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.

The 2017 US Open women’s final: Keys vs. Stephens


FROM THE US OPEN, FRIDAY, SEPT. 8 – Americans are quite pleased with the surprising women’s single final: the 22-year-old Madison Keys versus the 24-year-old Sloane Stephens.

Somewhat amazingly, Keys and Stephens have only played once, in 2015 Miami, Stephens out-ran Keys 6-4, 6-2. They have practiced we each other often, and say they are fast friends, but once they walk on court at the final at the US Open, they will forget about holding hands and lock in.   

Both of them have played spectacular matches during the past 12 days, swinging very hard, not giving up when you are down, running and running, believing yourself.

Keys can hit huge shots with her first serve, forehand and backhand. Stephens is very fast, and when she is ready, she can kiss the lines, being so powerful. So, she can be perfect, or she can slip. Her goal should be not to over-hit when she isn’t consistent, and when she is finally ready to attack, then she will push forward.

Too often Stephens backs off, trying to be steady. If her opponent isn’t making a ton of errors, then she has to be change tactics and be aggressive. Neither Keys not Stephens have reached a final at the Grand Slams before. They want it so bad to reach the final that they can taste it. They are very, very good, but one of them will be a little too nervous and make too many errors at the end. If Keys is patient when she needs to be, she will win. If Sloane is willing to go for it when it is super tight, she will win. A toss up, but a very fun one.

Nadal vs del Potro: rematch on the US Open

FROM THE 2017 US OPEN, FRIDAY, SEPT. 8 — Do you remember the last time that Rafa Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro played in the semis of the 2009 US Open? The Argentine crushed him, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2, and he went on to win it all. Then, the Spaniard said that obviously, Del Potro played as well as he could, but that it was very unusual, and that he was in the zone. In a sense, he was right. Now, Nadal has won 15 Grand Slam titles, and DelPo has only won one.

DelPo has been hurt for the past seven years. Had he been healthy the whole time, the tall man might have won 5-10 Slam titles. But he has not, so he has to forget it about it.

In a sense, he put the injuries behind him. He shocked Roger Federer two days ago, and four days ago, when he was sick, he still managed to overcome Dominic Thiem in five classic sets. His huge serve and gigantic forehand are on top of the ball, and he is very smart. His so-called weak backhand has improved, and he really likes to slice and keep it low.

Nadal has improved, too, with his two-hander backhand, which he hits deeper and a little harder than in years past. For sure, the lefty smokes his heavy forehand, and he is extremely fast. Most importantly, he changes his serves: left, right, in the middle, twisted and flattened out.

They have played each other 11 times, all pretty close. Nadal leads 8 to 5, beating him at 2007 Roland Garros, at 2009, 2011 2013 Indian Wells, and at 2011 Wimbledon, among others. DelPotro not only blew out Nadal at the 2009 US Open, but last year in the Olympic Games, he edged Nadal 5-7 6-4 7-6(5) in the semis and in 2013 Shanghai. On Friday night at the US Open, it will be super close.

If it goes five sets, Nadal will exhaust him, but if DelPo starts immediately in the first set and he is touching the lines, then he will frustrate the Spaniard. No one will get nervous because both of them have been around for a long time. You have to think that Nadal will go for it towards the end, hoping that he will tire Del Potro. The same goes for DelPo, who will think that eventually, Nadal will get shaky and he will start to push the ball. Whoever is ready to pounce with the fans jumping up and down will move on into the USO final on Sunday. The winner will be favorite, no matter if Kevin Anderson or Pablo Carreno Busta wins the other semi. 

Star-spangled semis: Four American women

Photo: Mal Taam/MALTphoto

FROM THE US OPEN , SEPTEMBER 9 – American CoCo Vandeweghe pulled off an amazing victor overcoming Aga Radwanska 6-4 in the third set of the third round. Then she out-stroked Lucia Safarova in two tough sets. On Tuesday, she walked on court again, and rose up, edging the then No. 1, Katarina Pliskova. Those were three fine victories. A few years ago, Vandeweghe was barely so-so, and now she concentrates, all the time. She is not only strong, but faster, and smarter. Vandeweghe desperately wants to go even deeper at the USO.

Next up is Madison Keys and the two Americans know each other pretty well. Keys, who finally stopped being so disappointed when she wasn’t playing well, continues to battle, and she managed to push down No. 4 Elena Svitolina. Floridian Keys is a massive hitter, from her backhand to her forehand to her first serve. Over the past few years, she has played fantastic and then loses emotional control and falls off badly. Finally, she is maturing.      

Once again, both of them love to bash the ball, and hit some gigantic serves. Whoever becomes gutsy will win the match. 

Venus Williams vs. Stephens

We all know that Sloane Stephens is on a roll. She beat Domi Cibulkova and Anastasia Sevastova in three sets, because she is moving so well, is very confident when she has an opportunity to hit deep groundstrokes. She can run forever, and she likes going down the line.With about a doubt, Stephens has played fantastic over the past six weeks.

She and Venus Williams have played once at the ‘15 Roland Garros first round with the younger American winning 7-6, 6-1. Williams didn’t play great, and it was on clay, so this is completely different.

Venus has won this tournament twice, in 2000 and 2001. She played fantastic, but it was a long time ago. As always, Williams has a fine backhand, a big first serve and she is super cagey. She can bother Stephens because she can be quite patient. Of course, it will go three sets. Of course, they both want to win — badly. At the end, it will be who is willing to kiss the lines. Toss-up? Maybe.

Mischa Zverev: Persevere and volley

FROM THE US OPEN – If there’s anyone still wondering why so few players serve and volley on the tour these days, just play back Sam Querrey demolishing Mischa Zverev during their round of 16 meeting at Flushing Meadows.

Querrey won 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in an hour and 17 minutes. While his exceptional level of play indeed contributed to the scoreline, it also demonstrated why rushing the net has become such a difficult task in today’s game.

With a shoulder problem slightly hampering Zverev’s serving, the tall, free-swinging Querrey could drill back returns and run down Zverev’s deep volleys to send them back in whichever direction. While Zverev had more success using angles and drop volleys to move his opponent forward, Querrey’s power made such shots harder to control, frequently producing balls that sat up for him to put away. Meanwhile, Querrey was sending down 130-mph blasts that were difficult just to return, scarcely return and charge.

Zverev, who broke into the Top 30 this season at age 30, is the highest-ranked player serving and volleying with regularity, and among just a handful in the top 100 in the ATP singles rankings. The German has seen his style of play declining since he first arrived on tour as a teenager, and says it is being squeezed from two sides, not just the slowing down of the courts, but also the speeding up of equipment.

“Even then the courts were getting slower,” Zverev recalled in an interview this season. “The balls were getting maybe a little slow. But, the equipment and racquets were getting more powerful. I always say it became little tougher for s&v because the ball travels [at a higher speed] through the air, but then kind of slows down a little bit when it bounces, which is not good for the serve-volleyer but is good for the baseliner.” 

Slower hard courts tend to be more gritty, and increase the effect of spin-producing poly strings, making it even tougher at net.

“Because the courts are so grippy, it really is good for topspin, the heavy topspin like Rafa (Nadal) or like (Roger) Federer also. So it’s been changing a little bit,” he said.

Hardly any players re eager to contend with this double whammy, but Zverev is still rushing in where others will not tread.

Zverev’s 20-year-old brother, Alexander, plays a contemporary baseline style and is in the Top 10 in the rankings. But it wasn’t for him. 

“I realized I wasn’t as effective from the baseline as I needed to be to win matches,” said Zverev. “Even when I was 15, 16, I felt like, coming in I win a lot of points and a lot of opponents get frustrated. I always felt it’s something I enjoy doing also because it’s like gambling a little bit … crosscourt, down-the-line, is he going to – I like that attitude, that gamestyle.”

Zverev was taught the net game by his father, Alexander Sr., who also played that way in a more conducive era. And despite all the obstacles, he’s found ways to make it work in today’s game. Having almost stopped playing a few years ago because of injuries, he climbed his way back to playing ATP tournaments in 2016 and has notched wins against Andy Murray at the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic at Shanghai, and Stan Wawrinka at Basel, also twice making the second week of the majors.

“I just try to read players,” said Zverev, adding that there’s an advantage to having an unusual game. “Which is good for me, because not a lot of players get to play someone like me.” 

And for any youngsters looking to pick up the tradition, he would tell them to commit even if takes a while before they get the hang of it. “To stick to it, do it for a couple of months,” he said.

Seeing him play might get a few of them doing just that.

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.  

SEMIS: RAFA NADAL

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.

SEMIS: ROGER FEDERER
 
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.       

SEMIS: A. ZVEREV

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.
 
SEMIS: CILIC

The Hidden Secrets of Federer’s Game

FROM THE US OPEN — There have been few players like Roger Federer when it comes to inspiring the kind of lyrical praise and glowing adjectives his game regularly receives. Even a casual onlooker just needs to glance at the 19-time Grand Slam champion on a tennis court to know they are seeing something special — the elegant strokes, the feline movement, the way a swing of the racquet can instantly transform the regular into something exceptional. It is a seamless blend of the athletic and the artistic, forged within the intense, swirling midst of competition.

Yet for all the broad appeal of Federer’s game, the players who watch him just as avidly as fans know there is even more in the details. To their trained eyes, it is the little things — a step here, a racquet turn there — that imperceptibly add up to a champion’s repertoire. What is equally striking is that each of these players, asked to identify a subtle feature of his game, selects something different.

It begins from the moment Federer tosses the ball up to start the point. “It’s very tough to read his serve, because the toss goes in different directions,” said Mats Wilander.

Players typically throw the ball up in slightly different positions depending on whether they want to slice, kick, or hit the ball flat in either direction, often allowing opponents to guess their intentions. Pete Sampras was famous for being able to disguise his delivery by always tossing the ball in the same spot. But Federer can throw the ball a particular way and then hit it another.

“This is next level,” said Wilander.

On top of that, Federer’s serving — on a good day, anyway — is also the most precise on tour. While most players place the ball a couple of feet inside the box, Federer can consistently keep within a foot of the lines.

That helps explain why, despite a delivery that rarely ventures above the low 120 mphs, his winning percentages are similar to the giants serving in the 140-mph range and he has the third most aces in ATP history behind Ivo Karlovic and Goran Ivanisevic.

Even on other shots, it’s not much easier to tell where Federer is going. Germany’s Mischa Zverev is among the very few players on tour still serving and volleying, and he relies on his ability to anticipate where the other player is going next. Except when he’s playing his idol.

“Federer takes almost every ball on the rise, which takes time from you, especially if you try to come in,” he said. “And the other thing is, he can position his feet the same way for down the line, for crosscourt, and for a lob. So that gives me no chance to read where he’s going, where with most other players, I can — based on how they position their feet on the court — if they’re leaning into the ball, if they’re leaning back.

“Federer and Rafa [Nadal], those are the two where I have a lot of difficulty to anticipate where the ball is going, but Federer even more.”

Like his feet, Federer’s hands don’t give much away, with the same swing, a little flick can send the ball almost anywhere on the court. “His wrist is just so creative,” said Zverev. “He can do so many things with his wrist, even when he’s off-balance.”

Zverev might be a Federer fan, but he can’t exactly say he likes playing against him. “I always feel like I am an amateur, and I have no clue what to do,” he said.

Other aspects of his swing and footwork also elicit admiration. As Federer strikes the ball, his arms and legs move in choreographed tandem, assured in their balance and timing.

“To me, he has the best technique on tour,” Feliciano Lopez told journalists a couple of years ago. “I have never seen anyone who moves on court the way he does. He always looks great in photographs. With other players, we’re stretched like this, or look like this [contorted]. Roger’s always show him up straight.”

Those photographs often capture the moment Federer makes contact — eyes locked, watching the ball coming off his racquet. And that is what other players also look at, noticing the way he stays so still above the shoulders. “He hits the ball, and he looks at the ball and he doesn’t move,” noted Fabrice Santoro. “He keeps [looking] on the ball much longer compared to other players.”

It all helps to produce the symphony of shotmaking that has become Federer’s signature. Most famous are the attention-grabbing crowd-pleasers like the “sneak attack,” the tweener, the dropshot and the high backhand smash. Admittedly, there can also be more than few shanks on off days. But even seemingly standard shots reflect an unusual amount of talent.

“He plays low-percentage tennis,” comments Nick Kyrgios, astutely, knowing a few things about low-percentage tennis himself.

Unlike the more volatile Kyrgios, though, Federer can hit such shots consistently and under pressure. That, Tim Henman has suggested on BBC, is because Federer adds “margin” — like by putting topspin on his trademark crosscourt angled forehand so it curls high above the net, allowing him to do it again and again.

Simona Halep especially likes the way Federer moves his feet when running around his backhand to hit the forehand, calling it “efficient” in its motion and positioning.

And while his one-handed backhand is not as big a weapon as the forehand, it has admirers of its own. Since Federer returned this season from an extended layoff following knee surgery, the talk has been largely of his topspin backhand, which he is hitting more often and offensively than before. But some pick the standard version as his most effective shot off that wing.

“His backhand slice,” said Lleyton Hewitt. “He’ll hit it and the other player, often they don’t know what to do with it, and then he takes control.”

Federer possesses five types of backhand slice, according to Santoro. There have also been measurements that suggest he can carve the ball more than any other player.

There is plenty more to pay attention to: his anticipation, his touch, his variety. Watching Federer has become something of a collective exercise within the game. But for a lot of pros, his conduct is just as remarkable as his play.

“As the player who has won the most Slams on the men’s side and been No. 1 for so many years, he’s incredibly relaxed … talking to everybody in the locker room,” said Michael Chang, recalling, “When I came on tour, the [John] McEnroe, [Jimmy] Connors, [Ivan] Lendl generation, everyone was in different corners, and not talking to each other, and so we learned from those guys, what you were ‘supposed’ to be. Roger’s very much not like that, and I think he’s created an atmosphere in the locker room where guys are a lot more friendly.”

Whether it’s on the court or off, fellow players see a lot in Federer.

Picking the US Open Women’s Draw

The First Quarter

No.1 Karolina Pliskova almost won the 2016 US Open, but Angie Kerber took her down, 6-4 in the third set. The Czech has played pretty well recently. She has improved a lot over the past two years. She is a little bit faster, she crushes the ball and she is very good at the net. Here, she is one of the favorites to win her first Grand Slam. But, at times, she can get angry and be off her game.

Pliskova might have to face against Shuai Zhang in the third round, which could be difficult, but she should get through. In the fourth round, then she will have to play ball. Assuming that Kristina Mladenovic gets through, then the Frenchwoman will be set to attack Pliskova. Mladenovic loves to come into the net, and while she isn’t very fast, she can create angles.

In the quarters, there are five players who can challenge the Czech: the good veterans – Svetlana Kuznetsova, CoCo Vandeweghe and Lucie Safarova – and the two very young players, CiCi Bellis and Anett Kontaveit. Pick the teenager Bellis, who is rising super fast, to move through the early rounds. But, by the time she hits the quarters against Pliskova, she will tap out.

The Second Quarter

There are lots of possibilities.

Elina Svitolina has played extremely well this season. She recently won Toronto, smoking her backhand and forehand. She is very determined. However, she has yet to go deep at the majors.

She might have to face Daria Gavilova in the third round, who has reached the final in Connecticut. She is small, but she loves to play and she is super fast. But Svitolina will move on, and then she will go up against Madison Keys, who is finally happy again. The American is ready to go on the court and stay there for hours. Both Keys and Svitolina want it bad, and in the end, Keys will hit harder and she will reach the quarters.

Guess who will play against Keys? How about the RG champion Jelena Ostapenko? The young big swinger hasn’t played great on the hard courts, but she knows what to do: powder the ball and hope it goes in. Without a doubt, if she faces against Angie Kerber, she will win in the fourth round, because the German is mentally gone.

Can Keys beat Ostapenko? Toss-up, as both of them are aggressive all the time. Give it to Keys, in a great marathon.

 

The Third Quarter

Ms. Garbiñe Muguruza is the favorite, hands down. She won Wimbledon, and she just won Cincy. She is on fire, and while she can get mad and pout, her first serve, forehand and backhand are very, very good.

Who can upset Muguruza? Maybe Petra Kvitova, if she is really back. But the two-time Slam champion hasn’t played well at all during the last five weeks and she has a tremendous amount of work to do. Possibly Venus Williams, but the former No. 1 is up and down on hard courts. Caroline Garcia has gotten better, but is not yet a real threat to top players. And then there is Caroline Wozniacki, who has played very, very well this season, but once she reaches the final, she really backs off.

It has to be Muguruza, hands down.

The Fourth Quarter

Well, well, what a great contest coming up in the first round with the five-time major champion Maria Sharapova versus the No. 2 Simona Halep. Sharapova is just coming back, and if she can be healthy, maybe then she can win another major. But until she is 100 percent physically, she will struggle.

But she is better than Halep. The Romanian is 0-3 in matches this year when one win would have given her the top ranking. She has frozen and played very badly, going down very quickly. Just last week, Muguruza destroyed her in the Cincy final, dashing her third shot at No. 1.

Remember in the 2014 final at Roland Garros? Sharapova beat Halep 6-4 in the third. Maria rose up at the end, and Halep pushed the ball. At the USO, both of them will be nervous, but Sharapova – if she isn’t hurt – will continue to attack. Halep will back off. Sharapova will win.

Who will reach the quarters? Look to Jo Konta, Ana Konjuh,or Sloane Stephens. Pick Stephens, who is lights out right now.

Zverev’s Amazing Year Continues in Montreal

Source: Coupe Rogers presented by Banque Nationale via Facebook.

Alexander Zverev has stormed up to a career-high No. 6 ranking after defeating Roger Federer in the final of the Rogers Cup in Montreal. Federer was struggling with fitness, but this takes nothing away from a dominating 6-3 6-4 victory by the young German who had saved match point in the second round against Richard Gasquet. This mental fortitude highlights the credentials of a player who has long been tipped to win a Grand Slam.

This trajectory seemed predestined for Zverev as soon as he emerged on the ATP World Tour, heralded as a future Slam champion in a short space of time. Zverev has continued along this trajectory without any major hiccups to change the popular opinion formulated when he burst onto the scene. In fact, the fitness troubles of the sport’s top players could accelerate Zverev’s journey to a Grand Slam title.

Zverev’s meteoric rise is reflected in the tennis betting at bet365, where the young German can be found at odds of +1200 to claim the US Open in September. This places him as fourth favourite in the current standings, and that situation may well change over the next couple of weeks. Andy Murray’s fitness is currently unproven, while the degree of Federer’s physical discomfort in Montreal is yet to be established. That would leave Rafael Nadal as favourite, and the Spaniard is never the same proposition on hard courts as he is on the clay. 

Federer’s defeat to Zverev was only his third loss of the year. Source: Coupe Rogers presentee par Banque Nationale via Facebook.

With expectation comes pressure, and perhaps the biggest question mark hanging over Zverev’s potential is that he is yet to prove himself in the high-pressure situation of a Grand Slam. There were high hopes of the German at Roland Garros, given his propensity to handle all surfaces with aplomb, but he fell to the sporadically dangerous Fernando Verdasco in the first round. Zverev fared better at Wimbledon, delivering his strongest Slam performance in a round-of-sixteen defeat to Milos Raonic.

Zverev should probably have prevailed in that match but was defeated over five sets. If Zverev can deliver his peak level across a best-of-five match, then there is little to suggest that he is not on the pathway to Slam success. Previous US Open winner Marin Cilic will be dangerous at the US Open if fully fit, but otherwise, the tournament promises to be extremely open.

The young German is undeniably the form player and therefore has to be considered a worthy contender. A look at the six ATP Masters 1000 tournaments so far in this calendar year substantiates that claim. Federer triumphed in Indian Wells and Miami before Nadal excelled on the clay of Monte Carlo and Madrid. The clay tournament in Rome was won by Zverev, a stunning victory that has now been joined by the aforementioned glory at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. 

That victory in Rome came after Zverev defeated Novak Djokovic in the final in straight sets, and Zverev doled out the same treatment to Federer. Some talented players lack the armoury to take down the best and therefore lurk in the lower position of the top ten for much of their career. Zverev has all the weapons to take down the best, and the US Open may be coming at the perfect time for a player in terrific form. 


Jennifer Carson is a recent sports journalism graduate and an avid follower of squash, tennis and lacrosse. She has previously written for publications including the Mansfield and Ashfield Chad and the Derby Telegraph.

Elina Svitolina wins Toronto, smacks Wozniacki

FROM TORONTO, THE ROGERS CUP, SUNDAY, AUGUST 13: Now Elina Svitolina is the top of the charts.

The 22-year-old blasted Carolina Wozniacki 6-4, 6-0 to win Toronto. Admittedly, she was tired, because day after day, she has to run back and forth, side to side, forward and back. She is very strong and determined. She barely slept last night, maybe three to four hours, which is incredible. She was showing the effects of beating three strong players: Venus Williams, Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep.

During the first set, Svitolina was up and down. Her forehand and backhand were pretty good, but she was a little late. Her serve was decent, but she could not kiss the lines. She was terrific at the net, bending very low and going the other way. At 4-4, Wozniacki looked pretty tired, too, while Svitolina kept pushing. She broke taking won the first set,

In the second set, the Ukrainian was almost perfect. She woke up, her legs returned, she attacked quickly against the Dane. She rarely hit an unforced error, while Wozniacki was super frustrated. She wasn’t going anywhere, and she was totally gone.

The former No. 1 Wozniacki has reached six finals this season — which is fantastic — but lost them all. She doesn’t know why she can read her opponents’ strokes. Overall, she isn’t aggressive enough and she freezes.

Svitolina has won five titles this year and thinks she can win the US Open. She hasn’t been close, but now, she knows that if she really believes that if she can play 100 percent, then she can knock down anyone.

Incredibly, the No. 1 ranking will be up for grabs by five women, according to TV commentators. Besides the Toronto finalists, current No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, former No. 1 Angelique Kerber and the almost-there-but-can’t-convert Simona Halep could all be the top woman by Sept. 11.

She wants to sleep soon, but she is so, so happy.     

“I was very, very tired after the first game of first set. And I knew that I need to give everything because Caroline doesn’t miss much,” she said. “You have to work really hard to get unforced error from her. I just decided I’m going to just play every ball and just leave everything on court. And that’s why, emotionally I was relieved when I won the first set, and then was playing better and better in the second. I really couldn’t believe that it all finished and I’m holding the trophy.”