Archives for October 2019

Medvedev is on a roll

Daniil Medevdev

Every week, now, the Russian Daniil Medvedev is rising very quickly. Last week, he won Shanghai, beating everyone, including No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev. Not only is he very powerful, and pretty steady, but he can change his direction when he has to.

He is very tall, he is fast, he can smack his forehand and with some fine spin. Finally, he is aggressive, most of the time, and he gets bolder every week.

Medvedev is young, but he is a little more mature, and he is definitely fearless. Over the past two-and-a-half months, he has reached the finals six times in a row, winning two of the ATP 1000 Masters Series, Cincy and Shanghai.

He is 6’6”, and now he has 58 wins. What a year — so far. Yes, he has played extremely well since August. But he has yet to win a Grand Slam, which is three out of five sets, not two out of three. He will need more the legs, brainpower and breath to win a major.

In the next month, Medvedev can continue to win, in Paris and the ATP Finals in London. But, can he take out Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer in one week? Maybe, but now they all know how he plays. The Big 3 know how to combat their opponents and Medvedev will be in their sights.

Will Medvedev reach another fina, or will he eventually fold? It happens to everyone. Even though he has progressed a lot, fortunes can change. Right now, he is on a roll. Can anyone catch him?

With back-to-back wins: Naomi Osaka rises once again

Naomi Osaka

On the clay or grass, Naomi Osaka can under perform. But on hard courts, when she is very focus and positive, the Japanese/American can be driven. On Sunday, Osaka beat the No. 1 Ash Barty in three sets in Beijing. The Aussie Barty likely will stay at No. 1 at the end of the year if she plays decent at the WTA Finals. Osaka is currently No. 3 and has a chance to move up.

The Beijing victory follows Osaka’s win in Osaka, her “home city.”

Does it really matter who is No. 1, given that both Osaka and Barty have won 2019 Slams? Yes, it is. When they play each other, then they know they must make their mark against the best. That is very important. You have to show up, lift up your chin, open your eyes, and then you have to latch it in. You have to be locked in. You have to whip your powerful forehands and jump on the returns. Go to the net, put it away, and swing hard into the corners from both sides. In the third set, Osaka did that, by being aggressive and brainy.

Both of them will show up at the new venue, Shenzhen, in the WTA Finals. It is possible that they will play each other again.That could be a spectacular match.

THE MEN
Also in Beijing, Dominic Thiem won the tournament, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in three sets. When Thiem started playing, he was already very good on the clay, but on the hardcourts, he was so-so. However, over the past two years, he practiced a lot, he listened and he willed himself to move himself forward and into the court. Also, he can go for it and when it is close, he can be combative. Not only did Thiem beat the young Tsitsipas, he beat the three Grand Slam champ Andy Murray and No. 9 Karen Khachanov. That was a great week by the Austrian.

Speaking of, Khachanov has a good shot to join the ATP Finals. The No. 8 Kei Nishikori is hurt and who isn’t playing, so the Russian should pass him in a couple weeks. Maybe even this week in Shanghai.

There are a few other players to have a chance to advance into the top eight competitors in London in November: Roberto Bautista Agut, Gael Monfils, Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini.

Young American men: Can they get close to the top?

Taylor Fritz

We are still waiting to see if the young U.S. men can reach into the top 10 at some point. How about in the top 15, instead?

The older American, John Isner, is still there, ranked No. 16 in the Race to London. Can he reach the top 8 towards the end of the year and play the ATP Finals in November? Possibly, but he will have to go very deep, week after week. The 34-year-old Isner has been there before, but maybe his legs are sore.
 
It appears that the young Americans look pretty good, but are they great and fantastic? Not yet.

At least they are pushing hard. Reilly Opelka just beat Taylor Fritz in Japan. That was a big win for him. The 6-foot-11 Opelka has a huge serve, and if he can stay in close near the baseline, he can slam it. However, when he has to run very fast, he can get tripped up. Opelka will never be speedy, but he can gradually improve. He is ranked No. 53, which is OK. But next year, he has to reach the top 20 at some point. Then we will know that he is getting better gradually.

Another young American, Fritz, has had a good year, but will the No. 31 move up towards the top? He will want to, but he has to think about how he is hitting about the ball, returning, and being more logical with his decisions.

There is only one more American in the top 50 — Frances Tiafoe at No. 46. He looked good during the winter and spring, but since then he has lost a lot. He fell to Alexander Zverev in straight sets, easy stuff. Tiafoe can grind it down, but it looks like he is confused. He was ranked No. 29 early this year. It is time to re-switch.

NOTES

Outside of the U.S., there are some fascinating youngsters, such as Andrey Rublev, who just bounced Grigor Dimitrov in Japan.

In Cincinnati in August, Rublev upset Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer. Maybe he plays too much, but when he focuses and drives the ball, he is dangerous.
 
No. 1 Novak Djokovic lost at the US Open, when he retired. But in July, he won Wimbledon. He was injured in New York, but he now he feels good enough to play. Because the US Open champ Rafa Nadal won’t play for the next month, Djokovic will stay at No. 1. I would think that the Serbian will end the year ranked No. 1, but he still has work to do against the top players.