Archives for July 2021

The Olympics in Tokyo: Barty, Osaka have early exits

Kei Nishikori

In Tokyo, at the Olympic Games, many of the top women have lost, including Ash Barty and Olympic flame lighter Naomi Osaka.

With Osaka in the Olympic spotlight, it took a streaky Marketa Vondrousova to knock her out 6-1 6-2.

Wimbledon champ and No. 1 Ash Barty was quickly bounced by Sara Sorribes Torma of Spain in the first round. Definitely, a shock.

There are some players looked banged up. Garbine Muguruza is very strong, beating Alison van Uytvanck. When she is on, she can win this tournament hands down. But not this year.

Elina Svitolina also really wants to win, making up for her disappointing performances at the Slams. However, she can smash the ball. Marketa Vondrousova is slightly better, but she has to be more precise.

Kei Nishikori knocked down No. 7 Andrey Rublev. Nishikori is up and down, but he really likes playing in Tokyo. He can go much further. He is very thoughtful and can be a top player when he is very healthy, which is rare.

Daniil Medvedev continues to grow, even in the fifth set, when he is 38-18. Perhaps he is on the way, not only in Tokyo, but maybe at the US Open? The No. 2 has to charge at the net and put the ball away.

Novak Djokovic has won three Slams this year, and if he wins Tokyo and the US Open, then he might be the best player of all time. I mean that.

At the doubles, Andy Murray and Liam Broady are rocking and rolling. Out of nowhere, they emerged. But Croats Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig got them out in the quarterfinals. Kiki Bertens’ just retired, winning 10 WTA singles titles. At WTA 1000 in Cincinnati, she beat Simona Halep in the final. She also won the 2019 Madrid, defeating Petra Kvitova, Sloane Stephens and Halep. That was wonderful. She was very good overall, but she was never spectacular at the Slams. Good enough, though.

Who will play the Olympics? Not enough

Sofia Kenin

Will play: Djokovic, Zverev, Berrettini, Barty, Osaka and Kenin. 

Won’t play: Nadal, Thiem, Federer, Kerber, Azarenka and Serena

Who doesn’t like to watch the Olympics? Many of us do on TV, not only tennis, but gymnastics, swimming, basketball, soccer, or track and field. It will start next week at the 2021 Tokyo, and it should be a blast to watch, but there will be no fans. That could be bizarre. 

On July 16,  23 of the ATP top 50, will not play in Tokyo, including  Nadal, Thiem, Federer, Shapovalov, Raonic, Evans, Opelka, Isner, Fritz, Kerber, Azarenka, Serena, Halep, Kenin, Andreescu and Konta.  

Novak Djokovic is in, which is terrific, as the Serbian has won three Grand Slams this year. He was victorious at Wimbledon and now he has 20  Grand Slams, like Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.  At the US Open, Djokovic has a big chance to win it all four. Assuming they will be healthy, the Big Three could have some fascinating matches, long ones, some tough ones. In the second week, they will begin to bash the ball. They were confident, and ready to go even further. 

Which ones? It is early, six weeks away, so we don’t know who is playing healthy and excellent on the court. I won’t guess, but today, here are more players who will reach the second week with Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev, Matteo Berrettini, Denis Shapovalov, Sebastian Korda, Ashleigh Barty, Simona Halep, Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber, Garbiñe Muguruza, Sofia Kenin, Bianca Andreescu and Iga Swiatek.

In Newport, this week, Jack Sock won a singles match and then he lost against Kevin Anderson. The American went way down, in singles, and in 2017, he was a career-high No. 8. And in doubles, in 2018 that was another positive signs, his a career-high No. 2. So when he is healthy, and in good shape, he can gradually go up the ladder, but very slowly. He is ranked No. 231, which is way out there, but this season, he played a lot, especially on the USTA Pro Circuit. Clearly, he really wants to try. Good luck.

Wimbledon finalist Anderson got hurt two years ago, and now, he is close to reach the top 100 again. Yes, the 35-year-old may not reach a Slams final again as he did at the ’17 US Open and ’18 Wimbledon, but the tall man hits his huge serves and forehands. Remember, in 2018, he was ranked No. 5. He was darn good. When you watch him at a match, he can be so respectable, or more so. He does believe that in the next year, he will reach the top 20. But beyond that, he will have to prove it. That is life.

By the way, Sock will play Atlanta next week. Also, his friend, Nick Kyrgios, will also play, singles and doubles. 

Wimbledon, Day 8: The round of 16’s old favorites, new surprises

Karolina Pliskova

The famous Round of 16 match is on Monday. It is very crowded. Th fans must decide: Where will they go? Good luck, and hopefully, there will be some dramatic matches.

A few days ago I wrote an article about Sebastian Korda, Madison Keys, Denis Shapovalov, Iga Swiatek and Ons Jabeur.

Here, there are 13 matches coming upon Monday:

Karolina Pliskova vs Liudmila Samsonova
The Czech has reached the second half at the Slams, so many times. She is vast hitter, but she can collapse. Samsonova is brand new and just emerging now. All of a sudden, she is a darn good player. It is her time, but she has to handle the big stage if she wants to advance.

Novak Djokovic vs Cristian Garin
The Serbian is steady of the rock, while Garin likes to move the round the box. Djokovic will be sharp with his backhand, and he will trick him a lot.

Angie Kerber vs Cori Gauff
The German is finally good again and she has won Wimbledon before, so she really likes to grind it. The American has improved a lot this year, but it will take her a while to really understand how tricking the grass is.

Roger Federer vs Lorenzo Sonego
The Swiss is getting better every day, but he is not perfect yet. The Italian is creative, and ambitious, but Roger will nail his forehand and his returns.

Ash Barty vs Barbora Krejcikova
The Aussie is still so-so. But the No. 1 really wants to minimize her errors, which is unusual. The Czech is rising, finally, and she can hit very hard, but at times she checks out mentally.

Alexander Zverev vs Felix Auger-Aliassime
The German badly wants to win a Grand Slam this year, and in the first week, he was more thoughtful and patient. The Canadian really hustles, and he can smack the ball, but Zverev returns better and bangs a bigger first serve.

Emma Raducanu vs Ajla Tomljanovic
Who would have foreseen that these two have won three matches? On Monday, they will be thrilled to be on the court. Maybe the nerves will kick in. It is a tossup, but if the veteran Tomljanovic strikes early, she will win it and celebrate, with a big smile.

Andrey Rublev vs Marton Fucsovics
The Russian is under control, and he can blast his forehand and backhand. Eventually he will win a major, but maybe not this Wiml\bledon, Fucsovics is pretty robust, and he must hit more with slice. Rublev will dominate him.

Daniil Medvedev vs Hubert Hurkacz
The other Russian was down 0-2 and it looked like he might fold against Cilic, but he stayed in there and came back by being steadier, with more penetrating shots. Medvedev can win Wimbledon, but Hurkacz is very neat, another man who will reach the top 10. Bang, bang. But this can go five sets.

Aryna Sabalenka vs Elena Rybakina
At times, Sabalenka can be angry, but this year, outside of the Grand Slams, she is pretty brilliant. She has so much potential. Rybakina is also gaining ground. She is showing real court understanding. This will be a three-setter.

Matteo Berrettini vs Ilya Ivashka
The Italian likes to rally a lot. He can attack when he has the opportunity and knock it on the lines. Ivashka has been around for a long time, and few people know him, but he reached the Round of 16, so he must be pretty fit.

Karen Khachanov vs Sebastian Korda
The Russian is a big banger, and the American is also young with a lot of variety. This should be a great match. Of course, they will go into the fifth set. Whomever will win will do it with a lot of aces and thev crisp returns. This will be all about who can keep their cool in the third set.

Karolina Muchova vs Paula Badosa
Another young player of note is Muchova, who can show grea potential. But, Badosa is even younger and is showing real steadiness. But, also, will Muchova climbing up the hill.

Wimbledon, Day 6: Korda and Keys: ‘It’s crazy’

Madison Keys

Also: Andy Murray, Denis Shapovalov, Iga Swiatek, Ons Jabeur and more

Sebastian Korda is already streaking. He has a lot of variety, he is fast, he is powerful and he can meld it up. The young American took down Daniel Evans 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4 at Wimbledon.

He is already consistent, and he started when he was born, as his father, Petr, and his mother, Regina, played on the tour. They pushed him a little bit, and they really talked to him. Oh, by the way, his two sisters play pro golf, Nelly rose to No. 1 last weekend by winning the PGA Championship and Jessica is No. 13.

“My dad won a Grand Slam, my sister just won her first major and is world No. 1 golfer in the world, so it’s super inspiring. It’s crazy,” Sebastian Korda said.

Yes it was.

He is not fantastic yet, but he is learning, and according to the ESPN broadcaster, Darren Cahill, who said: “I think he’s easy top five in a couple of years, two or three years, if he continues on this plane.”
The former champion Andy Murray won two matches, and then he folded on Friday, and he lost 6-4 6-2 6-2 against Denis Shapovalov. Murray is trying to come back during when he is playing, but he is still a little bit slow, his serve is so-so, and his forehand can be erratic. He has a jumbo way to go.

Shapovalov looked pretty good, the lefty, which some fine strokes, hard and deep. His serve is medicare a lot, and he is not great at the net, but he does focus at times, and he can swing away. He is already in the top 12, and after the tournament ends, he could be around No. 10. He is ready to outbreak.
Madison Keys won over Elise Mertens, and the American was absorbed. She is rugged, and she can crush the ball, but she can be hurt a lot. However, she looked happy and intense, and she has gone very deep at the US Open, and with the Australian Open, and Roland Garros. At Wimbledon, she has to commit what she has to do, on court. She has to learn even further.

Two weeks ago, Iga Swiatek didn’t like on the grass. Then, this week, she found it, and the one-time Grand Slam champion found it. She crushed Irina-Camelia 6-1 6-0 and now she is locked in. She does have a chance to go way deep next week. She is such a potent player.

The best match between the women on Friday was when Ons Jabeur jumped on against Garbine Muguruza. Jabeur is so robust , and she pushed herself in third set. She won it, 57 63 62. She is over the top. “To be able to pass the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam, like it’s something that I should do,” said Jabuer. “It is [the best day of my tennis career], seriously. This is my favorite centre court.”

Wimbledon, Day 6: Djokovic and Gauff look very comfortable

Coco Gauff

Novak Djokovic is setting his Grand Slam sights on Wimbledon. The Serbian has won it five times on the slippery grass. He is sharp on the hard courts and is more patient on clay. In London, he goes for it early, because the points are fast and and the ball stays low. He has to nail it, or go for drop shots that float it right over on the net softly

On Friday, he downed long-time American, Denis Kudla. Kudla can be very patient, but he can also go down quickly, as he doesn’t push himself enough. But, in a straight-set loss to Djokovic, Kudla proved more than a worthy opponent, stretching the No. 1 in a 64 63 76(7) battle. The American is the type of journeyman who can pop up with a strong showing every few tournaments or years. In this contest, Kudla’s best couldn’t dent the two-time defending champ’s more oppressive game.

Right now, Andrey Rublev is more than comfortable. Not only can he shatter the balls, he can also find his mark. Rublev was able to overcome a slight downturn at 1-1 in sets to exert his more consistent power and focus over Fabio Fognini.

Saturday matches
The No.1 Ashleigh Barty is still a little bit hurt, and why it will be tough to win the 2021 Wimbledon. It she just pushes herself, she can go deep. She did that on Thursday when she beat Anna Blinkova. She was not great, but good enough.

“I try to bring my game style and play my game style as often as possible, knowing what their strengths and weaknesses,” Barty said. “I go to work with Tyz [coach Craig Tyzzer]. We work on a few things. There’s nothing drastic that changes. I think for me it was just trying to get a rhythm on the court. I made a lot of unforced errors today, more than I’m used to. I think when I needed to step in, I did.”

Yes she did.

The No.20 Coco Gauff keeps going higher, as she beat veteran Elena Vesnina. Every event, she looks like not only can she belt the ball, but she is thinking all the time. The teenager will face another youngster, the 20-year-old Slovenian Kaja Juvan, who has had decent wins this year, but at the All-England Club, Gauff wants to reach the second week. She really might, and then, the fans will know who the 18-year-old is ready to do a winner’s dance.

Nice to see Vesnina competing after two-and-a-half years on the sidelines. Another mom is proving that significant victories continue to come after becoming a parent.