The top 10: the men after the U.S. Open

Frances Tiafoe
MALTPhoto

Here is my list of the men with the biggest impact from the US Open.

1. Novak Djokovic
Clearly, at this point, he is the best player, ever, now winning 24 Grand Slams. He is ahead of Rafa Nadal (22) and Roger Federer (20). The Swiss is retired, and the one thing is that possibly next year, the Spaniard Nadal will return and play in the 2024. Can he win another Slam again, maybe at the Australian Open, and of course, with  Roland Garros, who has won it 14 titles. He has to be totally healthy, but his body is breaking down, gradually.

With Djokovic, he almost never gets hurt,  which is why he can just raise his game, in the matches, and chase it up with his forehand, his backhand, his serve, his return, and with the net. Yes, he can make a few errors, but beyond that, he can re-set it again, open his eyes, and bash the ball. He has had an incredible year, but let us see if he continues to win more titles during the fall.

2. Daniil Medvedev
The Russian had a terrific tournament at the U.S. Open, but in the final, he did not push himself closer to the net. In the second set, he was so thick, but in the tiebreaker, he backed up, and the Serbian jumped on him. Yes, Medvedev can win another Slam, but there are a couple things that he needs to do, such as going closer to the baseline, and also, to work on the volleys. If he goes, he will have a chance to go deep once  again.

3. Carlos Alcaraz
The young Spaniard was playing fantastic, until the semis, and then he started to throw in some odd shots. He has won two Slams, and clearly, he is darn good, but he needs to be a little bit more calm, when he is playing. The 20-year-old will continue to improve, just like Djokovic when he was adding with some new volleys.

4. Ben Shelton
The American came out of nowhere, in the semis, as after he looked very good at the Australian Open, but after that, he lost a lot, all the way until August. Then in Flushing Meadows, he looked much stronger and more potent. He could not handle Djokovic, but he really does want to catch him, and beat him, pretty soon. That is a vast  challenge.

5. Taylor Fritz
He looked pretty good, although into the quarterfinals, and then he stopped thinking exactly what to do. There were moments at times against Djokovic, but he missed so many basic shots. He can be a darn good player, but if he wants to go further, into the top 5, he was to return better, his second serve, and also, at the net.

6. Frances Tiafoe

He is another person that he lost early during the summer, and then once he came into the U.S. Open, he was fresh and ready to dance. He did, all the way in the quarters, and then against Shelton, he looked pretty decent, but when he was way to the right and on the left, he was there, and he is thought he could put away, close to the lines, but he missed a lot. Then he was gone. He can smile a lot, and he has improved over the last two years, but will he actually win a ATP 1000 at some point? Possibly, but who knows.

7. Andrey Rublev

The other Russian can look so efficient, and he can also be forceful, but then he will to start sliding. He has beaten a lot of very good players, but not against the top ones. Maybe he is good enough, but not to win a Slam.

8. Alexander Zverev
It is almost impossible to see where he is going. He played some wonderful matches, but then in the quarters, he looked really tired, again. Sure, he can play great, but in the fall, he is going to have to attack early, and try to stick it away, or just sit there, point after point, and hope he can grind them down. Maybe he will, but if the German does the same things, he might never win a Slam.

9. Jannik Sinner
The Italian can look spectacular, and he is a huge hitter, but in the fifth set against  Zverev, he lost himself. He is only 22-years-old, and in August, he won Toronto. That was a big positive, but he need to be much more fitting in the fall.

10. Alex de Minaur
The Aussie had a solid summer, winning Los Cabos, reaching into the final at Toronto, and then in the quarters at the U.S. Open, he was pumped up, but in the last two sets, Medvedev crushed him. Good bye, and quickly. He is rational and he has to improved his return and his backhand, but if he can reach into the top 5 next year, he must think about where he should go, and trick the other people.

US Open pick: men’s final

Novak Djokovic
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Novak Djokovic over Daniil Medvedev
Two years ago, in the final at the U.S. Open, when Daniil Medvedev before it started, it  looked like that against Novak Djokovic, he could out-hit  him. Maybe he would not,  but he could knock him down. It might have been almost impossible, yet he could be oh-so powerful. He started  hitting the ball, even if he missed a few shots, but he believed that in a few hours, he might be a little bit nervous, but he realized that Medvedev was so consistent, and with more depth. He won it, winning it 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Djokovic had won 27 matches, but on Sunday, he was tired, mentally, and he could not produce enough winners. He was barely mediocre. But this time, in 2023, he looks totally healthy, so when he goes on the court, he will be fresh. As Medvedev said, he will have to play fantastic, all the time, but he does have a to chance to beat Djokovic again.

“He (Djokovic) is always better than the previous time he plays. For example, I beat him in the [2022] U.S. Open final, he beat me in Bercy (Paris Masters) in a great match. [He lost to] Carlos [Alcatraz] beat him in Wimbledon, he beat him in Cincinnati. Novak is going to be his best version on Sunday, and I have to be the best-ever version of myself if I want to try to beat him. Novak, when he loses, he’s never the same after… It’s just a different mentality… So, I have to use it knowing that he’s going to be 10 times better than he was that day. And I have to be, if I want to still beat him, 10 times better than I was that day.”

Maybe he will, but Djokovic really wants to win another huge tournament, which would be 24 Grand Slams, the most of all time. But he did say that if he wins, it could be the last, which would be totally nuts. Even if he loses, next year, and he is  healthy, he certainly has a solid chance to win any of the Slams. 

“Well, fact is that, at 36, every Grand Slam final … could be the last one. So I think that I probably value these occasions and opportunities to win another Slam more than I have maybe 10 years ago,” said Djokovic. “It’s another shot for history.”

Both of them are playing great,  but stroke to stroke, whoever will win, he will have to play better, backhand to backhand, as well as when they serves. Also, when you return, if you manage to catch it, you have to put it some different areas, or if you can, to try it to wack it.

Medvedev will push him into the fifth set, and he will certainly try to chuck in a bunch of winners, but Djokovic will be so calm again, and he will sling in  a few outstanding winners. He will win it 7-6 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. Ka-bang.

US Open picks: men’s semifinals

Novak Djokovic
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Novak Djokovic over Ben Shelton
In 2003 at the U.S Open, Andy Roddick won the U.S. Open, knocking down David Nalbandian and Juan Carlos Ferrero. He became No. 1, and he won a number of excellent titles. But that was just one, but it is better than nothing.

Ben Shelton has reached into the semis, and he has had an incredible strokes over the past 11 days, but really, can he stun Novak Djokovic, who has won 23 Grand Slams? I doubt that. Yes, the 20-year-old has played fantastic, with his terrific first serve, his forehand and his backhand. He is fast, running, and he can also knock it in very close next to the lines. That is right now, though, and without a doubt, he is improving a lot, but before he came here, he lost a number of matches over the past four months. Assuming he continues to be healthy, and add more game, then he could reach the top 10, or higher, by the end of the year. However, there is history, and some people  rise, and other people stay there. That is really happened.

But not Djokovic, who won his first Grand Slam title, grabbing the 2008 Australian Open, who looked very good, but he still had to improve his forehand, and at the net, too. Right now, though, when he is playing great, he is almost perfect. However, the last time was in Flushing Meadows in 2018, when he beat Juan Martin del Potro in the final, a gigantic hitter. He could not play last year at the U.S. Open, but in 2022  final, the Russian,  Daniil Medvedev, beat Djokovic. So in a sense, there are times when the Serbian loses, not all the time, but sometimes. As he said: “Believe in yourself and your abilities; confidence is key to success.”

He must have watched on TV looking about Shelton, how he should play. He will out-stroke him, backhand to backhand, and at the net, too, and also with his hard serves. Shelton can win one set, but other than that, Djokovic will win it 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 and reach the final once again.

Carlos Alcaraz over Daniil Medvedev
Both of them are not tired at all, and they have also played each other a couple times, and it was close. At night, the same thing will occur, with some long, strong rallies, all over the place, with more than a few huge shots. They both have won it here, and they could do it again. Alcaraz can do whatever he wants to, and he also likes to do some fantastic rallies, but he can also slip, once and a while. He is very young, and at times, he can over think, but constantly, he can also be more patient, until he can try to put it away.

Medvedev can be to intense, and he can also become angry, yet he can re-set himself. His forehand and his backhand are so devout, and his first serve is massive. He has said that he wants to become No. 1 again, but he also knows is that first, he has to figure out how t unearth Alcaraz. He will, for two sets, but Alcaraz will climb up again, and he will win it 6-4, 4-6, 5-7, 7-6, 6-3.

US Open picks: Tuesday, Sept 5

Jelena Ostapenko

Coco Gauff over Jelena Ostapenko

Many people are thinking that Gauff is ready to win the U.S. Open for the first time. She is playing wonderful ball, with her terrific backhand, and at the net, where she really reads it. She has lost a few sets, but in the third set, she jumps on the ball, and she focuses. It is possible that she can be shaky, in the match, but she is maturing.

Ostapenko actually won Roland Garros years ago, and she put in so many winners, as she went for it, all the time. But now, while she can crush the ball, currently, she can wait, here and there, until she can go for the right shot. Yes, she can make some crazy shots, and it will go out. That is her, but Ostapenko really likes to play in front of the massive crowns. However,  Gauff will challenge her, backhand versus backhand, and she will win it, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Novak Djokovic  over Taylor Fritz

The American Fritz has played much better at the U.S. Open, with some intense strokes. Before that, he was somewhat confused, and his return was spotty. However, over the past two years, his forehand and his backhand has been concisely powerful. However, he has only won one ATP 1000, and he has never gone deep in the Slams. But maybe he is finally more mature, point after point.

But he has to face against Djokovic, who has won 23 Grand Slams, as well as a huge amount of the ATP 1000s. Clearly, the 36- year-old is better than just about everyone, as his backhand is the best ever, and his intelligent serves. He can also run very quickly. Yes, it will be above 90 degrees on Tuesday, so they will eventually be tired, if it goes long, more than three hours. Djokovic has beaten him all seven times, including  at Cincinnati, when he crushed him 6-0, 6-4. Yes, two year ago, at the 2021 at the Australian Open,  Fritz looked very good, but in the fifth set, the Serbian raised up, and Fritz fell.

This time at the U.S. Open,  Fritz will win a set, but Djokovic will bury him, stroke to stroke, and he will grab it 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 6-3.

Karolina Muchova over Sorana Cirstea

Three years ago, the Czech beat Cirstea at the U.S. Open in the third round in a massive match, grabbing it 7-6(7). Will they do it again on Tuesday? Sure, why not? They are both hitting deep, into the corners, and attacking it. They can bash the ball, and they also can be steady. Yes, Cirstea can back off, and the reason why is because she has yet to win a huge tournament, but at this year, the veteran has changed her tactics. So she has won a bunch if matches.

However, Muchova is one of the best players when she can lock it in. She has yet to win a Grand Slam, but at least she came close at Roland Garros. However, she can collapse, when she isn’t playing well.
The 33-year-old Cirstea is finally understanding that if she wants to go further, she will have to take the gloves off. She will, and the Romanian will win it 6-4, 5-7, 7-6

Frances Tiafoe over Ben Shelton

The 20-year-old Shelton has already had a fantastic tournament,  and he is growing, day after day. He is physically strong now, and he is faster, running, too. Also, he can mix it up, and down the line. He will improve a lot over the next 10 years, but right now,  Tiafoe believes that he can actually win it at the U.S. Open. That is a huge task, as he has yet to win a Slam, or an ATP 1000. Maybe he is ready. He can look stellar when he is on, trying to paint the lines. His forehand and his backhand are darn stout, but he is going to have to do it against Shelton, who will be pumped, up. As Patrick McEnroe said: “This is the biggest match like this in a long time. A very long time.”

However, Tiafoe  will control him, and he will win it 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.

US Open 2023: Which men will reach the quarterfinals?

Daniil Medvedev

First Quarter
Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz won the tournament last years in New York, but he couldn’t play at the Australian Open, due to an injury, but now he is back, with his phenomenal strokes. The No. 1 does think that he can win it again, and maybe he will, but he has to be rock solid, almost each match. He should be fine, into in the quarters, when he might have to face against Jannik Sinner, who has played much better this summer, and possibly against Alexander Zverev, who once reached here in the final in 2020, but he has been up and down, week after week. Grigor Dimitrov can look terrific with his fun one-handed backhand, but it is hard to say that he is really locked in. In the quarters will be Alcaraz versus Sinner.
Dark horse: Tallon Griepspoor

2nd Quarter
Is it possible that Daniil Medvedev will play excellent ball and win it again, when he won the 2021 in Flushing Meadows? Yes he is so consistent, and he can move it all around, but he has had some tough matches in the summer, losing when it was very tight. He could possible do it again, but he can go back of the baseline, rather than rushing into the net. It will be up to him, and yes, he can reach into the quarters, but he could face against Alex de Minaur in the fourth round, who is so much better then he is really on. However, the reason why is that the Aussie has yet to reach in the top 10, as he slips, here and there. It should be a very close match, but the Russian will beat him in five sets.

Andrey Rublev should get through, or maybe he will not. If you watch him, he can look very good, and then he disappears,  but in the first round he has to beat Emil Ruusuvuori, a pretty good player. Somehow he will, but then he might have to face versus the veteran Gael Monfils, who has had a terrific summer. That match will be a blast, on court, as the Frenchman can really celebrate. Rublev will take it, though, but in the fourth round he will lose against Hubert Hurkacz, as in the summer, he became much more aggressive, and he put it away. This time, he will reach into the quarters, the first time at the US Open.
Dark horse: Nicolas Jarry

3rd Quarter
Will Casper Ruud rise up again at the US Open?  He did that in 2022, reaching the final here, and he did also when at the 2023 Roland Garros. He lost, both of them, but before that, he can be so fantastic, with some stunning shots. However, this year he looked very good at times, but he can also drop down, especially with his serve and his return.  He has to play fabulous, early, as he might have to face against three different people, with Sebastian Korda,  Adrian Mannarino, and  Frances Tiafoe. The two Americans want to do very deep in the second week, here. Tiafoe has reached into the semis two years ago, and when he is on, he can split the ball, but he has not played well in the summer. Korda just came back due to his injury, and he looked pretty good this week, but he can win a few matches, yet he still needs more time. The veteran, the Frenchman, has so much variety, when he plays, each week, and there are other times when his strokes are not there. Essentially, Ruud will reach into the quarters.

How about Holger Rune? He has had some fine matches, in Monte-Carlo, Rome, and Wimbledon. He is still pretty young, but he might face the American, Tommy Paul, who has had a very good year.  But in the fourth round, against Rune, will he be there? I would think, yes, Paul will, in five brutal sets.
Dark horse: Ben Shelton

4th Quarter
It is almost so obvious that when Novak Djokovic is on top of it, he will put on a show, just like when he out-lasted against Alcaraz in three hours, 49 minutes. That was won of the best match this year. But this is different, three out of five, rather than two out of three. But Djokovic is used to it, as he has won the U.S. Open many times. Even in the first three matches, it will be pretty easy. Maybe he can play against Felix Auger-Aliassime in the third round, but that Canadian is really straining. How about against Taylor Fritz or Lorenzo Musetti?Close, but no cigar. Stefanos Tsitsipas could reach into the quarters, but he has not played well during the summer. He might be out. How about the other American, Christopher Eubanks, who has had a superb this year,  but to beat the top players is questionable. Djokovic  will be there in the quarters,  as will be Fritz, but then he is going to have to play incredible to go into the fifth set. Try to do it.
Dark horse: Milos Raonic

The picks at Wimbledon: Friday, July 14

Jannik Sinner
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Novak Djokovic over Jannik Sinner
Remember that last year, at the 2022 Wimbledon, Djokovic was down 0-2, but then he came back and he roared, grabbing it 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. The Italian was clearly tired, and then he broke down with so many errors.

But the Serbian has done it so many times at the Grand Slams, owning 23 majors. He knew what to do, and while Sinner is improving, he still isn’t playing excellent, match after match. He has won seven titles, which is fine, but he has yet to win it at the Slams, or  the ATP 1000s. He is very good, but the 21-year-old has to set it up, ASAP.

Djokovic thinks that he has improved, but even when he beat him in Monte Carlo, it was pretty easy. However, he does think that eventually he can be more consistent.

“He’s playing on a very high level. He likes to play on grass,” Djokovic said. “He likes to play on quick surfaces because he likes to be aggressive and take control of the point. From both forehand and backhand, he’s smashing the ball really, really hard, trying to be the one that is going to dictate the point from early on. I know his game well. He’s so young, so of course it’s expected that he’s going to improve. He is improving, no doubt, I think with the serve, he’s been serving better. On grass, it obviously makes a difference. He’s a very complete player.”

Is that true? Yes, Sinner is concise, and his forehand down the line is can be very impressive. His hard backhand can slap it, and his first serve is flat and inhuman. However, he doesn’t return that well, and he isn’t fabulous at the net. Likely, that is because he has yet to reach into the Grand Slams final. But it is time to do it this year.

Sinner thinks that he is going to play 100 percent to upset with Djokovic.

“Physically, I have improved,” Sinner said. “I’m much stronger. I can stay on court for many hours without suffering. Also, mentally, you’re going in with a slightly different mental side on court knowing you are also top 10 player. It is a little bit different.  I have some good things now in my game, and hopefully I can use it in the right way. I’m going to stick with my game plan. Hopefully I can execute it in the best possible way.”

He sounds that he really wants to do, but the Serbian will chuck in some his amazing backhand, and because of that, while Sinner will push it into the fifth set, at the end, Djokovic will win it in once again. Ka-boom.

Carlos Alcaraz over Daniil  Medvedev
The Russian has had a really good year, winning a number of the tournaments, but also, he can let down. Medvedev won in Rotterdam, Doha, Dubai, Miami on the hardcourts, and in Rome, on the clay. But on grass, he began to struggle, yet 12 days ago, he switched at Wimbledon, and he became more patient. That has been good, but when he beat five players, and he clapped and cheered. Yet none of those were in the top 30 players, so to beat the No. 1 Alcaraz, he will have to play unreal. He knows that in March at Indian Wells in the final, Alcaraz jumped high, and he won it 6-3, 6-2.

“I think Indian Wells is not going to count a lot here. It was so slow in Indian Wells,” Medvedev said. “It’s not going to be the same. At  Wimbledon, the ball bounces lower. The serve is more important. There, I felt like I couldn’t get free points with the serve.”

There will be a number of the points where they can hit both sides, with there forehand and there backhand. When they are into it, they can also hit a number of aces, in the first serves, as well as when they can spring on the second serve.  

“It’s interesting to play someone like Carlos,” said Medvedev. “He is an amazing, amazing player. What he continues to do is just unbelievable. He doesn’t stop. I don’t think he will, but I’ve played a lot of great players in my career. I managed to win many times. So I’m going to try to do my best. If I show my best, I’ll have my chances.”

Believe it to not, at the 2021 Wimbledon, they played each other for the first time in the round 64, and Medvedev crushed him 6-4, 6-1, 6-2. An early blow out. And then in 2022 at the U.S. Open, Alcaraz waxed up, quickly, and he won it.

Just like Rafa Nadal when he won it the first time at Roland Garros, the Spaniards began to beat everyone. Perhaps the 20-years-old can eventually win all four Grand Slams . But he has a long way to go.

“[Medvedev’s] really a complete player,” said Alcaraz. “I’m going to say, like I think [Andrey] Rublev said a few times, he’s an octopus. He catches every ball. He’s an amazing athlete… He does almost everything well.”

This will go into the fifth set, and there will be some great points, into the corners, and changing it up, too. Neither of them have reached into the final at Wimbledon, so it is crucially important. Whoever can put together more than a few shots close at the end with his terrific forehand, then he will win it. It has to be Alcaraz, who will win it with an amazing dropshot.

The picks at Wimbledon: Tuesday, July 11

Jessica Pegula
Rick Limpert

Iga Swiatek over Elina Svitolina
Surprising, they have only played each other once, two years ago in Rome, and Swiatek beat the Ukrainian 6-2, 7-5 in the quarterfinals. Swiatek has changed a lot when she improved a tremendous amount, with her massive strokes. She is very quick and she can bash the ball with her forehand and her backhand. The No. 1 has a fabulous first serve, and she can be creative. Finally, she is now convinced that she can motor on the grass.

Svitolina barely won when she upset Vika Azarenka. Before that, she lost five times, but she kept going hitting her hefty forehand and her backhand. But this will be even harder, as the Pole person is locked in. The four-time major champion hasn’t won Wimbledon yet, but she can do it this year. 

“Every day my love is getting bigger,” Swiatek said. “Hopefully, I’m going to have as many days as possible to stay here and play on this court, because for sure, this is my best year on grass. I feel really kind of motivated, because I know that even when you’re not feeling 100 percent, (the) hard work is paying off. So I’m happy I did that work and I can stay here.”

The former No. 3 Svitolina will dig in, but Swiatek will it in three wild sets

Novak Djokovic over Andrey Rublev
The rising Russian has put together some excellent shotmaking. Rublev can strike it down the lines, and he can also pound it when he thinks that he can mash it crosscourt. However, at the Australian Open on the hard courts, Djokovic bullied him 6-1 6-2 6-4. That was really quick, as the Serb elevated his game early and outhit him, with his brutal serve and his forehand. He only made a few errors.

In order to shock Djokovic on the grass, Rublev is going to have to totally redefine his approach. He is also going to take big risks all the time. When he returns, he has to thump the ball. Djokovic has won Wimbledon many times before, and this year, he has looked very good, but he has lost a few, odd matches. Regardless, Djokovic will win it in four unreal sets.

Jessica Pegula over Marketa Vondrousova
The Czech has had a decent year, and she has been pretty consistent, but she has not reached into the finals this year. If you look at Vondrousova, she did manage to reach the final at the 2019 Roland Garros, but on the grass, she struggled. Apparently though, over the past nine days, she looked smarter. Her backhand is very stable.

Pegula has struggled at the Slams, but at least she is trying to push herself and not be so nervous. Fortunately, she has reached into the second week at Wimbledon for the first time. Clearly, her forehand and her backhand are harmonious. The reason why is she also plays a lot of the doubles, sprinting so close to the net. She can put it away, solidly.

At the Grand Slams, the No. 4 has yet to reach the semis, but this time she has a real opportunity to do it. Pegula will punch Vondrousova to win it in three competitive sets.

Jannik Sinner over Roman Safiullin
They have only played with each other once and the Italian took it 7-6(6), 6-3 on hard courts. Yes, Sinner is a huge hitter, and he can nail it, but he can also throw in some strange errors. He also can be very competitive and he can swing away with some phenomenal shots. Sinner has won six titles, but he has not won an ATP 1000,or even one of the Slams. Yes, he is 21-years-old, but as he once said, “I have my own path and my own way to go.” Then go a little harder or faster.
 
Safiullin has had a terrific tournament, but the Russian had never won an ATP event. At least he is feeling very good now. Perhaps he decided to change it up. He will have to try hard, but Sinner has a better forehand and when he returns well, too. The Italian will win it in three quick sets.

Matt’s yesterday picks at Wimbledon

Madison Keys over Mirra Andreeva
Carlos Alcaraz  over Matteo Berrettini
Stefanos Tsitsipas over Christopher Eubanks
Petra Kvitova over Ons Jabeur

Matt’s picks from Wimbledon

9 out of 13. 69.2% correct

The picks at Wimbledon: Sunday, July 9

Hubert Hurkacz
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Andrey Rublev over Alexander Bublik

The Russian continues to try at the Grand Slams, not only that he can crush the ball, but also, over the past two years, he has been more intelligent. Yes, Rublev can play some bad mistakes, but he can nail with his heavy forehand, and with his backhand, to put it down the lines.

Believer it or not, they just played against each other in the final, at Halle, when Rublev edged the other Russian, Bublik, 6-3 in the third set. Yes, the tall man can knock his first serve and his forehand, but he isn’t quite fast when he is running. For sure, he has had a very decent year, but not enough, so Rublev will win it again, in four tough sets.

Iga Swiatek over Belinda Bencic
This should be an intense match. Both of them can split the ball, and they can also jump early to try to put it away, fast.  Swiatek recently said that on the grass, she is feeling much more comfortable than she did recently. Swiatek  is very please after she won Roland Garros, recently, but that is on the clay, not on the switch grass. But now she can go low and find where she will go, low and hard.
As she said,“ I feel like last year was a little bit different, especially coming back after winning Roland Garros. It wasn’t the easiest moment for me. I try really not to come back to that. I’m just taking experience from just this period of time of playing on grass, and that’s all. It’s just a totally different chapter.”

Bencic can beat anyone when she is feeling good. Her serve isn’t that great, but her forehand and her backhand can be jolly sharp.   The Swiss does believe that she can finally win a Grand Slam, and maybe she can, but how can she out-last versus the Polish person?  She does have a chance, but Swiatek returns better, as does her serve, so once again, the No. 1 will win it in three brute sets.

Novak Djokovic over Hubert Hurkacz

It is pretty clear that Serbian better than him, beating Hurkacz all five times. In 2019 at Wimbledon, Djokovic lick him in the third round, in four decent sets. He is just faster, and his backhand might be his best ever. Djokovic can mix it up a lot, and he can stay there until he has a real shot to put it away.

Hurkacz has had a decent year, but not great, losing pretty early.  Djokovic will win it in four easy sets.

Elina Svitolina over Victoria Azarenka

This is risky, as Azarenka has beaten Svitolina all five times. Certainly, when the two time champion Azarenka is totally bolted, and she can hit some cruel  shots, down the lines, and cross court, too. However, Azarenka has retired a lot over the past few years, which is why  she has not won a big tournament since 20? Yes, Azarenka destroyed Svitolina at the 2023 at the Australian Open, but she was just returning. There is no doubt that when Azarenka  is totally shut it in, she can find the lines. However, Svitolina looked very good on the clay, at Strasbourg and Paris. She absolutely has to be very consistent, and drove her back. As the Ukraine said: “I will go out there and put the fighting spirit on and just really fight for every single point.” She will, when Svitolina will defeat Azarenka in three tough sets.

Matt’s recent picks at Wimbledon

Andy Murray over Stefanos Tsitsipas

Matt’s picks from Wimbledon

3 out of 5, 60% correct

Novak Djokovic: the Wimbledon favorite

Novak Djokovic
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

When Wimbledon starts, Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz will be the favorites, but it is possible that the American men Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul and Sebastian Korda can go deep into the second week.
 
The former champ John McEnroe said, “I think Taylor is a confident kid. He’s worked really hard on his movement and fitness, which is the reason to me he’s in the top 10,” McEnroe said. “He hits a great ball. I don’t think he’s actually that comfortable on grass. I think Tiafoe is a better volleyer and more skilled at net, athletically better. That would help him on the grass. Taylor hits a better ball and is a bigger guy. His serve is probably a little bit more dependable.”

Neither of them have reached very far at Wimbledon, although they are pretty young. They have to be more consistent and attack pretty early. In order to win point after point, they can construct their strokes. And, of course, they have to be totally locked in, all the time.

“Both of them would be in the quarters of Alcaraz or Djokovic, which would make it more difficult. I think at this time those two and maybe [Sebastian] Korda are the guys. Tommy Paul looks like he’s fallen off at the moment a little bit,” McEnroe said. “Hopefully he’ll get it back. I think there’s going to be guys soon, Americans, that are going to make the breakthrough within a year or two hopefully. I think that’s going to be big.”

Yes it will, as the U.S. men have not won a Grand Slam since 2003 at the US Open with Andy Roddick won it. It might be 20-years-ago in September that they cannot win another Slam again. But before that, in England, you can actually play longer in the rallies. They don’t have to slide all the time, and they can actually return, more. In the 1990s, there were some really quick rallies, and with millions of aces.

“The people that can add that adaptability and finish points at net successfully, like an Alcaraz, for example, who is a really good volleyer, Novak learned it, so did Rafa [Nadal],” McEnroe said. “I believe that’s why Tiafoe has a shot because he’s skilled at net. That will help you get over the hump at Wimbledon. Yes, it’s more homogenized. Yes, it’s more like hard courts. The bounce is higher, but there’s still a nuance that only a few get it.


“Look at [Casper] Ruud, for example. He’s regarding this as he’s showing up, hoping for the best. He could be out in the first round or two. [Stefanos] Tsitsipas doesn’t seem to be comfortable at all, can’t figure out how to play on the grass. There’s an opening. There’s many guys that don’t even understand it, or girls for that matter. That’s why it’s pretty narrowed down who can actually win it. That’s why Novak can afford not to play any tournament because he’s so confident, he understands what it takes, he doesn’t feel the need to play any warmup matches and he still wins it almost every year.”

Yes, he is the now 23-Grand-Slam champion. Djokovic really thinks that he can win another major once again. However, he can lose here and there, so at Wimbledon, he can become lost during a match, and he will fall down. Or maybe Alcaraz will rise, now.

As he said: “Novak is the main favorite to win Wimbledon, but I will try to play at this level to have chances to beat him or make the final. I saw a statistic that Novak has won more matches at Wimbledon than the other top 20 players (combined),” the Spaniard Alcaraz said. “What can you say about that you know? Novak is the main favorite to win Wimbledon. That’s obvious. But I will try to play at this level, to have chances to beat him or make the final at Wimbledon.”

ATP: On the grass, a new beginning

Carlos Alcaraz
Mal Taam/MALTphoto

“[Djokovic] takes your soul, then he dig your grave and you have a funeral and you’re dead. Bye-bye.” – Goran Ivanisevic

Now it is on the grass, which is totally different on  rather than the clay. It is much faster, and it skids, so there it won’t be really long points. Forty years ago, it was super fast, and you had to bend down, constantly. There were very few points, with a million aces, or quick winners. However, they decided to gradually change, not immediately, but eventually, they did, so now there will be longer points. 

Some of the excellent players know how to play the right way, in the grass, clay, and the hardcourts. 
The No. 1 Novak Djokovic knows almost all of it, and while just like two other fantastic players, with Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, there were also times when they were not playing well at all. That is why they lost. They all have, too, eventually.

Djokovic played amazing at Roland Garros, and he has won Wimbledon seven  times. Yes, he is the favorite, and one of the reasons why his coach Goran Ivanisevic, won it just once, in 2001, but the huge hitter said that outside of Djokovic and Rafa Nadal that there are some fine young players. There were some broadcasters who thought that Carlos Alcaraz would take down Djokovic in the semis in Paris, but the Serbian stood tall, and he beat him in four sets. In the last two sets, Alcaraz made so many errors, and he was gone. Plus, it is not just two out of three, but three out of five. That is totally different. 

“All this for me was little strange. Even I read a lot of paper, a lot of people saying that Alcaraz is a favorite against Novak,” Ivanisevic said. “You cannot say that. The guy played 33 Grand Slam finals. He won 23 Grand Slams.  Alcaraz is the next unbelievable, he’s amazing, I love Carlos, and he’s going to win I don’t know how many Grand Slams, but you cannot say that he’s a favorite. He played better coming here. But this is Grand Slam. This is nerves. You see what happened in the third set to him. And Novak knows. Novak knows. Novak waits. 
Like [Andy] Roddick said, I read, he takes the legs, then he takes your soul, then he dig your grave and you have a funeral and you’re dead. Bye-bye. Thank you for coming (smiling).” 

Alcaraz  won the 2022 U.S. Open, and outside in the 2023 Roland Garros, he recently won Barcelona and Madrid. Last year, before he took off in September, he lost in the fourth round at Wimbledon. He wasn’t ready yet. However, Ivanisevic said that he has improved a lot, so maybe on the grass in three weeks, he can explode, again.

“I love Carlos. First of all, he’s a great kid,” Ivanisevic said. “ He’s still kid. And he’s such a well-educated, nice, always laughing, great tennis player, already won a Grand Slam.  He’s gonna be extremely dangerous. There are few more guys, always [Daniil] Medvedev, but Carlos, I love that guy. He’s a fresh air for tennis, how he plays, how he smiles, how he’s happy, how he plays tennis on the court, the ideas, is just amazing. For sure he’s gonna be threat. He’s going to be threat on grass, he’s gonna be threat on hard court, he’s gonna be threat everywhere.  But, it’s always this “but,” he’s still young. You know, you have Novak and you can’t ever bet against Novak.”

NOTES
It is pretty tough to predict who will reach into the quarters at Wimbledon as someone could get hurt, or to catch on fire. But here are 10 more such as Djokovic, Alcaraz, Medvedev [although he just lost], Casper Ruud, Alexander Zverev, Holger Rune, Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov, Taylor Fritz [who also just lost, too], and Frances Tiafoe , [who just one]. Next week, it could be totally different .