WTA Finals & ATP Paris Masters Daily Preview: Swiatek and Gauff Battle to Advance - UBITENNIS
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WTA Finals & ATP Paris Masters Daily Preview: Swiatek and Gauff Battle to Advance



Iga Swiatek on Monday in Cancun (twitter.com/wta)

Djokovic, Swiatek, Gauff, Medvedev, and many other of the best players in the world are in action on Wednesday.

Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff both won their first round-robin matches in straight sets, so either can guarantee their spot in the semifinals on Wednesday in Cancun.  By contrast, Ons Jabeur and Marketa Vondrousova will square off to keep their advancement hopes alive, in a rematch from this year’s championship match at Wimbledon.

In Paris, almost all second round matches are to be completed on Wednesday.  That includes the 2023 Bercy singles debut of Novak Djokovic, a six-time champion at this event.  Plus, players such as Stefanos Tsitsipas, Sascha Zverev, Holger Rune, Hubert Hurkacz, and Casper Ruud vie for critical victories as they try to qualify for the ATP Finals.

Each day, this preview will analyze the most intriguing matchup from both the WTA Finals and the ATP Paris Masters, while highlighting the other matches on the schedules.  Wednesday’s play begins at 11:00am local time in Paris, and at 2:30pm local time in Cancun.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (7) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime – Second on Court Central in Paris

While not yet officially qualified for his fifth consecutive appearance at the ATP Finals, Tsitsipas currently sits in sixth place in the year-end race, and it’s extremely unlikely three players would earn enough points to move above him.  Stefanos is now 46-21 on the year, with only one title (Los Cabos).

Auger-Aliassime has endured a rough year, filled with injury, illness, and a loss of confidence.  He’s just 22-18, and could drop out of the top 30 with a loss on Wednesday.  But Felix seems to be rediscovering his mojo, as just last week in Basel, he won his first title of the year, with impressive victories over Rune and Hurkacz.

Tsitsipas leads their head-to-head 5-3, though their most recent meeting went to the Canadian.  That was in last year’s Rotterdam final, when FAA earned his first-ever ATP title.  When they meet again on an indoor hard court, Stefanos is a slight favorite to advance.

Iga Swiatek (2) vs. Coco Gauff (3) – Not Before 5:00pm in Cancun

Until this past summer, Swiatek had completely dominated this young rivalry.  Between May of 2021 and May of 2023, Iga claimed all seven of their matches in straight sets, which includes the championship match at Roland Garros in 2022.  But this past August, after making significant changes to her coaching team, a reinvigorated Coco finally not only took a set against Iga in Cincinnati, but defeated her in three sets.

Yett as revealed by Chanda Rubin and Lindsay Davenport on Tennis Channel this week, one of those coaching changes did not stick.  Brad Gilbert is still in Gauff’s camp, but Pere Riba is not.  After her victory on Monday, Coco confirmed Riba’s exit, and stated it was not her call.  However, his absence appeared to have no impact on her performance, as Gauff dominated Ons Jabeur by a score of 6-0, 6-1.

On the same day, Swiatek struggled during the opening set against Marketa Vondrousova, yet still won in straights, running away with the second set 6-0.  And a few weeks ago, Iga avenged her Cincinnati loss to Coco, defeating her comfortably in the Beijing semifinals. With an 8-1 advantage in their rivalry, Swiatek must be favored to make it 9-1 on Wednesday.

Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Grigor Dimitrov vs. Daniil Medvedev (3) – This is a rematch from just a week ago in Vienna, where Medvedev was victorious 6-4 in the third.  Overall Daniil is 6-2 against Grigor, and has taken their last three matches.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Tomas Martin Etcheverry – Djokovic is 46-5 on the year, and has not lost a match since the Wimbledon final, though he’s only played two tournaments since.  Etcheverry has accumulated 35 match wins this season, but 25 of those came on clay.  Six months ago in Rome on clay, Novak beat Tomas in straight sets.

Dominic Thiem (Q) vs. Holger Rune (6) – Thiem came back from 5-3 in the third against Stan Wawrinka late on Monday night, even saving a match point.  Rune recently named Boris Becker as his new coach, and was the surprise champion of this tournament a year ago, when he upset Djokovic in the final.  Earlier this year on Monte Carlo, Holger defeated Dominic 6-2, 6-4.

Ons Jabeur (6) vs. Marketa Vondrousova (7) – Jabeur was emotionally shattered by her loss in the Wimbledon final at the hands of Vondrousova, a third Major final loss for Ons within the past two years.  Overall Marketa leads their head-to-head 3-2, and has claimed all three of the 2023 meetings, though the first two came early this season when Ons was battling injury.

Wednesday’s full Order of Play for the WTA Finals is here, and for the ATP Paris Masters is here.


Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence



Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils



Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis



Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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