Cincinnati Daily Preview: Svitolina and Wozniacki Play in the First Round - UBITENNIS
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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Svitolina and Wozniacki Play in the First Round

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

With the US Open just two weeks ago, all of the top-ranked men and women are in Cincinnati this week, looking to gain confidence and momentum.

The singles draws in Cincinnati feature the top 20 men and the top 20 women in the world.  That includes Novak Djokovic, who is playing his first tournament in North America since the 2021 US Open, as COVID-19 vaccine mandates have been lifted.  After a plethora of upsets this past week in Canada, will the top players restore order in Cincinnati?

Monday’s schedule is headlined by a meeting between two mothers who recently returned to the tour: Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki.  Other action includes Major singles champions Venus Williams, Stan Wawrinka, and Marketa Vondrousova, as well as a matchup between two friends who have been struggling this season: Felix Auger-Aliassime and Matteo Berrettini.

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


Matteo Berrettini vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (12) – 11:00am on Grandstand

After suffering a heartbreaking loss to Andy Murray at this year’s Australian Open, Berrettini spent the next several months injured.  Between March and June, Matteo went just 3-4, and after a loss in Stuttgart in June, he left the court in tears due to his inability to perform at his usual level.  But last month at Wimbledon, he rediscovered his confidence, with strong victories over Alex de Minaur and Sascha Zverev.

Auger-Aliassime has battled both injuries and illness for most of this season.  Dating back to Miami in March, he’s now lost eight of his last nine matches, and is currently on a five-match losing streak.  Considering Felix won three consecutive titles last October, he will be in danger of his ranking plummeting before the end of this year.

Berrettini leads their head-to-head 4-1 overall, and 2-1 on hard courts.  Though it is worth noting those two hard court victories came in the Laver Cup, a team event on an indoor hard court.  FAA’s only win came at this same event two years ago.  In a match where both players could really use a win, I give the edge to Berrettini based on recent form, as well as their shared history.


Elina Svitolina vs. Caroline Wozniacki (WC) – Not Before 8:30pm on Center Court

In her comeback from retirement last week, Wozniacki went 1-1.  She comfortably defeated qualifier Kimberly Birrell, but lost 6-2, 7-5 to Wimbledon champ Marketa Vondrousova.  Caroline is a modest 13-11 lifetime in Cincinnati, where her best result is reaching the semifinals in 2014.

Svitolina’s recent time away from the sport lasted a year, compared to three-and-a-half years for Wozniacki, yet Elina’s return remains extremely impressive.  Motivated by becoming a mother, and the war that continues to rage on in her country of Ukraine, Elina has been a new player.  And she has revamped her game, becoming a more aggressive player.  Just two months after returning, she reached the quarterfinals of Roland Garros, and three weeks after that, the semifinals of Wimbledon.

These players met five times between 2016 and 2018, with Svitolina taking four of those five encounters, all of which were on hard courts.  And with this only being Wozniacki’s third match back, Elina is a strong favorite to advance.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Venus Williams (WC) vs. Veronika Kudermetova (16) – Venus is just 2-5 on the year, and arrives in Cincinnati on a three-match losing streak, as she’s struggled to stay healthy.  Kudermetova is 25-14, but she’s also been battling an injury since the grass court season. 

Brandon Nakashima (WC) vs. Stan Wawrinka (WC) – 38-year-old Wawrinka is 20-14 this season at tour level, and is coming off a run to the final of Umag a few weeks ago on clay, his first final in over six years.  22-year-old Nakashima has been battling a knee injury of his own this year, and after debuting inside the top 50 in 2022, he’s just 9-15 in 2023.  Last season on an indoor hard court in Basel, at the biggest tournament in Stan’s home country, Wawrinka beat Nakashima 6-4 in the third.

Sebastian Korda vs. Borna Coric (15) – Coric was the surprising champion of this tournament a year ago, when he defeated five seeded players (Nadal, Bautista Agut, Auger-Aliassime, Norrie, Tsitsipas).  But Borna is just 18-16 this year.  Korda suffered a wrist injury during a run to the Australian Open quarterfinals in January, and is just 5-7 since. 

Karolina Muchova vs. Beatriz Haddad Maia (12) – These were the breakout players of this year’s Roland Garros, with Haddad Maia reaching her first Major semifinal, and Muchova going all the way to the final, where she nearly upset Iga Swiatek.  Last year on a hard court on Ostrava, Karolina eliminated Beatriz in straight sets.

Sascha Zverev (16) vs. Grigor Dimitrov – Both men are former champions of this event: Dimitrov in 2017, and Zverev in 2021.  Sascha leads their head-to-head 4-1, and hasn’t lost to Grigor since their first meeting in 2014.

Marketa Vondrousova (10) vs. Katerina Siniakova – Following her impressive triumph at Wimbledon, Vondrousova went 1-1 this past week in Canada, getting thumped by an in-form Coco Gauff 6-3, 6-0.  Siniakova won a grass court title earlier this summer in Bad Homburg, but comes into Cincinnati having lost her last three matches.


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Simona Halep Provides Injury Update On Knee Ahead Of US Open

The return of Simona Halep looks a long way away from happening as a knee injury continues to bother the Romanian.

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Simona Halep has provided an update on her knee injury as she faces a race against time to be fit for the US Open.

The former Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion’s comeback has not gone according to plan so far as she returned from a doping ban in Miami earlier this year.

However playing time has been limited for the Romanian as her second tournament of the year ended in a first round retirement at a Challenger event in Paris.

As a result of her retirement Halep was forced to miss Roland Garros and Wimbledon as she looked to recover from a knee injury.

The injury is more serious than meets the eye though as Halep provided an update on her knee injury and revealed it’s an injury that has been occurring for the last few months, “I wanted to provide a little health update since I have been away from the court lately. It is not the best news, but I wanted to share all the same,” Halep revealed on Instagram.

“For a few months now, I have been struggling with a knee injury. It’s an injury I have never had before and it has been a tough one to manage, with the pain persisting. It has been a very difficult period (almost two years) mentally and emotionally for me and struggling physically on top of that definitely doesn’t help.

“I have decided to take the time needed to recover properly, rather than training and playing through pain. My instinct has always been to try to come back as soon as possible, but I am not a machine, I am a human being and I need time to recover from everything I have gone through.

“I’ll keep you posted and, as always, want to thank you for your permanent support. I hope to be back on court very soon.”

Halep now faces a race against time to be fit for the US Open which starts on the 26th of August.

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Alexander Zverev Commits To Olympics, Speaks About Miscommunication Between Olympics And ATP

Alexander Zverev is preparing for his Olympic title defence.

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Alexander Zverev has spoken out on the miscommunication between the Olympics and the ATP tour with tennis’ top stars set to miss some big events on the tour.

The German is getting ready to defend his Olympic title that he won in Tokyo as Zverev heads to Paris.

After narrowly missing out on Roland Garros glory, Zverev now has an opportunity at redemption as he aims for a second consecutive gold medal at the Olympics.

However there is a dilemma for big players this year as the same week as the tennis event at the Olympics at the ATP 500 event in Washington.

This is an event that Zverev usually plays but will have to miss it due to playing in Paris.

Speaking out on the miscommunication, Zverev said it’s no secret that the ATP are not best friends on the Olympics but has committed to the historic event, “The ITF or the Olympics are not best friends with the ATP, that’s not a secret,” Zverev was quoted by Tennis Infinity as saying.

Everybody continues their own tour. Yes, the Olympics is one of the, if not the, most important events we have in sports. So, the best players in the world are always going to play the Olympics over anything else, over points and over prize money.

All the top players went to Wimbledon a few years back, despite having no points on the line. It’s about prestige, it’s not about points or money. It’s about winning these kinds of titles and having medals for your country.

That’s what it’s about. I would never choose to play a 500 event over the Olympics. There are no thoughts on that, and I think Washington is going to be quite an interesting 500 event, I would say.

The ATP 500 event in Washington will be headlined by Grigor Dimitrov, Ben Shelton, Karen Khachanov and Frances Tiafoe as they are among those that have chosen ranking points over the Olympic experience.

As for Zverev he is continuing his Olympic preparations in Hamburg where he will face Pedro Martinez in the semi-finals.

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Rafael Nadal Reveals Delight At Setting Up Ajdukovic Semi-Final After Four Hour Victory

Rafael Nadal has revealed his delight at reaching the Bastad semi-finals after a four hour victory over Mariano Navone.

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(ubitennis/Francesca Micheli)

Rafael Nadal has revealed his delight at reaching the semi-finals in Bastad after a four hour victory over Mariano Navone.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion prevailed in a marathon 6-7(2) 7-5 7-5 victory to reach his first semi-final since Wimbledon 2022.

The Spaniard converted ten of his 21 break point opportunities as he reached the semi-finals.

After the match Nadal revealed his delight at reaching the last four and prevailed Navone for his resilient display, “I lost for some moments my concentration, but I was able to hold physically until the end,” Nadal told the ATP website.

“That is so important for me. Let’s see how I am tomorrow, but today I am alive and in the semi-finals, so that’s very important. There were a lot of changing dynamics in every single set. For moments, he was in control. For moments, I was in control. But at the end, no one was in control! That’s true, and I had a good chance in the second with 3-0. Then I was very close to losing the match in the second set.

“In the third [I was ahead] again with 5-2, but he’s a great fighter and he played a great match. I wish him all the very best for the rest of the season.”

Nadal will now play Duje Ajdukovic in the semi-finals as he aims to continue his eight match winning streak in Bastad with this being his first appearance at the tournament since winning the title in 2005.

The other semi-final will be Nuno Borges against Thiago Agustin Tirante with both players reaching their maiden ATP tour semi-final.

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