Archives for 2019

Preposterous? Nadal and Barty win Roland Garros

OK, Roland Garros is over. Finished. Done. It is on the grass now, most of it is in England. There is almost clay throughout the year, and the same thing goes with the hardcourts. But before thinking about the famous Wimbledon, there are a few thoughts about the French Open champions Rafa Nadal and Ash Barty, and others, too.

So, let us do it.

Nadal has won 12 majors in Paris. When he came into the tournament, the Spaniard wasn’t sure that if he would be hurt, which he has done it many times, then maybe he would lose. But, he really knows what he has to do, pay attention all the time, don’t even think about how sore his shaky legs, and swing hard.

Many people have to try to out-think him, to get into his brain. But at RG, Nadal cracked Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem. Those two cannot shake him. Once again, he pushed Federer to the left and the right, and down the middle. Nadal would pass him, or he would nail a winner with his huge forehand.

In the final, against Thiem, he knew that in the first couple hours, the Austrian would attack him frequently, and he would mix it up, too. They split the first two sets, but in the third set, Nadal began to punch away. He made very few errors, while Thiem became too anxious, and he was confused. He was done. Nadal beat him 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1, and now he was thrilled, a new record that may well never be broken.

In the last five years, Nadal has played great tennis, from 2017 until now, but in 2015-2016 he also had to stop for months because he frequently was injured. But he just moves on, and he pushes himself and improves. He recovered, and on clay, in the past year and a half, he won Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and Roland Garros. Also, on the hardcourts, he won the ATP 1000 in Canada in 2018.

The question is, can he win Wimbledon again? The last time he did was in 2010 — 10 years ago, when he beat Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych. If his legs are fine, Nadal definitely have a good shot.

A new Australian champion
Four years ago, Ashleigh Barty wasn’t playing tennis anymore. She quit for a couple years, playing professional cricket, to be at home in Australia. Then, she came back in 2017, and gradually, she was much more tranquil and steady. Even last year, you could tell that she had a tremendous variety. She was strong, fast and patient. At Roland Garros, she smoked the very young Czech, Marketa Vondrousova, 6-1 6-3, in the final. Barty went out for the first time in the final and dived in. She was perfect.

Now she is ranked No. 2, and she is very close to the top spot, right behind Naomi Osaka. After Wimbledon, both of them can be No. 1. That should be preposterous— and fun.

Can Federer dent Nadal’s dominance?

Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer will compete on Friday at Roland Garros. They are the two best players, without a doubt, and maybe someone else will pass them. 

But not now, because not only are they so intelligent, on court, they are also brilliant when they decide which way they will go.

They both have a bundle of assets: their heavy serves, their smart returns, their famous forehands, how they can slide, and they put it away on the net. 

But, it has been different on clay, in Paris. Nadal has beaten Fed five times at Roland Garros. The last time was in 2011, when the Spaniard knocked off the Swiss 7-5 7-6(3) 5-7 6-1. That was a good contest, because the other four matches on the dirt in Paris, Nadal beat him fairly easy. 

Now, obviously Federer is much more comfortable on hardcourts, and he has beaten Nadal five times in a row from 2015-2017. At the 2017 Australian Open at the beginning, Federer had finally improved his backhand, where before, Nadal would just push him back, with a very dense topspin, and deep, and the Swiss couldn’t move forward. Federer finally would put his head down. However, on the AO, he began to leap early with his backhand, before the ball jumped up, so he could flatten it out, down the line, for a winner. Federer won 6-3 in the fifth. He was thrilled.

But that was totally different. On the hardcourt, or on grass, the Swiss is more positive. Federer is almost always confident, on every thing, which is why he was won 20 Slams. But he has never found out how to shake Nadal on clay. After all, Mr. Rafa has won 11 majors at RG. He has been the most dominant player. 

Both men have lost one set, in the first five matches. Both of them have played excellent ball, overall. Federer has won this tournament once, in 2017. Can he do it again and stop Nadal on clay? It is possible, if he can push himself hard. But Nadal has beat him 23 times, and Federer has won 16 matches. Does that prove that the 17-time champion Nadal is a better player? Overall, it might be a toss-up, but on clay, Nadal locks in and he out-hits Federer. In the semis, Nadal will win in four tough sets.

Ash Barty always improving, to face Madison Keys

Many years ago, the Australian Evonne  Goolagong won the French Open in 1971, which was a little bit surprising. She did win the Australian Open five times, and she also won Wimbledon,  twice. That was on the hardcourts  and the grass. But at Roland Garros, it was on clay, so it was difficult, to slide and be very super patient. Goolagong did that, and she won it, for the first time.

Now we have to wonder whether the other Aussie Open, Ash Barty, to actually win the event. She is so steady, and she is very creative. On Monday, she beat the young American, Sofia Kenin in three sets. In the third set, she pushed herself, and she mixed it up until  Kenin panicked. She was done at the end.

In January at the AO, Barty reached the quarterfinal. She took down Maria Sharapova 6-4 in the third in the fourth round, and then she lost against Petra Kvitova, who was playing fantastic. No big deal. 

In Miami, Barty beat three top 10 players: Kiki Bertens, Kvitova, and in the final, she wore down Karolina Pliskova.

She did not play great at Madrid and Rome, but it was respectable.  Here in Paris, mentally, on court, the No. 8 Barty is calm and diligent. 

“Nothing changes. Very much we go through the exact same process after a match,” Barty said. “Whether it’s a win or a loss, it’s the same recovery, same everything. I think that’s probably what I’ve been doing best over the last 12 to 18 months. And it’s put me in better positions. I’m in these positions now because I’m doing that better.”
She will face against Madison Keys on Wednesday, who has certainly gone deep at the Slams,  at the Aussie Open, Roland Garros, and at the US Open, but on clay, she can been a little out of it. She is ranked No. 14 — not in the top 5 — because she gets hurt a lot.
However, at RG over the past eight days, Keys was thoughtful and she doesn’t become so angry, which she had before.  In 2018, Keys reached the semis in Paris, and then she went down against her friend, Sloane Stephens [who just lost against Jo Konta yesterday). 
If Keys can beat the Britain, she has to attack her quickly, because Konta can do it exactly the same thing.


Novak Djokovic has yet to lose a set in the first four rounds. The No. 1 is so steady, deep and thoughtful. He has only won RG once, but remember, he is going for a Grand Slam. Last year and this year, he won the 2018 Wimbledon, the 2018 US Open, and the 2019 Australian Open. Very few people have won it four times in a row. He is thinking about it, that is for sure.

Djokovic will face against Alexandra Zverev, the best young player over the past two years, but this season, he has been struggling. The German walked into RG and in the first round, he kept his head down and survived to beat John Millman in five sets. Then in the third round, once again, he he went into the fifth set, and he came though, edging the much improving Dusan Lajovic. 
In the fourth round, he also edged another player, the experienced Italian, Fabio Fognin in four sets.  

Zverev has won a few huge events in the ATP 1000s, but the 22-year-old has never gone deep at the Slams. He has only reached the second week two  times. Last year, at Roland Garros, he was up and down there, but three times in a row, he won it in five setter, pushing back Karen Khachanov, among others. Then in the quarters, he was very tired, and he lost quickly against Dominic Thiem.

Now, here,  he can attack  Djokovic. He knows that the Serbian will grind him down. Not only can he yank him around — especially within his amazing backhand — but he can throw in  his spectacular first serve,and he can back on the wall and return  it court. Djokovic is very fast and agile. 

Zverev does like long rallies, but if it goes four hours, then the German could get tired, with his legs, and he will rush the balls. Whether he does it or not, the No. 5 Zverev will be around for a very long time, but can he stun Djokovic on Wednesday? Possibly not, but it will be a very fun contest.

Nadal, Federer cruising in Paris

In is possible that Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer will meet in the semis at Roland Garros. They have a long way to go, three more matches to win, and for sure, whomever they play, they will be the favorites.

However, anytime, any day, they can break down. With Nadal and Federer, that has been very rare, but it happens, here and there. At the Grand Slams, they have played brilliantly, and the 17-time Grand Slam champ Nadal is totally focused on clay, while the 20-time Grand Slam victor Mr. Federer is a master performer. However, they can hick-up. If it happens for one hour, or two, even these great champions can be eliminated. Nadal and Federer have done that before, and they can do it again this week, and next week.

On Wednesday, Nadal crushed Yannick Maden 6-1 6-2 6-4, while Federer was solid, beating Oscar Otte 6-4 6-3 6-4.

On Friday, Nadal will have to face David Goffin, which should be a fun match, but how will the Belgian attack Nadal’s sometimes-soft backhand, and leap on his second serve. Other than that, Nadal will push him into the wall with his massive forehand, his heavy
first serve and his deep return. Nadal will likely be comfortable, and Goffin does get nervous. If Goffin wins a set, he will be thrilled. But Nadal will move on.

Federer’s next opponent is Norway’s Casper Ruud, who is only 20-years-old. Ruud can play well on all surfaces, and in February, he was ranked No. 135. Now he he is ranked No. 63. He is coming up. However, dealing with Federer is totally different. He has so many shots. Plus, Ruud has to walk out of the court and listen to the fans, who absolutely love Federer. Emotionally, it will be difficult for Ruud to be very calm and forceful. It is possible that Ruud can grab one set, but not more
than that.

Four of the top men won on Wednesday: Stefanos Tsitsipas, Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian Dimitrov is rising up again, but the same goes for Wawrinka, who won this tournament before. Stan the Man is the favorite, but Dimitrov can change it up. He hopes.


I am waiting to see Karolina Pliskova actually win a major. She has been very close, but she still hasn’t found a way to shake it off and grab a Slam. Pliskova just won Rome, and she is ranked No. 2. She is quicker than she used to be. But on clay? I am not sure she can focus every match at RG. On Wednesday, Pliskova destroyed Kristina Kucova 6-2 6-2, with so many winners.

American Sloane Stephens took out Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-1, 7-6. Stephens reached the final last year and she was locked in. She hasn’t had a great year, though, so she has to raise herself, immediately.It is too bad that the Canadian Bianca Andreescu withdrew due to a right shoulder injury. She won Indian Wells and shortly after, she had to stop at Miami. Now she has done it again. She has to fix it and be 100 percent before she plays again.

Halep can actually win Roland Garros again

Simona Halep

It must have rained on Monday in Paris, a beautiful, fascinating place. Last year, at Roland Garros, the now defending champion Simona Halep was in the third set, in the final. She did not back off, as she had in 2014 against Maria Sharapova. Five years ago she was in her first Slam final and she froze and the American/Russia flew away to victory.

It took her four more years to recover at the Slams, but eventually, Halep became more aggressive and she locked it in. Romanian Halep finally won a major, beating Sloane Stephens in three sets.

Can she do it again over the next two weeks? That is a toss-up, because this year, the clay court lover hasn’t won a tournament this season. But Halep is very, very good, and she can run side to side forever, making her always a threat on the dirt.

“[It’s] much better and much easier, because I have the title already. Doesn’t matter anymore what is going to happen,” Halep said. “Everything comes now comes as a bonus. So, I will try just to give my best and to see if I’m able to do it again.”

There are a number of people who can win the event. Not everyone, but maybe 15 other people. Halep said that maybe 10 folks can do it, and she mentioned that Karolina Pliskova and Kiki Bertens are on the cusp of major glor, as they recently won Rome and Madrid, beating Halep in the final.
This season, Halep lost to Pliskova in Miami on the hardcourt. In January, at the Australian Open, she went down hard against Serena Williams in a tough contest in three sets.

The now retired and former three-tim Grand Slam champion and broadcaster Kim Clijsters said that Halep is now without her former coach Darren Cahill. The Aussie Cahill stopped coaching because he wanted to spend more time with his children.

“It’s also going back there without Darren Cahill, how [Halep] talks about it, but it must have a little bit of an impact in a way,” Clijsters told Reuters. “It will be interesting to see for her going back to a place where Darren helped her last year to win her first Grand Slam and then not being there.”

Halep will find out pretty quickly. Today she had to right her ship. She rolled in the first set but Aussie Ajla Tomljanovic pushed her in the second. In the third set, Halep rolled, winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.
Here is a terrific match set for the third round with Kei Nishikori going against Jo Tsonga. Frenchman Tsonga has never won a Slam, but he has gone deep. Obviously, he has been hurt a lot over the past five years, robbing him of too many opportunities. But, when he is on and health,y he can keep finding the answers. Nishikori has also been very good at the majors when he is ambitious, and the Japanese actually likes clay. That has to be a five-setter. Grueling… 

Another good Serbian Laslo Djere, is ranked No. 32, and he won the first round. He is pretty young, and without a doubt, the No. 1 Novak Djokovic is watching him, and I would think that he gives him a little bit advice…

Both Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer both won easily on Monday. Nadal is clearly the favorite again, but he might have to face against David Goffin in the third round. That could be fun, at least for a while…
Here is another excellent contest coming up: the 2014 US Open champ Marin Cilic against the 2017 ATP Final winner Grigor Dimitrov. Yes, they are not playing great now, but in Paris, they will dig in for many hours.

The creative Djokovic wins Madrid, now playing Rome

Years ago, the No. 1 Novak Djokovic could not figure out on clay, he was pretty decent, but not fantastic. But now, the Serbian more or less knows how to construct his points.

On Sunday, Djokovic won Madrid, beating the young but tired Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 6-4. He has won 14 Grand Slams, and he has also won 33 Masters 1000 titles. Overall, he has won 74 crowns. Without a doubt, he is one of the best players ever — along with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.

This week, he will play in Rome, another huge event, and he has won it four times. We all know that his serve and his backhand are legendary. His forehand has also improved a lot, when he can spin it or flatten it out. He is also very efficient at the net, and he can return the first serves almost better than anyone. Let us just say that he, Federer and Nadal can find a way to get their rackets and get it back. Djokovic’s returns are best, when he gets them back deep.

However, he is not perfect — nobody is. So, even if wins Rome again, does that mean that he will automatically grab Roland Garros again in a few weeks? He did it once, in 2016, beating Dominic Thiem in the semis — he crushed him — and then he put down Andy Murray in the final in four sets. That was very good stuff by Djokovic.

But hold on. Last year, at RG, he lost in the quarters to Italian Marco Cecchinato. Djokovic wasn’t quite ready to dance again, because he had been hurt, so it had taken him five months to be confident again.

So, then his confidence boomed, as he grabbed Wimbledon, the US Open, and then in 2019, he won Australia. That is three in a row at the Slams. Can he do it, four in a row at the majors? Very few have done that, just a few, like Aussie Rod Laver, who did it twice. But that has been a long time, almost 50 years ago.

Now we are in 2019. Djokovic is very smart on court, and he finally likes the sliding clay. He should be mentally happy in Rome, but in Paris, in the second week — assuming he wins three matches — then the pressure is on. And he will know that

On Thursday, he will face the young, good Canadian Denis Shapovalov. The blonde, 20-years-old Shapovalov can really crack it, and he is ranked No. 22. This year, he can reach the top 10 in the summer, but on clay, he can get frustrated and then he stops thinking. He cannot do that for only a second, as Djokovic will attack him quickly. Djokovic has done it hundreds of times and should do it again on Thursday.

Ole Madrid: Who can take on Nadal?

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Rafa Nadal loves clay. The Spaniard has won it everything, at Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros. But, over the last couple weeks, he lost to Fabio Fognini in the semis in France, and then he went down in Spain against Dominic Thiem.

In mid-March, at Indian Wells on hardcourts, he pulled out in the semis because his right knee felt pain, and he was injured — again. On April 17, he was ready to play again, Nadal said: “I can’t pretend that I don’t have pain at all, because I never thought about that. It’s a long time ago that professional players play normally with pain, because that’s part of the sport at the highest level.”

Well, then, he will find out pretty quickly, because at the 2018 Madrid, Nadal actually lost to Thiem again in Madrid. After he lost in Barcelona, Nadal said, “After this week, my confidence is back.”

Really? But he lost twice in a row on his favorite surface. He has been dominating over 13 years, but perhaps he is getting older, so maybe he knows that he cannot win too often, or maybe he is thinking that his legs aren’t that solid.

But, remember back at 2018, Nadal won Rome over Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev, and then at RG, the Spaniard flipped Thiem in the final 6-4 6-3 6-2. Nadal knows exactly what he wants to in France, which is why he has won 11 Roland Garros titles.

The reason why is because he, Roger Federer (20 majors) and Djokovic (15 majors) are in great shape and super smart. Most importantly, they really like playing 3 of the 5 sets, rather than just 2 out of 3. In the fifth, they won’t become too tired, while others — who have yet to win a Slam —  will. The 25-year-old Thiem knows he can win a major, but he really has to dig very deep.

Three guys are missing and hurt: John Isner, Kevin Anderson and Milos Raonic. Will the tall men play at RG? Up in the air, because all of them like grass over clay. It’s about foot speed on clay and huge serves on grass.

Federer and Thiem could face off in the quarters. Nadal could go up against Kei Nishikori in the quarters, which could be a blast to watch. The frequency injured Juan Martin del Potro is finally back and will play in Madrid.

Stefanos Tsitsipas just won Estoril and now he is ranked No. 9.  On hard courts, the young man looks terrific, but on clay, he is figuring how to construct points. That was a good week in Estoril, but now he has to beat a number of excellent players. In the next month, we will see how darn good Tsitsipas will be.

Who’s the favorite the French Open?

Simona Halep

“Who’s the favorite for fabulous France? There are a lot, which is another way of saying there isn’t one at all.

One day, the two-time Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova might actually become No. 1 — she has been so close over the previous 10 years — and it could be on the clay courts. The Czech just won Stuttgart and rose up to No. 2. She doesn’t always love clay, but with three clay titles since 2018, these days it seems she does. Kvitova is very strong and now can play for many hours, and she can really hit some hopping serves.

She has never won the French Open, but she did reach the 2012 semis against Maria Sharapova, when the two-time champion and Russian out-slugged her.

Though Kvitova has won twice at Wimbledon, on clay in Paris, you have to slow down and wait and wait until you get an opportunity, and then strike. Having improved her fitness, she’s starting to do that.

Simon Halep finally won a Grand Slam when she beat the American Sloane Stephens in the final at the 2018 French Open. During the third set, she was consistent and forceful, while her opponent checked out. Halep can do it again, and actually, so can Stephens, who won the 2017 US Open. Even though she seems very confused and hasn’t won a tournament this season, she just hired the very smart coach, Sven Groeneveld, and might right herself as she does so often. Regardless, it’s the 2018 winner Halep who’s seen as the current favorite. “

Osaka in the top line
The No. 1-ranked Naomi Osaka is a tremendous player, upsetting Serena Williams in the final of the controversy-laden 2018 US Open, being so peaceful and lethal at 5-4 in the third set. There were no nerves, just blasting the ball. K-boom — Osaka grabbed it. The same occurred during the Australian Open final against Kvitova, and she edged her 6-4 in the third. She really believes in herself, and she can blast the ball in Paris. But Osaka does not love clay yet, so she has to learn to slide and return before she starts swinging hard.

Serena Williams has won the tournament a couple times, and the 23-time Grand Slam champion can play anything she wants — except at the net — so when she is feeling fantastic, she can win it again. But right now, she is still hurt — if she goes to the French Open, she has to step up quickly, or she will get knocked down.

Caro Wozniacki loves hard courts, but like over the years in Roland Garros, she gets pretty angry because she cannot hit enough winners, especially with her forehand. When she is happy, she is really happy, but when she loses, she clams up. She will likely do it again.

Muguruza, Sabalenka slumping
Garbine Muguruza has won this tournament before, in 2016, which was surprising, but the Spaniard can smash her forehands and backhands and knock the ball on the lines. Mentally, she can go down fast, but when she does not do that, she can raise her game. In Paris? That is a toss-up, but if she’s healthy, she has a small chance to produce another surprise and win it again.

It was in 2018 the young Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka eventually cracked the top 10. She is very intense and strong, but on clay, she is still learning to figure out how to play. There are a few other excellent established players — Angelique Kerber, Karolina  Pliskova, Elina Svitolina and Ash Barty. The German veteran Kerber has won three Slams — at the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. But in Paris, she has never reached the semis, not because she is not super steady — which she is — but because she doesn’t go for the corners or punch the ball returning second serves. But when she is rock solid, she can go very deep.

Pliskova should win a major, but the 27-year-old hasn’t yet. She did reach the semis in Paris in 2017 and she faced Halep, but right towards the end, she wasn’t steady enough. Regardless, she has improved a good amount, and she is thoughtful, so perhaps she can do it for the first time on the gorgeous clay. It wouldn’t seem like the most obvious place.

Elina Svitolina never gets tired, and she has won some big tournaments, but at the Grand Slams, she gets very nervous and loses fairly early. But she is so good with her first serve, her forehand and backhand, that it seems she has to have a breakthrough sometime. This year?

The young Australian Ash Barty is getting better all the time. She is steady and thoughtful and she never gets tired, too, playing both singles and doubles. But she doesn’t like clay and has to grind it for many hours in the French Open. At least she can aim to reach the second week.

There are still more players who can reach the second week and beyond: the again-rising Belinda Bencic from Switzerland, the new and excellent Canadian Bianca Andreescu — who is currently hurt — the steady Qiang Wang, and the other Americans — Madison Keys, Danielle Collins, Sofia Kenin and the long time veteran Venus Williams. Some American will go deep in Paris, but exactly who is an extremely big toss-up.

The fantastic Mr. Federer, back on clay

The last time that the fantastic Roger Federer played at Roland Garros was in 2015. He went down in the quarterfinals and he seemed done at this event.

He could certainly still win on grass, or on the hardcourts, but on clay, in Paris, the 20-time Grand Slam champion has only won it once during the last 15 years, while his great rival and Spaniard Rafael Nadal has grabbed it 11 times. 

The Spaniard locks in, he sprints around, he hits with a huge amount of pace and extremely heavy off the ground. Off the clay, he has also has his problems in recent years now, but on this surface he is still the man to beat.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion Nadal has bashed Federer a number of times in the 16th   arrondissement, as he attacks his backhand, extends points and runs forever on the dirt.

In 2015, Federer was shocked by his good friend, Stan Wawrinka, in the quarterfinals. He’d never lost to Wawrinka on hardcourts or grass, where they had played many, many times.  But that time, in Paris, on clay, Wawrinka’s monster backhand was on fire, and Federer could not control him.

Then came knee surgery in 2016, when he returned on the clay only to start having more physical problems and being forced to withdraw from Roland Garros. An incredible comeback followed in 2017 as he won the Australian Open, but he still was so cautious about clay that during the next three years, he said ‘No, I am not going to play in France, I just need to rest.’

So he waited, and he waited. But something inside him wanted to return to Paris in the springtime, to slide and sashay on a surface where he grew up. Following this year’s Australian Open, he announced that he would be playing a limited claycourt schedule — Paris, and a warm-up in Madrid.

At the beginning of April, Federer won Miami once again, and he was thrilled. But did it increase his odds to win the French Open?

He doesn’t seem to care whether it did. “I really want to go into the clay playing pressure-less, pressure-free,” Federer said. “If things don’t go well, then I can say maybe that was expected, and if they do go well, then I’m definitely excited. And then when the stakes get really important, I might be able to play some nice tennis on clay again.”

Federer will start in Madrid in a few weeks.  Even if he wins it — and it’ll be his first event on clay in three years — can he still snag Roland Garros? It is possible, but he will not be the major favorite. 

Nadal has been injured this year, but if he gets healthy, then he and the massive forehand he possesses will be favorite. The same goes with the No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who has won 15 Grand Slams, and three in a row: the 2018 Wimbledon, the 2018 US Open, and recently the Australian Open. He badly wants to do the Djokovic Slam again, so he can show the world that he might be the best player of all time.

Outside of those three, there are a few young players who are rising. Dominic Thiem, who won Indian Wells, is at his best on clay and the Austrian has reached the French Open final. The German Alexander Zverev is ranked No. 3, and he has won a few ATP 1000 Masters, but in the Grand Slams, he has yet to get beyond the quartefinals. But Zverev is a huge basher on both sides, and when he is confident, he can hang around in the rally for a very long time. Soon enough, he will go deep at  majors.

The Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas is only 20 years old and recently cracked the top 10. Like Zverev, he can be patient, but anytime he has an opportunity, he can aim for the lines and touch them. Two other very tall youngsters are getting better all the time: Russians Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev, both of whom are in the top 15. And others, like Canadian teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime, are also coming up.

Ten years ago, in 2009, the now 37-year-old Federer won the French Open. The established champ Nadal was stunned by the Swede Robin Soderling, while Federer had to come back from behind against Germany’s Tommy Haas and Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro (who is still there, but is currently injured). In the final, the smart Federer out-thought Soderling to lift the Roland Garros title for the first time and complete the career Slam. He still looks at it as one of the best wins of his career.

Ten years ago, on clay, Federer was super confident. Perhaps he still is.  It is early to know exactly who he would play during two hard weeks at Roland Garros. But if Federer starts playing extremely well, then whoever goes up against him has to play at a top level to trip him up. If he does not, Federer will knock him down quickly.

After all, when he walks on the court, Mr. Roger Federer can be simply brilliant. And he likes to smile, too.

Guess what? Federer and Barty wins Miami

Roger Federer was dominant again. In Miami, he was darn good, almost every match, crushing with his hard-to-read serve, his spinning backhand, his massive forehand, and he was intelligent at the net. He is 37-year-old now, but he really isn’t aging on court. He is not slow, and he can slip to catch it. He is very sharp, and he locks in.

Roger Federer

Federer has won 20 Grand Slams, and he has now won 101 titles. That is huge. In his last three matches n Florida, he easily beat Kevin Anderson, Denis Shapovalov and John Isner. They couldn’t figure him out. Maybe they never will, until Federer retires.

Barty’s biggest title

A few years ago, Ash Barty was out of it, she quit the sport. She decided to move back home in Australia, and she joined the cricket club. She liked it, she likes all sports, but in her head, she knew that she had to recreate it, and then she walked into the tennis court. She just wanted to hit the ball, and run, until she was comfortable again. She decided to comeback in 2016, and it took her a long time to understand that she is really good: fast, strong and a tremendous variety.

On Sunday, Barty won Miami, her biggest title, dispatching Karolina Pliskova 7-6(1) 6-3 in the final. She knocked out three top 10 players: Kiki Bertens, Petra Kvitova, and Pliskova. She wore them down, all of them.

Now Barty is ranked No. 9.  She rarely loses early anymore, and for the rest of the year, she will have an opportunity to win a Grand Slam. Can you imagine that? Maybe at Wimbledon or the US Open. Now, she thinks on court and she doesn’t get nervous anymore. The is important, to say the least.