Jelena Ostapenko wins it again in Upper Austria Ladies Linz

The now No. 11 Jelena Ostapenko finally play top to the bottom, and even that, she can smash it into the corners. In the final, the once 2017 Roland Garros champ beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2, 6-3 pretty easily, without so many error, which she has done it many times. But when she is more consistent, and to mix it up more, then she can be much more controlling.

The Latvia has won “just” one Grand Slam, but she has also gone deep in the events,  so maybe she can do it again. 

At the WTA 500 tournament in Upper Austria Ladies Linz, she was totally thrilled.

“It was a really good week, and I felt like every match I was playing better and better,” Ostapenko said. “It’s really amazing to win two singles trophies this year already (she won at Adelaide), and winning a doubles trophy as well, [and] playing Australian Open [in the doubles with Lyudmyla Kichenok] final — it’s like four tournaments and four finals, which is really great. I’m just happy with the way I’m playing this year. I think I feel like I’m more mature and more confident with my game, so it even motivates me more to work hard and get back to the Top 10.”

Yes she will, very soon, or maybe not. Last year, Ostapenko  did win Birmingham in June, and at the 2023 Australian Open, in the fourth round, she beat Coco Gauff before she lost against Elena Rybakina. On the day, she can play marvelous, almost stunning against the current No. 1, Iga Swiatek at the 2023 U.S. Open. After that, though, Gauff overwhelmed her. Ostapenko did not much after that in the fall, so now she must have been more thoughtful.

Back to Upper Austria Ladies Linz,  Alexandrova is up and down, terrific and lousy, too. She is aggressive, but then she can backs off. However, she has had a fine year, beating Elena Rybakina in Australia, and then last week, she took down  Anastasia Potapova, and in the semis agains  Donna Vekic, she stood in there, but it took forever, winning 5-7 7-6(4) 7-6(6). She must have been exhausted in the final. 

The Russian veteran has not been very good  at the Slams last year, but at least she won the ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands in June, on the grass. She also really likes to play on the hardcourts, and her backhand can be so solid, and she can return into the corners, too.

However, she has never reached into the quarters at the Slams, so this year, she can do something different.


On Upper Austria Day, the now retired and one Slam winner Ana Ivanovic was honored in the front of the crowds.  Her good friend and a fine player, Barbara Schett, was there….

That was new, when the young Russian, Diana Shnaider, won the Thailand Open beating  Zhu Linz 6-3, 2-6, 6-1…

In Montpellier, in France, Alexander Bublik beat Borna Coric 5-7, 6-2, 6-3. He finally did it, so now in the third set he can let go and really turn it on…

The U.S. men just started in the Dallas Open. There are a lot of many Americans who are playing such as Ben Shelton, Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul and  Christopher Eubanks. The winner will be?

Australian Open men’s final: Sinner over Medvedev

Jannik Sinner
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

When you play for the first time, in a Grand Slam, then he can raise up so high, but if he is so nervous, then he can fold, quickly. That is not Daniil Medvedev, who won the 2022 US Open two years ago, yet the young Italian, Jannik Sinner, has not done it yet. On Sunday night, he will charged up, or will he panic, early? It is hard to saw, but over the years, the great players were shaky, early, and then, they will focus and look for the prize.

Sinner, was tremendous in the semis, when he blasted against the No. 1 Novak Djokovic, with some wonderful forehands and his backhands, running everywhere. He can flat it out, and he can also spin it. His serves are pretty hard, close to the corners, and when he returns, he can push it deep, here and there.

But that does not mean that he is even close to be perfect, yet, as while he has beaten a number of fine players, but he has lost in some tight matches. Sinner is growing up, but he needs to grab it, as soon as possible, right now. Really, you never know when you start, as over many decades, many players have shut down, such as Kevin Anderson, Kei Nishikori , Marcos Baghdatis,  Rainer Schüttler, David Nalbandian, and on and on.

However, the 22-year-old   Sinner, is more aggressive, and he can also think inside within his head. He can beat him, but to do it again, he must attack with his forehand, and really hustle. His tennis coach and his broadcaster, Darren Cahill, said, “When you play a certain style of tennis and you keep taking losses, you can’t keep doing the same thing. You have to change and your game has to evolve. That’s what Jannik has been attempting to do for the last couple of years. That’s a great quality and that’s what he needs to continue to do. Never stop evolving and never stop getting better.”

He has to, as Medvedev knows exactly how to play, when he is locked in. He can lose, and he has, here and there, but when he is feeling good, he can throw some tremendous shots. His forehand and his backhand are so solid, and he can blitz the ball. He edged over Alexander Zverev in five sets, a brutal one. He lost against Sinner three in the fall, so he does know how to try to beat him, and he has to change it.

“I said before the tournament, I want a change, I want to become better with myself,” Medvedev said. “To not have after the matches these moments where I’m like, ‘I did this with the crowd, why did I do it? Did it help me?’ I just don’t want to have it any more. I want to play tennis, I want to be proud of myself, I want to fight.”

However,  Sinner beat Medvedev three times in the fall, at Beijing, Vienna, and the ATP Final in Italy.  That was very good, but Medvedev beat Sinner six times, so it is darn close.

He will try to be totally confident, and more thoughtful.  

“The three matches, all of them were tough. Two tie-breaks and two three-setters,” Medvedev said. “I had my chances. All of them were in the end of the season where I felt like I was not at my 100 percent, even if I was playing pretty good. I was maybe at 97, 96 per cent, and against him you need to be at 100.”

Regardless, Sinner will win it in five wild sets.  

Australian Open men’s semifinals

Alexander Zverev
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Alexander Zverev rose up so high, in a late match when he took down the No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz in four sets, 6-1, 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-4. Two year ago, the German was very close to win a Grand Slam for the first time, but he hurt himself in Roland Garros, on the court, and he had to retire. After that, he couldn’t play for months.

But finally, he is much better then he has, with his huge forehand, his backhand, and also, when he serves. He is more consistent, when he is there, reaching. Yes, he has lost some mediocre matches,  and his return and also at the net, he misses some easy shots. Yet Zverev can be very steady, and he can also mix it up.  

Alcaraz can look spectacular, but he is very young, so he won’t be perfect all the times. But on Friday, Zverev will have to play fantastic again, as he will have to face again Daniil Medvedev

Zverev can be controlling, consistent, and aggression He did against Alcaraz.

“I was rushing him quite a lot,’ said Zverev. “I was playing extremely aggressive, kind of taking the racquet out of his hands. You have to do that against him. If you let him control the points, control the pace of the game, he’s unbeatable,” he said. “He’s the best player in the world when it comes to that. I really had to take it into my own hands and I felt like I did that well.”

At Roland Garros, when he suffered a huge injury against Rafa Nadal, that would put him out of action for the entire year. When Zverev came back, and he looked so-so, but he knew that it would take him a long time to become much more solid.

He has a huge challenge, as last year, Daniil Medvedev beat him five times, and he lost just one versus Zverev . The Russian is more consistent, and he can react, with his forehand and her backhand. He is not great at the net, but he can return if he can find it.  They know each other well, so to win it, Zverev will have to change him, point after point. One way or another, Medvedev will beat him, again.

The No. 1 Djokovic will play against the Italian, Jannik Sinner, in the semis,  in the other semifinal.


The 22-year-old  is more aggressive, and he can also think inside within his head. In the ATP Finals in November, he upset Djokovic in there first match, but then in the final, the Serbian out hit him, backhand to backhand. Sinner can beat him, but to do it again, he must attack with his forehand, and really hustle.

“This is what I practice for, to play against the best players in the world,” Sinner said. “Obviously [Novak] has an incredible record here, so for me it’s a pleasure to play against him, especially in the final stages of the tournament where things are a little bit more interesting I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be tough. I will control the controllable, which is giving 100 percent, having the right attitude, fighting for every ball.” He will bring it into the fifth set, but agains. the No. 1 Djokovic will hit some amazing shots and he will grab it, one more times.

Australian Open day 8: Fritz: ‘It’s one-sided with Novak’

Novak Djokovic

It is possible that  Taylor Fritz will finally upset Djokovic for the first time, but the No. 1 has all but  dominated him, over eight matches. The American is playing well in Melbourne, yet when they hit the balls, backhand against backhand, the Serbian is much more consistent. At the 2021 Aussie Open, Fritz was close to trip Djokovic, but the current No. 1 pounded him in the fifth set and he grabbed it, 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2. He was more comfortable, while Fritz was shaky.

After that, they played another five matches and Djokovic won it, winning 11 sets. He will have to do something much better on the hardcourts, because his serves and his forehand will have to be spot on.

“Since then when I’ve played him, I’ve played pretty poor, I think. I think that I have a lot more level to bring than I’ve previously brought against him. As far as playing me, hasn’t ever had a reason to change up what he’s doing or change strategy because it’s always gone his way,” Fritz said. “I think there are people that I have played quite a bit over the years who I’ve gone back and forth. Maybe I win, maybe I lose. Between us we’ve made a lot of adjustments to the game plan and changed a lot of things around. I mean, it’s been one-sided with Novak. I feel like he’s played me pretty much the same every time.”

He is going to have to. He cannot complain, or become two frustrated, so just go out and try to frustrated him. In general, Djokovic  is more knowledge, on the court, and once again, he will win it in four, tough, sets.  

The No. 4 Coco Gauff is so clean, when she is playing, hitting with some excellent, deep   returns. Her backhand is so strong, wherever she wants to, and at the net, she can also put it away, everywhere. The 19-year-old has won “just” one Grand Slam, but she is much more appropriate now, as two years ago, her forehand was sloppy. However, she does have to focus all the time, as she has to face against  Marta Kostyuk, another player who is trying to rise. The  21-year-old Ukraine can be somewhat decent, and she can also try to hit it down the lines, but this year, she has not gone deep, hardly at all. Against Gauff , she has to try to attack, early. However, the American will bash her, to win it in two solid, sets.

There are two other matches which should be some dusty, close contests, when Aryna Sabalenka will go against Barbora Krejcikova, and also, Jannik Sinner will face versus  Andrey Rublev. Sabalenka  did win the AO last year, here, while Krejcikova  won another major, when she won Roland Garros. Sabalenka is a jumbo hitter, from both sides, while Krejcikova is excellent at the net. If Sabalenka manages to serve consistently, rather than to chuck in a lot of double faults, then she can set it up and nail it into the corners. The Czech Krejcikova can get it early, and find where she is going, but she has to be very careful. She is intense again, and she will beat Sabalenka in three, difficult sets.

Italian Jannik Sinner is still young, but each few months, he looks sharp, on the court. He is a lofty hitter, and his serves are close into the corners. He still has to be better when he is returning, and bending down when he is close at the net. Russian Rublev can also attempt to drive him measureless, and he can play with his huge forehand. Sinner has beaten him the past two times when he won it at Miami and Vienna, so he can raid it,  earlier. Sinner will win it in five, harsh sets.

Australian Open, Day 4: Time to really rally

Taylor Fritz

Some of the American men are still in the tournament in Melbourne, after they won two matches. That is not spectacular yet, but it is very good. The young, rising Ben Shelton, has to face against the solid veteran,  Adrian Mannarino, when the Frenchman can be so steady, and he can mix it up a lot. The San Diego man can get frustrated, when he is not playing well, but week after week, he is now more consistent, especially with his second serve and at the net. But in the court, he has to focus almost all of the time, or he can lose, when he stops.

Taylor Fritz has been up and down over the past five months, when the current No. 12 lost some odd matches, yet it is time for him to attack more, and to return it deeper, if he can. When he is on, he look sharp, and he can put it away. However, if he wants to go back into the top 5 this year, he must be staunch. He will face against Fabian Marozsan.

Believe or not, Sebastian Korda is close to be right there, to look much better than he was last year. Yes, he was injured himself, so he wasn’t perfect at all, but at least he is trying to more patient. However, he has to go up against Andrey Rublev, who is a very tough opponent. The Russian is very powerful, when he is on, and he can smile, to hit it both sides.  Plus, the No. 5 wants to improve his volley, and also, closing at the net. Korda has to knock him down, or Rublev will out-hit, him.

How about that the American, Alex Michelsen, who won today. He is only 19 years old, and he lives in California. He is pretty tall, and he can crush the ball, but he is still pretty young, so when he has to face against Alexander Zverev , he is going to have to play every second.  

Both  Frances Tiafoe and Christopher Eubanks lost today.  again. Which of the U.S. American men will win a Slam this season, or even to do it in the ATP 1000? It is possible, but can they beat Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz? The challenge is on…

Aussie Open preview: Gauff, Rybakina, Rublev

Grigor Dimitrov
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

There have been some upsets in last week’s tournaments.

Grigor Dimitrov won Brisbane, beating Holger Rune7-6(5), 6-4 in the final. He has come close over the years, but he had not won an event since 2017 at the ATP Finals. However, the Bulgarian can be so consistent, when he is feeling it, and he can also throw in some terrific shots. He is currently ranked No. 13,  so he can look very steady, but then, he can back up and chuck in some wild shots. But the very talkative person can discuss his life, on court, and even off court, he really does how he feels. He cried when he won another title.

“I think there’s a lot of emotions on so many different levels for me,” Dimitrov said. “I think clearly winning a title, it means a lot to me. It’s been a while. I think having that moment is in a way what I’m after.”

Dimitrov actually thinks that at the Australian Open, he can go far, again. In 2017, at Brisbane, he won it when he beat Kei Nishikori in the final. Then in Melbourne, he was flying high, knocking off Richard Gasquet in the quarters, and finally, at night, in the semis, Rafa Nadal beat him in five, fantastic sets.

Next week, in the Grand Slams, Dimitrov will be secure again, but in the past 11 majors, he hasn’t reached into the quarters, so it is time to swell again.

“It humbles me in the same time because I feel like I’ve been playing good tennis, and I also feel there’s a little bit more that I can get better at on a few more things,” he said. “Who knows, if those things go right, what else might be coming my way.”

The No. 5 Andrey Rublev also won, winning Hong Kong,  last week. He really needed that, as at the 2023 ATP Finals, he did not win a match. He looked pretty tired. However, in the fall, the important person looked very clean, when he reached the final in Shanghai, beating Dimitrov in the semis, and then finally, he lost versus Hubert Hurkacz. He was close enough, but week to week, he can be looked depressed, and angry , in the court. Still, the Russian can look classic, at times, so this year, he should reach into the semis at the Slams, for the first time, if he can, as last year, in January, he played against Novak Djokovic, and the Serbian crushed him in just seven games. He has to be much better, ASAP.

The No.3 Coco Gauff kicked off early, winning Auckland, edging  Elina Svitolina  6-7(4) 6-3, 6-3. It was pretty close, but her backhand, her first serve and at the net, she controlled it.

“It was not my best level of play, but sometimes, when you are not at your best and you win, it makes you more satisfied,” Gauff said.

“It gives me a lot of confidence beating Elina. It was cool seeing how I handled the pressure especially after losing the first set. I was proud of the mental fight I showed today.”

She is 19-years-old, and she is growing, gradually, or maybe she will be more quickly. Her forehand is now improved, and while at times it isn’t very deep enough, she seems to unavoidably to do. When they are teenages, they are so excited that she wants to play all the times, and sometimes it will do the same things, wherever you can, and other times, they don’t focus all the time, on the court. She may become  No. 1 eventually, but at the last two tournament, in October and November, she lost against the current top player, Iga Swiatek. The Poland person is still the most complete player week after week. Gauff

has to put together with her strokes, more often.  She has to, as last year at the 2023 Aussie Open, she lost in the fourth round against the huge hitter, Jelena Ostapenko. This time, the American has to be totally inhibited.

How about Elena Rybakina who also won, smashing over  Aryna Sabalenka 6-0, 6-3.  What a blow out. When she is so consistent, and caring, then she can stay in there, but last year, she looked very good, but then, she would explode, and then she made some many errors. The crazy thing is that the Russian reached into the final at the 2023 Aussie Open, and it looked like she could win her second Grand Slam, but   Sabalenka out hit her with her massive  forehand, to win it 6-4 in the third. They did that again, three more times, and they split, it. It will occur time and time again, as both of them will go dish deep at the majors. It is some  terrific matches.


Rafa Nadal pulled out of the Australian Open as once again, his legs are  beating down. He is 37-years old,  and pretty soon, he will retire.Maybe this year, or next, it is hard to say, but it is ticking, faster…

In Adelaide, Tommy Paul and  Sebastian Korda are playing this week, and in Auckland Ben Shelton is playing. A young Frenchman, Arthur Fils, who is winning a lot. If they have a great week, then at the Slams, they can leap so early…The same goes with the Aussie Alex de Minaur, when it took him a while to be more consistent, and now, finally, he cracks the Top 10 for the first time. The must have been huge.  He is coached by two players who went very deep at the Slams including Sergi Bruguera, and Sebastien Grosjean. top 32 men: 5-1

Novak Djokovic

5 Andrey Rublev
He is very powerful, when he is on, and he can smile in the ball, to both sides. When he is feeling very good, the Russian can go for it, early, or if he is feeling patient, he can mix it up from the backcourt. However, he has yet to win a Grand Slam, and while he can be right there, but then, his other spectacular player rarely become nervous. He does, on occasion. Unfortunatly, he has yet to reach the semis at the Grand Slams, as the 26-year-old has backed up when it was close. He did win Monte Carlo, and Bastad, Sweden, and also, when he reached the final at Shanghai, China in October . That was very solid, but Novak Djokovic beat him time and time again, so if he wants to upset him, next year, he has to improve his volley, and also, closer at the net.  He might be able to win a Slam in 2024, then he is going to be a real show.

4 Jannik Sinner
Here is another one who can eventually grab to win a Slam. The Italian had a terrific week in the ATP Finals in Turin, Italy,, beating Daniil Medvedev, upsetting Djokovic early on, but then in the final, the Serbian rose, while Sinner looked pretty tired, or maybe he was  collapsing. In a sense, it doesn’t really matter, as in the fall, he played fantastic, winning Beijing and Vienne, beating  Daniil Medvedev, twice. He stood toe-to-toe, grinding him down, and with some his massive strokes, with his backhand or his forehand. He even won the ATP Masters in Toronto in August, revolting so high. However, he can mess it up, depending which week, whether he is playing great, or mediocre. He is tall, and he can put it into the corner, but next year, if he can win Slam for the first time. To do it though,  he has to return better and deeper, and meld it up, even more.  He has to be more true , and really pay attention before he gets on the court. It is almost mandatory.

3 Daniil Medvedev
The other Russian had a up and down year, winning a bunch of matches, but also, when he looked darn good at the U.S. Open against Djokovic in the final, he looked like he had a real chance to win it, but in the second set tiebreaker, he was right there. then he missed some unpaired error. He does really like to rally, very flat, and he will to wear down the opponents, but at times, he doesn’t like to come into the net enough, so his decisions could be questionable. He has a little bit with the spin, now,  and his first serve is flat, to different areas. The man can look startling, and this year, he won Rotterdam, Netherlands,  Doha, Qatar ,  Dubai, Miami and Rome. In the fall, he was very decent, but not fantastic. He is quite caring, and he looks to think, when he is talking, which is awesome, but in the court, if he wants to win another Slams, he must change a few things, especially when he can go down really low, and put it away.

2 Carlos Alcaraz
He has become darn fast,  sprinting to the right and to the left, mixing it up, and he can win it into the corners for a winner. The Spaniard is very young, and he still has a decent amount to improve, but he already can change his tactics. His forehand and his backhand are jolly sturdy, and he can also touch it on the net and put it away. However, after he won Wimbledon, and he played wonderful ball, after that, he could not win another title. Of course he was hurt, bodily, once and a while, and perhaps he was mentally shake, yet next year, he will learn how he will approach it. In the first half, he also won Buenos Aires, Indian Wells, Barcelona, Madrid, and London/Queens, and of course, Wimbledon, in the clay, the hardcourts, and the grass. That was almost flawless, but then   he wasn’t after that. At the end at the ATP Finals, Djokovic beat Alcaraz in straight sets, out hitting him, backhand versus backhand.  Maybe at the Australian Open, he can win the title, that is if his second serve and his return can be upwords.

1 Novak Djokovic

Way back when, when he won his first Grand Slam at the 2008 Australian Open, he was so swift, and his backhand was already phenomenal, but his forehand was good, but not great. His return was so sensible, and he could play stroke after stroke, and he rarely became tired. However, he knew, year after year, that he had to get much better so he could not only beat everyone, but to win the titles, he had to be more muscular, in the matches. Now, he has won 23 Grand Slams, a record, and here and there, he could miss some strange errors, but he will always try to hang in there, and re-do it.    He won three Slams this season, and next year, he might be able to do it again. He has won 98 Slams, and he is third behind Jimmy Connors (109 titles) and Roger Federer [103 titles.) In 2024, Djokovic could pass Federer, and eventually, maybe next year, he can tie Connors. Either way, he is the dominates., the top 32 women: No. 5-1

Aryna Sabalenka
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

5 Jessica Pegula
If she is totally on fire, she can hit it, stroke after stroke. Her backhand is so consistent, hitting it crosscourt, in the middle, deep, and whaling it down the line. Her forehand can also be very solid, and she can also put it away at the net. However, she did have a very good year, but not spectacular. Yes, she beat a number of excellent players, but she lost in more than a few critical matches. Yes, she has been here for a long time, and two years ago, she started to play much better, but currently, while she is very, very good, but she has yet to reach into the Grand Slams final. She really has to, one way or another. Next year, if she finally wins a Slam, she has to serve harder, and also, with her forehand. It really will be a huge critical challenge.

4 Elena Rybakina

When she is really on, she can crush the ball, all over the place.She is quick, she is very fast, and she can read where  she is going. However, she plays a lot, and  in the first six months, she looked terrific, almost grabbing the Australia Open,  and then, she won Indian Wells and Rome. But after that, she began to slip. She did win a few fine wins, like when she beat with Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka, but she lost in some far, close matches to both of them. She is a solitary person, when she is hitting the ball, where she is going, and not deciding the right way. She did win the 2022 Wimbledon, and she was the outlaw, so if she can add with her second serve, and at the net, she can win another Slam, eventually, perhaps in 2024.

3 Coco Gauff
Last year, her forehand was upgrading, and her return was decent, but not great, yet. But in 2023, she began to climb, as her backhand was already phenomenal, but she had to change her forehand, and then, she really did. Now, she is not flawless yet, but she did win the 2023 US Open, snaring the third sets, when she had to, and she was just so rapt. She is still very young, and  off-court, she is very thoughtful. Some people have said that eventually, soon, she will become No. 1, and then she can win another more Slams. She might,  and maybe she will, but the realty is that Serena Williams have won 23 Grand Slams, and Venus — who is still playing — has won seven Grand Slams. Gauff has put together more than a few wins, and next year, she will be continue to her rising forehand.

2 Aryna Sabalenka

She did win the 2023 Australian Open, and she hit some colossal winners, with her husky forehand and her backhand, She can also attack, right after she returns, and she will  flat it out, down the line, or cross-court. She can last for a longtime, but other times, she loses what she is achievement.  But look, her serve is still decent, but not great, yet, when she is feeling it, then she can win so many matches, like when she won Madrid. The reality, though, that while she would go deep a lot, but she still cannot see where and when the bounce ball are going. Yes, she can win another Grand Slam next year, but currently, Iga Swiatek is better than she is, with her intense strokes. Plus, Sabalenka is still working with her serves, which she still can throw in a lot of double faulty. However, she is a hoot good, so she will adjust, and improve, even more.  

1 Iga Swiatek
She had another tremendous years, winning Roland Garros  and she grabbed Doha, Stuttgart,  Warsaw, Beijing, and the WTA Finals. She is not husky, but without a doubt, she is clearly the No. 1 right now. Her forehand and her backhand are strong, and her first serve is quite hard, and she can return with a number of winners. Since Ash Barty retired, two years ago, the Polish person waxed very fast, winning now four Grand Slams,  inclusion the 2022 U.S. Open. She totally values on the clay, being very patient, if she needs to, and also on the hardcourts, when she can slap the ball, until she wheres them down. The 23 Grand Slam champ Serena Williams, who is now retired, she knew all surfaces, winning on the hardcourts, on the clay, and also, on the grass.  She won so many Slams, but Swiatek has yet to win at the Aussie Open and Wimbledon.  Now it is time for her to do it, at least one of them. How about to start very early at Melbourne? She may not, but she will be checked in, peering, and intense. As she said: “Mental toughness is probably most important thing in tennis right now because everybody can play on the highest level. But the ones that are tough and that can handle the pressure are the biggest ones.” top 32 men: No. 10-6

Hubert Hurkacz
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

10 Taylor Fritz

He had an odd year,  beating some terrific players, and then, he would lose in the third sets, or even the fifth sets at the Slams. The American did win an ATP 1000 in 2022, when he won Indian Wells, but this year, he only won two at the tournament, in Delray Beach, and Atlanta. That was good, but it wasn’t among the top 20 players. Yes, he can bash his forehand and his backhand, and he can hit it down the line, and also go, crosscourt, yet the excellent players can be more consistent. Three of them beat Fritz on the hardcourts in March and April with Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz. Yes, Fritz can return pretty good, and when he is confident, he can make an attempt to hit it very deep. The think is, though, is he is not terrific at the net, and his backhand could be so-so. At the US Open, the No. 1 Novak Djokovic crushed him, in three quick, sets. He must have been seriously disappointed, and in the fall, he did very little. He is smart, and he reads during the points, but next year, if he wants to go super deep, at the Slams, he has to improve his volley, his second serve, and at the net.

9 Hubert Hurkacz

At what point do you know when eventually, he will return much better, and also at the net, and then, he will have a solid shot to win a Slam? Hmmm. He had a decent year, when he won Marseille, France,  early, and he didn’t do that much until the fall, when the tall man won an ATP 1000 in Shanghai, China, beating Andrey Rublev in the final. Then, he reached the final in Basel, Switzerland, before he lost, but that was pretty solid. He is a powerful person, and he can smash his forehand and his backhand, plus he can be very fit and, versatile. He also can defend it, but he can also  trip it up. He did win the 2021 Miami, so he could be right there to win a Slam, for the first time, but then he has to be more physical, at the net.. If he does it, it is possible that the Polish can do it for the first time. Yes for me, that will be surprising.

8 Holger Rune

He is still pretty young, and he is rising, each year. He is only 20-years- old, so he has to understand exactly what he has to do, when he returns, and mix it up. He is fast, running, and he can move forward, and trust it around. On the clay, the Danish man began to swell right there, in Monte Carlo, upsetting Daniil Medvedev  and Jannik Sinner before he lost against Andrey Rublev. That was a great move. Then he won Munich, Germany,  and then in Rome, he stunned Djokovic in three sets, and in the final,  he lost against Daniil Medvedev. After that, he was much more concordant, and at Wimbledon, when he looked more stable, he reached in the quarters when he finally lost against Alcaraz. Rune’s  forehand was powerful, his backhand was somewhat solid, and he can throw it all around the box. Many players can start to feel very tired, but he will try hard, week after week. At the ATP Finals, and while he lost both matches, he was right there. He did  lose two matches against Djokovic and Sinner, but it was darn, close. Next year, if he continues to attack, earlier, with his backhand, and also to add more different shots, then for sure, he will go into the top five, and maybe, he might win a  f Slam in 2024. He is that good.  

7 Alexander Zverev

Will the German finally win a Grand Slam, next year? He has come close, a few times, but he was unable to hit a monstrous shot, into the corners. Yes, he can sit there, rally to rally, and he can swing hard, or he can just wait until he has a genuine chance to touch it on the lines. Perhaps when he started, he was immature, and he has said some obnoxious things, but now, he is a little bit more mature, so maybe next year, he can be much smarter. This year, almost all the top five guys beat Zverev, with  Djokovic, Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev. Is that enough? The good thing is that he did knock down Sinner and also, Andrey Rublev, but the mediocre is that when he is playing against the top ruler, he doesn’t really like at the net, and with his second serve, too. He should improve it, or he will not win a Slam in 2024. As he said: “I’m not going to change and get the emotions out of my game. It’s important to have emotions in sport. If you don’t have emotions, it’s like you don’t really care. Because if you care about something, you’re always going to be emotional. Doesn’t matter if it’s sports or personal life.”

6 Stefanos Tsitsipas

He started so well in January, reaching into the final at the Aussie Open, as he was hammering the ball, with a lot of spin, especially with his dry one-handed backhand. However,  Djokovic was more steady, especially with his return and his first serve. He was pretty packed, but not enough. On the clay, he was DARN decent, yet he could not break it out, when Alcaraz beat him twice, in Barcelona and Roland Garros. After that, he did a few very good matches, but then he began to struggle. He did have some fine matches, such as in Los Cabos, Mexico, and also, right at the end, he reached the semis in the ATP 1000 Paris, when he beat  Zverev, before he lost against Grigor Dimitrov. Then he retired at the ATP Finals in Italy. He was mentally, hurt. Tsitsipas thinks that if he can remedy with his forehand, more flat, and twist his volley, then he will have another chance to win a Slam. He really wants to do it. top 32 women: No. 10-6

Ons Jabeur
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

10 Barbora Krejcikova
She is one of the best doubles players, in front of almost everyone, but in the singles, she can be super steady. Yet then, she can fall  off. Her backhand can be flat, and also, she can spin, it. However, it could be to short, yet her forehand is strong, but not huge, all of the time. Yet the Czech can begin to be a real threat, winning Roland Garros in 2021. Then, she was locked in, but this year, she was pretty good, when she won  Dubai and San Diego, but not phenomenal, month after month. In 2024, though, she will have a chance to win a couple Grand Slams, in the doubles, and maybe, with the singles, if she can improve her forehand.

9 Maria Sakkari
She had a decent year, winning Guadalajara in September,  but after that, she began to slip, again. She  really loves to run, back and forth, and she can also mix it up, too, but her serve is not that mighty enough, and she does not crack the ball enough. Yes, the Greek can look intense, and she also can be badly consistent, but her returns are so-so. She will push herself again, and she really wants to reach into the finals at the Slams, for the first time, but to do so, she has to think about how to enrich, once again, and then be more reacting.

8 Karolina Muchova

She has gone very deep with all four Grand Slams, and while she has not done yet, she is just so phenomenal when she is totally locked in. She almost won Roland Garros in June, and she lost against Iga Swiatek in three, dramatic sets. She was close, but she hesitated. At the 2024 Australian Open, she must close the deal, ASAP.

7 Marketa Vondrousova
Another Czech can play amazing ball, winning the 2023 Wimbledon, and also, reaching the 2019 Roland Garros. The odd thing is that she is a capable person, yet she has only won two titles, and while she can go very vast, but she can also lose her head. In London, on the grass, she rose up quickly, and she nailed so many winners, beating Jessica Pegula, and Elina Svitolina, and in the final, she out-hit Ons Jabeur to win it all.  Without a doubt, this two weeks were her best, ever.  Her forehand and her backhand was incredibly limitless, and with a tremendous diversity. However, she can lose herself, mentally. In the fall, she looked very tired, and she lost a good amount. She is a darn good player, but if she wants to win more titles, then next year, she should not play week after week. The 24-year-old has to be more calm, and practice less, and sit down and think about how she should play.

6 Ons Jabeur
All year, it looked like she would finally win a Slam, but she hesitated at the 2023 Wimbledon in the final, and now, she still hasn’t done it, yet. She has so much likeness, with her terrific drop shots, even when she is way back on the court. She took down Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka at Wimbledon, and she was playing bending down, and she would put it away. However, Vondrousova was not nervous, while Jabeur backed up, and she lost 6-4, 6-4. She really cried, hard. Other than that, she had some good weeks, winning in Charleston, and in Ningbo, in China. Yet in the fall, she did not play very well, with a lot of errors. The Tunisian will try to improve her serve, and her return, more aggressively. If she does, she will have another chance to win a Grand Slam, but she has to be more stable. As she said: “Honestly, I felt a lot of pressure, feeling a lot of stress. … For me, I always believed in mental, in working on it. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past years since I was maybe 10 years old because I know if you are not ready physically, mentally you can always win.”