TennisReporters.net top 32 men: No. 20-16

Frances Tiafoe
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

20 Ugo Humbert

In the fall, he lost two really close matches, against Hubert Hurkacz and Alexander Zverev. The Frenchman had played a lot, to different tournaments, and he had some fine wins, but also, he wasn’t sure where to hit the ball. However, in November, he won Metz, not with the great players, but in a sense, it doesn’t matter, as he drove the ball, quiet deep. Yes he can be consistent, but if he wants to reach into the top 10 next year, he will have to be more aggresive, whenever he gets a chance. He has won four small titles, so if he wants to grab an ATP 1000, then he is going to have to rise up, very soon.  

19 Nicolas Jarry

There are so many people who think that eventually, they can run into the top 10, or the top 5, but in reality, perhaps they cannot do it. The Chilean had a very good year on clay, winning Santiago and Geneva, knocking down Casper Ruud  and Alexander Zverev. He is pretty decent, on the hardcourts, as his forehand and his backhand are darn, strong. He does have a decent style, and he can sit there for a long time. However, if he wants to go into the top 10, then he has to improve his serve, and also, to be more patient at the net.  

18 Cameron Norrie

When Norrie is playing all the time, week after week, he is very consistent. He really likes to grind it, to set it up, and when to nail it down the line. His forehand and his backhand can be steady, and he can mix it up, but the 28-year-old has reached in 15 finals, yet he has only won at the ATP 1000, at the 2023 Indian Wells. That was great, and he returned terrific, but eventually, he can back off, here and there. At the 2021, he reached the semis at Wimbledon, he knew that he had to play terrific to upset Novak Djokovic, but the Serbian decided to sit there and hit it backhand after backhand. He was just better. Norrie will try to be better at the net, with his first serve, and with his forehand. Clearly, he plays a ton, and he likes to be creative, but maybe he should to strike, earlier.

17 Ben Shelton

Who would have know that the young American would beat a number of good players and grab it, in the matches? He was surprising, when in January at the Australian Open, he reached into the quarters, and he hit some amazing shots, but Tommy Paul was more faithful and he lost. Then many people know new who he is, yet after that, he did almost nothing, losing a lot, for six months. He needed to learn, each second, and then at the US Open, he reached into the semis, upsetting Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe. He was jumping up and down, and then in the semis, the No. 1 Novak Djokovic pounced him. As he said, “I’m thinking to myself as I’m walking to get my towel in the fourth set, and it’s, like, this is the greatest moment on the tennis court of my life, and I’m in a lot of pain, physically. But I’m loving it.”

However, during the fall, he continued to play much better, with his backhand and his forehand, when he is more in-your-face, winning Tokyo. Next year, if he continues to hit harder in the second serve, and with some more slice, then he certainly go into the top 10 next year. Or even, lower.

16 Frances Tiafoe

The other American had an odd year, playing astonishing and then, when he is on the rallies, he can table some curious shots. He is very enthusiastic, and off the court, he can laugh a lot, which is a blast. However, he was unable to win a tournament this year, and he did not even go into the final. Going into the start of the year, it looked like that his backhand should improved more, and the same goes with his return. He certainly can nail it his strong forehand on the lines. In the fall, he did not win many matches, so perhaps he was mentally shaking, , so to comeback soon, he has re-set exactly what he has to do, and be more satisfied, on the court.

No. 1 Novak Djokovic wins and wins

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic can win  so many tournaments next year. He is older, for sure, as he is 36-years-old, but in 2023, he beat everyone, especially in the fall. The young players have improved a good amount, and yes, they can upset the Serbian, but they have to jump on him, early. Or Djokovic can be patient, and really chance it up.

In the ATP Finals last week, he beat Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner, in the semis and in the final, and he didn’t lose a set. He was essentially perfect.

As his coach, Goran Ivanisevic said:  “I think Carlos didn’t play his best tennis. Still you need to beat him,” he said. “Nole lift his game. He came ready. He knew how to play unbelievable matches this year.  Carlos already won two Grand Slams and he’s future of tennis. Jannik really step up this year. He showed the world and himself that he’s ready next year to win Grand Slams, and he’s not afraid of anybody.

I think they going to both of them practice hard. The season is over. I think next year’s going to be very, very competitive and interesting year.”

Yes, during the year, he lost some so-so matches, and he lost. But Djokovic kept  moving forward, striding, and still learning. He has now won 98 singels titles, which is phenomenal, not only when he has won 23 Grand Slams, but he has won many various events, in Asia, Australia, the United States, Canada, Europe, ext.  The huge hitter has also won in the hardcourts, on the clay, in the grass, outside and inside. But he is smarter on court, and perhaps, off the court.  

“I knew as soon as [Novak] got into the semifinal, he’s going to win the tournament. The mentality changed,” the Croatian Ivanisevic said.  “The new Novak Djokovic arrived on the court from Saturday. When real Novak Djokovic arrives on the court, then the moment is nobody that can play with him.”

When he won the Australian Open for the first time in 2008, Djokovic ran so fast, and he was super steady, but while his backhand was absurd, his forehand, his return and at the net needed to enrich. However, even though he had some difficult seasons, he still drove himself, and he added with different strokes.

 “It’s very tough to improve with him (smiling). But he wants to improve,” the one-time 2001 Wimbledon champion. Ivanisevic said. “ That’s the good thing and bad thing for me as a coach and the rest of the team. He improved a lot his volleys, his game at the net, and his position at the net. Now when he comes to the net – okay, today  he missed some easy volleys [against [Sinner]  – but generally this week and this year he plays some amazing volleys.  His position at the net is a lot better. Is very tough to pass him. Before he was very easy to pass. Now he knows what he’s doing at the net. He’s comfortable at the net. Final of U.S. Open he played two, three most important volleys in the final against [beating Daniil Medvedev]. He’s not afraid to come to the net. He’s hitting the forehands much, much harder. He’s going for the shots. Serving, second serve, sometimes he’s hitting over 200. He’s just going for it.”

Yes he did, and he still wants to be perfect, at the net. In January, Djokovic can win another Australian Open. Clearly he will be the favorite. But eventually,  the older you get, it is hard to sprint very fast. However, in 2024, he could do it again. He will make a huge effort.

Will anyone win a Slam next year? Maybe. Clearly, Alcaraz is very young and he is improving, so he could win one Slam, or two. You can throw in with Sinner, who had a terrific fall, but he has yet to win Slam, so in December, he must be thinking about how to return, deeper, and also, at the tough, nets.
 The American men had a solid year, overall, but no one reached into the final at the Slams. OK, maybe next year. Five of them are in the top 25 with Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul,  Frances Tiafoe , Ben Shelton  and Sebastian Korda. They are still pretty young, so they could rise, higher, but to beat Djokovic, or the rest of the top eight players, they will have to be much  deeper, about exactly what to do. Please.

Sebastian Korda upsets Daniil Medvedev, Shelton over Sinner

Sebastian Korda
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

At some point, each month, one of the players will climb, in front of you, and he be super consistent. How about  Sebastian Korda, who upset Daniil Medvedev 7-6(8) 6-2. Then he beat Francisco Cerundolo 7-5, 7-6 (6).

He has been so close over the last few years, but he has yet to reach into the top 20. He can be steady, and he smashes his forehand, but also, Korda can trip up. But in Shanghai,  when he beat the No. 3  Medvedev, it was the first time that he beat a top fiver. That was really important.


“I think one of the things that maybe disrupts him is  just being an aggressive player, going to the net,  slicing the ball, bringing him in. I think I do that really well, and I think it gives him a little bit of trouble,” Korda said.

He has not gone very deep at the ATP 1000s, but now it is time to do it. Not to win, but perhaps into the semis or the final, but he has to identify it.

Speaking of Ben Shelton, who reached in the semis at the US Open, he is rolling again. On Tuesday, he beat the Italian Jannik Sinner 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5), who just won Beijing, China. He was playing so much better now, after he won at Toronto, just before at the U.S. Open, and after he lost against Alexander Zverev, he re-set, and in China, last week, believe it or not, he beat Medvedev in the final. He is now ranked No. 4, and finally, on the court, he can mix it up, a lot. He is maturing, and more thoughtful, when he is returning.  Against the young, strong man Shelton, he was pretty patient, but the American grabbed it in the tiebreaker, hitting some wonderful strokes. Each month, he is thinking more, on the court. Believe it or not, he will face against Korda on Thursday. That will be very close, again. It is a toss-up, but Korda will snag it 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 in the third set.

 Frances Tiafoe lost again, and he may not reach into the top 8 at the ATP Finals in Turin, Italy. He is ranked No. 14, so to have any chance, he will have to go super deep in Paris, coming up. He has had an odd season, this year… Since he reached into the final at Roland Garros, then Casper Ruud fell down fast, but now it looks like he is trying to play well again. He really has to, but he lost against,losing against Fabian Marozsan 6-4 in the third set.

The American No. 12 Tommy Paul beats the 19-year-old Arthur Fils 6-4 in the third set. Paul has had the best year, ever, and he has a chance to reach into the ATP Finals,  but he has to go unlimited in Shanghai,  Paris and another couple of events.  Here he has to go against Andrey Rublev, who is a very tough player. He will  where him down in the third set. He will upset  Rublev 5-7, 7-6, 7-6…

J.J. Wolf is back, and he is healthy, again. He beat  Matteo Arnaldi 7-6 in the third, also a young player from  France. On court, Wolf  can really be angry, but he is very intense. However, he has to face against another Frenchman, Ugo Humbert. The No. 34  will trip Wolf in two, muscular sets.

Coco Gauff: ‘A weight lifted and I’m able to play more freer’

Coco Gauff

Will Coco Gauff  win match after match, as the American is so much better than she used to be. The 19-year-old might lose in China, but she did beat Veronika Kudermetova  7-6, 6-2, and the Russian was playing terrific, but in the second set, she looked tired. However, the American has improved her forehand, a lot, and she also has begun her return, much harder. The 2023 U.S. Open champion is smarter, when she is playing. She is rising, fast.

“I do think I feel more confident. I think having that win makes you more confident in these moments,” she said. “Especially the way the US Open went for me, a lot of three-set matches, a lot of tough moments.  I think it’s way more pressure in the Grand Slam than a 1000, even though there’s still pressure, but it’s just less. I’m able to handle these emotions more because of that experience.  Honestly, I do feel more confident stepping on court. Plus the way I kind of started on the scene, a lot of people wanted that for me and expected that from me. I feel like now it’s a little bit of a weight lifted and I’m able to play more freer, focus on the long-term and how to be able to set myself up to win even more.”

The No. 3 Gauff just beat Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-2, another very good player, which means that she is so steady. She is terrific at the net, and she is very fast, running. She hasn’t lost since Montreal, so if she can beat the former No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the semis in Beijing, China, then she will continue to be on the blaze.

How about Swiatek, who when she plays, and she is shut in, she can beat anyone, on the clay and the hardcourts.  She did win Poland, in July, but after that she did not win a title, losing against Gauff in Cincinnati. She has beaten her four times, yet Gauff out-hit her at the end. Both her forehand and her backhand are so strong, and her return is very aggressive, but the No. 2 can forget what she is thinking about herself. However, off court, she is more calm.

“I just kind of played what I felt I needed to and what I felt was right at the moment. Yeah, well, for sure the confidence level got higher when I just saw that I’m in control,” she said.

The Italian Jannik Sinner  won Beijing,China, beating the two Grand Slam players with Carlos Alcaraz  and Daniil Medvedev. Not many people can do that, but Sinner continues to remedy all around. The 22-year-old has lost to the very good players, which were close, but he couldn’t decide how to process. At the U.S. Open, he played against  Alexander Zverev in the fourth round, and he was pretty close, but in the fifth set, he over hit it. However, he was not  to sad, as last month, he won Toronto, the ATP 1000. He was ready to rumble, once again.

“I’m more proud about how I improved the level this year, mentally especially. I felt like or I feel that I’m much stronger,” he said. “Also physically I know that I have to work a lot, so this is an aspect where we are going to push a lot in end of the year, especially for the next year then.  But I felt like I was playing really consistent tennis throughout the whole year.”

NOTES
The WTA Finals is now set with Aryna Sabalenka, Swiatek, Gauff, Elena Rybakina, Jessica Pegula,  Marketa Vondrousova, Ons Jabeur and Karolina Muchova. They will play in Cancun, Mexico, at the end of October.

In Shanghai, the ATP 1000, the odd Alexander Zverev lost against Roman Safiullin, who is playing well, but the German looks TIRED. Take a week off and recover…Three of the men won including Ben Shelton, Sebastian Korda and Christopher Eubanks. Will they stay during the weekend?

‘Americans’ triumph at Laver Cup

Felix Auger-Aliassime
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

After the Laver Cup, will the Americans, the Canadians and the South Americans win some huge events, this fall? It is hard to tell. Yes, the “‘Americans” won it, beating Europe, and they played very well, but that is different to beat they excellent competitors, such as Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz and Holger Rune.

The United States with Taylor Fritz , Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul and Ben Shelton all played in Vancouver, and they had some fun matches, but they have not won an ATP Master 1000 this year, or even and ATP 500 in 2023. So yes, they are all in the top 20, so they are good, but to win a big title during the entire of the year is questionable. That is for sure.

Also, how about the Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, who had reached into the top 10. But, this year, he began to slip, after March, and he lost very early. Perhaps he can reset.

Argentine Francisco Cerundolo can look pretty decent, and on the grass, he won Eastbourne, but after that, when he faces against the great players, he still cannot hit harder enough.

However, the 20-year-old Shelton, who reached into the semis at the US Open, that the reason was because when he arrived there, the doubles had helped him. After the Australian Open when he reached into the quarters, he was happy, but then he had a lot of work to do. It look him seven months to understand what he really needed to put in some very smart matches, when he is hitting the ball, both side to side, and then he will learn it, gradually. He did, and now he is ranked No. 19.

“Well, back-to-back singles matches, I had some success in doubles, and so that’s definitely something that gave me some confidence, going into this event. That’s singles and doubles, confidence that I could put points on the board for the team and that I had been pretty fine-tuned in doubles throughout the year,” he said. “In terms of singles, sometimes it only takes one. Still trying to find my way out on tour. I don’t think I’m perfect at all or found my game exactly the way I want to, but it’s a lot of new experiences, different places and surfaces I have never played on, but being here in North America, indoor hard court with a huge crowd, it feels like home to me.”

The next huge event will be in Rolex Shanghai Masters ATP 1000, which will start October  4,  and all of the top players have to do it, unless you can pull out, such as Djokovic, who did it last week. But perhaps one of them can grab it, like Shelton, Auger-Aliassime, or Cerundolo. That would be damn surprising, but they have to confirm it.

Down in Guadalajara, Maria Sakkari won the title. She is  a very quick player, and she can also sprint for a hours, but in 2023, she looked very decent, but at some other tournaments, she missed a lot of basic shots. However, when they arrived in Mexico, she decided that it was OK, to win or lose, but to be happy, rather than being so frustrated.  The No. 6 player Sakkari said:

“I play tennis for a living. That’s pretty cool. I didn’t give myself a chance to enjoy it in the past. I told myself, you owe it to yourself to have fun. And this is what happened this week.”

In the final, she beat American Caroline Dolehide who was ranked out of the top 100 last week,  but now she is  No. 38. What a huge event.

Sofia Kenin is locked in, again

Sofia Kenin

Sofia Kenin is finally back, and she is playing substantially better, although she still has more work, during in the matches.

She almost beat the fine Czech player Barbora Krejcikova in the final at San Diego, but she did give up a few important errors. However, currently she is in Guadalajara, Mexico, and she has won twice, so she must be locked in. After she won the 2020 Australian Open, she began to slip, month after month, and eventually she was out of the top 100, losing all the time. She was frozen, and she swung way outside, almost into the fence. Yet currently, she is much more patient, not only can she crush the ball with her forehand, her backhand and first serve but will throw in an impressive drop shot.

On Monday, she will crack the top 50, or even higher, and then she could be much more consistent, and improve her return. But the 24-year-old can be fragile. She has to figure out how reshape her game.

Krejcikova had an excellent tournament and now she is ranked No. 10, again. She won 2021 Roland Garros. Can Krejcikova could grab another huge title? She can be balanced.

How about this? According  with CasinoAlpha, Coco Gauff “gained 195,480 Instagram followers and 110,200 followers on TikTok following her US Open finals win.” That is a huge amount

At the Davis Cup last week, the United States could not advanced, which was surprising. They lost against  Finland,  3-0, when Otto Virtanenbeat Mackenzie McDonald 7-6(5) 1-6 7-6(7), then  Emil Ruusuvuori beat Tommy Paul (USA) 7-6(1) 6-4, and Harri Heliovaara/Patrick Kaukovalta took down Austin Krajicek/Rajeev Ram (USA) 6-7(6) 7-6(5) [10-8]. How that happened, we have no idea. Yes, Finland is very good, but for the Americans, maybe it was just traveling right after the US Open. Maybe.

The now No. 1 Novak Djokovic has just pulled out of  Shanghai. It is hard to tell when he will play again — outside of the Laver Cup — maybe in Vienna or Basel? He will decide, one way or another. … American Sebastian Korda is in the tournament, called Huafa Properties Zhuhai, in China.

Korda said this about the No. 19 Ben Shelton, who reached the semis at the US Open against Djokovic: “I think Ben did a great job at the US Open. He just really showed the world what he’s capable of and what he can do in the near future. And he’s got a great game. (He is) powerful, entertaining (and he) loves to kind of interact with fans. I think it’s awesome. It definitely pushes all of us to do better. And obviously, it shows the way, that it is possible for someone like him, or of any age, to be out there performing like him.”

The top 10: the men after the U.S. Open

Frances Tiafoe
MALTPhoto

Here is my list of the men with the biggest impact from the US Open.

1. Novak Djokovic
Clearly, at this point, he is the best player, ever, now winning 24 Grand Slams. He is ahead of Rafa Nadal (22) and Roger Federer (20). The Swiss is retired, and the one thing is that possibly next year, the Spaniard Nadal will return and play in the 2024. Can he win another Slam again, maybe at the Australian Open, and of course, with  Roland Garros, who has won it 14 titles. He has to be totally healthy, but his body is breaking down, gradually.

With Djokovic, he almost never gets hurt,  which is why he can just raise his game, in the matches, and chase it up with his forehand, his backhand, his serve, his return, and with the net. Yes, he can make a few errors, but beyond that, he can re-set it again, open his eyes, and bash the ball. He has had an incredible year, but let us see if he continues to win more titles during the fall.

2. Daniil Medvedev
The Russian had a terrific tournament at the U.S. Open, but in the final, he did not push himself closer to the net. In the second set, he was so thick, but in the tiebreaker, he backed up, and the Serbian jumped on him. Yes, Medvedev can win another Slam, but there are a couple things that he needs to do, such as going closer to the baseline, and also, to work on the volleys. If he goes, he will have a chance to go deep once  again.

3. Carlos Alcaraz
The young Spaniard was playing fantastic, until the semis, and then he started to throw in some odd shots. He has won two Slams, and clearly, he is darn good, but he needs to be a little bit more calm, when he is playing. The 20-year-old will continue to improve, just like Djokovic when he was adding with some new volleys.

4. Ben Shelton
The American came out of nowhere, in the semis, as after he looked very good at the Australian Open, but after that, he lost a lot, all the way until August. Then in Flushing Meadows, he looked much stronger and more potent. He could not handle Djokovic, but he really does want to catch him, and beat him, pretty soon. That is a vast  challenge.

5. Taylor Fritz
He looked pretty good, although into the quarterfinals, and then he stopped thinking exactly what to do. There were moments at times against Djokovic, but he missed so many basic shots. He can be a darn good player, but if he wants to go further, into the top 5, he was to return better, his second serve, and also, at the net.

6. Frances Tiafoe

He is another person that he lost early during the summer, and then once he came into the U.S. Open, he was fresh and ready to dance. He did, all the way in the quarters, and then against Shelton, he looked pretty decent, but when he was way to the right and on the left, he was there, and he is thought he could put away, close to the lines, but he missed a lot. Then he was gone. He can smile a lot, and he has improved over the last two years, but will he actually win a ATP 1000 at some point? Possibly, but who knows.

7. Andrey Rublev

The other Russian can look so efficient, and he can also be forceful, but then he will to start sliding. He has beaten a lot of very good players, but not against the top ones. Maybe he is good enough, but not to win a Slam.

8. Alexander Zverev
It is almost impossible to see where he is going. He played some wonderful matches, but then in the quarters, he looked really tired, again. Sure, he can play great, but in the fall, he is going to have to attack early, and try to stick it away, or just sit there, point after point, and hope he can grind them down. Maybe he will, but if the German does the same things, he might never win a Slam.

9. Jannik Sinner
The Italian can look spectacular, and he is a huge hitter, but in the fifth set against  Zverev, he lost himself. He is only 22-years-old, and in August, he won Toronto. That was a big positive, but he need to be much more fitting in the fall.

10. Alex de Minaur
The Aussie had a solid summer, winning Los Cabos, reaching into the final at Toronto, and then in the quarters at the U.S. Open, he was pumped up, but in the last two sets, Medvedev crushed him. Good bye, and quickly. He is rational and he has to improved his return and his backhand, but if he can reach into the top 5 next year, he must think about where he should go, and trick the other people.

US Open picks: men’s semifinals

Novak Djokovic
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Novak Djokovic over Ben Shelton
In 2003 at the U.S Open, Andy Roddick won the U.S. Open, knocking down David Nalbandian and Juan Carlos Ferrero. He became No. 1, and he won a number of excellent titles. But that was just one, but it is better than nothing.

Ben Shelton has reached into the semis, and he has had an incredible strokes over the past 11 days, but really, can he stun Novak Djokovic, who has won 23 Grand Slams? I doubt that. Yes, the 20-year-old has played fantastic, with his terrific first serve, his forehand and his backhand. He is fast, running, and he can also knock it in very close next to the lines. That is right now, though, and without a doubt, he is improving a lot, but before he came here, he lost a number of matches over the past four months. Assuming he continues to be healthy, and add more game, then he could reach the top 10, or higher, by the end of the year. However, there is history, and some people  rise, and other people stay there. That is really happened.

But not Djokovic, who won his first Grand Slam title, grabbing the 2008 Australian Open, who looked very good, but he still had to improve his forehand, and at the net, too. Right now, though, when he is playing great, he is almost perfect. However, the last time was in Flushing Meadows in 2018, when he beat Juan Martin del Potro in the final, a gigantic hitter. He could not play last year at the U.S. Open, but in 2022  final, the Russian,  Daniil Medvedev, beat Djokovic. So in a sense, there are times when the Serbian loses, not all the time, but sometimes. As he said: “Believe in yourself and your abilities; confidence is key to success.”

He must have watched on TV looking about Shelton, how he should play. He will out-stroke him, backhand to backhand, and at the net, too, and also with his hard serves. Shelton can win one set, but other than that, Djokovic will win it 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 and reach the final once again.

Carlos Alcaraz over Daniil Medvedev
Both of them are not tired at all, and they have also played each other a couple times, and it was close. At night, the same thing will occur, with some long, strong rallies, all over the place, with more than a few huge shots. They both have won it here, and they could do it again. Alcaraz can do whatever he wants to, and he also likes to do some fantastic rallies, but he can also slip, once and a while. He is very young, and at times, he can over think, but constantly, he can also be more patient, until he can try to put it away.

Medvedev can be to intense, and he can also become angry, yet he can re-set himself. His forehand and his backhand are so devout, and his first serve is massive. He has said that he wants to become No. 1 again, but he also knows is that first, he has to figure out how t unearth Alcaraz. He will, for two sets, but Alcaraz will climb up again, and he will win it 6-4, 4-6, 5-7, 7-6, 6-3.

US Open picks: Tuesday, Sept 5

Jelena Ostapenko

Coco Gauff over Jelena Ostapenko

Many people are thinking that Gauff is ready to win the U.S. Open for the first time. She is playing wonderful ball, with her terrific backhand, and at the net, where she really reads it. She has lost a few sets, but in the third set, she jumps on the ball, and she focuses. It is possible that she can be shaky, in the match, but she is maturing.

Ostapenko actually won Roland Garros years ago, and she put in so many winners, as she went for it, all the time. But now, while she can crush the ball, currently, she can wait, here and there, until she can go for the right shot. Yes, she can make some crazy shots, and it will go out. That is her, but Ostapenko really likes to play in front of the massive crowns. However,  Gauff will challenge her, backhand versus backhand, and she will win it, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Novak Djokovic  over Taylor Fritz

The American Fritz has played much better at the U.S. Open, with some intense strokes. Before that, he was somewhat confused, and his return was spotty. However, over the past two years, his forehand and his backhand has been concisely powerful. However, he has only won one ATP 1000, and he has never gone deep in the Slams. But maybe he is finally more mature, point after point.

But he has to face against Djokovic, who has won 23 Grand Slams, as well as a huge amount of the ATP 1000s. Clearly, the 36- year-old is better than just about everyone, as his backhand is the best ever, and his intelligent serves. He can also run very quickly. Yes, it will be above 90 degrees on Tuesday, so they will eventually be tired, if it goes long, more than three hours. Djokovic has beaten him all seven times, including  at Cincinnati, when he crushed him 6-0, 6-4. Yes, two year ago, at the 2021 at the Australian Open,  Fritz looked very good, but in the fifth set, the Serbian raised up, and Fritz fell.

This time at the U.S. Open,  Fritz will win a set, but Djokovic will bury him, stroke to stroke, and he will grab it 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 6-3.

Karolina Muchova over Sorana Cirstea

Three years ago, the Czech beat Cirstea at the U.S. Open in the third round in a massive match, grabbing it 7-6(7). Will they do it again on Tuesday? Sure, why not? They are both hitting deep, into the corners, and attacking it. They can bash the ball, and they also can be steady. Yes, Cirstea can back off, and the reason why is because she has yet to win a huge tournament, but at this year, the veteran has changed her tactics. So she has won a bunch if matches.

However, Muchova is one of the best players when she can lock it in. She has yet to win a Grand Slam, but at least she came close at Roland Garros. However, she can collapse, when she isn’t playing well.
The 33-year-old Cirstea is finally understanding that if she wants to go further, she will have to take the gloves off. She will, and the Romanian will win it 6-4, 5-7, 7-6

Frances Tiafoe over Ben Shelton

The 20-year-old Shelton has already had a fantastic tournament,  and he is growing, day after day. He is physically strong now, and he is faster, running, too. Also, he can mix it up, and down the line. He will improve a lot over the next 10 years, but right now,  Tiafoe believes that he can actually win it at the U.S. Open. That is a huge task, as he has yet to win a Slam, or an ATP 1000. Maybe he is ready. He can look stellar when he is on, trying to paint the lines. His forehand and his backhand are darn stout, but he is going to have to do it against Shelton, who will be pumped, up. As Patrick McEnroe said: “This is the biggest match like this in a long time. A very long time.”

However, Tiafoe  will control him, and he will win it 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.

US Open picks: Sunday, Sept. 3

Tommy Paul
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Sorano Cirstea over Belinda Bencic
This is certainly surprising, as Cirstea has been pretty decent over the past 12 years, but she never went very deep at the tournaments. But now she is, not only because she is smarter, on court, but now she can leeway harder.

Bencic really likes to have large rallies, and then when she can run closer the net, she can hop  on the ball. Both of them have been around for a long time, and they know that in order to win the match, they have to think about exactly what to do, when it is tied. Cirstea is playing as well as she can, and this time she will win it 7-5, 4-6, 7-5.

Tommy Paul over Ben Shelton
At the start if the year, with the Americans, who would have thought that they will face each other in the fourth round at the U.S. Open? Almost no one. However, here they are, playing excellent tennis, on the hard courts, and sprinting side to side. Over the past year and a half, Paul began to push himself,  just running, but really to go for it. His backhand is better than he was, and his first serve is much stronger. 

Shelton is very young, and he will get better, months after month, but he still needs to be more brilliant, during the rallies. Yes, he can rake the ball, and cheer, after he hits a winner, but he need to be very focus, all the time. As Paul said: “I’m doing things I have never done; never been to the fourth round of the Open, never played on Ashe, never won on Ashe. So it’s exciting for me right now.”

Paul really wanted to be the second week, here, and while he can back off, he will swing hard. He will win it 7-6, 5-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Coco Gauff over Caroline Wozniacki
In her last set, Gauff was on inferno, with her better first serve, her terrific backhand, and her intelligent at the net. She is improving fast, even when with her now sturdy forehand. But what about Wozniacki, who just came back last month, to play again? The former No. 1 was always so consistent, and her backhand was phenomenal. However, her forehand was decent, but not great, and the reason why as she only won one Grand Slam. She did not return harder. There are different things, and now it looks like she is raring to go.

This should be a very close match, into the third set, and while Wozniacki has studied her, Gauff will attack her late, and she  will win it 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. 
 
Taylor Fritz over Dominic Stricker
The San Diego man is rolling, rolling. Fritz is not only hitting the ball so hard, but he is really mixing it up, all over the place. He can make some crazy shots, yet he can also know which way exactly to go.

The young Switzerland  Stricker is quite young, and the lefty plays all over the world, with some fine weeks.  He has not yet taken out the big boys, but at least he qualified, so he must think that he can shock Fritz. All the players want to do it, but on the court, Fritz will push him way back and win it 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.