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Match Preview: Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas

By Jason Barron

Felix Auger-Aliassime will continue his play at Indian Wells against the 10th ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas. This will be the highest ranked player that Felix has faced in his career. Felix recently beat the 17th ranked Fabio Fognini, so he has shown the ability to rise to the occasion against higher ranked players. Because of his strong results, Felix at age 18 is already ranked at 58. By the end of 2019 Felix should reach the top 50, if not higher. 

What’s impressive about Felix is that he already knows how to think the game and isn’t just playing off athleticism and instinct. Felix is able to use drop shots and come to the net at the appropriate times to flummox his opponents. Felix doesn’t just stay on the baseline and is always coming up with ways to gain an advantage during points. Some older players still struggle to think the game and as a result continue to have mixed results. Felix doesn’t have this issue, and after his coming out party last year at Indian Wells, he will want to have another great performance. 

Last year, after qualifying for the main draw at Indian Wells, Felix won a match before falling to fellow Canadian, Milos Raonic. This year Felix didn’t have to qualify for the tournament because of his ranking and won his first match against Cameron Norrie 6-3, 6-2. Stefanos is a step up in competition and at age 20 is already 10th in the rankings. At 6’4, Stefanos has a big serve and is a good mover for a tall player. Felix will need to serve effectively and use his court coverage to play points with an offensive mentality. If Felix plays too much on the defensive, then the match could be over quickly as Stefanos will overpower him. 

Felix should be able to give Stefanos different looks when serving and returning to make it a competitive match. Felix and Stefanos gets first billing at the tournament, as it is the first match on Stadium 1. Both young players have great potential and are quickly becoming fan favorites on tour. Felix may have some trouble with the powerful ground strokes of Stefanos and will need to take chances during rallies in order to not play into his opponent’s hands. Felix has shown all around skill in his tennis game and it should be an entertaining match against Stefanos. This will be the first time on tour that Felix and Stefanos have played against each other. Tune in on Tennis Channel and the ESPN App for continuing coverage from Indian Wells.

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Pro Tour

French Open Men’s Qualifying: Who will advance?

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By Editorial Team

This season has been a series of ups and downs for many on tour. The black male component has taken a back seat for the most part with the exception of Felix Auger-Aliassime and Gael Monfils.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of a second (and in some cases a third) chance for several black players on the tour with the French Open Qualifying Draw getting under way. The question still remains: who will advance on the men’s tour?

With seven players all in the same ranking category it can be difficult to know who exactly will break out and become the next rising star or “bounce-back” story. Our editorial staff has put together a brief run-down on each player with his chances of at least making it through to the main draw at Roland Garros.

Donald Young is always in contention (as the top rated junior who never seemed to break out) keeps up the good fight with strong family backing and athletic ability. Facing fellow American Marcos Giron in the first round is definitely a challenge, but Donald should be up to challenge on the slower surface.

It will be critical for Donald to apply pressure and force the California college star to make errors early in the match. If Donald is to have a chance he must play aggressive and go for his shots. If he is able to advance here, it should be smooth sailing into the final qualifying round even with a possible match-up against Thanasi Kokkinakis in the next round.

Darian King has a favorable draw going up against the 14th seed Peter Polansky whom he defeated 6-4, 6-1 recently on red clay in Houston, Texas at the Men’s Clay Court Championship last month.

With a probable first round win, Darian’s road to the main draw does not get easier with Muller and Triocki in his path. However, Darian’s ability to stretch points and pull out tough 3 set matches puts him in good position to earn a qualifying spot next week.

Mikael Ymer and Elias Ymer both have great chances of qualifying and making a splash at this year’s French Open. With good draws against players that they have recent wins over, it should be a family affair in the main draw.

Dustin Brown has an uphill battle against Denis Istomin without being as active on tour as usual. It will be nearly impossible for Dustin to pull off the upset here, but the red clay does work in his favor. If Dustin is able to push Denis deep in the 3rd set anything can happen, but the odds are definitely against him in this early round match.

Michael Mmoh should be able to rise above his opponents as a seeded player here in Paris and earn a spot in the main draw. Michael has the potential to upset some top ranked players if he is able to maintain a steady baseline pattern against some of the best clay court specialist on the ATP Tour.

Chris Eubanks may struggle a bit as his dynamic serve may be tapered by the red clay surface. Chris’ backhand has improved dramatically with the help of new coach Chris Hill, but having to put three matches together in a row on such a slow surface may prove too challenging for the 6’7″ for the Georgia Tech star from Atlanta.

Jay Clarke has an all court game and with a determined professional approach to his game anything is possible for him this week. The only hindrance could be a tough draw against players in top form (including American Noah Rubin) that he would have to defeat in each round. Built for the faster surfaces, we look for Jay to make a big impression this season. However, the French Open red clay may not be his best surface.

In conclusion, Michael Mmoh and the Ymer brothers have the best changes of qualifying in this year’s French Open and we look forward to seeing more of them as the season unfolds.

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Pro Tour

Cori Gauff receives French Open Wildcard at age 15

coco2
Andrew Ong/USTA

By Editorial Team

Cori “CoCo” Gauff has had such an amazing start to her pro career with round of 16 and quarter finals appearances in ITF W100 events and a ITF W25 final appearance this year.

A recent surge into the top 350 on the WTA Tour at age 15 has many players and fans scratching their heads in disbelief. It has been quite some time since such raw talent and athletic ability has graced a tennis court.

Most fans see glimpses of Venus and Serena as they watch Cori dismantle seasoned pros in straight sets. In any metric, she is definitely on pace to make a name for herself in the sport of tennis.

This week her attention has shifted from the green clay in Florida to the red clay in Europe as she plays the W60 Saint-Gaudens in France this week. She was able to defeat the lucky loser, Lucia Bronzetti 6-4, 6-4 to now face the 4th seed and 143rd ranked, Harriet Dart in the second round.

This will be a good test for Cori going into the French Open where she was able to earn a wild card into the qualifying rounds of play later this month.

The wild card was secured last year with her dramatic three-set win against fellow American and doubles partner, Caty McNally.

With a sharp game and remnants of a successful run last year, Cori should be able to put herself in contention to play in the main draw during the following week.

On the other side of the coin toss, Whitney Osuigwe was not so fortunate as she was heavily banking on her strong performances in the French Open Wilcard Playoff after winning Charlottesville and reaching the semi-finals in Bonita Springs last week.

Whitney has played great tennis with impressive results to back up the phenomenal potential. Maybe she will be able to play more International and Premier WTA Tour events as the season unfolds where she can then catch her big break to crack through the top-100 rankings.

The 33 wildcard recipients were announced from Roland Garros today as follows:

Main Draw:
WOMEN’S SINGLES
1 – ALBIE Audrey (FRA)1                             
2 – JANICICEVIC Selena (FRA)                  
3 – PAQUET Chloé (FRA)                           
4 – PARRY Diane (FRA)                             
5 – PONCHET Jessika (FRA)2                   
6 – TAN Harmony (FRA)                             
7 – HON Priscilla (AUS)3                            
8 – DAVIS Lauren (USA)3                           
MEN’S SINGLES
1 – BARRERE Grégoire (FRA)2                      
2 – HALYS Quentin (FRA)1                             
3 – HOANG Antoine (FRA)                           
4 – JANVIER Maxime (FRA)                         
5 – MAHUT Nicolas (FRA)                           
6 – MOUTET Corentin (FRA)                        
7 – POPYRIN Alexei (AUS)3                          
8 – PAUL Tommy (USA)3                             
Qualifying:
WOMEN’S SINGLES
1 – ANDRIANJAFITRIMO Tessah (FRA)
2 – BENCHEIKH Loudmilla (FRA)
3 – GAUFF Cori (USA)4
4 – GEORGES Myrtille (FRA)2
5 – JACQUEMOT Elsa (FRA)5
6 – LEONARD Manon (FRA)
7 – LIM Alizé (FRA)1
8 – YEROLYMOS Margot (FRA)
MEN’S SINGLES
1 – BENCHETRIT Elliot (FRA)2  
2 – BLANCANEAUX Geoffrey (FRA)  
3 – CORNUT-CHAUVINC (FRA)
4 – DENOLLY Corentin (FRA)
5 – GASTON Hugo (FRA)
6 – GUINARD Manuel (FRA)1
7 – MARTINEAU Mattéo (FRA)
8 – MULLER Alexandre (FRA)  
9 – TATLOT Johan-Sébastien (FRA)  

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News

Townsend, Osuigwe rematch in Charleston Final

USTA

By Editorial Team

Taylor Townsend had an easier time against the red-hot Emma Navarro today in her semifinal match. While Osuigwe had to fend off the top ranked 7th seed Kaja Juvan late in the 3rd set, 6-4.

Taylor has the upper hand going into this match as she can make adjustments since her last loss to Whitney just last week in the 80k quarterfinals.

After wrapping up the doubles title today with partner, Asia Muhammad, Taylor should be fresh and in good spirits to battle the tough baseliner.

The complete match can be watched tomorrow on the Tennis Channel at 11am EST.

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