US Open final with Iga Świątek vs. Ons Jabeur

Iga Swiatek
Mal Taam/MALT photo

The former No. 2, Aga Radwanska, once said, “This is a dream from when I was kid. I’m playing tennis almost 18 years, and of course everybody’s dream is to play the final of a Grand Slam.”

She made one but lost to Serena Williams at ’12 Wimbledon

Another Pole, Iga Świątek, has already won two Grand Slams, and now the current No.1 will face off with Ons Jabeur on Saturday.

Jabeur reached the final at Wimbledon, and she lost, but just getting there, her mind changed and her nerves began to cool. Over the past 11 days, she sliced, popped the ball, showing a lot of intensity. Plus, the No. 5 returns very well, and she can hit it deep, chipping it, In the semis, she destroyed Caroline Garcia, who was blazing along with wins this summer.

However, Świątek can bring it back, too. On the second serve, she can attack immediately. There are times that she can hit it the wrong way, or out, but she keeps making the effort. Also, she broke serve a lot. For example she made it happen in the semis versus Aryna Sabalenka. Even in the third set, she was more patient, and her backhand became much more dependable.

The last time they played, Świątek had an easy final in Rome, winning 6-2, 6-2. Then, Świątek was rocking on the clay. However, though, when she plays on faster hard courts, she can get tripped up. Her forehand can be terrific, but she also starts to get undecisive, and since she started last week, there were a lot of errors.

Running around, Jabeur can wallop with a winner, or she can put in an spot, and at times, her strokes are muddled. She does think a lot, but she has to react quickly. On the plus side, she is so athletic, and she rarely gets tired. This year, for the most part, she got rid of the tremendous pressure.

The 21-years-old Świątek has played so many matches this year. So, at the US Open, perhaps she will be placid, as this is her first final. At least in the first set, she might be freaked out.

At Wimbledon, Jabeur looked wonderful, but in the final, she missed some key shots against Elena Rybakina. This time, if she wants to win, she has to play almost 100 percent. Jabeur might be convinced, to kick down with Świątek, but ‘Iga’ will rise up in the third set and win it for the third time at the Slams.

The Australian Open, the final: Novak Djokovic vs. Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem

Is Dominic Thiem ready to dance, finally? It is possible, because the Austrian has played substantially better over the past two years. However, the big test now is to take out Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final. The Serbian has won it seven times, incredibly consistent and oh-so powerful. Mentally, when he is locked in, he can nail his first and second serves, he can smashed his backhand crosscourt, and now when he rushes to the net, he can drop it down and softly put it away. 

However, starting in August, Djokovic began to be frustrated and irritable. He was O.K. but not fantastic. Djokovic can rush it, from the baseline, and yank it wide. Then, he would yell at himself, and here and there, he would throw his racket.

Thiem can get frustrated, too. The 26-year-old has never won a Grand Slam yet. He was somewhat close, in the final at Roland Garros, twice, and Rafa Nadal pounded him. But this week, Thiem kept his head up, and slowly, he smacked his one-hander backhand, and his heavy forehand, deep and true. Plus, he can really run. It took him a long time to be more efficient and creative. He will say in front of everyone that when he is totally on, he can beat anyone.

Here is reality: Thiem has beaten Djokovic four times, while the Serbian won it six times. That is pretty close, because they have played against each other on clay — which Thiem loves — and on the hard courts, Djokovic can rise up at the heavens, quickly. 

Djokovic beat the famous Roger Federer in straight sets in the semis, somewhat easily, not only because the Swiss was injured, but because the Serbian was on top it. He has beaten him many times. When Djokovic is confident, he really believes that he can out-stroke him.

If he wins, Djokovic will have 17 Grand Slams. Before he retired, he could have at least 20 majors. He has a solid four more years to be healthy to win a lot of titles. He wants to, and he has said that, frequently.

But Thiem kept raising his game during the past two weeks. He won’t be nervous, because he has been there enough now at the all-important Slams. He wants to walk on court, start playing, and find out how he can push Djokovic into the wall. And over it. 

Yes, Mr. Novak is the favorite, but Thiem is finally locked in. He will win it in the fifth set, so tight, and kissing the lines. A winner.

Look for Isner to take Atlanta again

Here are our predictions for the BB&T Atlanta final.

It’s déjà all over again as John Isner faces Ryan Harrison in the Atlanta final, just like they did 52 weeks ago.

Isner won 7-6(6), 7-6(7) but the score doesn’t reflect the story; the tall American had a stunning 23/1 aces to double faults, while Harrison was only 10/4. Isner also won eight more points, not a huge number but significant in a match with two very close tiebreaks.

Both players needed three sets to take their semis. today While a bit hot, conditions here were quite pleasant compared to some of the scorchers that have plagued players before. That might have contributed to Isner’s occasional discomfort, as he banged a racquet when he dropped the second set to Matthew Ebden, one of a couple of rare outbursts. Harrison floundered in the first set, dropping it 6-2, but then made the most of numerous ill-timed double faults by Cameron Norrie to win in three sets.

While Isner has a better head-to-head record of 7-3, Harrison holds a notable edge on outdoor hard courts, winning three of their four matches. The last hard-court meeting was in Acapulco this year with a straight-set win for Harrison.

What does that mean for tomorrow’s Atlanta final? Not much. Why … because Isner is on a roll. He’s coming off his magnificent achievement of reaching his first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon. He won Miami on hard courts. But, most importantly, this is Atlanta. Isner is not unbeatable here but he’s reached eight of the nine finals in the Georgia capital. He’s got four titles and his focusing on his fifth. We like Isner in two tight sets … just like a year ago.