Andrey Rublev wins Madrid, edging Felix Auger-Aliassime

Andrey Rublev
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

When Andrey Rublev began to play in Madrid,he was almost lost. The Russian started pretty good in January, when he won a small event, in Hong Kong. Then  he reached into the quarterfinals at the Australia Open and he looked very decent, until  he backer off, and he lost against the soon-to-be champion in Melbourne Jannik Sinner. 

However, they can lose, but they can re-set what they are going. Well, Rublev didn’t do much of anything, as over the next three months, he did not go deep again, until now.

Rublev won Madrid, overcoming Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-5 in the third set to grab it. He also beat the No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz as well as the American, Taylor Fritz. All of a sudden, his huge strokes came back.

“I think it’s normal to have ups and downs because this season I started really well and I was playing amazing,” Rublev said. “Then somehow I started to do a bit worse and then a couple of weeks I could not win a match. I think this is normal to have up-and-downs and everyone go through this, so I guess my focus was not to feel if when I will go back to normal or what is normal.”

Is it really normal? It could, if the player can be very focused, on court. When he runs, Rublev  can be fast, and when he has a decent chance to start to nail the ball, he can crack it, with his heavy forehand and his backhand. He can flatten it out, or he can split it. Also, he can change the direction. 

 Rublev is currently ranked No. 6, and he will have another chance to win a Grand Slam for the first time. Yes he has won a bunch of very good players, but in a three-out-of-five, it is certainly tougher to win seven matches in a row, rather than two-out-of-three. It is a huge difference.

At Rome and Roland Garros, Rublev will have to be even more solid to go super deep, again.

Perhaps that Auger-Aliassime was out of it, all year, until he went to Madrid. He lost almost all of the time, which was unusual, because in 2022 and 2023, he was darn, good. But then he fell out, and he missed so many errors. That was unusual, but in the final in Madrid, he returned, and while he lost in the final, he put together some terrific, calm shots. He has always been super fast, and he also can try to grind it. Now, at least last week, in the clay, he touched some soft shots, with his backhand close to the net. The winners, came. However, at the end of the third set, he was close to win it, but the now No. 20 missed a few critical error and he lost. Auger-Aliassime can be consistent for the rest of the year. He must prove it, going into the summer.   

NOTES

Sinner had to retire in Madrid, and then he couldn’t play in Rome, due to an injury. The No. 2 also said he might play at Roland Garros, but maybe not,  unless he is 100 percent. That mean he won’t become the No. 1 in Paris, unless he gets healthy, which will be tough, anyway.

Four people had a fine week in Madrid with Fritz, Jiri Lehecka, Mariano Navone and Alejandro Tabilo.

Three of the Grand Slam champions are there in Rome with  Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Rafa Nadal. Will one of them win Rome again? Maybe not, as Djokovic pulled out in Madrid, Medvedev got hurt, on the court, and Nadal is still trying to play more consistent. 

One of the players, Casper Ruud, won Barcelona, so his confidence is so high. Try to do it again.

Can Nadal win Madrid for the last time?

Rafael "Rafa" Nadal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can Emma Raducanu win consistently?

Emma Raducanu
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

It can take a long time to recover on the court, to understand what you need to do, or something, but the former U.S. Open 2021 champion, Emma Raducanu, is getting better now. This week, she is playing Stuttgart,  a very solid area, and Raducanu seems to be more thoughtful, on court and off. Last year, she got hurt in April 2023, and then she could not play during the rest of the reason, as she had to undergo a surgery, on both her hands and her ankle. She did win a couple terrific matches this week, but over the past three and a half months, she has been up and down. However, she can make a decision, and then to decide to go crosscourt, or down the line. She can be  aggressively, or be patient. It is her decision.

Raducanu beat Angie Kerber pretty easily, but there were long rallies, yet she most of it.

“You need to be really careful not to overpress. She makes the court seem really small,” Raducanu said. “ There were moments in that match where I didn’t really know where to hit the ball because I felt like she was covering so much of the court and she was using my pace really well.  I think just not trying to squeeze the lines too much and kind of just playing the shot and almost not trying to hit winners, and accidental winners I feel like are the best way, because I wasn’t trying to blast winners around the court. I was just committing to my strokes and would hit winners by accident sometimes. I feel like that’s the best way to approach it because then you’re not getting stressed out. It’s just a pleasant surprise when it happens.”

She must have been. The 21-year-old is a fine player with her forehand and her backhand, and she is also somewhat quick. Her serve is so-so, and at the net, she is OK, but not fantastic. Maybe she will, someday, but she has to become substantially better, as she has only won one event, and nothing else.

“I think the last weekend I played some great tennis. I’m mentally in a good place,” Raducanu said. “I’m taking a lot of confidence from the training I’m doing. I feel like I can actually, like, lean on that more so now because I’m actually doing the work, whereas last year it was very difficult. I have played a lot of matches and I’m feeling fatigued than being super fresh and losing. It’s funny, because you always want something that you can’t have.  But I am playing some really good tennis.”

She is going to play even better, as she has to face the No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who can take you out immediately. … Also in the quarterfinals, Elena  Rybakina is ready to try to win another title, but while she can look stunning, she can also fold. Or maybe she will not, yet she has to face against the Italian Jasmine Paolini, who has had a terrific season, winning Dubai. She is more aggressive then she did five years ago….Coco Gauff has had a pretty good year, yet as she has said, she can miss some key opportunities. She will go up against Marta Kostyuk , a re-match, as Gauff beat her 7-6, 6-7,6-2 in the third, a marathon. One more time?

With the men, how about the teenager, Arthur Fils, who a big match in Barcelona? It will take him more of a while, but his two coaches, Sergi Bruguera and Sebastien Grosjean, have done it a lot when they went into the big matches, so maybe they can teach him with more various strokes…Rafa Nadal lost there and while he did not play great when he went down, but he just came back, with his frequently injury,  so assuming that he can play 100 percent, then he will be very good again. But that is a huge question, health wise…There are two players who are seeded like Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas, and they look on top of it. But can they win the event? That is possible, as long as they can be a victim, on the famous clay.

Ben Shelton rises again, wins Houston

Ben Shelton

Try it, if you can.

The 21-year-old player Ben Shelton is now playing much more consistently, and on Sunday, he won Houston, beating  Frances Tiafoe 7-5, 4-6, 6-3. After the second set, it was possible to fold, but he kept cracking the ball, from the baselines, and he also returned when he had to.

Yes, Tiafoe has had a tough year during 2024, but he did play pretty well that week, so many when they go into the clay in Europe, then he can play much more thoughtful, on the court.  He has to, as outside of that, in Houston, he lost very early over the past three months.

Shelton is still young, so he will continue to grow, month after month, and add to put out some new shots. He is now ranked No. 14, and eventually, it is possible that he can reach into the top 10, but it will take him a while, as on the clay, he will have to be very harmonious.

As Shelton said: “I love to get to net, be able to use some of my hand skills, athletic skills and going up to get the ball (to put it away).”

Go for it. He just passed Tommy Paul, who is now ranked No. 16, and in a few weeks, he can also be higher that Taylor Fritz, who just lost in the ATP 1000 Monte-Carlo.

Collins: Sunshine doubles up
How about Danielle Collins, who won it again, winning Miami, and then in Charleston, she blasted it, anytime, anywhere. She easily beat Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-1 in the final, who was hurt.  Even though Collins can hit it really long, out, but she keeps on attacking it, and crushing it. The 30-year-old is even smarter than she was before.

“I had a lot of matches in Miami, and I had a lot of matches here,” Collins said. “I had, at one point in this tournament, two matches in one day, which is not easy to pull off. I don’t know if I’ve done that before as a professional. I feel like the last time I did that was like in 12-and-unders. So to be able to physically battle and push myself to a new limit gives me a lot of confidence. I’ve been so happy to be, obviously, playing at the level that I’ve been playing, but to be able to back it up two weeks in a row has just been fantastic.”

Collins now has won 13 wins, and she is currently ranked No. 15.  Believe it or not, she has only won four titles, which is solid, but how about a few more, this year? Try it, if you can.

NOTES
There are a bunch of events, now. Last week, there were six tournaments, which is a lot. Who will pay attention, the matches, all of them? Not many, that is for sure. This has been going on for many years, not the players that much, but with the owners, and also, with the ATP and the WTA. They are trying to change it, which is decent, but it is almost impossible to pull it, off.  It is the real history, to remember everything.

Anyway, here a few more  winners, who won it all: In Marrakech, Morocco,  Matteo Berrettini won it, over Roberto Carballes Baena. … Pole Hubert Hurkacz took it again, beating Pedro Martinez to win the Portugal Estoril Open. … Camila Osorio won Colombia again, beating Marie Bouzkova. In Spain Maria Lourdes Carle grabbed, it.

Bang, done.

Miami final: Can Grigor Dimitrov upset Jannik Sinner?

Grigor Dimitrov
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

The last time when that Grigor Dimitrov reached into the final at a ATP 1000 was in October, when he reached at the Paris Masters, and he didn’t win it, he was getting better.  Over the past 11 days in the Miami Open, he rose up, upsetting Carlos Alcaraz,  and also when he out-lasted Alexander Zverev 6-4 in the third. Finally he was confidence again, which can be a bit odd, giving that the 32-year-old did not play well last year, here and there, but something must have happen to focus much more on the court.
However, has to face against Jannik Sinner, who is on fire, as he has only lost one match in 2024, and at the Aussie Open, he won it, when he played fantastic.

Almost four years ago in Rome, Dimintrov beat him 6-4 in the third, and it was darn close, but he was more steady at the end. Yet last year, Sinner beat him twice, in Miami, early in straight sets, and then in the fall, he pushed him back to win in three sets in Beijing.
Dimitrov has changed, again, to be real, much more, as in the start of the year, he won Brisbane, and he reached the final in Marseille. He was different.

“I think the discipline brought me to that moment. There is nothing else,” Dimitrov said, who won Cincinnati and the ATP 1000 Final in London in 2017. “I didn’t kind of deviate from my target, not even my goal. I had small targets throughout — every single week I had a target, and also to be able to put my body through all that on a daily basis was also very important for me. Every single day when I wake up and I don’t have a big pain that would stop me to practice 100% was already a success for me. So when you start putting all that together, I think it’s where I’m most, in a way, most proud with. Of course competing against top players and beating them sort of back to back, it’s definitely what I’m the most happy with.”

The Italian is on the tear, winning everything, expected for Indian Wells. But here, he is again, nailing with her forehand and his backhand. He can smash it, into the corners, or down the line. He is more than an intense person. He has grown up.

“The first time I came here I made final, I couldn’t sleep the night [before],” said Sinner, who destroyed Daniil Medvedev. “The second time, which was last year, I was relaxed because I went through periods where I already [had similar] experiences.  Now I’m a different player, different person. I will handle it hopefully a little bit better again.”

Can Danielle Collins rise up again?

Danielle Collins
Ron Cioffi / TR

Collins: “This is a really big life decision.”

She has had a tough year, but the American Danielle Collins is on a wildfire, having beaten a number of the players in Miami. Yes, she will retire at the end of the year, but what she really wants to do is to win a huge title. She may not, but she is in the semis against Ekaterina Alexandrova, so she certainly will go for it, with her massive  forehand and her backhand. However, she can really mess it up, and throw in lots of errors. She could be more patient, and wait until it is the right time, to go for it, but won’t do it, often. At least this week, she is trying to do something different. At least a little bit.

“It helped [her] be able to kind of control my shots more and hit them with more accuracy and precision,” she said. “I’m enjoying my career. I’m having a lot of fun. I love coming out here and competing. But at the end of the day, like, this is a really big life decision, and  I think that that should be pretty understandable.”

She will have to find the lines, as the Russian, Alexandrova, can also try to split the ball. Either way, the winner will have to jump on the corners, and reach.

When she is so solid, Elena Rybakina can beat anyone, if she becomes frustrated. She is quick, she can chuck it around, and she can also slam it. But with her, the No. 4 can misplace it, and almost disappear. With her, you don’t really know.

The same goes with Victoria Azarenka, and they will face off on Thursday. The veteran has always been super intense, and she will swing it so hard. However,  she also can be upset, when she is not playing great, and then she will lose it. She has won Miami three times, and she looked phenomenal, but that has been a long time ago, so the 34-year-old has to play very well, as her serve and her return is so-so.

The German Alexander Zverev is more consistent than he did before, and he will make an attempt to control it, point after point. He has to face the new young player,  Fabian Marozsan, who is rising. However, he has a lot of work to do, as he lost a number of matches this year. Let’s see if he can trouble Zverev, but I doubt, that.

Carlos Alcaraz has beaten Grigor Dimitrov three times, but in the fall in Shanghai, the Bulgarian edged him 6-4 in the third. Dimitrov always really likes to move it crosscourt, and to slice it. However, so does the Spaniard, who throws in some terrific, fantastic shots, and plus, he is extremely fast. This should be a fun match, but right it at the end, the No. 2 Alcaraz will beat him one more time. He is trying to become No. 1. Not this week, but soon enough.

Will Carlos Alcaraz or Jannik Sinner take the Miami title?

Carlos Alcaraz
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Is it possible for Carlos Alcaraz  to win Indian Wells and Miami back to back?

Some people have, but not many, such as Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Victoria Azarenka and Iga Swiatek.

Azarenka  is still there, but Djokovic decided not to play in Miami, Federer has retired and Swiatek, who won Indian Wells, just lost in Florida against Ekaterina Alexandrova. When you win Indian Wells, you could be tired, depending on how you feel.

Alcaraz’s will find out shortly, when he has to face versus  Lorenzo Musetti, the Italian, who put down Ben Shelton 6-4, 7-6(5).  

On court, the 20-year-old can really throw into some very cool shots, being patient and when he is set up, he can drive the ball. Alcaraz can miss here and there, down the line or crosscourt. Yes, he will keep going, harder and harder.

“Every player has his own style. But probably mine is a little bit different to other Spaniards’ style,” he said. “I think other Spanish players have similar style than mine. I’m more aggressive. I think my ball goes faster. I have a lot of things that I can do on the court. It’s depend on the player.”

Believe it or not, in the 2023 Miami, he lost to Jannik Sinner in three sets. Maybe it will happen again, because the Italian is still winning. Sinner won the Australian Open, and this season he has won almost all of it, also winning Rotterdam. But guess what?  Alcaraz out fooled him, beating Sinner it 6-2 in the third at Indian Wells in the semis. It could happen again, but  Sinner has to be patient, and go for it early, if there is a chance.

Christopher O’Connell will play Sinner on Tuesday , and he has to play spectacular, as this year he has not gone deep at all, until this week. He has to play very consistent, and move forward, fast. If he wins it, it will be one of his best matches of all time.

Speaking of Hubert Hurkacz … he has had a decent year, even terrific, as the tall man not only can chuck it some many aces, but he can hit his forehand and his backhand deep, without too many errors. He is thoughtful, that is for sure. However, he has to face Grigor Dimitrov, a veteran, as the one-handed backhand can earth him. He can play great, or he can disappear. It is hard to know, but it should be a very intense match.

We all know that the former No.1 Azarenka has won the title three times in Miami in 2009, 2011 and 2016, and she was very good, but she would hit some off errors. Maybe she will win it again, but she is ranked No. 32, and she has not won a big title in a long time. The 34-year-old is still so powerful, from both sides, but she does not return enough, and to run it down. Maybe Azarenka  will rise up one more time, but first she has to face Yulia Putintseva, who has been consistent for a long time. They will try to jump on the lines.

Here is a stellar match when Elena Rybakina will face Maria Sakkari, the two top 10ers. The No. 4 Rybakina won Brisbane, and her strokes can be tremendous, but she can also trip it down. Finally, Sakkari started to play well over the past few weeks, and she reached the final at Indian Wells. She loves to rally, for many hours, but she also has to go for it, faster. She has no choice as Rybakina will attack her as soon as she can and put it on the lines.

Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek win Indian Wells

Carlos Alcaraz
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Maybe when you cannot believe that Carlos Alcaraz came to the tournament at Indian Wells that his body was very sore, but day after day, he rose, and the Spaniard won it all, beating  Daniil Medvedev 7-6(5), 6-1. Yes, the Russian was darn  tired, in the second set, as he had played a lot of tough matches, but Alcaraz did all of it, with his amazing forehand and his backhand. He can mix it up all over the place, and he can also charge, and put it away.

The 20-year-old is so quick, running, and he can bend down and slap it, or just touch it, next to the net. His serve can be up and down, but he can blast it into the corners, and then he will be controlled.

Without a doubt, Medvedev really likes in the rallies, especially with his super consistent forehand and his backhand, and he can also chuck it around, everyday. However, he has won one Grand Slams at the 2021 U.S. Open, but he has not won another. He probably will, but he really needs to add some differnent shots, like to attack when he is returning, and also, clip it more into the net.

Alcaraz has won two Slams, and if he continues not to get hurt a lot, then he can win another Slam or more. He is intense.

“Winning this tournament means a lot to me because the week before it began, I had a lot of doubts about my ankle,” Alcaraz said. “I remember my first practice here was just 30 minutes with no movement and probably the first practice with really good tennis players was really tough for me, because I thought I was not going to play my best. I was not feeling well with my ankle, so a lot of doubts for me. But once I stepped on the court, the first round, I started to feel better.”

Medvedev won Miami last year, so while he must be physically tired, he will try to wake up, and grab it again.

Iga Swiatek did it immediately, as the No. 1 smoked Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-0 in the second set in the final. She has lost some matches in the past two and a half months, but when she is rolling, then she can nail it early, crosscourt or down the line. She can get frustrated, but she is now much more mature. As she said: “I would say you just feel like your game is better than anyone out there,” she said.

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.