Re-think the game: Hardcourts are back

Photo: Mal Taam/MALTphoto

The hardcourts have begun again. Since in early April, the natural-surface people started to play on clay, and then, on the grass. Now at the end of July, the all competitors leap back on the hardcourts.

This week, in the United States, San Jose, and Washington have begun. None of the top players are playing yet. Next week, it is Toronto and Montreal. Most of all of them have to compete. So, they have to pay attention — big time.

In San Jose, the very young and aggressive Aryna Sabalenka is there. Last year, she was very, very good. She was incredible at times, but this season, she has been struggling. Once in a while, over the decades, there have been some fantastic players, when they rarely lost month after months, such as Serena Williams and Steffi Graf. Of course, they have missed some huge matches, but week after week, they think, they remember, and they build upon their success.

In 2018, the now 21-year-old Sabalenka rose quickly and she won Wuhan, a huge event. She was flying. When she started in 2019, she won a small event in January, Shenzhen. But after that, she skidded, and she has lost early during the past six months. Sabalenka is a tremendous talent, but she has to think on court. If she doesn’t, she won’t be able to crack the top 5.

At the Australian Open, believe it to not, she went down against the Amanda Anisimova, a super young player. Anisimova will face Zheng Shuai. That could be a blast, assuming that they both are on fire.

The San Diego player CoCo Vandeweghe finally returned, as she was off for months due to a major injury. Now she feels better, but it will take her a while to raise up her game. On Wednesday, she lost to Sabalenka. Elina Svitolina is the top seed, and she is ranked No. 7. Look, she is a darn good player, and she has won some important tournaments, as she is quick and mighty, but she can get nervous and shaky. She has to keep her focus.

In Washington, Jack Sock returned. He’s another person who was hurt for months. Last week, in Atlanta, he lost in the first round. The same thing happened on Tuesday, when he lost against Jordan Thompson in Washington.

Sock is ranked 173, but a few years ago, he made it to the ATP Finals, in singles and doubles. Can he come back into the top 10 again? That is a long road back. In doubles, he is a terrific player, winning Wimbledon, the US Open and the ATP Finals with Mike Bryan in 2018. Yet in singles, he looks rushed. Then, he can collapse. If he wants to show the world how good he is, he has to re-think his game. Or else.

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