Roland Garros: Tommy Paul looks very comfortable

Tommy Paul

Are the American men climbing, or are they sitting there, knowing that eventually, they will lose at Roland Garros? At least a few good men put together some terrific matches. 

Tommy Paul crushed Fabio Fognini 6-1, 6-0, 6-2, as the veteran player looked very old, as his forehand and his backhand was short, in the middle.  Paul improved a lot last year, and he pushed himself, going for it, closer to the lines. Over the years, he did not go deep on the clay, but now he knows how to do it, winner or lose. At least he won’t go back, next to the fence.

“For me, it’s kind of just having more experience on the clay,” said Paul. “I’ve had a lot of seasons over here.  I’m feeling more comfortable than I probably ever have. I actually grew up playing on clay. That was all I played on, even before going to play hard court tournaments. “I mean, I’m comfortable on it. I’m really enjoying my time on it right now.”

Taylor Fritz looks more than solid, as he beat Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. His patience is there, and he can chuck it around, side to side. He is just fine to hit it during the rallies, and he can also mix it up. He can become frustrated, but he knows that if he wants to stay there, he has to forget it with the errors.  

Ben Shelton is rolling along, beating the former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori, who retired. Years ago, Nishikori beat almost anyone, who was so steady and powerful, but he became hurt, all the time, so even to play again, maybe he should just retire. But he will not.

Shelton is still very young, and he can play wonderful, but then he can throw in some wild, mediocre shots. He is growing, so he will be more intelligent.  

Sebastian Korda looked very good in the first two sets — sort of —  but then in the third set, he was disappointed, and then he was gone. Carlos Alcaraz beat him 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-3.  At 5-5, he was right there, and his forehand went down into the net, and then the Spaniard nailed it into the corners. The two time champion Alcaraz will keep trucking, while Korda can crash. He has to be smarter, on the court.

NOTES
So many good Italians are rising, such as Elisabetta Cocciaretto, who beat Liudmila Samsonova
7-6(4), 6-2. She has been around for a while, but her forehand has certainly been improved, month after month. Clara Tauson beat the American Sofia Kenin, and she was likely upset, but at least this week, she looked OK. Now Kenin has to be more consistent, on the grass, coming up. … Here was a dramatic match when Holger Rune edged Flavio Cobolli 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 3-6, 7-6(7). Another young player Cobolli was up 5-0 in the final tiebreaker, but then  Rune rose up immediately with a lot of winners, and the Italian Cobolli became nervous. Goodbye, but he will learn about it. Here is another five setter, when Casper Ruud beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6(5), 1-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. It is all about the survival.

Rome: Fritz, Paul win – how far can they go?

Tommy Paul
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

It is somewhat unusual for the American men to go deep in the clay courts in Europe, but this week in Rome, Taylor Fritz  and Tommy Paul are still there. Fritz rose up in the third set and beat  Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-7(11), 6-1, while Paul mashed Daniil Medvedev 6-1, 6-4. Clearly, both Dimitrov and Medvedev looked pretty tired, given that the Russian played a very, very long match, and his legs were almost gone, but at least Paul attacked him early and often. Fritz was struggling during the first three months, but he started to be much more consistent, and to change it, more. 

Many of the American men and women don’t love in the slower clay, but eventually, if they want to really understand what they have to do, then they can be to provide.

“I think it was a pretty clean match for me, other than maybe the first or second game in both sets. I played some really good tennis,” Paul said. “I played pretty aggressive, that was the game plan coming in.”

Both of them will have to, as Fritz will take on Alexander Zverev in the quarters, a very tough opponent. Paul realizes that he will have to almost perfect, as Hubert Hurkacz won it again, upsetting the famous Rafa Nadal, and on Tuesday, he edged Sebastian Baez 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-4.  He might be tired, but Hurkacz can  hit very powerful, and to  hit it deep,in the corners.

Danielle Collins is still playing wonderfully, and while she said that she will retire at the end of the year, but she has only lost one time in 2024, winning 18 matches. Her confidence is sky-high. Her forehand and her backhand are rugged, and she jumps on it, almost immediately. However, she has to face against the two-time Grand Slam champion, Vika Azarenka, who will try to dominate it, slamming it, everywhere. But the American Collins can also do the same thing, to be patient.

“I think my physicality and where I’m at mentally right now,” Collins said, “I’m just really dialed into my tactics and what I need to do against each opponent. I think I’m playing really smart tennis right now.”

She must be. The No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka is rarely tired, on the court, even when she had played for hours and hours, on the court, she just likes to run. She has to face against a fine veteran, Jelena Ostapenko, who is still addicted to try and put it away, immediately. It is possible that  Sabalenka is physically hurt, as on Monday, she needed more than three hours to edged Elena  Svitolina. Her  lower back and hip area were pretty sore, but Sabalenka might be recovered on Wednesday.  It seems like that Sabalenka loves Rome: “It’s still one of my dream tournaments.” 

Tabilo over Djokovic, Hurkacz downs Nadal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indian Wells: Tommy Paul to face Casper Ruud

Tommy Paul
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A stunner: Luca Nardi upsets Novak Djokovic at Indian Wells

Novak Djokovic

At the beginning of Indian Wells, the No. 1 Novak Djokovic is the best player. But once and a while, he can lose, especially early. He did, when the 20-year-old Luca Nardi shocked him, when he put together some amazon rallies.

Without a doubt, Djokovic was somewhat flat, in the third set, and Nardi ran so fast. He won it, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. The fans could not believe it, but the intense No. 123 kept going hard, and he ran second after second. When he won, he was thrilled, whether he will last this week is a new question, but he did say that he was thinking what he had to do.

“I think that before this night no one knew me,” Nardi said. “I think it is a miracle, because I am a 20-year-old guy, 100 in the world, and beating Novak. It’s crazy.”

Yes it was, but now he has to face against the American, Tommy Paul, who beat Ugo Humbert, a very good player.  Paul has not had a great year in 2024 at the top 10 men, but he put some solid wins. It is time to play even better and  try to move up further.

“I’ve been working on playing aggressive, even at the most important times,” Paul said. “I’ve been doing better at that.”

On Wednesday night, the other American, Ben Shelton, has to over think against the Australian champ Jannik Sinner. In the Aussie Open, Shelton went into a fifth set, but the smart, veteran Adrian Mannarino chopped him down. But on Tuesday, at night, Shelton will have to play as well as he can as Sinner is on fire, week after week. He will have to snap on his arms, and go down on the lines. It should be a super intense contest.

The long time women players who have won so many terrific matches, when the champions,  Carolina Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber, will play each other on Wednesday night. If you like to watch some long rallies, then sit down and gaze because it could take hours. That can go cross court, backhand to backhand, and also,  change it up, more. Will one of the players win another huge event, ever again?  Probably, yes, this year, but it is unsure. 

Speaking of which, the  American Taylor Fritz won Delray Beach, beating Paul. They know each other well and which they go. However, Fritz did win Indian Wells two years ago, so now, if he can nail it into the corners, consistently, he will have chance to go far. However, he has to knock down over Holger Rune, who is a darn good player, when he is on. 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. Good, luck.

TennisReporters.net top 32 men: No. 15-11

Casper Ruud

15 Karen Khachanov
The big Russian started very strong, reaching the semis at the Aussie Open, smashing the ball, and finally losing against Stefanos Tsitsipas. He has a huge forehand, and his first serve is massive, but he isn’t that fast when he is running, and he doesn’t like to come into the net, often. At Miami, he did upset Stefanos Tsitsipas in the round of 16, which means that he can lock in, at times, but in the semis, the other Russian,  Daniil Medvedev, wore him down. He had a up and down year, winning a few more terrific wins, but in the fall, he did very little. He did win the ATP 1000 Paris, five years ago, so if he wants to do it again, he must slice it more, and attack when he is returning.

14 Grigor Dimitrov
In 2017, the Bulgarian won four events, especially at the ATP Finals in London, beating a variety of players, against David Goffin. He has a tremendous variety, especially with his cool one-handed backhand. He is peach  good at in the net, and his forehand can a lot of spin. However, he is 32- years-old, which is OK, but he has to change something that is new. He knows that, he lost against Alexander Zverev beat him three times in a row, at the end of the summer.  The positive thing is that while he can get dejected, during the matches, but he will continue on, and decide to whither to go. In November, he refreshed, and he reached the final in Paris, indoors. He beat two prime players, with Daniil Medvedev and Tsitsipas. He looked uncanny, but in the final, Djokovic once again banged him. He could win another title,a big one, but he must capital the moment.

13 Tommy Paul
The American improved a lot, this year, as when he started in 2021, he was OK, but his forehand and his backhand wasn’t rugged enough. However, last year and this year, he began to change, with his first serve, when he found the corners, and his return was more efficient. He reached the semis at the Aussie Open, beating Ben Shelton, but then Djokovic pounded him. Each week, he was really trying, being core, but also,  he would forget which way to go. The positive is that he reached the final in Acapulco, beating Taylor Fritz, and the in the semis in Toronto, when he almost shocked against Carlos Alcaraz in the quarters.  Yet after that, he started to miss some cheap shots, and he lost against Shelton twice, especially at the U.S. Open. Paul is more satisfied, but he knows that if he wants to get into the top 5 next year, he has to shove himself closer to the net, and also, to hit it, early. As he said going into at the 2024 Aussie Open: “I’m really excited,” said Paul. “It’s like every person’s dream when they start playing tennis to play the big matches at the Slams.It’s important to me. Since I was young, that’s all we’ve been hearing, since like 14 years old. The coaches have been telling us, ‘We need new Americans. It’s kind of engraved in my head.” Then go do it.

12 Alex de Minaur
The Aussie had some terrific matches, as he plays a lot, taking down against some ultrafine players, but also, he did lost when he tripped it up, when Djokovic bullied him at the Aussie Open. Yet in Acapulco, in March, he won it, beating Holger Rune and Paul. That was a immense jump. He did very little on the clay, but on the grass, his backhand returned, and his forehand was merciless. He reached the final in London/Queen’s, and belief it or not, he beat Rune again. Then in the final, against Carlos Alcaraz, the Spaniard served into the corners, and also, he has more multifariousness. With de Minaur, you don’t really know if he can be so intense, but he did for some weeks in the summer, when he looked fantastic in Los Cabos, and Toronto, reaching both finals, upsetting with Taylor Fritz and Daniil Medvedev.  And then, in the U.S. Open, there,  Medvedev turned the tables and beat the Aussie in four, easy sets. De Minaur is pretty young, and he educated  a lot this year, but in the  fall, he did not do that much. Next year,  he wants to get into the top 5, then he has to clean it up, each month.

11 Casper Ruud
Another 24-year-old had an sole year, as the Norway was ranked No. 3, and in the first three months, he won very few matches. Finally, he started to be much more proper, and thoughtful, when he won Estoril, Portugal. That is not a huge event, but he had to beat anyone, so he did. He was finally satisfied, and to watch him, he can meld it into the corners, or in the middle, eye-full. He reached the final at Roland Garros, and he was much more suitable, beating Rune and Zverev. In the final, he hit some daydreamer shots, and it was somewhat close, but once again, the No. 1 Djokovic  has a better backhand, and returning, too.  After that, he began to bust, and clearly, in the final, his legs must been tired.  He really is a first-rate player, and if you recall it, in 2022, he reached four grand events in Miami, Roland Garros, the U.S. Open, and the ATP Finals. He is right again, so in January, he will be refreshed, and then he has to be a couple new shots, with his athletic first serve, and at the top of the net.

No. 1 Novak Djokovic wins and wins

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic can win  so many tournaments next year. He is older, for sure, as he is 36-years-old, but in 2023, he beat everyone, especially in the fall. The young players have improved a good amount, and yes, they can upset the Serbian, but they have to jump on him, early. Or Djokovic can be patient, and really chance it up.

In the ATP Finals last week, he beat Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner, in the semis and in the final, and he didn’t lose a set. He was essentially perfect.

As his coach, Goran Ivanisevic said:  “I think Carlos didn’t play his best tennis. Still you need to beat him,” he said. “Nole lift his game. He came ready. He knew how to play unbelievable matches this year.  Carlos already won two Grand Slams and he’s future of tennis. Jannik really step up this year. He showed the world and himself that he’s ready next year to win Grand Slams, and he’s not afraid of anybody.

I think they going to both of them practice hard. The season is over. I think next year’s going to be very, very competitive and interesting year.”

Yes, during the year, he lost some so-so matches, and he lost. But Djokovic kept  moving forward, striding, and still learning. He has now won 98 singels titles, which is phenomenal, not only when he has won 23 Grand Slams, but he has won many various events, in Asia, Australia, the United States, Canada, Europe, ext.  The huge hitter has also won in the hardcourts, on the clay, in the grass, outside and inside. But he is smarter on court, and perhaps, off the court.  

“I knew as soon as [Novak] got into the semifinal, he’s going to win the tournament. The mentality changed,” the Croatian Ivanisevic said.  “The new Novak Djokovic arrived on the court from Saturday. When real Novak Djokovic arrives on the court, then the moment is nobody that can play with him.”

When he won the Australian Open for the first time in 2008, Djokovic ran so fast, and he was super steady, but while his backhand was absurd, his forehand, his return and at the net needed to enrich. However, even though he had some difficult seasons, he still drove himself, and he added with different strokes.

 “It’s very tough to improve with him (smiling). But he wants to improve,” the one-time 2001 Wimbledon champion. Ivanisevic said. “ That’s the good thing and bad thing for me as a coach and the rest of the team. He improved a lot his volleys, his game at the net, and his position at the net. Now when he comes to the net – okay, today  he missed some easy volleys [against [Sinner]  – but generally this week and this year he plays some amazing volleys.  His position at the net is a lot better. Is very tough to pass him. Before he was very easy to pass. Now he knows what he’s doing at the net. He’s comfortable at the net. Final of U.S. Open he played two, three most important volleys in the final against [beating Daniil Medvedev]. He’s not afraid to come to the net. He’s hitting the forehands much, much harder. He’s going for the shots. Serving, second serve, sometimes he’s hitting over 200. He’s just going for it.”

Yes he did, and he still wants to be perfect, at the net. In January, Djokovic can win another Australian Open. Clearly he will be the favorite. But eventually,  the older you get, it is hard to sprint very fast. However, in 2024, he could do it again. He will make a huge effort.

Will anyone win a Slam next year? Maybe. Clearly, Alcaraz is very young and he is improving, so he could win one Slam, or two. You can throw in with Sinner, who had a terrific fall, but he has yet to win Slam, so in December, he must be thinking about how to return, deeper, and also, at the tough, nets.
 The American men had a solid year, overall, but no one reached into the final at the Slams. OK, maybe next year. Five of them are in the top 25 with Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul,  Frances Tiafoe , Ben Shelton  and Sebastian Korda. They are still pretty young, so they could rise, higher, but to beat Djokovic, or the rest of the top eight players, they will have to be much  deeper, about exactly what to do. Please.

‘Americans’ triumph at Laver Cup

Felix Auger-Aliassime
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

After the Laver Cup, will the Americans, the Canadians and the South Americans win some huge events, this fall? It is hard to tell. Yes, the “‘Americans” won it, beating Europe, and they played very well, but that is different to beat they excellent competitors, such as Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz and Holger Rune.

The United States with Taylor Fritz , Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul and Ben Shelton all played in Vancouver, and they had some fun matches, but they have not won an ATP Master 1000 this year, or even and ATP 500 in 2023. So yes, they are all in the top 20, so they are good, but to win a big title during the entire of the year is questionable. That is for sure.

Also, how about the Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, who had reached into the top 10. But, this year, he began to slip, after March, and he lost very early. Perhaps he can reset.

Argentine Francisco Cerundolo can look pretty decent, and on the grass, he won Eastbourne, but after that, when he faces against the great players, he still cannot hit harder enough.

However, the 20-year-old Shelton, who reached into the semis at the US Open, that the reason was because when he arrived there, the doubles had helped him. After the Australian Open when he reached into the quarters, he was happy, but then he had a lot of work to do. It look him seven months to understand what he really needed to put in some very smart matches, when he is hitting the ball, both side to side, and then he will learn it, gradually. He did, and now he is ranked No. 19.

“Well, back-to-back singles matches, I had some success in doubles, and so that’s definitely something that gave me some confidence, going into this event. That’s singles and doubles, confidence that I could put points on the board for the team and that I had been pretty fine-tuned in doubles throughout the year,” he said. “In terms of singles, sometimes it only takes one. Still trying to find my way out on tour. I don’t think I’m perfect at all or found my game exactly the way I want to, but it’s a lot of new experiences, different places and surfaces I have never played on, but being here in North America, indoor hard court with a huge crowd, it feels like home to me.”

The next huge event will be in Rolex Shanghai Masters ATP 1000, which will start October  4,  and all of the top players have to do it, unless you can pull out, such as Djokovic, who did it last week. But perhaps one of them can grab it, like Shelton, Auger-Aliassime, or Cerundolo. That would be damn surprising, but they have to confirm it.

Down in Guadalajara, Maria Sakkari won the title. She is  a very quick player, and she can also sprint for a hours, but in 2023, she looked very decent, but at some other tournaments, she missed a lot of basic shots. However, when they arrived in Mexico, she decided that it was OK, to win or lose, but to be happy, rather than being so frustrated.  The No. 6 player Sakkari said:

“I play tennis for a living. That’s pretty cool. I didn’t give myself a chance to enjoy it in the past. I told myself, you owe it to yourself to have fun. And this is what happened this week.”

In the final, she beat American Caroline Dolehide who was ranked out of the top 100 last week,  but now she is  No. 38. What a huge event.

US Open picks: Friday, Sept. 1

Caroline Wozniaki
Ron Cioffi/TR

Caroline Wozniacki  over Jennifer Brady
The former No. 1 Wozniacki played pretty well when she knocked off Petra Kvitova. Her backhand has always been excellent, and her returns were terrific. However, her forehand is pretty good, but not great, which is why she has only won more than one at a Grand Slam. Can she do it again? That would be a huge challenge.

Brady was very good for a long time , but in 2021, she got hurt, physically, and she could not play in the WTA for two years. That is very long. Before that, she made it in the semis at the 2020 U.S. Open,and in 2021, she reached into the 2022 Aussie Open. Yes, she was darn good. However, Brady still is trying to get back, physically and mentally. She does really like to crush the ball, but Wozniacki is more in control. The Dane will win it in two tough sets.
 
Karolina Muchova over Taylor Townsend
The Czech can look so good, when she is sprinting, and slap it back. Over the past three months, she reached the final at Roland Garros and Cincinnati. She didn’t win it, but she is right there. Muchova appears to be healthy again, so the American Townsend has to play great to upset her. She is quite good in the doubles, but in the singles, she has improved this year, but she has not beaten a lot of top 10 players. Yes, the veteran wants to show the fans that she is legitmatety very good, but to watch it, she is going have to play great. She will at times, but really, Muchova is a better player. She will win it in two basic sets.

Tommy Paul over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina
This should be a terrific, wild match. The American Paul beat him in Miami in straight sets, but the Spaniard wants to play much better at the U.S. Open. At the Australian Open on the hardcourts, again, Paul edged him 6-4 in the fifth set. Davidovich Fokina pushed himself back, and Paul attacked him, with some excellent shots. His forehand is a little bit better, but Davidovich Fokina has a more consistent backhand. Paul is more comfortable at the net, while Davidovich Fokina likes to add some different shots.
They will have another long five sets, and once again, Paul will beat him again, 7-5.

Taylor Fritz over Jakub Mensik
The 17-year-old Mensik qualified, and he has played almost every week, going to a bunch of small events. However, the teenager can be pretty steady, and also, he is tall, so when he gets a chance, he can swing hard and try for a winner.  He beat a number of juniors, but this time, he has to play substantially better to upset Fritz, who has gone deep in a lot of events. Fritz once won Indian Wells, but he has yet to go into the second week at the U.S. Open. The San Diego native really wants to, so he has to be super consistent.  As he said, the American Andy Roddick won the title in 2003, but that was it. Will it be this time?

“We’ve all been hearing about who’s going to be the next American (after) Andy Roddick 20 years ago our entire careers. We all want it so bad,” said Fritz. “Hopefully it’ll be one of us soon.”
He will win it over Mensik in straight sets.

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.