Can Nadal win Madrid for the last time?

Rafael "Rafa" Nadal

Will Rafa Nadal actually play at Roland Garros, given that over the past couple years, his body is breaking down? Is he finally healthy again, or will start to go down, ASAP? He doesn’t know, but however, he will try, day after day, and then, in a month, if he be confidence again, then he will charge on the wild clay? No one, really knows.

At Madrid, Nadal beat Alex de Minaur  7-6, 6-3 , which is somewhat surprising, as last week in Barcelo,  the Aussie beat him in straight sets. Now though, Nadal’s  huge forehand is coming back.

“I think last few days my body feelings improved a little bit, but not sure yet,” said Nadal about Roland Garros. “I understand for you sometimes it’s difficult  to understand some things, but for me, Roland Garros is the most important tournament of my tennis career, no, and all the things that I lived there, enjoyed there, stays in my heart forever.  So is not a thing about losing or winning. It’s about going on court there with the feeling that I can fight and I can be competitive, let’s go on court and dream about what can happen, no?  So if I am not able to go on court and dream about even if it’s the minimum percentage, for me don’t make sense to go on court, no? I prefer to stay with all the amazing memories that I have.

“I want to be there, and even losing, but go on court with the chance to dream about something important, if that happens, I gonna be on court. If I am not allowed to make that happen, even if it’s a super, super small percentage, I probably will not go on court. That’s the feeling, and it’s best-of-five, so it’s a different story.”

He is so right, especially playing with the best-of-five, rather than the best-of-three. That is a dramatic difference. Nadal has won 14 titles in Paris, the most ever. He is the so-called “king of the clay.” He was so consistent, with his massive forehand, his incredible return, his speed, with his gigantic  legs.

But Nadal is aging, and he cannot stop it. However, if he can continue to play well in Madrid, and maybe in Rome, then he will have enough time to recover. After that, at Roland Garros, he will be very intense.

Who would have known that Thiago Monteiro upset  Stefanos Tsitsipas  two days ago. He has never gone deep at the big events, but now the 29-year-old is playing wonderful. The Brazilian believes that he can grab it, when he is playing tremendous. Good luck with him.

“I knew I had a big challenge ahead against a top player, but I was feeling good. I was just trying to enjoy also, and I just believed that I could create opportunities and believed in my game that I was back to feeling good again,” Monteiro said. “So today it worked really well, and it give me,  big confidence to know that in a good day I can play, in high level against these big guys.”
 
Win or lose this week, even though Ons Jabeur has been up and down this year, but she does lover to really mix it up, and chuck in some fantastic drop shots. Maybe Jabeur will start to win again, but the No. 9 had not played very well since last September. That is a long time. She said that she doesn’t have to know what to do on the court, but to understand how to react. She will have to be more patient.

“I just was going, like, with the flow and seeing how the game was focusing a lot on myself lately.  I feel like I want to get back the creativity and the intuition part that I play really well with,” Jabeur said. “I know I’m intuitive person, so the more I let myself play more freely, the better I play. Obviously it’s very important to have tactics, but I feel like sometimes that puts a lot of pressure on me. If I want to go do a dropshot on a return, I will do it. I don’t want to regret it after or having someone, like, Why did you do that? Wrong choice. Yes, it’s my choice.”
 
She has to face against Jelena Ostapenko, a very aggrieve person. On clay though, there should be some long, physical rallies.

The No. 1 Iga Swiatek lost in Stuttgart, losing against the terrific player, Elena Rybakina, but she won Indian Wells, and plus, she has won four Grand Slams. But first, she has be more clear, when she is playing. She still has to adjust to it.

“You need to kind of switch your mindset sometimes during the rallies or make different decisions.  So, yeah, you need time, for sure,” she said. “Everybody needs it, I think. But also, the most important thing is not to treat clay the same way everywhere, because honestly in Stuttgart it’s different. Here it’s much, much different than Rome and Paris. Rome is the slowest. You go from the fastest in Madrid to,  the slowest in Rome and then to kind of average in Paris.”

The Americans are trying to win a huge another event,  when Sebastian Korda has to face against Daniil Medvedev. He is going to grind it, all day…This should be a fine match, when Danielle Collins has to play versus the No. 2,  Aryna Sabalenka. Collins has yet to beat her, so she has to change it up, and be more careful. Something extra.

Indian Wells: Taylor Fritz vs Holger Rune

Holger Rune

Here comes the American, again, when Taylor Fritz  will have to take out against Holger Rune, who once again, he is playing more real, on the court. He has had a decent season, this year, but he has to re-figure what he must do, and stay there, if he has to.

 On Wednesday night in at Indian Wells, he will be pumped up, but he has to think about what types of his shots, and where he will go. He did it here two years ago, when he put together for 10 days, and he became super consistent. However, after that, he won some terrific matches, but he has yet to do another ATP 1000 again,  so now, he will try to go it again.

Last year, the Denmark  Rune had some fine matches, going deep on the hard courts, the clay (especially in Monte-Carlo and Rome) and the grass. He didn’t win it all, but it was close enough, so if he is feeling good, then the No. 7 can start beating against the top players. He can be super solid, with his backhand, and he can return, too.

But if Fritz can be immediately aggressive, then he can push him way back and put it away. He can bash his forehand and his backhand, and he can hit it down the line, and also go crosscourt.  Yes, Fritz can return pretty decent, and when he is confident, he can make an attempt to hit it very deep. The think is, though, is he is not terrific at the net, and his backhand could be so-so. But as he said: “I think both, it’s the same kind of thing,” Fritz said. “I’ve always felt confident here, even before winning. I feel like I always performed well and played well. It’s the same thing. I come here and from the first hit, kind of just feeling the courts, it feels really good for me.”

Rune is only 20-years- old, so he has to understand exactly what he has to do, when he returning, and mix it up. He is fast, running, and he can move forward, and trust it around. Rune’s  forehand can be  powerful, his backhand is somewhat solid, and he can throw it all around the box. But it is all about the week, and while he hasn’t gone deep this year, perhaps he is adding some more different shots.

Both Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev won there matches, and they will face off on Thursday. It has to be a tremendous match at nigh. A darn, good match.

NOTES
Also late at night on Wednesday, the No. 11 Daria Kasatkina will take on Yuan Yue. Kasatkina reached the finals at Abu Dhabi and Adelaide this year, and while she didn’t win it, she was threatening. Yuan has been quiet over the past few years, but now she is trying to hit the ball, harder. They all have to, at some point.

On Tuesday, the No.1 Iga Swiatek crushed Yulia Putintseva 6-1, 6-2. You never know when she doesn’t play well at all, but that is very rare. Caroline Wozniacki played pretty decent when she beat Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-2. They both were hurt, physically, a small amount, but they kept going. Wozniacki thinks she can go even further. Oh, really? Hmmm.

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.”

The WTA Finals: Jessica Pegula over Iga Swiatek

Jessica Pegula
Rick Limpert

When Iga Swiatek is running, and she catches it, she will bend down, a little bit, and then she will make an attempt to kiss it in the lines. Sometimes, she will be patient, but when she sees that she can attack it, and knock it  on the lines.

She beat the No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 6-2, as she knew that if she could blast her  forehand and her backhand, she was comfortable. Her first serve were close on the lines, and also, she mixed it up. Swiatek has had a very interesting year, when she was beating everyone, but when she was mentally down, and she became pretty frustrated. However, in Cancun, she totally locked in.

However, on Monday, she has to face against Jessica Pegula, who easily beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-1. The last time in Montreal in the semis, she beat Swiatek. The American is playing much better, as the same time in 2022 at the WTA Final, she lost all three matches. Incredibly, this week, she actually won three matches, punching past set after set.

Swiatek knows that she has to play point after point.

“Jessie (Pegula) is a great player, and she fully deserves to be in the final of any tournament,” Swiatek said. “I know it’s not going to be easy. There’s a lot to think about. I’m just going to focus on myself tomorrow. She’s really solid and can handle everything mentally. I’ll try to do my best and give 100%. That’s all I can do.”

Pegula has won two 1000 big titles, in Guadalajara, and Montreal. Plus, two weeks ago, she won Seoul. As she says, she is purchasing power.

“I managed to get my act together at the end of the year,” Pegula said. “I’ve done a good job of resetting coming here. It’s not fun leaving (at the 2022 WTA Finals in Fort Worth) 0-6. I’m glad I’ve turned the tables. I found a way to make it work. I’m feeling confident going into the finals.”

She has to be, as Swiatek will try to mover her forehand, and jump on the second serve. Pegula  has really improved going down the lines, and she is also when she is on the net.  

Swiatek is ranked No. 2, but if she beats Pegula, she will become No.1 again. However, the American will not fold, early, but in the third set, it will be very tight. This time, Pegula will hit some amazing forehands down the line, and she will win it 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

NOTES

Here he was again, as Novak Djokovic won another ATP 1000, when he beat Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-3 in Paris. That is now he has won 40 ATP 1000s. Talk about a record. He backhand is nearly perfect, crosscourt, down the line, in the middle, flat and spin. Last week he won it against some very good players, but he was comfortable to handle it. He did, and now he will go to the ATP Finals in Turin, Italy.  

He is No. 1, and when it finishes, maybe can catch Carlos Alcaraz, but he is way ahead. The Spaniard has to win all five matches, and Djokovic has to win none. That is almost impossible, but really, it is more important who can actually win the tournament. Or to play each other, then that will be a fascinating match. Later this week, we can talk about the other six players who will play, such as Daniil Medvedev, Jannik Sinner, Andrey Rublev and more.

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.

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?

Kudermetova: ‘It was not an easy time for me … but now really happy’

Veronika Kudermetova

The Russian Veronika Kudermetova won a tournament at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, cracking over Jessica Pegula 7-5, 6-1. She has had some fine days, but there are also some negative events. Perhaps now, that each week, she will be more intense, on the court.

For example, she beat the 2023 US Open Coco Gauff  in Doha in February in the quarters, and then the four time champ  Iga Swiatek smoked her 6-0, 6-1, fast. Then in the semis at Madrid, the Polish person, she smashed her 6-1, 6-1. Then it looked like that Kudermetova was panicking. Yes, she can mash the ball, both sides, but then, she can throw in some many strange errors.  After on the grass,  and she was decent, but not great, and then in the next five tournaments, she lost very early. However, last week, she rose up, finally stopping Swiatek 6-2, 2-6, 6-4. Right after that, she upset the No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka 7-6, 6-7, 6-3. That was almost a miracle.

”I’m really happy because before, it was not an easy time for me, it was really tough moments,” Kudermetova said. “Now I’m really happy and I have a lot of motivation for the next weeks.”

They are playing in the Beijing Open, and while it  is not easy to play great again, she will battle. Sabalenka has had a interesting year, as she has improved her serve, and she is more solid. However, she does not like to get up to the net in the singles, and maybe she should, and make some different shots. Of course her forehand and her backhand are terrific, and her return is spot on. However, she has not won an event since Madrid during May, and while she has gone deep a lot, she can also be confused. In the final the U.S. Open, she look pretty darn good, but in the third set, she went down, and she lost versus Gauff 6-2, 3-6, 6-2. However, she wants to be motivate.

“I’m a world No. 1 right now, but it’s not just about become world No. 1, I think it’s about finish the year as world No. 1 and stay there as long as you can,” Sabalenka said. “It was good that I was able to achieve this goal, but there is another goal. I’m super motivated right now.  My biggest takeaway was that I need to learn how to finish the points on the net. We worked a lot on my volley game. [In the U.S. Open final]  I got over-emotion there. I wasn’t controlling myself. I was thinking all over the place in that second set. So, yeah, that’s was the biggest takeaway.  I have to, no matter what, stick to the plan and just do what I have to do on court, just kind of like shut down all those thoughts.  Also, it’s not like I don’t know how to play volleys. I used to play doubles a lot. Just to be brave to go there, you know? We worked a lot after US Open on that. I took couple of days off just to switch off and forgot about tennis because it was a really tough, tough loss for me. It was super emotional. Yeah, took couple of days off, then I start working again.”

There she is, motivation. In the first round, she just destroyed the American, Sofia Kenin. Maybe she is ready to take down everyone in China, but almost all the players are there.  Ons Jabeur just won the Ningbo Open, in China. So now she is happy again. Many people think that the 16-year-old  Mirra Andreeva of Russia is darn good, as she just upset  Barbora Krejcikova, and excellent player. In another year, if she is healthy, then she might be in the top 30 and then we will know how good she is.

 It did take Gauff a couple years to improve her forehand and her return, and currently, she are better now. She could win China, as long as she can snap the lines.

The finals in Canada: Jessica Pegula, Jannik Sinner, Alex de Minaur

Jannik Sinner
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

The American Jessica Pegula has been around the block, for a very long time, but finally, she is very intense, and when the match is almost done, then you have to really go for it. Or, if she is very steady, during the points, when she is feeling it, then she can hit it harder, and really mix it up.

Over the past few days, in Montreal, it looked like that  Pegula could fold, but she has been so confident. She edged two of the fine players, taking down her good friend,  Coco Gauff  6-2, 5-7, 7-5, and on Saturday, she out-lasted Iga Swiatek 6-2, 6-7, 6-4. Those were two huge events, as she has yet to reach into the semis is the Grand Slams, but at the 2023 U.S. Open, maybe she will finally do it for the first time.

However, right now, it is the most important event. “It’s just kind of trying to execute it at the right times and as best as possible,” she said.

Unfortunately, in Montreal, it was raining  at night, so they had to cancel between Elena Rybakina and  Liudmila Samsonova. They will play on Sunday.

The Aussie Alex de Minaur also said that he really can go further. He beat the former 2021 US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, and then he blasted Alejandro
Davidovich Fokina in the semis. Over the past few years ago, he would miss a lot of shots. He could back off, and he could become frustrated. Now he understands what really works. If he is way down on the court, he can continue to battle.

“I’m not going to give up at any stage.  Yeah, just at those stages, I managed to put the ball in the court, play a couple good points,” de Minaur  said. “And then, all of a sudden, I got my chance and was able to turn that around.  So it’s often how tennis goes. It’s huge momentum swings. So you always got to stay in the present.”

He is currently ranked No. 18, and he does say that this year, he will finally reach into the top 10. The 24-year-old has won seven titles, but none in the ATP 1000s, or at the Grand Slams. But at least he won two ATP 500s, including in early March when he won Acapulco, on the hardcourts. He also reached the finals in London/Queen’s Club and a week ago, in Los Cabos, Mexico.

As he said, very soon, he wants to get into the tough top 10.

“Yeah, 100%. That’s been the goal for me for a couple years,” de Minaur said. “It’s no secret that, I haven’t really been content where I am, and I’m always trying to find my way to push more.  I’ve always felt that I’ve got the level to break into that top 10. But it probably wasn’t until end of last year where I was able to get my first win against a top 5, which was Daniil in Paris, that I really was able to have that breakthrough moment of really believing in myself. And I think from that moment onwards, it’s been a completely different — it’s been a change. I’m feeling a lot better. I’ve had a great year.”

He will face against the Italian, Jannik Sinner, who beat Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-4. It was close. but Sinner  missed a few odd shots, but he continued to throw with some gigantic shots. In the final, Sinner will take down de Minaur in three, massive sets.