The picks: 2024 Wimbledon, second round

Gael Monfils
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Stan Wawrinka vs Gael Monfils

Talk about the veterans. They have played each other six times, and it is split, but there combined age is 72-years-old. And they are still there, on the court. They have never played against each other in the grass, but they did it  at the Aussie Open and Roland Garros, which was won by the creative Swiss.  Wawrinka has won three Slams, and Monfils did reach into the semis at RG, and  he is super fast, yet he could not reach the finals. Oh, well, he probably won’t do it, but he can win a number of matches. 

Monfils totally loves in the rallies, but on the grass, the points are short. Yes, Wawrinka is declining, yet he has his tricky one-handed backhand, He will win it in four, wild sets.

Frances Tiafoe vs. Borna Coric

Well what do you know, it is back in town, again. Or maybe not. The American Tiafoe has had a medicare year, but eventually, if he understands exactly what he has to do, then he should go into the top 15 again. He has to do it, though.

Coric is another person who can play terrific at an event, and then he disappears. He is very steady, and he will try to nail it down the line, but it could be too short. Seven years ago, he reached into the top No. 12, and it looked like that he could go even further, in the Slams, but he could not. Who knows why, and there for, Tiafoe will take it in five, brutal sets. 

Tommy Paul vs Otto Virtanen

The Finland Virtanen has played a lot in the Challenge Tour, and he beat a number of wins, learning how to play. Yes, he hasn’t reached into the top 100, but he did qualify, so he must have played excellent. 

However, Paul just won a tournament at Queen’s, so he is flying, high. Last year, here, he lost in the third round at Wimbledon, losing in five, brutal sets. This time, he has to push himself, early, and put the opponents into the wall. It is hard to say how he will do at the Slams, but on Wednesday, Paul will take it in three, OK sets. 

Emma Raducanu vs. Elise Mertens 

Raducanu  had a solid when,  beating Renata Zarazua 7-6(0), 6-3, but her opponent, Ekaterina Alexandrova, pulled out, just before, due to an injury.  So Raducanu figured it out against Zarazua, and she looked pretty decent. There is a lot of pressure now, as many people want to see that the former U.S. Open champion Raducanu has returned. She has to play really well, immediately, as she has to play against Elise Mertens, an intelligent person. Mertens can look solid, but at times, she can back off, and then eventually, she can lose. Last year, the current No. 33, was pretty good, but recently, she has lost a lot. Therefore, Raducanu will win it in  two, tight sets.

Bianca Andreescu vs. Linda Noskova 

Noskova is coming up early and often, just like the Czechs do, each year.  She is only 19-years-old, so she still has a lot of work to do, but she is already in the top 30, so on the court, she can crush the ball. Yes, this year, in the past four months, she lost to early. Perhaps she was confused, but she did go deep in January, in Brisbane and Melbourne. Now she has to do it again, fast.

Andreescu just came back, as last year she was hurt again, and she was gone for a while. She can be very consistent, and she can be aggressive, but she doesn’t blast her serves, or to sprint at the net. It is a toss-up, yet Noskova will grab it it in three, bizarre, sets.

Emma Navarro vs. Naomi Osaka

The American Navarro has had a good year, improving herself, and while she has lost in some tough matches, but at least she is there, battling. She does have some cool rallies, and she can also attack with her backhand. However, on grass, it is different, and she is going to have to put it away, as she has to play against the former No. 1, Osaka. She is not quite there, yet, but Osaka is coming, gradually. She is a little erratic, but already, she is darn good. She has won four Grand Slams, yet the Japanese has never gone into the third round at Wimbledon. She must do it ASAP, as on the court, she can be brilliant. Osaka doesn’t love grass, yet, but she will out last Navarro 7-5 in the third set.

The picks: 2024 Wimbledon, first round, Tuesday

Sofia Kenin

Iga Swiatek vs. Sofia Kenin

This is supposed to be an excellent match, I would think in the Center Court, or Court 1. Regardless, there might be a terrific match, as both of them have won in the Grand Slams. But not at Wimbledon, so both of them have to change it a little bit, this time. The No. 1 Swiatek has it all together, on the clay, and in the hardcourts, but here, on grass, she was somewhat frustrated. Maybe she is ready to truly understand what she has to do.

The No. 38 Kenin can look so darn good, and then she is so out of it. During this year, she has lost against a lot of opponents, not the great players, but the mediocre players. She did win the 2020 Aussie Open, but then, she fell down. Now it is happening again, we think. She played against Swiatek in the start of the year at the Aussie Open, and the Polish person beat Kenin 7-6, 6-2. That was somewhat close, but Swiatek will win it 6-4, 6-2. She is simply prime.

Novak Djokovic vs. Vita Kopriva

Will the Czech Kopriva have any chance to shock Djokovic? Probably not, as he has been around for a while, and he has yet to reach into the top 100.  However, at least he was able to qualify, so he must be thrilled, on the Center Court. 

Djokovic has won the Grand Slams so many times, but the former No. 1 became hurt, so he had a have a surgery, but he did say that he is feeling better, everyday. If he does, he will have another shot to go super deep, anyway he wants to. 

Kopriva will try to show the fans that he is very talented, and maybe he will, but he just isn’t that good, so Djokovic will win it in three, decent sets.

Sebastian Korda vs.  Giovanni Mpetshi Pericardi

The Frenchman Mpetshi Perricard is only 20-years old, and he has had an impressive year. He won the ATP Lyon, and even before that, he beat many people at the Challenge Tour. Clearly he is getting better, all the time.

But the American, Korda, has played extremely well over the past couple months, and now, he finally was able to go into the top 20. Once again, he is ready to dance, finally. As long as he can try to crack his forehand and his backhand, early, on the slippery grass, then he can put  together a lot of winners. Korda is rising up. and he will out-stroke Mpetshi Perricard in four, fun sets.

Taylor Fritz vs Christopher O’Connell

The American Fritz just won a tournament, in Eastbourne, so he is on fire. Last year, he was up and down a lot, but currently, he is smarter, and also, his return is better. He needs that.

O’Connell is a veteran, and there are times when he is very steady, and also, he will try to were them downs. However, at the start of the year, in Adelaide, on the hardcourts, Korda beat him 6-4, 6-4, so he was unable to find out where he should have gone. He did not,  so this time on the grass, Korda will do it again, even when it is fast, as he will take it in four, interesting sets.

Jessica Pegula vs Ashley Krueger 

She looked very good when she won Berlin, and Pegula was sharp. At times, she can back off, and she can also be afraid, but currently, she is super dapper. She has yet to go deep at Wimbledon, but that does not mean that she can. 

The 20-year-old American, Krueger, is still learning how to strike the ball. She is good, but she has lost against a number of various people. She has been close, in the matches, yet she can overlook it. Last year in October, she faced against Pegula, and she lost 6-3, 6-1. Yes, Krueger will get fancy for sure, but Pegula is more suitable and she will win it in two sets.  

Elena  Rybakina vs. Elena-Gabriela Ruse 

It almost always that when she is locked in, Rybakina can win another Grand Slam. But with her, you never know. She has won two events, this year, but then when it is close, she can make some second-class errors. However, the Russian keeps moving on. 

The Romanian Ruse has had some decent wins, but not good enough to play more consistently. She has yet to reach into the third round, at any of the four Grand Slams, which means that she has to get splendid. Therefore, Rybakina will win it, in two, easy sets.

The picks: Wimbledon, women, first round

Caroline Wozniaki
Ron Cioffi/TR

Danielle Collins vs. Clara Tauson

This will likely be the last time that the American will play at Wimbledon, as she has decided to retire in the fall. She has had an amazing year, winning so many terrific matches. However, on the hardcourts, on the grass, she has been so-so. But that doesn’t mean that next week, she can start playing spectacular. That is a huge, if, though.

Collins will has to face against Clara Tauson, who is pretty young, and over the past five months, she has won a a few good matches, when she upset Jelena Ostapenko, and she almost stunned Elena Rybakina, but she didn’t. She is gradually improving, but she is not as good as Collins is, and the American will win it in two decent sets.

 Caroline Wozniacki vs. Alycia Parks

The former No. 1 Wozniacki has never won Wimbledon, but she  did grab it at the Aussie Open.  She decided to start again, after she retired, so now, it can be difficult to try to dominate again. However, Wozniacki has a wonderful backhand, and her speed, too. Her forehand is still not great, but decent, and her return was darn good.

She has to face against the Alycia Parks, who just won a small event in Italy. She must be very satisfied, but before that, she didn’t win many matches, this year. She is ranked No. 121, so maybe she will turn the corner, but  right now, Wozniacki will beat her somewhat easily, in two sets.

Naomi Osaka vs. Diane Parry

Will the four time champion, Osaka, being to understand what she should do on the grass? On the hardcourts, she was tremendous, but at Wimbledon, she shaked her head because she didn’t know what to do. However, now she is more mature, and thoughtful, so if she can be patient, and bend down, and then she can explode. 

The Frenchwomen, Parry, is creative, but this year, she had a few good wins, but not many. Yes, she is trying to hit her backhand, harder, and try to hit her first serve. It can be fun to watch her, but while Osaka  still isn’t great, yet, but soon, she likely will.  Osaka will win it in two cool, sets.

Victoria Azarenka withdrew before match with Sloane Stephens.

The picks: Wimbledon, first round, men

Andy Murray

Frances Tiafoe vs. Matteo Arnald

Tiafoe has not had a good year, on the court, but over the past few years, he can return, mentally, and turn it around. Tiafoe can be somewhat creative, and he can also hit some huge forehands. He is fast, and can go for it, but also, when he isn’t feeling good, he can push it. 

Arnald has improved a lot over the past couple years, and now he is ready to crack into the top 30. He must be thinking about it all the time. He can be confident, and steady, but he knows that he has to go early, and try to put it away. 

This will be a tough match, but while Arnald can be steady, he still needs to grow more. Therefore, Tiafoe will win it in four sets.

Tommy Paul vs. Pedro Martinez

Paul just won London, Queens, and that was one of the best week, ever. The veteran Paul has improved so much, not only with his solid strokes, but going down the line. He does really like to rally, and he can be patient. 

The Spaniard Martinez has had a few very good wins, like in France and in Portugal. However, week to week, he can lose early, and often. Sure, he can try to attack, and maybe he does, but Paul has more desire to the second week, so he will win it in three, up and down sets.

Sebastian Korda vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina

Finally, Korda is rising, gradually. He is in the top 20 for the first time, reaching into the final of the Netherlands, and the semis in London. Yes, he can fall down, here and there, but currently he is much better with his strokes. He can hustle, and he can hit more winners. 

It is hard to say when Davidovich Fokina  is on the court, playing terrific, or somewhat, odd. His backhand is solid, but not hard enough. Last year, he put together some fine shots, even with his forehand, but recently, he is mentally down. Davidovich Fokina played against Korda in Monte-Carlos two months ago and the American Korda crushed him  6-1, 6-2. Maybe Davidovich Fokina was physically hurt, but either way,  Korda will win it in three, solid sets.

Tomas Machac vs. Andy Murray

This is not likely that the three time Grand Slam champion Murray will play next year. His body is breaking down, pretty fast, so while he loves to play, but when he becomes 38-year-old, it is almost impossible to go deep at the majors. That is true, but you never know.  We think. 

Whatever the case, while Murray can still be steady, especially with is tremendous backhand, the other fast players can sprint. The Scot really can’t go corner to corner and catch it, for so many hours.  

Many of the British people will come to cheer Murray, so the Czech, Machac, has to be super focused. Recently, Machac upset Novak Djokovic, so clearly he is playing well, when he is on. In Miami on the hardcourts, he beat Murray 7-6 (5) in the third set. It was so darn close, but Machac hung in there, while Murray made a few key errors. Yes, Machac is better than he is right now, but in Wimbledon, Murray will give it all, and touch the lines. Murray will win it in five, wild, sets. 

Playing Eastbourne, will Emma Raducanu continue to rise?

Emma Raducanu
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

In England Emma Raducanu is playing terrific. She has not been perfect at all, but shot after shot, she stays in there, and she mixes it up into the corners. She can make some odd errors, but the former 2021 US Open champ is pretty smart, but the No. 168 has a lot of work today.  

On Wednesday, the Britain beat Jessica Pegula 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-5 at Eastbourne. The American was really trying, but on Sunday, Pegula just won Berlin, so this time, she was a little bit tired.

Yet in a sense, Raducanu knows that if she can focus day after day, rather than to think what is ahead, then she could be satisfied, win or lose. She has lost a lot over the past five months, yet she has been very healthy, so then she can be much more proper.

“I would say it’s just I’m going to do things on my own time, at my own pace, and I’m in no rush to do anything. And everything I’m doing and playing for now is for myself. I’m just way more focused on my own lane and less susceptible to outside opinions or views.

Raducanu said, “I’m just enjoying it. Just doing everything for myself and really just being independent out here.”

The 21-year-old Raducanu is way behind, and part of that is as in April 2023, she became injured, and she had to stop for seven months. She dropped a long way. When she returned, she was struggling. She knew that, but she has to be positive. She didn’t beat any of the top 10 people, but she finally did it, beating the No. 5 Pegula.  

Before she became injured, she was thinking too much.

“I think at one point I was chasing, playing too many tournaments when I wasn’t ready, and then I was just picking up niggle after niggle in every tournament, because I never really gave myself any time to do the training and the work. I think that’s something I did a lot better this year,” Raducanu said. “Even though I might get challenged or questioned for not playing certain tournaments like the [2024] French Open or the Olympics, I think that for me, that is just part of it, doing things at my own speed and doing things how I want to rather than how everyone else thinks is best for me, because ultimately me and the close few people around me just only know what is actually best for me and my game.”

She was happy in Eastbourne, when she won a couple good players. She will play at Wimbledon, and then she will eventually on the hard courts at the United States and Canada, as long as she can take more practices, rather than playing at the the tournaments, week after week. 

“I have rushed less, played less, chased less, and it’s been working out for me, especially in this middle section of the year. The most important thing for me is just playing when I’m ready, when I’m fresh, and when I want to, because there have been certain tournaments where I didn’t necessarily want to play, and it’s kind of showed in my game,” she said. “I would say I’m pretty expressive.” 

Raducanu will face Daria Kasatkina on Thursday. Another Britain Katie Boulter is still winning, and will face to go up against Jasmine Paolini. It will be close, all of them. 

How about this? Two wins in a row by the No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, beating Veronika Kudermetova 6-2, 6-4 in the Bad Homburg. Now she will go against the American Emma Navarro, who is ranked No. 19. Navarro has had a really good year, but while Wozniacki never loved on the grass, yet the older woman is super consistent, especially with her fine backhand.

Tommy Paul won last week, but there are a few events, right now. Taylor Fritz is playing in Eastbourne, too, and he has to face against the 19-year-old Juncheng Shang. That should be very engaging. The No. 13 Fritz had a solid season on the clay, but last year on grass, he only won one match. He has already done it. How about even more.

“Winning two matches last week was my best result at Queen’s, but I wasn’t super happy with the last match I played, so I still want to play better,” he said.

Pretty cool: Jessica Pegula wins in Berlin

Jessica Pegula
Rick Limpert

At the start of the event, Jessica Pegula wasn’t sure that she was ready to win an event. But in the weekend, she battled, each point, and finally she grabbed it, winning the tournament in Berlin. In the semis, she beat Coco Gauff 7-5, 7-6(2), and then in the final, she edged Anna Kalinskaya 6-7(0), 6-4, 7-6(3). That was her best year, and her forehand and her backhand was super consistent. The veteran has yet to win a Grand Slam, but when she is on her toes, she can play for a very long time. 

The 30-year-old is still trying to stay in the top five, and maybe if she can reach into the second week at Wimbledon, Pegula will have a decent chance to snare it.  

“I knew I could play well on this surface and giving myself a couple of extra weeks on grass clearly paid off,” she said. “I played some really good tennis this week and I feel like I beat some really good girls, especially on grass. To be able to gut out a win like that is cool.”

She was out for two months due to her rib injury, and when she same back two weeks ago, she was a little bit rusty. Yet when she is on the court, playing, she can read her game, and hopefully, hit it where she wants to. She may not be the most powerful hitters, but she can move side to side and put it back. Grass is important, though, and it can be very fast and low, so when you can have an opportunity, try to crush it.

 Last year at Wimpy, Pegula lost against Marketa Vondrousova 6-4 in the third set in the quarters. If they play each other at Wimbledon, that will be another super close match. Right now, though, the American is rising again.

“This is the most grass-court confidence that I’ve had probably going into Wimbledon. Hopefully that pays off as well,” Pegula said. “Being able to tough out a couple of matches and have a couple of long matches, especially for the body to get ready, and dealing with a lot of the rain delays too. That’s always possible at Wimbledon as well, so that was good prep mentally as well. I feel like I’ve been through a lot this week, so if I could handle this week I think at Wimbledon I should feel pretty good.”

She will, but there will be 10 people who have a chance to win it at Wimbledon. It can be  Vondrousova, who won it last year, or with the No. 1 Iga Swiatek, Gauff , Aryna Sabalenka, Elena  Rybakina , Danielle Collins, Madison Keys , and on and on.

 How about this, though, that Yulia Putintseva won Birmingham, over  Ajla Tomljanovic  6-1, 7-6(8). She is another person who finally likes the grass. “It’s great and it’s confusing because I’ve always been good on clay, but now all of a sudden, I’m good on grass,” the 29-year-old said.  “I’ll take that! It’s great!”

The American Tommy Paul won the title at Queen’s, beating Lorenzo Musetti 6-1, 7-6(8). In the first set, the Italian Musetti  was nervous, and he made lots of errors, but in the second set, the 22-year-old was more  consistent, but not enough. Paul found the lines, and he was steady, and he also bashed his  backhand. Believe it or not, he is now No. 12, ahead of all of the U.S. men.

“All the Americans are pretty close. We push each other with results, I would say. I mean, it’s definitely a healthy competition between us,” Paul said.

In Halle, the No. 1 Jannik Sinner outlasted over Hubert Hurkacz 7-6(8), 7-6(2). He has definitely been more than consistent, even when he isn’t playing terrific. However, he can try to be patient, and wait until he can jump on the ball. He has never won Wimbledon, but he could in a few weeks, and really understand on the tricky grass. “I’m very happy about this tournament because [winning for] the first time on grass court, it’s a good feeling,” Sinner said.

In the Queen’s final, Tommy Paul finally likes on the grass

Tommy Paul
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Well, well, in London, Tommy Paul makes the semis on grass, unusual, and he defeated another American, Sebastian Korda  6-4, 7-6(2). He has to face the Italian, Lorenzo Musetti, who took down Jordan Thompson 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

That should be fascinating, as neither of them have been dominating on the slick grass. Maybe they became to hit the ball, at the right way. The current No. 13 Paul won a small tournament, in Dallas, on the hard courts, but the consistent player can really mix it up, and he also reached into the semis on Rome, a huge event.  He does drive, from his forehand and a his backhand, and he can stay a very long time. However, on the grass, the points will be shorter, and to bend down at the net, and put it away.

The 22-year-old Musetti has had a mediocre year, and he has lost seven first rounds, so maybe he is hitting harder, and deeper.

He play a lot, all the time, but he will be very excited when he walks into the court and to win it in England.

“It would be super nice to win here in Queen’s with so much history,” he said. “I love this sport. I’m really passionate about tennis since I was a kid. I dreamed to be a tennis player and become number one in the world.”

The other terrific Italian, the No. 1  Jannik Sinner, has reached the final in Halle, and he will have a difficult match with Hubert Hurkacz, who has had a fine year. He upset Alexander Zvereve in the semis. Hurkacz might upset Sinner, and he can smash the ball with his huge forehand. Yet Sinner can attack him, early, and also, to be more patient, if he has to.

It is not even the middle summer, and there has been a lot of injuries, including this week with Aryna Sabalenka, Elena  Rybakina, Marketa  Vondrousova, and  Ons Jabeur. Maybe next year, they should not play too many tournaments.

That was a fine match when Anna Kalinskaya beat Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-7(3), 6-1. If Kalinskaya wins a title, that will be the first time, but it will be tough, against either Jessica Pegula or Coco Gauff.

Pegula was up 7-5, 6-6 with  Gauff, but the rain, came, and it had to stop. Talk about a very tight match, and now they will have to do it again in Berlin…

Where did the 31-year-old Ajla Tomljanovic come from, reaching the final, as she is always up and down. But not this time, as she beat teenager Anastasia Potapova 6-3, 6-2. Tomljanovic has not reach the final since five years, which means that the Aussie can be pretty good, but not fantastic. However, at least she is there, in  Birmingham , and she will face Tomlajnovic versus Yulia Putintseva.

“Whenever I’ve done well, I’ve never looked ahead, and I’m not going to do it now either. I’m going to do my best to prepare, give it my all tomorrow, and when it’s over, I’ll reflect on the week, ” Tomlajnovic said.”

Andy Murray injured again, can he play Wimbledon?

Andy Murray

Andy Murray became hurt again, and he had to pull out in Cincy Championships, in London, Great Britain,  but hopefully when Wimbledon begins, he will look respectable, on the court. The Scot has won it twice, yet to win it again would be stunning, as he hasn’t gone very deep at the Slams for the past four years. It is lucky that he will retire at the end of the summer, and wave goodbye.

 The other day, he practiced with Carlos  Alcaraz, as the Spaniard just won Roland Garros. Murray just practiced with Alcaraz, and the 37-years-old was pleased.

“I was really excited to practice with him, well, because I love watching him play. [Carlos] for sure one of my favorite players to watch,” he said. “He’s obviously one of the best players in the world, so I was really pumped to go and practice with him. It’s interesting for me, having played against Roger [Federer], Rafa [Nadal], Novak [Djokovic], getting the chance, like, I practiced with [Jannik] Sinner before the Australian Open, practiced with Carlos and stuff. It’s cool for me to get a chance to play for this newer generation and see what do they do better or worse or differently to, the guys that I competed against my whole career. I really enjoyed it.”

Unfortunately, Murray pulled out of the cinch Championships, in London, as he won the first match, but he had to retire after five games due to his super sore right leg. In the past three years, it was difficult, as his injury mounted. However, he did beat a number of good players, but not over the spectacular competitors.

“Although the last few years might have seemed okay, it’s been hard, it’s been really hard on the body. Physically it’s been tough,” he said. “A lot of days where it’s not been that much fun to train and practice and everything. But, yeah, obviously I have tried to work through it and find ways to get on the court and compete at this level. But tennis is a really, really hard sport.”

That is for sure, because usually, after 35, your body is starting to break down. It is possible to have a terrific couple weeks, but then, the pain will come again. Eventually, you have to retire, pretty soon.

Regardless, he has now 1000 matches, which is amazing. The former No. 1 has played some tremendous matches winning the 2012 US Open, and the 2013 and 2016 Wimbledon. He would yell a lot, on the court, but he was so darn consistent, both sides.  Mentally, if his body was hurt, he didn’t really care, and to stay in there. That is why he has won 46 titles.  

“There’s the kind of mental side of things on the court, the way that you’re dealing with,  stressful situations,  in the matches and everything. There’s sort of like a performance state you want to get into, and then also how you deal with the highs and lows of the wins and losses, and also the day-in, day-out kind of training and traveling and being away from friends and family and things that, you obviously need to take care of as well,” Murray said.

He will have to, and last year at Wimbledon, in the second round, he lost against Stefanos Tsitsipas in five dramatic setters. Maybe he can do it, or maybe not.

He did speak with Alcaraz, off the court, and the 21-year-old really listened to what he said. He knew that, and now he has won three Slams, too. A great comment.

“Every time that I talk to him, we had a conversation, I was really focused,” Alcaraz said. “Every word I’m hearing from him, it is amazing for me,” he said. “He watched a lot of my matches. Yesterday when I practiced with him, he congratulated me about the French Open, that it was an amazing stuff. He’s a legend.”

Alcaraz is playing in cinch Championships, but lost in straight sets to Jack Draper in the round of 16.

“I love watching him play. I mean, his style, it’s really amazing to watch. He’s really aggressive. I love these kind of players.”

Four Slam champions were given wild cards into Wimbledon: Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, Emma Raducanu and Caroline Wozniacki.

There was a fine match on Thursday with Jessica Pegula taking out Donna Vekic 6-4, 7-5.

Both Taylor Fritz and Sebastian Korda won, so maybe if they can really understand on the difficult grass, they will even further, just like Pete Sampras did.

Katie Boulter wins Nottingham, Andreescu out in final

Bianca Andreescu

The 27-year-old Katie Boulter was pretty decent over the past eight years, but she wasn’t able to beat the very good players, consistently. Well this year, she began to be more aggressive, and also, with some extra shots. On Sunday, she won Rothesay Open, Nottingham, beating Emma Raducanu and Karolina Pliskova. It was difficult that week with a lot of rain, but on the grass, she stood in there,  and she rarely did not collapse.

“To come out here and play some seriously good tennis and get over the line, I’m not entirely sure how I did it in the end. But I’ve gone back-to-back and I’m super proud of myself,” Boulter said.

That was in England, and in February in San Diego, the United States, Boulter’s won it on the hardcourts. She has become very consistent and flatted it out. Her first serve is hard, and she can hit it into the corners. She has beat a number of solid players, but she has yet to beat any of the top 10s competitors this year. Maybe she can rise again, as this week, she will be in Birmingham. 

That was a stringy match when Liudmila Samsonova beat the Canadian Bianca Andreescu 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the final at Libema Open in the Netherlands. 

The Russian Samsonova has had a so-so year, but when she is really on, she can out-hitter. Even last year in Beijing, she reached into the final at a huge event, and she beat Petra Kvitova, Jelena Ostapenko and Elena  Rybakina, before she lost against the No. 1, Iga Swiatek. That was darn, good. 

On Sunday, the No. 15 Samsonova was battling, all the time. She had to, as in the semis, she bashed over Ekaterina Alexandrova, and in the final, she slammed over Andreescu. As she once said, “I think [the mental] was the part where I had more difficulties, to play all the weeks on the same level. I think I had the tennis level, I had the physical level already, but I didn’t have the mental level to do it consistently,” Samsonova said. 

Andreescu lost, and in third set, she had to take  an off-court medical timeout. Then she was done. However, she was very pleased. 

“For me, this is definitely a step forward,” Andreescu said. “I’ve been through a lot for quite some time, especially the last 10 months. This is just my second tournament back. Obviously it’s upsetting, but I know there are good things coming for me.” 

Sebastian Korda is rising, almost the top 20

Sebastian Korda
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Sebastian Korda has reached into the final at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, and the American has played very well this week. However, the 23-year-old is still up and down, but that is why that he will reached into the top 20 for the first time. He might reach into the top 10, at some point, as long as he can stay the course, and understand whether if he has to hit harder, or be more patient. He plays a lot, not only in the United States, but also in Europe. He has been doing it for a very long time, as he lives in Florida, and his father, Petr Korda, also played, and he won the 1998 Australian Open. 

He talks with his son, but Petr also has to watch his daughters, Jessica and Nelly, who are pro golfers on LPGA Tour. At the top. Wow.

However, Sebastian Korda not only his dad, but another coach is Radek Stepanek. The Czech reached No. 8, and he won five titles, but he never was able to go to super deep at the Slams. Maybe Sebastian Korda will try to do so, but he does want to go much better.

“Radek, we’ve been around each other for basically my whole life. My dad coached him for 15 or so years, so he’s family,” Sebastian Korda said. “He knows me better than anyone else out there. We’ve put in a lot of great, hard work. It’s been unfortunate that I had a wrist injury for so long [in 2023], so you can’t really do too much. Now hopefully that’s passed us, and we can put in some good work.  We’re definitely trending the right way. We’re playing some better tennis now and putting a lot more work on the tennis court, which is great. Hopefully we can have some better results in the near future.”

Last year, he did get an injury, and he stopped for three months. He was barely so-so, so gradually, he got a little better. This week on the grass, he beat  Tommy Paul in the quarters,   which was huge, but he has yet to beat a top 10 in 2024. Very good luck in the final, because he has to face against the No. 9 Alex de Minaur. Korda will have to play excellent, as he hasn’t beaten anyone in the top 10 since a year ago. Plus  de Minaur beat him in Rotterdam. Is Korda  really rising?

Speaking of which, Coco Gauff  is No. 2, and that is terrific, but in the semis at Roland Garros, she could not play consistently, and she lost against Iga Swiatek. She wasn’t hitting the ball, cleanly, and she went to make way too errors, a lot. She is still young, but she has been around for four years. Yes, she has improved her forehand, and with her serve, too, and it is still good, but not great, yet. She has won one Grand Slam, and eventually, she will grab it again, but  exactly when? Maybe at Wimbledon, coming up?  Perhaps, as Gauff will rush the net a lot, on the grass, and to attack. Swiatek has now won four Slam in Paris. She is just so darn good, with her forehand, her backhand, and returning. The No. 1 Swiatek hasn’t won Wimbledon either, so that will be a huge challenge. The same goes with Gauff, who hasn’t won it either, so  there has to be eight players to go very deep  in the second week. But which one?  

“If you’re playing against anybody in I would say the top 10, I feel like the margins are smaller. Even against Ons [Jabeur]  I felt like my margins were smaller,” she said. “And that’s just when you play higher-ranked players, you know that some mistakes that you make aren’t going to — when you’re playing somebody who maybe isn’t as experienced or just not as talented maybe, you know that eventually you’re going to get back some of the mistakes.  When you’re playing anybody, honestly, in the top 10 at this point, you know that you can’t give anybody free points. I feel like against her and against any top player you do feel like your margins are smaller because you know they’re probably not going to give that back to you. If they do, it’s not maybe at a scale of somebody who’s less experienced.”

That is correct, when you are playing, you almost have to play well and win it. If someone is sick, and slow, or kick it out, then you could win, almost easily. However, if she is playing terrific, then you have to play almost perfect.  

 Gauff said that while she lost against Swiatek, she wasn’t horrible. However, she has to be calm, and accurate.

 “I think it was the execution that I didn’t do well on. I had a couple of break points early in the first set to break back,” who will play in  Berlin, next week.   “I made errors, a lot of short ball errors. I feel like I wasn’t always, hit off the court today. Now if I want to transcend to the next level, there’s a different way to play. Not that I can’t play defense, not passive, but making them work for the point, but I also know if I want to win more and stay at the top, then I have to be aggressive in certain moments and especially against [Iga].”