US Open Daily Preview: The Last Major of the Year Begins on Monday - UBITENNIS
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US Open Daily Preview: The Last Major of the Year Begins on Monday

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A look at Arthur Ashe Stadium, on the grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

The 2023 US Open begins on Monday in New York City.

Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek are the top seeds and defending champions, and both picked up another Major earlier this year.  Yet both suffered significant losses a week ago in Cincinnati to other top contenders for this title.  Alcaraz was defeated by Novak Djokovic in a near four-hour epic final, which was Novak’s return to North America for the first time in two years.  And Swiatek was defeated by Coco Gauff, who has won two titles this past month.

The men’s singles draw also features four other US Open champions: Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem, Stan Wawrinka, and Andy Murray.  The women’s draw boasts a total of 12 Major singles champions, as well as nine additional Major finalists.  That includes recent Major champs Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina, and Marketa Vondrousova

Monday’s Order of Play on Arthur Ashe Stadium is headlined by Djokovic, Swiatek, and Gauff, as well as Frances Tiafoe, a semifinalist here a year ago.  Elsewhere, Caroline Wozniacki plays her first Slam since coming out of retirement.  And in a battle of Major finalists, Stefanos Tsitsipas faces Milos Raonic.

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 gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Alexander Bublik (25) vs. Dominic Thiem – 11:00am on Grandstand

Tennis has not been kind to Thiem since winning his first Major here three years ago.  After suffering a serious right wrist injury, Dominic has struggled to rediscover his form.  He’s just 13-18 this season at tour level, and hasn’t won a match at a Major since the 2021 Australian Open, losing his last six matches at Slams.  However, he did reach his first ATP final in nearly three years earlier this month in his home country on clay.

Bublik also has a losing record this year, though he recently reached a career-high ranking of No.25 in the world after winning a grass court title in Halle.  That was the most impressive week of his career to date, which included victories over Coric, Struff, Sinner, Zverev, and Rublev.  He went on to reach the second week of Wimbledon, yet is 0-2 this summer on hard courts.

Their only previous meeting took place at Roland Garros in 2019, with Thiem prevailing in four sets.  Can the 2020 champion repeat that result on Monday, and earn his first victory at a Slam in nearly three years?  It’s entirely possible, though considering Dominic hasn’t even played a hard court match since March, and hasn’t won a hard court match since last October, Bublik must be favored.


Elena Rybakina (4) vs. Marta Kostyuk – Third on Grandstand

Rybakina is 41-11 on the year, and 12-2 at the Majors.  But she remains a modest 3-4 at the US Open, the only Slam where she’s yet to reach the second week.  A year ago in New York, just weeks after winning Wimbledon, she lost in the opening round to Clara Burel.

Kostyuk is a 21-year-old Ukrainian who just missed being seeded for this event, with a current ranking of No.37.  She achieved her first WTA title six months ago at another American hard court event in Austin.  Marta also reached the quarterfinals earlier this month in Washington, with strong wins over Bianca Andreescu and Caroline Garcia. 

Making this first round contest even more interesting is Kostyuk claimed their only prior encounter.  That occurred earlier this season in Adelaide, when Marta was victorious in three sets.  I could easily see Rybakina losing in the first round of the US Open for the second straight year, but her offensive proficiency still makes her a slight favorite on Monday.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (7) vs. Milos Raonic – 7:00pm on Louis Armstrong Stadium

Like Rybakina, the US Open remains Tsitsipas’ worst Major, where he’s just 5-5 lifetime.  He also lost in the first round here a year ago.  Stefanos is a solid but unspectacular 38-15 this season, recently winning his first title in over a year, at Los Cabos.  And he recently named 1998 US Open runner-up Mark Philippoussis as his head coach, replacing Stefanos’ father, Apostolos.

Raonic returned to the sport in June after a near two-year layoff.  He’s battled injuries throughout his career, and even considered retirement due to them.  Milos is 4-3 this summer, and earned a big win earlier this month in his home country over Tiafoe.  He is 16-8 at the US Open, with four appearances in the fourth round.

These players met twice in 2020, and both of those matches went to Raonic in straight sets.  And they were both significant hard court occasions: the third round of the Australian Open, and the semifinals of the Cincinnati Masters, which that year was played on these same grounds in New York.  But three years later, considering Raonic’s lack of match play, Tsitsipas is a considerable favorite to advance.


Tatiana Prozorova (Q) vs. Caroline Wozniacki (WC) – Last on Louis Armstrong Stadium

Like Raonic, Wozniacki recently returned to the sport.  In her case, she had fully retired for three-and-a-half years, becoming a mother of two.  But feeling she was hitting the ball better than ever, the 33-year-old is back.  Caroline went only 1-2 this summer in her first two tournaments back, and now she plays the Slam where she is a two-time runner-up.

Prozorova is a 19-year-old making her Major debut.  She qualified for this event by winning a third-set tiebreak on Friday against Roland Garros semifinalist Tamara Zidansek.  In that match, Tatiana saved eight set points before taking the first set, and saved a match point in the third set.  She has accumulated 34 match wins this season, almost all below WTA level.  So while she is unknown, Prozorova is rising fast and dangerous.

So what will prevail on Monday night: Wozniacki’s experience, or Prozorova’s recent winning ways?  On a big stage like this, and with the late night New York crowd behind her, I’m going with Caroline’s championship prowess.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Rebecca Peterson – Swiatek is now 53-9 this season, and defeated Ons Jabeur in last year’s US Open final.  She is 2-0 against Peterson, having claimed comfortable straight-set victories at two other recent Majors.

Sloane Stephens vs. Beatriz Haddad Maia (19) – Haddad Maia was a surprise semifinalist this year at Roland Garros, but is just 1-2 this summer on North American hard courts.  Stephens of course won this tournament in 2017, but is just 23-17 on the year.  Four years ago in Acapulco, Beatriz defeated Sloane in straight sets.

Learner Tien (WC) vs. Frances Tiafoe (10) – Tiafoe made an exhilarating run to the semifinals here a year ago, yet has suffered some tough losses this summer, and arrives with little momentum.  Tien is a 17-year-old American wild card ranked 690th in the world. 

Felix Auger-Aliassime (15) vs. Mackenzie McDonald – Auger-Aliassime has lost eight of his last 10 matches, in a season where he’s been plagued with injuries and illness.  McDonald has won twice as many matches this year as FAA, and was a quarterfinalist a few weeks ago in Toronto.  Last June on grass in Halle, Felix beat Mackie in straights.

Laura Siegemund (Q) vs. Coco Gauff (6) – Gauff 11-1 on North American hard courts this summer since adding Pere Riba and Brad Gilbert to her coaching team.  Siegemund won the women’s doubles title at the US Open three years ago, and in that same year, she defeated Coco in their only previous matchup.

Alexandre Muller vs. Novak Djokovic (2) – This is the first match in New York for Djokovic since his heartbreaking loss in the championship match two years ago, when he lost to Medvedev in Novak’s bid for the calendar-year Grand Slam.  Muller has won 36 matches this year at all levels, but arrives on a six-match losing streak.


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas downs Sinner; now aims for Third Title in Monte Carlo

Stylish Greek completes comeback win and re-enters the top ten.

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After winning two in a row in 2021-2022, Stefanos Tsitsipas is now in reach of a third title at the prestigious Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, after beating World number two Jannik Sinner in three gruelling sets.

The 25-year-old had to battle hard and come from a break down in the third to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 and now plays Casper Ruud in tomorrow’s final. The Greek has had an indifferent start to the year with a 11-6 win-loss record, but today was his first top three victory since the 2022 Cincinatti Masters – where he beat Daniil Medvedev – and ensures a return back into the top ten of the men’s rankings.

Tsitsipas recognised how hard he had to fight and revealed after the match just how satisfied he was of his performance:

“It was tennis at its highest level that I have been able to play. Jannik was an extremely difficult opponent and it can be seen throughout the year so far. He has been very consistent and I could see that throughout today with his game. He is one of the toughest opponents I have faced so far and to find ways when there weren’t that many, I am proud of that. He gave me a very difficult game and the way I overcame it is true excellence.”

Sinner double faulted at 30-40 to gift the break early with the score at one game all. From there, Tsistipas rallied with poise and confidence in a brilliant opening set lasting 44 minutes including a stunning backhand down-the-line winner to open the game when serving at 4-3. He took the first set 6-4 after a tiring 18-shot rally – where both players hit all angles of the court – before Sinner hit a forehand wide.

However, 22-year-old Sinner struck back immediately on his first breakpoint at the start of the second set when he won a close exchange at the net and then took a 3-0 lead.  He later survived a breakback point when 4-2 up and crucially held on for 5-2. He faced more pressure when serving for the set at 5-3 and was taken to deuce but levelled the match at one-set-all on his second set point to give the crowd exactly what they were asking f

Sinner was now in full flow hitting powerfully from the baseline and once again broke early at the start of the final set to take a 3-1 lead. But with the match now entering the third hour he began to tire physically and called for the trainer during the changeover with the score at 4-3.  When the match resumed, he lost the next three games and the Greek had completed a remarkable turnaround, handing his opponent just his second defeat of the season in two hours and forty minutes.

“It helps a lot knowing I have a win like this under my belt. Having a win like this and getting to the levels of tennis again brings a lot of satisfaction to me,” Tsitsipas said. “When there is a lot of work put in each day, these are the type of matches you are aiming for.”

Sinner’s only loss prior to today was against Carlos Alcaraz in Indian Wells semi-finals. He has been the stand out player this year after already winning titles in Rotterdam, the Miami Open, and his maiden Grand Slam in Australia. Despite having won 25 matches overall though, he now trails Tsitsipas 3-6 in their head-to-head rivalry.

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Casper Ruud Reveals Shock After Knocking Out Novak Djokovic In Monte-Carlo

Casper Ruud is into his second career Masters 1000 final after beating Novak Djokovic for the first time.

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Casper Ruud is into his second Masters 1000 final of his career after recording his best ever win by beating Novak Djokovic 6-4 1-6 6-4.

The Norwegian defeated the world number one for the first time in his career as he overcame a mini-comeback from Djokovic to seal his place in the Monte-Carlo final.

Having lost his five previous meetings to Djokovic, Ruud played some fearless tennis under pressure as the eighth seed broke to close out a career-best win.

Speaking after the win Ruud admitted he was in a state of shock and was pleased with the victory, “I am super happy,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“This is a day I will remember for a long time. Beating a World No. 1 is something I have never done and beating Novak is something I have never done. I am very, very happy. I am a little bit in a state of shock right now.”

After achieving the seemingly improbable, Ruud will now look to win his first ever ATP title that’s above a Masters 1000 event when he takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Monte-Carlo final.

That’s a prospect Ruud is looking forward to as he prepares for one final challenge, “There is always one more match in tennis,” the Norwegian explained.

“Tomorrow is going to be a special day, playing a final here in Monte-Carlo. It is a great result but I have been chasing a big title for a few years now and tomorrow I will have another shot at it. I am going to give it my all. Stef is playing well. He is a great player on clay and on other surfaces as well, but I guess clay is maybe where he has had the most success and especially this tournament.

“So it is going to be another tough task, but I am up for it.”

The final will take place at 14:00 BST.

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Rafael Nadal Set For Opening Round Test Against Cobolli In Barcelona

Rafael Nadal will look to make his ATP tour return in Barcelona this week.

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Rafael Nadal is set for his return to tennis in Barcelona as he has been drawn against Flavio Cobolli in the opening round.

Nadal has been struggling with injury after being injured again in Brisbane this year.

The tournament in Brisbane was his first tournament back for a year as he suffered a hip injury at the Australian Open last year.

Now Nadal aims to return to competitive action in Barcelona as he has been drawn against Flavio Cobolli in the opening round.

Speaking earlier in the week Nadal was hopeful of a return to the tour in Barcelona, “Excited to be here for a few days before the start of the tournament,” Nadal told the ATP website.

“I’m here to see how it goes… can’t wait to try and play. I’ll let you know. Important to say that I don’t want to confirm I’ll be playing, but I hope so. We’ll see.”

Should Nadal play and win his opening round match then the Spaniard will play fourth seed Alex De Minaur in the second round.

The former world number one has won the title on 12 different occasions but hasn’t won the title since 2021.

Elsewhere in the draw defending champion Carlos Alcaraz will begin against Luca Van Assche or Zhizhen Zhang with the Spaniard projected to meet Borna Coric in the third round.

Alcaraz suffered an injury in Monte-Carlo and will be beginning his clay court campaign in Barcelona.

Also in action in Barcelona are Andrey Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud.

Main draw action will begin on Monday.

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