WTA Finals & ATP Paris Masters Daily Preview: Will it be Sabalenka or Rybakina in the Semifinals? - UBITENNIS
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WTA Finals & ATP Paris Masters Daily Preview: Will it be Sabalenka or Rybakina in the Semifinals?

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Elena Rybakina on Tuesday in Cancun (twitter.com/wta)

The third and final round of round-robin play begins on Thursday in Cancun, while all third round matches will be played in Paris, on another busy day in the tennis world.

In a rematch of this past January’s Australian Open final, Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina will compete on Thursday, with the winner advancing to the semifinals.  Also, Jessica Pegula will face Maria Sakkari in a dead rubber, as Pegula has already secured her semifinal spot with a record of 2-0, while Sakkari has been eliminated with a record of 0-2.

Thursday’s schedule in Paris features a blockbuster third round contest between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Sascha Zverev.  Plus, Novak Djokovic, Jannik Sinner, Holger Rune, and many others top names will be in action, as the races for the year-end No.1 ranking and ATP Finals qualification continue.

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.  Thursday’s play begins at 11:00am local time in Paris, and at 12:30pm local time in Cancun.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (7) vs. Sascha Zverev (10) – Third on Court Central in Paris

Zverev survived a three-and-half hour affair with Ugo Humbert on Wednesday, in a match decided by a third-set tiebreak.  What will Sascha have left after that mentally, physically, and emotionally draining contest?  Earlier in the day, Tsitsipas ousted Felix-Auger Aliassime in straight sets.

These are the sixth and seventh ranked players in the Race to Turin, and both have likely already accumulated enough points to likely qualify.  But a victory on Thursday could cement their status.

They have met 12 times within the past six years, in a rivalry Tsitsipas leads 8-4 overall, yet only 4-3 on hard courts.  This is their first matchup in 18 months, and their first on this surface in over two years.  Based on their history, as well as the marathon Zverev played just 24 hours prior, Tsitsipas should be favored to be victorious on Thursday.


Aryna Sabalenka (1) vs. Elena Rybakina (4) – Not Before 6:15pm in Cancun

Both players are 1-1 heading into this advancement-deciding matchup, as both defeated Sakkari this week, but lost to Pegula.  Rybakina scarcely survived her match against Sakkari: despite winning the first set 6-0, the next two sets were both decided by tiebreakers. 

Sabalenka is 4-2 against Rybakina, with half of those six matches taking place this season.  In Melbourne, Aryna earned her first Major title by overcoming Elena in the championship match, which went all the way to 6-4 in the third.  Sabalenka had also claimed their first three encounters.  But since the Australian Open final, Rybakina has notched her first two victories in this rivalry.  They came in Indian Wells and Bejing, and were both in straight sets.

In recent years, the WTA Finals have been extremely unpredictable, with many surprise semifinalists and champions.  But after the season Sabalenka has put together, especially on hard courts, she’s still my pick to prevail on Thursday and advance.


Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Jannik Sinner (4) vs. Alex de Minaur (13) – Sinner came back from a set down on Wednesday night to defeat Mackenzie McDonald, extending his winning streak to six, after winning the title in Vienna a week ago.  De Minaur still has an outside shot at ATP Finals qualification, but needs a win on Thursday.  The bad news for Alex?  Jannik has claimed all five of their previous meetings.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Tallon Griekspoor – With Alcaraz eliminated from the tournament, Djokovic has a chance this week to make his lead over Carlos in the race for the year-end No.1 ranking insurmountable.  He is 2-0 against Griekspoor, comfortably winning both of their prior meetings in straight sets.


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

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Roland Garros 2024: Rafael Nadal Faces Alexander Zverev In Blockbuster Opening Round

Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev will meet at Roland Garros in the first round with Andy Murray taking on Stan Wawrinka in the opening round.

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Rafael Nadal has been drawn against Rome champion Alexander Zverev in the opening round of Roland Garros.

The 14-time Roland Garros champion will most likely be making his last appearance at the event where he has such a great history at.

It’s been a mixed clay court season for Nadal who built gradual momentum in Madrid but suffered an early exit in Rome to Hubert Hurkacz.

Now the Spaniard has been drawn to take on the champion of Rome, Alexander Zverev, in the opening round.

The match is a repeat of the 2022 semi-final where Zverev broke his ankle losing almost a year of his career.

This contest headlines the second quarter of the draw which also features Karen Khachanov, Holger Rune and Daniil Medvedev.

In the other quarter of the top half of the draw, defending champion Novak Djokovic will begin his Roland Garros campaign against Pierre-Hughes Herbert.

There is also a potential third round clash with either Gael Monfils or Lorenzo Musetti for Djokovic, who is currently in Geneva gaining extra match practice ahead of the second Grand Slam of the season.

The Serb could have a repeat of last year’s final in the quarter-finals with Casper Ruud as the Norwegian begins his campaign against Jakub Mensik.

In the bottom half of the draw Jannik Sinner plays his first tournament since suffering a hip injury in Rome as he takes on Christopher Eubanks in the opening round.

Sinner could face Cameron Norrie in the third round with the Brit taking on Pavel Kotov in his opening round before playing the winner of the battle of the Grand Slam champions between Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka.

Murray and Wawrinka will clash for the fourth time at Roland Garros with Wawrinka leading their head-to-head 2-1 in Paris.

This section also includes in-form players such as Hubert Hurkacz, Alejandro Tabilo and Rome finalist Nicolas Jarry.

Finally Carlos Alcaraz will begin his Roland Garros campaign against a qualifier before potentially playing Jack Draper in the second round.

Another exciting clash awaits Alcaraz in the third round in the form of Sebastian Korda with Andrey Rublev or Stefanos Tsitsipas being potential quarter-final opponents.

This is the full draw with Roland Garros beginning on Sunday.

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Alexander Zverev Secures Return To Top Four After Winning Italian Open

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Alexander Zverev has clinched his first Masters title since 2021 after downing Nicolas Jarry in straight sets at the Italian Open.

The world No.5 surged to a 6-4,7-5, victory at the Faro Italico to become the 10th player in the Open Era to win the Rome trophy on multiple occasions. He also won the tournament in 2017. Zverev’s latest win was aided by an impressive service display from the 27-year-old who also hit 15 winners against eight unforced errors. He is now 22-1 against players ranked outside the top five at the tournament with his only loss being to Matteo Berrettini five years ago.

“It means a lot. Winning my first (Masters) title and winning my first after my injury in Rome. Rome is a very special place for me,” the new champion said afterwards. 
“I said at the beginning of the week if Rome is the place of firsts for me I’m extremely happy about it. It’s a very special week.” 

Playing in his first Masters 1000 final since 2022, Zverev produced a serving masterclass throughout the opening set with the German winning 20 out of 21 points. In contrast, Jarry experienced more difficult but valiantly fought back with the Chilean saving two straight break points at 4-4. Eventually, the third seed sealed the opener two games later with the help of some costly shots coming from across the court. A deep shot towards the baseline was unsuccessfully returned by Jarry, handing Zverev a set point which he converted.

Continuing to pile the pressure on in the second set, Zverev had a double chance to break for a 3-1 lead but failed to capitalise on that opportunity. The opportunities continued to come and go. Back-to-back double faults from Jarry at 4-5 handed Zverev two championship points but once again he failed to take advantage. Eventually, he sealed victory two games later with the help of a forehand shot that Jarry returned out. Prompting Zverev to raise his hands in delight before later paying tribute to his rival. 

“He’s playing huge. You can see that by the opponents he beat and how he beat them,” he said of Jarry. 
“I told him if he continues playing like that he is going to have many more chances. I’m happy to be the winner.”

As a result of his Rome triumph, Zverev has secured a top-four seeding for the French Open. On Monday he will rise in the PIF ATP rankings to No.4 which will be his highest position since August 2022. During that same year, he sustained a serious ankle injury which sidelined him for months. 

“The focus is on Paris, that’s for sure. but let me enjoy this one for a day or so and then I will have my full focus on Paris,” said Zverev.

Zverev has now won six Masters 1000 titles which places him in joint-ninth on the all-time list along with Daniil Medvedev. 

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ATP

Novak Djokovic Accepts Geneva Wildcard Ahead Of Roland Garros

Novak Djokovic has accepted a wildcard into next week’s ATP 250 event in Geneva as he looks to improve his form ahead of Roland Garros.

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Novak Djokovic has shockingly accepted a wildcard into next week’s ATP 250 event in Geneva.

The world number one hasn’t had the best season so far having yet to reach a final at any of his events this season.

There was hope for Djokovic that his fortunes would change on clay and the Serb started his clay court season by reaching the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo before losing to Casper Ruud.

However Djokovic’s clay court hopes were dashed in Rome as he lost in the third round to in-form Chilean Alejandro Tabilo.

This has meant that Djokovic risks being undercooked for the second Grand Slam of the season at Roland Garros.

Therefore the Serb has had no option but to take a wildcard into next week’s ATP 250 in Geneva.

Djokovic will join Casper Ruud, Andy Murray, Denis Shapovalov and Taylor Fritz in next week’s event.

Next week’s appearance will be the first appearance in Geneva in Djokovic who will be the top seed in Switzerland.

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