Match Preview: Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas – Black Tennis Magazine | News & Media
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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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Osaka and Keys in QF at Japan Women’s Open

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Naomi Osaka is on pace for a much needed title after an early R16 loss in the US Open. Her quest for the first title of the year began with a win over Viktoriya Tomova 7-5, 6-3 today. With a inconsistent ground game, Naomi is looking to iron out weaknesses with new coach Wim Fissette who is a proven WTA professional with Azarenka, Kerber and Clijsters as former students of his. Recent news broke five days ago on Twitter announcing the split with Jermaine Jenkins after a slew of poor results in major grand slam events this season.

Sloane Stephens is also riding the coaching change wave after accepting Kamau Murray back into her team. The two have earned multiple titles in 2017/2018 so it can only be upside from here as she now faces Camila Giorgi in the R16 of the Japan Women’s Open. This will be a tough test for Sloane as the aggressive Italian has been on a roll with her most recent final run (losing to Magda Linette in 3 sets) at the New York Open that lead into the US Open late last month.

Update: Sloane fell 6-0, 6-3 to Camila in the R16 match which did not live up to the hype. Sloane will look to recover quickly as she prepares for the WTA Finals later this year.

Madison Keys is a favorite to win here in Osaka Japan, but she has to get past the high ranking vet, Angelique Kerber. Madison has a 8:2 win/loss record against Kerber and is healthy enough to get her third win against such a quality opponent. Madison most recently defeated Kerber in the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati last month 6-4 in the third set.

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Gauff becomes fan favorite

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Cori “CoCo” Gauff played some inspired tennis today in her US Open main draw debut as she was able to hold off the young Russian star Anastasia Potapova 6-4 in the final 3rd set.

In somewhat of a roller coaster match, CoCo regained her composure and played great tennis down the stretch when it counted. Going back to the basics she would eventually dominate points which proves that she is capable to making adjustments during big matches.

Her next round match is against Timea Babos – a tour veteran – who is sure to give her a tough match. However, Coco should be able to use her momentum and confidence to carry her into the next round. Timea has a few matches under her belt as a qualifier, but the more steady play and mix of power should allow CoCo to come through victoriously.

Coco’s side of the draw also includes Naomi Osaka who was able to narrowly escape her first round match today. These two would face each other in the 3rd round if both are successful on Thursday. As former practice partners, Naomi sees the future of women’s tennis in Coco as she recently stated,

“I have actually been trying to talk to her recently, because I feel she’s a little bit like me,” said the 21-year-old Osaka, who last year became the youngest U.S. Open champion since Maria Sharapova in 2006. “This is such a good experience for her. She obviously deserves to play here.”

With a growing fan base, Coco should be able to stand a chance against the current world number one.

In regards to the fans Coco mentioned after the match, “At Wimbledon, my first match, I mean, people were still rooting for me, but obviously there was, like, a lot of people rooting for Venus, where this match it was entirely for me,” said Gauff, the youngest singles player to win a U.S. Open match since countrywoman CiCi Bellis in 2014. “This is my first match where people actually had a chant for me.”

“It’s mostly upside,” Gauff said of the fame. “The amount of people and kids especially that come up to me saying I inspire them is honestly, I guess, better than any match I could win, just to know that I inspire another kid maybe to pick up a racket or go through something they’re facing at school.”

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Serena in question heading into US Open

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By Editorial Team

Serena Williams has made a good case for herself as eventual grand slam title holder this year with only one remaining hurdle.

In the past is was almost automatic to assume Serena would win every final match she appeared in. Tomorrow will definitely not be a routine win for her as she now must face the red-hot Canadian Bianca Andreescu.

Bianca was able to win straight sets for the first time in the Rogers Cup this week as she dismantled Sofia Kenin 6-4, 7-6 in a tight competitive match that could have gone either way. Serena was able to overcome a first set glitch to later win the final two sets 6-3, 6-3.

This is the first time these two have gone up against each other, but it would appear that Serena has the upper hand given her experience and title record.

However, she can not take her opponent lightly in the first set as she has a 25-1 record of winning matches after taking the first set. Serena must get off to a good start and play her attacking style of play. Big serves and cross court forehands must be the theme of the day.

After defeating an embattled Osaka straight sets, Serena should have the confidence to finish the job tomorrow and head into the US Open with much needed momentum.

Update: Serena falls 1-3 to Andreescu due to back spasms and can not finish the final. Serena will most likely rest up and hope can fully recover for the US Open which begins in 2 weeks.

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