After taking Rome, can Zverev win Roland Garros?

Alexander Zverev
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Almost exactly two years ago, Alexander Zverev fell down hard and in the semis at Roland Garros. He had to retire due to his ankle injury. His body was ruined. It has taken the German a long time to slowly improve again, and finally in Rome, he won the title, beating Nicolas Jarry.

He was very patient, he was creative, and he could mash the ball. Zverev can very controversial, but on the court, the 27-year-old can be calm, and thoughtful. The No. 4  is rising again, so in Paris, he will try to be more focused. He badly wants to win a Grand Slam for the first time.

“Because it’s clay, to start with. It’s the most physical one for me, in my opinion,” Zverev said about the three-out-of-five at Roland Garros. “It’s the physically toughest one.  But I think it’s the one where I have the most memories, good or bad. US Open, yes, I was two points away from winning the title [in 2020]. Of course, that’s also one that kind of sticks out.  Roland Garros, so close to being in the final [against Rafa Nadal] I felt like. I was playing some of the best tennis of my life in 2022. Those kind of things, they are still in the back of my mind. Yeah, that’s the one that I want to do well in.”

At the start of the year, Zverev  looked like that his return was more consistent, and his forehand went deeper, close to the lines. But in the semis at the Aussie Open, he was up two sets, but then Daniil Medvedev began to be incredibly consistent, and then Zverev went back, and he missed some critical shots, losing 7–5, 6–3, 6–7(4), 6–7(5), 3–6.  That was almost heart breaking. But right now, he wants to try it again.

“That’s the one that I want to win. That’s the one that I look forward the most maybe throughout the year,” he said.  “I’m going to do everything I can this year and we’ll see where I can end up.”

It is one thing that Zverev  can beat a bunch of good, but not great players, but can he take down Jannik Sinner, Carlos Alcaraz, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, at Roland Garros, or one of them? That is a tough order. He says that he can.

“I’m somebody that I know when I don’t play well, I can lose to anyone, but when I play well, I know I can beat anyone. That’s my mindset,” Zverev said. “That’s how I think about it.  I know I have to focus on myself, to find my rhythm in Paris the way I did here. Then everything is on my own racquet.”

Once again in Paris in 2023, in the semis, he was very formable, but Casper Ruud was super steady, and the Norwegian won. However, Zverev just won Rome, so on the excellent clay, he is thrilled and more mature, when he is thinking. Now he has to drive it.

“Nole is going to be at his best. You’ll see,” Zverev said. “It’s just the way it is. Rafa is going to play a lot better than he did in Madrid and Rome. I’m certain about that. The other two [Sinner and Alcaraz] they just depend on health. If they’re healthy, they’re two of the best players in the world, for sure, and there’s no question about it. Whether or not they are healthy, I cannot answer because I don’t know. I’m not inside their body. I saw Jannik posted a picture of him practicing again, so I’m assuming he’s fine and feeling good on the tennis court. Look, it’s all about health. When they’re healthy, they’re two of the best players in the world.”

Just like Zverev, who is healthly, and the best player, too? That is a  huge question.

Can Danielle Collins rise up again?

Danielle Collins
Ron Cioffi / TR

Collins: “This is a really big life decision.”

She has had a tough year, but the American Danielle Collins is on a wildfire, having beaten a number of the players in Miami. Yes, she will retire at the end of the year, but what she really wants to do is to win a huge title. She may not, but she is in the semis against Ekaterina Alexandrova, so she certainly will go for it, with her massive  forehand and her backhand. However, she can really mess it up, and throw in lots of errors. She could be more patient, and wait until it is the right time, to go for it, but won’t do it, often. At least this week, she is trying to do something different. At least a little bit.

“It helped [her] be able to kind of control my shots more and hit them with more accuracy and precision,” she said. “I’m enjoying my career. I’m having a lot of fun. I love coming out here and competing. But at the end of the day, like, this is a really big life decision, and  I think that that should be pretty understandable.”

She will have to find the lines, as the Russian, Alexandrova, can also try to split the ball. Either way, the winner will have to jump on the corners, and reach.

When she is so solid, Elena Rybakina can beat anyone, if she becomes frustrated. She is quick, she can chuck it around, and she can also slam it. But with her, the No. 4 can misplace it, and almost disappear. With her, you don’t really know.

The same goes with Victoria Azarenka, and they will face off on Thursday. The veteran has always been super intense, and she will swing it so hard. However,  she also can be upset, when she is not playing great, and then she will lose it. She has won Miami three times, and she looked phenomenal, but that has been a long time ago, so the 34-year-old has to play very well, as her serve and her return is so-so.

The German Alexander Zverev is more consistent than he did before, and he will make an attempt to control it, point after point. He has to face the new young player,  Fabian Marozsan, who is rising. However, he has a lot of work to do, as he lost a number of matches this year. Let’s see if he can trouble Zverev, but I doubt, that.

Carlos Alcaraz has beaten Grigor Dimitrov three times, but in the fall in Shanghai, the Bulgarian edged him 6-4 in the third. Dimitrov always really likes to move it crosscourt, and to slice it. However, so does the Spaniard, who throws in some terrific, fantastic shots, and plus, he is extremely fast. This should be a fun match, but right it at the end, the No. 2 Alcaraz will beat him one more time. He is trying to become No. 1. Not this week, but soon enough.

Will Carlos Alcaraz or Jannik Sinner take the Miami title?

Carlos Alcaraz
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Is it possible for Carlos Alcaraz  to win Indian Wells and Miami back to back?

Some people have, but not many, such as Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Victoria Azarenka and Iga Swiatek.

Azarenka  is still there, but Djokovic decided not to play in Miami, Federer has retired and Swiatek, who won Indian Wells, just lost in Florida against Ekaterina Alexandrova. When you win Indian Wells, you could be tired, depending on how you feel.

Alcaraz’s will find out shortly, when he has to face versus  Lorenzo Musetti, the Italian, who put down Ben Shelton 6-4, 7-6(5).  

On court, the 20-year-old can really throw into some very cool shots, being patient and when he is set up, he can drive the ball. Alcaraz can miss here and there, down the line or crosscourt. Yes, he will keep going, harder and harder.

“Every player has his own style. But probably mine is a little bit different to other Spaniards’ style,” he said. “I think other Spanish players have similar style than mine. I’m more aggressive. I think my ball goes faster. I have a lot of things that I can do on the court. It’s depend on the player.”

Believe it or not, in the 2023 Miami, he lost to Jannik Sinner in three sets. Maybe it will happen again, because the Italian is still winning. Sinner won the Australian Open, and this season he has won almost all of it, also winning Rotterdam. But guess what?  Alcaraz out fooled him, beating Sinner it 6-2 in the third at Indian Wells in the semis. It could happen again, but  Sinner has to be patient, and go for it early, if there is a chance.

Christopher O’Connell will play Sinner on Tuesday , and he has to play spectacular, as this year he has not gone deep at all, until this week. He has to play very consistent, and move forward, fast. If he wins it, it will be one of his best matches of all time.

Speaking of Hubert Hurkacz … he has had a decent year, even terrific, as the tall man not only can chuck it some many aces, but he can hit his forehand and his backhand deep, without too many errors. He is thoughtful, that is for sure. However, he has to face Grigor Dimitrov, a veteran, as the one-handed backhand can earth him. He can play great, or he can disappear. It is hard to know, but it should be a very intense match.

We all know that the former No.1 Azarenka has won the title three times in Miami in 2009, 2011 and 2016, and she was very good, but she would hit some off errors. Maybe she will win it again, but she is ranked No. 32, and she has not won a big title in a long time. The 34-year-old is still so powerful, from both sides, but she does not return enough, and to run it down. Maybe Azarenka  will rise up one more time, but first she has to face Yulia Putintseva, who has been consistent for a long time. They will try to jump on the lines.

Here is a stellar match when Elena Rybakina will face Maria Sakkari, the two top 10ers. The No. 4 Rybakina won Brisbane, and her strokes can be tremendous, but she can also trip it down. Finally, Sakkari started to play well over the past few weeks, and she reached the final at Indian Wells. She loves to rally, for many hours, but she also has to go for it, faster. She has no choice as Rybakina will attack her as soon as she can and put it on the lines.

Indian Wells: Taylor Fritz vs Holger Rune

Holger Rune

Here comes the American, again, when Taylor Fritz  will have to take out against Holger Rune, who once again, he is playing more real, on the court. He has had a decent season, this year, but he has to re-figure what he must do, and stay there, if he has to.

 On Wednesday night in at Indian Wells, he will be pumped up, but he has to think about what types of his shots, and where he will go. He did it here two years ago, when he put together for 10 days, and he became super consistent. However, after that, he won some terrific matches, but he has yet to do another ATP 1000 again,  so now, he will try to go it again.

Last year, the Denmark  Rune had some fine matches, going deep on the hard courts, the clay (especially in Monte-Carlo and Rome) and the grass. He didn’t win it all, but it was close enough, so if he is feeling good, then the No. 7 can start beating against the top players. He can be super solid, with his backhand, and he can return, too.

But if Fritz can be immediately aggressive, then he can push him way back and put it away. He can bash his forehand and his backhand, and he can hit it down the line, and also go crosscourt.  Yes, Fritz can return pretty decent, and when he is confident, he can make an attempt to hit it very deep. The think is, though, is he is not terrific at the net, and his backhand could be so-so. But as he said: “I think both, it’s the same kind of thing,” Fritz said. “I’ve always felt confident here, even before winning. I feel like I always performed well and played well. It’s the same thing. I come here and from the first hit, kind of just feeling the courts, it feels really good for me.”

Rune is only 20-years- old, so he has to understand exactly what he has to do, when he returning, and mix it up. He is fast, running, and he can move forward, and trust it around. Rune’s  forehand can be  powerful, his backhand is somewhat solid, and he can throw it all around the box. But it is all about the week, and while he hasn’t gone deep this year, perhaps he is adding some more different shots.

Both Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev won there matches, and they will face off on Thursday. It has to be a tremendous match at nigh. A darn, good match.

NOTES
Also late at night on Wednesday, the No. 11 Daria Kasatkina will take on Yuan Yue. Kasatkina reached the finals at Abu Dhabi and Adelaide this year, and while she didn’t win it, she was threatening. Yuan has been quiet over the past few years, but now she is trying to hit the ball, harder. They all have to, at some point.

On Tuesday, the No.1 Iga Swiatek crushed Yulia Putintseva 6-1, 6-2. You never know when she doesn’t play well at all, but that is very rare. Caroline Wozniacki played pretty decent when she beat Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-2. They both were hurt, physically, a small amount, but they kept going. Wozniacki thinks she can go even further. Oh, really? Hmmm.

TennisReporters.net top 32 men: 5-1

Novak Djokovic

5 Andrey Rublev
He is very powerful, when he is on, and he can smile in the ball, to both sides. When he is feeling very good, the Russian can go for it, early, or if he is feeling patient, he can mix it up from the backcourt. However, he has yet to win a Grand Slam, and while he can be right there, but then, his other spectacular player rarely become nervous. He does, on occasion. Unfortunatly, he has yet to reach the semis at the Grand Slams, as the 26-year-old has backed up when it was close. He did win Monte Carlo, and Bastad, Sweden, and also, when he reached the final at Shanghai, China in October . That was very solid, but Novak Djokovic beat him time and time again, so if he wants to upset him, next year, he has to improve his volley, and also, closer at the net.  He might be able to win a Slam in 2024, then he is going to be a real show.

4 Jannik Sinner
Here is another one who can eventually grab to win a Slam. The Italian had a terrific week in the ATP Finals in Turin, Italy,, beating Daniil Medvedev, upsetting Djokovic early on, but then in the final, the Serbian rose, while Sinner looked pretty tired, or maybe he was  collapsing. In a sense, it doesn’t really matter, as in the fall, he played fantastic, winning Beijing and Vienne, beating  Daniil Medvedev, twice. He stood toe-to-toe, grinding him down, and with some his massive strokes, with his backhand or his forehand. He even won the ATP Masters in Toronto in August, revolting so high. However, he can mess it up, depending which week, whether he is playing great, or mediocre. He is tall, and he can put it into the corner, but next year, if he can win Slam for the first time. To do it though,  he has to return better and deeper, and meld it up, even more.  He has to be more true , and really pay attention before he gets on the court. It is almost mandatory.

3 Daniil Medvedev
The other Russian had a up and down year, winning a bunch of matches, but also, when he looked darn good at the U.S. Open against Djokovic in the final, he looked like he had a real chance to win it, but in the second set tiebreaker, he was right there. then he missed some unpaired error. He does really like to rally, very flat, and he will to wear down the opponents, but at times, he doesn’t like to come into the net enough, so his decisions could be questionable. He has a little bit with the spin, now,  and his first serve is flat, to different areas. The man can look startling, and this year, he won Rotterdam, Netherlands,  Doha, Qatar ,  Dubai, Miami and Rome. In the fall, he was very decent, but not fantastic. He is quite caring, and he looks to think, when he is talking, which is awesome, but in the court, if he wants to win another Slams, he must change a few things, especially when he can go down really low, and put it away.

2 Carlos Alcaraz
He has become darn fast,  sprinting to the right and to the left, mixing it up, and he can win it into the corners for a winner. The Spaniard is very young, and he still has a decent amount to improve, but he already can change his tactics. His forehand and his backhand are jolly sturdy, and he can also touch it on the net and put it away. However, after he won Wimbledon, and he played wonderful ball, after that, he could not win another title. Of course he was hurt, bodily, once and a while, and perhaps he was mentally shake, yet next year, he will learn how he will approach it. In the first half, he also won Buenos Aires, Indian Wells, Barcelona, Madrid, and London/Queens, and of course, Wimbledon, in the clay, the hardcourts, and the grass. That was almost flawless, but then   he wasn’t after that. At the end at the ATP Finals, Djokovic beat Alcaraz in straight sets, out hitting him, backhand versus backhand.  Maybe at the Australian Open, he can win the title, that is if his second serve and his return can be upwords.

1 Novak Djokovic

Way back when, when he won his first Grand Slam at the 2008 Australian Open, he was so swift, and his backhand was already phenomenal, but his forehand was good, but not great. His return was so sensible, and he could play stroke after stroke, and he rarely became tired. However, he knew, year after year, that he had to get much better so he could not only beat everyone, but to win the titles, he had to be more muscular, in the matches. Now, he has won 23 Grand Slams, a record, and here and there, he could miss some strange errors, but he will always try to hang in there, and re-do it.    He won three Slams this season, and next year, he might be able to do it again. He has won 98 Slams, and he is third behind Jimmy Connors (109 titles) and Roger Federer [103 titles.) In 2024, Djokovic could pass Federer, and eventually, maybe next year, he can tie Connors. Either way, he is the dominates.

No. 1 Novak Djokovic wins and wins

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic can win  so many tournaments next year. He is older, for sure, as he is 36-years-old, but in 2023, he beat everyone, especially in the fall. The young players have improved a good amount, and yes, they can upset the Serbian, but they have to jump on him, early. Or Djokovic can be patient, and really chance it up.

In the ATP Finals last week, he beat Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner, in the semis and in the final, and he didn’t lose a set. He was essentially perfect.

As his coach, Goran Ivanisevic said:  “I think Carlos didn’t play his best tennis. Still you need to beat him,” he said. “Nole lift his game. He came ready. He knew how to play unbelievable matches this year.  Carlos already won two Grand Slams and he’s future of tennis. Jannik really step up this year. He showed the world and himself that he’s ready next year to win Grand Slams, and he’s not afraid of anybody.

I think they going to both of them practice hard. The season is over. I think next year’s going to be very, very competitive and interesting year.”

Yes, during the year, he lost some so-so matches, and he lost. But Djokovic kept  moving forward, striding, and still learning. He has now won 98 singels titles, which is phenomenal, not only when he has won 23 Grand Slams, but he has won many various events, in Asia, Australia, the United States, Canada, Europe, ext.  The huge hitter has also won in the hardcourts, on the clay, in the grass, outside and inside. But he is smarter on court, and perhaps, off the court.  

“I knew as soon as [Novak] got into the semifinal, he’s going to win the tournament. The mentality changed,” the Croatian Ivanisevic said.  “The new Novak Djokovic arrived on the court from Saturday. When real Novak Djokovic arrives on the court, then the moment is nobody that can play with him.”

When he won the Australian Open for the first time in 2008, Djokovic ran so fast, and he was super steady, but while his backhand was absurd, his forehand, his return and at the net needed to enrich. However, even though he had some difficult seasons, he still drove himself, and he added with different strokes.

 “It’s very tough to improve with him (smiling). But he wants to improve,” the one-time 2001 Wimbledon champion. Ivanisevic said. “ That’s the good thing and bad thing for me as a coach and the rest of the team. He improved a lot his volleys, his game at the net, and his position at the net. Now when he comes to the net – okay, today  he missed some easy volleys [against [Sinner]  – but generally this week and this year he plays some amazing volleys.  His position at the net is a lot better. Is very tough to pass him. Before he was very easy to pass. Now he knows what he’s doing at the net. He’s comfortable at the net. Final of U.S. Open he played two, three most important volleys in the final against [beating Daniil Medvedev]. He’s not afraid to come to the net. He’s hitting the forehands much, much harder. He’s going for the shots. Serving, second serve, sometimes he’s hitting over 200. He’s just going for it.”

Yes he did, and he still wants to be perfect, at the net. In January, Djokovic can win another Australian Open. Clearly he will be the favorite. But eventually,  the older you get, it is hard to sprint very fast. However, in 2024, he could do it again. He will make a huge effort.

Will anyone win a Slam next year? Maybe. Clearly, Alcaraz is very young and he is improving, so he could win one Slam, or two. You can throw in with Sinner, who had a terrific fall, but he has yet to win Slam, so in December, he must be thinking about how to return, deeper, and also, at the tough, nets.
 The American men had a solid year, overall, but no one reached into the final at the Slams. OK, maybe next year. Five of them are in the top 25 with Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul,  Frances Tiafoe , Ben Shelton  and Sebastian Korda. They are still pretty young, so they could rise, higher, but to beat Djokovic, or the rest of the top eight players, they will have to be much  deeper, about exactly what to do. Please.

ATP Finals day 7: Sinner over Medvedev, Djokovic over Alcaraz

Novak Djokovic
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Jannik Sinner over Daniil Medevev (written on Friday)

In Italy, Jannik Sinner is on fire, hitting some massive strokes. He has won all three in the ATP Finals, so clearly, he will have to rocking and rolling. However, he will face against Daniil Medvedev on Saturday, and the Russian has beaten him all six times. He edged him 7-6, 7-6 in Beijing, China in the final, last month, so the Italian was darn close, but now, he will have to change it up, or attack, earlier. He also lost against Medvedev in Vienna in the final, too, pushing him back in three tough sets.

“It’s obviously a little bit more pressure, but it is kind of a positive pressure. I like to be in this situation,” said Sinner. “I had never beaten Holger Rune and I it was clear that it was going to be a great battle. This is an important victory for me & I know I have a great opportunity to do something important on Saturday. I like to have some pressure.”.”

Medvedev has to, as the Russian realizes exactly way to go, to hit the right shots, and he can also pound it, point after point. He did win two matches, but against  Carlos Alcaraz, he looked fair, yet he needed to smash the ball, early. This time, though, he has beaten him a lot, so he might do the same things.    

“At this moment Sinner in top form. I felt like in Vienna I made a good response to what he did in Beijing, but I still lost. I need to be even better, to respond better to his shots.” said Medvedev

Anyone can lose for ever, against the best players, but once in a while, you can play tremendous, and stick in there.  This time, will finally snag it, and Sinner will win 5-7, 6-4, 6-4

Novak Djokovic over Carlos Alcaraz

Is this really true that Carlos Alcaraz spoke with his coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero, when he was struggling this week, early, and current, he is happy again. That must be true as the former one time Roland Garros champion Ferrero looked very good for years, but also, he was depressed. However, he is pushing himself, and now, Alcaraz is understanding what to do.

 He has to, as he must face against the No. 1 Djokovic. That will be a huge challenger.

“I opened my eyes. This is the last tournament of the year and I have to give everything I have.We also spoke about the level and what I had to do,” Alcaraz said. “I realized that my game depends on whether or not I enjoy myself, whether or not I smile. At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing for me. Obviously, the joy and the smile have returned to my game and I think that was reflected in the matches.”

He did and on Saturday, at night, Alcaraz  will have to play backhand to backhand, as the No. 1 is usually nearly perfect. They have played each other four times, mostly very close, and they have split each other. The Serbian beat him at Roland Garros, and then the Spaniard took him out at Wimbledon.

Also, Djokovic out-hit him in August, in Cincinnati, on the hardcourts. Alcaraz  realizes that to come into the net, when he can, and also, to return, respectably, then he will have another great chance to beat him.

“I’m going to try and find my A-game,” Alcaraz said.

Djokovic has lost a few times, this year, and his forehand could go off, but in the third set, he will raise his game, and he will win it 6-4, 6-7, 6-4.

ATP Finals day 6: Alcaraz over Medvedev, Zverev over Rublev

Andrey Rublev
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Carlos Alcaraz over Daniil Medvedev
Will Carlos Alcaraz beat Daniil Medvedev for the second time this year and advance into the semis? That is possible, although Alexander Zverev took him down in the first match. He looked a little bit erratic, with his forehand and his serves, yet against Andrey Rublev, he recovered.

Now, the two time Grand Slam has to play even better, as the Russian, Medvedev, is super steady, again, and his forehand down the line is terrific. He knows that on the fast hard courts, he has to bring him down. At the U.S. Open, in the semis, Medvedev played as well as he could, beating him in four sets. Alcaraz will have to changed it up

 “Medvedev is one of the best players in the world. … You have to play very well tactically, be patient and aggressive at the same time. It’s very difficult to beat him,” Alcaraz said. “You have to wait for the opportunity, but run and be calm, and get five or six shots in per point until the chance comes, while being aware that often it won’t.”

Of course, he realizes that the Spaniard can get enthusiastic, and bash his backhand. Or is he could, he can kiss it on the net. Alcaraz  did beat him in the semis at Wimbledon and the Indian Wells, so he will be ready to face off.

 Medvedev might changed it up, and surprise him.

“I’m going to try my best to play Carlos,” said Medvedev. “The moment you relax and say to yourself, ‘Maybe this match I can go easier,’ you can lose all the rhythm. That’s how tennis is. … So I need to play fast.”

Alcaraz has had a good fall, but not specular. Medvedev  has also been up and down, but on Friday, he will hit some phenomenal winners, in the third set, and he will take it 4-6, 7-6, 6-4.

Alexander Zverev over Andrey Rublev
Andrey Rublev has not had a good week, at all. Not all the times, but too frequently. Alexander Zverev did beat Alcaraz, so from the backcourt, he slammed a number of winners. He has yet to win  a Grand Slam, even though he has come close, and  Zverev  really does think that if he can be healthy, then he will have a chance next year.

The big thing, though is that  Zverev has won the ATP Finals twice, in 2018 and 2021. That was very impressive. One way another, at night, he has to win, or go home.
The German will win, 7-5, 6-3.

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.

Carlos Alcaraz is ready to rock, again


Carlos Alcaraz
MALTphoto

The No. 1 Novak Djokovic is not playing now, but in the next two months, on the court, he will be there. When and where? Who knows?

Yes, the No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz is playing this week in Beijing at the China Open. He does have a chance to finish No. 1, but he has a lot more work to do. However, he still is psyched. He will also play in Shanghai, next week, an ATP 1000.

“We have really beautiful battle for the No. 1 spot after the great performance Djokovic had in the American season, let’s say. He’s the No. 1 right now,” the Spaniard said.  

“I’m coming here with extra motivation to try to recover it in the Race, of course, in the ranking. It’s something that I have in my mind every time that I practice, in every tournament.  Is not obligatory for me to recover that, but of course you have to put the goals in the year. So for me No. 1 spot is one of the main goals for me.”

The 20-year-old Alcaraz has won 12 titles, including in the 2023 Wimbledon, on the grass, and also in Indian Wells on the hard courts, as well as Madrid on clay. Over the past couple years, he has gone deep all over the place, but  he has not won in Asia, or China. But he is ready to go.

The former No. 1 Daniil Medvedev is there, in the tournament, and the Russian will push himself again, or he hopes, so. At the U.S. Open against Djokovic in the final, he looked very good in the second set, but in the tiebreaker, he missed a really important shot, with a set point, and then he collapsed. In the third set, he was done. He has played against Alcaraz three times this year,  at Indian Wells and Wimbledon, when he lost, but in the semis at the US Open, he played a great show, and he beat him.

“If we face each other, we are both happy, we are both in the final. That’s a good goal, to try to make this happen,” the Russian said. “At the same time, as I said, so many good players. It’s tough. … It’s going to be interesting to see who copes up better. I think we’re going to see a lot of different results where the seeded players can lose and stuff like this because first rounds are never easy.”

What he means it that there are so many very good players in the top 20 in Beijing, including — and there are a lot, such as Holger Rune, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Jannik Sinner, Casper Ruud and Alexander Zverev, who just won a title in Chengdu. The No. 13 Tommy Paul will face against Medvedev, and to reach into the top 10 for the first time, he will be so satisfied. But can Paul win it in three sets against the Russian in Beijing? Possibly, but he is going to have to drag him down.

Rune was very honest, saying that the No. 4 played it to much this year. Now the 20-year-old feel much better.

“I was struggling with back injury for a while now. I got it fixed,” the Dane said. “I played a lot of tournaments with a lot of pain in my back. But then I was like at the end, Okay, I got to stop and fix it, not come back to playing tournaments until I’m hundred percent. That’s also why I’m here…Maybe a few tournaments too much where I should have maybe rested. Also to be maybe more ready for the biggest tournaments. But that’s the past. Now I have to look at now and forward.”