TennisReporters.net, the top 32 women: No. 5-1

Aryna Sabalenka
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

5 Jessica Pegula
If she is totally on fire, she can hit it, stroke after stroke. Her backhand is so consistent, hitting it crosscourt, in the middle, deep, and whaling it down the line. Her forehand can also be very solid, and she can also put it away at the net. However, she did have a very good year, but not spectacular. Yes, she beat a number of excellent players, but she lost in more than a few critical matches. Yes, she has been here for a long time, and two years ago, she started to play much better, but currently, while she is very, very good, but she has yet to reach into the Grand Slams final. She really has to, one way or another. Next year, if she finally wins a Slam, she has to serve harder, and also, with her forehand. It really will be a huge critical challenge.

4 Elena Rybakina

When she is really on, she can crush the ball, all over the place.She is quick, she is very fast, and she can read where  she is going. However, she plays a lot, and  in the first six months, she looked terrific, almost grabbing the Australia Open,  and then, she won Indian Wells and Rome. But after that, she began to slip. She did win a few fine wins, like when she beat with Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka, but she lost in some far, close matches to both of them. She is a solitary person, when she is hitting the ball, where she is going, and not deciding the right way. She did win the 2022 Wimbledon, and she was the outlaw, so if she can add with her second serve, and at the net, she can win another Slam, eventually, perhaps in 2024.

3 Coco Gauff
Last year, her forehand was upgrading, and her return was decent, but not great, yet. But in 2023, she began to climb, as her backhand was already phenomenal, but she had to change her forehand, and then, she really did. Now, she is not flawless yet, but she did win the 2023 US Open, snaring the third sets, when she had to, and she was just so rapt. She is still very young, and  off-court, she is very thoughtful. Some people have said that eventually, soon, she will become No. 1, and then she can win another more Slams. She might,  and maybe she will, but the realty is that Serena Williams have won 23 Grand Slams, and Venus — who is still playing — has won seven Grand Slams. Gauff has put together more than a few wins, and next year, she will be continue to her rising forehand.

2 Aryna Sabalenka

She did win the 2023 Australian Open, and she hit some colossal winners, with her husky forehand and her backhand, She can also attack, right after she returns, and she will  flat it out, down the line, or cross-court. She can last for a longtime, but other times, she loses what she is achievement.  But look, her serve is still decent, but not great, yet, when she is feeling it, then she can win so many matches, like when she won Madrid. The reality, though, that while she would go deep a lot, but she still cannot see where and when the bounce ball are going. Yes, she can win another Grand Slam next year, but currently, Iga Swiatek is better than she is, with her intense strokes. Plus, Sabalenka is still working with her serves, which she still can throw in a lot of double faulty. However, she is a hoot good, so she will adjust, and improve, even more.  

1 Iga Swiatek
She had another tremendous years, winning Roland Garros  and she grabbed Doha, Stuttgart,  Warsaw, Beijing, and the WTA Finals. She is not husky, but without a doubt, she is clearly the No. 1 right now. Her forehand and her backhand are strong, and her first serve is quite hard, and she can return with a number of winners. Since Ash Barty retired, two years ago, the Polish person waxed very fast, winning now four Grand Slams,  inclusion the 2022 U.S. Open. She totally values on the clay, being very patient, if she needs to, and also on the hardcourts, when she can slap the ball, until she wheres them down. The 23 Grand Slam champ Serena Williams, who is now retired, she knew all surfaces, winning on the hardcourts, on the clay, and also, on the grass.  She won so many Slams, but Swiatek has yet to win at the Aussie Open and Wimbledon.  Now it is time for her to do it, at least one of them. How about to start very early at Melbourne? She may not, but she will be checked in, peering, and intense. As she said: “Mental toughness is probably most important thing in tennis right now because everybody can play on the highest level. But the ones that are tough and that can handle the pressure are the biggest ones.”

WTA Finals: Elena Rybakina vs. Aryna Sabalenka

Elena Rybakina

There should be a terrific match, when the No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka will face against Elena Rybakina. Their match is suspended due to rain and will restart today with Sabalenka ahead 6-2, 3-5.

They are tied 1-1, so whoever wins, she will get into the semis. Both of them can hammer their forehand and their backhand, and they can also leap on the second serve. Sabalenka did lose against the American, Jessica Pegula, because while she did nail some fine shots, but she did not serve well enough. Sabalenka can screech, and she can nail it off the court, and put it away. However, sometimes she can forget, where she is hitting the ball, exactly, which way to go?

She will have to, but so will be Rybakina, a real competitor. She doesn’t chop it much, but she can also angle it. Her backhand is super solid, but her forehand is pretty hard, yet she can miss it when she cannot control it.

This year, they have played each other three times, with Sabalenka beating Rybakina 6-4 in the final at the Australian Open. There was joy, and also, sad. However, Rybakina beat her twice in a row, winning Indian Wells, and also, recently, she knocked her down in Beijing. As she said: “I think this year I was more consistent, especially in the first part of the year. In the second part was a bit unlucky with the health issues, some sickness. Overall I think I improved a lot.”

The Kazakhstan  won the 2022 Wimbledon, so she can rise up when she is comfortable. This time, in Cancun, Rybakina will nail it in the corners and beat Sabalenka 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

That was a solid match on Wednesday when Ons Jabeur beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-4, 6-3. In her first match, she couldn’t hit the ball anywhere, and she lost immediately, but today, she brought in with her terrific strokes. Now she is back again, so on Friday, she will be there, pushing it hard, and determining.

How about when Iga Swiatek beats Coco Gauff 6-0, 7-5? Yes, Swiatek can play amazing, especially in the corners, but even though she has had some excellent matches, especially when she won the US Open, but currently, Gauff is still working to improve her up and down forehand. But she will, year after year. Swiatek has won two matches, and she will play in the semis, against… who knows?

In the second match, Jessica Pegula will play Maria Sakkari. Pegula has won two matches, while Sakkari is eliminated. The match, though, should be engaging. What, why and who?

ATP
Both Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev both won in Paris and it looks like that they will qualify in the ATP Finals in Turin. … Tommy Paul lost, so he is now eliminated in the ATP Finals. Casper Ruud is also gone, but Holger Rune is still there, but he has to go very deep to get into the top eight. Rune has to defend1,000 points. Ouch.

Sabalenka: “I think the best season in my life so far”

Aryna Sabalenka
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Jessica Pegula finally played terrific at the WTA Finals, beating the intense player, Elena Rybakina in two sets. However, on Tuesday she has to face against the No. 1, Aryna Sabalenka, who crushed Maria Sakkari.

They have played each other five times, and Sabalenka beat her four times, mostly on the clay, but at this tournament last year, she beat her 6-3, 7-5 on the hard courts. The Belarussian also really likes on the hard courts, winning the Australian Open. Her forehand and her backhand are massive, and her return is super aggressive. However, she can get frustrated on the court, over hitting the ball, and not coming into the net. She can be a brilliant player, but also, she can check out in the third set, occasionally.

Pegula believes that when she can go for it, and also to risk it, rather than just to put it on play, then she can actually grab a lot of winners. Years ago, she was decent, but she wasn’t been able to out-hit against the top players. Now she is, and to win this match, she has to change it up more, and push her into the wall.

Sabalenka knows that she has to be patient, and to jump it when she is returning. As she said, two days ago: “It’s just super great season, I think the best season in my life so far. Hopefully this is just the beginning: with every year I’ll play better and better. I use this year as a motivation for me to keep working hard, to keep pushing, and see where is my limit are. ”
Sabalenka will make some odd error, but towards at the end, she will hit some massive first sets and she will win it 4-6, 6-3, 6-3

Surpassingly, Rybakina did now play well enough on Sunday against Pegula, when she lost. Yes, the American was so consistent, but the 2022 Wimbledon champ has had a solid year, but she only won one ever, in Rome. She certainly has beaten all the top players, but her forehand can be spotty. The Russian Rybakina is a huge hitter, and she can return pretty well, but if she wants to win another huge event, then she has to raise quickly.

Sakkari is one of the best rallies, hitting hour after hour. She can be so steady, but she plays all the time, and in the fall, she looks very tired. Yes, she does want to show that she is still there, in the matches, but she is not hitting the ball deep enough, which is why Rybakina will win the match 6-4, 6-1.

Notes: the women and men

On Monday, two of the former champs, Coco Gauff and Iga Swiatek, won easily, so they are in it.

In Paris, Taylor Fritz won a match, and he said that his body is so-so. If he wins a couple matches, then he has a solid chance to play in the ATP Finals. Or maybe not:

“It’s something that’s been bothering me for a little bit… I didn’t think it was anything too bad going in [to this match], but one where I slid out and sliced that forehand, I felt like I did something that I had never done to it before,” said Fritz. “Like maybe I tore something or pulled it. So I’m going to have to get it checked out and see what’s going on.”

The other American, Tommy Paul, won a marathon, beating Richard Gasquet 0-6, 6-2, 7-6(6). He has to win the tournament to qualify, but it is almost impossible. But at least he will try…

He may be ranked No. 7. but last year in Paris, Holger Rune won it, but now he is defending 1,000 points. He does have a chance to qualify, but he has to go very deep to do it again. He has not played very well since Wimbledon, so he is going to have to recover, immediately. Rune is only 20-years-old, so over the next couple years he will get better, here and there, but he has to think about it all of the time. They all must do.

The finals in Canada: Jessica Pegula, Jannik Sinner, Alex de Minaur

Jannik Sinner
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

The American Jessica Pegula has been around the block, for a very long time, but finally, she is very intense, and when the match is almost done, then you have to really go for it. Or, if she is very steady, during the points, when she is feeling it, then she can hit it harder, and really mix it up.

Over the past few days, in Montreal, it looked like that  Pegula could fold, but she has been so confident. She edged two of the fine players, taking down her good friend,  Coco Gauff  6-2, 5-7, 7-5, and on Saturday, she out-lasted Iga Swiatek 6-2, 6-7, 6-4. Those were two huge events, as she has yet to reach into the semis is the Grand Slams, but at the 2023 U.S. Open, maybe she will finally do it for the first time.

However, right now, it is the most important event. “It’s just kind of trying to execute it at the right times and as best as possible,” she said.

Unfortunately, in Montreal, it was raining  at night, so they had to cancel between Elena Rybakina and  Liudmila Samsonova. They will play on Sunday.

The Aussie Alex de Minaur also said that he really can go further. He beat the former 2021 US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, and then he blasted Alejandro
Davidovich Fokina in the semis. Over the past few years ago, he would miss a lot of shots. He could back off, and he could become frustrated. Now he understands what really works. If he is way down on the court, he can continue to battle.

“I’m not going to give up at any stage.  Yeah, just at those stages, I managed to put the ball in the court, play a couple good points,” de Minaur  said. “And then, all of a sudden, I got my chance and was able to turn that around.  So it’s often how tennis goes. It’s huge momentum swings. So you always got to stay in the present.”

He is currently ranked No. 18, and he does say that this year, he will finally reach into the top 10. The 24-year-old has won seven titles, but none in the ATP 1000s, or at the Grand Slams. But at least he won two ATP 500s, including in early March when he won Acapulco, on the hardcourts. He also reached the finals in London/Queen’s Club and a week ago, in Los Cabos, Mexico.

As he said, very soon, he wants to get into the tough top 10.

“Yeah, 100%. That’s been the goal for me for a couple years,” de Minaur said. “It’s no secret that, I haven’t really been content where I am, and I’m always trying to find my way to push more.  I’ve always felt that I’ve got the level to break into that top 10. But it probably wasn’t until end of last year where I was able to get my first win against a top 5, which was Daniil in Paris, that I really was able to have that breakthrough moment of really believing in myself. And I think from that moment onwards, it’s been a completely different — it’s been a change. I’m feeling a lot better. I’ve had a great year.”

He will face against the Italian, Jannik Sinner, who beat Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-4. It was close. but Sinner  missed a few odd shots, but he continued to throw with some gigantic shots. In the final, Sinner will take down de Minaur in three, massive sets.

The picks at Wimbledon: Wednesday, July 12

Daniil Medvedev
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Elena Rybakina over One Jabeur
Exactly one year ago Rybakina found her forehand, and she came back, and grabbed the Wimbledon title, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 over Jabeur in the final. Can she do it again? Perhaps, but Jabeur played fantastic when she clubbed Petra Kvitova easily.

The former seven-time major champion, Mats Wilander said that Rybakina is on fire, “When she starts getting going we realize ‘Oh okay, here we go again.’ She’s perfect for the grass with the big serve and then the confidence from last year. So out of the three, you most probably have to put Rybakina half a step ahead in terms of being the favorite.”

They have played each other four times and they have split. Jabeur has so much variety, and she can slice it, spin it and flatten it out. When she is feeling good, she can throw in her terrific drop shots. However, she can hit it too short and her serve is so-so. 

Rybakina can be nervous at times, but she can also really think about the different strokes. There are times when her forehand goes off, and her second serve can be too short. But on the grass, she believes that eventually, she can jump to grab her winners. For the second time at Wimbledon, Rybakina will edge Jabeur in another fun three-setter.

Aryna Sabalenka over Madison Keys
They have split their match, one to one, with Sabalenka winning almost five years ago in Cincinnati on the hard courts and Keys grabbed it in Berlin two years ago 7-5 in the third. Sabalenka won a Slam for the first time this year, taking the Australian Open.

Keys has not done it yet, but she has gone very deep at all the four Slams. 
She thinks when she is healthy, she can beat almost anyone. She can mash her forehand and her backhand, and her first serve is extremely powerful, but her second serve can be weak. She will hustle, and she also will try to put it into the corner and put it away.

Yes, the same goes for Sabalenka, who hops on balls very early and she will swing it very hard. She can blitz her forehand and her backhand, and while she is returning, she can over-hit. Yes, she has matured a lot of the past year, and she is much more secure. Without a doubt, Keys wants to go even further, but in the third set, the No. 2 Sabalenka will win it in three massive sets.

Daniil Medvedev over Christopher Eubanks
It was predictable that Eubanks was going to lose against Stefanos Tsitsipas, but he did not. Last year, the former Georgia Tech star was unable to beat anyone of the top 20 at all. But he realized eventually if he can hit the ball even harder, and then he can crush the balls off both sides. The 27-year-old changed it up, and his first serve became more consistent. “It’s a bit nuts right now. It’s crazy to see my social media feed that I’m just used to kind of going to, seeing it’s a lot of me,” he said. “I’m like, What is this? This is weird. The entire experience all together has just been a whirlwind. It’s been something that you dream about. But I think for me I didn’t really know if that dream would actually come true. I’m sitting here in it now, so it’s pretty cool.”


That is darn cool, but he has to something that he can reject Medvedev. The Russian has had a strange year, winning a lot, and then, almost out of nowhere, he over-hits. Yes, the former No. 1 really likes his brutal forehand and his heavy backhand, and also, when he returns, too. He doesn’t love at the net, but it is pretty darn good, yet here and there, he can mentally check out. However, on the grass, in London, Medvedev will swell up, and he will step on the top against after the American. Medvedev will win it in four interesting sets. 

Carlos Alcaraz over Holger Rune
These two have tied, one to one, which is interesting, but not really. The first time was in 2021 Next Gen ATP Finals in Italy, and Alcaraz, won it easily. Then in the fall, last year in 2022, in Paris indoors, Rune won it when Alcaraz retired, due to an injury. So really, that was important, yet the 20-years-old still haven’t played each other enough, and because of that, it is all most even.

It is pretty clear there will be some long points, down the line, and crosscourt. They can mix it up, and they can also rush into the net. They are very potent, and while they are still young, they have played a lot since they started, so they know how to hit the ball, intelligently.


As Alcaraz said: “If I have to take some weapon from him, I’m going to say the backhand. I’m not saying that my backhand is bad, no. I think he has a great backhand. He has a lot of passion; he loves the game. He’s a very competitive guy, as well. I could describe him like this.”

It is highly unlikely that they will go into the glorious five-setter, and while Rune wants to win a Grand Slam, he will miss a few shots at the end. Alcaraz will win it with four awesome winners.

Matt’s yesterday picks at Wimbledon

Correct: Novak Djokovic over Andrey Rublev
Correct: Jannik Sinner over Roman Safiullin
Iga Swiatek over Elina Svitolina
Jessica Pegula over Marketa Vondrousova

Matt’s picks from Wimbledon

11 out of 17. 64.7% correct

Chris Evert’s Wimbledon predictions and Rybakina’s chances

Elena Rybakina

At 2022 Wimbledon, the aggressive Elena Rybakina won the tournament. During those two weeks, she was totally focused, and she dove on the lines. Her forehand and her backhand were very heavy, and she was also powerful. She finally understood what she had to do and not think about the pressure.

She is not the only one. Petra Kvitova just won a tournament and the Czech grabbed The Championships trophy twice. Iga Swiatek just won the 2023 Roland Garros and Aryna Sabalenka took it at the 2023 Australian Open.

But can Rybakna win it back to back in London? The former 18-Grand Slam champ Chris Evert says that Rybakina has to be more flexible.

“I think any time there’s an injury this close to Wimbledon, it gives anybody pause. You definitely have to be 100% physically to play seven matches and to do things with your body that you’re not accustomed to doing versus a hard court or a clay court,” Evert said. “You have to be adaptable, flexible, you have to be able to move on some slick courts. It all kind of screams you better be careful with your body and you better have that good balance.”

Not too many women have won it back-to-back. Venus and Serena Williams have done it, as has Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, among others. Evert did win it three times on the grass, as she was so steady, especially with her terrific backhand. She knows that when you had won at the Slams, in the next year, it could be totally different.

“[Rybakina] has going against her, it’s always tough to defend your title. I just feel like she’s shown a little vulnerability this year,” Evert said. “She’s got the perfect game for grass when everything is working, but everything has to be working. She played a great, great match when she won the tournament, but at the same time I don’t know if she’s at that top form right now. I see [Aryna] Sabalenka and Iga [Swiatek]. I only see the other players getting better and better. I wouldn’t put her on the top of my list, even though she’s defending champion. I wouldn’t put her on the top of my list. At the same time there’s a little bit of an unknown as to what her health is, what her fitness is like. I really can’t make a definitive statement on that.”

She is probably correct. This year, Rybakina won Indian Wells and Rome, and also reached the final at the Australian Open, but she lost in a few key matches, including verses Sabalenka.  

There are other people who can very deep, such as Kvitova and the 2017 Roland Garros champ Jelena Ostapenko, who is playing great again.

The No. 1 Swiatek has yet to win at Wimbledon, but her forehand and her backhand are phenomenal. Yet she has to re-think what she is going, to be more patient on the grass. Evert things that she could be vulnerable.
 
“It’s her best Wimbledon result I believe was the fourth round. She’s won tournaments on hard court,” Evert said. “Swiatek won tournaments on clay courts, Grand Slams, majors. She has such great court coverage in the sense of she can slide, her legs are very crucial, the court coverage is very crucial in her game. In order for her to really get set for the ball, she has to know how to move and she has to be very comfortable and her footing has to be solid. Footing is not necessarily solid on the grass. Plus the fact with that extreme western forehand, when I’ve been watching her on grass, anybody has trouble with. Even Coco Gauff has trouble with that low slice forehand when you have that extreme grip to hit up on the ball. It’s very awkward.”

When she was talking, she discussed about Gauff, as the American is very good, but the young player still has to work on the court.

“I think that Coco, and Iga for that matter, like the waist high balls and the balls around the shoulder with that western grip. But the short ones will give them trouble. So I think that and the fact that she can’t really at this point feel super confident on the grass. I think she feels confident. She’s No. 1 in the world, the best player in the world, but this surface may take away a little bit of her strength, which is her moving because of the sliding.

“Also I think if you’re going to win Wimbledon, you’ve got to have a big serve, you’ve got to win free points off that serve. The players have been attacking her second serve a little bit. She doesn’t have that big Sabalenka, Rybakina first serve. I’m nitpicking here because she’s No. 1 in the world and she’s great, and I think she can win Wimbledon, don’t get me wrong. But there’s some little nuances in her game that might hurt her a little bit on the grass court that don’t affect her as much, that help her actually, on the other surfaces.”

The big basher Kvitova certainly can win it for the third time, and yesterday, Madison Keys won the Rothesay International beating Daria Kasatkina, which was huge.

You can throw in who have a chance to reach into the quarterfinals, like Jessica Pegula, Caroline Garcia, Barbora Krejcikova, Ons Jabeur, Karolina Pliskova and Donna Vekic. They can win in all, or fall down. As Pliskova said, “If you believe in yourself, you can beat anyone.”

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 in Rome: Friday, May 19

Jelena Ostapenko
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Elena Rybakina over Jelena Ostapenko
Many people thought that Iga Swiatek was possibly going to win it, but in the second set, she became injured so in the third set, she retired. Yes, when she is totally on, she has been the best player on clay, winning Roland Garros, twice. However, outside of that, Rybakina has beaten three times, as the former Wimbledon champion would hit some incredible winners, especially with her hard forehand and her backhand.
 
The thing about the Russian is that she has won many matches, but essentially on the hardcourts and on the grass. She is so powerful. In March, she won Indian Wells, beating, believe it or not,  the No. 1 Swiatek, in the semis and also, taking down the No. 2 , Aryna Sabalenka. When she is playing great, she can beat anyone. But over the past month, she has been so-so. This is much the same way with Ostapenko, who when she is totally on, she can crush the ball so deep and into the corners. Yes, she can knock down anyone, but over the years, she has lost some odd matches. She did beat Rybakina twice,  on the hardcourts and the grass, but at the 2023 Aussie Open, she when down and she knocked her back.

This is the first time this year that Ostapenko has reached into the semis. Listen, when she is locked  in, she will look phenomenal, but when she is frustrated, then she puts together dozens or error. Yes, the Latvia can start early, grab the first set, then she will look tremendous, but currently, she is hard to read, which is why Rybakina will win it in  three, savage, sets.  

Veronika Kudermetova over Anhelina Kalinina
This is certainly almost a new thing, with Kalinina, who already  is a veteran. She has won a couple good wins in 2023, but not that much. Maybe she has become more aggressive and also, when the Ukrainian changed her tactics. Or something else, but yes, she is playing thoughtful.

Once again, the Russian Kudermetova can be hard with  herself when she isn’t finding the solution. However, though, there are days when she is more patient, and re-think about where she should go.  She certainly can bash the ball, and when she is returning,  she can mash it, down the line. She did reach the semis in Madrid, and here, in Rome, she  has done it again, sitting on the porch, waiting to start and sprint, on the court. Kudermetova will win it in two, simple, sets.

Matt’s yesterday picks

Correct: Daniil Medvedev over Yannick Hanfmann
Borna Coric over Stefanos Tsitsipas

Matt’s picks from Rome

8 out of 14, 57.1% correct

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

Dan Evans
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Picks written on Wednesday, before play started.

Barcelona

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.

Munich

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.

Stuttgart

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 in Miami: Saturday, April 1

Petra Kvitova

The last time that Petra Kvitova won a tournament is when she conquered on the grass at Eastbourne. Yes, that was very good, as she won Wimbledon twice, but on the hardcourts, she faltered at times. She thought that soon she will retire. But right now, she came back up, reaching the final in Miami.


The left-hander can execute when she is feeling good. She has to in order to bump down Elena Rybakina, who is also on a blaze.  Kvitova is a potent person, and she can react immediately with her power. She wants to push her opponents way in the courts, and when she has a chance, she can scream on it.

But now Kvitova has to deal with Rybakina once again. At the start of the year Kvitova beat her in Adelaide in two tough sets.

But Rybakina did not go down mentally, and she reached the 2023 Australian Open final.  Of course she lost to Aryna Sabalenka, but she could tell that when she plays well, she can hop on the ball. She knew that back at the 2022 Wimbledon, there were times when she miss some silly shots, but in the next point, she could really concentrate with her very rugged stokes. Her first serve is enormous, and her return is elephantine . She just won Indian Wells, and when that has happened, many people are tired, physically, and then in Miami, they can lose early. But not with the prime players, who want to win it all the time.

As Kvitova said, “It’s 1-1 so we can see who gonna take it. She’s playing very good, winning Indian Wells, returning here in the final. For sure it’s a great achievement. She’s a big hitter, big server as well. I’m the same. It’s depends really how we are gonna handle the pressure from the opponent.”

Yes she is, and for sure, there is always pressure. Kvitova wins in three neat sets, and that will be she will win 30 tournaments, a wonderful achievement.