Archives for January 2024

Australian Open men’s final: Sinner over Medvedev

Jannik Sinner
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

When you play for the first time, in a Grand Slam, then he can raise up so high, but if he is so nervous, then he can fold, quickly. That is not Daniil Medvedev, who won the 2022 US Open two years ago, yet the young Italian, Jannik Sinner, has not done it yet. On Sunday night, he will charged up, or will he panic, early? It is hard to saw, but over the years, the great players were shaky, early, and then, they will focus and look for the prize.

Sinner, was tremendous in the semis, when he blasted against the No. 1 Novak Djokovic, with some wonderful forehands and his backhands, running everywhere. He can flat it out, and he can also spin it. His serves are pretty hard, close to the corners, and when he returns, he can push it deep, here and there.

But that does not mean that he is even close to be perfect, yet, as while he has beaten a number of fine players, but he has lost in some tight matches. Sinner is growing up, but he needs to grab it, as soon as possible, right now. Really, you never know when you start, as over many decades, many players have shut down, such as Kevin Anderson, Kei Nishikori , Marcos Baghdatis,  Rainer Schüttler, David Nalbandian, and on and on.

However, the 22-year-old   Sinner, is more aggressive, and he can also think inside within his head. He can beat him, but to do it again, he must attack with his forehand, and really hustle. His tennis coach and his broadcaster, Darren Cahill, said, “When you play a certain style of tennis and you keep taking losses, you can’t keep doing the same thing. You have to change and your game has to evolve. That’s what Jannik has been attempting to do for the last couple of years. That’s a great quality and that’s what he needs to continue to do. Never stop evolving and never stop getting better.”

He has to, as Medvedev knows exactly how to play, when he is locked in. He can lose, and he has, here and there, but when he is feeling good, he can throw some tremendous shots. His forehand and his backhand are so solid, and he can blitz the ball. He edged over Alexander Zverev in five sets, a brutal one. He lost against Sinner three in the fall, so he does know how to try to beat him, and he has to change it.

“I said before the tournament, I want a change, I want to become better with myself,” Medvedev said. “To not have after the matches these moments where I’m like, ‘I did this with the crowd, why did I do it? Did it help me?’ I just don’t want to have it any more. I want to play tennis, I want to be proud of myself, I want to fight.”

However,  Sinner beat Medvedev three times in the fall, at Beijing, Vienna, and the ATP Final in Italy.  That was very good, but Medvedev beat Sinner six times, so it is darn close.

He will try to be totally confident, and more thoughtful.  

“The three matches, all of them were tough. Two tie-breaks and two three-setters,” Medvedev said. “I had my chances. All of them were in the end of the season where I felt like I was not at my 100 percent, even if I was playing pretty good. I was maybe at 97, 96 per cent, and against him you need to be at 100.”

Regardless, Sinner will win it in five wild sets.  

Australian Open men’s semifinals

Alexander Zverev
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Alexander Zverev rose up so high, in a late match when he took down the No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz in four sets, 6-1, 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-4. Two year ago, the German was very close to win a Grand Slam for the first time, but he hurt himself in Roland Garros, on the court, and he had to retire. After that, he couldn’t play for months.

But finally, he is much better then he has, with his huge forehand, his backhand, and also, when he serves. He is more consistent, when he is there, reaching. Yes, he has lost some mediocre matches,  and his return and also at the net, he misses some easy shots. Yet Zverev can be very steady, and he can also mix it up.  

Alcaraz can look spectacular, but he is very young, so he won’t be perfect all the times. But on Friday, Zverev will have to play fantastic again, as he will have to face again Daniil Medvedev

Zverev can be controlling, consistent, and aggression He did against Alcaraz.

“I was rushing him quite a lot,’ said Zverev. “I was playing extremely aggressive, kind of taking the racquet out of his hands. You have to do that against him. If you let him control the points, control the pace of the game, he’s unbeatable,” he said. “He’s the best player in the world when it comes to that. I really had to take it into my own hands and I felt like I did that well.”

At Roland Garros, when he suffered a huge injury against Rafa Nadal, that would put him out of action for the entire year. When Zverev came back, and he looked so-so, but he knew that it would take him a long time to become much more solid.

He has a huge challenge, as last year, Daniil Medvedev beat him five times, and he lost just one versus Zverev . The Russian is more consistent, and he can react, with his forehand and her backhand. He is not great at the net, but he can return if he can find it.  They know each other well, so to win it, Zverev will have to change him, point after point. One way or another, Medvedev will beat him, again.

The No. 1 Djokovic will play against the Italian, Jannik Sinner, in the semis,  in the other semifinal.


The 22-year-old  is more aggressive, and he can also think inside within his head. In the ATP Finals in November, he upset Djokovic in there first match, but then in the final, the Serbian out hit him, backhand to backhand. Sinner can beat him, but to do it again, he must attack with his forehand, and really hustle.

“This is what I practice for, to play against the best players in the world,” Sinner said. “Obviously [Novak] has an incredible record here, so for me it’s a pleasure to play against him, especially in the final stages of the tournament where things are a little bit more interesting I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be tough. I will control the controllable, which is giving 100 percent, having the right attitude, fighting for every ball.” He will bring it into the fifth set, but agains. the No. 1 Djokovic will hit some amazing shots and he will grab it, one more times.

Australian Open day 8: Fritz: ‘It’s one-sided with Novak’

Novak Djokovic

It is possible that  Taylor Fritz will finally upset Djokovic for the first time, but the No. 1 has all but  dominated him, over eight matches. The American is playing well in Melbourne, yet when they hit the balls, backhand against backhand, the Serbian is much more consistent. At the 2021 Aussie Open, Fritz was close to trip Djokovic, but the current No. 1 pounded him in the fifth set and he grabbed it, 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2. He was more comfortable, while Fritz was shaky.

After that, they played another five matches and Djokovic won it, winning 11 sets. He will have to do something much better on the hardcourts, because his serves and his forehand will have to be spot on.

“Since then when I’ve played him, I’ve played pretty poor, I think. I think that I have a lot more level to bring than I’ve previously brought against him. As far as playing me, hasn’t ever had a reason to change up what he’s doing or change strategy because it’s always gone his way,” Fritz said. “I think there are people that I have played quite a bit over the years who I’ve gone back and forth. Maybe I win, maybe I lose. Between us we’ve made a lot of adjustments to the game plan and changed a lot of things around. I mean, it’s been one-sided with Novak. I feel like he’s played me pretty much the same every time.”

He is going to have to. He cannot complain, or become two frustrated, so just go out and try to frustrated him. In general, Djokovic  is more knowledge, on the court, and once again, he will win it in four, tough, sets.  

The No. 4 Coco Gauff is so clean, when she is playing, hitting with some excellent, deep   returns. Her backhand is so strong, wherever she wants to, and at the net, she can also put it away, everywhere. The 19-year-old has won “just” one Grand Slam, but she is much more appropriate now, as two years ago, her forehand was sloppy. However, she does have to focus all the time, as she has to face against  Marta Kostyuk, another player who is trying to rise. The  21-year-old Ukraine can be somewhat decent, and she can also try to hit it down the lines, but this year, she has not gone deep, hardly at all. Against Gauff , she has to try to attack, early. However, the American will bash her, to win it in two solid, sets.

There are two other matches which should be some dusty, close contests, when Aryna Sabalenka will go against Barbora Krejcikova, and also, Jannik Sinner will face versus  Andrey Rublev. Sabalenka  did win the AO last year, here, while Krejcikova  won another major, when she won Roland Garros. Sabalenka is a jumbo hitter, from both sides, while Krejcikova is excellent at the net. If Sabalenka manages to serve consistently, rather than to chuck in a lot of double faults, then she can set it up and nail it into the corners. The Czech Krejcikova can get it early, and find where she is going, but she has to be very careful. She is intense again, and she will beat Sabalenka in three, difficult sets.

Italian Jannik Sinner is still young, but each few months, he looks sharp, on the court. He is a lofty hitter, and his serves are close into the corners. He still has to be better when he is returning, and bending down when he is close at the net. Russian Rublev can also attempt to drive him measureless, and he can play with his huge forehand. Sinner has beaten him the past two times when he won it at Miami and Vienna, so he can raid it,  earlier. Sinner will win it in five, harsh sets.

Australian Open, Day 4: Time to really rally

Taylor Fritz

Some of the American men are still in the tournament in Melbourne, after they won two matches. That is not spectacular yet, but it is very good. The young, rising Ben Shelton, has to face against the solid veteran,  Adrian Mannarino, when the Frenchman can be so steady, and he can mix it up a lot. The San Diego man can get frustrated, when he is not playing well, but week after week, he is now more consistent, especially with his second serve and at the net. But in the court, he has to focus almost all of the time, or he can lose, when he stops.

Taylor Fritz has been up and down over the past five months, when the current No. 12 lost some odd matches, yet it is time for him to attack more, and to return it deeper, if he can. When he is on, he look sharp, and he can put it away. However, if he wants to go back into the top 5 this year, he must be staunch. He will face against Fabian Marozsan.

Believe or not, Sebastian Korda is close to be right there, to look much better than he was last year. Yes, he was injured himself, so he wasn’t perfect at all, but at least he is trying to more patient. However, he has to go up against Andrey Rublev, who is a very tough opponent. The Russian is very powerful, when he is on, and he can smile, to hit it both sides.  Plus, the No. 5 wants to improve his volley, and also, closing at the net. Korda has to knock him down, or Rublev will out-hit, him.

How about that the American, Alex Michelsen, who won today. He is only 19 years old, and he lives in California. He is pretty tall, and he can crush the ball, but he is still pretty young, so when he has to face against Alexander Zverev , he is going to have to play every second.  

Both  Frances Tiafoe and Christopher Eubanks lost today.  again. Which of the U.S. American men will win a Slam this season, or even to do it in the ATP 1000? It is possible, but can they beat Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz? The challenge is on…

Aussie Open preview: Gauff, Rybakina, Rublev

Grigor Dimitrov
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

There have been some upsets in last week’s tournaments.

Grigor Dimitrov won Brisbane, beating Holger Rune7-6(5), 6-4 in the final. He has come close over the years, but he had not won an event since 2017 at the ATP Finals. However, the Bulgarian can be so consistent, when he is feeling it, and he can also throw in some terrific shots. He is currently ranked No. 13,  so he can look very steady, but then, he can back up and chuck in some wild shots. But the very talkative person can discuss his life, on court, and even off court, he really does how he feels. He cried when he won another title.

“I think there’s a lot of emotions on so many different levels for me,” Dimitrov said. “I think clearly winning a title, it means a lot to me. It’s been a while. I think having that moment is in a way what I’m after.”

Dimitrov actually thinks that at the Australian Open, he can go far, again. In 2017, at Brisbane, he won it when he beat Kei Nishikori in the final. Then in Melbourne, he was flying high, knocking off Richard Gasquet in the quarters, and finally, at night, in the semis, Rafa Nadal beat him in five, fantastic sets.

Next week, in the Grand Slams, Dimitrov will be secure again, but in the past 11 majors, he hasn’t reached into the quarters, so it is time to swell again.

“It humbles me in the same time because I feel like I’ve been playing good tennis, and I also feel there’s a little bit more that I can get better at on a few more things,” he said. “Who knows, if those things go right, what else might be coming my way.”

The No. 5 Andrey Rublev also won, winning Hong Kong,  last week. He really needed that, as at the 2023 ATP Finals, he did not win a match. He looked pretty tired. However, in the fall, the important person looked very clean, when he reached the final in Shanghai, beating Dimitrov in the semis, and then finally, he lost versus Hubert Hurkacz. He was close enough, but week to week, he can be looked depressed, and angry , in the court. Still, the Russian can look classic, at times, so this year, he should reach into the semis at the Slams, for the first time, if he can, as last year, in January, he played against Novak Djokovic, and the Serbian crushed him in just seven games. He has to be much better, ASAP.

The No.3 Coco Gauff kicked off early, winning Auckland, edging  Elina Svitolina  6-7(4) 6-3, 6-3. It was pretty close, but her backhand, her first serve and at the net, she controlled it.

“It was not my best level of play, but sometimes, when you are not at your best and you win, it makes you more satisfied,” Gauff said.

“It gives me a lot of confidence beating Elina. It was cool seeing how I handled the pressure especially after losing the first set. I was proud of the mental fight I showed today.”

She is 19-years-old, and she is growing, gradually, or maybe she will be more quickly. Her forehand is now improved, and while at times it isn’t very deep enough, she seems to unavoidably to do. When they are teenages, they are so excited that she wants to play all the times, and sometimes it will do the same things, wherever you can, and other times, they don’t focus all the time, on the court. She may become  No. 1 eventually, but at the last two tournament, in October and November, she lost against the current top player, Iga Swiatek. The Poland person is still the most complete player week after week. Gauff

has to put together with her strokes, more often.  She has to, as last year at the 2023 Aussie Open, she lost in the fourth round against the huge hitter, Jelena Ostapenko. This time, the American has to be totally inhibited.

How about Elena Rybakina who also won, smashing over  Aryna Sabalenka 6-0, 6-3.  What a blow out. When she is so consistent, and caring, then she can stay in there, but last year, she looked very good, but then, she would explode, and then she made some many errors. The crazy thing is that the Russian reached into the final at the 2023 Aussie Open, and it looked like she could win her second Grand Slam, but   Sabalenka out hit her with her massive  forehand, to win it 6-4 in the third. They did that again, three more times, and they split, it. It will occur time and time again, as both of them will go dish deep at the majors. It is some  terrific matches.


Rafa Nadal pulled out of the Australian Open as once again, his legs are  beating down. He is 37-years old,  and pretty soon, he will retire.Maybe this year, or next, it is hard to say, but it is ticking, faster…

In Adelaide, Tommy Paul and  Sebastian Korda are playing this week, and in Auckland Ben Shelton is playing. A young Frenchman, Arthur Fils, who is winning a lot. If they have a great week, then at the Slams, they can leap so early…The same goes with the Aussie Alex de Minaur, when it took him a while to be more consistent, and now, finally, he cracks the Top 10 for the first time. The must have been huge.  He is coached by two players who went very deep at the Slams including Sergi Bruguera, and Sebastien Grosjean.