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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Emma Raducanu Finding Positives Ahead Of Eastbourne Return And ‘Pristine’ Wimbledon Experience

Emma Raducanu will play Eastbourne for the first time this week.

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Emma Raducanu is finding the positives as she looks forward to a big next few weeks.

The former US Open champion is preparing to play Wimbledon for the first time in two years.

Last year, Raducanu was undergoing multiple wrist surgeries but now the Brit returns to her home Grand Slam.

In an exclusive interview with Porsche Raducanu described Wimbledon as ‘Pristine’ as she prepares for a big two weeks at SW19, “I’m looking forward to competing at Wimbledon this year,” Raducanu explained.

“Obviously, Wimbledon is Wimbledon, and that speaks for itself, but I’m most looking forward to the stage which I missed last year and now I’m looking forward to coming back and being in a better place than I was in 2022!

“For me, it’s always about the rich history and traditions, like the pristine grass courts and iconic white dress code. It’s always the tournament that every player dreams of winning.

“The courts at Wimbledon are obviously pristine and look beautiful. The aesthetics and tradition that come with the tournament are unparalleled. Being a British player at Wimbledon is incredible, the atmosphere is hard to put into words.

“I particularly love court 1 because I feel the fans get more involved, that coupled with everything else that Wimbledon brings gives you extra motivation to perform well.”

Heading into Wimbledon, Raducanu enters the tournament with a semi-final in Nottingham and is now prepared to play in Eastbourne for the first time.

Ahead of Eastbourne, Raducanu admitted she is finding the positives in her preparation and is looking forward to her experience in Eastbourne, “Preparation has been going well thanks. I have had a good last few days training in London before Eastbourne this week so excited to get going,” Raducanu stated.

“Yes, I took a lot of positives from Nottingham. I performed well, and it showed me that my game is strong on the grass, so yes, it’s given me positivity heading into Wimbledon. Most importantly for me though at Wimbledon I feel in a place where I’m in love with the sport. Whatever happens this Wimbledon, I have full belief in myself for the years to come too.

“I’ve never played in Eastbourne, it’s on the water which I like, minus the wind maybe and it’s another home tournament where I get to play in front of a home crowd! That’s the best part.”

Raducanu will face fellow Grand Slam champion Sloane Stephens in a blockbuster opening round match on Tuesday.

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Tommy Paul Downs Lorenzo Musetti Wins Maiden Grass Court Title At Queen’s Club

Tommy Paul is the new American number one!

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Tommy Paul has won his maiden grass court title at Queen’s Club after defeating Lorenzo Musetti 6-1 7-6(8).

The fifth seed was too good for the Italian who never really got going as Paul claimed his first title at ATP 500 level.

It was Paul’s third ATP title of his career and moves to world number 12 after an impressive week.

Heading into the final, Paul had beaten Jack Draper and Sebastian Korda and the American continued his red-hot form in the opening set.

Incredible movement on the grass as Paul played efficient counter-attacking tennis as he frustrated Musetti early on.

The American secured the early break for a 3-0 lead as the world number 13 dictated with power and touch.

Looking for a response, Musetti aimed to dictate play on the backhand and the Italian’s serve was firing in the next game as he secured his only hold of the match.

However, Paul was too consistent and solid as the American broke again and would soon win the opening set 6-1.

In the second set, Musetti started more positively as he was more proactive and aggressive as he looked to control his power more.

Paul managed to outlast Musetti’s early power to keep moving the Italian about and creating angles to hit winners into.

After a controlled start, Musetti produced a reckless seventh game as erratic unforced errors saw Paul break for a 4-3 lead.

The American was calm and collected for the majority of the match but when serving for the match Paul faltered under pressure.

Too many missed first serves saw Musetti with an opportunity to break back and the Italian didn’t need a second invitation as a crisp backhand return winner sealed the break back to level the set at 5-5.

An inspired Musetti applied pressure on Paul with some phenomenal hitting from the baseline as he secured consistent winners.

The American held his nerve to force a second set tiebreak as the American looked to overcome some jitters.

It looked like Musetti was going to cruise to the tiebreak but the Italian squandered a 4-1 lead in what was a highly entertaining tiebreak.

In the end Paul would win the tiebreak 10-8 and secure his first ATP 500 title as well as becoming the new American number one.

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Jannik Sinner Wins Maiden Grass-Court Title In Halle

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Jannik Sinner - Parigi 2024 (foto X @ATPTour_ES)

Jannik Sinner has reached another milestone in his blossoming career after claiming his first title on grass at the Terra Wortmann Open in Halle. 

The world No.1 ousted fifth seed and doubles partner Hubert Hurkacz 7-6(8), 7-6,(2), in a tightly contested encounter. Sinner was sternly tested by the big-hitting Pole who knocked French Open finalist Alexander Zverev out of the tournament on Saturday. Nevertheless, he managed to come out on top to become only the eighth player in PIF ATP ranking history to claim a trophy in his first tournament as world No.1.

“This means a lot,” Sinner told TennisTV. “It was a tough match against Hubi. I knew that I had to serve really well. You play only a couple of really important points throughout the whole set. I tried to produce in the best possible way in the important moments. 
“I’m very happy about this tournament because it’s my first time winning (a title) on a grass court. It’s a good feeling.”

Proceedings got underway with a 53-minuite opening set which saw no breaks of serves during the first 12 games played. However, each player had one opportunity to do so during the early stages. In the tiebreak, Sinner continued to be troubled by Hurkacz after failing to maintain a 5-2 lead. Then at 6-5, he was unable to convert his first set point due to an ace from his opponent. He missed a second opportunity to do so before prevailing on his third by hitting a shot deep to the baseline that his rival returned into the net. Making Sinner the first player to take a set off Hurkacz this week. 

It was a case of deja vu in the second frame with both players standing strong behind their serve. Hurkacz was unable to find a way to break but he did win over the crowd after hitting a fantastic over-the-shoulder passing shot without looking to win a point. 

Meanwhile, Sinner continued to weather the storm as he closed in on victory. The second tiebreaker saw him capitalised on back-to-back unforced errors from his rival en route to a 5-1 lead. Two points later he earned his first match point with the help of another costly mistake from across the court before closing the match out with ease.

Sinner’s latest victory is only the second time he has beaten a top 10 player on the grass with his first triumph being against Carlos Alcaraz at Wimbledon two years ago. He is also the second player to win Halle whilst ranked No.1 in the world after Roger Federer. 

Heading into Wimbledon, the 22-year-old has won four ATP trophies so far this season on three different surfaces. He has now won 38 out of his last 41 matches played. 

“I’m looking forward to it,” Sinner said of the next Grand Slam. “Last year I made the semis and played some good tennis. So let’s see what’s coming this year. 
“For sure I’m more confident on this surface. Obviously, the grass here (in Halle) might be a bit different to Wimbledon but I have a week to prepare so hopefully it is going to be a good tournament.”

Sinner is the 17th active male player to win a tour-level title on all three surfaces. 

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