The Picks in Rome: Tuesday, May 16

Alexander Zverev
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Alexander Zverev  over J.J. Wolf
It is pretty clear that the German Zverev can be erratic, and he can also lift up high when he is reacting. He does know  that when he is feeling stellar, then he can not to just mix it, but he is pointed. However, he has not played great this season, but he is gradually playing better, due to his injure.

The former Grand Slam champion Boris Becker says that Zverev has to go back to the basics. That is exact what Becker used to do when he was on court.

“That’s in the past, and 12 months later, the stark reality is brutal. That’s the sport. He is fit again but can’t manage to match the form he had a year ago. There are many reasons for that,” he told Eurosport Germany’s Das Gelbe vom Ball. “What is important, and he is always extremely self-critical, is that he realizes this, that he is honest with himself and doesn’t blame bad luck, bad fortune, wind or too hot a sun – but the fact that he doesn’t play enough. I am sure he will address this in his team and then also train better again. In my opinion, Zverev is not playing tennis properly at the moment.”

Now that is a very controversial, but at least he decided to be honest, even though when he was playing on tour, at times, Becker could dismiss his comments. Zverev must have read it, but beyond that he has to out-hit Wolf, who can play vast  when he is on. The American is pretty intense, and he can also be jolly consistent. On clay, though, it will be a huge challenge to out-hit Zverev. Wolf will make the attempt, but Zverev will bash his forehand and win it in a three, super long, set.

Lorenzo Musetti over Frances Tiafoe
The Italian has always been pretty good on the clay, and over the past two months, he has knocked down some very good competitors. The young Musetti can be hitting it hard, pretty deep, with his forehand and his backhand. When he is feeling good, he can smash the ball. However, he still has a good amount to prove that he will add more on his game.

As he said, when he asked about the multi champion Roger Federer, he watched him a lot.  “”I like everything about him, but if I have to highlight one aspect I would say it’s his style. It’s something unique, the combination of fun and elegance, like the ability to play relaxed and calm.” Musetti said. “I try to be like him, I have less control and sometimes I’m more nervous on the court, so I think I can do better if I compare myself to Federer. But I think there are details where we have similarities, for example in movements, which is something I’ve always tried to do since I was a child.”

The same goes with Tiafoe, who always listens to watch many players. On the hardcourts, he has been dominating at times, but recently, he set back, a little bit. On the clay, he has to rally for a long time, until he will has a good chance to rip it on the ball. He may do it, but here in Rome, the fans will be cheering so hard to watch   Musetti  win the match. He will do it, in three, exhausting, sets.

Paula Badosa over Karolina Muchova
Over the past five weeks, the Spaniard finally started to play much better. She still has a substantial improvement on the court, moving around, and really understand where she has to go.  

Badosa revealed some changes that she is planning on implementing. “I see that the players are starting to get to know me, so we have decided to change some things in my game and make tactical adjustments. It is not easy, in the middle of a game, to change the position of return or hit a parallel in a difficult situation, but I’m on that path so I have to continue on that path,” Badosa  said.

Muchova can be very consistent, and she also likes to wreck her backhand. Her forehand is pretty good, but it can also be short, and her first serve can also be huge, but her second serve can be slow. These two have put together some terrific wins, but on the clay in the slow Rome, Badosa will take it in three, bizarre, sets. 

Veronika Kudermetova over Qinwen Zheng
Last year,  in September in Tokyo, Zheng beat Kudermetova  5-7, 6-3, 7-6(3). It was a super close match, when the young player put together some  incredible rallies. She is very quick, she is also pretty steady, but she still has to hit the ball harder. Plus, the 20-year-old really likes on the hardcourts, but on the clay, she is still figuring it out.

Kudermetova appears to be better week after week. She played a fine tournament in Madrid, reaching the semis, beating a couple very good players. However, in the final, Iga Swiatek  smoked her. Kudermetova is a big hitter, but her forehand can be out of control, but when the Russian is locked in, then she can smack it into the corners. She still needs to be more consistent, and they both do, but on Tuesday, Kudermetova  will win it in three, hardcore, sets.

Jannik Sinner over Francisco Cerundolo
Even on clay, the Italian is much more consistent, he swings hard with his forehand and his backhand, and also, he is better at the net. He is young, and he does get upset, but when he is really thinking about what he is going, then even after he made a lot of errors, Sinner can re-set it. He can be intense, and so is Cerundolo, and he does hit some huge shots, into the corner. This year, he has won a couple, tough, excellent matches, beating Felix Auger-Aliassime and Casper Ruud. However, he also lost pretty early.

The No. 8 Sinner has put together some fine matches on the hardcourts and while he still has to figure out on the clay, he is gradually improving. Sinner will win it in three, grinding, sets.

The Picks in Barcelona, Munich, Stuttgart: Thursday, April 20

Dan Evans
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Picks written on Wednesday, before play started.


Daniel Evans over Karen Khachanov
This is somewhat surprising  that Evans has a 3-0 head to head, not because that he can be so steady, but also, he found away to trouble him. Khachanov is ranked No. 11, and he has gone somewhat deep at the big tournaments on the hard courts, but he cannot figure him out on the clay. They have played only on the hard courts, so this time, it will be on the dirt. Because of that, there will be long rallies, and while the Russian can crush the ball, he can fall down. With that, the veteran Evans will win it again, with two, odd, sets.


Alexander Zverev over Christopher O’Connell
You never now how the German stands up, on the court and off.  There has to be thousands of fans, watching Zverev, on the court, hitting some tremendous shots, and throwing in a number of winners. Yes, he can be angry when he is not playing well, but now he is more patient with his thoughts.

The Australian O’Connell has had a mediocre year, losing a lot, but at least he upset over Roberto Bautista Agut in Doha, and then believe it or not, in Dubai, he beat Emil Ruusuvuori. Then he tried to shock Zvereva, but he went down  7-5, 6-4. Not so bad, but it was gone. O’Connell can be steady, yet  Zverev really knows how to play, and he will win in two, simple sets.


Coco Gauff over Anastasia Potapova
The American Gauff somehow came over from the ocean and apparently, she wasn’t tired, so in the court, she won it 7-6 in the third set over Daria Kasatkina.  She is a teenager, so she rarely gets tired, but this time her legs can start to crumple, but not that time. She did reach into the 2022 Roland Garros final,  and then she lost, but her backhand was tremendous.
The 22-year-old Potapova is rising, as each month, she is improving her volley. Last year, she had some solitary matches, but on clay at Istanbul, Turkey, she won it all, not against the great players, but good enough. The Russian is so intense, on the court, and while at Indian Wells and Miami, she lost against Jessica Petula, twice, but it was super close. This is a toss up, as they are both want to win a gigantic tournament, yet right now,  Gauff will edge her in three, very long, sets.

Elena Rybakina  over Beatriz Haddad Maia
The Russian Rybakina played a terrific tournament, winning Indian weeks, and at Miami when she reached the final, beating Jessica Petula in the semis. She did lose in the final, but she played so hard with some incredible strokes.  She never really became tired, which means she is incredible shape.
However, even though Rybakina won at the 2022 Wimbledon, she has yet to understand on the clay, when you have to totally change it up. 

Believe it or not, the Brazilan Haddad Maia beat in Abu Dhabi in February, in the quarters, in three crazy sets. Maybe  Rybakina  was mentally tired, but Haddad Maia  had some insane shots. She is fast, and steady, but there are times when she becomes confused. Because of that, Rybakina wants to revenge her, and she will win it in three, fun, sets.

Matt’s yesterday picks

Correct: Marcos Giron over Alexander Ritschard
Correct: Novak Djokovic over Luca van Assche

Matt’s current week picks

7 out of 7: 100% correct

The Picks on clay in Monte-Carlo Masters: Thursday, April 13

Alexander Zverev
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Daniil Medvedev over Alexander Zverev
The Russian has had a tremendous year, on the hard courts, but now he has to stay very aggressive on the clay. Most of the time, Medvedev can rally, side to side, and wait until he has a chance to nail on the lines. However, on clay, it is clear that you have to be patient for a long, long time.

The German Zverev is gradually back, on the court, as the No. 2  became hurt, he had to stay for a while. Just like with Medvedev, Zverev almost won the 2020 U.S. Open, but he could not do it. Zverev can be very steady, and also, he can crush the ball with his forehand and his backhand. Mentally, he is fragile, so if he wants to go back into the top five, he has to measure up.  Zverev will continue to play better, gradually, yet Medvedev is right there, who wants to be No. 1 this season. Medvedev will defeat Zverev in three, brutal sets.

Novak Djokovic over Lorenzo Musetti
The Italian appears to be  playing a decent match, given that this year, he has been mediocre, at best. The 19-year-old did throw in some terrific contests in 2022, but then he went down, fast. Against the No. 1 Djokovic, Musetti has to play almost perfectly to upset him. The Serbian can do almost everything, but his forehand can miss it during the rallies. His backhand is super steady, and his return is phenomenal. It will be a huge opportunity, to upset Djokovic, but Musetti is still not ready to reaching into the top 10, yet. Djokovic will win in two, hard sets.

Matteo Berrettini will upset Holger Rune in three sets, as they are both struggling, but the Italian wants to rise, ASAP. … Hubert Hurkacz has had a pretty good year, but on the clay, he cannot handle it, yet. Therefore, Jannik Sinner will win it,in two sets over Hurkacz as he has played amazing at Indian Wells and Miami. Mr. Rising.

Matt’s yesterday picks

Correct: Holger Rune over Dominic Thiem
Stan Wawrinka over Taylor Fritz

Matt’s current week picks

3 out of 6: 50% correct

Rafa Nadal wins Roland Garros, but will he play Wimbledon?

Rafael Nadal

Rafa Nadal reached his 14th final at Roland Garros. And, he has won them all. On Sunday he easily won, stepping on Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-3, 6-0.

He lost just six games. He played almost seamless. The new comer, Ruud, could not get in and find any kind of a solution. He was battered.

Nadal was already to sprint on the clay, and he poked it to take-no-prisoners.

Nadal, who now has won 14 majors in Paris, and overall, he has 22 Grand Slams. He is the current best player ever.

The “King of Clay” is ahead of Novak Djokovic, who has 20 Slams, and also, Roger Federer has 20, too. It is possible that Djokovic can win a few more Grand Slams, and if the Swiss returns at some point, the 40-year-old Federer will have a slight chance to win again, but that would be almost impossible because he has been seriously injured a lot in the past few years.
The 36-year-old Nadal is also hurt quite a bit. He has to decide to play Wimbledon in a couple more weeks, as his foot is very sore, so much so that he couldn’t feel it. The doctor helped him, each day, and he managed to not only smack his phenomenal forehand, but his backhand is so steady. Plus, at the net, he can just put it away, and at the drop shots, too.

Will Nadal go to Wimbledon?

“If I am able to play with anti-inflammatories, yes – to play with anesthetic injections, no. I don’t want to put myself in that position again,” Nadal said. “That’s what we are gonna try. If that works, I gonna keep going. If that not works, then gonna be another story. And then I gonna ask to myself about if I am ready to do a major thing… a major surgery that don’t guarantee me to be able to be competitive again and it gonna take a long time to be back.”

If he does not play, Djokovic will be there, the favorite [who Nadal beat him in the quarters at RG]. Alexander Zverev looked terrific at RG, and then he wrenched his leg and he retired against Nadal. It would be surprising that Zverev can actually play at Wimbledon.

England announced that Russia and Belarus cannot play there, due to the terrible Russian invasion into Ukraine. So at least right now, the No. 2 Daniil Medvedev won’t be there, as well as Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov, among others.

It is early, but in a few weeks perhaps that Stefanos Tsitsipas, Carlos Alcaraz and Felix Auger-Aliassime will ready to touch on the grass.

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.

Shapovalov: ‘I’ve been doing much better, as I’ve grown’

Denis Shapovalov

Canadian Denis Shapovalov played many tournaments last year. He traveled the world, probably too much, so he needed some time off. Even last year, he grabbed some big matches, such as the Wimbledon semis. But he would be mediocre, and he lost. In 2021, he was pretty good, but not great, yet. He won 30 matches, and 23 losses.

But this week, he grew up fast, with his strong forehand and backhand, and his return, too. On Saturday, he stunned Alexander Zverev 6-3, 7-6, 6-3. Going into the tournament, the German had a chance to win a Grand Slam, but in Melbourne, that day, the No. 3 was very flat. Yes, there were a few moments, when he began to turn it around, but he dumped in a number of key errors, and then he started to slid
But not so for the No. 14 Shapovalov, who was totally focused. He would bend down, he would jump in the air, and smack the ball. He kept on going, he locked in, sprinting side to side.

Now, on Tuesday, he will face 20-time Grand Slam winner Rafa Nadal. That is a gigantic challenge. Shapovalov is not favored but believes that he can upset the Spaniard. It is possible, but in Rome, on clay, Nadal beat him 7-6 in the third.
“I’m definitely expecting a long battle out there. Obviously, he makes you play a lot,” Shapovalov said. “His defense is very good. He’s very good at what he does. So gonna have to try to play my game, take it to him and keep doing what I have been doing; playing patient, fighting for every point, picking my spots to play aggressively.

“There was a lot of doubts once I got to Australia with the quarantine, having gotten COVID, not sure how I would take it, not sure I would be able to play ATP Cup. Obviously very happy with the way I’m feeling, coming out of quarantine, playing ATP Cup, had a little bit of doubts, wasn’t ready to play the first match and worked my way through the tournament and started to feel back to normal towards the end of that week,” Shapovalov said. “So it was a good sign. And then coming here, I had a couple of aches and wasn’t feeling 100% physically. So wasn’t practicing that much and just trying to prepare the body as best as possible.

“Yeah, just really happy with where I am in terms of my game, in terms of the level right now. Obviously, every day is different. But I feel like with every match I have gained a little bit of confidence and a little bit of comfort playing on these courts. I’m just pleased overall with my game so far and my fighting spirit. Yeah, just battling out in every single match. Hopefully I can continue going this way.”
In Canada, Shapovalov was a little bit too slow, but he practiced all the time on his footspeed. He can hustle, and chip it all around. The most important thing, though, he can be patient until it was right there and leap it on. That is why he knocked off Zverev.

“It’s definitely something I’ve been learning to do. Hasn’t come natural to me, unfortunately,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to play quick and go for my shots. But it’s difficult when you play a guy with the caliber like Sascha. You can’t go through him in one or two shots. You have to stay in the rallies, you have to work for the points. Then when you have an opportunity then you can swing in and go for it. It’s been a little bit of adapting to that. I’ve been doing it much better, as I’ve grown. Hopefully I can just continue to improve that and really know when to pick my moments to go for it and to play aggressive.” 2021 year-end review: top 5-1, the men

novak djokovic

5. Andrey Rublev
The Russian played 28 tournaments this year, which is perhaps way too much. When he is playing wonderfully, he can smack the lines. He only won a title this season, grabbing Rotterdam, and he reached three more finals, which was a positive. Even though he is a big hitter, he couldn’t break down the top players, losing versus Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev. He was close, but he has to be more patient, and to go for winners early. Plu,s he has to return better and make sure that he smacks second served deeper into the court. He is young enough. If he wants to beat the top 5, then he must improve even more if he wants to win a Slam someday.

4. Stefanos Tsitsipas
At the beginning of 2021 at the Australian Open, he upset Rafa Nadal in five amazing sets, and then in the semis, he lost versus Daniil Medvedev. That was fine, because his body was tired. He did win Monte Carlo and Lyon, on clay, and then he went to Roland Garros. He reached the final, beating Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev. Tsitsipas was red hot. However, once again, the amazing Novak Djokovic edged him 6-4 in the fifth set. Then he slipped a little bit, with no more finals from July through November. As he said, perhaps he is playing way too much and needed to get some rest. “Mentally mostly. Not so much physically,” Tsitsipas said. “Like, too much tennis. When your brain gets used to certain patterns all the time, certain game style and everything, the way you’ve been playing all the time, that works for you, your brain sometimes gets really tired of it and wants to change some things. That’s why I start missing those forehands that I never miss. The brain sometimes cannot cope.” Next year, he is ready to go from major finalist to Grand Slam winner.

3. Alexander Zverev
The German really had a great year, winning six events, winning two ATP 1000’s in Madrid and Cincinnati, as well as winning the ATP Finals. He has grown up a lot, on court, that is. Yes, he can be cocky in the press, but he also has been more thoughtful. He is very vigorous, and he can bash the ball, with a very good serve. He is not wonderful at the net, but he does really likes to rallies and yank it side to side. He really wants to win his first Slam next year and move past letting the 2020 US Open slip through his hands. When he reaches into the final again, he should blitz immediately and put his opponents on their heels.

2. Daniil Medvedev
The Russian took a long time to reach Grand Slam glory and he finally grabbed it, winning at the 2021 US Open in his third major final. Many people thought that Djokovic would out-hit him, but the very tall man kept banging hard. His offense was banging big ground strokes and he can also run and play defensively. He sent the ball low and flat, crosscourt, too. The clever, dogged Medvedev started to combine different strategies, using his height to his advantage when serving, getting a lot of free points. He also prevailed in Madrid and also the Davis Cup Final. Yes, the 25-year-old can be mediocre here and there, but next year, he will have a huge shot to become No. 1.
1. Novak Djokovic
The 34-year-old has won 86 titles, and assuming he will be healthy in 2022-24, he will get to 100 titles. That is a huge amount, just like Roger Federer (103 wins) and Rafa Nadal (88 wins). The Serbian finally became No. 1 in 2011, when he won 11 titles, winning the Australian Open, Roland Garros and the US Open. At the beginning, he was very good, but not yet great. He was already almost at the top of the charts, like his backhand and his speed. But he had to work his forehand, his serve and at the net. Eventually, he did improved, year after year, which is why he has won 20 Grand Slams. His forehand is historic, much more when he started to hit more flat; his first and second serve are so close on the lines; and when he serves, he can scramble and put it away at the net. Hard to believe that winning three Slams and getting to the final of the last can make for a disappointment. Winning four Grand Slams in a year is rare and remarkable. But, for Djokovic, three was good enough. Next year, the brilliant player will attempt to do it again. It is improbable, but why not, as clearly, he wants to be the best player ever.

Coming of age: Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe reach the finals

Taylor Fritz

No. 1 Novak Djokovic is back, planning to play again in Paris this week. During the summer, he looked mind blowing, but, once in a while, he can lost. You cannot be perfect each match.

However, in the US Open final, Daniil Medvedev was so patient and powerful. The No. 2 is also in France, along with Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas. The so-called top four.

Zverev just won in Vienna, beating American Frances Tiafoe, 7-5 6-4. Zverev crushed his serves, and he had no double-faults. He was patient and courtly. Since the summer, he began to re-think of what he had to do. For example, when he missed a few bad shots, he used to get very agitated. But now, he will turn it around and be super intent. Not only can he bust the ball, Zverev also he can meld it up. He is feeling startling competent.

Tiafoe had a terrific week. He did not win, but he has the best week this year. He took down three very good players, stunning Jannik Sinner, Diego Schwartzman and Tsitsipas. He is playing consistently and more aggressive. His esteem has finally rose. He needs to return better and, at the net, but both his forehand and his backhand is tracking deeper.

Taylor Fritz reached the final in St. Petersburg, but he lost, too. However, he was very close against the veteran, Marin Cilic. Both of them like to pummel the balls, but they also like to rally. Cilic won 7-6(3) 4-6 6-4, and he toughed it out. There are times when he is loose with little self-confidence, and there are times when he can focus. This year, he has been so-so. But, on certain days when he keeps his head, he is a worthy opponent, Remember, when he won the 2014 US Open, he was almost perfect.

The San Diego native Fritz has played a lot, playing 20 tournaments in 2021. He is now ranked No. 26, which is pretty good, Perhaps in the next few weeks he can reach the top 20 before the end of the year. That would be just fine, which will be his career high. He can volley, and he can go for the lines, but if he wants to push into the top 10 next year, then he has to re-adjust, and like Tiafoe, he has to return more efficiently.

US Open preview: Is this Pliskova’s opportunity?

Almost everyone wants to read about Novak Djokovic, who has a chance to win four Grand Slams this year. He is so consistent, and rarely strings together many errors. Once in a while, he does, but he is powerful, and he has a wide-ranging variety. He can smash his serves, he can return from the baseline and at the net. He is the top dog.

However, Djokovic is not the only person in New York. There are more than a few who want to reach the second week, or even further, such as Kei Nishikori, Alex de Minaur, Matteo Berrettini, Jenson Brooksby, Jannik Sinner, Denis Shapovalov and Reilly Opelka. But, the big challenge could be in the semis when Djokovic has to face Alexander Zverev. The German is flying high, he finally likes to be move and to smash it down the lines. He can go cross-court, and he can shatter it into the middle which can be very deep. He has finally matured a good amount. He hasn’t won a Grand Slam yet, but he was very close in the US Open last year. So in the fifth set, he can lock it in and then he can snag it, finally.

The No. 1 Ash Barty has only won ‘just’ two Grand Slams. This year, the Aussie has played fantastic, with her variety from her forehand and her backhand to take Wimbledon. It is hard to know where she is going, which is why she has beaten lots of excellent players. But can she win another Slam, this time in Flushing Meadows? She has grown a lot, and she is more intelligent. Without a doubt, she can push down almost everyone.

But, there are a number of players who think that when they are playing excellent, they have a shot to upset Barty.

In the first and second quarters, it could be Karolina Muchova, Jennifer Brady, Belinda Bencic, Jessica Pegula, Iga Swiatek, Paula Badosa, Maria Sakkari and Bianca Andreescu.

Plus, Karolina Pliskova wants to try to win the US Open for the first time. She has reached the final once, but could not pull it off. It’s all about her will. Pliskova thought it about it and she responded, “The next Grand Slam, I’m going to try to play like I was playing here from the first round to the last one.”

Hopefully, not early. Later.

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.