Archives for August 2022

Four US Open Wednesday picks

Anett Kontaviet

Serena Williams vs Anett Kontaveit
Believe it or not, Serena and the No. 2 Kontaveit have not played each other — ever. That is strange, but in the past four years, Serena was not playing much, and Kontaveit was slowly rising, waiting to get stellar. She did, eventually, although she has not won a tournament this season, although she did reach into the final in Hamburg. However, Kontaveit is a off her game as she lost very early on the hardcourts in Toronto and Cincinnati. Serena is still struggling, but when she wins a match, which she did on Monday, she begins to be more lethal. Arthur Ashe Stadium will be packed, with the fans cheering so loud. Serena has had some tough moments at Ashe, but she has also has some perfect matches. Kontaveit will try to rush her, and hit it very deep, while Serena has her tremendous serve that can produce so many aces. Serena will win it again, in two competitive sets.

Daniil Medvedev vs. Arthur Rinderknech
On Tuesday, the 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu, lost against Alize Cornet. The Frenchwoman played fantastic, but the Britain was so-so, and she will drop down to around No. 71. Ouch. But not the Russian, Medvedev, who also won last year’s Slam in Flushing Meadows. Then, he was so solid, and he rarely missed the ball. But since then, the No. 1 has some great moments, but he also can be challenged. At least he reached the final at the Australian Open, but in the end, Rafa Nadal rose up and he won it 7-5 in the fifth set. Wow. Rinderknech can be stylish, and he can also throw it around, but can he work him for hours? I cannot see that, although he did have some fine wins this year. But the charging Medvedev will win it in three sets. 

Tommy Paul vs Sebastian Korda
Both of the Americans know each other very well. They have practiced, and they are both trying to rise to elite status. They are more than decent, but they have much more work to do. Gradually, they have found out which way to go, and to chuck it around. It will be very close, but Korda has not played terrific well in the summer, and Paul has been more up than down. Tommy Paul will win in four sets.

Coco Gauff vs Elena-Gabriela Ruse
There are a lot of TV commentators, and almost all of them say that the teenager Gauff will win a Grand Slam for the first time very soon. That is possible, but this year? I am not sure. Yes, she made it to the final at Roland Garros, and that was wonderful, but week after week, she can go far, yet this year she has not won in tournament in 2022. So the 18-year-old is very, very good, but not great — yet. Just like Serena and Venus Williams, who began to dominate in the late 1999, the potential is there. Ruse is not in the top 100, and she had struggled this year. In Dubai, she upset some very good players, such as Paula Badosa. Good, but not good enough and Gauff will win in straight sets.

Day 2, 2022 US Open, the picks

Alize Cornet
Mal Taam/MALT photo

Emma Raducanu vs Alize Cornet
Raducanu, ranked No. 11, won the 2021 US Open last year. Oh, really? Who knew that before Flushing Meadows that this teenager would play her so steady forehand and backhand, set after set after set. But, she did and then everyone knew that she can be terrific. But in the last 12 months, she has been up and down. The pressure is totally on. The Frenchwoman knows that, and also, she has been pretty good even last week in Cleveland when she reached the semis. She has played so many matches, and sometimes she is so consistent and other times, she is flat. There will be some fascinating points, with some wild backhands. Cornet really wants to reach the second week at the US Open, but Raducanu wants to rise, again. She will win in three sets.

Danielle Collins vs. Naomi Osaka
Talk about a pick-em. Yes, Osaka has won it twice, and when she did it, she was so strong and so focused. But, in the past year and a half, due to the vicious COVID-19, she was hit with depression. After that, she didn’t want to play in the matches. So far, since she made it into the final at Miami, she has won one match, and four lost. Osaka is now ranked No. 44, and given that she won the US Open in the 2018 and 2020, she can be mentally off. Maybe she can be motivated against Collins. However, the No. 19 Collins is very forceful, and she also goes for it immediately. It should be a bangup match, and Osaka will finally be happy and win it in three dramatic sets.

Diego Schwartzman vs. Jack Sock
The Argentine has been for years, and he always get into the rally, and grind it. Plus, when he has a chance, Schwartzman can swing away, and when he does, he can pocket a lot of winners. Years ago, the American actually got into the top 10, winning Paris. After that, his body got hurt and he wasn’t trying hard enough in the singles. In the doubles, yes, he is very good. In singles he has improved slightly, but he is ranked No. 107. Not good enough. He did say that he is trying again, and he thinks that if he is 100 percent, he will win many more matches. But not against the No. 16 Schwartzman, who knows that he wants to push him side to side, and tire him out. He will, and he will win in four sets.

Frances Tiafoe vs. Marcos Giron
Talk about a matchup, as both of them have practiced a lot, so they know each other well. Tiafoe is in the top 26, and Giron is in the top 56, too, meaning that at the US Open, they really want to reach the second week. But only one can win it, and when they are playing, they certainly be very creative and attack when it is right. They have to hit a lot of first serves — not second serves — smack their forehands, and bend down low at the net. It doesn’t look like that they will be nervous, so the most important is to be very focused. Tiafoe will edge him in five sets.

Four picks on Monday at the 2022 United States Open

Serena Williams

Serena Williams vs Danka Kovinic
This will be Serena’s last tournament ever. So, hopefully, Serena will steal the show, and perhaps she can win at least a few matches. Of course she is one of the best players ever, but if you watched when she played over the last of six weeks, she won only one match, and she lost three contests. She is a little bit slow, giving that she is 40-years-old. Yes, she can throw in her famous serves, and her forehand and backhand. But if you cannot play all the time, in the practice courts and in the matches, which she did that for 25 years in the WTA, then it is almost impossible to win the U.S. Open. The last time the 23-time Grand Slam champion won a major was in the Australian Open in 2017 — that is five years ago. Maybe if Serena starts on the roll, then the fans will be overjoyed. But not for long. She is a pretty good chance to beat Kovinic, who is a decent player, but not wonderful. If Serena locks in early, then she can win in three sets. However, in the second round, she might have to play against the No. 2, Anett Kontaveit, which will be a huge challenge. Gigantic.

Taylor Fritz vs Brandon Holt
Taylor Fritz, from San Diego, has a legitimate chance to go very far. However, there are times when he is playing terrific, and other times — and he plays a lot — he can get frustrated at the end of matches and then he will miss spray errors. That is why he hasn’t won a Grand Slam yet. But when he feels it, then he can put down everyone. On Monday he will face Brandon Holt whose his mom, Tracy Austin, won the 1979 US Open when she was only 16 years old. Two years later, she won it again. She was so incredibly consistent and also, she was so intense. Her son qualified, which was almost phenomenal, but he still has a lot of work to do, as he is ranked No. 312. Can he upset Fritz? I would think there will be some fun sets, but in the end, Fritz will take him down in four sets.

Andy Murray vs Francisco Cerundolo
Will the former US Open champion go far this week? Maybe, but while Murray looks pretty good, but not great. While he has some good wins, the problem is that in two out of three sets, he can maintain it. But in the three out of five, then his legs can hurt him, given that he had to go into the surgery, and he almost retired. Murray can though, tough it out, on Monday. However, he has to face the Argentine Cerundolo, who won Bastad on clay recently and also on the hardcourts in April, he put together with some good wins at Miami, beating Gael Monfils and Frances Tiafoe. At the start of the year, he was No. 127, and now he is ranked No. 27, meaning that he is jumping again. There will be long rallies, and in the fifth set, Murray will nail a bunch of winners with his all-star backhand.Taylor Fritz vs Brandon Holt
Taylor Fritz, from San Diego, has a legitimate chance to go very far. However, there are times when he is playing terrific, and other times — and he plays a lot — he can get frustrated at the end of matches and then he will miss spray errors. That is why he hasn’t won a Grand Slam yet. But when he feels it, then he can put down everyone. On Monday he will face Brandon Holt whose his mom, Tracy Austin, won the 1979 US Open when she was only 16 years old. Two years later, she won it again. She was so incredibly consistent and also, she was so intense. Her son qualified, which was almost phenomenal, but he still has a lot of work to do, as he is ranked No. 312. Can he upset Fritz? I would think there will be some fun sets, but in the end, Fritz will take him down in four set

Pablo Carreno Busta vs Dominic Thiem
If anyone watched the Spaniard when he started to play, he was fit, and he does like to rally. But he wasn’t going to punch the ball on the lines because he didn’t have the pace. The five years ago at the US Open he rose up, reaching into the semis. Then again, in 2020, he was right there, knocking at the door, but he lost to Alexander Zverev in five brutal sets. Maybe he can do it now, as he has become more thoughtful. However, he has to face Thiem, who won it two years ago in Flushing Meadows. The Austrian looked so good, with his terrific forehand and his backhand, with a lot of spin by both sides. But he got hurt a number of times, so he pulled out month after month. He has beaten the Slam winners, Rafa Nadal and Djokovic, many times. Thiem does want to scratch into the top 10, eventually, but Carreno Busta will jar him down, hour after hour and he will win it in five tender sets.

McEnroe and Evert mull Medvedev and Osaka at US Open

Daniil Medvedev
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Both with John McEnroe and Chrissy Evert have won at Flushing Meadows. They were the best players back then, but now they have retired. However, they are on ESPN. While they talked about with Serena and Venus Williams earlier this week for a long time, still, they had a lot of comments. Some very good ones, and some real questions.

Outside of the famous Williamses, there are other players who could go very deep — or even to win — the US Open.

The No. 1 Daniil Medvedev won it last year, but since then, he has looked pretty good, but not spectacular. The former No. 1, Naomi Osaka, who won it twice at the USO, she has been struggling a lot.

According with McEnroe, Medvedev has not improved enough.

“He looks more or less the same. You wonder what’s going on in his head, obviously, with what’s going on with that war,” McEnroe said. “So, I can’t imagine it’s not playing a part in all these Russian players [who couldn’t play at Wimbledon] and what’s going on in that part of the world. Having said that, I still think he’s one of the favorites, one of the top two couple guys, no question about it. So that’s obviously an interesting storyline to follow. And tactically there’s a whole other thing. Obviously he plays so far back. It seems like that will catch up to him … players should figure out a way to deal with that and he’s got to adjust.”

Osaka has been phenomenal when she is so focused, with her huge first serve, and her hard hitting with her forehand and backhand. In her first Grand Slam final in 2018, the fans were almost stunned when she exploded out of nowhere and she upset Serena. But eventually, after Osaka won the 2021 Australian Open, she became depressed. Mentally, the Japanese player had to stop, a lot. She wouldn’t play that much, and here and there, she could walk on the court and be pleased, but in the matches, maybe she didn’t want to be there.

Evert said, “You don’t know how she’s made us very aware that mental health is very important in her tennis. And I think she’s hitting the ball fine. I’ve watched her the last couple of weeks. She’s hitting the ball fine. She’s made some coaching changes [she does not have a real coach, currently] by which I think was probably because of the time — I don’t know why. But anyway, she’s made some changes. And I think she just isn’t match-tough. I think that’s the one thing that’s hurting her. She just hasn’t played enough matches where she feels her instincts are back and she feels confident going for the shots, going for shots on big points like when she was playing her best tennis. If she gets to the second week, I think she’s going to be dangerous. She loves the hard courts and I think she’s going to feel good playing at the US Open.”

McEnroe thinks that Osaka can be thrilled, on and off the court, or she can be very gloomy. When she is smashing her forehand and backhand, then she can put together a ton of winners. But she is now ranked No. 44. He thinks the 24-year-old needs to step it up.

“Did she look happy? Does she look sad?,” McEnroe said. “Does she look this way or that? So, in a way it made it more difficult for her. So that part I think she didn’t take that. It seems like that part may not have been taken into account enough. And so that’s made it trickier. I don’t know where her head’s at. Obviously, she’s incredible on hard courts. And I’m sure if her head is into it the way it can be, she’s obviously one of the favorites, in my book. But at the moment it doesn’t seem like she’s all there. But she’s won it twice [at the US Open] and she’s won four majors [also twice at the Aussie Open] on hard courts. To think she wouldn’t be capable of doing it would be crazy.”

Here is my story about Alize Cornet on

Cornet, 32, is set to break the consecutive Slam appearance record, with her 63rd straight major at the US Open. She could retire next year, but right now she is playing very good, so maybe she can continue for a couple years. She will probably make decision in 2023.

Here is my story on Maxime Cressy. The French-American, said, “I do big things when I’m really focused.” He will have to. The best think is that he is seeded for the first time at a major at No. 30. In the third round, if he gets there, he might face Stefanos Tsitsipas. That would be a huge battle.

19-year-old Ben Shelton is in the draw based on winning the NCAA singles this year. If he makes it to the third round he might have to face against the No. 1, Daniil Medvedev, who won it last year. That is almost impossible, but you never know. … Jessica Pegula has yet to reach into the quarters at the USO, but she is ranked No. 7. So this time, she has to be so real and be much more fierce. Just do it. plans on commenting on the US Open draws on Saturday and Sunday.

Emma Raducanu: ‘I’m just trying to stay on one path’

Emma Raducanu
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Emma Raducanu might be the US Open champion again, if she manages to clean it up on court. On Tuesday, she easily beat Serena Williams in Cincinnati, 6-4, 6-0. She was injured — and many people have in the summer — but currently, she is getting better. The next day, she blew out Vika Azarena, 6-0, 6-2, another Grand Slam champion.

Over that last 11 months, that might have seemed impossible, but she was so impressive in this tournament.

When Raducanu is on, she can be very fast, and she can also bang the ball. Her first serve is very big, and her return is muscular.
Against Serena, she was so excited to take her down, even though she thinks that she is the best player ever.

“I think that a big part of the match today was definitely the mental side, to not be intimidated by all her achievements. That was what I was focusing the most on, really present and thinking of my game, thinking of what I needed to do. Physically I held up pretty well” said Raducanu, who will face against Jessica Pegula next. “Like there were some longer exchanges, I held up well and I scrapped. I made her work. I feel good right now.”

She was also against Azarenka, who can crunch her forehand and her backhand, but her serve is still marginal. Plus, Azarenka is not a super quick runner. However, Raducanu can sprint.

The brit does want to win at Cincinnati or go deep. Still, on the mind of this 19-year-old was her run to US Open glory.

“I think that at this level, you play anyone, it’s a really difficult match. Each of those wins kind of build confidence regardless of the level you’re playing, every single win counts,” she said. “But, of course, this one more so, because you’re playing like the greatest. But I’m not trying to get too high or too low right now. I’m just trying to stay on one path and trajectory, because I know like I kind of feel like I have been on both ends of that, and, yeah, I’m just happy, proud of myself, but just moving on.”

By the way, she wants to play Simona Halep – that would be their first matchup – because “I think she all around is like, for me, all around the most complete player. She moves extremely well. She’s aggressive. She can defend. She makes you work so hard for every point. Could be like a slow, painful like she gets you (smiling).”

Karolina Pliskova lost today. Yesterday, she said that “I’m 30 and I’m still like here. I don’t really want to like quit at the moment. So, I think I just want to see how it’s gonna go like this year, next year. Then I will make decision.” She still does like playing tennis, so maybe she can run up at the US Open. She reached the final in 2016.

Taylor Fritz stepped on Nick Kyrgios in two sets. Kyrgios wants to rest, and his body wore down, but the American played terrific today. He is No. 13, and he has been saying that he wants to be in the top 10 ASAP. Well, then he can do it this week, as long as he will not freeze up.

Where did Ben Shelton come from? His dad, Bryan, also played in the tour, winning Newport, twice. The 19-year-old Ben just upset Casper Ruud, so he must be very good, already. John Isner had two very good wins, beating the No. 10 Hubert
Hurkacz. The 37-year-old may not win Cincinnati, but if he can return better than he usually does, Mr. Ace may go further.

Belinda Bencic: ‘Just filled with a lot of emotion’

Belinda Bencic

Swiss Belinda Bencic won the at ’15 Toronto tournament and it looked like she was moving up the ladder. She was clocking some massive strokes, was fast and she could crack with her serve. She reached the semis at the 2019 US Open but never made it very far at the other Grand Slams. That was very good, but not enough.

Mentally, she was pretty young, so downturns would bother her. Also, she was hurt with a back injury, and is was difficult to run fast when her legs were sore. So then, she fell way down in the ranking.

But now she is more mature. If she can continue to be lethal all the time, then maybe she can grab the crown once again in Canada. In April, she won Charleston, and she also won the Olympics.

A few days ago, she beat the 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, which was very emotional. Serena may not play again, or maybe she can do it a few more at the events, but she did say ‘Goodbye, Toronto.”

“The occasion was really big. Also like really overwhelming, I would say,” Bencic said. “It was more than just about tennis it was really all about Serena and just her career. So it definitely felt very special to be able to be on court with her. Just filled with a lot of emotion. And in a way I’m also kind of part of her whole path and career. I always say that I never imagined, ever playing against her. And not even saying that winning and also that I beat her twice now in Toronto.

“I don’t really want her to retire. So it’s like just standing on the court against her today was just really overwhelming. And also the first time or the first time I beat her here was also really nice.”

As Bencic said, Serena has won so many huge matches and tournaments. The 40-year-old Williams won the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open — at least. While she could become very angry or moody, she could turn it around and put together with thousands of winners.

But that is done, now, so Bencic has to go back into the top 10. She is close, as yesterday, the 25-year-old crushed Garbine Muguruza. As long as Serena can be calm, then she can win even more.

“She has this aura that’s just, if you want it or not, you are intimidated, you are scared. Once she’s just standing there at the return, you just get a little bit scared,” Bencic said. “Of course it’s Serena. And in a way with her it feels almost like I’m star struck every time I see her. And I think US Open it’s going to be even more special.”

She will play Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is having a terrific tournament. She downed Iga Swiatek 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, giving Swiatek only her fifth loss of the year.

There were two good wins in the afternoon for Simona Halep and Jessica Pegula. Halep was won a number of titles, including at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. American Pegula has yet to reach the semis at the Slams. However, she is now ranked No. 7 and over the past year, she is so much better. The 28-year-old has only one WTA title. Maybe she can get another this year? Maybe.

Casper Ruud easily beat Felix Auger-Aliassime. He thinks he can win a massive tournament. “I hit my spots, made the shots I needed to and make him hit a lot of balls. That was the game plan and it worked well,” he said.

The tall Hubert Hurkacz beat the “now famous” Nick Kyrgios 6-1 in the third. The No. 10 Pole has had some wonderful shots, also beating the No. 1 Daniil Medvedev in Halle in July. He also won Miami last year. Yes, he has a decent chance to win it in Montreal.

10 questions with Fernandez, Venus, Murray, Kyrgios, and more

Four winners:

Daria Kasatkina:
She lost it in the first set 7-6, but after that, she became almost perfect, nailing Danielle Collins 6-7, 6-1, 6-2 in San Jose, California. Not only is she back into the top 10, but if she is not exhausted, she can go  deep in Toronto.

Liudmila Samsonova:
That was the biggest win ever, with the Russian winning the Citi Open over the veteran Kaia Kanepi 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. The 23-year-old finally used to be more aggressive and smarter.

Nick Krygios:
All of a sudden, it is ramble on. The Aussie had a very good week, beating Yoshihito Nishioka in the final at the Citi Open. He is now ranked No. 37, and if he is healthy, then he will be seated at the U.S. Open.

Daniil Medvedev:
The Russian finally became more focused, and in the final he looked terrific, stepping on against Cameron Norrie  7-5 6-0  in Los Cabos, Mexico. That was the first time in 2022 that the had won an event.  He will play in Montreal this week, so now, he appears to be the ‘real’ No. 1.

This week in Montreal
Andy Murray:
The interesting person has played pretty well this year, but not spectacular.  He won it  in Montreal in 2009 and 2015, when he was bringing it, stroke after stroke,  but now he is not so fast anymore. However, he is practicing all the time, but his big test will against Taylor Fritz, the huge hitter.

Carlos Alcaraz:
After Wimbledon, he went back to play on clay, and the No. 4 went to tw other tournaments. He reached the final twice, in Hamburg and Croatia, which was pretty good, but he lost. Now in Montreal, on the hardcourts, he will be right there, but the teenager has to be more compatible.

Jannik Sinner:
He won it two weeks ago, stopping versus Alcaraz.  The 20 year old  pushed very hard, with some terrific shots. But will he do it again during the next five weeks? Perhaps
In Toronto:

Venus Williams: The seven-time Grand Slam champion is back, in the singles, and while she has not won a match since last year, but when she is on, the 42-year-old can rip her famous backhand for a winner. Perhaps, with thousands of those.

Naomi Osaka:
She has won four Grand Slams, but she can be a little bit odd, off the court. Still, though, if she plays almost every week, then she will be much more happy and driven. That is a big if, though.

Leylah Fernandez:
Before the Canadian got hurt two months ago, she would hustle a lot, and mix it up. She did reach the 2020 US Open final, but after that the now 19 year old began to slip. She still has a lot of work to do, but when she is feeling, she can be so intelligent. However, the pressure in Canada this week will be huge.

Kyrgios: ‘I don’t need someone to tell me how to play tennis’

Nick Krygios

Win or lose this week, Nick Kyrgios has finally started to play the singles he is capable of. While he can scream when he misses an easy shots, then he must begin to forget. He won’t improve his game and career if he keeps up the erratic, errant shouting at this camp that defused his shot of winning last month’s Wimbledon final. But, sure he is dangerous as he can nail so many winners.

He is playing in Washington, and maybe he can win it.

But now, where will he will be? Over the years, he has pulled out from a lot of tournaments. But when he is healthy, then the Aussie thinks he can beat anyone. But he also wants to switch it up his tactics.

“I feel like tactically when I play players I’m very switched on. I watch a lot of film,” Kyrgios said. “I know every player’s weakness and strength. I do my own research. I feel as if no one knows my game as good as myself. But I feel like there can be one little thing that my team says to me that can help me. I don’t need someone to tell me how to play tennis. I just need positive reinforcement at times to just give me feedback that I’m doing all right and I’m doing well, because I have had so much negativity in my career that sometimes I beat myself up way too much. I feel like just one little positive thing can do so much for my tennis. Tactically I’m very switched on. … I just serve big and play on instinct and play big, and it works well.”

He is ranked No. 63, and this week, he can go a bit further. But also in Toronto, and Cincinnati, and if he goes deep, maybe he will be seeded at the US Open. Maybe.

The new Kasatkina

At San Jose, Daria Kasatkina reached the 2021 final, and she went down against Danielle Collins, before she was ranked No. 31. But now, Kasatkina is No. 12 and knocked off Aryna Sabalenka 4-6 7-5 6-0 on Friday. Her consistently in the last 30 minutes was pretty surprising.

After coming out last month as gay, Katsatkina seems to be riding a new wave of freedom. As she told, “I’m really happy about it. As I saw, it was not just a good thing for me, also it helped other people. That’s great and I feel great. I feel happy about it and about myself and that’s most important.”

On clay, she reached the semis at Rome and Roland Garros. She was picking it up. She hasn’t won a tournament this year, and while she is one of the biggest hitters, her serve is very soft. She does not come into the net often, but she can mix it up a fair amount.

She was somewhat close to winning a Grand Slam, but she held herself back.

However, Kasatkina is so strong, with her forehand and her backhand, when she can smash the balls.

In San Jose, in the matches, she can be a little bit wild, and also, more in tune with their strengths. Every year, the players can be focused a lot. With others, they can drift off. When they walk on the court, you can tell that they are driven, or they can be space.
If Kasatkina gets better each week, then her confidence will return gradually. That will be a tremendous pressure. Back in 2017, she won a very important tournament in Charleston. She also reached the final at Indian Wells, a gigantic event.

The Russian is more mature. “This is the point when I have to realize that I am an adult and mature enough,” Kasatkina said. “I’m not 18 anymore.
I cannot rely that I am young and I will have time. No, I’m 25, I have to act now. I have to show everything I’ve got in these years. I think this is already the time to give more than take.”