The steady, the powerful: Carlos Alcaraz wins Indian Wells

Carlos Alcaraz
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

When he was injured, Carlos Alcaraz couldn’t play at the tournaments on court, at all. He has unable to play at the 2023 Australian Open, and he has upset, yet when he finally was able to practice, he gradually became respectable. It took the Spaniard to play fantastic, but he was getting better, each day.

At Indian Wells, he quickly rose, and the 19-year-old won it, beating
Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-2. That was surprising, because the Russian had won 19 matches in a row, but on Sunday, he was very flat. He could not hit the balls deep enough, and there were many errors. However, he was exhausted, and he knew that.

But not Alcaraz, who hit so many winners, with his massive strokes. His first serve was hard and into the corners, and his forehand and his backhand were so forceful. He runs super quick, and at the net, he can go down and leap up high. It was one of the best matches, ever.
Now, the 2022 US Open is No. 1 again, as the former No. 1 Novak Djokovic could not play at Indian Wells, and also at Miami. He has refused to take the coronavirus vaccine. That is his decision.

In the semis, Alcaraz edged Jannik Sinner 7-6(4) 6-3, which was close, but the Italian could not really his solution. Alcaraz beat everyone.

Rybakina contines to dominate
Somewhat else did the same thing, when Elena Rybakina beat Aryna Sabalenka 7-6(11), 6-4, in a tight contest. Both of them had won a Grand Slam, at the 2022 Wimbledon [Rybakina] and the 2023 Australian Open [Sabalenka], but this time, she was calm, yet Rybakina can hit her phenomenal forehand. In the first set, in the tiebreaker, it was crazy, with some terrific points, but also, a lot of errors, especially with Sabalenka. Rybakina won the first set and she was ticked off, but each point, she will re-set what she had to do. Her first serve is huge, and she can be very solid.

In the second set, Rybakina smashed her forehand and her backhand. She was locked in, and now, she is ranked No. 7, given that she has won ‘just’ four events. But that is good enough.

American Frances Tiafoe reached the semis, but Medvedev chopped him down. Tiafoe can look great, but on court, he can be up and down. We would think, though, he is still getting better…we hope.

The USTA announced that Bob Bryan has been named for the U.S. Davis Cup.

The captian Kathy Rinaldi announced that Jessica Pegula, Coco Gauff, Danielle Collins, Madison Keys and Caty McNally will represent the USA in the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup in Austria, April 14-15 at the Delray Beach Tennis Center.

Do you want to hear another announcement? Tennis Canada announced that Bianca Andreescu , Leylah Annie Fernandez , Rebecca Marino, and Gabriela Dabrowski to face against Belgium in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Rafa Nadal is still hurt and he cannot play in Miami, but he is hoping to play at Monte Carlo on clay in April.

Can Taylor Fritz win Indian Wells again?

Taylor Fritz
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

INDIAN WELLS – Four years ago, Taylor Fritz won some important matches, but he also lost quite a few. Now, the American is ranked No. 5, and last year he won this ATP 1000 tournament.

When he was younger, he had been going up and down. Now he is smarter and more thoughtful, and as he said, he finally found a mental approach to play more consistently.

“I think for me what made me a really good player and gave me a lot of success early on when I was 17 or 18 was how aggressive I was and how big I was hitting the ball. I could do that because I was free,” he said. “I’m not supposed to beat these guys, I’m the younger guy. Then all of a sudden I remember thinking this, I had some good wins when I was 18. One year later when I was 19, I barely beat a guy that I was supposed to beat. I thought to myself, wow, if I had this win one year ago, it would have been the best one of my whole life. We’re only a year now in the future and I’m supposed to win that. It’s bad if I don’t win that match. So I just feel like there was a lot of pressure on me, and it just tightened me up. I wasn’t playing my game as much as I guess should have. I got away from playing what made me good.”

Some young players with potential don’t go through usual teenage paths like going to high school and college and have restricted perception. On the court and off, the players gain more time to understand why they are playing tennis and deal with extensive traveling. It could be odd, or upsetting.
“Some deal with it better than others. At the age of 17, 18, 19, maybe you’re not the most well-equipped to deal with that stuff. Now it’s different, I’m older and the pressure I feel is just the pressure that I put on myself,” Fritz said. “I don’t care about what other people are saying and what pressure other people may be putting on me to succeed. That’s kind of just a lesson you need to learn.”

The 25-year-old has won five tournaments. Is that enough considering his age and potential? At least he has beaten a number of excellent players in the past year, such as Rafa Nadal, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Andrey Rublev.

Fritz’s forehand and his backhand have grown more solid, and his return has been much better. He is coming together. 

“I think one of the biggest improvements in my game from two years ago is the return. Before I would only stand up and stand in the same position and try to return,” he said. “I have made some tweaks to where I stand. I can mix up where I stand, as well. I definitely put way more returns in the court than I used to, for sure.”

Jordan Thompson stuns Stefanos Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

INDIAN WELLS – Players can overjoyed, especially they are hitting their shots very deep from both sides. Also, strong returns and the ability to chip it when you are going into the net can be a big assets on these courts.

Jordan Thompson did, upsetting Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(5) in the third set. Tsitsipas missed two key shots, and the Aussie Thompson finally rose.

“I have been on a bit of run of matches. I felt confident, even playing against a top-10 player I felt comfortable in my own skin and what I was doing, and just snuck out a win,” Thompson said. “It feels unbelievable.”

The first and second rounds can always be tricky. Players who have not played yet at this tournament can be unsure of the surroundings. However, many of the players have done it for years and years and know you have to adjust, and fast.

Three veterans won on Friday: Jelena Ostapenko, Barbora Krejcikova and Petra Kvitova. They hope they can bang into the second week. They all have won a number of big events, but they can also be ineffective if they are not feeling right. 

Kvitova and Ostapenko will face off in the round of 32. The last time they played was on the Eastbourne grass last year, with the Czech veteran winning easily. But in California on hard courts, Kvitova will try to hit big immediately, with her first serve, backhand and forehand. However, her foot speed has dropped a little bit.

Kvitova said, “I think you can expect quick game, one, two shots max. We played final of Eastbourne before I lost on the hard court from the match point against Jelena. We practiced few times as well. We know each other pretty well. Yeah, it will be quick game for sure. I will not have a time to think where I’m going to put my ball. Any times I gonna feel it I will go there.”

There are some amazing matches already in the desert. On Thursday night, Sofia Kenin somewhat easily beat Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-1 late at night. Kenin was very good — finally — bending down and blasting her forehand and backhand. A few years ago, the former Roland Garros champ Stephens was so steady, but now she is mentally down, and she has yet to add a few more shots. She went from being steady, but currently she is so erratic.

Emma Raducanu, who beat Danka Kovinic, is trying to get back into the top 10 this year. She looked very decent, and she is more aggressive, yet she does need to get a string of victories.
American Emma Navarro took down Caty McNally in three sets, when it was very late and cold. She was steady, while McNally was frustrated.

On the court, Ben Shelton is so enthusiastic and he celebrates all the time. When he is on, then he can attack, and he can be steady. He crushed Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-1. However, in the next round he has to play Taylor Fritz, who won the tournament last year. On the big stadium, in the afternoon, the sun will be very warm, and they will sweat hard in what should be an excellent matchup.

Taylor Fritz: ‘My goal is to move into the top-10”

Taylor Fritz

In Indian Wells it is somewhat odd that so many people can go very deep

Of course the top 10 players can go up the charts. But the reality is that outside of the top 32, the chances are somewhat slim.

Eventually, someone will rise up and have a great show. The fans can watch in a terrific, fun match.

Except for one, the American players are now gone in California, including Reilly Opelka, John Isner, Jenson Brooksby, Tommy Paul, Steve Johnson, Frances Tiafoe, Cori Gauff, Jessica Pegula, Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens, Jennifer Brady and Danielle Collins.

The sole American standing is Taylor Fritz, who won two matches two days ago, winning third-set tiebreaks over Jaume Munar and Alex De Minaur. He  in the quarterfinals.
In January, Fritz began to mix it up a lot, and he almost beat Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australia, Open in a classic five setter.

When he lost, he was very upset. He should have grabbed it, but he missed on a couple of key errors.

“I think obviously chances were there. It was just one of those matches, like, literally was decided by a couple points here and there. I felt like I just need to put myself in those situations a little more so I can play better in those moments” Fritz said. “The level is there to hang with those guys. I feel like I can play at that level consistently. I just got to keep having that consistency, keep getting in those situations, and it will just get easier.”

It has this week, but physically, he might feel tired. He has to face Miomir Kecmanovic, the Serbian, who has had a fine week. Kecmanovic needed three sets to oust Matteo Berrettini in the round of 16.

Fritz believes that he has progressed because he been more comfortable, but it is more mental than anything else.

“I think just my level as a player has gone up. I think I’ve gone up several levels. I’m a way better player than I was when I was here last year and I think I’ve improved a lot. I expect a lot more of myself. Back then when I think I was ranked about almost 40 six months ago, however long ago this tournament was, and now I’m in between 15 and 20. I’m looking, my goal is to move into the top 10. So I definitely have a lot higher expectations.”

Andrey Rublev: Can he win Indian Wells?

Andrey Rublev
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Before Russia invaded Ukraine with the intent of taking over the country, the No. 6 Andrey Rublev won Dubai. He said that when he is playing at the Grand Slams, that he has to pick it up and be more firm.

A number of the Russian tennis players opposed the war. The few who have talked with the tournaments, saying they are stunned, and a bit afraid. There is the possibility that if the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin continues to bomb Ukraine, then in the couple month, the Russian players may not be able to play tennis tournaments. That is true. 

Hopefully, the war will stop immediately.
Beyond that, Rublev has won 10 titles, but he has yet to reach the semis at the majors. The 24-year-old did reach into the ATP 1000 twice in 2021, but he could not win them.

However, he said that he wants to transfer his success to the Grand Slams. He is playing at the Indian Wells this week, and next week.

“First of all because you are playing in one place and you have every time one day off, even if you’re playing best of five sets, maybe you win match in three sets, which maybe take you one hour and a half can be easily, then you have one day rest. You have more than enough time to be fresh,” he said. “I can transfer this to the majors. The problem is that, in my opinion, my problem that sometimes I want something really badly and I cannot manage this emotionally so I need to find a balance to be more stable mentally, to be better mentally. I think it will come also that I will have chances to go deep in a Masters or Grand Slams. Even last year I did two finals of the Masters [in Monte Carlo and Cincinnati]. I had I don’t know how many quarterfinals the Grand Slams. I had a chance to be in the semis. But I didn’t manage it mentally and that’s why I couldn’t win that matches.”

In 2020, he won three titles, but he couldn’t push very deep at the slams, and do damage against the top 5 players, such as Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and the now No. 1 and fellow Russian Daniil Medvedev.

This season at the Australian Open, Rublev went down against the veteran, Marin Cilic in four sets in the third round.

When he won it in Dubai, he said that that he has to be more thoughtful on the court.

“If I want to be a better player, I need to improve a lot mental part because this is the main thing I’m doing worst compared to top five players. That’s the main goal,” Rublev said. “If you want to change some things inside of you, you’re the one who take responsibility. There is no secret about mental part and how to improve. All the best athletes on histories, all the best philosophies, all of them, they say that many times. It’s about you.”

He also mentioned that Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, another Russian, came to watch him play in Dubai. She also said that she doesn’t like the war. The No. 14 Russian Pavlyuchenkova is physically hurt and she cannot play until she heals. Both her and Rublev won the Tokyo Olympics in the mixed doubles.

“We have a great connection with her, especially what we been through with Olympic gold medal. Of course, after this it’s already like a story that will be forever with us,” Rublev said. “Even if we’re not going to talk to each other, we will always have great respect to each other, great feelings, because what we done. This is memory for all the life. If I will need any help, she can help me. Same thing other way, if she needs help, I will help her as well.”

At Indian Wells: the tall Americans step up

John Isner

In Indian Wells, there will be some terrific hardcourts matches. It is dancing in the streets in the ATP and WTA 1000s.

Two of U.S. men are seeded: Reilly Opelka and John Isner. The tall man Isner has gone deep there a few times. Opelka hasn’t done that yet, but over the past year, his game has improved enough to make a move in the desert.

Both want to show that their backhands are decent, but not great and have improved with more consistency and with variety. Their returns need to jump up a level. Of course, they can crack their forehands.

Isner has been around for a long, long time, and his serve and his forehand are rattling, but his backhand at the net can be mediocre. He has tried, but not improved enough, which is why he has never reached the finals at the Grand Slams.

There other American men are not in the top 32, but some have pushed up towards into the top 50. Marcos Giron could reach into the top 50 pretty soon. He is aggressive and now he believes in himself.

There are a lot of the Americans who are talented, but can they crack into the top 10 next year? If so, then right now, they should be able to show all the fans in the biggest stadium in California, such as Taylor Fritz, Sebastian Korda, Frances Tiafoe, Mackenzie McDonald, Tommy Paul, Jenson Brooksby and Brandon Nakashima.

Serena Williams isn’t here, nor is Sofia Kenin, both of them were hurt in September. But there are a few women who possibly can go very deep, such as Cori Gauff, Daniela Collins, Jessica Pegula (who just beat Sloane Stephens), and Jennifer Brady

The teenager, Gauff, starts out great in the first three to four rounds, but when after that, she has been a little bit tired, mentally. Physically, she can play for hours, but at times, she overthinks. It is true, though that Serena when she started to play in 1997, she was good, but not great, yet. She admits that. But two years later, she rose way up, thinking and learning constantly. At the 1997 US Open, she won it, her first Grand Slam. After that, she won 22 more major titles, which is phenomenal.

Gauff can eventually win a Slam, but she has yet to win a gigantic tournament, especially one like Indian Wells.

Perhaps Pegula can continue to beat the top players, as does Collins. They have to continue to change it up and develop more weapons.

It would be surprising that some other good Americans can win it all, but there are some people who are digging it like Amanda Anisimova. She has not played that great this year, but the 20-year-old become more self-consistent and thoughtful over the past month.

Canadian Leylah Fernandez reached the US Open final, running fast and she goes for it a lot. She loves to hit it on court and kiss the lines. Young players have to be aggressive, and Fernandez is a great example of that.

California rising, in Indian Wells

Casper Ruud

To start, California’s Indian Wells will play in October, which is fantastic. Over the years, in March, hundreds of thousand fans came out and watched some thrilling matches during the day and night. Last year and early this year, they couldn’t play due to coronavirus. But they waited. Last week the owners decided to push into October when many more people will have taken the vaccine. So now, it is time to try again, with the players and the fans. Go for it.

Roland Garros will start in May 29. Here comes the Grand Slams again. But, this week, who will rise up and play fantastic? Who is playing great, who is mediocre, or someone who is playing bad?

Here is the first one. Casper Ruud believes that he can reach the second week. He has had a good year, taking down Diego Schwartzman, Pablo Carreno Busta, Fabio Fognini and Stefano Tsitsipas. Ruud is playing this week in Switzerland. The 22-year-old has much more aplomb.

”I’ve shown myself that I’m up there at the high level of clay court players and I can compete well with pretty much any player on clay,” Ruud said. “I’ve been winning a lot of good matches against good opponents. So, it gives me a lot of confidence going into the Roland Garros and I have to say I’m hoping to be in Paris for the second week of the tournament. That’s my goal.”

Ruud did mention that his forehand and his backhand are strong, but he needed to improve his return, so he worked on it a lot, and now, it is better.

As he said, later, he might be playing terrific, but he is not there to knock off the big boys: [But] “I’m not a rock star in Norway yet,” Ruud said.

This was a stunner last Sunday. During the final in Rome, Karolina Pliskova lost 6-0, 6-0 against Iga Swiatek. Yes, who would believe that? The 19-year-old Swiatek won the 2020 RG and, when she plays on clay, she is incredibly good.

The 29-year-old Czech Pliskova has won some big wins over the years, reaching the final at the 2016 US Open, winning Rome in 2019, and grabbing other titles, such as Cincinnati, Doha and Brisbane.

But Swiatek was on fire in Rome, every game.

“[Swiatek] didn’t give me anything, but sometimes I just tried to make it a bit difficult just to put the ball in. I just was feeling horrible out there,” Pliskova said. “She really made it extremely difficult for me to do any point. She was playing super fast. I thought she was just going for it. She had amazing day and I had horrible day. She’s really extremely confident on clay,”

Swiatek is powerful, and more than that, she can mix it up and it is hard to read where she will go. She does like to adjust.

“She can just redirect so well and she can play even faster, and especially on clay. Because she has so much spin, it’s super tough to do something from it,” Pliskova said. “She had amazing placement of the ball. Everything was super, like, deep and just like close to the lines. She was serving quite big. She has a good serve overall. I think she didn’t have really any — I think overall she didn’t really miss anything today. Even though I was not playing great, but she was having maybe a moment of her life,”

Swiatek can win it again to win another Slam. On the other hand right now, Pliskova is in the cloud.

Sloane Stephen has won three wins in a row. Two years ago, in Madrid, she reached the semis. Two years later, she lost so many early matches, and currently she is ranked No. 65. Now the former US Open champ is in Parma this week, she appears to be slightly back. We hope …
Grigor Dimitrov lost again. He can be pretty good, but week after week, he can collapse. … Dominic Thiem lost this weekend and really thinks he can win RG for the first time. He has been there twice in the final but Rafa Nadal took him down. To do that, he is going to have to pound Nadal’s backhand, over and over.

Coronavirus boots Indian Wells

These are tough days now. Not only in tennis, but millions of people are in need and we feel for them.

But, presently, all eyes are on the coronavirus as it spreads throughout the world. People are getting sick everywhere.

On Sunday night, at Indian Wells, the 2020 BNP Paribas Open was cancelled. No one could play on court against the fantastic competitors, like Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Ash Barty or Serena Williams. All the healthy players were already there, at Indian Wells when word came – practicing, smacking the balls, talking with their coaches. They were pretty surprised on Sunday that the owners did not want to take chances in this situation. Even though it was super sad that no one could go to watch at the matches, but at the same time, many people would are nodding. Since then, the infections numbers just keep rising.

The players, too, assuming that they learning about the coronavirus (like everyone else), know that it is dangerous to play. More importantly, it is even more dangerous to watch. Packing in thousands of spectators right now is not a smart move. In other sports and non-athletic events, cancellations are everywhere.

The Miami tournament will start in 12 days. The owners already have said that they will play, even though the coronavirus is spreading in Europe and North America. No one can predict what will happen; it’s very day-to-day. Everyone wants to watch Miami, another big tournament, but you just have to wait and see what happens. If you want to help, make sure to wash your hands … a lot! That would help, for sure. It is a crazy life, now.  

Belinda Bencic is bashing the ball, takes down Osaka

Belinda Bencic

FROM INDIAN WELLS, MARCH 11, 2019 – More and more, Belinda Bencic is becoming much more confident and knowledgeable.  The Swiss was really struggling over the past few years, because she was hurt a lot, and when she returned, she needed to re-think her game.

She played a lot of tournaments in 2018, playing whenever she could. She knew that eventually she would feel her legs. When she swings, and where she returns, she is blasting her shots. 

Back in 2016, she cracked the top 10. She won Canada, beating a bunch of excellent players. It looked like she could eventually become No. 1. But, she hasn’t … yet.

Can she return to the elite?  On Tuesday, she looked the part and crushed No. 1 and defending champ Naomi Osaka 6-3, 6-1.

Bencic takes a little more time, and she likes some long rallies, but she has to push herself in front. Osaka does, and that is why she has won two Grand Slams. Bencic has not, so in order to even further, she has to mix it up more and then when she has a chance, she can crack the ball.

After her win over Ekaterina Alexandrova, the Swiss said about playing Osaka, “Definitely a big opportunity.  I always like to play on the big courts, I like to play the big players. I really enjoy that, and that’s what I work for. We try to push each other. One is doing well, so you’re motivated to do well again.

“We are all different players, but still, the ’97 generation, it’s so strong.  Everybody has their own timing. So sometimes it takes longer; sometimes it takes faster. Definitely, [Osaka is] a great player. I’m just super happy to be on the big court at 6:00 p.m.”

It will be, on Tuesday, assuming it will stop the rain. The good rain, except for tennis:)

Some other good wins today including Venus Williams, Karolina Pliskova, Angelique Kerber and Aryna Sabalenka. Mona Barthel, a veteran who plays all the time, almost every week, and she has lost so many matches over the past few years, but now, she hangs in there and battles. Almost six years ago, she was ranked in the top 25, winning a couple events. Now she is ranked No. 97.  Is she ready to leap forward? We will find out next week.

Milos Raonic barely escaped the American Marcos Giron 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.  He looked a little timid, but in the third set, he finally took over the corners. That was a fun win by the Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka, edging Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6 in the third. That was darn close. … Alexander Zverev apparently is sick, so he went down easily against Jan-Lennard Struff. Everyone is ill. … After he struggled in South America, Dominic Thiem is playing better and now he could reach semis.

Djokovic is the favorite, but what about Zverev & Raonic?

FROM INDIAN WELLS – Novak Djokovic is standing tall. Clearly, he is the favorite as the Serb has won three straight Grand Slams. However, the ATP 1000s are very tough, as all the players want to compete — if they are healthy enough — and to win it; you have to be on top of the ball.

On Monday, Djokovic will take on the other veteran, Philip Kohlschreiber, who just knocked off the sort-of- young player Nick Kyrgios, 6-4, 6-4. The Aussie recently won Acapulco, perhaps his best week ever, but six days later, as he said, he was mediocre. But that is what happens. He couldn’t rise up, and the steady Philipp did.

Djokovic is the clear favorite against the German. His serves are much better, as well as his super deep backhand, and his intelligent returns. Kohlschreiber is still quick, and he has rarely become hurt. He knows the entire game, or close enough, and he also knows that he has to play spot on. Perhaps he will, but can he bother the 15-time Grand Slam champ Djokovic? Very doubtful.

On the top half, only one has won a Slam — Djokovic. There are a few have had a legitimate chance to grab it: Dominic Thiem, at the 2018 Roland Garros final, and Milos Raonic, at 2016 Wimbledon. Neither has won an ATP 1000 ever, but we would think that they can snap their drought this season? How about during the next week? Thiem can really hustle, even though he likes clay more than hard courts, while the Canadian can nail his serve, and crush his forehand. But they are not ranked in the top 5, which means they have to step it up.
Two others are on the top half, the No. 3 Alexander Zverev and the No. 18 Gael Monfils. Zverev has won a few ATP 1000s, which is why he is in the top 5, but he has never gone deep at the majors. The Frenchman has reached the semis twice in Paris, and he has had some fantastic wins, but he can get hurt frequently, and his backhand has been so-so for many years. But he can run forever, back and forth.

Raonic and Zverev could face off on Wednesday which is a very close contest. Whomever wins, next Friday, they will play against Djokovic, assuming that Monfils won’t stun the Serbian.
The Women
Serena Williams became hurt again, with the fever. Over the past month, almost everyone has had the fever. That stinks, on court and off. Things are changing through the world. There is absolutely no doubt about it. Remember, all the players, the women and men, exercise all the time, and that is fantastic, but that doesn’t mean you can control a fever. You just have to deal with it.

Serena hasn’t played enough this season. If she wants to win another big event, she has to push herself, a little bit more. She has won 23 Grand Slams, but the last time she did that, it was two years ago now, at the 2017 Aussie Open, winning it, and then she went to have a child.

That was the last time that she won a major – and I am sure she will get another – but exactly when? It depends on her body and why she wants to continue, but I get she wants to tie with the controversial Margarete Court, at 24 majors.

There will be some excellent matches, with the No. 1 Naomi Osaka versus the American Danielle Collins, Venus Williams against Christine McHale, and the rising Aryna Sabalenka, who will play against the vet Lesia Tsurenko. Osaka won the tournament last year, and at that point, we knew she was very good. But great? We didn’t know that yet. But she won the 2018 US Open, and then the 2019 Australian Open. While she can be very emotional, she can really concentrate. On court, she can be very cool and calm. Collins has also become substantially better, which is why she is ranked No. 25. Today, she really believes in her ability. Will it last forever? Probably not, but in United States, you can be overjoyed.

Venus Williams is aging. We all know that, but she doesn’t not give it in. She was down a set, and a break. She kept moving forward, and somehow, she fooled Petra Kvitova and won 6-4 in the third. Venus can look amazing, and then there are days when she is a little bit slow. I think that she will continue to play until she is 40 years old, and then finally, she will wave goodbye. She has had a fascinating career.

Sabalenka is the youngest player in the top 10, only 20 year olds. She loves to bang and she swings very hard. She wants to end it, quickly and fast. She knows she is so close to beating all the players, but she has to add more to her game. Like at the net, her second serve and spin.  

Top quote
The 14-time GS Pete Sampras was in the house to watch Djokovic. Novak said: “I have to admit I was a bit nervous. I don’t get to see Pete that often. I was pleasantly surprised to see him watching my match. It’s a thrill, obviously, to see someone that I looked up to when I was a kid. I think I tried too hard in the first set to impress him (with a laugh).”