Archives for 2022

The Italian final: Iga Świątek versus Ons Jabeur

Iga Świątek
Mal Taam/MALTphoto



Iga Świątek goes into the Rome final with 27 wins in a row. She is not only No.1, but now on the clay, she is crushing people day after day. Last year, who would have thought that she became not only very fast, but smarter. She can belt her forehands and her backhand, she can mix it up, and she can also return like a ghost.

In the semis in Italy, she totally crushed Aryna Sabalenka. She wiped her out 6-2, 6-1.

Świątek has won just one Grand Slam, at the 2020 Roland Garros, but she is now tied with Serena Williams, who also had 27 wins in a row. Świątek is not quite there — a long shot— because Martina Navratilova had 74 wins in a row back in 1984.

Who would have guessed that at the start of the year? Świątek is a little bit shocked. She has lost three matches in January and early February, against the now retired No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, Danielle Collins and Jelena Ostapenko. After that, she began to streak.

“I needed time to learn how to do that properly, how to use the streak or ranking to put pressure on my opponents. I feel like I’ve done that pretty well last season and this season at the beginning, just learning how to use it in a positive way,” Świątek said. “Last year when I had better ranking, it felt like it’s something that’s pressuring me down. This time it’s totally different. Also having Tomasz [Wiktorowski, a coach who worked Aga Radwanska for many years], who is so experienced, who has been working with top players already, it’s also really helpful. I feel like I can lean on them in that matter. I just wasn’t analyzing that much as I did in previous seasons, so it also helped.”

In the final, the rising Jabeur has finally improved a lot. The 27-year-old has been pretty decent, but she has been downcast. She does have a lot of shots, and she can run for a long time, but when she has a chance to bang it, she can become confused.

Then in April, she switched her approach and became so much more confident. She did more grinding, which helped her win in Madrid.
 
“Honestly I feel like I was playing better the other matches. Maybe today wasn’t the best,” Jabeur said. “Probably another test for me mentally, for sure. But to back up the performance from Madrid, it’s very important for me. It’s one of the reasons why I’m here, why I want to continue showing myself on the court. It’s part of maybe the journey. I told you I want to win a Grand Slam, so maybe I have to go through this to be able to win one Grand Slam. For now I’m doing it right. Different test from each match. Hopefully I can still continue.”

Świątek and Jabeur have played three times, with the Tunisian winning two times, and the Pole winning once.

Jessica Pegula to face Ons Jabeur in the Madrid final

Ons Jabeur
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

When Jessica Pegula was a kid, she thought about playing all sports: football, hockey or even tennis. She wanted to score or nail a winner, either way.

Her father, Terry Pegula, owns the NFL Buffalo Bills, and the NHL Buffalo Sabres. But ,she wanted to do play tennis and advance to a pro career. Eventually, the American joined the WTA, but while she was OK, she was not amazing on court — yet.

Up until the start of last year, she was so-so, out of the top 50. Year after year, she would win and then she would lost, early. But then, she decided to hit the ball much harder and really go for it.

She still isn’t perfect, yet, but she has improved a tremendous amount. The 28-year-old could have retired, and go watch hockey or football, but she wanted to fight on court.

Now she is in the final in Madrid, and on Saturday, she will meet the talented Ons Jabeur.
 
Pegula is ready to drive and she wants to practice confidently.

“Well, if I didn’t work, I’d be very bored. People don’t realize that, they’re like, ‘You don’t have to work.’ I’m, like, ‘What would I do all day?,’ ” Pegula said. “I just wasn’t wired like that, I guess. Growing up, I guess I was just wired differently where I always wanted to be successful, and whatever it was, I feel like it’s not just tennis, whatever I do off the court too, I want to be really good at it, I want to be the best at it, I want to work hard at it. But honestly I think I just love the sport. I just have a lot of passion for playing. Yeah, I love to compete and be out there. It’s so much fun for me, and I think at the end of the day most players that’s what they are playing for.”

There are some people who want to earn money — whether it be a modest or large amount of money — and a few people do not push themselves when they play the matches. They may look OK, but there are times when they are feeling good. Conversely, when they can start to lose, they check out.

“You see the top players, they’re not playing really for more money at the time. They have already made enough money. Look at [Roger] Federer,” Pegula said. “He could have stopped a while ago and nobody would have blamed him. He says he loves the sport. I feel like I have the same feeling. I’m very compassionate about it and I love to compete and I love the challenge and the grind of doing that.”

Yes it is a huge challenge but she is rising to it. She is ranked No. 14 and very soon, she could finally be in the top 10. This year she has knocked off some solid players. But besides Madrid, she has been up and down. In Dubai, Jabeur crushed her. Who will prevail on Saturday? Neither have won a WTA 1000. Someone will.

“We’re both, I think, going to be nervous,” Pegula said. “We’re both going to want to win. We’re going to go out there and compete and have a great match, I hope.”

Amanda Anisimova rising: step on the gas

Amanda Anisimova
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

American Amanda Anisimova is finally rising, and on Thursday, she out-hit huge hitter Aryna Sabalenka. She is only 20-years- old, and last year, she was erratic at best, but now, she is smarter, and as she grows, she is more alert. She is ready, she can hustle, and she can mix it up. She is currently ranked No. 33 and very soon, she will crack the top 30s

The American needs that. When you want to step on the gas, and you are secure, then you won’t be afraid constantly.

Then on Saturday, Anisimova beat Petra Martic in straight sets. Then she is picking up. She wanted to beat the very best players, and she was pretty close, but this season she has lost to Leylah Fernandez.

Look at the No.1 Iga Swiatek, who now has won 23 wins in a row. At the end of January, after she lost at the Australian Open, she put her head down and she kept coming. The last time she lost was to Ash Barty, who won the AO, and then out of nowhere, the Aussie decided to retire. That was a shocker, but she did, so then Swiatek went way up in the sky and has been almost perfect.

In the AO, Anisimova upset Belinda Bencic and Naomi Osaka. That was almost stunning. But now it is almost normal.

The American will face Victoria Azarenka on Monday, which will be two players who can bash the ball. The emotional Azarenka can look terrific, but she does get hurt on court a lot. However, early on, she is more consistent and patient.
 
The four-time Grand Slam champ Osaka is in there, and she totally loves playing the hard courts, and she actually likes clay. But, on grass, well, she is very honest in saying it is a challenge.

“I don’t feel like clay should be harder for me than grass. To me, grass is probably the most scariest thing. But, of course every year is a new thing, and there are new players that are coming up that are really, really amazing to watch,” Osaka said. “I don’t want to like think that it’s going to be that easy to go back to the quarters, but it’s something that I feel like I should be able to do, and I’m just going to keep working on it match by match.”

There are a bunch of players who have a chance to go pretty deep next week including Bencic, Jessica Pegula, Coco Gauff and Canadian Bianca Andreescu, who has recently returned.

Rinderknech: Any player not in juniors top 10 should go to college

Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech lost in Monte Carlo, and he has yet to crack into the top 45. It was taken him a long time to be more harmoniou

He is playing better. This season he has beaten some good players, all in the top 30s, upending Jannik Sinner, Karen Khachanov, Alexander Bublik and Denis Shapovalov.

Over the past four years, the 26-year-old finally matured. 

“I didn’t have to start on the tour at 18 years old when I was not good enough and not mature enough, professionally speaking, to play on the tour. But I had the maturity to think about it and decide to go to the United States, which was a very good choice,” said Rinderknech, who went to Texas A&M. “It gave me some time, and I have a diploma now that is a security for my future, so I can play relaxed now, knowing what I have. Now I’m starting at 22, 23 years old instead of 18, so it helps me go through the steps more easily, because I experienced many other things than only professional tennis.”

He decided not to try to go straight into the ATP Tour because he was not ready then.

“In my opinion, any player who is not top 10 in juniors should go to college. It’s a very clear-cut opinion. Unless you are [Carlos] Alcaraz or [Jannik] Sinner or if you are in the very top best players in juniors, you need to go to college in the U.S,” Rinderknech said. “Because if you’re not top 10 in juniors, there are many uncertainties as to your future in the professional tour. Even players that were 10, 13, or even 8 have disappeared from professional tennis after that. There are hundreds of them. Others are just getting lost playing the futures for years, so instead, I would advise them to go to the U.S. But each one has his own goals. If they want just to party, they can party in the U.S. too, but they will forget about tennis. But it’s up to them to decide about their future. They should take control of their lives and not only depend on mommy or daddy and the coach. So it’s a clear-cut opinion, but of course you need to have good advice from people who know about what they are talking about so you get good advice to choose your college.”
 
Rinderknech will play to qualify in Madrid and Rome. However, he will certainly play at Roland Garros in May.

MORE
Novak Djokovic is still trying to be more comfortable. Yes, he is No. 1, but in his last three tournaments, he didn’t win the event. He was not allowed to play the Australian Open, so he went to Dubai, and he lost to Jiri Vesely. Then in Monte Carlo, he went down to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1. No big deal as when you are not playing, it takes a while to remember what to do. So he went to Serbia, where he was born, and he looked solid, but not fantastic. He managed to grind his way into the final, and it looked like now he would out-hit the very good players like Andrey Rublev.

Djokovic looked consistent, but in the final’s third set he became injured, and Rublev leaped on him, winning the title 6-2, 7-6 (4), 6-0. Yes, Djokovic doesn’t love the clay, but he really likes it. So when he goes to Madrid, maybe he will be slightly better.

Will the No. 8 Rublev wins a Grand Slam this year, or an ATP 1000? He has won 11 titles, but he hasn’t gotten into those top tier events yet. Last year he reached the final in Monte Carlo and Cincinnati. Now it is time to boost up in Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros.

Stefanos Tsitsipas won Monte Carlo in some tough matches, and he played spectacular, but he decided to play Barcelona, and that was too tough. Eventually, he tired against the terrific young player Carlos Alcaraz. But they will face each other again. ..

However, the 18-year-old Alcaraz is now ranked No. 9, which is very unusual. The other Spaniard Rafa Nadal was already playing terrific at the age of 19, winning his first Roland Garros in 2005. It is certainly possible with Alcaraz, but he has to continue to improve more, as there are times when he doesn’t work the points. It should a blast to see him rise in Madrid.

Sock/Fish team up in Texas golf event

Mardy Fish and Jack Sock

When Jack Sock made his maiden voyage into the world of celebrity golf, he knew that a familiar face would be waiting for him.  Seven weeks after the United States Davis Cup Team swept Columbia in early March in Reno, Nevada, Sock reunited with Davis Cup Captain Mardy Fish at the inaugural ClubCorp Classic in Irving, Texas.

Who better to show Sock the ropes than Fish, one of America’s premier celebrity golfers, who wins regularly and plays in as many as he can against the likes of Tony Romo, John Smoltz, Mark Rypien and a host of Hall of Famers from sports and entertainment.

“Oh, Yeah, Reno was great.  Winning and me, as one of the veteran guys, getting to hold the American Flag and run around the arena, uphold that tradition.  That was a blast,” said Sock after wrapping up the first round of the ClubCorp Classic on Friday with playing partners Rod Pampling and Tom Lehman, familiar pro golfers now competing on the PGA TOUR Champions in the ClubCorp Classic.

“This is my first event in celebrity golf, so Marty and I played a practice round earlier in the week,” continued Sock, who contributed to the rout of Columbia by teaming with Rajeev Ram to defeat Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Nicolas Barrientos in the match that clinched the win for the U.S.  Asked if he had heard the stores about Fish taking money from that earlier generation of tennis pros when they would venture out to the golf course on days off, Sock offered.  “Oh, I’m sure that happened.  I would never play Mardy for money,” he concluded with a shake of the head.

Fish has won the American Century Championship, the premier event in celebrity golf, and has two victories in the Orlando tournament, the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, which is a prominent LPGA event in January each year.

“Great to be with Jack this week after the role he played in Reno,” stated Fish, who trailed Tony Romo by three Stableford (golf scoring mechanism) point after Friday’s round.  “He is the pillar of our team and the guy I like to  bounce ideas off.  I look to him as a playing Assistant Captain.  And he is perhaps the best individual doubles player I have ever seen.”

As for the golf tournament, Sock stands in a tied for 25th place with the likes of Ray Allen, Joe Carter and Kyle Fuller, ahead of Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Brian Urlacher and Emmitt Smith plus Larry The Cable Guy and Anthony Anderson.

Fish is also bullish on Sock’s golf potential: “He’s already a strong player. Jack is a unique athlete. Great power and raw ability. I know golf coaches who love his foundation.”

Pasted the reno gazette journal story for your reference.  Use this copy as you see fit.  Only attribution needed is photo credit: ClubCorp Classic.

Considering how things played out this weekend in downtown Reno, the United States Tennis Association might want to consider bringing the Davis Cup to the Biggest Little City more often.

Jack Sock and Rajeev Ram of the U.S. defeated the Colombian duo of Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Nicolas Barrientos in straight sets Saturday afternoon, 6-3, 6-4, to win the countries’ Davis Cup qualifying match in front of an enthusiastic and at-times raucous crowed at the Reno Events Center.

Saturday’s doubles victory followed singles wins Friday night from Sebastian Korda over Nicolas Mejia and Taylor Fritz over Alejandro Gonzalez, giving the U.S. a 3-0 lead and clinching victory in the best-of-five series.

Novak Djokovic loses first 2022 match in Europe

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic lost at Monte Carlo on Monday, the first time that he had played on court after Dubai. There, in February, he lost in the quarters against Jiri Vesely. In April, Djokovic could not shake it off, and he went down against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner decided not to take the COVID-19 vaccine, and because of that he could not play at the 2022 Australian Open. He also could not play Indian Wells and Miami, which was a huge challenge mentally.

When he is on court, he can be lethal and so steady. But when you cannot play, even while he can practice all the time, the 34-years old gets irritated and frustrated.

“I’m disappointed. No one likes to lose,” he said. “I didn’t like the way I felt physically in the third. I just ran out of the gas completely. Just couldn’t really stay in the rally with him. I mean, if you can’t stay in the rally, not feeling your legs on the clay, it’s mission impossible. So, I don’t like that.”

Before he went down against Davidovich Fokina on clay, he had played only three matches this year. Now, after the loss, that is four contests in three-and-a-half months. That is nothing for him.

“Obviously I miss competition. I still feel motivation to be on the tour and compete with young guys and try to challenge the best players in the world for the biggest titles,” Djokovic said. “Obviously last four, five months have been really challenging for me mentally and emotionally, but here I am and I try to leave all of that behind and move on.

“Clay court is the surface in which I grew up in Serbia and played many years only on that surface actually, and historically hasn’t been my most successful surface, but I have had some big success on clay. Of course, Roland Garros win last year is still fresh in my memory, so I try to use that as an inspiration to kick-start the clay court season best possible way.”

He plays only the biggest events on clay except in Serbia where he grew up. His backhand might be the best ever, where he is almost perfect cross-court, and down the line is very strong, too. He can smack his very good forehand, and he can return very deep. His eyes can focus and be very smart on court.

This year, he has to play on clay anytime the tournaments allow him. The question is: Will the tournaments allow an unvaccinated player?

Djokovic has to continue to raise his game. He knows that when he lost to Davidovich Fokina, he was mediocre at best in the third set. He knows that.

“I always believed that I could come back and win the match, and I stayed there even though a lot of things were against me in terms of how I felt on the court. Game-wise, physically I was just far from my best,” he said. “So, of course, in those types of conditions and circumstances, then you have to really work two times more than you normally would. I played a clay court specialist. He had a match already on center court a few days ago. I expected this match to be really tough match, physical battle, and that’s what it was. Unfortunately, I’m on the shorter end of the stick, and my week ends here. I have to try to be optimistic and build to Roland Garros, where I want to peak.”

Djokovic is back at Monte-Carlo to win it

Novak Djokovic

It has been a difficult year by the 20-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic but, in Monte Carlo, he will be back and ready to regain his place atop the game.

The Serb recently said that he wants to play, on the court or in the streets. Because of that, he is the heavy favorite to win the ATP Rolex Monte Carlo Masters according to Sports Betting Dime.

Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Matteo Berrettini out of the tournament for different reasons. There are a number of players who have risen and they are very hungry.

The 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz just won Miami and, as Nadal said, he is almost locked in. He can crush the ball, side to side, and he can crack it crosscourt or down the line. When he nails a winner, he pumps his fist constantly, and then the fans go crazy cheering for him. Considering the hot streak he is riding, he could actually win the tournament.

The No. 3 Alexander Zverev is having a so-so year. While when he is feeling fine, then he can be very consistent and lethal. However, the 2021 US Open finalist has not won a tournament this year. But Monte-Carlo is on clay and he could rise up and make a statement.

The Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas is a huge hitter and he can really strike the ball from both wings. Currently No. 5, the tall man can grind it on the court, and he can also slam it when he it is in striking distance. But, he also has not won an event during the last three months of 2022. Maybe he can change the tactics in Monte-Carlo.

The super-fast Casper Ruud of Norway has had a very good season, winning Argentina, and reaching the final at Miami, upsetting Zverev, and finally losing versus Alcaraz. He is pushing himself and last year, when he was playing, there were times when he was not being aggressive. Now when he can, he can kiss the lines.

The same thing goes with Andrey Rublev. When the 24-year-old decided that this year, he would mix up his tacktics. He did a fine job when he won in France and Dubai. In Miami, it looked like he was a little bit tired, but when he arrives in Monte-Carlo, he should be re-freshed and ready to dance.
 
Finally, Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime won a tournament this year at Rotterdam. Before that, he reached at the finals nine times, and he lost, all of them. But he decided to press on, and now he has improved his game, especially his return. The 21-year-old is pretty young, so week after week, he will improve his shot making approach.

There are more people who can go deep in Monte-Carlo like American Taylor Fritz, who won Indian Wells, Cameron Norrie and Jannik Sinner.

Carlos Alcaraz wins Miami: ‘Hitting big forehands, hitting big shots’

Carlos Alcaraz
MALTphoto

There are times when Carlos Alcaraz over hits the ball, and he could over react. But the Spaniard would keep on trucking, he would smash his forehand and his backhand, and he would sprint, at the net or back words.

In Miami, the 18-year-old won it all, beating Casper Ruud 7-5, 6-4. That was the first time he won a Masters 1000 title. Many people knew that he was coming, but soon, or later.

Well, there he is, and assuming he will be healthy for many years, he could not only win the ATP Masters — a lot— or at the Grand Slams, too.

There are just a few teenager who have won it early at the Slams like Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and  Michael Chang.

Alcaraz rarely gets tired, on court, and when there are thousands of people cheering for him, he would pump his fist. He really likes the emotion.

However, he could have lost, because in the beginning of the first set, Ruud was playing very well, pushing forward and confident. He broke him, and it was possible that the Norway was going to win the first set. But he could not do that, when his first serve began to falter, and he stayed way back behind the baseline.  Alcaraz  does the same thing too, returning, but he was more adjacent, while Ruud was hesitant. 

Alcaraz broke it back, then he hit the high note, snagging the first set. After that, he rose even further, and he knew that if he was stable, then he would win the title.

The strong man sure did, winning Miami, knocking down three very good players against Stefanos Tsitsipas, Hubert Hurkacz and  Ruud.

It wasn’t just that, Alcaraz  split with another terrific player, Matteo Berrettini, this year. In 2022, he has also beaten Diego Schwartzman, Roberto Bautista Agut, Gael Monfils, and Marin Cilic.  

Since he lost against Berrettini at the Australian Open, he is now 16-1, with one loss, versus Nadal in a marathon at Indian Wells.

Now Alcaraz  will go into the clay in Europe. Exactly one year ago, he was ranked No. 133. Now he is ranked No. 11. Talk about a huge jump.  

“Every match I trying to put my game, hitting big forehands, hitting big shots, dropshots, trying to go to the net, trying to be aggressive all the time. I trying to improve my game,” Alcaraz said. “Just my idea in every tournament and in every match.”

Yes he did.

Frances Tiafoe: ‘We genuinely want to see each other do well.’

Frances Tiafoe
MALTPhoto

At Indian Wells, the American men won the ATP Masters 1000 with John Isner winning Miami in 2018. But that was four years ago. Then Taylor Fritz won it this year, upsetting Rafa Nadal in the fin

Now they are in Miami, and some of the Americans believe they are moving up. Frances Tiafoe, who just won two matches in Florida, is one of the so-called kids are now more mature and better overall.

Tiafoe believes that it is time to fly.

“I think it’s been interesting. Like, I mean, Fritz, we’re kind of the first guys to break top 100,” he said. “Fritz made final of a 250 when we were super young. I made quarterfinal of Australia really young. Top 30, 20 years old, 21 years old. Reilly [Opelka] kind of figured out, Reilly breaks through, Tommy [Paul] starts to break through. You have [Sebastian Korda], these guys.


“I think seeing guys that you grew up with doing well, you’re like, ‘Well, fuck, this guy can do it. Shit, I grew up with him. I’ve beaten him how many times. Why not?’ But it’s all good. We genuinely want to see each other do well. It’s good. And then also finally there is a little opening in tennis. The big guys don’t play every Masters, for example, this one. Big guys, you know what I mean, the big three [like Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer].


“So there is a little space for guys. I mean, there was a while there where you go deep in an event, and you run into Rafa and them, I’m probably going home. But now guys can win it.”
 
Maybe all of them can win it, this year. But as Tiafoe said, there is a huge difference to win a Grand Slam when it is three out of five, not two out of three. Combined, Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic have won 60 Slams. The current U.S. players have won nothing — yet.

Eventually, those three will retire. The good news is that Tiafoe is now more consistent, and his forehand has is more forceful. He also thinks a lot during the match. Not all the time, but the 24 year old can more tactful. But the 31 ranking is totally realistic.

“It’s crazy. I was playing end of last year still injured, to be honest. Just poppin’ pills, kind of masking my pain in my elbow,” he said. “I was playing so well, I can’t stop. Then I got a late call to Davis Cup [in late November]. Had a bothered Achilles, elbow. The offseason I didn’t have time at all. Started the season. I mean, honestly, I don’t really count Australia, my team told me not to go. I still wanted to go, me being stubborn. Coming back, much more fit, looking good, arm is healthy.


“Beat Brandon [Nakashima] pretty convincingly last week. Lost to Andrey [Rublev] who was on a stupid match-winning streak. I thought I actually played all right. Not to where I know I can play, but I thought I still put a decent performance.

Here, able to win a couple rounds, thanks to Matteo Berrettini for opening that up for me a little bit (he was smiling). Any win right now counts. It’s still early in the year. I count my year as fine right now.”

NOTES

Jenson Brooksby won the match over Roberto Bautista Agut. He was down 0-4 in the third set and he just kept chugging. He will face against the No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, and to win it, he is going to have to really mix it up because the Russian will play forever.

Andy Murray lost pretty quickly in straight sets to Medvedev, who showed his defensive skills.

‘He makes a lot of returns back from where he stands. That’s a big strength of his,” Murray said. “You know, even from back there he’s very successful.”

Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz has now won 13 matches and just two losses. The teenager is incredibly talented. He actually has a chance to win Miami. He ousted Stefanos Tsitsipas in straights, 7-5, 6-3.

There is a piece I did about Nick Kyrgios, and at least this year, he has decided to practice and play as much as he can. He didn’t do that last year, but know he is feeling good. Here is the piece. https://www.tennis.com/news/articles/nick-kyrgios-credits-fitness-and-improved-mentality-with-sunshine-surge

Still, he totally melted down in his quarterfinal loss to Jannik Sinner 7-6(3), 6-3. The Aussie racked up code violations leading to a game penalty in the opening game of the second set.

Retiring at the top: No. 1 Barty says she is ‘spent’

Ash Barty, Ashleigh Barty

On Wednesday in Australia, No. 1 Ash Barty waved goodbye, once again. As she said on TV this morning she did everything over the past few years. After she won the 2022 Australian Open, she was gone. She looked fantastic on the court, but she did not want to travel anymore. She pulled out of Indian Wells and Miami, and she did say that she needed to rest. But then, she thought about it a lot. Last year after she won 2021 Wimbledon, she was almost ready not to play after that. However, she wanted to try and see how she feels. It turned out to be fine, but the start of this year, after she finally won the Aussie Open, she had nothing left.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time,” the 25-year-old Barty said. “Wimbledon last year changed a lot for me as a person and for me as an athlete. When you work so hard your whole life for one goal, to be able to win Wimbledon—which was the one true dream I wanted in tennis—that really changed my perspective. I just had that gut feeling after Wimbledon and had spoken to my team quite a lot about it. There was just a little part of me that wasn’t quite satisfied, wasn’t quite fulfilled. And then came the challenge of the Australian Open. I think that for me just feels like the most perfect way, my perfect way, to celebrate what an amazing journey my tennis career has been.”

In 2014, Barty was mentally out of it, saying in her video with friend and former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua that she was “spent.? She could not win anything. So she stopped, she paused and started to play cricket. She played pretty well, but by 2016, she was back again playing tennis. It took her for a while to really feel all the right shots. Eventually, she matured and began to crack the ball, with her forehand, serve and at the net. Barty could always hit her one-handed backhand, with an amazing variety. She could beat anyone when she was in form on the hardcourts, on the grass and the clay. She was one of the best players since she came on tour.

Barty has said that she wants to focus on something else, and it looks like she may not return again. That is her decision. However, Barty was very popular and many the fans would watch her, at the events or on TV. But now, the WTA workers have to reset and hope that the fans can listen and hope they will like a different style. 

Indian Wells results

At least Iga Świątek has improved a lot, winning Indian Wells when she took down Maria Sakkari in two easy sets. She can get down so low, and she can hit it pretty deep, with her forehand, backhand and first serve. Plus, this year when she plays, she can lock it in. She can be very intense. She is ranked No. 2 and since Barty has retired, it looks like that Swiatek could be No.1. According to reports, it’s up to Barty whether she will ask to be removed from the rankings, leaving the top spot open.

At what point did Taylor Fritz rose way up high? A year ago, in fact, even in January, he was rising, but he couldn’t put it all together. Finally, at Indian Wells, he played fantastic, upsetting Rafa Nadal 6-3 7-6(5). Yes, the 21 Grand Slam champion was hurt. The Spaniard injured his ribs in the semis on Saturday when he edged the terrific teenager Carlos Alcaraz in more than three hours. He had to get up the next day and battle again. He was frustrated at times, but Fritz get chugging, and he smacked with his powerful forehand and backhand. His first serve was impressive, taking his

first ATP Masters 1000. Finally, he is darn good. Plus, the last time that an American men won in the ATP 1000 was almost four years ago when John Isner won Miami. Nadal said that Fritz finally won it all, plus a couple other Americans are impressive.

Nadal said, “It’s a great victory for him. First Masters 1000. Big day for him. Victory like today helps. He played well. He went through some great matches during this week, especially yesterday [when he beat Andrey Rublev ]. A lot of credit to him on the victory because he had much tougher opponent in front yesterday than today I think.

“But he already played great matches in Australia against Tsitsipas. It’s obvious that he is improving. With this victory, it’s a great start of the season for him. He will have chance to be very close if not in the top 10 very soon. Going to be a big battle there for these numbers because there are a lot of young and great players fighting for these spots. Yeah, Brooksby is another kind of player. I saw him play a couple of times. He does a lot of things very well, with a special style, but doing things very difficult, doing very difficult things easy. Probably he going to have a great future, too.”

Yes, that was Fritz’s biggest championship for the current No. 13. If he develops mentally, then maybe he can go very deep at the Grand Slams. But before that, he and the others are already in Miami. Winning these two 1000 tournament back to back would be almost impossible. Or is it?