US Open 2023: Which men will reach the quarterfinals?

Daniil Medvedev

First Quarter
Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz won the tournament last years in New York, but he couldn’t play at the Australian Open, due to an injury, but now he is back, with his phenomenal strokes. The No. 1 does think that he can win it again, and maybe he will, but he has to be rock solid, almost each match. He should be fine, into in the quarters, when he might have to face against Jannik Sinner, who has played much better this summer, and possibly against Alexander Zverev, who once reached here in the final in 2020, but he has been up and down, week after week. Grigor Dimitrov can look terrific with his fun one-handed backhand, but it is hard to say that he is really locked in. In the quarters will be Alcaraz versus Sinner.
Dark horse: Tallon Griepspoor

2nd Quarter
Is it possible that Daniil Medvedev will play excellent ball and win it again, when he won the 2021 in Flushing Meadows? Yes he is so consistent, and he can move it all around, but he has had some tough matches in the summer, losing when it was very tight. He could possible do it again, but he can go back of the baseline, rather than rushing into the net. It will be up to him, and yes, he can reach into the quarters, but he could face against Alex de Minaur in the fourth round, who is so much better then he is really on. However, the reason why is that the Aussie has yet to reach in the top 10, as he slips, here and there. It should be a very close match, but the Russian will beat him in five sets.

Andrey Rublev should get through, or maybe he will not. If you watch him, he can look very good, and then he disappears,  but in the first round he has to beat Emil Ruusuvuori, a pretty good player. Somehow he will, but then he might have to face versus the veteran Gael Monfils, who has had a terrific summer. That match will be a blast, on court, as the Frenchman can really celebrate. Rublev will take it, though, but in the fourth round he will lose against Hubert Hurkacz, as in the summer, he became much more aggressive, and he put it away. This time, he will reach into the quarters, the first time at the US Open.
Dark horse: Nicolas Jarry

3rd Quarter
Will Casper Ruud rise up again at the US Open?  He did that in 2022, reaching the final here, and he did also when at the 2023 Roland Garros. He lost, both of them, but before that, he can be so fantastic, with some stunning shots. However, this year he looked very good at times, but he can also drop down, especially with his serve and his return.  He has to play fabulous, early, as he might have to face against three different people, with Sebastian Korda,  Adrian Mannarino, and  Frances Tiafoe. The two Americans want to do very deep in the second week, here. Tiafoe has reached into the semis two years ago, and when he is on, he can split the ball, but he has not played well in the summer. Korda just came back due to his injury, and he looked pretty good this week, but he can win a few matches, yet he still needs more time. The veteran, the Frenchman, has so much variety, when he plays, each week, and there are other times when his strokes are not there. Essentially, Ruud will reach into the quarters.

How about Holger Rune? He has had some fine matches, in Monte-Carlo, Rome, and Wimbledon. He is still pretty young, but he might face the American, Tommy Paul, who has had a very good year.  But in the fourth round, against Rune, will he be there? I would think, yes, Paul will, in five brutal sets.
Dark horse: Ben Shelton

4th Quarter
It is almost so obvious that when Novak Djokovic is on top of it, he will put on a show, just like when he out-lasted against Alcaraz in three hours, 49 minutes. That was won of the best match this year. But this is different, three out of five, rather than two out of three. But Djokovic is used to it, as he has won the U.S. Open many times. Even in the first three matches, it will be pretty easy. Maybe he can play against Felix Auger-Aliassime in the third round, but that Canadian is really straining. How about against Taylor Fritz or Lorenzo Musetti?Close, but no cigar. Stefanos Tsitsipas could reach into the quarters, but he has not played well during the summer. He might be out. How about the other American, Christopher Eubanks, who has had a superb this year,  but to beat the top players is questionable. Djokovic  will be there in the quarters,  as will be Fritz, but then he is going to have to play incredible to go into the fifth set. Try to do it.
Dark horse: Milos Raonic

Andy Murray wins in Washington

Andy Murray

Andy Murray won in the second round in Washington.

The three-time Grand Slam champion beat Brandon Nakashima. He is hoping to be seated at the US Open, in the top 32, but he does have an opportunity in the next three weeks. He almost retired, due to his massive  injuries four years ago, but now, since he came back, it took him a long time to recover, as he lost a lot of matches. But he kept trying, moving faster, and with some new shots. He also really liked to do in the rallies, backhand to backhand, crosscourt, or down the line. His forehand is very good, all over the place, when it is flat, or when he can spin it, a little bit.  But when he was losing a lot, maybe he was down in the dumps. A lot of players, men and women, have to stop playing for months. Perhaps they were very sad.

“I was in that place, and most of the athletes that I would speak to that are thinking about having this operation are in a pretty bad place, like physically and probably have been in a lot of pain for quite a long time. I spoke to Bob Bryan [the former player] quite a lot about it, which was helpful, probably wish I had had the opportunity to speak to more athletes about it and what that process was like and what the operation, the rehab and I’m able to give  a bit of positivity to those athletes in that situation now,” Murray said. “It is possible to get back to competing and doing the sport that you love after having this surgery.”

Everyone who gets hurt and he or she will return, such as Kei Nishikori and Jennifer Brady, who has been out a long time, and again, the troubling surgeries. At times, they can look 100 percent, on court, but other players can become injured again, and then they have to re-set there bodies. It is very difficult.

“I think it definitely takes time like for the body to get used to playing like multiple matches again at the highest level. There will definitely be some aches and pains,” Murray said.  “That can sometimes be quite hard to deal with mentally, because you forget what it is like to play like the highest level of sport isn’t easy.  You don’t play a match and wake up next day and feel perfect, but when you’ve been out a long time with an injury, understanding what that pain means, like if you wake up the day after playing a match and your back is sore, is that pain because of an injury? Like do I need to back off here? Should I be playing today? Or is it just part of playing and your body getting used to playing, the matches again and competing. Like playing in front of the big crowds again when you have been away from it for a long time, that is different. There is a different pressure and a different intensity to that.”

Murray will have to face Taylor Fritz on Thursday night. The American looks pretty clean, and finally, he looked pretty solid, recently winning Atlanta. Before that, he was not played great this year. However, on the hardcourt, he is more thoughtful. “I did a lot of big emphasis on like the cardio and fitness and just normal training and was able to play last week. Last week was extremely hot, as well, in Atlanta. I think that I’m in just a much better place, for sure,” Fritz said.

In Canada, in Montreal  at the ATP 1000, Fritz crushed Murray 6-1, 6-3. But that was a while ago, so at night in Washington, they will some very long rallies, and change it where he has to. Move forward.

MORE NOTES
Elina Svitolina is once again, on fire, as she crushed Daria Kasatkina in Washington. At Wimbledon, she reached into the semis at Wimbledon. That is pretty darn good.

“I have a lot of experience. You know, now coming back to the tour, starting from zero, I have experience still of playing many years on the high level, and I try just to analyze what I did well and take the best from that years and just build on that.”

Just coming back, Brady was gone for almost two years, another big injury, and on Wednesday, against Madison Keys, she lost very fast . Again, Brady will take it so long to play well again. … In Los Cabos, Tommy Paul took a tough match, but he won over Felipe  Alves.  Now he will go up against Alex de Minaur. That is a draw. Pick em.

Into the finals with Fritz, Zverev and Wawrinka

Alexander Zverev
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Once again, Taylor Fritz won another match, beating J.J. Wolf 6-3, 7-5, and now he is in the final at Atlanta. In early February, he won Delray Beach, and he looked very good, but then he went down, gradually. Now the 25-year-old is back on the hardcourts, and his confidence is rising. However, to play 100 percent, he will have to be substantially better, and he knows that. As he said:  “The Tour doesn’t reward consistency as much as it does boom by winning titles or bust when you lose in the first round. I started this year pretty strong and have had more consistent results than last year,” Fritz said. “I’ve gotten a lot more into a lot of tournaments this year, but I’ve let slip some matches that I maybe didn’t let slip last year.”

The same thing happened with Alexander Zverev, who reached into the final at the Hamburg European Open. He was in the top five, and he won a number of some huge events, but in 2022, he badly hurt his leg at Roland Garros in the semis, and he could not play for seven months. He did come back, but it takes him a good while. He is a forceful hitter, with his forehand and his backhand are very strong, but he can also disappear during the matches. He can be angry, when he is not playing well, but he can re-set it. He has won 19 titles, so it is time to grab it, again. He will face against the Serbian, Laslo Djere

“When I’m pain-free I enjoy tennis a lot. Yeah, the last year or so, not year yet, but since June there were a lot of times where that wasn’t the case. It took me a very long time to come back,” Zverev said. “ So even tournaments like Australia, I was still very limited to what I was able to do. I was still not completely pain-free, not being able to move the way I want to move. It’s definitely going into the other direction now.”

The three-time Grand Slam champion, Stan Wawrinka, has reached the final in Imag, Croatia. It is back on clay, after he lost at Wimbledon against Novak Djokovic in the third round, and the 38-year-old did not play, great. But when he is on, his one-handed backhand has so much spin, and he can control it. It would be amazing to win a Slam again, but that is highly unlikely. However, to win any tournament, that would be super special. But first, he has to beat the Aussie,  Alexei Popyrin, on Sunday, who will give it, all. So put it up, and drive, for it.

Novak Djokovic: the Wimbledon favorite

Novak Djokovic
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

When Wimbledon starts, Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz will be the favorites, but it is possible that the American men Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul and Sebastian Korda can go deep into the second week.
 
The former champ John McEnroe said, “I think Taylor is a confident kid. He’s worked really hard on his movement and fitness, which is the reason to me he’s in the top 10,” McEnroe said. “He hits a great ball. I don’t think he’s actually that comfortable on grass. I think Tiafoe is a better volleyer and more skilled at net, athletically better. That would help him on the grass. Taylor hits a better ball and is a bigger guy. His serve is probably a little bit more dependable.”

Neither of them have reached very far at Wimbledon, although they are pretty young. They have to be more consistent and attack pretty early. In order to win point after point, they can construct their strokes. And, of course, they have to be totally locked in, all the time.

“Both of them would be in the quarters of Alcaraz or Djokovic, which would make it more difficult. I think at this time those two and maybe [Sebastian] Korda are the guys. Tommy Paul looks like he’s fallen off at the moment a little bit,” McEnroe said. “Hopefully he’ll get it back. I think there’s going to be guys soon, Americans, that are going to make the breakthrough within a year or two hopefully. I think that’s going to be big.”

Yes it will, as the U.S. men have not won a Grand Slam since 2003 at the US Open with Andy Roddick won it. It might be 20-years-ago in September that they cannot win another Slam again. But before that, in England, you can actually play longer in the rallies. They don’t have to slide all the time, and they can actually return, more. In the 1990s, there were some really quick rallies, and with millions of aces.

“The people that can add that adaptability and finish points at net successfully, like an Alcaraz, for example, who is a really good volleyer, Novak learned it, so did Rafa [Nadal],” McEnroe said. “I believe that’s why Tiafoe has a shot because he’s skilled at net. That will help you get over the hump at Wimbledon. Yes, it’s more homogenized. Yes, it’s more like hard courts. The bounce is higher, but there’s still a nuance that only a few get it.


“Look at [Casper] Ruud, for example. He’s regarding this as he’s showing up, hoping for the best. He could be out in the first round or two. [Stefanos] Tsitsipas doesn’t seem to be comfortable at all, can’t figure out how to play on the grass. There’s an opening. There’s many guys that don’t even understand it, or girls for that matter. That’s why it’s pretty narrowed down who can actually win it. That’s why Novak can afford not to play any tournament because he’s so confident, he understands what it takes, he doesn’t feel the need to play any warmup matches and he still wins it almost every year.”

Yes, he is the now 23-Grand-Slam champion. Djokovic really thinks that he can win another major once again. However, he can lose here and there, so at Wimbledon, he can become lost during a match, and he will fall down. Or maybe Alcaraz will rise, now.

As he said: “Novak is the main favorite to win Wimbledon, but I will try to play at this level to have chances to beat him or make the final. I saw a statistic that Novak has won more matches at Wimbledon than the other top 20 players (combined),” the Spaniard Alcaraz said. “What can you say about that you know? Novak is the main favorite to win Wimbledon. That’s obvious. But I will try to play at this level, to have chances to beat him or make the final at Wimbledon.”

On the grass: Will Carlos Alcaraz rise again?

Carlos Alcaraz
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

The Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz can be totally be on fire. He is a huge hitter, as is with some strong forehands,  and his phenomenal backhand. However, the very young player can be nervous, once and a while, and he knows that when he has to face against Novak Djokovic, he has to really concentrate. Unfortunately, in the semis at Roland Garros, he stopped thinking, in the third and the fourth set. He began to get hurt, and he lost,  6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1, and he was quickly gone. Also, his brain was collapsing.

“The tension of the match. I started match really nervous,” he said. “The tension of  the first set, the second set, it was really intense two sets.  Really good rallies, tough rallies, dropshots, sprints, rallies. It’s a combination of a lot of things. And I started to cramp, in my arm. At the beginning of the third set I started to cramp every part of my body, not only the legs. The arms, as well. It was really tough for me to move at the third set, and in the fourth set let’s say I had a little chance, but it was really tough.”

Alcaraz  did win the 2022 U.S Open and in May, he won Barcelona and Madrid. It looked like he had a good shot, in Paris, but he fell down. Just like the other Spaniard, Rafa Nadal, when he was 20-years-old, he began rise, fast, winning RG in his first Grand Slam title. However, his forehand was amazing, but his backhand was too short, and his serve was pretty good, but not great. Of course, he worked and he worked all the time, changing his tactics, and adding to it. Now, he has won 22 Grand Slams, at RG, Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and the Australian Open. The now 37-year-old figured it out, but it took him more many year. 

The same thing goes with the No. 1 Djokovic, who won his first Slam at the Aussie Open, and while he was running so fast, and his backhand incredible, his forehand was good, but not great, and his second serve and at the net needed to grow, more. Alcaraz also needs to be more consistent.

“Is not easy to play against Novak. Of course a legend of our sport. If someone says that he get into the court with no nerves playing against Novak, he lies,” Alcaraz said. “ Yeah, next time that I’m gonna face Novak, I hope to be different, but the nerves will be there.”
 
NOTES
The teenager Ben Shelton  lost against Lorenzo Musetti  6-4, 4-6, 6-4. The Italian can look terrific, but there are times when he forgets what to do. But this week, he will try to push even harder.  Shelton is ranked No. 34, so he does have a small shot to be seated at Wimbledon, but he may not, as a few people can get injured and they pull out before, but you never know.

Sebastian Korda beat  Frances Tiafoe, who just won  an event, but he looked tired. He has looked very good on the hardcourts, but before last week, he was struggling. This time, he was much more CONSISTENT.

The Floridian Korda has improved over the past few years, but he is still young, so he 22-year-old can miss it a lot. Yes he really goes, but also, he can mix it up. At the Cinch Championships in London, we will see how well he is playing against Cameron Norrie, a very competitor. They are very close…
Taylor Fritz  looks very decent, but on the grass, he needs to really lock it in, like he did in 2022. Last year, he won Eastbourne, and then at Wimbledon, in the quarters, he was right there, but Nadal edged him 7-6(4) in the fifth set. He has to be thinking about it a lot, but he has another chance over the next month… 

Where is Reilly Opelka? He is still injured but he hopes to resume in August as he is recovering from a wrist injury. Very good luck, but on the court, it will take a long time  to be 100 percent again.

The picks at Roland Garros; Tuesday, May 30

Shelby Rogers
Mal Taam/MALT photo

Picks were written before matches started.

Victoria Azarenka over Bianca Andreescu
At what point will the two time champion Azarenka will make it back into the semis at a Grand Slam? The former No. 1 has two gigantic shots, with her forehand and her backhand. She is darn aggressive, and she can make an attempt to hit it on the lines. However, she has slowed down during the last couple years, and she still becomes injury, pretty frequently. It is difficult to see if Azarenka can be healthy, through out during  the event. The same goes with the Canadian Andreescu, who was playing much better, but then she fell down, and she could not get up as her leg was almost busted. She had a full tear of two ligaments in her left ankle.

But Andreescu returned  this month, so perhaps she will continue to become better. Four years ago, she beat so many terrific matches, winning at the 2019 U.S. Open. It looked like that she would continue to rise, but she did not and that was the last time she won another  tournament. Is it possible that she can win a huge event, again? Maybe, but it is uncertain.  This contest will be very close, but in the third set, Azarenka will hit some deep shots, and she will win it, with a big smile on her face.

Gael Monfils over Sebastian Baez
Years ago, the Frenchman reached into the semis at Roland Garros, with some heavy strokes. He is one of the fastest runner, ever, and he can go way beyond the courts, and bring it back. However, his forehand can be titanic, but his backhand is so-so. He is decent with the return , and at the net, too, but the reason why he has never won an ATP Masters 1000. However,  at least he made it into the finals, three times. Maybe the 36-year-old can do it one more time? I doubt that, even though he is a super nice person, off court, but on court, he has been injured so many times. But as he said, “It will take time and I’m willing to be patient and persistent.”

This might be the last time next year at Roland Garros, but the most important is to stay for a few days, as long as Monfils can out-hit Baez. Last year, the Argentine  put together some phenomenal shots, but this year, the 22-year-old has not won two many matches against the very good players. He can be steady, and he can nail his forehand, but his serve and his return has been marginal. He does know that on the main court in front of the fans that he will have to pound it for hours.  Baez looks a little better now, but Monfils will be thrilled just to be on the court. He will, and Monfils will win it in five tough sets.
 
Shelby Rogers over Petra Martic 
Yes, Martic  can be very solid, and she can bash her backhand, but she is slowing down. The American Rogers is a massive player with her forehand, but at times. she misses a lot. However, on clay, she will beat  Martic in three, sizable, sets.

Taylor Fritz  over Michael Mmoh
The American men have known each other for a long time, but they have played only once, back in Memphis, indoors in February. That was   seven years ago, so it is totally different. Mmoh had his best event of all time, upsetting  Alexander Zverev at the Australian Open. He lost after that, but he was so thrilled. However he is ranked No. 123, so he still has more work to do.  Fritz is still struggling on the clay, but he seems to feel that he can turn it around. Fritz  will win it in three light sets.

Matt’s yesterday picks

Correct: Sloane Stephens over Karolina Pliskova
Correct: Elina Svitolina over Marina Treisan
Brandon Nakashima over Denis Shapovalov
Felix Auger-Aliassime over Fabio Fognini

Matt’s picks from Roland Garros

5 out of 8, 62.5% correct

Preview: ATP at 2023 Roland Garros

Carlos Alcaraz

It is possible that Daniil Medvedev will win Roland Garros for the first time, but he has to play for two weeks, in a three out of five, and while he rarely gets tired, on the famous clay, there have been some stunning upsets. But not with Rafa Nadal, who has won it 11 times, but unfortunately, he won’t be able to play because he is still injured.

So he will not go, and then you can throw 10 players who can grab it. You can look at Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz, Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas,  Holger Rune, Casper Ruud, Andrey Rublev, Jannik Sinner, Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger-Aliassime. You can also throw in even more, but you have to think that they are very good, each day in Paris, or they can fall down in the second week.

In the 1990s, the American men were very valid, eventually, winning at Roland Garros with Jim Courier and Andre Agassi. It did take them a decent about of time to get hooked on the clay.   
They became patient, and when they had a real chance to crush there hard forehand, and also, there steady backhand. It was spot on.

Currently, over the past two months on clay, once again, the U.S. guys have not been deep enough. Fritz  has played terrific on the hardcourts, but in the past three years, he lost very early at Roland Garros. Perhaps he went too early,  and he didn’t want to rallies for hours. Sure, he can dish  quick and he can alloy it up, and return, too, but on the clay, he still isn’t sure what to do during the match.


The same thing goes with the No. 12  Frances Tiafoe, who put together a couple very good matches on the hardcourts, but on the clay, he is fumbling again. Last year, he was on fire at the 2022 U.S. Open and Tokyo, and he hit some phenomenal shots, but now he has been missing a lot. He is 25-years-old, so maybe he can re-adjust in the strokes, and to return, better. Also, both he and Fritz are cover good at the net, but they really have to put it away, and also, chuck in some excellent drop shots.

The rest of the U.S. men have had a good last 12 months, moving up, with Tommy Paul, Sebastian Korda, Brandon Nakashima, Jenson Brooksby, Maxime Cressy, J.J. Wolf and Ben
Shelton. But into the quarters at Roland Garros, that would be surprising, but one person will turn on the lights.

The Picks in Madrid: Tuesday, May 2

Alexander Zverev

Carlos Alcaraz  over Alexander Zverev
This is one of the best matches early, as the Spaniard has won a Slam, and the German has reached the final.  Last year, Alcaraz was on fire, with some breathtaking  shots. He beat Zverev in the 2022 Madrid, out-hitting him with some muscular shots. On Tuesday, he wants to do it again, and he won’t back down.  He wants to show the world that very soon, he wants to be No. 1 again. He has to, as Zverev beat him at the 2022 Roland Garros in the quarters, 7-6 (7) in the fourth set. That was so close.

“I really want to play that match. I really want to show my great level  I have great memories from last year in the final but obviously I have to be really focussed in that match,” Alcaraz said. “I know that Sascha [Alexander ] is a really good player, a really aggressive one with good serves. I have to show all my skills.”

Zverev can be hit some massive shots, and with his first serve, close to the corners, when he flips it as a winner. However, this year, he has been mediocre at times, but one of the main reason why is because last year at Roland Garros he tore his three ligaments in his right ankle. He had to retire in the semis verses Rafa Nadal. Had he not done that, he might have stunned Nadal. But he could not, so currently, he wants to play 100 percent.

“We played in the final here last year, played a massive match at [Roland Garros] before I got injured. … I’ve been on Tour for 10 years now, so,” Zverev said. “It’s kind of been a break, I’ve been injured, not dead so I’ve not been reborn again or something like that. It’s still the same old me and I still want to win these tournaments and I’m going to do everything I can to do so.” 

Perhaps he will, if he can push Alcaraz back, near the wall, and frustrate him. However, Zverev has lost some mediocre matches,  and while he used to be No. 2, this year he has not able to win the top 25 men. Because of that, while if he feels healthy, then he should be able to go into the top 10, again. But not yet, as Alcaraz will win it in two, dramatic sets. 

Taylor Fritz over Zhizhen Zhang
Two days ago, it looked like he had a fine match, but he still wasn’t good enough to win the next contest. But once again, Zhang played incredible; edging Norrie. But now he has to face with Fritz, who apparently, on the clay, he adjusted. Perhaps the reason why is in Madrid, it is faster on the court, so he can hit the balls quickly, and tucked in a number of winners. He can really throw in some tremendous shots, in the backcourt. His first serve ishard-hearted, and he can ship. The quick Zhang will attempt to have some long rallies, and he will also try to put it in the lines, but Fritz will pound him back, and the American will win it in two, engaging, sets.

Aryna Sabalenka over Mayar Sherif
Even though when she starts at the tournament, the teenager can be a little bit slow, mentally,  to get into it when she can. She was thinking about at the tournament, how well she will be, and to play more than respectable. Currently, she knows that, as she said: “I think tennis is a little bit different right now. Everyone is playing well, and it’s not actually easy,” Sabalenka said. “I think just because I’m able to focus on myself and no matter what happen on court, I’m fighting for every point. … Everyone is trying to hit the ball very hard. Everyone is serving. Everyone is playing really aggressively and fighting for every point. You have to be really focused and have to work very hard to be on the top all the time.”

Then do it if you can. At the event, Sherif has came very strong. She has some amazing spin, and she can also re-set her direction. Her forehand isn’t that hard, but her backhand is powerful. Yes, Sherif is jumping into the air, but the No. 2 Sabalenka will hit it harder and she will win it in two amusing sets. 

Irina-Cametia Begu over Maria Sakkari 
The veteran Begu has been around for a long time, going place to place, with some classic matches, and also, some so-so cities. She can be consistent, and she also can punch her backhand. Begu can create, and she can go really low. However, the Greek Sakkari   also like some king-side rallies, and she will go back and forth, hoping that she can put it in a basket. Sakkari has not had a good year, but it does seems to like that she is playing more efficiently. However, she will continue to struggle, and Begu will win it in three, super long, sets.

The Picks in Monte-Carlo Masters, BJK Cup: Saturday, April 15

Jannik Sinner
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Taylor Fritz over Andrey Rublev
That was a tremendous match with the American, who beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in two, smart sets. Now Fritz will have to beat against Andrey Rublev, who also is playing very real, and leaping on the ball.
Fritz  has never won an ATP 1000s on the clay, and yes, he did that on the hardcourts at the 2022 Indian Wells, so in orderer to do it this weekend, he must play fantastic, most of the time. On the hardcourts, he can play phenomenal, but in the dirt, he has to be very patient, The same goes with the Russian,  who is extremely strong, but while Rublev has beaten so many excellent players, yet he has not won a gigantic at the Grand Slams, or the ATP 1000s, although he has been close, twice. Both of them want to do it this season, that is for sure.

“He is a great player and a good friend and I am excited for the match,” Fritz said. “He is tough.”

Yes, they both are. They can turn it on, going toe-to-toe with there hard forehand and there backhand. They can return pretty good, and they also can throw it around. This time, Fritz will beat on the lines, and he will take down Rublev in three, wild sets.

Jannik Sinner over Holger Rune
The Italian Sinner is becoming elegant, on the court, and before, he would get a small opportunity and try to slam a winner. At times, he did that, but he made many errors. The reason is because that when they are very young, most of them have years to go, to figure out what they have to do. Constantly, playing in the match,  Sinner will be thinking how he should stay aggressive, or just to be super steady.

Rune is finally better now, as before that, he was second-rate, at best. But the young competitor climbed  up this week, and his strokes became more fitting. He does like to do it  on the clay, and chuck it around. His backhand can be steady, and nail it into the corners. However, Rune still needs to re-adjust his attitude, so Sinner will win it in two, brilliant sets.

Billie Jean King Cup
USA over Austria
In Delray Beach, Coco Gauff easily won over Julia Grabher, while Jessica Pegula also took it over, but the match was a little bit close against Sinja Kraus. Pegula will start on Saturday and the world’s No. 3 will certainly play better and frustrate Grabher.

France over Great Britain
Right now in Coventry Building Society Arena in Great Britain, France has two very good players with  Caroline Garcia and the fine veteran with Alize Cornet. They are up 2-0, but  Katie Boulter played extremely well, nearly upsetting  Garcia  7-6 in the third. On Saturday, Garcia may or may not play to start, but either way,  Harrie Dart will try to shock him. She does have a chance, and if she does that, then  Boulter  has a fine chance to slug it down with Cornet. However, France will win the tie on Saturday.

Matt’s yesterday picks

Correct: Coco Gauff over Julia Gabher
Correct: Jessica Pegula over Sinja Kraus
Correct: Taylor Fritz over Stefanos Tsitsipas
Daniil Medvedev over Holger Rune

Matt’s current week picks

7 out of 11: 63.6% correct

The Picks on clay in  Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters: Wednesday, April 12

Stan Wawrinka
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Stan Wawrinka over Taylor Fritz
The American returns to play on the dirt, and while he really likes the hard courts, he had improved a lot, but during the clay last year, he has been so-so. Now it is time to measure up. Fritz can hit with his fast forehand, and his bashing backhand. He can also be patient, but others time, he can be to distracting.

Clearly, the 38-years-old Wawrinka is aging, but the Swiss has played some amazing matches, on clay, when he won the 2015 Roland Garros, stunning  Roger Federer. His one-handed backhand is so heavy, with huge spin, and his forehand is also hard, and at times, when it is flat. However, he is little bit slower, and he has lost a number of matches. But with that, now in the spring, he will make a huge effort to show the fans that he can actually turn it on. Yes, Fritz is the better players on the hard courts, but on the clay, it is still Wawrinka, who will win in three, jarring sets.

Holger Rune over Dominic Thiem
This is super interesting that Thiem played his best match this year, easily beating Richard Gasquet. The Austria grew up leaning how to play on the clay, and gradually, he improved his heavy forehand and his backhand. However, he was hurt, and he lost control. Yes, he is darn smart, on the court, but the former 2020 U.S. Open champion started to push the ball, rather than making the attempt to hit it close to the lines.

The 19-year-old Rune has not playing well, hardly at all. He has won some decent matches, but he has not reach into the final in 2023, losing early at Indian Wells and Miami. The good thing is that last year in the fall, he was on fire,  when he won Paris, stunning Novak Djokovic. This week, he has decided that even if he loses,  at least he can make some different strokes, and to be much more focus. Rune is trying to be confident again, which means that while he knows that Thiem can grind it, all over the place,  he can out hit him. The No. 9 Rune will win it in two brutal sets.

Matt’s yesterday picks

Correct: Novak Djokovic over Ivan Gakhov
Correct: Stefanos Tsitsipas over Benjamin Bonzi

Matt’s current week picks

2 out of 4: 50% correct