Archives for October 2018

WTA Finals Race: Wozniacki, Stephens, Kvitova



It is in the middle October, and next week the top 8 players are at the WTA Finals in Singapore. On Wednesday, Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova qualified, joining Simona Halep, Caro Wozniacki, Angelique Kerber, Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova and Sloane Stephens.

Halep’s back issues flared up enough for her to withdraw. Holland’s Kiki Bertens will take her spot.

Will they go out there and really battle? Mostly, but over the years in Singapore, a few people couldn’t run fast, or they were so exhausted. Right now, we don’t know until they get on the court, but day after day — they have to play three matches, wins or lose —so we will discover who really wants it.

There were some incredible matches last year. Kvitova, who reached the final and had a solid chance, but she lost 6–2, 4–6, 6–3 to Aga Radwanska, when the Pole was healthy and she out-thought everyone. Aga has been hurt over the past year so she isn’t in Singapore, but Kvitova is right there. The Czech has had a some terrific wins this season, but in the fall, she has been so-so at best. Will she rise? Perhaps, as Kvitova won the WTA Final in 2011, knocking out Vika Azarenka in three fun sets.

Kerber, too, is playing once again, but she hasn’t won the event. In 2016, she was on top of it, but she lost toDomi Cibulkova, who was on fire towards the end of the season. Cibulkova isn’t in this draw, having plummeted to No. 27.

Last year in October, Wozniacki won the event, for the first time, and she has qualified so many times. Back in Doha, she reached the final in 2010 against Kim Clijsters, who is now retired, and the Belgian overcame Wozniacki 6–3, 5–7, 6–3, which was pretty close. In 2017, in the final in Singapore, Wozniacki settled down and cracked her wonderful backhand. She was thrilled, which is why a few more months later, she won the 2018 Australian Open, the first time she had won a Grand Slam. Obviously, she was thrilled, but the most important thing is that not only was she confident, but she has improved her forehand and her returns. Maybe she can win it again next week? She is right there.

Who is playing the best in the event?

Kerber just split with the coach, Wim Fissette, andhad a pretty decent year. But, since she won Wimbledon, she has slipped. Winning Singapore would be almost shocking. 

The young Osaka certainly has a chance to win it. Kvitova has been struggling during the fall, and the same goes with American Stephens, is not playing well at all now. Pliskova looked awful in Moscow, while Svitolina has been very shaky.

Who will win it?

My vote for the top three in Singapore: Wozniacki, Osaka and Kvitova.

Roger Federer returns against Medvedev


The famous Roger Federer is back, playing in Shanghai, but in early September at the US Open, he was stunned by Aussie John Millman in four sets. That was a true shocker. It was in the fourth round, at night,  but it was still very  humid and thick. It was still so pretty hot. His body felt sick, and it was.  

The Swiss made so many errors that maybe he should have quit. But he continued to play, and he wasn’t running fast enough and he couldn’t really move.

Whatever the case, he lost,  but let’s not forget that Millman played incredibly well. He was smart and efficient. That was the best match he’s ever played.

Almost all players like Federer, and they want to play him.They appreciate his strokes. More importantly they want to play Federer because all the fans will come out and watch him. He is the most popular person in the world.  They know that all the fans will come out, wherever Federer is playing, because in the next few years, the 37-year-old will retire. And then they won’t be able to watch him anymore.    

So the young players want to make sure that when they walk on court, it will here the fans screaming in joy.

Coming up, in Asia, Federer will face Daniil Medvedev, the Russian, who just won Tokyo, beating Kei Nishikori in the final. The  6-foot-6 big swinger is only 22-year-old, which means that he is rising, put quietly. Win or lose, at least he will attack him.

Update: Federer worked hard to defeat Medvevev 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Medvedev told the ATP: “ATP 500 is definitely a different thing, beating indoor [great players] like Milos [Raonic], Denis Shapovalov and Kei in his hometown is something amazing. … You never win easy but doing this with easy scores, with amazing level of my game, I’m just really happy about myself and I hope to continue improving in this way.” 

The Russian added: “[Roger] was just destroying me [practicing],” but it’s going be good … because I know that straightaway from the first one I will need to try to put pressure on him also, because that’s what he does. If I stay passive, if I’m just going to try to put the ball in the court, that’s not going to work out. It was my dream probably to play him once, because we all know that his career will not last forever.”

Other Notes

Among the Americans: Sam Querrey will face the San Diego’s Taylor Fritz. Querrey played great last year, but now he is fading fast. He was No. 11 at the end of 2017, but now, he is ranked No. 57. Brutal.  

This week in Shanghai there is a few interesting young competitors, such as Aussie Alex de Minaur, South Korean Hyeon Chung, Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas and  another American Mackenzie McDonald. Who will still be playing in the weekend? A toss up…

And let’s not forget that Alexander Zverev is there, ranked No. 5, and during the first half of this year, he played spectacular well — outside of the the Grand Slams — but he hasn’t put together any tournaments since July. Time to step up again …
 
Three notable players who just lost and are struggling: Stan Wawrinka, Nick Kyrgios and Jack Sock.