TennisReporters.net top 32 men: No. 15-11

Casper Ruud

15 Karen Khachanov
The big Russian started very strong, reaching the semis at the Aussie Open, smashing the ball, and finally losing against Stefanos Tsitsipas. He has a huge forehand, and his first serve is massive, but he isn’t that fast when he is running, and he doesn’t like to come into the net, often. At Miami, he did upset Stefanos Tsitsipas in the round of 16, which means that he can lock in, at times, but in the semis, the other Russian,  Daniil Medvedev, wore him down. He had a up and down year, winning a few more terrific wins, but in the fall, he did very little. He did win the ATP 1000 Paris, five years ago, so if he wants to do it again, he must slice it more, and attack when he is returning.

14 Grigor Dimitrov
In 2017, the Bulgarian won four events, especially at the ATP Finals in London, beating a variety of players, against David Goffin. He has a tremendous variety, especially with his cool one-handed backhand. He is peach  good at in the net, and his forehand can a lot of spin. However, he is 32- years-old, which is OK, but he has to change something that is new. He knows that, he lost against Alexander Zverev beat him three times in a row, at the end of the summer.  The positive thing is that while he can get dejected, during the matches, but he will continue on, and decide to whither to go. In November, he refreshed, and he reached the final in Paris, indoors. He beat two prime players, with Daniil Medvedev and Tsitsipas. He looked uncanny, but in the final, Djokovic once again banged him. He could win another title,a big one, but he must capital the moment.

13 Tommy Paul
The American improved a lot, this year, as when he started in 2021, he was OK, but his forehand and his backhand wasn’t rugged enough. However, last year and this year, he began to change, with his first serve, when he found the corners, and his return was more efficient. He reached the semis at the Aussie Open, beating Ben Shelton, but then Djokovic pounded him. Each week, he was really trying, being core, but also,  he would forget which way to go. The positive is that he reached the final in Acapulco, beating Taylor Fritz, and the in the semis in Toronto, when he almost shocked against Carlos Alcaraz in the quarters.  Yet after that, he started to miss some cheap shots, and he lost against Shelton twice, especially at the U.S. Open. Paul is more satisfied, but he knows that if he wants to get into the top 5 next year, he has to shove himself closer to the net, and also, to hit it, early. As he said going into at the 2024 Aussie Open: “I’m really excited,” said Paul. “It’s like every person’s dream when they start playing tennis to play the big matches at the Slams.It’s important to me. Since I was young, that’s all we’ve been hearing, since like 14 years old. The coaches have been telling us, ‘We need new Americans. It’s kind of engraved in my head.” Then go do it.

12 Alex de Minaur
The Aussie had some terrific matches, as he plays a lot, taking down against some ultrafine players, but also, he did lost when he tripped it up, when Djokovic bullied him at the Aussie Open. Yet in Acapulco, in March, he won it, beating Holger Rune and Paul. That was a immense jump. He did very little on the clay, but on the grass, his backhand returned, and his forehand was merciless. He reached the final in London/Queen’s, and belief it or not, he beat Rune again. Then in the final, against Carlos Alcaraz, the Spaniard served into the corners, and also, he has more multifariousness. With de Minaur, you don’t really know if he can be so intense, but he did for some weeks in the summer, when he looked fantastic in Los Cabos, and Toronto, reaching both finals, upsetting with Taylor Fritz and Daniil Medvedev.  And then, in the U.S. Open, there,  Medvedev turned the tables and beat the Aussie in four, easy sets. De Minaur is pretty young, and he educated  a lot this year, but in the  fall, he did not do that much. Next year,  he wants to get into the top 5, then he has to clean it up, each month.

11 Casper Ruud
Another 24-year-old had an sole year, as the Norway was ranked No. 3, and in the first three months, he won very few matches. Finally, he started to be much more proper, and thoughtful, when he won Estoril, Portugal. That is not a huge event, but he had to beat anyone, so he did. He was finally satisfied, and to watch him, he can meld it into the corners, or in the middle, eye-full. He reached the final at Roland Garros, and he was much more suitable, beating Rune and Zverev. In the final, he hit some daydreamer shots, and it was somewhat close, but once again, the No. 1 Djokovic  has a better backhand, and returning, too.  After that, he began to bust, and clearly, in the final, his legs must been tired.  He really is a first-rate player, and if you recall it, in 2022, he reached four grand events in Miami, Roland Garros, the U.S. Open, and the ATP Finals. He is right again, so in January, he will be refreshed, and then he has to be a couple new shots, with his athletic first serve, and at the top of the net.

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.

The picks at Roland Garros: Sunday June 11

Casper Ruud

Novak Djokovic over Casper Ruud
It has been a long time that Novak Djokovic is right there, possibly if he wins, he will be the greatest player, ever. He is tied with Rafael Nadal with 22 Grand Slams, as he has beaten all four, at the Australian Open, Roland Garros (twice), Wimbledon and the US Open. He can do it again, but the pressure on Sunday will be pretty nervous. He knows that when he plays well, then he can attack, more quickly, as he is just so solid. His backhand is nearly perfect, crosscourt, down the line, with some spin, too. He can flat it out, or he can hit it deep in the middle. His serves can be remarkable, and he is darn good at the net. Yes, his forehand is not perfect, but when he is locked in, he will be much more comfortable.

In the final, though, he has to make some different strokes, as Ruud has played some excellent ball over the past 14 days. He has been very steady, and his backhand was super fitting. His forehand is strong, and his return has improved a lot. Also, he is young, but when you play a lot, on the court, you become more familiar. He really wants to win Roland Garros, so to do so, he has to drive, deep, and really go for it. Last year in the 2022 Roland Garros, he was crushed by Nadal. Maybe he was physically tired, but when it happens, you have to forget about it, and just play, damned hard. He has to be formal, rotate it, and try to pound Djokovic’s forehand. Plus, Djokovic has a number of aces, so when he returns, and he can get it, he will have to put it deep, to start the rallies.

As the Norwegian Ruud said, “It’s going to be tough, for sure. He’s playing for his 23rd. I’m playing for my first. So I’m going to just try to play without pressure and just try to enjoy the moment. I think that was my mentality last year, as well, and it didn’t go my way. Obviously I would like to try to do better than last year. Let’s see if I have learned something from the two previous ones that I played last year. It just feels great to be back. I didn’t think or necessarily believe in the beginning of the tournament that I was going to be in the final. I gave it my best, of course, in every match. Took one match at a time. It is going to be toughest challenge on Sunday, to play Novak. We’re going to do our best to be ready and play our best level. “

Djokovic must be thinking about what eh will do in the court. He has won so many incredible matches, but he has also lost when he is not happy when he is hitting the ball. He can yell, inside, and shake his head. He knows that, but he also he will grasp, eventually, he can turn it around.

“I’m very self-critical, so I know that I can always do better. But I also try to remind myself, as also the people in my team try to remind me daily, that there are a lot of positives, that I have to try to stay optimistic and look ahead and be in the moment, try to make the most out of it, Djokovic said. “It’s normal that during the tournament, regardless of the history that I have or experience or whatever, that I have my doubts. We all have our doubts. It’s important to understand what are your strengths, and focus on those, and deal with what you have at the moment. I’m happy with where I am at the moment with my game. Can it be better? Certainly. Certainly.

They played each other four times, and the Serbian won them in eight sets, on the indoor hardcourts, and two on the clays. Clearly, Djokovic has a better backhand, serve, return and net game too. Yes, Ruud will try to unearth him, but Djokovic will change things, and he will win it in four sets. That will be 94 titles, which will be ridiculous.

Matt’s yesterday picks

Correct: Iga Swiatek over Karolina Muchova

Matt’s picks from Roland Garros

36 out of 53, 67.9% correct

The picks at Roland Garros: Friday, June 9

Stefanos Tsitsipas
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Carlos Alcaraz over Novak Djokovic
It will be a huge challenge with Carlos Alcaraz, who did win at the 2022 U.S. Open, but while he has won a few great tournaments on the clay, he has yet to grab Roland Garros. However, over the past 11 days, he has played amazing good. His forehand is vast, and his backhand is also phenomenal. Yes, he can over-hit, but each day, he thinks about what he is really doing, and then he can chuck some different strokes.
 
The Serbian Djokovic has won so many titles on hard courts, on grass, and on clay. Yes, he has won it twice at the French Open, but he badly wants to win it one more time, so if he does that, he will have 23 Grand Slams — a record.

However, he has a long way to go. In May, Alcaraz edged Djokovic 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5). That was so close, but the Spaniard would not fold. This time, though, it will be three out of five, not two out of three, so the question is, will he be super fierce, or more patient? In the quarterfinals, he took down Stefanos Tsitsipas in three sets. That was pretty simple.

The highly steady Djokovic totally loves going crosscourt, with his notorious backhand. His forehand is also sizable, and when he returns, you can see his bright eyes. He can really run, side to side, or sprint to the net. However, he has had a fantastic year — yet.


“It’s definitely the biggest challenge for me so far in the tournament. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best,” Djokovic said. “He’s definitely a guy to beat here. I’m looking forward to that.”

There will be another extremely long rallies, and they will go into the fifth set. This time, as Stefanos Tsitsipas said after he lost, who will win between Alcaraz and Djokovic?


“I root for the young kids.” He must have, as Alcaraz will win it 7-5 in the fifth set.

Alexander Zverev over Casper Ruud 
He looked very good when he took down against Holger Rune in the quarters. Last year he reached the final, and he looked terrific, but Rafa Nadal won it again, with his huge lefty forehand. Yet Rune is usually consistent, and he can also raid when there is a real opportunity. He still is pretty young, but much more than he used to be.

Zverev is really back, or is her a little bit early? He knows that each month, he will get better as last year, he took a bumper injury. But right now, the German believe that he can play against Rune, and who he really is.

“Ruud has been there before. He was in the final here last year, so he knows exactly what it means and what it takes….I couldn’t play for the first seven months of my injury,” Zverev. “Then for the next three, four months I was still in pain, so I wasn’t pain-free. I wasn’t able to move the way I wanted to. But sometimes it’s also just reminding yourself of who you were and what kind of matches you have won in the past. I’m at a stage now where I’m not thinking about the injury so much anymore. I’m just happy to be back where I was last year, and I have another chance. Hopefully I can take it.”

Zverev seems to think that while he is not 100 percent, yet, but he has won some big titles. Ruud had a great year in 2022, but now he has struggled at times. There for, Zverev will reach into the final at another Grand Slam, with some popping winners in four sets.

Matt’s yesterday picks

CorrectIga Swiatek over Beatriz Haddad Maia
Aryna Sabalenka over Karolina Muchova

Matt’s picks from Roland Garros

35 out of 50, 70% correct

The picks at Roland Garros: Wednesday, June 7

Casper Ruud

Ons Jabeur over Beatriz Haddad Maia
The Brazilian has changed a few interesting tactics over the past year. Haddad Maia beat a number of the very good players. She can throw in some deep shots, with her spin and her slice. As she says that, “I think I had a very tough draw. I had to push myself.”

Yes, she does. However, Jabeur is more mature, even though in the matches, she can over think. She does have an incredible top spin, and she can also mix it up a lot, but at times, she isn’t hitting hard enough. She has to play if she is playing great, or mediocre, with everyone. “I have learned a lot how to accept things, either good or bad. For me, being injured was part of my path, how the season would have started here this year. I worked a lot on my mental health and worked a lot on how to manage all this, because I believe there is a lot of injuries are connected to our emotional part,” Jabeur said. “I’m trying to manage that.”

Over the past 10 days, she really does. It will be a very long match on the slick clay, and in the third set, Jabeur will win it with some eye-popping drop shots.

Iga Swiatek over Coco Gauff
At the 2021 Roland Garros in the final, Swiatek wiped Gauff in two easy sets. In the quarters on Wednesday, the American is going to have to play substantially better, especially with her up and down forehand. Her backhand is so solid, and strong, and at the net, she can put it away, many times. However, her second serve is so-so, and her return is OK, but not great, which is why she has never won a major yet. But she really wants to stun Swiatek.

“I guess the revisiting part for like the mentality, it’s in the past. In a positive way, not like I lost in the final, I don’t want to think about it,” Gauff said. “It’s more so I don’t want to make the final my biggest accomplishment, I guess. I want to keep moving forward and keep reaching further heights.”

Gauff will have a huge shot to upset Swiatek, as the Polish person is playing amazing again. She has not had a great year, but week after week, she makes another effort. She still thinks that she will jump it early, and go down the lives. Swiatek will once again beat her in three impressive sets.
 
Alexander Zverev over Tomas Martin Etcheverry
Frequently, the players can rise almost out of nowhere, but they do, and know that Martin Etcheverry is playing and incredible tennis. He is pretty young, so the Argentine has pushed with his forehand and his backhand. He is not very comfortable at the net, or his serve, too, but he is improving. As he said: “I have a lot of emotion right now. I think I am really, really happy. The best moment of my life,” he said.

He has to try to chop down versus Zverev. The German look better each day, and his forehand and his backhand are huge. Yes to beat Zverev, Martin Etcheverry is going to need more than 100 percent.
 
“I think he has a lot of more experience than me, but I feel really good to play against him. I am playing incredible tennis this week, and just I have to focus in my game and trying to do the same like I am doing all the day,” Martin Etcheverry said.

He might, but Zverev will hit him forehand to forehand, crosscourt, and he will win in three tough sets.

Casper Ruud over Holger Rune
He did win amazing match with Rune when he edged Francisco Cerundolo 7-6(7) in the fifth set. That wasn’t a stunner, but it was so close and his backhand was more than consistent. He has yet to win Roland Garros, but the smart player can really mix it around, and also he can smash his forehand. However, when he gets inside the court on Wednesday, he must be somewhat tired if it goes on for than three hours.

Ruud clearly know that, then during in the rallies, he can just sit on the baseline and wait for a decent chance into the corners. Ruud is pretty smart, and he can attack when it is right there.

The Norwegian seems to think that he is coming closer to beat anyone. Last year, he could not beat against the best players, at the Slams, but now he is coming close. Ruud will hit some fun drop shots, and he will win it in four exhausting sets.

Matt’s yesterday picks

CorrectAryna Sabalenka over Elina Svitolina
Correct: Novak Djokovic over Karen Khachanov
Correct: Carlos Alcaraz over Stefanos Tsitsipas
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova over Karolina Muchova

Matt’s picks from Roland Garros

29 out of 40, 72.5% correct

The Picks in Rome: Friday, May 20

Casper Ruud

Holger Rune over Casper Ruud
The two ‘R’s’ have battled with each other, attempting to finally becoming No. 1. That they have not done it yet, and frankly, if they continue to play great, maybe this year they can pass all of them. However, they have to prove it, especially Ruud, who hasn’t won a lot of matches in 2023, losing pretty early. Yes, over the past 10 days, he became more fit, and he decided to smash his forehand and his backhand. His serve is still mediocre, and at the net, sometimes, he will go back. The good thing about  Ruud is that he will change his tactics, and fool against  the high players.

Obviously, though,  the 20-year-old Rune continues to play better and better, all the time. He can really smash the ball, down the middle, and side to side. His backhand is very decent, and his forehand is hard and steady. In Monte Carlo, he reached the finals, stunning Daniil Medvedev before he lost against Andrey Rublev. Win or lose, you could tell that he was right there, putting together a bunch of winners. Given that Rune just beat Novak Djokovic in Rome, now he will do it to win it on Saturday in two, unreal,  sets.

Stefanos Tsitsipas over Daniil Medvedev
The Russian has been churning, at the start of the year, and he has won so many excellent matches. Yes there are times when he is playing on the court, and while he is so faithful, he can back off.  His forehand and his backhand are muscular, and when he returns, he can nail it very deep. While he can look very good, he can also be pissed off, when he misses some easy shots.
On Saturday, he has to face versus Tsitsipas, another person who can plays off-the-wall. Or he hopes, it.

“I am definitely don’t put myself as a favorite,” said Medvedev, who  leads Tsitsipas 7-4. “But I have been playing extremely well here, feeling extremely well. So if I manage to play this well in the semi-finals, I’m sure I’m going to give a hard time to my opponent. That’s what I want to do. Hopefully I can go even further and try to win two more matches.” The Greek Tsitsipas is more powerful, and he can chuck it all with his shots. He does like to spin, and flattens it out. He is pretty fast when he runs, but there are times when he doesn’t try enough to go for it in the lines. But he does think that he can knock down Medvedev. “He’s been playing well and I’m playing [well] also,” Tsitsipas. “I really hope to bring the best out of me against him. I feel like he’s playing better than the years before.”

He might be right. While Medvedev in charging to become No. 1, but here and there, he can lost. He does here when Tsitsipas wins it in three, sizable, sets.

Elena Rybakina over Anhelina Kalinina
Two days ago, it was pretty incredible that she was flying high. Many people do that, each day, but to do it consistently, you have to lock in, and changing if you can. Kalinina has had an amazing tournament, knocking down everyone with some deep, cool shots.However, though, Rybakina can hit the ball and be patient. Yes, she can really go for it, only she has a real shot when she can bash a winner. She is conscious, she can really think, and also, she can take a breath after she missed with an easy winner. Rybakina is darn close to become No. 1 this year, and because of that, she will win it in three, surprising, sets. She will win another big tournament, one of her best players on court.

Matt’s yesterday picks

Correct: Elena Rybakina over Jelena Ostapenko
Veronika Kudermetova over Anhelina Kalinina

Matt’s picks from Rome

9 out of 14, 56.5% correct

The Picks on clay in Charleston and Estoril: Saturday, April 8

Casper Ruud

Jessica Pegula over Belinda Bencic
A few years ago, she was outside of the top 60, and she was somewhat consistent, but she was not aggressive enough. Then she had decided that win or lose, this time, when she has a real chance to jump on the ball, she would go for the lines. But that can be risky. Pegula is going to have to do it, because the Swiss Bencic can be outstanding, and then, she will make some crazy shots. Bencic will bring into the third set, and she will really run, but Pegula will beat her with her consistent backhand.

Ons Jabeur over Daria Kasatkina
You can say that many of the players are struggling, physically, but in a sense, it always happens to almost everyone.  The Russian Kasatkina has had a few fantastic wins this year, but once again, she is strugging in 2023. However, when she is on, she can punch the ball. This is the same thing with Jabeur, who almost won a Grand Slam, but she lost in the final at the 2022 U.S. Open, and after that, she just stopped on the court with some wacko shots. Hopefully, the No. 5 Jabeur will wake up and smell the roses. It is time, and the Tunisia Jabeur will cut down Kasatkina in two long sets.

Casper Ruud over Quentin Halys
This is not a good year by the Norway, who is ranked No. 5, but he has won a few matches. Of course when he is locked  in, he can dive near on the ground, and throw in some wonderful strokes. Last year, he was so authentic, but currently, he might be panicking. Ruud will eventually calm down, if he really wants to. The Frenchman  Halys has yet to reach into the top 60, and there is no doubt that he is desired to finally go into the top 50. He is 26-years-old, which is a perfect time to make a huge move. He might be able to do it, as he played very well in Miami.  Halys is enthusiastic, but Ruud will knock him down in three sets.

Miomir Kecmanovic over Marco Cecchinato
Kecmanovic can lose, but last year, he really  improved a lot of the past year and a half. He is fit, his forehand is pretty darn good, and his backhand is decent, but in order to eventually reach into the top 20, then he has mix it up more. Also, his second serve is marginal. He has not played well this year, and he has lost a lot, but the No. 40 wants to turn it around. Four years ago, the veteran Cecchinato reached No. 16, looking very good, but currently, he was just two matches this year. Apparently, he was hurt, but the Italian Cecchinato is mentally straining, so  Kecmanovic will win in two sets.

2023 Australian Open: Rafael Nadal, Casper Ruud lose to Americans

Mackenzie McDonald

American, Mackenzie McDonald just played his best tennis, ever, upsetting the No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.

He was so quick, and he crushed his forehand and his backhand. Who, knew? He was been decent, but he had not defeated top 10 players.

Nadal was clearly hurt, and while he could have retired in the second set, he decided to play on when he suffered a hip injury. He was breaking down, and his legs were very sore. Usually, he can run so fast, and nail his famous forehand, but he put together so many errors. That is the way it goes. The 36-year-old has rarely retired, but he wanted to just play, win or lose. This time, he lost, and he has to deal with it.

Will Nadal return next year in the 2024 Australia Open? It is tough to say.

“It’s a tough moment, it’s a tough day, and you need to accept that and keep going. Just can’t say that I am not destroyed mentally this time because I would be lying,” Nadal said. “I don’t know what’s going on, if it’s muscle, if it’s joint. I have history in the hip. I had to do treatments in the past, address a little. It was not this amount of problem. Now I feel I cannot move.”

Believe it or not, McDonald, who was born in Berkeley, Calif.,  is only ranked No. 65, and the 27-year-old has never won a tournament. However, gradually, they can get better, but they have to construct the points. Plus, they have to try every second. This time, he swung hard.

“[Nadal] didn’t even want to roll over and quit. He kept fighting until basically the end, even though he maybe didn’t have all his game,” McDonald said. “I was like, `Hey, that’s actually really big for me, because I haven’t beaten someone of that caliber.”

If he can reach into the second week, then maybe he will think that he can upset other excellent players.

Brooksby ousts Ruud
In another stunner, a Northern Californian – Jenson Brooksby – took out another the second-seeded Casper Ruud 6-3, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-2. The Norwegian threw in 55 unforced errors, giving the consistent Brooksby an opening to advance into the third round. This is Brooksby’s first time playing the Australian Open.

Ruud said, “I didn’t feel like I played particularly bad or not at the level that I wanted to play, but he just ended up winning many of the longer rallies and had an answer to all the questions that I asked him.”

A number of the American men won on Wednesday and Thursday, including Frances Tiafoe and Sebastian Korda. Michael Mmoh eliminated Alexander Zverev in four sets. JJ Wolf ousted Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.

Taylor Fritz, the top American man, lost to Australian Alexei Popyrin in five sets. Cressy fell victim to the ninth-seed Hunger Rune in straight sets in the second round.

Brandon Holt outlasted Aleksandar Vukic 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. It is never easy to play for many hours in a five-setter, but he stood in there, and he was very consistent. He has only won few matches in the ATP Tour, so he has to be powerful, and to mix it up more. But Holt is young, so gradually, he will understand what he should do.

Lauren Davis on a roll
Who would have thought that Lauren Davis won another match? Davis has played in the WTA for 12 years, and while she plays all the time. Incredibly she has won eight matches in a row, coming off a victory in Hobart. She decided to really go for it, rather than just be more stable. It seems to be working.

Coco Gauff is playing with intelligence and hitting the balls deep. She took down the former US Open champion, Emma Raducanu, 6-3, 7-6(4). She can beat most players, but she still has to improve her serve and return. Maybe she can do it over the next 11 days…

For other American women, there are some impressive wins by Jessica Pegula, Madison Keys, Bernarda Pera and Claire Liu.

What a match it was when Danielle Collins edged Karolina Muchova 6-7(1), 6-2, 7-6(6). The rallies were tremendous.

Two of the women lost, Sloane Stephens and Alison Riske-Amritraj. Once again, Stephens is unsure where she is going. This year will be fascinating. Can she comeback into the top 10 again, or stay under the top 50? She will have to change, something.

Riske-Amritraj plays a lot, too, but perhaps she can find a way into the net and put it away, or attack when she is returning.

2023 Australian Open favorites

The women

Jessica Pegula
Rick Limpert

With the women, clearly, the favorite is No. 1 Iga Swiatek. But, she has never won in Melbourne. She can be very aggressive on the hardcourts. Last year, Ash Barty won it and then retired. However, one of the Americans, Sofia Kenin, won it in 2020, but then she went straight downhill. Maybe she will get going again but she has to turn thing around quickly, because she has to face Vika Azarenka in the first round. Azarenka won it twice in 2012 and 2013. Now she is playing decently, but she is not great right now. Both of them are super fierce and then they can go for the lines. Sometimes they miss it, the other times they can control play in the backcourt. But, to win it, that would be very surprising.

Three American women should reach the second week or to get into the final: Coco Gauff, Madison Keys, and Danielle Collins. But 18-year-old Gauff, who reached into the final at Roland Garros, would have to beat Świątek in the quarters if they both advance to that round.

Keys is a former US Open finalists and Collins reached that level at the Australian Open. No one won, but at least they played were tough outs all the way to the finals. Maybe something occurred, either they were too nervous, or maybe they were not strategic.

Another veteran, Jessica Pegula, is ranked No. 3, which means that she has been much more assertive with her ground strokes. She won Guadalajara in the fall and that was her best tournament ever. However, she has yet to go deep at the Slams, so this will be a huge challenge for her to show she can dominate in a major.

There are others who can win a Slam for the first time: Caroline Garcia, Aryna Sabalenka, Maria Sakkari, Daria Kasatkina, Belinda Bencic and Amanda Anisimova. The big question is: Does anyone here have a real shot?

Stefanos Tsitsipas

The men

To win the Australian Open, you have to be super patient and also mash the ball. Novak Djokovic has won it eight times,and Rafa Nadal grabbed it twice. Serena Williams also won it many times, but she retired last year. Naomi Osaka, took it twice, but now she is not playing because she is pregnant.

There are some people who can win a major for the first time. How about the men? Yes, Djokovic and Nadal, who won it last year, are the favorites,. But, there are more than a few who can win it for the first time like Nick Kyrgios, Andrey Rublev, Casper Ruud, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini and Americans Taylor Fritz, Sebastian Korda and Frances Tiafoe.

Here is what is odd: among active men only Djokovic, Nadal and Stan Wawrinka have won Aussie Open in the past 25 years. Repeat: no one managed to grind it and nail the shots. Plus, those three really understand what to do during the matches. Plus, their strokes, serves and returns are fantastic. Medvedev managed to reach the final against Nadal last year. He was so coherent all the time, but in the finalps fifth set, Nadal threw some astonishing shots and he beat him 7-5. The Russian can look so steady, but after that he was mentally down. If he rises again, then perhaps he can be much more solid.

The Aussie Kyrgios is one of the hardest hitter on court. He can slug his forehand, he can clip his first serve and he really likes to be creative during the points. 

There are some who have a real chance to control matches and go deep at the Slams, such as the basher Andrey Rublev, the thoughtful Casper Ruud, the hustling Felix Auger-Aliassime and the Mr. Variety Matteo Berrettini. Now there are three American men who are seeded and can go deep too: Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe and Sebastian Korda. Fritz won Indian Wells last year, upsetting Nadal. At the ATP Finals, he looked very good, but it will be different at the Slams. Tiafoe reached the 2022 US Open semis and he was spinning around, and he hit some unreal shots. So if he can go into the semis, then perhaps he can take the gloves off. Korda’s dad, Petr, won the 1998 Australian Open. So, if Sebastian can lock in early, then without a doubt, he can reach into the second week — or further.

Three players have outside chances to the final at Melbourne, such as Andy Murray, Marin Cilic and Dominic Thiem. They have all won a Slam — not on the Australian Open — but they have took it on the hardcourt. It is possible that they can win more than a few matches, but to win it all, that would be almost shocking.

Quarterfinal picks at the 2022 US Open

Casper Ruud

Casper Ruud vs Matteo Berrettini
The 23-year-old Norwegian broke out two years ago. Clearly, he knows that if he wants to make No. 1 someday, then he has to improve his strokes. He and the Italian have played each other five times already, which is unusual, so they know each other well. In Gstaad in July, Ruud beat Berrettini to win the title, and now it is 3-2 head to head. Both of them can slap the ball, but also, they can be very patient, and can change it up. “You need to obviously guess right sometimes, and sort of see if you can try to read where he’s going,” Ruud said. Without a doubt, when they get on court, it will take hours before they finish. It really is a toss-up, but Berrettini will win it in five nutty sets.

Ons Jabeur vs Ajla Tomljanovic
The Australian eliminated Serena Williams. Now, she finally made it into the quarters at the Grand Slam. She has been around for a long time, and she has been pretty decent, but not unreal. But over the past eight days, she rose, and has shown confidence. Plus, she likes to talk with the journalists. However, Jabeur played some assortment points. She is so quick, and she has so much variety. Yes, she has won against a number of the top 10 players, but she has yet to win a major. However, this year, at least she made into the final at Wimbledon, and she lost to Elena Rybakina. This time, though, Jabeur will be ready and beat Tomljanovic in straight sets.

Nick Kyrgios vs Karen Khachanov
The Aussie has become a real force. His serve is huge, his forehand is massiv, and currently he has added rushing the net and putting away volleys. However, Khachanov is a huge swinger, and he can crack the ball. He is not the fastest, but when he is right there, then he can belt it. Khachanov would love to go very deep at the USO, but Kyrgios will hit many aces and winners, too. He will win it in four hardy sets.

Coco Gauff vs Caroline Garcia
These two have played some fantastic matches this summer. They both have gone deep, and they have beaten a number of the top players. Gauff reached into the final at Roland Garros, and a couple weeks ago, Garcia won Cincinnati. From the backcourt, they can run all day. The American who can hit winners from all over the court. Te Frenchwoman can also be patient, but finally, the veteran started to be much more gung ho. That will be a really banner match, with some wild points. In the end, the teenager will out-hit Garcia right and win it in three thrilling sets.

More coverage
Here is my story about Frances Tiafoe believing he could take down Rafa Nada at the US Open.