Archives for October 2023

Sabalenka: “I think the best season in my life so far”

Aryna Sabalenka
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Jessica Pegula finally played terrific at the WTA Finals, beating the intense player, Elena Rybakina in two sets. However, on Tuesday she has to face against the No. 1, Aryna Sabalenka, who crushed Maria Sakkari.

They have played each other five times, and Sabalenka beat her four times, mostly on the clay, but at this tournament last year, she beat her 6-3, 7-5 on the hard courts. The Belarussian also really likes on the hard courts, winning the Australian Open. Her forehand and her backhand are massive, and her return is super aggressive. However, she can get frustrated on the court, over hitting the ball, and not coming into the net. She can be a brilliant player, but also, she can check out in the third set, occasionally.

Pegula believes that when she can go for it, and also to risk it, rather than just to put it on play, then she can actually grab a lot of winners. Years ago, she was decent, but she wasn’t been able to out-hit against the top players. Now she is, and to win this match, she has to change it up more, and push her into the wall.

Sabalenka knows that she has to be patient, and to jump it when she is returning. As she said, two days ago: “It’s just super great season, I think the best season in my life so far. Hopefully this is just the beginning: with every year I’ll play better and better. I use this year as a motivation for me to keep working hard, to keep pushing, and see where is my limit are. ”
Sabalenka will make some odd error, but towards at the end, she will hit some massive first sets and she will win it 4-6, 6-3, 6-3

Surpassingly, Rybakina did now play well enough on Sunday against Pegula, when she lost. Yes, the American was so consistent, but the 2022 Wimbledon champ has had a solid year, but she only won one ever, in Rome. She certainly has beaten all the top players, but her forehand can be spotty. The Russian Rybakina is a huge hitter, and she can return pretty well, but if she wants to win another huge event, then she has to raise quickly.

Sakkari is one of the best rallies, hitting hour after hour. She can be so steady, but she plays all the time, and in the fall, she looks very tired. Yes, she does want to show that she is still there, in the matches, but she is not hitting the ball deep enough, which is why Rybakina will win the match 6-4, 6-1.

Notes: the women and men

On Monday, two of the former champs, Coco Gauff and Iga Swiatek, won easily, so they are in it.

In Paris, Taylor Fritz won a match, and he said that his body is so-so. If he wins a couple matches, then he has a solid chance to play in the ATP Finals. Or maybe not:

“It’s something that’s been bothering me for a little bit… I didn’t think it was anything too bad going in [to this match], but one where I slid out and sliced that forehand, I felt like I did something that I had never done to it before,” said Fritz. “Like maybe I tore something or pulled it. So I’m going to have to get it checked out and see what’s going on.”

The other American, Tommy Paul, won a marathon, beating Richard Gasquet 0-6, 6-2, 7-6(6). He has to win the tournament to qualify, but it is almost impossible. But at least he will try…

He may be ranked No. 7. but last year in Paris, Holger Rune won it, but now he is defending 1,000 points. He does have a chance to qualify, but he has to go very deep to do it again. He has not played very well since Wimbledon, so he is going to have to recover, immediately. Rune is only 20-years-old, so over the next couple years he will get better, here and there, but he has to think about it all of the time. They all must do.

Coco Gauff : “Mental health is invisible, but … real issue.”

Coco Gauff has had a terrific season, when she started to play much better with her forehand, also, with her serve. She won the 2023 U.S. Open, and she rarely backed off. However, in Cancun , Mexico  she knows that she has played against Ons Jabeur, who can throw in some tremendous shots.  She can mix it up, a lot, and also, her one hander goes everywhere.  

Gauff has won three of the five matches with Jabeur, but the last year the Tunisia beat her in Berlin, on the grass. That is totally different though, as here, near the beach, when it is hot, they are playing outside on the thick hardcourts.

Gauff did not win a match in the WTA Final in Fort Worth, in the Unted States, so this time, in Mexico, she needs to re-adjust, when they are rallying. 

Jabeur has had a sporadic year, but at least she reached into the final of Roland Garros,   grinding down Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakna, before she lost in the final against Marketa Vondrousova. She looked to nervous.

At Wimbledon, Gauff lost in the first round, and she looked disappointed. However, in July, she kicked herself, and now she is much more composed. As she said, “Mental health is invisible, but it’s a very real issue.”

Because of that, in the third set,  Gauff will flatten it out, and nail some huge winner, down the line. She will snare it 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

The 22-year-old Iga Swiatek has beaten Marketa Vondrousova  two times, and it occurred in August, in Cincinnati, in the quarters. The Polish person can bash the ball, and she can go crosscourt, very hard. Her first serve can be a smart decisions, and also, when she is returning, the hustler can go down and pick it back up. She has had some awesome wins this season, but there have been some sole days.

 The Czech Vondrousova has said that if she wasn’t injured, which she way, then she would be beating everyone. She certainly was when in July, she won Wimbledon. That was the best two weeks, ever. 
Yet after that, she went back, not reaching into the semis, and she was over hitting the ball. Of course, she swipes her forehand, and attacks in the second serves. But to do it again, maybe next year, as right now, she is spinning in her head. Swiatek is more mature on court and she will win it 6-3, 6-3. 

On Sunday, Aryna Sabalenka blew out   Maria Sakkari 6-0, 6-1, while Jessica Pegula had an impressive win when she locked down  Elena Rybakina 7-5, 6-2. The American has had a very good year, but she knows she has to a gigantic event. If she does that, then it is possible that one days, she can win her first Grand Slams….

The men

That was another fantastic win by Jannik Sinner, who Daniil Medvedev 7-6(7), 4-6, 6-3. He is set to play the ATP Finals, as does the Russian, but Sinner won two out of the three events, including Vienna.  His mindset on the court  is much more thoughtful… 
The Canadian, Felix Auger-Aliassime had a really tough in the summer, losing all the time, but in the Swiss Indoors Basel, he won the title, stopping the red-hot Hubert Hurkacz of Poland 7-6(3), 7-6(5).  He cannot reach at the ATP Finals, but now he is much more hopeful…
Will any American  get into the top eight after Paris is done? Really, only Taylor Fritz has a chance, but currently on the race, he is ranked No. 10, so if he has a good chance, he must win a few matches, or more. Likewise he has to figure it out.

WTA top eight battle in Huafa Technology WTA Elite Trophy

Daria Kasatkina
Daria Kasatkina

With the WTA right now,  I guess that to play at the event, instead of the top eight, it is called “Huafa Technology WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, China.”

It is a risk, but they are trying, so that is a positive. However, it is questionable. Of course, every week, there will be a lot of people at the tournaments, and there have been some great matches, but at the end of the year, is it really a blast when the players are very good, but they are not fantastic all the time? That is why they are not in the top eight people, but for sure, the young, could be rising, or they are very good. Or perhaps some of the  players might have been injured.

Anyway, in Zhuhai , China, four of them have made it into the semis with Daria Kasatkina, Zhu Lin, Beatriz Haddad Maia and the hard-hitting Zheng Qinwen, who beat Jelena Ostapenko 6-4, 1-6, 6-2. At the beginning of the year, she was struggling on the court, as she said that “wanted too much.” But now she is on top of it. However, the 21-year-old is more consistent and sprinting.

ATP Finals
It really matter when you have no chance to get into the ATP Finals in Turin in a couple weeks? Well, yes, certainly when they have a legitimate chance. There are also players who cannot do that, but to finish during the fall, they can go home and be satisfied. Maybe be, or maybe not.

In Basel,  Holger Rune, is still there, as long as he can win, while Casper Ruud lost, but he will try to turn it around in Paris, next week. The No. 11 Hubert Hurkacz  is still playing excellent ball, recently winning Shanghai, but to qualify, he has to go consistently deeper here, and in Paris.

The American, Taylor Fritz, lost early again, when he lost against Alexander Shevchenko (3) 6-7(7) 7-6(6) 7-6(5). What a brutal, long match. He really has to jump up in the air and re-changed it. He can play in Turin, but he is going to win a few matches in France. He just has to.

In  Vienna Daniil Medvedev beat  Grigor Dimitrov 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, which was pretty good, but when will he rise again? He looks more than decent now, so maybe the No. 3 can rise up again.?
 “Tennis is a strong sport and we have strong opponents. So hopefully I can get one more win at least or maybe more,” he said.  “I have had an amazing season… But it’s not finished yet, so I want to try to finish it even stronger.” Then win the ATP Finals.

Jannik Sinner is playing really well, when he edged Ben Shelton in a  tight match, and then the Italian also beat  Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 6-4. He is just so strong.

Another one,  Andrey Rublev, can smash his forehand and his backhand. He can miss a few, but when he is very focused, he can drive it, 100 mph. He will face against Stefanos Tsitsipas  in the semis, and he has had a tough last two and a half months, yet when he is more patient, then he can be stop steady, and some good variant, too.

The other Americans are fading, when the No. 12 Tommy Paul lost and now he really has to win Paris next week. That will be a huge battle.

How about Frances Tiafoe, who won a match, which is good because he had been slumping. Is it time to wake up, again?

Ben Shelton wins his first event, grabs Tokyo

Ben Shelton

The last time that Andy Roddick won his first title, in 2001, he started to rise, and his first serve as well his forehand were massive.

On Sunday, in Tokyo, the young American Ben Shelton beat Aslan Karatsev 7-5, 6-1. Early on, when he started on the ATP Tour, the now 21-year-old was decent, but not yet. Currently though, his forehand and his backhand are much more consistent, and his first serve is harder. He is pretty good at the net, and his return is improving, month after month.

“We have been working really hard since the beginning to build my game and win titles on the ATP Tour. I made some deep runs lately,” Shelton said. “You see the great champions, they finish weeks off…I am really looking forward to this tail-end stretch of the year. I am looking forward to finishing the season strong.”

In 2001, for the first time in the United States, Roddick won in Atlanta, Houston, and Washington. Two years later, he won the 2003 U.S. Open when he was 21-years-old. Perhaps that Shelton can win a Grand Slam in the next  year, in 2024. He is really good, already.

Shelton still has some huge opportunities. He will play in Vienna, next week, and then in  Paris. He does have a small chance to play at the ATP Finals in Italy, the top 8, but in Vienna, he has to face the Np. 4, Jannik Sinner. That could be a brutal match, but Shelton is so enthusiastic. Even though he must be a little bit tired, he will jump into the court and race, super harsh.

Marcos Giron did lose to Shelton 6-7(2) 7-6(5) 6-4, but he was darn close. That was a positive weekend.

Alexander Bublik did win Belgium,  and he played terrific, but who about the 19-year-old Frenchman, Arthur Fils, who reached the final? He is very fast, running, and he can attack, early, but he needs to set up the points.

This was an amazing week from Gael Monfils, as the 37-year-old won Stockholm. He edged Pavel Kotov 4-6 7-6(6) 6-3, with his tremendous backhand. He has some super cool shots, everywhere. He might now win another tournament, but he look ecstatic…

Katerina Siniakova

Three of the WTA women took the titles, with Katerina Siniakova, Tamara Korpatsch, and Elise Mertens, who won his eight title, but only the six 250s. But that was very good. None of them will play the WTA Finals in Cancun, Mexico, in the singles, but Siniakova and her partners will play with Barbora Krejcikova
 again, as well as Mertens, who works with Storm Hunter…

 During this week, I will talk a lot about Mexico, D.F., where I lived for two years, my first job,  in the early 1980s, with a newspaper, called “Mexico City.” At that point, I worked a lot with the politics, but I also loved sports, so I would go to watch, with my job, and also to talk to with the players. There was some wild matches, like in Soccer, the Bulls, and of course, the tennis Davis Cup. Soon, I can remember something, the stories, and why…  

Who will reach the ATP Finals?

Hubert Hurkacz
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

“I could keep positive self-talk and then keep the belief until the end.”

How did Hubert Hurkacz win the tournament, in the ATP 1000 in Shanghai? He looked good, but at times, he is decent, but not fantastic again. But in the final, he beat Andrey Rublev 7-6 in the third set, grabbing it. He was so intense, when he had to.

“Andrey was playing some really good tennis, and I knew, you know, I got to produce the shots, so I was just trying to stay out there and compete as hard as I could and to keep positive self-talk and then keep the belief until the end. At the end of the day, it’s a final, and you want to just give it all you got out there,” Hurkacz said.

The Pole has now won two ATP 1000s, when the 26-year-old won Miami in 2021. He would really reach into the top 8, as he has yet to do it, but in the fall, he does have a decent change to snag it. Right after he won, the huge hitter went to Tokyo, and he lost in the first round, but he must have been tired, after so many shots in Shanghai. He still can qualify into the top 8 in the ATP Finals in Torino, but to do that, he is going to have go super deep in Paris in November. That is a massive challenge.

Rublev is close to qualify, and he really wants to win Paris, indoors, and to go into the ATP Finals again. He does have a decent shots, and he is very close with his terrific players, but he has to do something different with his strokes. Not everything, but some totally different.

Grigor Dimitrov had a very good tournament reaching the semis, beating Carlos Alcaraz in three sets. The Spaniard pulled out of the Swiss Indoors in Basel due to injury, so the chance of  end of the year is slim, although the No. 1 Novak Djokovic hasn’t decided to play Paris in singles, but he will, as last year, he reached the final, so he gained 600 points. If he does not go, in the singles, he actually will drop, and then what? He will play singles, too, with out a doubt.

Dimitrov has had no chance to get into the ATP 8, but he has had a decent season, so now in 2024, he can push himself, more consistently. … With the men, Ben Shelton and Sebastian Korda, are playing much better, and next year, the two young men will go further up in the charge…

Taylor Fritz just lost in Tokyo, and he is staining again. In Paris, if he reaches into the quarters, the No. 9 could go in the top 8, and qualified, but that is a big if. … What happened with Frances Tiafoe, who looked so good,but now, he is losing a lot. Is he is confused? … Maybe, just maybe, the No. 12 Tommy Paul can go berserk, win Tokyo and Paris and qualify for the ATP Finals.  That would be a stunner.

Grigor Dimitrov over Andrey Rublev in Shanghai semifinal

Grigor Dimitrov

Ten years ago in Brisbane, Australia, Grigor Dimitrov won the tournament, and he said that soon, not only can he beat anyone, but he can win a Grand Slam. He hasn’t yet, but the 32-year-old still has a chance, a small one, but something.

In Shanghai, he has reached into the semis, after beating Carlos Alcaraz  and Nicolas Jarry with some powerful strokes.

In 2017,  Dimitrov was locked in, at times, and he won Cincinnati 1000, as well as the ATP Finals in London. His confidence is rising, at least this week.

“I don’t think I did anything crazy in those moments, I just kept on believing in my game, kept going after my shots. I was trying to apply pressure with the hope that [Jarry]  might make a few mistakes, and he did,” Dimitrov said.

However, the Bulgarian will face against Andrey Rublev on Saturday. He could win, and he travels a lot, country to country, yet when he is on, he can move it around, all over the place, but also, his return is so-so. Plus his one harder with his backhand can be terrific, but Dimitrov will miss it, and to short. But he really likes to talk, off-court, which is good.

“[Beating Alcaraz] helps confidence-wise, but also it was just another match, if you think about it,” said Dimitrov. “I didn’t have much time to overthink it, I just had a little bit of a chat with the team and tried to see what I did pretty good, what worked, what didn’t, and what I could do better in the next round.  We didn’t have much time to think about that but of course I take all the positives out of it because you need to feed off this every single round.”  

If he beats Rublev and he reaches the final in the ATP 1000, it will be six years since his last final appearance at that level. That is a very long time.

Dimitrov over Rublev
Rublev looks terrific when he is playing very well, with his potent forehand and his backhand, But he can also blow it. However, in April on the clay, he won Monte-Carlo. Yes, just like everyone, he wants to win a Grand Slam, but how about this, win another at the ATP 1000, and then most people would think that in 2024, he can win a major. Dimitrov will grab it 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 over Rublev.

That was an incredible match when Seb Korda beat the other American Ben Shelton 6-7(10), 6-2, 7-6(6) to reach the semis. In the breaker, in the third set, it was a toss-up, but he hit some solid, deep, shots, and he won it. The two young players will face each other for a longish  time. Or not, as it depends who will go deep a lot. Sort of like Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal.

Korda will play versus Hubert Hurkacz, who has had a solid year, especially on the hard courts. At the Australian Open, in the fourth round, he lost against Korda 7-6(6) in the fifth set. What a crazy game. Now they will play each other again, on Saturday, and without a doubt, Hurkacz will hit so many aces. He can crack the ball, but the tall Polish person is is not running that fast. But two and a half years ago, he won Miami, and he did everything. However, in Shanghai, China, he will over-hit, and Korda will win it 5-7, 7-6 (3), 7-5.

Sebastian Korda upsets Daniil Medvedev, Shelton over Sinner

Sebastian Korda
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

At some point, each month, one of the players will climb, in front of you, and he be super consistent. How about  Sebastian Korda, who upset Daniil Medvedev 7-6(8) 6-2. Then he beat Francisco Cerundolo 7-5, 7-6 (6).

He has been so close over the last few years, but he has yet to reach into the top 20. He can be steady, and he smashes his forehand, but also, Korda can trip up. But in Shanghai,  when he beat the No. 3  Medvedev, it was the first time that he beat a top fiver. That was really important.

“I think one of the things that maybe disrupts him is  just being an aggressive player, going to the net,  slicing the ball, bringing him in. I think I do that really well, and I think it gives him a little bit of trouble,” Korda said.

He has not gone very deep at the ATP 1000s, but now it is time to do it. Not to win, but perhaps into the semis or the final, but he has to identify it.

Speaking of Ben Shelton, who reached in the semis at the US Open, he is rolling again. On Tuesday, he beat the Italian Jannik Sinner 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5), who just won Beijing, China. He was playing so much better now, after he won at Toronto, just before at the U.S. Open, and after he lost against Alexander Zverev, he re-set, and in China, last week, believe it or not, he beat Medvedev in the final. He is now ranked No. 4, and finally, on the court, he can mix it up, a lot. He is maturing, and more thoughtful, when he is returning.  Against the young, strong man Shelton, he was pretty patient, but the American grabbed it in the tiebreaker, hitting some wonderful strokes. Each month, he is thinking more, on the court. Believe it or not, he will face against Korda on Thursday. That will be very close, again. It is a toss-up, but Korda will snag it 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 in the third set.

 Frances Tiafoe lost again, and he may not reach into the top 8 at the ATP Finals in Turin, Italy. He is ranked No. 14, so to have any chance, he will have to go super deep in Paris, coming up. He has had an odd season, this year… Since he reached into the final at Roland Garros, then Casper Ruud fell down fast, but now it looks like he is trying to play well again. He really has to, but he lost against,losing against Fabian Marozsan 6-4 in the third set.

The American No. 12 Tommy Paul beats the 19-year-old Arthur Fils 6-4 in the third set. Paul has had the best year, ever, and he has a chance to reach into the ATP Finals,  but he has to go unlimited in Shanghai,  Paris and another couple of events.  Here he has to go against Andrey Rublev, who is a very tough player. He will  where him down in the third set. He will upset  Rublev 5-7, 7-6, 7-6…

J.J. Wolf is back, and he is healthy, again. He beat  Matteo Arnaldi 7-6 in the third, also a young player from  France. On court, Wolf  can really be angry, but he is very intense. However, he has to face against another Frenchman, Ugo Humbert. The No. 34  will trip Wolf in two, muscular sets.

Coco Gauff: ‘A weight lifted and I’m able to play more freer’

Coco Gauff

Will Coco Gauff  win match after match, as the American is so much better than she used to be. The 19-year-old might lose in China, but she did beat Veronika Kudermetova  7-6, 6-2, and the Russian was playing terrific, but in the second set, she looked tired. However, the American has improved her forehand, a lot, and she also has begun her return, much harder. The 2023 U.S. Open champion is smarter, when she is playing. She is rising, fast.

“I do think I feel more confident. I think having that win makes you more confident in these moments,” she said. “Especially the way the US Open went for me, a lot of three-set matches, a lot of tough moments.  I think it’s way more pressure in the Grand Slam than a 1000, even though there’s still pressure, but it’s just less. I’m able to handle these emotions more because of that experience.  Honestly, I do feel more confident stepping on court. Plus the way I kind of started on the scene, a lot of people wanted that for me and expected that from me. I feel like now it’s a little bit of a weight lifted and I’m able to play more freer, focus on the long-term and how to be able to set myself up to win even more.”

The No. 3 Gauff just beat Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-2, another very good player, which means that she is so steady. She is terrific at the net, and she is very fast, running. She hasn’t lost since Montreal, so if she can beat the former No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the semis in Beijing, China, then she will continue to be on the blaze.

How about Swiatek, who when she plays, and she is shut in, she can beat anyone, on the clay and the hardcourts.  She did win Poland, in July, but after that she did not win a title, losing against Gauff in Cincinnati. She has beaten her four times, yet Gauff out-hit her at the end. Both her forehand and her backhand are so strong, and her return is very aggressive, but the No. 2 can forget what she is thinking about herself. However, off court, she is more calm.

“I just kind of played what I felt I needed to and what I felt was right at the moment. Yeah, well, for sure the confidence level got higher when I just saw that I’m in control,” she said.

The Italian Jannik Sinner  won Beijing,China, beating the two Grand Slam players with Carlos Alcaraz  and Daniil Medvedev. Not many people can do that, but Sinner continues to remedy all around. The 22-year-old has lost to the very good players, which were close, but he couldn’t decide how to process. At the U.S. Open, he played against  Alexander Zverev in the fourth round, and he was pretty close, but in the fifth set, he over hit it. However, he was not  to sad, as last month, he won Toronto, the ATP 1000. He was ready to rumble, once again.

“I’m more proud about how I improved the level this year, mentally especially. I felt like or I feel that I’m much stronger,” he said. “Also physically I know that I have to work a lot, so this is an aspect where we are going to push a lot in end of the year, especially for the next year then.  But I felt like I was playing really consistent tennis throughout the whole year.”

The WTA Finals is now set with Aryna Sabalenka, Swiatek, Gauff, Elena Rybakina, Jessica Pegula,  Marketa Vondrousova, Ons Jabeur and Karolina Muchova. They will play in Cancun, Mexico, at the end of October.

In Shanghai, the ATP 1000, the odd Alexander Zverev lost against Roman Safiullin, who is playing well, but the German looks TIRED. Take a week off and recover…Three of the men won including Ben Shelton, Sebastian Korda and Christopher Eubanks. Will they stay during the weekend?

Kudermetova: ‘It was not an easy time for me … but now really happy’

Veronika Kudermetova

The Russian Veronika Kudermetova won a tournament at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, cracking over Jessica Pegula 7-5, 6-1. She has had some fine days, but there are also some negative events. Perhaps now, that each week, she will be more intense, on the court.

For example, she beat the 2023 US Open Coco Gauff  in Doha in February in the quarters, and then the four time champ  Iga Swiatek smoked her 6-0, 6-1, fast. Then in the semis at Madrid, the Polish person, she smashed her 6-1, 6-1. Then it looked like that Kudermetova was panicking. Yes, she can mash the ball, both sides, but then, she can throw in some many strange errors.  After on the grass,  and she was decent, but not great, and then in the next five tournaments, she lost very early. However, last week, she rose up, finally stopping Swiatek 6-2, 2-6, 6-4. Right after that, she upset the No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka 7-6, 6-7, 6-3. That was almost a miracle.

”I’m really happy because before, it was not an easy time for me, it was really tough moments,” Kudermetova said. “Now I’m really happy and I have a lot of motivation for the next weeks.”

They are playing in the Beijing Open, and while it  is not easy to play great again, she will battle. Sabalenka has had a interesting year, as she has improved her serve, and she is more solid. However, she does not like to get up to the net in the singles, and maybe she should, and make some different shots. Of course her forehand and her backhand are terrific, and her return is spot on. However, she has not won an event since Madrid during May, and while she has gone deep a lot, she can also be confused. In the final the U.S. Open, she look pretty darn good, but in the third set, she went down, and she lost versus Gauff 6-2, 3-6, 6-2. However, she wants to be motivate.

“I’m a world No. 1 right now, but it’s not just about become world No. 1, I think it’s about finish the year as world No. 1 and stay there as long as you can,” Sabalenka said. “It was good that I was able to achieve this goal, but there is another goal. I’m super motivated right now.  My biggest takeaway was that I need to learn how to finish the points on the net. We worked a lot on my volley game. [In the U.S. Open final]  I got over-emotion there. I wasn’t controlling myself. I was thinking all over the place in that second set. So, yeah, that’s was the biggest takeaway.  I have to, no matter what, stick to the plan and just do what I have to do on court, just kind of like shut down all those thoughts.  Also, it’s not like I don’t know how to play volleys. I used to play doubles a lot. Just to be brave to go there, you know? We worked a lot after US Open on that. I took couple of days off just to switch off and forgot about tennis because it was a really tough, tough loss for me. It was super emotional. Yeah, took couple of days off, then I start working again.”

There she is, motivation. In the first round, she just destroyed the American, Sofia Kenin. Maybe she is ready to take down everyone in China, but almost all the players are there.  Ons Jabeur just won the Ningbo Open, in China. So now she is happy again. Many people think that the 16-year-old  Mirra Andreeva of Russia is darn good, as she just upset  Barbora Krejcikova, and excellent player. In another year, if she is healthy, then she might be in the top 30 and then we will know how good she is.

 It did take Gauff a couple years to improve her forehand and her return, and currently, she are better now. She could win China, as long as she can snap the lines.