Australian Open Daily Preview: Four Blockbuster ATP Matchups on Sunday - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Daily Preview: Four Blockbuster ATP Matchups on Sunday

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Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday (twitter.com/Australian Open)

Fourth round singles action begins on Sunday in Melbourne.

In Sunday’s fourth round matches in the men’s singles draw, seven of the eight highest seeds have advanced, making for some big-time matchups.  Jannik Sinner, the only top eight seed yet to drop a set, faces Karen Khachanov, a semifinalist a year ago.  Australian No.1 Alex de Minaur takes on fifth-seeded Andrey Rublev.  In a rematch of a dramatic match from this same round two years ago, Stefanos Tsitsipas battles Taylor Fritz.  And 10-time champion Novak Djokovic plays Adrian Mannarino, who has endured three five-setters in as many rounds.

The WTA round of 16 singles matches on Sunday also provide plenty of intrigue.  Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka faces a recently-returned Amanda Anisimova.  2021 Roland Garros champ Barbora Krejcikova is challenged by 16-year-old sensation Mirra Andreeva, who came back from 5-1 down in the last round.  Plus, US Open champ Coco Gauff continues her bid to win her second consecutive Major.

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s four most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Sunday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Taylor Fritz (12) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (7) – Not Before 1:30pm on John Cain Arena

In their aforementioned 2022 Australian Open encounter, Tsitsipas recovered from a two-sets-to-one deficit to upend Fritz in five.  But in the two years since, the American has made big strides in his career, reaching two Major quarterfinals and winning a Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells.  However, he remains 1-3 against the Greek, with Stefanos winning all three of their hard court meetings.

Tsitsipas has advanced to the semifinals or better four of the last five years in Melbourne, reaching his second Major final here a year ago.  He came into this fortnight with a wrist injury, yet his level has improved as the tournament has progressed.  After dropping a set in both of his first two matches, he won in straights on Friday.

Fritz has lost three sets to this stage, and has yet to advance beyond the fourth round of this event.  Just like two years ago, Stefanos is the favorite to end Taylor’s tournament in the same round.


Mirra Andreeva vs. Barbora Krejcikova (19) – Third on John Cain Arena

After Andreeva crushed Ons Jabeur in the second round, she pulled off a Houdini-like escape against Diane Parry, coming back from 5-1 down and saving a match point.  The 16-year-old is already 9-3 in her career at Majors, and this equals her best result to date, from six months ago at Wimbledon.  As per Tennis Abstract, her career record at all levels is a superb 81-19, and she is 6-5 against top 20 opposition.

This is Krejcikova’s third consecutive year advancing to the second week of this tournament.  She went 34-19 last season, with two titles (Dubai, San Diego), both on hard courts.  Barbora came back from a set down in two of her three matches this fortnight.

These players met twice last season, with Mirra claiming both matches.  At Wimbledon, Andreeva was up 6-3, 4-0 when Krejcikova retired due to a leg injury.  In Beijing, Mirra comfortably prevailed 6-2, 6-2.  As accomplished and talented as Barbora is, it’s been two years since she’s reached a Major quarterfinal.  And this feels like the breakthrough moment for Mirra, especially following her comeback win in the last round.  I like Andreeva to become a first-time Major quarterfinalist.


Jannik Sinner (4) vs. Karen Khachanov (15) – Not Before 4:00pm on Margaret Court Arena

Despite not playing a warm-up event to start 2024, Sinner has picked up right where he left off in 2023.  The Italian went 32-5 in the second half of the season, and ended the year taking two of three singles matches against Djokovic.  This past week, he won all nine sets he contested, without requiring a tiebreak.  Jannik is vying for his sixth Major quarterfinal, and his second in Australia.

Khachanov’s semifinal appearance here a year ago was his second consecutive one at a Major.  But he would only reach two more tournament semis the rest of the year.  Karen won each of his first three matches in four sets.

Sinner is 2-1 against Khachanov, having claimed their last two meetings.  All three were on hard courts, and all three went the distance.  Karen’s big game remains a threat, but I expect the much-improved game of Sinner to enable him to beat Khachanov a bit more comfortably on Sunday.


Alex de Minaur (10) vs. Andrey Rublev (5) – 7:00pm on Rod Laver Arena

A recent debutante inside the top 10, it seems de Minaur is not yet satisfied.  He is 6-1 to start the year, and earned three victories over top 10 players during the United Cup.  Not only did he beat Zverev and Fritz, he also handed Djokovic his first loss in Australia since 2018.  After losing a set in his opening round to Milos Raonic, Alex hasn’t lost another.

Rublev started the season by winning a title in Hong Kong, yet ran into trouble in his opening round here, letting a two-set lead slip before winning in five.  He then defeated two Americans in straight sets (Eubanks, Korda).  Andrey now plays for his 10 Major quarterfinal, and his sixth out of his last seven Major appearances.

De Minaur is 3-2 against Rublev overall, and 3-1 on hard courts.  However, their most recent meeting went to Andrey, just two months ago in the quarterfinals of the Paris Masters.  But I give the slight edge to Alex to reach his second Slam quarterfinal.  Their history is in his favor, as will be the home crowd.


Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Adrian Mannarino (20) – After complicated matches in his first two rounds, Djokovic defeated Tomas Martin Etcheverry in straight sets on Friday.  Mannarino’s trio of five-set victories during Week 1 came against Wawrinka, Munar, and Shelton.  Novak leads their head-to-head 4-0.

Magdalena Frech vs. Coco Gauff (4) – Gauff is yet to drop a set, and dominated fellow American Alycia Parks in the last round by a score of 6-0, 6-2.  Frech upset Caroline Garcia two rounds ago, and is making her fourth round debut at a Major. 

Amanda Anisimova vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2) – Sabalenka has lost just six games through six sets.  Anisimova is another player yet to drop a set, with victories over Samsonova, Podoroska, and Badosa.  And Amanda is 4-1 against Aryna, and 2-0 at Majors.

Marta Kostyuk vs. Maria Timofeeva (Q) – This is Kosyuk’s second time in the fourth round of a Slam, while this is Timofeeva’s main draw debut at this level, as the qualifier has already taken out Cornet, Wozniacki, and Haddad Maia. 


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Casper Ruud Overcomes ‘Tough Start’ To Set De Minaur Final In Acapulco

Casper Ruud is into his first ATP 500 final after defeating Holger Rune in three sets.

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Casper Ruud is into his second consecutive final in Mexico after defeating Holger Rune 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Acapulco.

The Norwegian had to overcome an electric start from Rune to prevail in 2 hours and 24 minutes.

It was a clinical performance from Ruud who is now into his second consecutive final in Mexico after reaching the final in Los Cabos last week.

Speaking after the match Ruud admitted it was a tough start but he’s pleased to be in another final, “It was a tough start,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“Holger just came out firing bullets from the forehand, from the backhand and I had not too much time to play my game. I was frustrated at times, especially at the end of the first set, beginning of the second.

“I didn’t really feel like I got to play any points how I wanted to, so there was some frustration towards myself, towards my box, because I didn’t feel like we were doing the right thing.

“But luckily with one break in the second, it turned around a bit and in the third set it got a little physical. I think maybe Holger seemed like he was struggling a little bit and started firing even more and a couple of games it went in and he broke me, which is frustrating.

“Some unforced errors crept up on him and I served really well in the last game to close it out.”

Ruud is now into his first ATP 500 final in Acapulco where he will face defending champion Alex De Minaur.

De Minaur overcame Jack Draper after the Brit retired at 4-0 down in the deciding set.

Heading into Saturday’s final, De Minaur leads the head-to-head 1-0 although that was in a completely different scoring format in the Next Gen Finals.

Whatever happens on Saturday, Ruud will return to the world’s top ten.

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Andrey Rublev Disqualified In Dramatic Dubai Semi-Final

Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final in Dubai.

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Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final with Alexander Bublik after being accused of swearing in Russian.

The event took place in Dubai where Rublev had more than enough opportunities to win the match having been 4-2 40-0 up in the deciding set.

However Bublik came back into the match as he caught up with Rublev in what was turning into a fascinating contest.

The score was at 6-5 Bublik when Rublev’s frustrations boiled over when he allegedly told the official at the side of the court that he was a ‘f****** moron’ in Russian.

One of the officials on the sidelines at the side of the court reported the incident and the supervisor ruled that Rublev should be defaulted.

The incident below means that Rublev will now lose all his ranking points and prize money, resulting in Rublev exiting the world’s top five.

An ending that didn’t warrant the dramatic contest and after the match Bublik agreed that the consequences, “I highly doubt Andrey said something crazy,” Bublik was quoted by Sports Illustrated.

“He’s not this kind of guy. But I guess that’s the rules. That’s what they did, they just follow the procedure.”

Bublik will hope for a smoother finish to the final when he takes on Ugo Humbert for the title.

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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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