Archives for 2020 2020 yearend review: top 30-26 men

Taylor Fritz

30. Ugo Humbert
The 22-year-old Frenchman is playing hard. While he is gradually coming up, he has to take more care of his game and improve his shots. He did upset Stefano Tsitsipas this year, and he also topped Marin Cilic. Normally those would be major victories but the Greek had a dusty year and the former US Open champion Cilic slumped a lot. The lefty Humbert can smash his backhand. In October, he won Antwerp, Belgium. In January, he won Auckland. There were mediocre matches, but when he is feeling fine, then he can put it away, falling there opponents. If he returns better in 2021, then he can find in the top 20. of

29. Taylor Fritz
The American had a good year; maybe not great all the time, but he plays so many matches. In the summer, it looked like he was getting smarter and more powerful. But, at the US Open, in third round versus Denis Shapovalov, he lost 6-2 in the fifth set. He was very disappointed. After that, in Europe in the fall, he was 3-6 He must have been exhausted, because he was a little bit flat. He is still young, and he can be thoughtful. He can hit the ball with strength, but, just like other young players, they have to learn to return, attack the net and show some variety. With some improvements, he will try to break into the top 15.

28. Benoit Paire
He has been a constant for a very long time, with 224 wins and 239 losses. When he retires, the 31-year-old will be thinking: I was pretty solid, but he could not crack into the top 15. He tried, but he pushed him back. The Frenchman can be arty as his game is all about the hot shots. He can slide around, and chop it. Or he can whiff. As he has said, sometimes he can play great, or the next day, it is not working.
27. Casper Ruud
Not many people who live from Norway and there are just a few competitors who have competed on the ATP Tour. During the summer, they play outside, when it is warm. But, in the fall, here comes with freezing temperatures. They play indoors, and there are some terrific areas. But, when you live there, you have travel a lot to southern Europe,and the United States. Ruud seems to know how to bang the ball, and he can run it a lot. His father, Christian, is his coach and a former ATP Tour player. Maybe Casper can add to his game, and meld it up. He has the potential.

26.Dusan Lajovic
The 30-year-old had a fine year. He can climb even higher because he has finally matured in the last two years. He was hurt significantly, but when he returned, he was sharp. In Italy a couple months ago, he upset Milos Raonic in 2 hours and 32 minutes, a heroic win. Can he finally enter the top 20? It is up in the air. He is very good, but can he really thrust himself and upend some slick players. I am just not sure that he will leap into the top-10 ever. 2020 yearend review: top 30-26 women

Alison Riske`
Alison Riske

30. Amanda Anisimova
The American is very young, and she needs to improve a lot. Yes, in 2019, she was impressive, but in 2020, she did not go very far. She is powerful, and she goes for winners, but she has to be more selective. In 2021, the 19-year-old should be a little more mature. If she can hit with more variety, her chances to succeed will soar.
29. Dayana Yastremska
Another young player, who is on 20-years-old, the Ukranian started very strong and reached the final in Adelaide, upsetting against Aryna Sabalenka and then losing to the No. 1 Ash Barty. But, then she was spotty; over the next nine months, she was at a middle of the road. Two years ago, she started to lock in and she was confident and fearless. But, during the summer and the fall, she wasn’t moving quickly enough and she hesitated. Another young player who will inprove, but she has to work on her serve and shots at the net in 2021.

28. Yulia Putintseva
The Kazakhstan had a decent year, reaching the quarters at the US Open, knocking off Petra Martic before she lost to Jennifer Brady. Two years ago, she played Roland Garros and she scratched into the quarters, shocking Jo Konta. In the second week, she fell to Madison Keys. She can crack with her very strong forehand and move well.

27. Karolina Muchova
The Czech is coming fast. At the start of the year, she was ranked No. 109, and now hit No. 27. She will rush into the top 20 pretty soon. She beat Venus Williams at the US Open early. In the round 16, she fell to Vika Azarenka, losing in the third set 6-4. Three years ago, she was good, but not damn good. She might be, as long as she uses her wordbook.

26.Alison Riske
Years ago, the American loved on the grass. In the last 10 years, she has found her way on the hard courts and clay. But eventually, practicing has improved her play on those surfaces. She has always been powerful.Yes, in 2019, she won a lot of terrific matches. But this year, she went 6-8. Injuries played a part earlier but she seemed to be 100 percent physically. In 2021, Riske may find her form again and find her path into the top 20 or higher.

Daniil Medvedev: Dreaming of greatness?

Daniil Medvedev

In the summer, Daniil Medvedev was up end down. He would get frustrated and Irritable. But, the Russian keeps working, developing some new good shots.

Last year was Medevev’s upsurgence. This year, he leveled off until this month.

At the ATP Finals in London, he certainly was more consistent. Even if he was losing, he pushed himself by unloading dominating forehands and backhands. He is 6-foot-6, which can be tough when you have bending down. Over the years, the tallest players were have to overcome their height advantage when they’re motoring around the court. Medvedev, who is fast and creative, mixes a special type of tennis package.

On Sunday, the Russian beat Dominic Thiem 4-6 7-6(2) 6-4 in the Finals final. That was a very hard match, for both players. In the third set, Thiem looked a little bit tired while Medvedev looked healthier and fresher.

Over the past year and a half, the Russian has won theree ATP 1000s: Cincinnati, Shanghai and Paris. Now, add the ATP Finals, what could be considered the fifth major.

The question about 2021 remains: Can he win his first Grand Slam? Possibly, but will he move past winning two-out-of three-set matches and progress to the Slam demands of three out of five.

That has alway been the history. In London, Thiem upset Rafa Nadal and Medvedev took down Novak Djokovic. Nadal has 20 Grand Slams, and Djokovic has 17 majors. Thiem has won one Slam, and Medvedev has zero.

In 2025, Medvedev and Thiem could win, let’s say, another seven Slams. That is very good, but right now, they are only on the cusp of greatness, which is owned by Nadal, Djokovic, Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg. Maybe Medvedev and Thiem have a dream, that they can join the best players of all time. But now, it’s just a dream.

ATP Finals: Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic needs to win or else

Dominic Thiem

In the ATP Finals, it is fascinating two 2020 Slam winners – Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic – might lose again and will fail to reach the semis. On Thursday, Djokovic will have to play Alexandra Zverev, who has been up and down. On Friday, Nadal will go to play Stefanos Tsitsipas. While it should be very close, the Greek is on fire. But, can he adapt as the pressure mounts.

On Wednesday in London, Daniil Medvedev was sealed in, and he was belted the ball, slamming his forehands and backhands. He bent down at the net. And he sprinted, while when he was busting.

What was a terrific day of matches. But, not for Djokovic, because he was irritable and disheartening. He made a number of errors, which is unusual. He lost seven games in a row, and that was odd. Every day, you can play awful, but that is not Djokovic, who has won so many titles. But, the Serbian can’t be perfect.

Nadal mostly wins, and he when he is not playing well, still, he keeps trying. As the Spaniard said, you have to stir it up. But, there are times when he is off. A couple days ago, Nadal lost to Dominic Thiem 7-6(7) 7-6(4).

The Austrian starts way back, just like with Nadal, and he hits with heavy twist. He is more patient now, and against Nadal, he was just fine waiting for a chance to take him. He really has improved over the past three years and how he is much better.

Thiem has won two matches, so he will be in the semis on Saturday. During the last few days, he wanted to show that eventually, he can become No. 1. No doubt, he is proving his point.

ATP Finals: It is all about exposure

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Next week at the ATP Finals at London, the top seeds will be the favorites, with Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal. Not like the Slams where matches are three out of five sets, the ATP Finals play two out of three.

That is why the Serbian and Spaniard, who have won so many Grand Slams, won’t be the overwhelming favorites. But, at least US Open champion Dominic Thiem will represent the youth movement, having one a Slam. The others can’t claim one. However, in their favor, is the indoor environment and quick courts.

To start, on Monday, Thiem will face Stefanos Tsitsipas, and, at night, Nadal will play Andrey Rublev. On Tuesday, No. 1 Djokovic will be against Diego Schwartzman, and then it will be Daniil Medvedev versus US Open finalist Alexander Zverev

Believe it or not, Nadal has been spotty in London. Going in, he won 16-12. Perhaps his legs are sore at the end of the year, and that is a portion that he just wanted to go home. But, this year he hasn’t played many matches. Plus, he likes to rally, and when the court is quick, he can pound fast.

This is the first time that Andrey Rublev will play the ATP Finals. Over the past couple months, he has risen, smashing the ball and being more rational. But can he attack early and make sure that he won’t push into Nadal’s amazing forehand. He must mix it up and try to sprint into the net. Three years ago, Nadal crushed him at the US Open. But, that is then, and now the years favor the Russian. If Rublev has no fear, then he could push Nadal. He can control what he is doing, and drive Nadal into the wall. The problem is Nadal thinks hard all the time and he can change his tactics. It might go to the third set, but Nadal will win it.
Exactly one year ago, Tsitsipas won the event, edging Thiem 7-6(4) in the final. The tall hitter kept on chucking, hustling, and go for the lines anytime he wanted to. After that, Thiem won a Slam and he showed that he was super splendid. The Greek Tsitsipas had a good year, but sometimes he would check out mentally and really fall off. And then he will lose. But, on different days, he is totally into it, staying way back with some good spin, or blitz into the net.

Tsitisipas and Thiem had played seven times: four wins by Thiem, and three by Tsitsipas. They have played each other in 2018 and 2019. But this year, they haven’t played each other, hampered by the COVID-19 break.

Both of them are cagey, and they will twist and vie for position. Thiem and Tsitsipas will get into the third set, and at the end, the Greek will touch the lines. It is all about exposure.

Playing Ostrava: Azarenka, Svitolina, Gauff

Who wants to go home and just practiceover the past two months? Many of the players have stopped playing WTA events. What exactly should they do rather that playing matches in real events. Watching the exhibitions, it could be OK, but it could be boring.

Victoria Azarenka

Many of the top 30 WTA women are dpme but at least some of the good players are at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open this week. They are not all of the fantastic players, but some good fine matches have been played.

How about Jelena Ostapenko, who is more confident over the past one year. She upended the No. 18 Petra Martic in two easy sets. And, then on Thursday, she lost to Ons Jabeur. The Tunisian aim for the corners with her forehand and her backhand, and she hits them down the line. On Tuesday, she was moving like a springer and she nailed it. On Thursday, she was inconsistent as Maria Sakkari dumped her 3-6, 6-3, 6-1. During the next year, Jabeur will be ready to beat anyone — if she focuses and adds more variety to her game. One way or another, whether she wins or loses, she is a force. As she says, “I played very smart and also used dropshots and mixed it up a little bit, which helped me, but in the deciding moments I was still very aggressive.” We will see.

It is so impossible to understand Elina Svitolina week after week. She plays great, and then has poor form. She has been there in the top 5, but to go up into the mountain tops, and raise your hands when you stand up into the sky, then she can smile. But she is faltering; she needs to more steady. She lost to Sakkari, who has been much more consistent. She could be ranked in the top 20 in December. That is pretty good — very good. She will face Vika Azarenka in the semis.

Elise Martens crushed Amanda Anisimova, but couldn’t handle Azarenka. Mertens’ strong defense couldn’t deal with the aggressive Belarussian.

This is not a great year from Karolina Pliskova, who lost to Veronika Kudermetova. Sure, the Russian Kudermetova is getting better,while the Czech, Pliskova, is under pressure to get better.

Kudermetova will face against American Jennifer Brady, who wants to play every week, to practice all the time. She displays higher quality when she isn’t so irked.

There was an exciting marathon when Aryna Sabalenka defeated Cori Gauff 1-6 7-5 7-6(2) as the American let the final set slip away. There were some terrific points. Both of them will stay for many years ahead. Gauff has to improve her second serves and the returns, too. Everything is progress.

Nadal, Federer and Djokovic: the 20-20 thing

Rafael Nadal

In the great but very cold at Roland Garros. Rafa Nadal smashed Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 to win it again.

He is now 20 Grand Slams, on all surfaces, with an astronomical 13 on clay. He is tied with Roger Federer with the “20-20 thing,” and we do not really know whether they will win another major again, next year, or ever, or if they will continue to dominate.

With the 39-year-old Federer aging, Nadal, 34, and Djokovic, 33, are much more likely to pad their Slam count. They look fantastic, and they have improved a lot. But, when you are in the 30s, you can get seriously hurt, and then it will be very difficult to feel healthy and easily to go deep at the Slams. The great thing in Paris was seeing how Nadal’s and Djokovic’s forehands, backhands, serves, returns and play at the net have improved a lot when since when they started 15 years ago. They are, as people say, mind-boggling.

Yes, there are some very good young players but, except for Dominic Thiem at this year’s US Open, they haven’t won a Grand Slam. Very few men have won a major early on and then have gone on to win numerous big titles. The list of top 10 in the Open era includes Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Pete Sampras, Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Mats Wilander – all have at least seven Slams. Really, you have to win it at least those seven to make the top 10.

Over the next few years Andy Murray (three Slams) and Stan Wawrinka (three Slams) can win another Slam, but they are at least 30 years old, and fading. Plus, they haven’t played much in the past two years. To catch it up again, they have to find a new level – especially for Murray with a revived hip. At the US Open and RG, both Murray and Wawrinka lost pretty early. Neither have a very good chance to do it again.

Right now, Nadal and Djokovic are eager. Thiem has a strong chance to win a number of majors, but right now to eventually become the top-10er, he could have to win another six Slams. The would be somewhat surprising.

Nadal understands what it going on with the other players, and he is not only smart, but he really listening. When he retires, as he says, then he can talk about everyone. He just won Roland Garros for the 13th time, and clearly, he has the credentials to say anything.

Roland Garros, Day 11: ‘Hang it all out’

Sofia Kenin

What is fascinating in the Roland Garros second week is there are some well-established players, but also some of the new breed.

On the Thursday and Friday, all the men and the women will compete in Paris. The traditional players are still there, such as Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Petra Kvitova and Sofie Keni , all the Slam winners.

One important questions: When they play, are there nervous or not?

Kvitova can win a another major, but she has yet to win RG. So, once again, if she is remains calm and hones her tactics, then maybe she can trick Kenin. Kenin, who crushed Danielle Collins in the final set of the quarters; she wiped her out. Both Kvitova and Kenin are aggressive and play without fear. They won’t push the ball, and they go for the lines. Big serves and returns will determine the match.

How about Nadia Podoroska and Iga Swiatek? Where did they come from all of a sudden?

The youngsters will be around a long time. But, to go way up into the top 10 in the next year, that is pretty questionable. Or they can disappear as quickly as they rose, though Swiatek looks like the real deal. They just have to prove it…

Stefanos Tsitsipas is on the winning streak. Over the past two weeks, he started to be consistent and powerful. Before that, in August, he was on and off, playing well or playing badly. Tsitsipas recently said that at this Grand Slam, he could it hang it all out.

He will face Djokovic in the semis, and the No. 1 Serbian is very controlled. And he is cane astute. If he feels rattled, and realizes it, he can change it up. Tsitsipas has had some tough days, but he never gives up.

Nadal is cruising, taking out Diego Schwartzman on Friday. It was odd to see the Argentine getting into a tiebreak and then not winning another point. But, with Nadal on clay, the mountain is very steep.

Roland Garros, day 8: Simona Halep: No drama, just locked in

Simona Halep

The dramatic Simona Halep always hustles, and when she is so steady, then she can smack the ball deep and with variety. The Romanian absolutely crushed Amanda Anisimova, a very good young player, who can panic. She did immediately and she lost 6-0 6-1. That was super quick
Halep has won two Grand Slams, and right now, on clay, she is certainly a favorite, unless she has to face against another player who loves on the dirt. They just have to slide and to go for the winners. After all —assuming Halep doesn’t get hurt again — she can drive the ball deep and on the lines.

Another top player, Elina Svitolina, really wants to go even further in the Slams. Over the past two years, she stopped being fearful. Now, she is more serene, takes more breaths, focusing every second. 

In the first week at the Slams, there are dozens of people who just won matches, and they can jump in joy. But, each day, they will be facing awesome players. So, to continue and win, they must keep their level up. as they can. Because if you don’t, then ’see ya.’

Or you can be more patient. German Alexander Zverev won on Friday, knocking down Marco Cecchinato. Even though Zverev can rip the balls, and he won a couple of the ATP 1000s, but he can be sullen and to check out. But, he is smarter now, as he can try to rip a winner, or just stay back and waited for an opening. Still, many of his decisions in his US Open final loss to Dominic Thiem call into question where his head is.

Diego Schwartzman is looking better and better on clay, which took a long time, but he has become more astute now.

Caroline Garcia, the former top 4 player in 2018 was once very steady. Over the last couple years she has been struggling. Even though she battles all the time, she is down to No. 45. she is back at RG and she could reach the second week if she can get by Svitolina. After that, she wouldn’t give it in.

Canadian Genie Bouchard looked better than she did last year. She won a couple matches, and then she lost against Iga Swiatek.

The young player, Sebastian Korda beat Jannik Sinner. His dad and coach, Petr, was he ranked No. 2, in 1998, a long time ago. Maybe it will be that Sebastian Korda can close to reach the No. 1, someday.

Will Garbine Muguruza push it again?

Gabriñe Muguzura

Garbine Muguruza is battling now. While she couldn’t play at all until reaching this year’s Australian Open final, she just hung in there, and, at the end, she edged Tamara Zidansek 8-6 in the third. 

Muguruza didn’t start fast this year, but she has been improving, smashing her forehand and her backhand. She was dinking it. She can focus on the court, but she can also mess around. Then in the second week, she could be tired. But, she won it in 2016, and now she will push it again.

American Mackenzie McDonald must be thrilled, as he will face against Rafa Nadal, who has won Roland Garros forever, an incredible 12 titles. Nadal’s heavy spin can knock the players into the wall. He just keeps pounding, and his legs never get tired.

McDonald lives in California, and he played at the college of UCLA, winning the 2016 NCAA singles and doubles titles before he turning pro. He is respectable, but he is ranked No. 211. They will have some terrific points, but he won’t be able to get a set. Nadal will smoke McDonald.

The No. 30 Taylor Fritz has looked pretty good on the hardcourts, but on clay, he gets frustrated and he will lose when he was irritated. The good news is Fritz won a marathon. The San Diego native can be mentally during the hours, and Fritz was very happy. Facing the 19-year-old Tomas Machac, the American was competitive , and it was super close. They weren’t perfect, playing great or mediocre, lights out or drowning. Fritz might be continue up the ladder, but it won’t be fast to understand on the slow clay. It will take him a solid two more years before he can be comfortable on clay. One was or another, in the second round, Fritz will beat Radu Albot in four sets.

A few years ago both Genie Bouchard and Daria Gavrilova were pretty high in the top 30 and they were soaring. But, both of them went down, they had no clue, and they lost all credit. And by the way, injuries were a huge factor.

But now the Canadian Bouchard is playing OK, not great, as she did once go to the WTA Final. She was forcefull and strong, from inside the baseline. She didn’t win it, but the next year, she had a chance to crack the top 3, but she didn’t. She fell way down.

Gavrilova could go deep during the entire 2019. If she wants to, she will have to commit during RG. Neither of them love clay, but they have to make a big effort. It is a toss up but I pick Bouchard in three sets.