s twice before advanced to a Masters final in his career, both this year as well two years ago in Miami.

Both players achieved their first Major semifinal this season, and they’ve split their two prior encounters, both of which occurred in 2022.  On clay in Madrid, Sinner prevailed in three.  On grass in Eastbourne, Paul prevailed in three.  On a hard court in Toronto, I like Jannik’s chance of reaching his third Masters 1000 final.  He has more experience in the latter stages of Masters events, and possesses more firepower than Tommy.


Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina vs. Alex de Minaur – This should be a fun match between two of the quickest men on tour.  Davidovich Fokina is 1-0 in Masters semifinals, having defeated Grigor Dimitrov in this round a year ago in Monte Carlo on clay.  De Minaur had never even been in a Masters quarterfinal prior to this week.  Ale leads their head-to-head 2-1 at tour level, though their only hard court meeting went to Alex.

Elena Rybakina (3) vs. Liudmila Samsonova (15) – Rybakina’s quarterfinal victory over Daria Kasatkina was decided in a third-set tiebreak, in a grueling contest that lasted three-and-a-half hours, and ended at nearly 3:00am local time on Saturday morning.  Samsonova played twice on Friday, defeating both Aryna Sabalenka and Belinda Bencic.  And Liudmila is 2-0 against Elena.


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

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Roland Garros: ‘Disappointed’ Garcia Denies Problem With Roland Garros Form

Caroline Garcia’s poor run of results at Roland Garros continued after a fourth consecutive second round defeat.

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Caroline Garcia has denied there is a problem with her form at Roland Garros after she lost 6-3 6-3 to Sofia Kenin in the second round.

It was yet another disappointing defeat for Caroline Garcia who lost on straight sets on Philippe Chatrier to former finalist Sofia Kenin.

After struggling past Eva Lys in her opening round, Garcia was unable to re-motivate her game as she went out in the second round.

Speaking after the match Garcia admitted she was ‘disappointed’ to have lost and admits she has a complicated relationship with Philippe Chatrier, “I’m disappointed to have lost. I didn’t manage to find my game,” Garcia told French journalists in her press conference.

“She didn’t leave me a lot of margins. I didn’t manage to get the upper hand. I lost sometimes when I had actually gained points to play. This is where I have regrets.

“Well, yes, it’s complicated. It’s true. You have said it well. You have described it well. It’s a large court by size, with a number of fans. There is a lot of seats, a lot of room. When it’s not full, all the lower seats are empty, even though the upper seats are occupied, then you feel that you’re on your own.

“On Lenglen it’s less true, because people are closer to you. Even your own team, you can’t hear them. So it’s quite uncomfortable.”

Today’s defeat was a just one in a series of bad results for Garcia who has now lost in the second round of Roland Garros for the fourth consecutive time.

However in a tense exchange with journalists Garcia refused to acknowledge the bad form and said that everything is fine, “I don’t remember. Who beat me last year? I can’t remember,” Garcia when asked about her results at Roland Garros.

“Yes, everything is fine. You know, all in all, it’s the same. A defeat is a defeat. More or less it’s the same emotions than afterwards. Last year it was not the same situation. There was disappointment after both matches.

“There are times when you say I could have done better here and there, I could have played that ball differently, but then at the end of the match it’s easy to change the world again and think back.

“Well, of course we can have high expectations. I lost the second round last time, as well. It was not better. But then on the French Open, on clay when it’s cold, then it’s difficult to play one’s best tennis.

“It’s not the surface that corresponds and that suits my game. Even if it’s “the” tournament of the year, clay court is not my most suitable surface.”

Garcia will hope that she can continue to work on her clay court game as she will have many Roland Garros campaigns ahead of her.

Next up for Garcia will be the grass court season which is a surface that is more suiting to her surface than clay.

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David Goffin Slams Hostile French Open Crowd

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A fan at the French Open spat out their chewing gum at David Goffin during a tense first round clash at the tournament on Tuesday. 

Goffin, who is a former quarter-finalist in Paris, described the reception he received from the crowd as ‘total disrespect’ during his clash against home player Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard. A 20-year-old wild card who recently claimed his maiden Tour title in Lyon. The Belgian managed to oust the home player 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3, after more than three-and-half hours of play. 

During one stage of the match, Goffin was seen holding his hand to his ear towards the rowdy crowd. A gesture he felt he had the right to do considering the atmosphere.

“When you are insulted for three and a half hours, you have to tease the public a little,” The I quoted Goffin as saying.
“Clearly, it goes too far, it’s total disrespect. It’s really too much. It’s becoming football, soon there will be smoke bombs, hooligans and there will be fights in the stands.
“It’s starting to become ridiculous. Some people are there more to cause trouble than to create an atmosphere.
“Someone spat out their chewing gum at me. It [the match] was getting complicated. That’s why I wanted to stay calm. IfI started to get angry about it, it could have destabilised me.”

The French Open crowd has a reputation for being highly animated during matches with there being numerous examples throughout the years. Nicolas Jarry received booing when he walked on the court to play Corentin Moutet after an incident between the two earlier this season. 

“This is repeated a lot in the locker room and among the ATP authorities. We’re going to have to do something about that,” Goffin continued.
“I think it only happens in France. At Wimbledon, obviously, there’s not that. Or in Australia either. And at the US Open, it’s still rather quiet. Here [at Roland Garros], it’s really an unhealthy atmosphere.”

However, former French Open junior doubles champion Mpetshi Perricard has praised the support he got from the fans during his match. It was only the second time in his career that the world No.66 has played in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament.

“It was really nice to have so much support,” he said.
“I had a lot in Lyon as well, but that was different because here the guys are really with you from first to the last point. It’sreally very pleasant to have such an audience.
“I like it that they encouraged me. It helped me when I was broken in the fourth [set], and I would like to thank them for it. It’s really fantastic to have these guys there.”

Goffin will be hoping to get more support in his second round match against Alexander Zverev on Thursday. He is making his 13th main draw appearance in Paris at the age of 33. 

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Holger Rune Beats Evans in Straight Sets and Moves into Round 2

Danish 13th seed praises improved mentality; aims to get back to the top five

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Ubitennis/Francesca Micheli

Thirteenth seed Holger Rune came through in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 over Dan Evans in cold indoor conditions under the roof on Suzanne-Lenglen and goes on to face Italian Flavio Cobolli in round two.

The defeat for Evans meant that there are now no British men left in the singles draw after disappointing first round losses for Andy Murray and Cameron Norrie.

Rune, who once shared a practice session with Evans, admitted it took time to figure out his opponent’s game style: “It’s not that I know his game inside and out. He likes the slice obviously, and he’s a very good grass court player as well so he plays pretty flat over the net. So, yeah, it took a lot of time to adjust.”

Rune, a two-time former quarter finalist at the French Open, broke serve with the score tied at 4-4 in the first set and then served out to take the opener. A single break of serve was enough again in the second, while he had to dig much deeper in the third set when he went 4-2 down but managed to maintain composure to win the last four games to seal victory. The 21-year-old was very satisfied with his first-round performance and was pleased his intense practice sessions had been paying off.

“It was a good start, I think. Very solid match from start to finish. We had a good preparation, I would say. We had obviously time after Rome to really prepare with my game and physically and mentally, as well. I think we used the time right. So now is just to perform and put everything together. We are working always on my game. I think my game is good. My physicality felt great today, so it’s a thing we have really been working on to be able to stay out there and not feel fatigued and feel explosive even after hours of playing, and I definitely felt that today.”

Rune finished the match with eight aces, and more than double the number of winners (44 to 21), while Evans struggled with his serve making less than 50% of first serves in play along with five double faults. Whilst approaching the net numerous times throughout the match, he was passed sixteen times by some wonderful strokes off both wings by his Danish opponent. Rune was impressed with his mentality afterwards: “Mentally I just had to stay composed. You know, there is always challenges in the matches. Today was a call here and there. I thought I stayed composed. Been working on that, as well.”

Rune, who won 75% of points on his first serve definitely felt like he is on the right path to get him back inside the top five of the rankings: “I feel like I’m kind of back on track, have stability in my team, which is nice in my life. So, it’s going in the right direction. I’m improving on court. Now it’s just about getting that few match wins under the belt, to get some rhythm and gain some confidence in the matches as well. Then, I believe, you know, I’m fitter than last year. I’m playing better and improved. I just need to put everything together.”

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