Archives for April 2022

Rinderknech: Any player not in juniors top 10 should go to college

Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech lost in Monte Carlo, and he has yet to crack into the top 45. It was taken him a long time to be more harmoniou

He is playing better. This season he has beaten some good players, all in the top 30s, upending Jannik Sinner, Karen Khachanov, Alexander Bublik and Denis Shapovalov.

Over the past four years, the 26-year-old finally matured. 

“I didn’t have to start on the tour at 18 years old when I was not good enough and not mature enough, professionally speaking, to play on the tour. But I had the maturity to think about it and decide to go to the United States, which was a very good choice,” said Rinderknech, who went to Texas A&M. “It gave me some time, and I have a diploma now that is a security for my future, so I can play relaxed now, knowing what I have. Now I’m starting at 22, 23 years old instead of 18, so it helps me go through the steps more easily, because I experienced many other things than only professional tennis.”

He decided not to try to go straight into the ATP Tour because he was not ready then.

“In my opinion, any player who is not top 10 in juniors should go to college. It’s a very clear-cut opinion. Unless you are [Carlos] Alcaraz or [Jannik] Sinner or if you are in the very top best players in juniors, you need to go to college in the U.S,” Rinderknech said. “Because if you’re not top 10 in juniors, there are many uncertainties as to your future in the professional tour. Even players that were 10, 13, or even 8 have disappeared from professional tennis after that. There are hundreds of them. Others are just getting lost playing the futures for years, so instead, I would advise them to go to the U.S. But each one has his own goals. If they want just to party, they can party in the U.S. too, but they will forget about tennis. But it’s up to them to decide about their future. They should take control of their lives and not only depend on mommy or daddy and the coach. So it’s a clear-cut opinion, but of course you need to have good advice from people who know about what they are talking about so you get good advice to choose your college.”
Rinderknech will play to qualify in Madrid and Rome. However, he will certainly play at Roland Garros in May.

Novak Djokovic is still trying to be more comfortable. Yes, he is No. 1, but in his last three tournaments, he didn’t win the event. He was not allowed to play the Australian Open, so he went to Dubai, and he lost to Jiri Vesely. Then in Monte Carlo, he went down to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1. No big deal as when you are not playing, it takes a while to remember what to do. So he went to Serbia, where he was born, and he looked solid, but not fantastic. He managed to grind his way into the final, and it looked like now he would out-hit the very good players like Andrey Rublev.

Djokovic looked consistent, but in the final’s third set he became injured, and Rublev leaped on him, winning the title 6-2, 7-6 (4), 6-0. Yes, Djokovic doesn’t love the clay, but he really likes it. So when he goes to Madrid, maybe he will be slightly better.

Will the No. 8 Rublev wins a Grand Slam this year, or an ATP 1000? He has won 11 titles, but he hasn’t gotten into those top tier events yet. Last year he reached the final in Monte Carlo and Cincinnati. Now it is time to boost up in Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros.

Stefanos Tsitsipas won Monte Carlo in some tough matches, and he played spectacular, but he decided to play Barcelona, and that was too tough. Eventually, he tired against the terrific young player Carlos Alcaraz. But they will face each other again. ..

However, the 18-year-old Alcaraz is now ranked No. 9, which is very unusual. The other Spaniard Rafa Nadal was already playing terrific at the age of 19, winning his first Roland Garros in 2005. It is certainly possible with Alcaraz, but he has to continue to improve more, as there are times when he doesn’t work the points. It should a blast to see him rise in Madrid.

Sock/Fish team up in Texas golf event

Mardy Fish and Jack Sock

When Jack Sock made his maiden voyage into the world of celebrity golf, he knew that a familiar face would be waiting for him.  Seven weeks after the United States Davis Cup Team swept Columbia in early March in Reno, Nevada, Sock reunited with Davis Cup Captain Mardy Fish at the inaugural ClubCorp Classic in Irving, Texas.

Who better to show Sock the ropes than Fish, one of America’s premier celebrity golfers, who wins regularly and plays in as many as he can against the likes of Tony Romo, John Smoltz, Mark Rypien and a host of Hall of Famers from sports and entertainment.

“Oh, Yeah, Reno was great.  Winning and me, as one of the veteran guys, getting to hold the American Flag and run around the arena, uphold that tradition.  That was a blast,” said Sock after wrapping up the first round of the ClubCorp Classic on Friday with playing partners Rod Pampling and Tom Lehman, familiar pro golfers now competing on the PGA TOUR Champions in the ClubCorp Classic.

“This is my first event in celebrity golf, so Marty and I played a practice round earlier in the week,” continued Sock, who contributed to the rout of Columbia by teaming with Rajeev Ram to defeat Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Nicolas Barrientos in the match that clinched the win for the U.S.  Asked if he had heard the stores about Fish taking money from that earlier generation of tennis pros when they would venture out to the golf course on days off, Sock offered.  “Oh, I’m sure that happened.  I would never play Mardy for money,” he concluded with a shake of the head.

Fish has won the American Century Championship, the premier event in celebrity golf, and has two victories in the Orlando tournament, the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, which is a prominent LPGA event in January each year.

“Great to be with Jack this week after the role he played in Reno,” stated Fish, who trailed Tony Romo by three Stableford (golf scoring mechanism) point after Friday’s round.  “He is the pillar of our team and the guy I like to  bounce ideas off.  I look to him as a playing Assistant Captain.  And he is perhaps the best individual doubles player I have ever seen.”

As for the golf tournament, Sock stands in a tied for 25th place with the likes of Ray Allen, Joe Carter and Kyle Fuller, ahead of Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Brian Urlacher and Emmitt Smith plus Larry The Cable Guy and Anthony Anderson.

Fish is also bullish on Sock’s golf potential: “He’s already a strong player. Jack is a unique athlete. Great power and raw ability. I know golf coaches who love his foundation.”

Pasted the reno gazette journal story for your reference.  Use this copy as you see fit.  Only attribution needed is photo credit: ClubCorp Classic.

Considering how things played out this weekend in downtown Reno, the United States Tennis Association might want to consider bringing the Davis Cup to the Biggest Little City more often.

Jack Sock and Rajeev Ram of the U.S. defeated the Colombian duo of Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Nicolas Barrientos in straight sets Saturday afternoon, 6-3, 6-4, to win the countries’ Davis Cup qualifying match in front of an enthusiastic and at-times raucous crowed at the Reno Events Center.

Saturday’s doubles victory followed singles wins Friday night from Sebastian Korda over Nicolas Mejia and Taylor Fritz over Alejandro Gonzalez, giving the U.S. a 3-0 lead and clinching victory in the best-of-five series.

Novak Djokovic loses first 2022 match in Europe

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic lost at Monte Carlo on Monday, the first time that he had played on court after Dubai. There, in February, he lost in the quarters against Jiri Vesely. In April, Djokovic could not shake it off, and he went down against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner decided not to take the COVID-19 vaccine, and because of that he could not play at the 2022 Australian Open. He also could not play Indian Wells and Miami, which was a huge challenge mentally.

When he is on court, he can be lethal and so steady. But when you cannot play, even while he can practice all the time, the 34-years old gets irritated and frustrated.

“I’m disappointed. No one likes to lose,” he said. “I didn’t like the way I felt physically in the third. I just ran out of the gas completely. Just couldn’t really stay in the rally with him. I mean, if you can’t stay in the rally, not feeling your legs on the clay, it’s mission impossible. So, I don’t like that.”

Before he went down against Davidovich Fokina on clay, he had played only three matches this year. Now, after the loss, that is four contests in three-and-a-half months. That is nothing for him.

“Obviously I miss competition. I still feel motivation to be on the tour and compete with young guys and try to challenge the best players in the world for the biggest titles,” Djokovic said. “Obviously last four, five months have been really challenging for me mentally and emotionally, but here I am and I try to leave all of that behind and move on.

“Clay court is the surface in which I grew up in Serbia and played many years only on that surface actually, and historically hasn’t been my most successful surface, but I have had some big success on clay. Of course, Roland Garros win last year is still fresh in my memory, so I try to use that as an inspiration to kick-start the clay court season best possible way.”

He plays only the biggest events on clay except in Serbia where he grew up. His backhand might be the best ever, where he is almost perfect cross-court, and down the line is very strong, too. He can smack his very good forehand, and he can return very deep. His eyes can focus and be very smart on court.

This year, he has to play on clay anytime the tournaments allow him. The question is: Will the tournaments allow an unvaccinated player?

Djokovic has to continue to raise his game. He knows that when he lost to Davidovich Fokina, he was mediocre at best in the third set. He knows that.

“I always believed that I could come back and win the match, and I stayed there even though a lot of things were against me in terms of how I felt on the court. Game-wise, physically I was just far from my best,” he said. “So, of course, in those types of conditions and circumstances, then you have to really work two times more than you normally would. I played a clay court specialist. He had a match already on center court a few days ago. I expected this match to be really tough match, physical battle, and that’s what it was. Unfortunately, I’m on the shorter end of the stick, and my week ends here. I have to try to be optimistic and build to Roland Garros, where I want to peak.”

Djokovic is back at Monte-Carlo to win it

Novak Djokovic

It has been a difficult year by the 20-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic but, in Monte Carlo, he will be back and ready to regain his place atop the game.

The Serb recently said that he wants to play, on the court or in the streets. Because of that, he is the heavy favorite to win the ATP Rolex Monte Carlo Masters according to Sports Betting Dime.

Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Matteo Berrettini out of the tournament for different reasons. There are a number of players who have risen and they are very hungry.

The 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz just won Miami and, as Nadal said, he is almost locked in. He can crush the ball, side to side, and he can crack it crosscourt or down the line. When he nails a winner, he pumps his fist constantly, and then the fans go crazy cheering for him. Considering the hot streak he is riding, he could actually win the tournament.

The No. 3 Alexander Zverev is having a so-so year. While when he is feeling fine, then he can be very consistent and lethal. However, the 2021 US Open finalist has not won a tournament this year. But Monte-Carlo is on clay and he could rise up and make a statement.

The Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas is a huge hitter and he can really strike the ball from both wings. Currently No. 5, the tall man can grind it on the court, and he can also slam it when he it is in striking distance. But, he also has not won an event during the last three months of 2022. Maybe he can change the tactics in Monte-Carlo.

The super-fast Casper Ruud of Norway has had a very good season, winning Argentina, and reaching the final at Miami, upsetting Zverev, and finally losing versus Alcaraz. He is pushing himself and last year, when he was playing, there were times when he was not being aggressive. Now when he can, he can kiss the lines.

The same thing goes with Andrey Rublev. When the 24-year-old decided that this year, he would mix up his tacktics. He did a fine job when he won in France and Dubai. In Miami, it looked like he was a little bit tired, but when he arrives in Monte-Carlo, he should be re-freshed and ready to dance.
Finally, Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime won a tournament this year at Rotterdam. Before that, he reached at the finals nine times, and he lost, all of them. But he decided to press on, and now he has improved his game, especially his return. The 21-year-old is pretty young, so week after week, he will improve his shot making approach.

There are more people who can go deep in Monte-Carlo like American Taylor Fritz, who won Indian Wells, Cameron Norrie and Jannik Sinner.

Carlos Alcaraz wins Miami: ‘Hitting big forehands, hitting big shots’

Carlos Alcaraz

There are times when Carlos Alcaraz over hits the ball, and he could over react. But the Spaniard would keep on trucking, he would smash his forehand and his backhand, and he would sprint, at the net or back words.

In Miami, the 18-year-old won it all, beating Casper Ruud 7-5, 6-4. That was the first time he won a Masters 1000 title. Many people knew that he was coming, but soon, or later.

Well, there he is, and assuming he will be healthy for many years, he could not only win the ATP Masters — a lot— or at the Grand Slams, too.

There are just a few teenager who have won it early at the Slams like Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and  Michael Chang.

Alcaraz rarely gets tired, on court, and when there are thousands of people cheering for him, he would pump his fist. He really likes the emotion.

However, he could have lost, because in the beginning of the first set, Ruud was playing very well, pushing forward and confident. He broke him, and it was possible that the Norway was going to win the first set. But he could not do that, when his first serve began to falter, and he stayed way back behind the baseline.  Alcaraz  does the same thing too, returning, but he was more adjacent, while Ruud was hesitant. 

Alcaraz broke it back, then he hit the high note, snagging the first set. After that, he rose even further, and he knew that if he was stable, then he would win the title.

The strong man sure did, winning Miami, knocking down three very good players against Stefanos Tsitsipas, Hubert Hurkacz and  Ruud.

It wasn’t just that, Alcaraz  split with another terrific player, Matteo Berrettini, this year. In 2022, he has also beaten Diego Schwartzman, Roberto Bautista Agut, Gael Monfils, and Marin Cilic.  

Since he lost against Berrettini at the Australian Open, he is now 16-1, with one loss, versus Nadal in a marathon at Indian Wells.

Now Alcaraz  will go into the clay in Europe. Exactly one year ago, he was ranked No. 133. Now he is ranked No. 11. Talk about a huge jump.  

“Every match I trying to put my game, hitting big forehands, hitting big shots, dropshots, trying to go to the net, trying to be aggressive all the time. I trying to improve my game,” Alcaraz said. “Just my idea in every tournament and in every match.”

Yes he did.