Verdasco: ‘Hopefully and stay for few more years on the tour’

The 34-year-old Fernando Verdasco took down the No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov and eventually, lost in Indian Wells to Taylor Fritz. On the plus side, he says that he is not ready to retire now. The former top 10 Verdasco reached the ’09 Australian Open against Rafa Nadal, losing in five incredible sets, that lasted more than five hours.

After he rests and goes on vacation Verdasco, wants to walk on the court and begin hitting again. He is playing Miami this week, and he is hoping that he will be hitting the ball next week, too.

“Tennis was always my life since I’m a baby. I always love this sport. I always love to play,” Verdasco said. “Of course, you always have some crisis in your life that, you like to play but maybe you just want to go on a beach and just relax some days with friends. But, actually, when I’m away for maybe a week, maybe 10 days, I miss it. And then I just want to go back to the court, to the gym, and work and try to keep improving and working hard to stay in the top level and being able to fight against the best players in the world, no? Now I’m 34 and I have to fight against players with 21, 22, 23 (of age) that that they are much younger. They have much less miles or kilometers in his legs.”

Verdasco admits that one of the reason he lost to Fritz is because he didn’t go for the lines often enough. He can be steady, and aggressive, but there have been some matches when he backed off.

“I was sometimes losing matches because, in the important moments with my serve, I was just kind of like not pushing. But just playing with first serves maybe 100 miles, and maybe I need to serve 125, 130, 135 sometimes, even if I miss.” Verdasco said. “But that’s what really makes you improve, and sometimes you have to take the risk. One match with Andy Murray, fourth round in Australia when I did semifinals, the fifth set against him, I start serving, 130 all the time. And, I surprised his return, because he was waiting for me wide, wide, wide, and then I start to do T hard, and many free points I got. Is not easy with pressure. And, hopefully, I will still have time to improve in more things and stay for few more years on the tour.”

Verdasco has always had a huge forehand, and his first serve, but his backhand has been mediocre. The Spaniard continues to work on it, to mix it up and hit it reasonably deep.
“My forehand was always there, or feeling good. The backhand, sometimes not that regular or maybe hurting that much. So, maybe I have to work my footwork to try to play with my forehand as much as possible. Backhand be aggressive. Changing, mix it up, high, low, slice. … It depending on who you play. Everything change about that. You try to change your game to hurt him, and at the end you’re hurting yourself because you’re not doing what you know how to do the best. So, in the end, it’s kind of like confusion because you lose because you don’t know what you’re doing on the court. That’s the worst feeling when you jump on court and you lose doing that.”

Miami notes
Vika Azarenka crushed CiCi Bellis in the first round. Azarenka admitted that she was pretty nervous, but once she went on court, she immediately locked in. Can she win Miami once again? It is a little early, but you never now with her. She faces Madison Keys in the next round. Keys has to get going. Azarenka already has.

Monica Puig took down Sam Stosur 6-3, 6-4. Puig loves Miami, where she lives.

Katarina Pliskova will face Ekaterina Makarova on Thursday. The Czech has to keep her head down because during some days, she doesn’t focus. The same thing goes with Makarova, but both of them are very good.

Roger Federer, who let the final against Juan Martin del Potro at Indian Wells slip away, says after Miami is done, he will decide whether to play Roland Garros. Now that would be nice to have play the Slam he didn’t play last year. Here are two very good matchups in doubles: John Isner/Donald Young v. Kyle Edmund/Nenad Zimonjic; Zverev brothers vs. Santiago Gonzalez/Verdasco.

Teenager Auger-Aliassime ready to rock against Raonic

Felix Auger_Aliassime
INDIAN WELLS–Twenty years ago in Canada, there were a few very good players, but not that many. Now, there are a bunch. The teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime upset the veteran Vasek Pospisil 6-2, 7-6, and now he will go up against Milos Raonic on Sunday. Raonic has reached the final at Wimbledon a couple years ago. Without a doubt, he wants to win a gigantic tournament, but he gets hurt frequently, so the only way to do it and stay healthy this season, because if he doesn’t, he won’t be able to take down the big boys. 

Plus, Raonic must know that already Auger-Aliassime is very good, fast and strong. He is young, so it is hard to tell how great he will be over the years, but many folks that he is already darn good.   

He can’t wait to play Raonic at Indian Wells.

“I am exciting to see someone I have looked up to growing up. I’ll try do everything I can to return the serve and hang in there. It’s quite exciting. I’m looking forward to it, yeah,” Auger-Aliassime said.

When you are young, there is a lot to learn. Even if you are practicing everyday, you still have to try new shots. And stay with it. Look at Roger Federer, who has won 20 Grand Slams, but it took him 35 years to accept his leaping backhand. The Canadian has a ton of things to practice and learn. But already, he likes a few important swings.

“My strengths are probably my serve, forehand. I’m an aggressive player, but I think the coverage of the court is something I have been working on. And I think it’s paying off now with the big guys, you know, to be able to cover the court, to move well, and then to defend and stay in the points,” Auger-Aliassime said. “That’s something that helps me a lot. As a player, you try and be as complete as you can, so there is a lot of things I want to improve and just that consistency that I want to get over the matches and over the tournaments.”

The women
The two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza is once again struggling, up and down. She was pretty decent in Europe in February, reaching the final on Doha and in the semis in Dubai. But now, she is floundering. In the third set against Sachia Vickery, the American hustled and banged away, while Muguruza overhit and was inpatient. Good for Vickery, but so-so for Muguruza.

As the Spaniard said, there is a lot of depth now and almost anyone can be upset. Perhaps not, but maybe things are changing. Vickery is ranked No. 100, while Muguruza is ranked No. 3.  

“We always say that there are so many players that can be dangerous, that can be motivated and have a great day and face an opponent where maybe they don’t have a lot of pressure and play good,” Muguruza said. “Maybe the top player exits early. And we have seen this so many times.”

Muguruza says that before she played with Vickery, she watched her a little bit, but in the match,  the American jumped on the ball. Plus, Vickery was very motivated.

“I think she has a great physical skill. I just think that when players with not a lot of experience play against top players, they are very motivated,” Muguruza said. “They elevate always their game. She was getting a little bit more excited, and the key points went her way, and she was getting more into the match and, at the end, she had a lot more confidence.”

More notes
It is very surprising that Aga Radwanska lost early again, losing against Naomi Osaka. Aga is already outside of the top 30 and she could be unseeded at Roland Garros in a few months. Radwanska needs to rest, for a while, until her body is fully heals. …Venus and Serena Williams both won on Saturday. They will face each other on Monday, which should be a fascinating contest. Obviously, Serena hasn’t beaten her many times, but given that the younger sister hasn’t played on court for the past 14 months, she’s a little rusty. Venus has played a fair amount in 2017, and this year, too. So yes, if Venus plays extremely well, she can upset Serena. But to beat her, Venus must serve very big, return with depth, and control her forehand. … How about the unknown Danielle Collins who upset Madison Keys? Collins changed it up a lot, while Keys lost her touch. She needs to step it up — again. … Dominic Thiem overcame Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2 3-6 6-3 and now he will face Pablo Cuevas on hardcourts. Neither of them loves hardcourts, but they can move well on the courts and they can whack it away. Three sets for sure. … That was a quite a win by Fernando Verdasco, who took down Grigor Dimitrov. Verdasco might be a little bit older, but he is focusing, again. Plus, as he said, he still loves playing tennis. 15 years later. That’s a lot. More tomorrow …     

The Pick, April 14: Dimitrov vs. Verdasco, is Grigor ready to turn around and win matches again?


9-Grigor Dimitrov vs. Fernando Verdasco

Without question, Dimitrov has been struggling big time. He has so much potential that if he can right his ship, than slowly he can come back to form. He has a terrific variety, can mix up his one-handed backhand, and he can take over the net. However, this year he is changing where he is going and what he is trying to do. Whether or not he is trying to be more basic, or he is using every shot to mankind, he has to find something that works soon.

Now they are on clay, playing in the famous, idyllic Monte Carlo. Dimitrov lost to David Ferrer in the fourth round last year, but after that, he was fairly decent on clay, winning Bucharest and reached the semifinal in Rome, where he lost to Rafa Nadal. Of course, Ivo Karlovic shocked him in the first round at Roland Garros, but the Croat can bomb away, any time, anywhere.

Fernando Verdasco loves the clay, but he has had a so-so this year, losing in the semifinals at Houston when he lost to Sam Querrey. Two days later, he had to fly across the ocean so he could have been exhausted in the late afternoon. The lefty has a tremendous forehand, a pretty good first serve and, when he is feeling right, he will go for his backhand down the line. But after his long trip he will be spaced out and Dimitrov knows that he has to start winning now. He will win in three sets.

Sharapova Finally Tops Sexiest Poll; Nadal wins Men’s

Maria has rematch with Lisicki.

It took eight years for Sugarpova to rule as sexiest female player.

For the first time in seven years, Maria Sharapova has won the Readers’ Poll for Sexiest Female of the Year. Sharapova

Time for the 8th Readers’ Poll

Readers: Vote for your top and sexiest players in the annual Readers’ Poll.
Rafa put a dent in Federer's GOAT label.

Rafa put a dent in Federer’s GOAT label.

It’s the eight annual Readers’ Poll, designed for our readers to sound off on their preferences.

Our most popular categories are Male and Female Players of the Year and, of course, the Sexiest Players. We’re allowing comments on the polls for the first time ever.

Sexiest Female Player Award is named after Ana Ivanovic after she won for five straight years. Sexiest Male Player Award is named after Marat Safin after he was also a five-time winner.

Last year’s winners included Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova for Players of the Year along with Rafael Nadal and Carolina Wozniacki as the sexiest. Last year’s voting can be found by clicking here. editors do not necessarily support the results of the vote, especially in the Player of the Year categories. We realize that many readers will vote for their favorites as opposed to the players who have had better results.

Polls are open for one week to Saturday, Dec. 29 with results posted on Sunday, Dec. 30.

TR Year-End Top 50: The Men, Nos. 21-30

The 34 year old Haas was effective on all surfaces.

Thus continues our review of the top 50 singles players on the ATP and WTA Tours. We resume with the men ranked Nos. 21 -30.

21. Tommy Haas

Imagine if the German played as intelligently as he does now back when he was ranked No. 2 a decade ago? A Slam surely would have been his. Haas must be given huge props for being in the oldest man in the top 25. He actually quailed for Roland Garros on his least favorite surface, stunned Federer in the Halle final on grass, and reached the quarters of Canada and Shanghai on hard courts. It

Depending on Nalbandian

Ferrer will await Nalbandian if it gets to a 5th rubber.

After a frightful Friday for Argentina when Rafa Nadal crushed Juan Monaco and David Ferrer pulled off perhaps the most significant victory of his career when he stopped Juan Martin Del Potro in a delicious nearly five-hour. five-setter, South America

US Open: grading the pros


This was written before the women

Banner day for US teens

McHale leads a trio of ambitious US teens.

FROM THE MERCURY INSURANCE OPEN IN SAN DIEGO – Thursday at the La Costa resort is going to be big day in the development of US women’s tennis. Not the largest one we have seen in the past couple of decades, maybe not even the most critical one in the past year, but it will certainly be worth paying attention to when teens CoCo Vandeweghe, Christina McHale and Sloane Stephens take the court in third round matches.

It is certainly the first time this year that three American teens have reached the third round of a WTA Premier level event and it would take a fair amount of digging to find out the last time that happened. All scored wins on Wednesday with McHale advancing when Alla Kudryavtseva retired down 6-2, 3-1, Vandeweghe playing sloppy but tough to overcome Olga Savchuk 6-7, 6-4, 6-3, and the enthusiastic Stephens knocking out the slumping world No. 20 Julia Goerges 6-3, 7-5.

McHale has been making fine progress all year, while fellow 19-year-old Vandeweghe has largely been running in place, and Stephens has been up and down. No analyst or coach of note will say that any of them are surefire top-20 players, but I would venture to say that in good health and with stable mindsets that they all have at least top 50 potential, which isn’t a figure that most US fans will get too excited about, but one that will put them in the WTA mix week in and week out for the next decade. McHale is already ranked No. 66 and is almost assured to crack the top 60 by next week so she’s a near lock. The athletic Vandeweghe is No. 102 and ambitious, and the also athletic and bold Stephens is No. 131. No other country at the tour’s sole WTA event this week can claim to have three teens in the round of 16, so at least on Thursday, the USTA will have something to crow about. In fact, McHale is the youngest member of the top 70 and Stephens is the youngest player in the top 135 and soon to be in the top 120. I am sure there are some folks out there who like the upside of the next highest ranked 18-year-old, No. 160 Caroline Garcia of France, more than Stephens, but consider this: the talented Garcia actually lost to Maria Sharapova at Roland Garros, while Stephens actually beat Georges in San Diego. That’s what some folks call “scoreboard” and winning matches – not just showing flashes of brilliance – still means a whole hell of a lot in pro tennis.

With that said, all three American youngsters will be underdogs on Thursday: McHale against the crafty Aga Radwanska, Stephens against Tamira Paszek and Vandeweghe against Sabine Lisicki. Radwanska and Lisicki are major steps up from the foes that McHale and Vandeweghe faced on Wednesday and Paszek has been playing very well of late and can crush the ball. Interestingly, all those players are around the ages of 20-21. All broke out fairly early, slid a bit due to variety of factors (although Radwanska has been fairly steady) and now are decent sized factors everywhere they go. The US teens cannot say that yet, but who is to say that one of them could not pull off an upset on Thursday and make a bigger name for herself and sometimes in the next two years, that they won’t be the favorites against another group of teens? I’m not ready to cast them off as a bound-to-be mediocre group yet.

If I was to pick one of them to get through I would have to go with McHale because she is patient, can grind and hopefully will be told not to try and hit through Radwanska quickly, who is very crafty but is still struggling in closing out matches. Stephens will have to be spot on the ball because Paszek can rock the yellow pill. San Diego’s CoCo will play the night match against the streaking Lisicki and unless the German has an off serving day its hard to see how the American is going break her more than twice — if that.

Outside of the US circles, there are also some potential bang up matches with Virginie Razzano playing Andrea Petkovic, Daniela Hantuchova against Jie Zheng, Shuai Peng against Sara Errani and Alberta Brianti against Ana Ivanovic, who said after she came back from 0-5 in the second set to beat Ayumi Morita 6-1 7-6 (5) that she is trying to stop chasing her service toss, but won’t catch bad tosses because she feels it is unsportsmanlike….Elena Vesnina has an injured hand and retired from the doubles with Sania Mirza. India’s top player told me that she’s playing straight through the US Open and that she and Vesnina are going to try very hard to qualify for the year-end WTA Championships AND despite reports in India that her husband, Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik, is now beating her in mini or regular tennis, thatss simply not the case. He’s been kidding her about the one when they played three points in mini tennis and he won two, but that was the extent of it. Fun stuff for the cross-border celebrity newlyweds. Mirza also says that she believes she played 161 matches between Birmingham of last year and this tournament, which may be a record. Recall that she played both the Asian and Commonwealth Games. I can’t even imagine after reading that anyone will ever say that she does not put a huge effort into her tennis…Maria Kirilenko also pulled out with an injury. My the ailments are starting to pile up. ..Speaking of players who are going to attempt to play through the US Open, count Melanie Oudin in. The struggling teenager is thinking that this time when she arrives in New York, the pressure will be less on her because she’s not defending quarterfinal points like she did in 2010. Here’s hoping she pulls herself out of her slump because she really is a terrific competitor when she’s confident.

Some of you have cracked me for not covering the men over the past 10 days but frankly, when I’m at WTA tournaments and have zero chance to watch the men or talk to the men, there is no reason for me to get deeply into issues and matches I do not have a good handle on. It’s a much better use of my energy and your reading time to focus on people I can actually talk to in person and matches I can see. After San Diego ends, I’ll laser in on the men in Montreal and Cincy. And I do promise to call and write up something on the newly turned pro Jack Sock in the next two days or so.

Washington does have some interesting players though and on Wednesday, Donald Young, Fernando Verdasco, Nikolay Davydenko, Mike Russell and Radek Stepanek scored wins.


Splendid on the grass

Murray will face Roddick who once knocked him out at Wimbledon

The tours have been back on grass for five days now and it took that long for Rafael Nadal to almost redline in Queens when he went down to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-7 6-4 6-1 in the quarters. Give credit to Nadal for honoring his commitment by contesting Queens after an exhaustive title run to the RG final but really, was it a wise idea to play.

“Probably after losing the second set mentally I lost my concentration,” he said. “The negative thing is I lost; the positive thing is I have few days off and can stop a little bit mentally. I can be a little bit more relaxed, because every day I play with pressure. “That’s what happened for me the last four months every day.”

Tsonga will face British wildcard James Ward who took down defending champion Sam Querrey 3-6 6-3 6-4 and then France