Federer: ‘When the cogwheels don’t grip anymore, I stop’

Roger Federer

Roger Federer won’t play this year, because he suffered an injury, and there was no reason to be super healthy during the spring and summer anywa

Now the Swiss says that next year, and even another year, he could still be playing when he will be 40 years old. The 20-time Grand Slam champ said that he will go to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Federer is a very smart person. Still, at times he can be irritable. In an interview with SportsPanorama, he said he isn’t sure whether he will retire, or he could continue play until he will be 50-years-old.

“Since I won the French Open in 2009, the media has been chopping on this topic. But it is already clear that I am at the end of my career,” said Federer.

“I can not say what will be in two years. That’s why I plan year after year. I’m still happy right now. But when the cogwheels don’t grip anymore, I stop. When I am old, I will definitely still play tennis. But no longer train, just ball.”

Just like Federer, 99 percent of the ATP and WTA rarely stop and think about stopping. Not everyday, as they age, but they can always go back to reflecting on a match and dream, win or lose. Just playing; that is enough.

Let’s stop dissecting the No. 1-10 rankings. Instead, let us look at the No.11-20, the young players.

Four of them has a chance to win ATP 1000s, or even if they reach the finals at a Grand Slam. There are four players who are still learning, such as Andrey Rublev (22 years old), Karen Khachanov (24 years old),
Denis Shapovalov (20 years old) and Felix Auger-Aliassime (19 years old).

Rublev and Khachanov are Russians, while Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime are Canadians.

Eventually, when the terrific veterans finally retire, and then the majors will be wide open. In January, Rublev won Adelaide. He out-hit the big swinger Auger-Aliassime. Rublev can be very aggressive, but he can also become frustrated, and disappointed. He can crack both sides. But, he has to be more tolerant, and when he does, he will be placid and be ready to win more often.

Two years ago, Khachanov won the ATP 1000 in Paris. Then it looked like he was going straight into the top 5, but he stalled. There are times when he was magnificent, and at the 2020 Australian, in the fourth round, Nick Kyrgios edged Khachanov 7-6 in the fifth set. That must have been very hard. Khachanov is tall, but he is not very quick. I would think that at home, he has to work on his legs.

Shapovalov can be passionate, when he really wants to win, to show the earth that he is an stunning player. He can be, but when he is a little bit off, then he will fall apart. He needs to push himself closer to the net.
Auger-Aliassime came out of nowhere, and in January and February, he was very bold. He reached the final of Rotterdam and Marseille. Even though he lost, he was agile. He can bang the ball, but he still have to get much better when he had to return. That is critical, to reach the top.

The three wonderful players, such as Federer, Djokovic and Nadal, really know how to return. That is why they have won so many gigantic tournaments. If the young players want to go much further, they have to impose their return games.

TR @ 20: Matt & Ron continue to roll

Matthew Cronin and Ron Cioffi

Read Matt Cronin’s story on the the 20-year history of TennisReporters.net.

If it wasn’t for Pete Sampras, there wouldn’t have been a TennisReporters.net.

Huh? Well, let me go back to the 1990s.

Early in that decade I worked at Inside Tennis magazine as art director. Not for too long; less than a year.

It wasn’t until about two months before I left for a newspaper job in Pennsylvania, Matt Cronin (excuse me, that’s Matthew Cronin) joined the staff as managing editor. I didn’t get much time to get to know Matt but we socialized a few times. When I packed up my family and headed to Scranton, PA, I realized Matt could have been a life-long friend, but now lost. I was wrong.

After three long years in Scranton, I ended up in metro Atlanta. It was about 1999 when I kept seeing Matt’s byline on all over the Internet. Not only was he traveling to numerous tournaments around the globe for Inside Tennis, he was also picking up gigs writing for Grand Slam sites. I was impressed.

So, I found the IT office number in my Roledex (yes, Roledex) and gave him a call. It wasn’t long before we were delving into our opinions about pro tennis. We ambled over to talking about the best male player ever, pre-Big 3, of course.

Defintely Rod Laver. And Sampras. I was thinking that Sampras’ lack of clay court achievement was holding him back in my appraisal.

Matt said, “If Pete had reached at least one French Open final, I would go with him.”

Brilliant, I thought. So, I said, “That’s exactly what I was thinking, too. At least one final.”

After the phone call, I realized that this minor agreement was more than a coincidence. It was an affirmation that Matt’s keen analysis was getting him noticed by the most important tennis websites. Didn’t hurt that he agreed with me.

But, was he writing for a tennis news site? No. Why? There were no tennis news sites at that time. Tennis.com and the like weren’t writing breaking news. A few other sites like ESPN.com had a few stories. But, there was no dedicated website with professional tennis writers pumping out news from tournaments on a regular basis.

A few more phone calls. A bunch of emails. Buy a domain. Design a logo. Find another writer. Build the test website. We decided to change the logo colors two days before 2001 Roland Garros started. In 24 hours, this TennisReporters webmaster rebuilt the site.

3-2-1. Blastoff. We were launched.

So, on a regular and daily basis, Matt and Sandra Harwitt, our other partner, pumped out the copy from the Slams and other tournaments. As I told more than one person (with a wink), Matt and Sandy get to watch the Slams in glamorous cities and I wait for emails in my bland suburban subdivision, do some editing, crop a photo or two and then post. For 20 years, it’s been the same house and same website. For 99.5+ percent of those stories, it’s been my buddy Matt and me.

Sandy was smart enough to drop out during our second year. There was no buyout because there was no money to split. Matt and I kept our heads down, knocking out the stories. We never made any concerted effort to find a backer with a lot of venture capitalist cash. Foolish us. TennisReporters had broken ground and was piling on the readers. With Matt’s Twitter account – still @tennisreporters – our traffic grew and grew.

After a few years Matt was named one of the top sports tweeters by Sports Illustrated. Going into a US Open, their mention of Matt put our website on the Internet map. We were getting more than 3,000 unique visitors a day. We got some advertising. Wow, we thought: Money! I told my wife that I was building my retirement income. Oh, foolish youth, even though I was in my early 50s.

In 2002, Fed Cup came to Charlotte, N.C. USA vs. Austria. We had a family friend in the city. So, I did what I rarely have done over the last two decades: go on the road, write stories and take photos for TennisReporters.

What made this special was that Matt was assigned to the same event by Inside Tennis. So, for the first time since we launched, I spent some time with Matt. Sort of.

Why? Because when Matt works, he is so focused that he can barely break out of his routine. Plus, he often is writing for TR along with other clients. Often pumping out three to five stories a day. So, I think we had a drink together. Maybe a meal.

Four years later I had an all-expense trip to the US Open, a ticket to the coveted President’s Box and four days in NYC, my hometown. Why? Because TR was receiving the USTA Media Excellence Award, Broadcast Media. The honor had previously gone to CBS and ESPN. And us!!! A few years later, the USTA discontinued giving the media award. To this day, TR can say that we are the only website to win the award. Plaque is still on my office wall.

Big award. Heady stuff. That would definitely make TR a huge financial success. Yes, we got a few more ads. But, they pay fractions of pennies per viewer. Still not paying for my retirement. Still not making enough money to pay for an out-of-town trip to cover a tournament.

Even though I’ve worked for USTA Southern for 12 years, it was rare for me to be sent to the USTA semi-annual meeting over the Labor Day weekend and a visit the US Open site to see matches. Thanks for my communications job, I had a pass into the media room. And there was Matt. For the third time in 15 years, I got a quick hug and a few minutes of Matt’s attention. I was back there twice in the last few years. In 2017, I basically forced Matt to take off a few hours so we can have a real meal at a hotel restaurant. Trust me, a great treat.

Still, nothing in our 20 years together compares to a phone call from Matt in 2014. Wasn’t feeling well. Took a fall. Went to a doctor. Had a brain scan. Got a tumor. Cancer. Here’s the story. Classic TR … Matt wrote the main piece and I added a sidebar.

Matt took a break for about six months and TR went dark. There were many tennis journalists around the world who were pulling for Matt, knowing is ability and dedication. He was very well-respected and elected International Tennis Writers Association co-president. I was admittedly jealous of these writers; these were Matt’s working buddies who were sharing stories and drinks in crowded media rooms. I remained in Atlanta, three time zones from his California base.

During the hiatus, Matt had chemo. First, he was cured, then a relapse, then more chemo over the span of years. His output was sporadic, depending on his health. I took more time editing his stories, which often were less complex and incisive as material he wrote before the tumor. Still, through those dark days, he was still a writer, still a journalist eagerly looking to cover the next tennis match.

Now, he continues to be stable, healthy and active. But, his gargantuan ability to write quickly has been diminished. A man who did radio commentary on a global scale now has issues with remembering the right words in casual conversation.

There are often days, weeks, in which we don’t have new stories. Is the website making any money? No. Has the traffic grown? No. Have the ads flowed in? No.

Do I care? No, not really. You can’t be in a business relationship, any relationship, for 20 years without some highs and lows, some awards and some illnesses. For better or worse, TennisReporters.net continues.

Mr. Zverev: Will he come around again?

Remember in November, 2018? He won the ATP Final, beating Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, two of the best players un¹ever. Then, when he started playing in January, 2019, he could actually win a Slam. But he didn’t. He fell back.

At what point will Alexander Zverev rise again? He has not had a good year at all, but I would think that he can come around.

The 22-year-old reached the final at Acapulco in March, but he lost to Nick Kyrgios. And then, the now No. 7 lost fairly early for the next five months.

On Tuesday in Montreal, Zverev  beat Cameron Norrie 7-6, 6-4. That was pretty decent, but now has to play against Nikoloz Basilashvili
who is ranked No. 17. Basilashvili beat him 7-6 in the third at Hamburg, two week ago. Now they will clash, on hardcourts, so it is faster and he has to attack early. He has to jump on the lines. His first serve is huge, if he gets in, that is.
Last year in Canada, Zverev lost in the third round against 
Stefanos Tsitsipas, a guy who is very good. But then he lost early in Cincy and the US Open.

It is just impossible to know how poorly the German is thinking on the court. We will find out ASAP as the North American hardcourt season proceeds.


In Montreal, The veteran Milos Raonic beat Lucas Pouille, a good win, but now he will have face Felix Auger-Aliassime, the excellent 18-year-old. Both of them live in Canada. Auger-Aliassime is rising up, quickly, but Raonic wants to frustrate him. It should be a terrific match, forehand versus forehand.

Roberto Bautista Agut destroyed Bernard Tomic. The good thing is that the Aussie qualified, but he needs to work out more, and not travel all the time. Tomic is ranked in the top 100, and I would think he will qualify for the US Open, but it is hard to tell. He is up and down mentally all the time — still.

 The women in Toronto

Was this a surprise? Anettt Kontaveit took down Maria Sharapova 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Kontaveit can play excellent balls, or she can lose her temper. Over the last couple years, Sharapova has been hurt all the time, but she is still trying. Hopefully, over the rest of the year, she won’t get hurt, or here and there, because for many years, her right shoulder is sore all the time. She just has to deal with it, and she knows that.

“I’m still building the confidence and my form, and that’s something that’s just going to come with time and with match play,” Sharapova said. “Unfortunately, I just haven’t had that yet, so will just hopefully try to build on it. There’s never the perfect scenario. … So it will just take time to build that confidence again, because I have struggled with it for a long time.”

Another good Czech, Marie Bouzkova, upset Sloane Stephens. The American cannot get going. It is in her head…

The other Canadian, Bianca Andreescu, has returned after being injured for months. Recall though, she won Indian Wells, which was a shocker. But not anymore. The 19-year-old is a worthy player. If she stays healthy, she will make the top 10 by the end of the year.

On Tuesday, Andreescu beat Genie Bouchard 6-4, 6-1, 6-4. Years ago, Bouchard won so many matches. Now, she is not even in the top 100. Will she come back? I just don’t think so.

Bang, boom: Naomi Osaka & Petra Kvitova reach final

Petra Kvitova

FROM THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN, JANUARY 24 – Whether or not Naomi Osaka wins the title on Saturday, it is clear that she hits the ball both sides and absolutely nails it. There are times when she is a little bit nervous, and she can over-hit it, but in the same time, she keeps going for her shots.
On Thursday, she edged Karolina Pliskova  6-2, 4-6, 6-4. It was very tight in the third set. Just like she did in the 2018 US Open final, at 5-4, versus Serena Williams, she aced it, twice, and smacked a winner. She was not shaking in her boots. Over the past nine months, she has been brilliant, stable, and on top of the ball. Osaka rarely backs off. She hit 56 winners. Ka-boom.

Pliskova thought she had it, she was close, but the Japanese kept raising her game.

“I believe she played unbelievable match. To be honest, maybe her best in (her) life” the Czech said. “I don’t think she can repeat match like this. Amount of winners what she had, she just had very little mistakes. I don’t think I did actually something wrong. I had some chances, of course I had. The chances, they were not in my hands at all. There was not much what I could do. I was just fighting, waiting for a couple of mistakes, waiting for my shots to be aggressive. I got the chance to go to the third set. Had a couple of breakpoints. Didn’t make it. She served amazing today.”
Yes she did. She is a very funny person, off-court, but on-court. She leaps at the ball,is pretty agile and quick.

She will face Petra Kvitova, who easily knocked down the American Danielle Collins 7-6, 6-0. Kvitova,has been here before, in 2012, when she was moving up, with some deep and hard swings. She was very strong, and ambitious, but in the semis, Maria Sharapova kept coming, and she clubbed it all the time. Sharapova won it in three sets.
Now, many years later, Kvitova is back in a Grand Slam final. She won it twice, at Wimbledon, on grass, but on the hard courts, it is a little bit different. A couple of years ago, she could play great one day, and then not so much the next day; she would mentally disappear. But not anymore. She is a little bit more mature and she really thinks about what’s going on inside her head. Now she can become No. 1 if she takes the final. 

“I was still top 10, which I don’t think it’s that bad. But I just didn’t really have the chances in the Grand Slams,” Kvitova said. “I think afterwards I have been a little bit more mature to win the second title in Wimbledon was, much more sweeter for me, kind of be able to repeat it. I’m not sure if I’m more mature now, but I think it’s the life process, which everybody is going through, and I think it’s the same with me.”

Nadal steamrolls Tsitsipas

On Thursday night, Rafa Nadal destroyed Stefanos Tsitsipas, 6-2, 6-4, 6-0. That was surprising, considering that the Greek stunned Roger Federer, and some other good players, but it wasn’t to be again. I am sure he was tired, and maybe he was a little hurt, but still, he was pretty slow and shaky. Nadal has been around for almost 15 years and has won 17 Grand Slams. He could win another one on Sunday. Tsitsipas is the best young players right now, but winning a major this year? I am not reallysure during the season, but he might find another level.

Nadal is Flying High … Again, Plus: Maria Sharapova vs. Ash Barty

FROM THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN, Sunday, Jan. 20: Before Rafa Nadal returned, last week, he was unsure how he would feel. After the US Open, four months ago, he stopped because his body broke down and he couldn’t play until he healed.

He knew that, and he has said that his legs are breaking down constantly. But, when he can actually play, he is very enthusiastic. And damn good. It is hard to say how long the 31-year-old will stay, and last, but he is already playing great at the Australian Open. He hasn’t lost a set, yet.

He knows that he’s got a very tough match against Czech Tomas Berdych, the veteran, who looked very fresh over the past week.

A five setter? I doubt that. Looks to be four, very close sets, but Nadal will take it. Here comes the second week

Marin Cilic has been very smooth, which is why he is still here on the slow hard courts. However, he has to play Roberto Bautista Agut, the Spaniard who leaped up when he started this year, taking down Novak Djokovic and Berdych to win Doha. That was somewhat shocking as the 30-year-old has been pretty good here and there, but not fantastic. He is knocked out Andy Murray, John Milman and Karen Khachanow at the AO. That is eight in a row for Bautista Agut. He has always been consistent, but pretty quickly, he can attack the ball, especially when he returns. He will wear down Cilic in five sets. That will be darn close.

There are some interesting matches, with Rober Federer versus Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Frances Tiafoe versus  Grigor Dimitrov. Go here for more reporting: http://www.tennis.com/

Angie Kerber is looking very good, and she could win it again. The German can do almost everything, hitting with spin, pretty flat, and going side to side. She can bash it, or just move around the box. Mentally, she is thinking a lot, then she can go where ever she wants to.   

Kerber will face the 25-years-old American Danielle Collins, who came out of nowhere. A year ago, she was ranked No. 161. Now she ranked No. 35, and she will be moving up. It took her a while to understand what she had to do, when to go for it or be patient. She hustles, now, too.  Can Collins upset Kerber on Sunday? She has a chance, given that she took out Julia Goerges and Caroline Garcia, two top 10 players. This time, though, Collins has to nail her first serve and her return. All of it, essentially. American Sloane Stephens now loves playing in the majors. Three years ago, she didn’t love it, she would back off, she wouldn’t go for it, and she would disappear. But since she returned after her surgery, a year and a half ago, she actually became more mature. And she became more aggressive, when she had an opportunity. She moved it up, and she returned better. That is why she is ranked No. 5. Stephens is a serious favorite against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who has been good here and there, but she is not way up[RC1] .

Another American, 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova, has to face Petra Kvitova. Obviously, she will become a better player, year after year, and perhaps, even quickly. Her parents used to live in Moscow, but they moved to the USA, and she was born in New Jersey. A few years later, they went down south to Florida. They still lives there, but Anisimova travels are lot. She jumps into the ball, and she is very quick.
But how will she deal with Kvitova, as the Czech has improved her fitness, and now the huge hitter rarely gets tired. She used to, but not this week, as she has focused and she doesn’t get angry when she misses it. As long as she is stable, she will out-hit Anisimova.

Now this is the biggest match on Sunday, with Maria Sharapova against Ash Barty. The Russian/American played a wonderful match beating Caro Wozniacki in the third round, possibly the best contest over the last year. Really, because last year, she was hurt all of the time. Agreed her serve — many double faults — is still a liability, but her backhand, her forehand and her return are lethal. She knows that when she faces Barty, there will be many rallies. The Aussie can run and run for a long time, and once again, she rarely gets exhausted. Barty can mix it up, especially her backhand, and just grind. It will be a packed house Melbourne, and Barty really wants it. This will go into the third set, but in the end, Sharapova will rip the ball, on the lines, and win it.


De Minaur versus Nadal: youngster takes on the superstar

FROM THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN, January 18: The young Aussie Alex de Minaur is rising very fast. He has a long way to go, but he is very quick, on the top of the ball, and then he explodes.

He has won seven matches in a row. He lives in Spain, half of the year, when he isn’t on the road. Before, he had to learn how to play. He is 19 years olds and he has watched Rafa Nadal on TV. Now, he can see him a lot in person. He just won Sydney and here at the Australian Open in the second round, he won a five-setter over Henri Laaksonen.  

De Minaur said he has admired the 17-time Grand Slam champ Nadal has admired him for a long time. They will face each other Friday night.

“Well, Rafa is pretty much like the king in Spain. He’s done so much amazing things for the sport,” De Minaur  said. “He’s had that many achievements. It’s pretty incredible. It’s going to be fun for me to get out on court and be able to test where I am. I think this is what you play for: toplay the biggest guys and the best guys at the top of their level on the biggest stages. You just got to go out there, enjoy, just thrive off the atmosphere.”

De Minaur moved to Europe  when he was just 5 year old. His mother grew up in Spain, so when she saw that her son loved tennis, it was a good idea to go there, to learn. That is the same thing in Australia: so many people are hooked on tennis, and there are a lot of fine coaches, so it is fine to split it up, in different counties.  

De Minaur did watch Nadal win the Australian Open, in 2009 — 10 years ago. That has been a long time ago, but it is pretty fresh. At least when they face off.  

“Yeah, well, you watch that many matches of Rafa, he’s won that many Grand Slams. I remember that one, watching it,” he said. “He’s still Rafa. Whenever he steps out on court, he always has that presence. No one can take that away from him. I just got to go out there, try to focus on my side of the court, generally just go out there, have fun, just hopefully take it to him.”

A tantalizing women’s final: Stephens versus Halep

FROM ROLAND GARROS — A year ago, Sloane Stephens couldn’t play. She was injured and far from happy. But every day, she would go into the practice courts and rebuild. She couldn’t play the French Open, but three weeks later, she felt good enough and went to Wimbledon. Mentally, she wasn’t ready yet, but she didn’t care, she just wanted to compete.

She lost in the first round at Wimbledon and in Washington. Then, in Toronto, she was feeling better, running around, hitting hard when she needed to. She was concentrating. She beat Petra Kvitova, Angie Kerber and Lucie Safarova before falling to  Caro Wozniacki.

In Cincinnati, the next week, she reached the semis again, beating Julia Goerges before losing against Simona Halep 6-2, 6-1.

Stephens and Halep will face off again on Saturday here in the final. It could be a very long contest.

Stephens is very tired, but still, she knows her strokes are solid, her first serve can be deadly, and she can hit it down the line, both sides. 

She won the 2017 US Open, for the first time. It wasn’t easy during those two weeks. In the quarters, she faced Anastasija Sevastova, and Stephens hung in there, even though she was a little bit off, winning it 7-6(4) in the third. In the semis, she faced against the seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, and once again, it was deep in the third set. Stephens wouldn’t go away and she grabbed it 7-5 in the third. In the final, against Madison Keys, the Californian Stephens played almost perfectly and she won it, her first major.  

After that, she did almost nothing during the fall. She was mentally fried. When she started again in January, she says that she was slightly injured. She needed to find a new way, again.

“Didn’t have a good result in Australia, and I knew that I needed to change some things, and I did that and I had a great result in Miami. [She won it.]

“I had a great showing at Fed Cup, which I was really happy with. I had okay results this clay court season. I lost to some great players: Pliskova, Garcia. It’s not really anything to put your head down about. Just being able to recognize that I have had some really great ups and not so many hard downs, but just trying to stay consistent with the level, I think that’s worked best for me.”

Over the past 13 days, Stephens has been super consistent, but last week, she almost lost in the second round to Camila Giorgi, edging her 8-6 in the third. The American took a deep breath and raised her game. After that, she has been steady, and now, she has an opportunity, and she strikes within seconds.

On Saturday, she may not play wonderful tennis, but she will be right there against Halep.
“When you get to the final, obviously you have played well, but the person [Halep] that you are playing against also played well. So, I think I go in knowing it’s going to be a battle no matter what, no matter who you’re playing,” Stephens said. “Obviously anything could happen. I guess you could be playing No. 1 in the world or No. 90 in the world. It’s just basically going out and competing because the person you’re laying against has done the exact same thing as you.”

No. 1 Halep is so close to winning a Grand Slam. Last year in Paris, she reached the final, it looked like she could do it, but Jelena Ostapenko stunned her in three sets.

In 2014, in the final in the third set, it was 4-4, Halep versus Maria Sharapova. Halep backed up, Sharapova moved forward and the American/Russian won.

Now can Halep finally step it up and grab it? Nobody knows.

“I have more experience now. I feel calm,” Halep said. “So, I will stay chill. I will relax. And then we will see what is going to happen Saturday, but for sure I will fight for every ball.”


For some players, the prospect of finally winning a major is more of a brick wall than a yellow brick road. Ask Ivan Lendl, who dropped four finals before breaking through in Paris in 1984.

Stephens is playing smart and consistent. She has slid through her matches easily, dropping only one set to Camila Giorgi. She should be fresh and ready to apply pressure on Halep, letting loose with her dynamite forehand when the court opens up.

Halep has lost two sets so far, overcoming a hiccup first set in the first round against American Alison Riske. She also had to fight off Kerber but dispatched the German easily in the second and third sets. Garbine Muguruza was rolling through the draw until she rammed into Halep.

Three important factors will be play tomorrow. First, Halep doesn’t seem to get tired, as she covers the court and the wide area outside the lines with real speed and determination. Second, she is playing with true aggression, looking for winners when she has the chance. The Romanian may be playing her best tennis ever.

But, the biggest factor is simple: Halep’s time has come. This is her third RG final and she’s been through a lot of heartache, especially when she let Jelena Ostapenko bully her last year. So, look to Simona to win straight out, in two close but demanding sets.

– Ron Cioffi

2017 US Open men’s final: Nadal vs. Anderson

FROM THE US OPEN — SATURDAY, SEPT. 9 — Without a doubt, Rafael Nadal is a serious favorite here. He has not lost against Kevin Anderson, and on Friday against Juan Martin del Potro, the Spaniard was very aggressive and enthusiastic.

He pounded his phenomenal forehand and his shots are corkscrew wonders. While it has taken 15 years to improve his two-handed backhand, he can crack it deeper now. That is why Nadal has reached the final at the major again. Last year, at the 2016 US Open, he was nervous and tight, which is why he lost against Fabio Fognini in five sets.
Today, Nadal knows that his body is feeling good again and, because of that, he will take many more risks.

Anderson has never reached the final at the USO, much less at the ATP 1000s. Over the years he has changed a few things. He takes big swings much of the time. Over the past two weeks, he has concentrated and stayed positive when he is off. Not only does he hit the 130s on the first serve, but when he is set up, he can touch the lines with large forehands and backhands.

However, even if he walks on court, and he isn’t shaking, how can he out-hit Nadal if the Spaniard is playing pretty well? Anderson has never beaten him before, he hasn’t really even come close. While his foot speed has improved,  he cannot sprint like Rafa does. Point to point, Nadal is better, which is why he owns 15 Grand Slams and Anderson has none.

Really, if the South African upsets Nadal, it would be a true stunner. Unless Nadal gets hurt on the final at the Grand Slam (like he did at the 2014 Australian Open final versus Stan Wawrinka in the first set and lost, limping), he will win the US Open fairly easy. Anderson wants to be on the court for a few hours, but Nadal will be on top of him right when the start. Nadal will win in three, pretty easy sets.

2017 US Open: Can Federer and Nadal face off in semis?

FROM THE US OPEN –It is very unusual that there are five top-10 competitors who are unable to compete at the US Open. All of them are hurt, badly hurt, so it is possible that they won’t play for the rest of the year:  Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori. We could talk about it for hours; why are they so injured, why do they play too much, are they finally breaking down? We’ll leave that for another day, after the USO.

The First Quarter

Rafa Nadal is ranked No. 1 — which is great — but on the hard courts, he is very decent, but he is not spectacular. The Spaniard did reach the final at the Australian Open and IW, but he went to down to Roger Federer. Nadal has beaten the Swiss many times over the years, but this season, Federer’s backhand had improved a lot, so now, the lefty has to hit it harder.

Nadal should be able to reach the semis, but it will be difficult, to say the least. Remember last year in the US Open, when he was up two sets to zero versus Fabio Fognini and, all of a sudden, the Italian got hot, and in the fifth set, Nadal panicked and lost. Now, he could face Fognini again, in the round of 16. That could be a fantastic match, except that while Fognini has played some terrific ball, but he likely will have to play Tomas Berdych in the third round — who is struggling —  but a true veteran.
Whoever wins, Nadal will beat them up, and in the quarters, he will face Grigor Dimitrov or Gael Monfils. Dimitrov just won Cincy, the first time won an ATP 1000, so he is extremely confident. He will out-hit Monfils in a long match, and then go up against Nadal. The Spaniard knows that he has to crush Dimitrov’s one-handed backhand. He will, but it will be super close. Nadal wins in a delicious five setter.  


The Second Quarter

Here goes Federer, who really wants to win the USO. The 19-time Grand Slam champion has played incredibly well, on the hard courts and grass. He has tremendous confidence, he can hit anything. However, just like Nadal, he has some tough draws. He might have to face the lefty, Feli Lopez, in the third round. Lopez loves to slice, he hits a big first serve and he will come to the net. But it doesn’t really matter, because Federer will figure it out, easily. In the fourth round, Federer will have to go up against Nick Kyrgios, who once again, is rising up. Assuming that he is healthy, the Aussie will be ready to rumble. He has beaten all the top players, so when he is into it, he can kiss the lines. However, in the fifth set, Federer will be patient, while the Aussie will over-anxious.

Fed will move into the quarters, and it is very difficult to find out who will play. Maybe Juan Martin del Potro, Roberto Bautista Agut or Dominic Thiem. Throw in Thiem, who can really center the ball on his racquet, but he still hasn’t learned how to play on the hard court. Federer will in straight sets.

The Third Quarter

This bracket is fascinating. There are three seeded American players — Sam Query, John Isner and Jack Sock — and two German brothers, Alexander and Mischa Zverev. Isner will face M. Zverev is the third round, which should be a string over very short points. Isner has finally started to play the right way for six weeks, and now he thinks he can get ever further at the USO. He has been around for many years, getting upset when he isn’t playing the right way. But now, he has improved his backhand and at the net — when he gets up there. M. Zverev is finally healthy, which is good, but he has trouble returning.

Isner will face Querrey, his old buddy, in the fourth round. Querrey is rising again, with his forehand, his serve and, now, his return. They have hit with each other in practices hundreds of time. It really is a tossup, so pick Querrey, who is mentally sound.

A. Zverev has already shown that he can beat just about anymore, upsetting Federer in the final at Montreal. He is very young, but he is a huge serve and swings so hard with his forehand and backhand. He should be able to beat Kevin Anderson and Gilles Muller. In the quarters against Querrey, it should be close, with amazing serves. The 20-year-old Zverev aces the American in the fifth set.       


The Fourth Quarter

Who knows will reach the semis? Maybe the former US Open champ Marin Cilic? The former No. 5 Jo Tsonga? The new, very young Denis Shapovalov of Canada? The good Frenchman Lucas Pouille? Even though Cilic was hurt last month, he looks OK. We think.

At 35, will Melzer deny Federer’s return?

Jurgen Melzer is peaking past the age of 30. Photo: Mark Lyons

Roger Federer and Jurgen Melzer will face off on Monday night. Both have played for a very long time, with Fed and Jurgen now 35 years old.  They have played four times, but only in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, Fed beat him at Wimbledon, US Open and Paris.

But in 2011, the Austrian upset Fed at Monte Carlo.

Does Melzer have a real chance when he’s now ranked No. 300?

Perhaps, given that Melzer was ranked No. 8 in 2011, showing that he could really play. But in 2015 and 2016, he was hurt, badly, and he couldn’t play a lot. Now, it’s his last chance to have glory. But not against Federer, who is super fresh and eager to go far again at the Australian Open.