Archives for 2021

At Indian Wells: the tall Americans step up

John Isner

In Indian Wells, there will be some terrific hardcourts matches. It is dancing in the streets in the ATP and WTA 1000s.

Two of U.S. men are seeded: Reilly Opelka and John Isner. The tall man Isner has gone deep there a few times. Opelka hasn’t done that yet, but over the past year, his game has improved enough to make a move in the desert.

Both want to show that their backhands are decent, but not great and have improved with more consistency and with variety. Their returns need to jump up a level. Of course, they can crack their forehands.

Isner has been around for a long, long time, and his serve and his forehand are rattling, but his backhand at the net can be mediocre. He has tried, but not improved enough, which is why he has never reached the finals at the Grand Slams.

There other American men are not in the top 32, but some have pushed up towards into the top 50. Marcos Giron could reach into the top 50 pretty soon. He is aggressive and now he believes in himself.

There are a lot of the Americans who are talented, but can they crack into the top 10 next year? If so, then right now, they should be able to show all the fans in the biggest stadium in California, such as Taylor Fritz, Sebastian Korda, Frances Tiafoe, Mackenzie McDonald, Tommy Paul, Jenson Brooksby and Brandon Nakashima.

Serena Williams isn’t here, nor is Sofia Kenin, both of them were hurt in September. But there are a few women who possibly can go very deep, such as Cori Gauff, Daniela Collins, Jessica Pegula (who just beat Sloane Stephens), and Jennifer Brady

The teenager, Gauff, starts out great in the first three to four rounds, but when after that, she has been a little bit tired, mentally. Physically, she can play for hours, but at times, she overthinks. It is true, though that Serena when she started to play in 1997, she was good, but not great, yet. She admits that. But two years later, she rose way up, thinking and learning constantly. At the 1997 US Open, she won it, her first Grand Slam. After that, she won 22 more major titles, which is phenomenal.

Gauff can eventually win a Slam, but she has yet to win a gigantic tournament, especially one like Indian Wells.

Perhaps Pegula can continue to beat the top players, as does Collins. They have to continue to change it up and develop more weapons.

It would be surprising that some other good Americans can win it all, but there are some people who are digging it like Amanda Anisimova. She has not played that great this year, but the 20-year-old become more self-consistent and thoughtful over the past month.

Canadian Leylah Fernandez reached the US Open final, running fast and she goes for it a lot. She loves to hit it on court and kiss the lines. Young players have to be aggressive, and Fernandez is a great example of that.

Muguruza & Ruud win the titles at Chicago & San Diego

Garbine Muguruza

There are times when Garbine Muguruza disappears. She doesn’t hit with enough depth, which just adds to her mental struggles. However, this year she has become very focused; when she hits a bad error, she forgets it, and moves on.

On Sunday, Muguruza beat Ons Jabeur 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 to win at the inaugural Chicago Fall Tennis Classic
Going into the match, the Spaniard realized she would just have to suck it up and continue to raise her game. By the third set, she was locked in.

“We’ve played recently, this year at Wimbledon, and it was a very tough match, and I knew that she’s having one of the best seasons that a player can have. I was prepared, I went out there with all the fighting spirit in the pocket,” Muguruza said. ”She was playing amazing in the first set, and my level was not at what it should be to play against her. I slowly found a space in the second set to break and to get that one, and force a decider. That gave me the extra confidence I needed, and also the energy to go and get the trophy.”

Muguruza has won two Grand Slams at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. When she finds her focus, she was one of the best players out there. After those major victories she did not understand why she couldn’t be much more consistent. She is fast, and she can bash the ball, with her forehand and backhand. When she is on fire, she can mix it up, and be very patient. Now the No. 6 has a chance to contest at the WTA Final once again, and then maybe she can beat all of them. When she is on, which is certainly possible. As long that she can be totally driven.

Ruud gets fifth 2021 crown
Norwegian Casper Ruud won a title, too, grabbing the San Diego title. In the final, he played almost perfectly, crushing Cameron Norrie 6-0, 6-2. He is getting better all the time.

“It’s a fun thing to say it, but obviously Daniil [Medvedev] and Novak [Djokovic] have bigger titles, so I wouldn’t mind switching up with them if I had an opportunity to switch five 250s to three Slams and a 250 Novak has,” He said. “It’s a bit higher level, but that’s fine. I think that’s more impressive obviously than five 250s, but I will take it,” Ruud said, “It would be fun to end the year with the most titles, I cannot lie about that.”

The 22-year-old is now ranked No. 10. In San Diego, he put down Andy Murray, Lorenzo Sonego, Greg Dimitrov and Norrie. In July, he started to play much better, winning Geneva, Bastad, Gstaad and Kitzbuhel. He is in the top 10 and leads the ATP Tour with five crowns in 2021..

“I tried to be playing really good in finals knowing it’s now or never. This is the time to bring your ‘A’ game,” Ruud said. “This year I’ve been perfect in finals, five of five and playing against good players in all of them.”

Ruud really admires with Rafa Nadal, who he has hit with him more than a few times. He also likes another top player, Dominic Thiem. Obviously Nadal is the king of clay and Thiem grew up on it. Nadal and Thiem figured out to excel on hard courts. Ruud is paying attention, winning his first of six titles on the San Diego hard courts.

“Nadal is the perfect example and I think also Thiem a little bit,” Ruud said. “I think the general media has considered both Nadal and Thiem (as) you know big-time clay court specialists and Nadal has won even two times in Wimbledon. So it just goes to show that it’s possible for the heavy topspin players to play well on the surface.”

Hubert Hurkacz is rising, compliments coach Boynton

He may be very tall, but Hubert Hurkacz has improved his movement over the past year. He has a lot of variety, with his vast forehand and his firm backhand, which he can pound very hard, or place softly right over the net. When he is up there, and he goes down, and he picked it up. He touched it just over the net. Perhaps he needs to return a lot more, but on Friday, he beat the former three-time champion Andy Murray 7-6(4), 6-3.

There were some fascinating rallies, scrambling, and moving the ball all around. It was close, but the Pole edged the Scot.

This year, Hurkacz rose up. On hardcourts, he won Delray Beach, and Miami, when he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Jannik Sinner to win the title. That was gigantic, given then he finally won an ATP 1000.

It’s a different story when Hurkacz plays on clay. For two and half months, he only won one match during the 2021 clay court seast. Apparently, at least on the dirt, he doesn’t understand how to play much at all.

He was thrilled to go to England and play on the grass. Right there, he started smashing the ball. He tried to end the points quickly. He sure did at Wimbledon, and he reached the semis, upsetting Daniil Medvedev and Roger Federer before he lost in the semis to Matteo Berrettini in four sets.

Hurkacz does have huge first and second serves, but the Pole does not return that well — yet.

This week, the No. 13 is playing in Metz. He is coached with Craig Boynton, who has helped him a lot.

“The work we have been doing every single day, last year as well, we have been working very hard. I think just that’s a process and I’m improving my game. I try to get better every single day,” he said. “I mean, that helps. …I’m super fortunate to have such a great coach. That’s I think the decision that makes a huge difference, to have someone really experienced, very knowledgeable, and also like that understands you as a person.

On Saturday, Hurkacz beat Peter Gojowczk 6-4,7-6. He has reached the final and he will face against Pablo Carreno Busta, a very patient player. So, if Hurkacz wins, then his confidence will be in the sky.

Soonwoo Kwon won his first title at the Astana Open, becoming on the second South Korean man to win on the ATP Tour.

Kwon downed James Duckworth 7-6(6) 6-3, who was also looking for his first title.

“I am really happy to win my first ATP 250 title,” Kwon said. “I am just really really happy to win today. It was a tough match today against James. He served really well and played very well and I tried to focus every single point.”

In 2003, South Korean Hyung-Taik Lee won the Sydney crown.

On Saturday, Petra Kvitova and Iga Swiatek both lost in the semis. Kvitova is still up and down. Swiatek can play great, but when she is playing mediocre, then she can become foiled. Swiatek said: “I’m stressed out but you have to learn how to live with it.”

Maria Sakkari beat Swiatek 6-4, 7-5 at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open. Now she has reached the final, and this year, she has been so stable. “It was a very high-level match, and I’m very happy that I could bring that level today. It’s a very important thing for me, and Iga is a very tough opponent because she’s very solid and she fights a lot. She’s one of the best players now, and I’m very happy with the way I played.”

On Monday, Sakkari could reach the top 10. She has a realistic shot of reaching the WTA Finals for the first time. That would be thrilling.

Naomi Osaka is out for the rest of the year. She is struggling, mentally. That is sad, but hopefully in 2022, she will be back again on court and find some happiness.

The upstarts: Medvedev and Raducanu win 2021 US Open

At the start of the 2021 US Open, Daniil Medvedev looked confident. For the first time at a Slam, when he walked on the court for two weeks – regardless when he was hitting the ball, even if he missed a few shots – he believed that over a few hours, he could win.

The Russian knew that for the most part, even if he was a little bit nervous, he would continue to be mature and continue to improve his powerful game. He finally did it, when he over-came the famous Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

No. 1 Djokovic had won 27 matches in the Slams this year. But, on Sunday, he was tired, mentally, and he could not produce enough winners. He was barely mediocre. Plus, Medvedev was so consistent, and getting a lot of depth on his shots.

“I do feel sorry for Novak because I cannot imagine what he feels,” said Medvedev. “For the confidence and for my future career, knowing that I beat somebody who was 27-0 in a year in Grand Slams, I lost to him in Australia, he was going for huge history, and knowing that I managed to stop him definitely makes it sweeter and brings me confidence for what is to come.”

Medvedev conquered with so much variety, with his vast serves, and into the corners. He can rift his forehand, and in Flushing Meadows, his backhand became gaping and with a lot of spin, or flat it out.

Qualifier Raducanu goes 20-0 in sets
On Saturday, the very young Emma Raducanu won the US Open, too. Talk about being so consistent, and very smart on court. She is swift, she can rip her forehand and her backhand, and she can change it up, also. She beat Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3. Canadian Fernandez had a wonderful tournament, but again, in the final, she was a little bit slow.

“I think it shows that the future of women’s tennis and that the depth of the game right now is so great,” Raducanu said. “I think every single player in the women’s draw definitely has a shot of winning any tournament. So, I hope that the next generation can follow in some of the steps of the greatest legends, for example, [the former No. 1 player] Billie Jean [King] right here.”

Raducanu was focused and you could see it in her eyes. She became superior this year, with her potent serves, her returning, her forehand and her backhand. She came through qualifying – a first for a Slam winner – and didn’t drop a set. No woman will eclipse a 20-0 record of set wins in a major.

On Saturday, the locked-in Raducanu hit it so firmly, very fast and reliably, too.

From now until the end of the season, Medvedev and Raducanu could win a number of matches.  Next year on the hardcourts at the 2022 Australian Open, they will draw a huge amount of attention to see if they can win another Slam.

Will the pressure slow them down, especially for Raducanu who has never been in such a large spotlight? Post-major wilting has happened before. Let us watch, and then we will know how whether they will win a lot, or just go home. And sleep.

Finding the fault lines: Djokovic wears down his opponents

Novak Djokovic

At what point can you take down Novak Djokovic in a 3 out of 5 setters? At the four Grand Slams in 2021, he has won 25 matches, so if you want to find a way to out-hit the Serbian, you would have to play almost perfectly. 

On Monday, Djokovic beat Jenson Brooksby 1-6 6-3 6-2 6-2. In the first set, the American played as well as he could, and he hit the corners. With his forehand and backhand, he was striking the ball and sprinting around the court. But, in the second set, it began to change. Djokovic knew that it he could continue with some long rallies, then he thought that Brooksby would eventually tire, even if just a bit. Djokovic believes that each hour, many of the players can mentally sink. Their legs begin to wobble. So, running back and forth, Brooksby is not fast anymore. 

Eventually, Djokovic won it, and he was pleased. The 20-year-old Brooksby has had some terrific wins over the past two-and-a half months. During the fall, he will gain ground and continue to move up the rankings.

That was quite a long, long match when Maria Sakkari edged Bianca Andreescu 6-7(2) 7-6(6) 6-3 in three-and-a-half hours. Sakkari rarely gets tired — at all — but in the third set, Andreescu began to cramp. She kept trying, but the Greek was cheering, running, bending down and smashing the ball. Last year, she began to change, not about her speed, but what she had to do something different. Years ago, she could not break into the top 20, because she would get frustrated and she would back up. In time, though, she began to move forward and hit it harder

On Wednesday, she will likely to do it again, but can she pull it off one more time? She will know, one way or another.

NOTES 

Carlos Alcaraz looked worn out in his quarterfinal match versus Felix Auger-Aliassime. But, not worn out to approach the net to retire at 63 31 (ret). The 18-year-old Spaniard had both legs wrapped during the match and cited a leg injury for retiring. Auger-Aliassime becomes the first Canadian man to reach a US Open semi. 


In another teenage coming-of-age stage, Leylah Fernandez prevailed over Elina Svitolina 6-3 3-6 7-6(5). The Canadian, who turned 19 just yesterday, cracked numerous down-the-line forehands for winners. She got a break on the penultimate 

point, as her pass bumped off the net cord. Svitolina, who continues to find obstacles in her pursuit of her first Grand Slam final, can only wonder why she can’t find clear sailing in a draw opened up by numerous upsets. … 

Alexander Zverev is so consistent, each time now, and this year, his return is now deeper and he can mix it up. He took down Jannik Sinner 6-4 6-4 7-6(7), which was a tough match, but he focused, which is why he won. …

The U.S. men and women are gone now, including Reilly Opelka, who lost to Lloyd Harris. Opelka has had a fine year, but he needs to return substantially better. If he wants to reach in the ttop 10, he has to improve day after day. The reason why 
Matteo Berrettini had moved up, into the top 10, because the Italian knew he had to be more aggressive with his return. …

It was very impressive that Belinda Bencic was thoughtful and powerful, when she beat Iga Swiatek. You would think that if she sticks with a plan, then maybe she can go much further, maybe in the final? …

Another teenage shocker is Emma Raducanu, who came out blasting, and crushed American Shelby Rogers, who was erratic and also exhausted. However, Brit Raducanu is young and she is very patient. Plus, she can find the lines. She will be around for a long time. …

Karolina Pliskova likes the hardc ourts, and she beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Still the question persists if the former No. 1 can take home a major. Later in the second week, she has to step it up, and be more steady. Once, she reached the US Open and this year’s Wimbledon finals, and she was close, but in the third set, she was so-so. If you get there again, grab it. 

Time to pivot: Frances Tiafoe & Leylah Fernandez are upset winners

Lylah Fernandez

There are times when Frances Tiafoe was erratic. He would be frustrated and knock the balls way out. But, on Friday right, at the US Open, he was spectacular when he really needed to be.

It was a marathon at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, and very late at night, he pulled it off, upsetting  Andrey Rublev 4-6 6-3 7-6(6) 4-6 6-1.
 
“I love these matches. This is why you work,” Tiafoe said. “This is why you put the time in, to play the best guys in the world. These are the matches I get up for. I want these guys. I want to put it on my resumé. I came out today and I was like, ‘I’m going to beat him.’ I grew up with this guy, I don’t fear any of these guys. Let’s keep going.”

Yes, the American Tiafoe has lost a lot of five setters. But, as the years go by, a player learns and can becom smarter. Tiafoe has a massive first serve, and a gigantic forehand. His backhand is pretty good, too. However, he is ranked outside of the top 50, so he has a tremendous work to do. Including advancing at this year’s US Open.

 “I’ve lost a lot of five-setters. My five-set record isn’t great,” he said. “[But] I can’t not bring it. I’ve lost a lot of tough matches on this court. … I wasn’t going to leave this court without a win tonight.”

TOP WOMEN FALL
Naomi Osaka has won four Grand Slams, but this year, she seems perpetually downcast. She lost against the very good young player, Leylah Fernandez, 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4. The Japanese is a huge hitter. The reason why she was No. 1 was because she was so focused. Not anymore, as in the match. She missed some easy swings. She was foiled and she actually smashed her racket to the ground.

The 18-year-old Fernandez is coming up strong, with some impressive forehands and backhands.

Yet on Friday, Osaka was depressed again. She does not know when she will return this year.

“I feel like for me, recently, when I win, I don’t feel happy, I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad,” Osaka said. “I don’t think that’s normal. This is very hard to articulate. Basically, I feel like I’m kind of at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match. I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while.”

But how about Fernandez, who on court, she is already clever. “Finally, I found a pattern to her serve,” Fernandez said. “I just trusted my gut and hit the ball.”

Ash Barty took a big fall in the third set. Up two breaks to Shelby Rogers, the top seed lost 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(5). Statistically, the Australian had a slight lead in winners/unforced errors, aces and just about every category. But, she made too many mistakes in a final-set tiebreak while the American crowd propelled South Carolina’s Rogers to victory.

How about Garbine Muguruza is getting substantially better, beating Victoria Azarenka in three sets. Muguruza likes to ram it, side to side, and she can be excited and totally into it. But Azarenka let herself be dominated. While she did win two Slams, her second serve can be almost awful. When she lost match point, she double faulted. Ugh.

How about the 18-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who stunned No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 4-6 7-6(2) 0-6 7-6(5)? Alcaraz could be one of the best players for the next 15 years. The Spain is athletic, he changes the shots, he can shatter it. Alcaraz can hit it softly, well-placed drop shots right over the net. He is coming hard.

NOTES
Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime was pumped up in the fifth set and then he can inhale, then run, very hard. At the end, he knocked off Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3. Another one, who is gaining ground. …   Former No. 1 Simona Halep came up big, and maybe she won’t go far in the second week, but she is so steady. She beat Elena Rybakina 7-6(11) 4-6 6-3.

Jack Sock’s marvelous forehand was zipping past Alexander Zverev in the first set. But, he had a medical timeout on his right leg after the first game in the second set. The injury stalled Sock’s revival and he resigned in the fourth set.

In one of the best matches of the year, Angelique Kerber beat Sloane Stephens 5-7 6-2 6-3. The German was spot on and super steady. Stephens looked good, over the first two sets But, in the third set, she became nervous and lost her control. Maybe Kerber will continue to be so smooth. Then she will have a real shot to win her fourth Grand Slam. But she has to continue to pivot.

At the US Open: Legends of the Fall

Andy Murray

A couple days ago, Stefanos Tsitsipas knocked out Andy Murray in five incredible sets. Murray was not happy, and he said late. He talked about Tsitsipas who, after the fourth set, went into the bathroom and he did not come back for eight minutes. Murray was ticked off, and said he should have come back earlier. But, Tsitsipas needed to take a few more minutes to re-tool, and he did. In the fifth set he was far and more consistent. So, he won it and he moved on.
Murray had not played for four more than hours in many years. He had three surgeries, but it looked like the Brit played so much better at the 2021 US Open than he had since the surgeries. Maybe he isn’t so fast now, but his strokes are massive. At least he did that in the US Open first round. But in upcoming monthsl, will the three-time Grand Slam champion keep up this level? We will find out in the so-called the “Legends of the Fall.”

On Wednesday, Tsitsipas won again, when he knocked down Adrian Mannarino in four sets. Once he is on court, the Greek is strong and secure.

The young American Coco Gauff can be spectacular, but also, she can make some silly shots. She lost in straight sets against the former US Open champ Sloane Stephens. Gauff is very fast and she can rift the ball, but her serve and her return need more work. I would think that each month, she will get better.

On the other hand, Stephens appears to be waking up. She has not played enough over the past three years, but now she is more focused and aggressive. So, she won two matches against two very good players in Madison Keys and Gauff. On court, she looks totally grounded. Now, we will see if she can reach the second week. After that, then Stephens could determine her own fate.

NOTES
At night, Diego Schwartzman took beat Kevin Anderson 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-4. He can be so strong.

American Frances Tiafoe is into the third round and he looked much better this week then he did over the past couple months. Now he will have to play even better.

Here is a big one on Friday when Aryna Sabalenka will face American Danielle Collins. The American has to play 100 percent to upset Sabalenka.

Ons Jabeur is playing colossal this season and she has a chance to reach the second week. She will go for it because it really matters.

US Open preview: Is this Pliskova’s opportunity?

Almost everyone wants to read about Novak Djokovic, who has a chance to win four Grand Slams this year. He is so consistent, and rarely strings together many errors. Once in a while, he does, but he is powerful, and he has a wide-ranging variety. He can smash his serves, he can return from the baseline and at the net. He is the top dog.

However, Djokovic is not the only person in New York. There are more than a few who want to reach the second week, or even further, such as Kei Nishikori, Alex de Minaur, Matteo Berrettini, Jenson Brooksby, Jannik Sinner, Denis Shapovalov and Reilly Opelka. But, the big challenge could be in the semis when Djokovic has to face Alexander Zverev. The German is flying high, he finally likes to be move and to smash it down the lines. He can go cross-court, and he can shatter it into the middle which can be very deep. He has finally matured a good amount. He hasn’t won a Grand Slam yet, but he was very close in the US Open last year. So in the fifth set, he can lock it in and then he can snag it, finally.

The No. 1 Ash Barty has only won ‘just’ two Grand Slams. This year, the Aussie has played fantastic, with her variety from her forehand and her backhand to take Wimbledon. It is hard to know where she is going, which is why she has beaten lots of excellent players. But can she win another Slam, this time in Flushing Meadows? She has grown a lot, and she is more intelligent. Without a doubt, she can push down almost everyone.

But, there are a number of players who think that when they are playing excellent, they have a shot to upset Barty.

In the first and second quarters, it could be Karolina Muchova, Jennifer Brady, Belinda Bencic, Jessica Pegula, Iga Swiatek, Paula Badosa, Maria Sakkari and Bianca Andreescu.

Plus, Karolina Pliskova wants to try to win the US Open for the first time. She has reached the final once, but could not pull it off. It’s all about her will. Pliskova thought it about it and she responded, “The next Grand Slam, I’m going to try to play like I was playing here from the first round to the last one.”

Hopefully, not early. Later.

Stefanos Tsitsipas ‘The very next step would be the No. 1 spot’

Stefanos Tsitsipas

The No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas has come closer and closer to winning a Grand Slam, or even eventually become No. 1. Or maybe not.

He lost in the semis at Cincinnati, against Alexander Zverev, 7-6 [4] in the third set. Tsitsipas was frustrated, but one way or another, it was time to move on.

However, at Roland Garros, the Greek looked spectacular. He reached the final, and he had to play against the No. 1 Novak Djokovic. It was super dense, but he lost, 6-4 in the fifth set. He was disappointed, but he did think that the next time, he will pick it up and throttle them.

Four years ago, the Greek had yet to crack into the top 32 and wasn’t seeded at a Grand Slam. However, he continued to push himself, and has been improving, little by little. Here and there.

But, in the last two months, the No. 3 Tsitsipas had not won a title. Maybe he is still thinking about why he lost on the clay at Roland Garros, or perhaps he is a little bit troubled.

Clearly, Tsitsipas is very good, when he is steady and he can bang it, left and right, and he can mix it up. Tsitsipas is pleased that he finally made it into the top three at the start in August, but he wants even more, which is his main goal.

“You don’t get many exciting moments like this in your career. The very first moment that I got to be part of this and feel that thrill and that energy and that adrenaline out of competition was when the top 10 for the first time after reaching the finals of Dubai [in 2019],” Tsitsipas said. “I saw it on Monday come out, and I felt overwhelmed by it. It was a great feeling. It was the same year that I got into the top five, which was an even better feeling, and the top three is the best of them all. I woke up on Monday a few weeks ago, and someone told me, I got to No. 3. I had no idea what Rafael Nadal [who will not play at the US Open due to his injury] had to do in order for me to get there, because I was completely out of any kind of information or wasn’t following any tennis. But the rankings are there for a reason. They signify something important. The next step the very next step would be the No. 1 spot, which I hope I can get to one day.”

The consistent and aggressive Tsitsipas does think that as long as he commits, he will eventually lift with the big trophies. However, it is likely that Djokovic will go very deep at the US Open, considering that the Serbian has won three Grand Slams this year. Yet Tsitsipas really wants to get on the court against the best player. That is what really matters.

“I see it as a challenge, as a challenging thing to do, and it’s me against my strengths so much. It’s me showing what I’m capable of,” he said. “If I keep it strategic and tactical, these things can come. It’s not about going out there and winning every single tournament week in, week out. You are not a robot. You can pull it off, but this is not the main focus right now. These milestones are very unique. The ones that every player should be aiming for is top 10, top 5, top 3, and then top 1. It will be a big clash between a few of my rivals, because they want the same exact thing as me. More precise work to be done, and I think lots of patience on court and off court.”

He needs that type of dedication now to get his first Grand Slam.

Medvedev on verge of Grand Slam success

Daniil Medevdev

Daniil Medvedev totally crushed Pablo Carreno Busta on Friday in Cincinnati. While he can be irritable, still, on court, he is now very patient. He has a huge serve, he cracks his forehand and he whacks his backhand. Three years ago, he wasn’t great at the net, and also, he wasn’t more thoughtful when he returns. But, week after week, when he continued to practice, he became more smarter in the matches. 

Medvedev has already captured big events, winning the ATP 1000’s such as four of them, including Canada. If he wins it in Ohio, when he gets to the US Open, then he will have a real shot to win to grab a Grand Slam.

For him, fortunately, he will be right there. The injured Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer pulled out and they are done for the rest of the year, as they are seriously hurt. They are both very popular, and for the younger players, the fans have to watch them and see if they like Medvedev. 

That is up to them, but the Russian is coming very strong. Listen to American, Reilly Opelka, who lost against Medvedev.

 “He’s a great returner. Medvedev is top three best returners in the world, you could say,” Opelka said. “I’d say especially for a big guy, maybe he’s No.2 behind Novak [Djokovic] for like a server like myself, because he’s long. He can afford to stand far back, because he’s lanky. He has a really long reach. He’s got a good wingspan. His grips are kind of traditional so he’s able to play, handle the ball well from back there, from that far back, because he’s pretty Eastern on his forehand. He’s fast. He’s a good athlete. He’s able to get out of the corners quick, he’s able to play deep back in the corner to me. It’s tough.” 

Medvedev blew out John Isner 6-2 6-2. Isner has put together millions of aces. But the Russian stepped in and he returned very smart, where it was going.

Andrey Rublev, who has reached the semis this weekend, is very potent & assured. Can he win an ATP 1000 sometime? He is ranked No. 7, but if he wants to be in the top 5, he has to step it up… 

Sebastian Korda can look pretty good, but the American got hurt so he had to pull out this week. If he can get healthy, he should have a at least one fantastic match in Flushing Meadows.

Today, and I am guessing, but here are five U.S. men can win at least one matches, and go to the fifth setters: Frances Tiafoe, Jenson Brooksby, Taylor Fritz, Brandon Nakashima and Mackenzie McDonald.