US Open Daily Preview: Top Seeds Face Tough Challenges on Monday - UBITENNIS
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US Open Daily Preview: Top Seeds Face Tough Challenges on Monday

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Jannik Sinner on Saturday (Manuela Davies/USTA)

Fourth round singles action concludes on Monday in New York.

On Day 8, many of the favorites to make deep runs at this event face considerable opposition.  No.6 seed Jannik Sinner plays Sascha Zverev, who defeated Jannik the last three times they’ve met.  No.3 seed Daniil Medvedev takes on Alex de Minaur, who beat Daniil just a few weeks ago.  No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka battles Daria Kasatkina, who has twice overcome Aryna on a hard court.  And No.3 seed Jessica Pegula faces 2017 runner-up Madison Keys.

Plus, reigning Wimbledon champions Carlos Alcaraz and Marketa Vondrousova also play on Monday.

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.


Madison Keys (17) vs. Jessica Pegula (3) – 12:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Pegula is now 46-14 this season, after defeating Elina Svitolina on Saturday in three sets.  She is playing with plenty of confidence, after collecting her second WTA 1000 title last month in Montreal.  And notably, Jess is 6-0 in the fourth round of Majors, with all six victories coming within the last three seasons.

Keys is 31-11 in a season that started with her teaming up with Pegula and other Americans to win the inaugural United Cup.  Madison went just 3-3 on hard courts this summer, yet stepped up her game to overcome Toronto runner-up Luidmila Samsonova in three sets on Saturday.  She is vying for her second consecutive Slam quarterfinal, and her 10th overall.

They’ve only played once, which happened last year on a hard court in San Diego.  On that day, Pegula won 6-4, 7-5.  On this Labor Day in the United States, Jess is the favorite to again prevail in this all-American battle.  Her penetrating groundstrokes and volleying prowess should be enough to counter the strong serve and powerful groundies of Keys.


Daniil Medvedev (3) vs. Alex de Minaur (13) – Not Before 4:00pm on Louis Armstrong Stadium

Last month in Toronto, de Minaur upset Medvedev after two tight sets.  The Australian also took their other most recent encounter, which was last November in Bercy on an indoor hard court, in a match that went to 7-5 in the third.  However, Medvedev claimed their other four meetings, which were also all on hard courts.

Medvedev had a superb first six months to the year, winning five titles, with one of them even coming on clay, a surface he has previously claimed to despise.  But after reaching the Wimbledon semifinals in July, he went just 1-2 on North American hard courts heading into this fortnight.  Daniil has advanced with the loss of only one set, as he looks to advance to his eighth Major quarterfinal.

De Minaur has also only dropped one set, but he’s looking to achieve just his second Slam quarterfinal, after first doing so three years ago at this same tournament.  Alex was a hard court finalist in both Los Cabos and Toronto this summer, and won a hard court event earlier this year in Acapulco.

But on Monday, Medvedev is the favorite despite their recent history.  Daniil remains one of the best hard court players of the past five years, especially in the best-of-five format.


Daria Kasatkina (13) vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2) – 7:00pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Sabalenka was completely dominant in the first week of this event, allowing her opposition only 12 games in six sets.  She is 47-10 on the season, with three titles and two other finals, which of course includes her first Major title in Melbourne.  Aryna is playing for her seventh Slam quarterfinal out of her last nine appearances.

Kasatkina’s path to this matchup has been much more complicated, as she needed to come back from a set down against two Americans, Alycia Parks and Sofia Kenin.  She is 32-20 this year, but just 14-11 on hard courts, her weakest surface.  Daria is 3-2 in this round of Majors, though she’s never reached a quarterfinal at a hard court Slam.

And that’s what makes it surprising that Kasatkina’s two wins over Sabalenka have both come on this surface.  Those matches occurred a year ago in San Jose and four years ago in Beijing.  However, Aryna still leads their head-to-head 4-2, and when they played just a few weeks ago in Cincinnati, she prevailed 6-3, 6-3.  So despite how troubling Kasatkina’s variety can be, another Sabalenka victory on Monday seems quite likely.


Sascha Zverev (12) vs. Jannik Sinner (6) – Last on Arthur Ashe Stadium

Zverev’s wins over Sinner have taken place in each of the last three years: on clay in Monte Carlo, and on hard courts at this very event, as well as in Cologne.  At the 2021 US Open, Sascha defeated Jannik in straight sets.  The Italian’s only victory came in their first meeting, three years ago at Roland Garros.

But it’s Sinner who has been the better player in 2023.  The 22-year-old is 44-12 this year, and 28-6 on this surface.  He is coming off his first Major semifinal at Wimbledon, and his first Masters 1000 title in Toronto.  Jannik eliminated 2016 champ Stan Wawrinka in the last round.

Zverev is 41-20 on the year, but that only includes one title at a 250-level event.  And at the Majors, he’s underperformed outside of a semifinal appearance in Paris.  In the last two rounds, Sascha has played two draining four-setters, against Daniel Altmaier and Grigor Dimitrov.

Yet on Monday night, I give Zverev the slight edge to earn his fourth straight win over Sinner.  Sascha’s form has been steadily improving throughout the year since missing the second half of 2022 due to injury.  And he’s the much more experienced player in the second week of Majors, as he vies for his 10th Slam quarterfinal.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Peyton Stearns vs. Marketa Vondrousova (9) – The Wimbledon champion has advanced clinically through three rounds, dropping only 10 games across six sets.  Stearns is a 21-year-old American who is into the second week of a Major for the first time, and also hasn’t lost a set to this stage.  This is a rematch from the first round of Wimbledon two months ago, when Vondrousova was victorious 6-2, 7-5.

Jack Draper vs. Andrey Rublev (8) – Rublev did not arrive in New York with much momentum on hard courts, yet is still one win away from his ninth career Slam quarterfinal, a round he is 0-8 in thus far.  21-year-old Draper was a top 50 player a year ago, but missed much of this season due to multiple injuries.  Andrey defeated Jack twice last year, which includes a straight-setter on a hard court in Washington.

Carlos Alcaraz (1) vs. Matteo Arnaldi – Alcaraz picked up his 10th straight US Open win on Saturday, beating Dan Evans in an entertaining four-setter.  On the same day, Arnaldi upset another Brit, Cam Norrie, in the 22-year-old Italian’s third main draw appearance at a Major.  This is their first career meeting.

Ons Jabeur (5) vs. Qinwen Zheng (23) – Jabeur has somehow pulled out three grueling wins despite clearly feeling less than 100% due to a respiratory illness.  Qinwen is a big-hitting 20-year-old, and this is her second appearance in the fourth round of a Slam.  She’s 1-0 against Ons, though Jabeur retired in that match after going down a set and a break with an abdominal injury.  That contest took place last summer in Canada.


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Andy Murray Makes Retirement Hint After 500th Hard Court Win In Dubai

Andy Murray won his 500th hard court match in Dubai, placing him fifth on the all-time list.

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Andy Murray further hinted at retirement after securing a 500th hard court win of his career in Dubai.

The former world number one picked up his second win of the year with a 4-6 7-6(5) 6-3 victory over Denis Shapovalov.

In typical Andy Murray fashion, the Brit came back from a set down to defeat the out-of-sorts Canadian as he progressed to the second round.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUVj537F-wQ

The win means Murray now has 500 career wins on a hard court and that is an achievement the world number 67 is proud of, “It’s not bad,” Murray told the ATP website as he sits fifth on the all-time list of hard court wins.

“Obviously hard court has been a great surface for me over the years and 500 is a lot of matches so I’m very proud of that. There are not many players that have done that, so great to get to 500 before I’m done.”

However those post-match comments weren’t the most shocking ones as Murray once again hinted at retirement this season.

The Brit has made subtle remarks that this year may be his last one but Murray’s comments today suggests that he may have already made his decision, “I probably don’t have too long left but I’ll do as best as I can these last few months,” Murray was quoted by ESPN as saying.

“I still love competing and still love the game but it gets harder and harder to compete the older you get, to keep your body fit and fresh.”

If the end is near for Murray than the Brit will look to end his career on a high for the next few months.

Before thinking about retirement Murray will look to go further in Dubai when he takes on either Ugo Humbert or Gael Monfils in the second round.

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Perspective And Fatigue: The Two Sides Of Iga Swiatek’s Dubai Defeat

Iga Swiatek spoke about perspective and fatigue after her semi-final exit in Dubai.

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Iga Swiatek showed two sides to her defeat in Dubai as the world number one surprisingly failed to win the title despite being the favourite in the semi-finals.

Heading into her semi-final in Dubai, Swiatek was heavy favourite to win her second consecutive WTA title after claiming the title in Doha the week before.

However Swiatek was unsuccessful in her bid to reach the final as she lost to Anna Kalinskaya 6-4 6-4.

It was a bitterly disappointing defeat for Swiatek who missed a golden opportunity to establish even more dominance ahead of Indian Wells.

As all champions do Swiatek offered perspective to her defeat as she looks ahead to the rest of the season, “I mean, I’m angry but on the other hand, there aren’t many players that actually survive these kinds of tournaments so I just kind of have to let it go and accept it,” Swiatek was quoted by Tennis Majors.

There was not only perspective offered but also fatigue as expectations and pressure can force simple mistakes from the best players in the world.

The world number one acknowledged Kalinskaya’s performance but did admit her own performance contributed to the defeat, “Today I would say, I mean she [Kalinskaya] played well and for sure she deserves to be in the final, but I feel like it was more about me and my level,” Swiatek told Tennis Majors.

“I wanted to be focused on myself and I wasn’t really able to implement any tactics that I had. Usually, when I tell myself what to do, I can improve my game but today I was so out of power and tired that I just couldn’t. Day by day, it was a little bit worse.”

Swiatek will hope to re-energize herself ahead of the sunshine double in America.

Last year Swiatek lost to eventual champion Elena Rybakina in the semi-finals at Indian Wells before withdrawing from Miami.

The Pole will look to improve last year’s performance when she plays Indian Wells, which starts on the 6th of March.

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‘Speechless’ Mensik Reaches Maiden ATP Final In Doha

Jakub Mensik is into his first ATP final in Doha.

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Jakub Mensik admitted he was left speechless after reaching his first ATP final in Doha.

The 18 year-old continued his remarkable week with a 6-4 1-6 6-3 semi-final victory over Gael Monfils.

The Czech Republican produced clinical tennis as he beat the 2018 champion to reach his maiden ATP final.

After the match Mensik admitted he was left ‘speechless’ and spoke about the influence Monfils had on his career, “It is amazing. Hopefully not the last one [final]. Incredible week so far,” Mensik told the ATP website.

“Today again with Gael, he played unbelievable. I know it is tough to play against him, especially with his good movement. For me every point I have to play my best game.

“I have to say this performance was one of the best in my entire life. I am so glad I reached this level in the semis, so hopefully tomorrow I play like this. An amazing feeling with my first ATP final. I am speechless.

“I told him when I was young I watched him a lot on the TV. One of the biggest showman on court. He is a great guy, so hopefully in the future we will meet once again. The rallies were so fun with him.”

Mensik has so far beaten three former champions this week as he also defeated Andy Murray and Andrey Rublev this week.

Now Mensik will aim to win his first ATP title as he takes on Karen Khachanov in Saturday’s final.

Should Mensik win the title he could climb to 75 in the world as he started the week at 116 in the world.

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