Sebastian Korda is rising, almost the top 20

Sebastian Korda
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Sebastian Korda has reached into the final at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, and the American has played very well this week. However, the 23-year-old is still up and down, but that is why that he will reached into the top 20 for the first time. He might reach into the top 10, at some point, as long as he can stay the course, and understand whether if he has to hit harder, or be more patient. He plays a lot, not only in the United States, but also in Europe. He has been doing it for a very long time, as he lives in Florida, and his father, Petr Korda, also played, and he won the 1998 Australian Open. 

He talks with his son, but Petr also has to watch his daughters, Jessica and Nelly, who are pro golfers on LPGA Tour. At the top. Wow.

However, Sebastian Korda not only his dad, but another coach is Radek Stepanek. The Czech reached No. 8, and he won five titles, but he never was able to go to super deep at the Slams. Maybe Sebastian Korda will try to do so, but he does want to go much better.

“Radek, we’ve been around each other for basically my whole life. My dad coached him for 15 or so years, so he’s family,” Sebastian Korda said. “He knows me better than anyone else out there. We’ve put in a lot of great, hard work. It’s been unfortunate that I had a wrist injury for so long [in 2023], so you can’t really do too much. Now hopefully that’s passed us, and we can put in some good work.  We’re definitely trending the right way. We’re playing some better tennis now and putting a lot more work on the tennis court, which is great. Hopefully we can have some better results in the near future.”

Last year, he did get an injury, and he stopped for three months. He was barely so-so, so gradually, he got a little better. This week on the grass, he beat  Tommy Paul in the quarters,   which was huge, but he has yet to beat a top 10 in 2024. Very good luck in the final, because he has to face against the No. 9 Alex de Minaur. Korda will have to play excellent, as he hasn’t beaten anyone in the top 10 since a year ago. Plus  de Minaur beat him in Rotterdam. Is Korda  really rising?

Speaking of which, Coco Gauff  is No. 2, and that is terrific, but in the semis at Roland Garros, she could not play consistently, and she lost against Iga Swiatek. She wasn’t hitting the ball, cleanly, and she went to make way too errors, a lot. She is still young, but she has been around for four years. Yes, she has improved her forehand, and with her serve, too, and it is still good, but not great, yet. She has won one Grand Slam, and eventually, she will grab it again, but  exactly when? Maybe at Wimbledon, coming up?  Perhaps, as Gauff will rush the net a lot, on the grass, and to attack. Swiatek has now won four Slam in Paris. She is just so darn good, with her forehand, her backhand, and returning. The No. 1 Swiatek hasn’t won Wimbledon either, so that will be a huge challenge. The same goes with Gauff, who hasn’t won it either, so  there has to be eight players to go very deep  in the second week. But which one?  

“If you’re playing against anybody in I would say the top 10, I feel like the margins are smaller. Even against Ons [Jabeur]  I felt like my margins were smaller,” she said. “And that’s just when you play higher-ranked players, you know that some mistakes that you make aren’t going to — when you’re playing somebody who maybe isn’t as experienced or just not as talented maybe, you know that eventually you’re going to get back some of the mistakes.  When you’re playing anybody, honestly, in the top 10 at this point, you know that you can’t give anybody free points. I feel like against her and against any top player you do feel like your margins are smaller because you know they’re probably not going to give that back to you. If they do, it’s not maybe at a scale of somebody who’s less experienced.”

That is correct, when you are playing, you almost have to play well and win it. If someone is sick, and slow, or kick it out, then you could win, almost easily. However, if she is playing terrific, then you have to play almost perfect.  

 Gauff said that while she lost against Swiatek, she wasn’t horrible. However, she has to be calm, and accurate.

 “I think it was the execution that I didn’t do well on. I had a couple of break points early in the first set to break back,” who will play in  Berlin, next week.   “I made errors, a lot of short ball errors. I feel like I wasn’t always, hit off the court today. Now if I want to transcend to the next level, there’s a different way to play. Not that I can’t play defense, not passive, but making them work for the point, but I also know if I want to win more and stay at the top, then I have to be aggressive in certain moments and especially against [Iga].”

Can Coco Gauff  upset Iga Swiatek in the semis?

Coco Gauff
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Is it possible that Coco Gauff will beat against Iga Swiatek for the second time? Maybe, but the Polish person has beaten the American 10 times, and Gauff beat her just one time, in Cincinnati, on the hardcourts. At Roland Garros on Thursday, Gauff is going to have to chance a few tactics, and make sure that she can try to crush her forehand, as Swiatek knows that she is more solid, and deeper, too. Last year at RG in the quarters, Swiatek  beat Gauff 6-4,  6-2, with some amazing shots. 

Yes, Gauff has a terrific backhand, and she is very quick, when she is running. Also, she loves the net, but Swiatek has a better serve, and she is not only can immediately attacks, but also, she can jump on the lines. Eventually, Gauff will beat her again, but exactly, when and where on the clay? Swiatek has won four Grand Slams — three at the French Open — and one at the 2022 U.S. Open. Gauff has won just one at a Slam, at the 2023 U.S. Open. Gauff has improved a lot of the past two years, yet she was unable to win a tournament since January, which is OK, yet Swiatek just won Madrid and Rome. She is on fire, beating  Gauff 6-4, 6-3 in Rome. 

“I remember last year was really stressful for me, so every match was kind of like a relief,” Swiatek said. “Now I’m enjoying it more, and I have more satisfaction from just playing my game. Two years ago, I would say in my mind it felt pretty similar, because I just felt like I had already a great season, and now I can just go for it.”

Iga Swiatek will win it 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 in the third set.

All of a sudden, the 17-year-old Mirra Andreeva rose up, super high.  In the third set, she was comfortable, while Aryna Sabalenka threw in some unusually bad shots, and she lost  6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4.

Andreeva went for it a lot, down the lines, and closer  into the corners. Her serve isn’t great yet, but her forehand and her backhand was huge.  She has to face against the Italian, the  Jasmine Paolini, who stunned Elena Rybakina 6-2, 4-6, 6-4,  her first time at the Grand Slam semis. Over the past 10 days, she has been very impressive, pushing herself, trying to hit it harder and harder, rather then just putting it back in. She also scrambled, and managed to confuse with Rybakina, who almost won, but she missed some wild, out, shots. 

So now, both Paolini and Andreeva have reached the semis at a Slam, so clearly, when they come on the court, they will be nervous, but when they start, one of them will lock it in. They will have some cool rallies, and some tremendous shots, but in the end, the veteran Paolini will win it 4-6, 7-6, 6-3. 

Tabilo over Djokovic, Hurkacz downs Nadal

In just one day, both of the other great champion, Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal, were gone, losing somewhat early, in Rome. Alejandro Tabilo played a terrific match, beating Djokovic 6-2, 6-3. The No. 1 put together more than a few errors, and he also didn’t crush the ball, with his amazing backhand and his forehand. He has mentally out of it.

Nadal went down again, as he could not re-find where he needed to do,  when Hubert Hurkacz out-stroked him, winning it 6-1, 6-3. Hurkacz played fantastic, but Nadal was almost awful, very rare, that the Spaniard has won so many titles on the clay, but soon, he will retired. His body is going away, soon.

Neither Tabilo or Hurkacz have won a Grand Slam yet, but when they are on, they can beat almost everyone. Yet they have to continue to prove it, and they know that if they want to win day after day, they have to be super smart, and also, really go for it. Tabilo said, “I came on court just looking around, just trying to soak it all in and trying to process everything. I’m just trying to wake up right now.”

Well wake up, on the court, to all of them. The Chilean has to face against Karen Khachanov, a very tight match.

There is two American men still left, when Taylor Fritz beat another guy,  Sebastian Korda 6-3, 6-4.  Fritz  didn’t play great, but good enough, while Korda made some so-so shots, or mediocre shots.  Korda plays almost every week, so maybe he should not play way too much during the year. Maybe he isn’t very happy.

Fritz looks better and better, reaching the semis in Madrid, so he can do it again next week in Rome.  If he does that, his confidence will shine, again, but he has to face against Grigor Dimitrov, who has been playing extremely well in 2024. That should be a long, tough match.

Tommy Paul beat Aslan Karatsev 6-4, 6-2, and while he has been struggling, here and there, at least he is finally liking on the clay. On the hard courts, he can be darn, good. He will face versus Dominik Koepfer, who is also smart, so just try to fool him.

There will 16 women players on the singles, on Monday, when there should be some marathons.

Naomi Osaka has become better, with her backhand, and when she is 100 percent, on the matches, she can pound anyone. However, she had a child, and she could not play for a while, but now she looks more powerful, both sides. She has to face the No. 7, Zheng Qinwen. That should be fascination, as Osaka is starting to understand on the dirt.

“I just wanted to play smart tennis. I wanted to play the higher-percentage ball no matter what,” Osaka said. “I think in that match, when it got tight, I did overhit maybe one or two shots. I kind of realized that and I tried to get back in the groove of things.  For me, I’m very aware that I can’t beat her defensively, so obviously I have to go for my shots. I don’t want to play flat here either.”

Yes, also with some spin, and low, or  really high. The No. 3 Coco Gauff has to find a way against Paula Badosa, who has lost to her three times. The other American, the No. 13 Danielle Collins, played terrific on the hard courts, but over the years, in the clay, she did not go super deep. Now she has another chance when she has to play against another veteran Irina-Camelia Begu. Win another match, and again, and again.

Can Emma Raducanu win consistently?

Emma Raducanu
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

It can take a long time to recover on the court, to understand what you need to do, or something, but the former U.S. Open 2021 champion, Emma Raducanu, is getting better now. This week, she is playing Stuttgart,  a very solid area, and Raducanu seems to be more thoughtful, on court and off. Last year, she got hurt in April 2023, and then she could not play during the rest of the reason, as she had to undergo a surgery, on both her hands and her ankle. She did win a couple terrific matches this week, but over the past three and a half months, she has been up and down. However, she can make a decision, and then to decide to go crosscourt, or down the line. She can be  aggressively, or be patient. It is her decision.

Raducanu beat Angie Kerber pretty easily, but there were long rallies, yet she most of it.

“You need to be really careful not to overpress. She makes the court seem really small,” Raducanu said. “ There were moments in that match where I didn’t really know where to hit the ball because I felt like she was covering so much of the court and she was using my pace really well.  I think just not trying to squeeze the lines too much and kind of just playing the shot and almost not trying to hit winners, and accidental winners I feel like are the best way, because I wasn’t trying to blast winners around the court. I was just committing to my strokes and would hit winners by accident sometimes. I feel like that’s the best way to approach it because then you’re not getting stressed out. It’s just a pleasant surprise when it happens.”

She must have been. The 21-year-old is a fine player with her forehand and her backhand, and she is also somewhat quick. Her serve is so-so, and at the net, she is OK, but not fantastic. Maybe she will, someday, but she has to become substantially better, as she has only won one event, and nothing else.

“I think the last weekend I played some great tennis. I’m mentally in a good place,” Raducanu said. “I’m taking a lot of confidence from the training I’m doing. I feel like I can actually, like, lean on that more so now because I’m actually doing the work, whereas last year it was very difficult. I have played a lot of matches and I’m feeling fatigued than being super fresh and losing. It’s funny, because you always want something that you can’t have.  But I am playing some really good tennis.”

She is going to play even better, as she has to face the No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who can take you out immediately. … Also in the quarterfinals, Elena  Rybakina is ready to try to win another title, but while she can look stunning, she can also fold. Or maybe she will not, yet she has to face against the Italian Jasmine Paolini, who has had a terrific season, winning Dubai. She is more aggressive then she did five years ago….Coco Gauff has had a pretty good year, yet as she has said, she can miss some key opportunities. She will go up against Marta Kostyuk , a re-match, as Gauff beat her 7-6, 6-7,6-2 in the third, a marathon. One more time?

With the men, how about the teenager, Arthur Fils, who a big match in Barcelona? It will take him more of a while, but his two coaches, Sergi Bruguera and Sebastien Grosjean, have done it a lot when they went into the big matches, so maybe they can teach him with more various strokes…Rafa Nadal lost there and while he did not play great when he went down, but he just came back, with his frequently injury,  so assuming that he can play 100 percent, then he will be very good again. But that is a huge question, health wise…There are two players who are seeded like Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas, and they look on top of it. But can they win the event? That is possible, as long as they can be a victim, on the famous clay.

Indian Wells: Tommy Paul to face Casper Ruud

Tommy Paul
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Taylor Fritz was gone, when Holger Rune hit a number of shots in a 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-3 victory. Now the American men have one left, in the quarters, as Tommy Paul will face off against Casper Ruud on Thursday at Indian Wells.

Paul is looking better, stroke to stroke, and he can also attack when he has a decent chance. Ruud can be creative, when the 25-year-old can feel that when he is on top of the ball, then he can hit it extremely hard.  Paul said that he really wants to win a huge tournament, like this one.

“My goal coming into this year was to win titles. I made I think two or three finals last year,” he said.  “Never won the tournament. So this year was, like, my main goal is to win tournaments. I got one title, and I want more. I mean, I want to leave the tournament with a win. The best feeling in tennis, and it doesn’t happen too often.”

Jannik Sinner is winning all the time, beating everyone right now. The Italian out-hit over Ben Shelton, and now he will be a decent  favorite when he faces
against Jiri Lehecka, another young man who is only 22 years old. He is quick, fast, and he can also jump on the ball. The Czech has been up and down this year, but at least he won at the start of the year at Adelaide, Australia.  However, Sinner knows that he has to be much more thoughtful, point after point.

”I never take things for granted. I mean, every tournament, every match you go on court trying to do your best, trying to stay mentally focused,” said Sinner. “That’s what I try to do.”

Who would have known that the American Emma Navarro took down the No. 2  Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 3-6, 6-2? She has been playing fantastic over the past eight days, with some tremendous shots, with her forehand and her backhand. She has been returning really well, and she can mix it up when she is thinking where to go. Plus, now she is more comfortable, on the court, and off.

“It’s a little bit unnatural for me to be in the spotlight and be playing on a court like that with a ton of fans and TVs and eyes on me. It’s not my natural way,”  Navarro said. “But I feel I’m definitely getting more comfortable Also I think that was my second or third fist pump ever.”

She will have to face against Maria Sakkari, who loves to rally, and she rarely gives it up. However, she can push the ball, at times. That should be a marathon.

The other American, the former 2023 U.S. champion, Coco Gauff, easily beat  Elise Mertens 6-0 6-2. Now Gauff  will face against Yuan Yue of China, who is very steady, but in order to chop the American, she will have to nail it in her forehand. Gauff has a fantastic backhand, and she is also wonderful at the net, but she can slip up with her forehand. Without a doubt, though, she can really focus, even when she is not playing great. She is more mature and she is getting better, gradually.

TennisReporters.net, the top 32 women: No. 5-1

Aryna Sabalenka
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

5 Jessica Pegula
If she is totally on fire, she can hit it, stroke after stroke. Her backhand is so consistent, hitting it crosscourt, in the middle, deep, and whaling it down the line. Her forehand can also be very solid, and she can also put it away at the net. However, she did have a very good year, but not spectacular. Yes, she beat a number of excellent players, but she lost in more than a few critical matches. Yes, she has been here for a long time, and two years ago, she started to play much better, but currently, while she is very, very good, but she has yet to reach into the Grand Slams final. She really has to, one way or another. Next year, if she finally wins a Slam, she has to serve harder, and also, with her forehand. It really will be a huge critical challenge.

4 Elena Rybakina

When she is really on, she can crush the ball, all over the place.She is quick, she is very fast, and she can read where  she is going. However, she plays a lot, and  in the first six months, she looked terrific, almost grabbing the Australia Open,  and then, she won Indian Wells and Rome. But after that, she began to slip. She did win a few fine wins, like when she beat with Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka, but she lost in some far, close matches to both of them. She is a solitary person, when she is hitting the ball, where she is going, and not deciding the right way. She did win the 2022 Wimbledon, and she was the outlaw, so if she can add with her second serve, and at the net, she can win another Slam, eventually, perhaps in 2024.

3 Coco Gauff
Last year, her forehand was upgrading, and her return was decent, but not great, yet. But in 2023, she began to climb, as her backhand was already phenomenal, but she had to change her forehand, and then, she really did. Now, she is not flawless yet, but she did win the 2023 US Open, snaring the third sets, when she had to, and she was just so rapt. She is still very young, and  off-court, she is very thoughtful. Some people have said that eventually, soon, she will become No. 1, and then she can win another more Slams. She might,  and maybe she will, but the realty is that Serena Williams have won 23 Grand Slams, and Venus — who is still playing — has won seven Grand Slams. Gauff has put together more than a few wins, and next year, she will be continue to her rising forehand.

2 Aryna Sabalenka

She did win the 2023 Australian Open, and she hit some colossal winners, with her husky forehand and her backhand, She can also attack, right after she returns, and she will  flat it out, down the line, or cross-court. She can last for a longtime, but other times, she loses what she is achievement.  But look, her serve is still decent, but not great, yet, when she is feeling it, then she can win so many matches, like when she won Madrid. The reality, though, that while she would go deep a lot, but she still cannot see where and when the bounce ball are going. Yes, she can win another Grand Slam next year, but currently, Iga Swiatek is better than she is, with her intense strokes. Plus, Sabalenka is still working with her serves, which she still can throw in a lot of double faulty. However, she is a hoot good, so she will adjust, and improve, even more.  

1 Iga Swiatek
She had another tremendous years, winning Roland Garros  and she grabbed Doha, Stuttgart,  Warsaw, Beijing, and the WTA Finals. She is not husky, but without a doubt, she is clearly the No. 1 right now. Her forehand and her backhand are strong, and her first serve is quite hard, and she can return with a number of winners. Since Ash Barty retired, two years ago, the Polish person waxed very fast, winning now four Grand Slams,  inclusion the 2022 U.S. Open. She totally values on the clay, being very patient, if she needs to, and also on the hardcourts, when she can slap the ball, until she wheres them down. The 23 Grand Slam champ Serena Williams, who is now retired, she knew all surfaces, winning on the hardcourts, on the clay, and also, on the grass.  She won so many Slams, but Swiatek has yet to win at the Aussie Open and Wimbledon.  Now it is time for her to do it, at least one of them. How about to start very early at Melbourne? She may not, but she will be checked in, peering, and intense. As she said: “Mental toughness is probably most important thing in tennis right now because everybody can play on the highest level. But the ones that are tough and that can handle the pressure are the biggest ones.”

Will the American women get better in 2024?

Coco Gauff

Next year, in 2024, there are at least five Americans players can win a huge event.

Obviously, Coco Gauff won the U.S. Open. The teenager played terrific in the summer, as her forehand had improved. Perhaps next year, she can be even better, when she returns, and she can slice it, even more.  Gauff  can certainly grab another Grand Slam.

When Jessica Pegula plays stellar, she can were down a lot of people.  She had some cool matches, side to side, and she hits the highly balls, very deep. However, at the Grand Slams, she can back off, rather than going for it. The good thing was in the last tournament at the WTA Finals, Pegula didn’t win, but at least she made it into the final, winning four matches in a row, beating her good friend, Gauff, in the semis. That was super impressive. However,  the now No. 1 Iga Swiatek crushed her, so, so fast.  

 As the former multi-champion Martina  Navratilova, said, “That was Iga showing that, at her best, she is better than anybody. I mean, in difficult conditions, she just blew right through everybody. She gets into the points better and knows how to close the deal…Now I think maybe Gauff will pass Sabalenka for No.2. But I don’t know if either one of them can get past Iga if she has a good offseason, stays healthy, stays fresh.”

The next stage for the 29-year-old Pegula can finally reach into the semis at the Slams. Somehow, someway. She plays a tremendous amount, but this time, she should practice more, and change it up, rather than just flying each week.

Madison Keys is up and down, nailing a bunch of winners, or she collapses. She has been hurt a lot, even though she has gone vast at the three Slams, especially at the U.S. Open, when she reached the semis, and she was playing stunning. However, in the semis against Aryna Sabalenka, she was so close in the third tiebreaker, and then, she missed some critical error. She was so disappointed. However, if she can play more smart, on the court, and throw in some different spin, then she will have a shot to go bottomless again.

It was pretty surprising that Emma Navarro is now ranked No. 32, given that one year ago, she was No. 148. Talk about her strokes. She is very strong, and muscular, but the 22-year-old can hit it to  short. Navarro’s second serve is soft, yet she will try to remedy each year. If she wants to reach into the top 10 next year, that will mean she can continue to insert with her game.

Sofia Kenin won the 2020 Australian Open, and then the next year, she eventually stranded to collapse. She was outside of the top 100, but for a few years, yet  in 2023, she became to be serious, and  more proper, during the matches. She did beat Navarro in San Diego in the semis in September, which was a very close match. She didn’t win it, but she almost beat Barbora Krejcikova 6-4 in the third set. Kenin still has more work to do, but she also can bash on the lines, into the corners. The crazy thing was when she started in 2023, she was ranked No. 227, but now she is No. 33. What a jump. Yes, she can over hit it, and she can go to early, but when you win a Grand Slam, then she really knew what to do.

Next year, if she continues to be sold, each month, she will have another chance to go endless, especially at the 2024 Aussie Open. Something wonderful.

WTA Finals: Elena Rybakina vs. Aryna Sabalenka

Elena Rybakina

There should be a terrific match, when the No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka will face against Elena Rybakina. Their match is suspended due to rain and will restart today with Sabalenka ahead 6-2, 3-5.

They are tied 1-1, so whoever wins, she will get into the semis. Both of them can hammer their forehand and their backhand, and they can also leap on the second serve. Sabalenka did lose against the American, Jessica Pegula, because while she did nail some fine shots, but she did not serve well enough. Sabalenka can screech, and she can nail it off the court, and put it away. However, sometimes she can forget, where she is hitting the ball, exactly, which way to go?

She will have to, but so will be Rybakina, a real competitor. She doesn’t chop it much, but she can also angle it. Her backhand is super solid, but her forehand is pretty hard, yet she can miss it when she cannot control it.

This year, they have played each other three times, with Sabalenka beating Rybakina 6-4 in the final at the Australian Open. There was joy, and also, sad. However, Rybakina beat her twice in a row, winning Indian Wells, and also, recently, she knocked her down in Beijing. As she said: “I think this year I was more consistent, especially in the first part of the year. In the second part was a bit unlucky with the health issues, some sickness. Overall I think I improved a lot.”

The Kazakhstan  won the 2022 Wimbledon, so she can rise up when she is comfortable. This time, in Cancun, Rybakina will nail it in the corners and beat Sabalenka 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

That was a solid match on Wednesday when Ons Jabeur beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-4, 6-3. In her first match, she couldn’t hit the ball anywhere, and she lost immediately, but today, she brought in with her terrific strokes. Now she is back again, so on Friday, she will be there, pushing it hard, and determining.

How about when Iga Swiatek beats Coco Gauff 6-0, 7-5? Yes, Swiatek can play amazing, especially in the corners, but even though she has had some excellent matches, especially when she won the US Open, but currently, Gauff is still working to improve her up and down forehand. But she will, year after year. Swiatek has won two matches, and she will play in the semis, against… who knows?

In the second match, Jessica Pegula will play Maria Sakkari. Pegula has won two matches, while Sakkari is eliminated. The match, though, should be engaging. What, why and who?

ATP
Both Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev both won in Paris and it looks like that they will qualify in the ATP Finals in Turin. … Tommy Paul lost, so he is now eliminated in the ATP Finals. Casper Ruud is also gone, but Holger Rune is still there, but he has to go very deep to get into the top eight. Rune has to defend1,000 points. Ouch.

Coco Gauff against Iga Swiatek in Cancun

Coco Gauff
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Coco Gauff has another change to beat the No. 2  Iga Swiatek, but she will have to out-hit her, backhand to backhand. Swiatek really likes to go cross-court, and then she has a chance, to crack it down the line, usually, she will do it. Gauff really runs fast, and she can also hammer her backhand. Last year, her forehand could be up and down, but now, she is much more consistent, and deeper in the corners. The Polish person Swiatek had a  terrific first serve, and she can also attack with her return, but there were times that she missed some critical shots.

They have played each other nine times, when Swiatek won it won eight times. The American Gauff has to play tremendous to beat her again.
.
“She’s definitely one of the best players ever and in our generation, too,” Gauff said. “I mean, it’s something that I have to do better against her. The more I can play against her, the more I can get better. Hopefully, for this time I would love to get a W on the head-to-head. We could potentially play for our second time if we both keep doing well. At this rate, we probably will have the most matches ever at the end of our careers.”

Oh really? They must already be thinking about it. In the WTA Finals Cancun, it will be super tight. Gauff does have at the net, and while Swiatek has a more consistent forehand. However, at least today, the American will snag it 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Neither Ons Jabeur or Marketa Vondrousova played well in the first round when they lost, but this time one of them will show up and play much more harmonious. When she is locked in, Jabeur, can move it around, all atop on the place. She can chuck in some fine drop shots, and also, she can slice it. But at times, her shots are two short.

Vondrousova  looked pretty good in the first set, but in the second set , Swiatek scrub her out. She can hit hard off both sides, and she is quick, but however, she can fall down, mentally. The Czech can look absurd when she is on, but when she is not, she sails. Really, though, Vondrousova, can re-ship it, and in the match, she will win it 7-5, 6-3.

MEN
That was surprising when Roman Safiullin beat Carlos Alcaraz  6-3, 6-4 in Paris. He hit some prime  backhands. Now the chance that Alcaraz will finish the No. 1 would be a stunner….
Taylor Fritz  withdrew due to his injury. He may not make into the ATP Final now, but he will have to wait in see…

Hubert Hurkacz  might be the guy, depending his results. He has had a fine fall…

Tommy Paul still has a shot, but he has to win Paris. His match was a marathon, so to do it, day after day, that would be incredible.

Sabalenka: “I think the best season in my life so far”

Aryna Sabalenka
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Jessica Pegula finally played terrific at the WTA Finals, beating the intense player, Elena Rybakina in two sets. However, on Tuesday she has to face against the No. 1, Aryna Sabalenka, who crushed Maria Sakkari.

They have played each other five times, and Sabalenka beat her four times, mostly on the clay, but at this tournament last year, she beat her 6-3, 7-5 on the hard courts. The Belarussian also really likes on the hard courts, winning the Australian Open. Her forehand and her backhand are massive, and her return is super aggressive. However, she can get frustrated on the court, over hitting the ball, and not coming into the net. She can be a brilliant player, but also, she can check out in the third set, occasionally.

Pegula believes that when she can go for it, and also to risk it, rather than just to put it on play, then she can actually grab a lot of winners. Years ago, she was decent, but she wasn’t been able to out-hit against the top players. Now she is, and to win this match, she has to change it up more, and push her into the wall.

Sabalenka knows that she has to be patient, and to jump it when she is returning. As she said, two days ago: “It’s just super great season, I think the best season in my life so far. Hopefully this is just the beginning: with every year I’ll play better and better. I use this year as a motivation for me to keep working hard, to keep pushing, and see where is my limit are. ”
Sabalenka will make some odd error, but towards at the end, she will hit some massive first sets and she will win it 4-6, 6-3, 6-3

Surpassingly, Rybakina did now play well enough on Sunday against Pegula, when she lost. Yes, the American was so consistent, but the 2022 Wimbledon champ has had a solid year, but she only won one ever, in Rome. She certainly has beaten all the top players, but her forehand can be spotty. The Russian Rybakina is a huge hitter, and she can return pretty well, but if she wants to win another huge event, then she has to raise quickly.

Sakkari is one of the best rallies, hitting hour after hour. She can be so steady, but she plays all the time, and in the fall, she looks very tired. Yes, she does want to show that she is still there, in the matches, but she is not hitting the ball deep enough, which is why Rybakina will win the match 6-4, 6-1.

Notes: the women and men

On Monday, two of the former champs, Coco Gauff and Iga Swiatek, won easily, so they are in it.

In Paris, Taylor Fritz won a match, and he said that his body is so-so. If he wins a couple matches, then he has a solid chance to play in the ATP Finals. Or maybe not:

“It’s something that’s been bothering me for a little bit… I didn’t think it was anything too bad going in [to this match], but one where I slid out and sliced that forehand, I felt like I did something that I had never done to it before,” said Fritz. “Like maybe I tore something or pulled it. So I’m going to have to get it checked out and see what’s going on.”

The other American, Tommy Paul, won a marathon, beating Richard Gasquet 0-6, 6-2, 7-6(6). He has to win the tournament to qualify, but it is almost impossible. But at least he will try…

He may be ranked No. 7. but last year in Paris, Holger Rune won it, but now he is defending 1,000 points. He does have a chance to qualify, but he has to go very deep to do it again. He has not played very well since Wimbledon, so he is going to have to recover, immediately. Rune is only 20-years-old, so over the next couple years he will get better, here and there, but he has to think about it all of the time. They all must do.