Archives for August 2020

Pressure, already in “Cincinnati”

Stefanos Tsitsipas

We would think that the big smasher Stefanos Tsitsipas can reach up into the sky, and then, smash his overhead near the lines. The Greek blew out the former top 5 player Kevin Anderson 6-1, 6-3. That was very surprising, not because Anderson lost, but because the tall South African usually holds all the time. He has two gigantic serves. But, in this match at the Western & Southern Open (being played at the US Open site), Anderson was way off, while Tsitsipas was super confident.

Anderson has been around for many years, and over the next couple months, he will be back, knocking out some phenomenal players. He is aging, but he does focus, and he just wants to play. He is amongst the players who are addicted to tennis.

Two years ago many people did not know who Tsitsipas was. Well, now, many folks have watched him, and they can see that his punching forehand, his heavy backhand and his high-bouncing serves, can rattle the cage. Tsitsipas does smile, and he can sprint, and touch the lines.

He will play against American John Isner today in the last match. Isner was very thrilled that he could play again at a real tournament. Another guy with a very huge first serve, Isner beat Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets. He has put together some terrific years on hard courts. He recently said that he can go super deep at Western & Southern Open and the US Open. During press conferences, he can be enthusiastic, but when he loses, he was dreadful. Either way, to return to the top 20, he has to be patient and think about his approach in the next few points He has to be thoughtful and try to push Tsitsipas with a lot of variety. It should be a thrilling match.

Belgian David Goffin had a solid day, beating the grinder Borna Coric in two tough sets. Goffin has a lot of variety. To reach the top 10, he must swing harder. Neither Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer are here, so in this tournament, there are a solid 10 guys who can win this title. It’s a long way to go but the winner can jump in the ocean and celebrate.

As tournament play resumes, who wants to compete?

Victoria Azarenka

It has been almost five months since the play in traditional tournaments, due to the coronavirus, which put the tennis world into a state sulky and dispirited.
But now, on court, they must have be ready and driven.
This week, in the Palermo Ladies Open, they started, with the one-time Grand Slam finalist Sara Errani. She edged Kristyna Pliskova 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, and then in two days, she was tired, and she lost against the up-coming Fiona Ferro 6-4, 6-1.
Years ago, Errani could grind it on clay, when she pushed herself into the 2012 Roland Garros final. She was on fire, taking a daunting list of Grand Slam winners: Ana Ivanovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Angie Kerder and Sam Stosur. But in the final, Maria Sharapova was smashing the ball with her huge forehand and backhand. Sharapova dominated her, easily winning it.

But Errani kept on chugging. Even though, she has not won a Grand Slam yet, the 33-year-old continues to play. She is addicted. She has nine wins [Dubai might be her best week in 2016 ever], and she has 27 doubles, [mostly with another Italian, Roberto Vinci)].
Errani has a long, long way to get back, again. She is ranked No. 150, but if she wants to play at the US Open, she will have to qualify. Will she make the attempt? No one knows, but she has to make a decision by next week.
In a few weeks, called the inaugural Top Seed Open presented by Bluegrass Orthopaedics at Lexington, Kentucky. There are some excellent competitors, like Victoria Azarenka , Venus Williams,
Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens. 
Both Venus and Azarenka have won a lot of matches, especially at the Grand Slams: with Venus winning Wimbledon and the US Open, and Azarenka has won Australia, twice. 
Venus started in 1997, and she will be 40 years old, and she still wants to play. She is still very good, but she is not as fast now. Sure she is still fast, but everyone ages, even when you are sprinting. It appears that she still loves tennis, or she would have retired long ago. But Venus is ranked No. 67, which is odd and different, but you have to say that when she is out there, on the hard ourts, she could be crushing her first serve and her backhand. Her second serve has usually been pretty weak, but she is very smart, so perhaps at Cincinnati and the US Open, she will hang in there and just hope.

For Azarenka, there were years when she was very intense. In the 2012-2013, she snagged the Australian Open twice. She was just incredibly powerful, and forceful, nailing her forehand and backhand. She would always go for the lines, when she had a small chance. She would be patient, but not much, because the other players would be fearful of her, so then she could sense it. Then Azarenka would step on the gas.

The 31-year-old is now struggling a little bit.  She has won 20 singles titles including Brisbane, Miami, Cincinnati, Sydney,and more. But the last time she did that, winning at Miami was in 2016. That was very good, but now it has been four-and-a-half years that the talkative Azarenka won a singles tournament. She is ranked No. 58. Now, she has a child, a young son named Leo. That is always special, and because of that, you could have a new perspective in life. 

Clearly, when she just wants to play, and she wants to play a lot, then she can punch the balls, and make it into the top 10. She just has to commit herself. And then, Azarenka will charge.