Summer not warm for Stephens

At what point will Sloane Stephens begin to play great in January? I would imagine that the 2017 US Open champion will turn it around, very soon, because in the fall, she essentially collapsed. Something has to be in her head, not thinking, spacing out, not focusing. 

However, clearly when she is on and locked in, she can beat anyone. He movement side to side is excellent and her strokes can go very deep. She can be very funny, and hilarious, but then she can be muddled. She just lost at Brisbane against new player Liudmila Samsonova. I would imagine that the young Russian will continue to grow, gradually, but Stephens has to shake it off and be more calmer. Right now.

Will the Canadian Eugenie Bouchard begin to turn it around this year? She didn’t last year, and she is currently ranked No. 152. A few years ago, she was ranked No. 6, and after that, she fell again and again. She has yet to climb up, with so many errors, and she is very erratic. Hopefully, she can be smart and intelligent. Bouchard did win her first round in Auckland and shot through the second round, taking out Caroline Garcia? Time will tell …

Jennifer Brady is flying high down under. First, she bounces former No. 1 Maria Sharapova and then dispatches current No. 1 Ash Barty in straight sets.

Fifteen-year-old American Coco Gauff just won a match on Monday. Clearly, all ready, she is very good, ranked No. 67.  “I felt confident, I feel like I’m moving well,” said Gauff. But, service breaks were her downfall against Laura Siegemund 5-7, 6-2, 6-3. 

It is pretty incredible that she is so young and that she has beaten a number of good players. But, to defeat the best players, she must become better and better. She is fast, powerful and she sprints. It will be very interesting how she will hold up.

The former No. 1 Serena Williams has returned and she is playing in New Zealand. Four other Americans won – in Australia and China – all over the place: No. 25 Amanda Anisimova, No. 27 Danielle Collins, the No. 19 Alison Riske and the No. 13 Madison Keys?

Which if the four will go very deep this month at the AO? Pick-em, based on their mental games. However, when they get to the Australian Open, other than Serena, who is always the favorite, can Collins will reach the semis again?

Ash Barty always improving, to face Madison Keys

Many years ago, the Australian Evonne  Goolagong won the French Open in 1971, which was a little bit surprising. She did win the Australian Open five times, and she also won Wimbledon,  twice. That was on the hardcourts  and the grass. But at Roland Garros, it was on clay, so it was difficult, to slide and be very super patient. Goolagong did that, and she won it, for the first time.

Now we have to wonder whether the other Aussie Open, Ash Barty, to actually win the event. She is so steady, and she is very creative. On Monday, she beat the young American, Sofia Kenin in three sets. In the third set, she pushed herself, and she mixed it up until  Kenin panicked. She was done at the end.

In January at the AO, Barty reached the quarterfinal. She took down Maria Sharapova 6-4 in the third in the fourth round, and then she lost against Petra Kvitova, who was playing fantastic. No big deal. 

In Miami, Barty beat three top 10 players: Kiki Bertens, Kvitova, and in the final, she wore down Karolina Pliskova.

She did not play great at Madrid and Rome, but it was respectable.  Here in Paris, mentally, on court, the No. 8 Barty is calm and diligent. 

“Nothing changes. Very much we go through the exact same process after a match,” Barty said. “Whether it’s a win or a loss, it’s the same recovery, same everything. I think that’s probably what I’ve been doing best over the last 12 to 18 months. And it’s put me in better positions. I’m in these positions now because I’m doing that better.”
She will face against Madison Keys on Wednesday, who has certainly gone deep at the Slams,  at the Aussie Open, Roland Garros, and at the US Open, but on clay, she can been a little out of it. She is ranked No. 14 — not in the top 5 — because she gets hurt a lot.
However, at RG over the past eight days, Keys was thoughtful and she doesn’t become so angry, which she had before.  In 2018, Keys reached the semis in Paris, and then she went down against her friend, Sloane Stephens [who just lost against Jo Konta yesterday). 
If Keys can beat the Britain, she has to attack her quickly, because Konta can do it exactly the same thing.


Novak Djokovic has yet to lose a set in the first four rounds. The No. 1 is so steady, deep and thoughtful. He has only won RG once, but remember, he is going for a Grand Slam. Last year and this year, he won the 2018 Wimbledon, the 2018 US Open, and the 2019 Australian Open. Very few people have won it four times in a row. He is thinking about it, that is for sure.

Djokovic will face against Alexandra Zverev, the best young player over the past two years, but this season, he has been struggling. The German walked into RG and in the first round, he kept his head down and survived to beat John Millman in five sets. Then in the third round, once again, he he went into the fifth set, and he came though, edging the much improving Dusan Lajovic. 
In the fourth round, he also edged another player, the experienced Italian, Fabio Fognin in four sets.  

Zverev has won a few huge events in the ATP 1000s, but the 22-year-old has never gone deep at the Slams. He has only reached the second week two  times. Last year, at Roland Garros, he was up and down there, but three times in a row, he won it in five setter, pushing back Karen Khachanov, among others. Then in the quarters, he was very tired, and he lost quickly against Dominic Thiem.

Now, here,  he can attack  Djokovic. He knows that the Serbian will grind him down. Not only can he yank him around — especially within his amazing backhand — but he can throw in  his spectacular first serve,and he can back on the wall and return  it court. Djokovic is very fast and agile. 

Zverev does like long rallies, but if it goes four hours, then the German could get tired, with his legs, and he will rush the balls. Whether he does it or not, the No. 5 Zverev will be around for a very long time, but can he stun Djokovic on Wednesday? Possibly not, but it will be a very fun contest.