Nadal, Federer and Djokovic: the 20-20 thing

Rafael Nadal

In the great but very cold at Roland Garros. Rafa Nadal smashed Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 to win it again.

He is now 20 Grand Slams, on all surfaces, with an astronomical 13 on clay. He is tied with Roger Federer with the “20-20 thing,” and we do not really know whether they will win another major again, next year, or ever, or if they will continue to dominate.

With the 39-year-old Federer aging, Nadal, 34, and Djokovic, 33, are much more likely to pad their Slam count. They look fantastic, and they have improved a lot. But, when you are in the 30s, you can get seriously hurt, and then it will be very difficult to feel healthy and easily to go deep at the Slams. The great thing in Paris was seeing how Nadal’s and Djokovic’s forehands, backhands, serves, returns and play at the net have improved a lot when since when they started 15 years ago. They are, as people say, mind-boggling.

Yes, there are some very good young players but, except for Dominic Thiem at this year’s US Open, they haven’t won a Grand Slam. Very few men have won a major early on and then have gone on to win numerous big titles. The list of top 10 in the Open era includes Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Pete Sampras, Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Mats Wilander – all have at least seven Slams. Really, you have to win it at least those seven to make the top 10.

Over the next few years Andy Murray (three Slams) and Stan Wawrinka (three Slams) can win another Slam, but they are at least 30 years old, and fading. Plus, they haven’t played much in the past two years. To catch it up again, they have to find a new level – especially for Murray with a revived hip. At the US Open and RG, both Murray and Wawrinka lost pretty early. Neither have a very good chance to do it again.

Right now, Nadal and Djokovic are eager. Thiem has a strong chance to win a number of majors, but right now to eventually become the top-10er, he could have to win another six Slams. The would be somewhat surprising.

Nadal understands what it going on with the other players, and he is not only smart, but he really listening. When he retires, as he says, then he can talk about everyone. He just won Roland Garros for the 13th time, and clearly, he has the credentials to say anything.

Roland Garros, Day 11: ‘Hang it all out’

Sofia Kenin

What is fascinating in the Roland Garros second week is there are some well-established players, but also some of the new breed.

On the Thursday and Friday, all the men and the women will compete in Paris. The traditional players are still there, such as Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Petra Kvitova and Sofie Keni , all the Slam winners.

One important questions: When they play, are there nervous or not?

Kvitova can win a another major, but she has yet to win RG. So, once again, if she is remains calm and hones her tactics, then maybe she can trick Kenin. Kenin, who crushed Danielle Collins in the final set of the quarters; she wiped her out. Both Kvitova and Kenin are aggressive and play without fear. They won’t push the ball, and they go for the lines. Big serves and returns will determine the match.

How about Nadia Podoroska and Iga Swiatek? Where did they come from all of a sudden?

The youngsters will be around a long time. But, to go way up into the top 10 in the next year, that is pretty questionable. Or they can disappear as quickly as they rose, though Swiatek looks like the real deal. They just have to prove it…

Stefanos Tsitsipas is on the winning streak. Over the past two weeks, he started to be consistent and powerful. Before that, in August, he was on and off, playing well or playing badly. Tsitsipas recently said that at this Grand Slam, he could it hang it all out.

He will face Djokovic in the semis, and the No. 1 Serbian is very controlled. And he is cane astute. If he feels rattled, and realizes it, he can change it up. Tsitsipas has had some tough days, but he never gives up.

Nadal is cruising, taking out Diego Schwartzman on Friday. It was odd to see the Argentine getting into a tiebreak and then not winning another point. But, with Nadal on clay, the mountain is very steep.

Hello, Roland Garros: Nadal & Djokovic are favorites

Novak Djokovic

On Monday, in the final in Rome, Novak Djokovic already knew that if he was playing respectably, he was going to win another ATP 1000

That is not easy. He wasn’t perfect, but he was good enough, and he mixed it up a lot. He confused Diego Schwartzman, and the Serbian was slightly in the zone. He went straight at him. Djokovic broke him down, and he pushed down Schwartzman 7-5, 6-3.

Djokovic hasn’t lost hardly anything over the past 12 months. He is obsessed with tennis, which is why he wants to be totally prepared in Paris.

Djokovic can be pissed off, and you can see at the 2020 US Open that he was not totally right while playing. But, last week in Rome, finally, with Djokovic and most of the players, the rust was gone.

Now Djokovic will have a week before Roland Garros starts in Paris, which begins on Sept. 27. He should be healthy and should take most of his matches.

Can Djokovic beat Rafa Nadal on clay and upset the Spaniard? It is doubtful on clay because Nadal has won the RG 12 times. He really is the “King of the Clay.” When he was a teenager, everyone saw that Nadal had a vast lefty forehand, his bulky serve and he just kept sprinting. Those are tremendous assets. And he hustles every second When he is set up, he can blast the winner over and over again.

What they would really like is not only to see Nadal and Djokovic face off, but Dominic Thiem, who won the US Open. He has gotten so much better. not just the strokes, but his expended mind. Thiem reached RG finals twice, losing to Nadal in the last two year. Whether No. 3 Thiem will get out there and really push. If he super close to victory, will he trip them up? He is better this year than last year. Thiem is growing.

Forget about the finals yet, as it is too early to figure out who will make it. But if you want a short list of who will reach the quarters in the second week, here they are: Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini, Denis Shapovalov, Roberto Bautista Agut and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Nadal: Back and hustling on every point in Rome

Rafael "Rafa" Nadal

Rafa Nadal is finally back, and he has not played at a tournament since late February. There he is, in Rome, at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, blasting  Pablo Carreno Busta 6-1, 6-1. Careno Busta, who reached the semis at the US Open, barely losing against Alexander Zverev. The steady Carreno Busta was close to a fifth-set victory, but he couldn’t kiss the lines. Zverev found a way to prevail. 

Dominic Thiem ended up winning the 2020 US Open, inching over Zverev, in a fifth-set tiebreaker. Thiem was weeping in joy, while Zverev was so disappointed. The German was so sad that after the ceremony, he broke down. Neither will not play Rome this week, as they are totally exhausted.
But there are a number of terrific players, such as Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Matteo Berrettini, who won in the round of 32. Stefanos Tsitsipas went down in the third set to Italian Jannik Sinner.

Nadal has won Rome nine times, a tremendous amount. His lefty forehand is very heavy, with a tremendous spin. And he hustles every second, and when he is set up, then he can blast the winner.

Last year, in the final, Nadal took down Djokovic in three sets on the Italian clay. Obviously, the Serbian has beaten Nadal on the hardcourts, but on the soft clay, Nadal is still king.

But this week with Nadal and Djokovic, if they play lights out, then they will meet each other in the final on Sunday. The whole world will watch the match.

There were three good wins on Tuesday, from the 18-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti upsetting Stan Wawrinka. Two other young players won: Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov.

The former two-time Grand Slam champion Angie Kerber is still struggling. The German can be so steady, when she was No. 1, grabbing the 2016 Aussie Open, the 2016 US Open and 2018 Wimbledon. But, since then, she hasn’t won the big ones, and really, she hasn’t dominated at other events. She was injured when she arrived in January, and she went down early in, at the AO. She lost against the long veteran, Sam Stosur, in the first round, and then shortly after, she pulled out in California and Florida. Kerber subsequently withdrew due to a left-leg injury. Now she is back, and she feels pretty healthy, but she has a lot of work again. At the US Open, she made it into the fourth round, but she couldn’t hit with enough topspin or depth. She did win three matches, and then the very good American Jennifer Brady punched her out.

The 32-year-old Kerber still has a solid three years of play when she is healthy, but her move back up the rankings from No. 22 will take some time. In Rome, early this week, she lost to Katerina Siniakova.

Kerber may not win Roland Garros as she never really understand exactly how to work on clay.
The very young teenager Coco Gauff had a solid win, beating Ons Jabeur in the first round.

Two-time Grand Salm champion Garbine Muguruza beat another former major champ, Sloane Stephens, in two sets. She is up and down, but when she feels 100 percent healthy, she can win any match. Muguruza is fast, and she really likes to attack. She could win the event in Rome, as long as she is durable.

Stephens is mentally out of it, in the past one year and six months. She has to turn it around during the fall, or she will continue to drop down farther than her present No. 33.

Amanda Anisimova is ready to make a move. But, it won’t happen in Rome as she was bested by Dayana Yastremska in the round of 32. Every month, you can tell that the 19-year-old is studying and improving. And when he does, she will break into the top 10 in the next months. A learner.

Men can seize an opportunity at USO

Novak Djokovic

We don’t know which men will play at the US Open, next month, but if they had a chance, they will seize an opportunity. Roger Federer is out this year, but Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are healthy and kicking it.

Recently, the No. 1 Djokovic tested positive with the coronavirus, following the tournament he organized in Serbia and Croatia. Even though he wanted to show all the fans in Serbia who wanted to cheer at in stadium, the venture was seen as reckless by most observers. However, watching on TV, there were virtually no masks at all. I mean, hundreds of people were sitting at the event jammed into seats and close to Djokovic. Only days after, a number of people became sick. Not just Djokovic, but three other players, too. They all feel good, now, but with the fans … who knows? Are they OK? But statistically — like where I live in Los Angeles — there are many hospitals overrun with coronavirus patients. And many have died. So while everyone wants to watch tennis, just be careful.

Djokovic looks pretty good, and there was a picture last week, where he was practicing on the hard courts. Nadal was also practicing, but he was hitting on clay.

Will both of them come to the US Open, given that they have won the titles in NYC? They love the American Slam, but do they want to travel across the ocean? They aren’t sure yet. They have some time, in the next few weeks. It is not just the top players, it is everyone, especially Europeans, who are questing whether they will try to travel or just not go. Everyday, there are new changes; so just be patient. Or yell when they cannot find a solution. Scream!

No. 3 Dominic Thiem says that he is ready to jump on the plane. He hasn’t won a Grand Slam yet, but he did reach the final twice at Roland Garros, losing against the main man, Nadal, and dropping this year’s Australian Open final to Djokovic. He could win a Slam, at some point, as long as he pushes himself to go for the lines. Daniil Medvedev almost won the 2019 US Open, nearly upsetting Nadal. In the fifth set, the Spaniard kept clubbing him, and he finally reached another trophy. Nadal can do it again and, assuming Medvedev gets better each year, he can win a Slam, too. As long as he works on his return. 

Other in the mix for Flushing Mead are these three top-10ers: Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, and Matteo Berrettini. They can crush the ball when they want to, but they lose their focus and forget their strategies. They need more practice. Two young Americans, Taylor Fritz and Reilly Opelka, are rising. They have to figure how to make a major move to be real Slam contenders.

The Grand Slams: Will they start again this summer?

Roger Federer

According with Daily Tennis, with the fine writer Robert Waltz, “the plans to restart the season are getting serious — and, arguably, seriously weird.”

That is true.

In eight weeks, it is possible that the players will go up against each other in real tournaments. Most people like to watch the exhibitions, but 95 percent want to see the legitimate matches, such as the U. Open. The huge one. A real Grand Slam.

This is what I really believe: At some point this year, a few fans will go to watch at the tournaments. Not a gigantic amount, but a few, because the owners know that if there are no fans at all, then most events will lose money, perhaps a tremendous amount of money. So, what is the point of making a legitimate effort to hold a tournament this year? That is why dozens of tournaments have pulled out for the rest of the year. But, hats off to tournament owners who decide to operate in 2020 because then the they really love tennis. Good for them.

But, the tennis world has to figure it out in the next month or so. The aggressive coronavirus — which has now been responsible for 116,000 American deaths since March 11 — may still ravage more people in the summer and fall. Then all of the sports will continue to stop at the big events.

However, Daily Tennis has a schedule, here [not the entire schedule]:

  • Week of August 3: Charleston
  • Week of August 10: Washington
  • Week of August 17: Cincinnati
  • Week of August 24-September 7: US Open
  • Week of September 14: Madrid and Istanbul
  • Week of September 21: Rome
  • Week of September 28 and October 5: Roland Garros
  • Week of October 5: Seoul and Tianjiin

There are other tournaments in the fall, such as Beijing and Wuhan, that are yet to be decided. But, the tournaments and the tours are still working on it.

Right after the US Open ends, the players will go straight from hardcourts onto the clay at Roland Garros in Paris. That would be an incredibly quick turnaround, but that could be thrilling, especially for the player go deep into the second week of both Slams. Back to back will be very tough, but the top 10 players rarely give up.

Roger Federer pulled out for the rest of the year due this second surgery this year. He hurt his leg while practicing last week; so he had to stop playing. It will take him a couple more months to become healthy, and he didn’t want to risk his leg again. As he said, he can’t wait to play again in January 2021. That is a long time, but the good news is that he wants to play again, even though he is will be 39 then. March on.

Rafa Nadal has said that the rest of the year, they may not play in a legitimate match in the summer and the fall. He could be right, or he could be wrong, but currently, no one knows how tennis will play out. But, with in a second, if he plays a Grand Slam, he will be right there.

A high-level exhibition is coming to Charleston June 23-28. The field consists of: Sofia Kenin, Bianca Andreescu, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, Victoria Azarenka, Amanda Anisimova, Monica Puig, Ajla Tomljanovic, Danielle Collins, Alison Riske, Shelby Rogers, Genie Bouchard, Jennifer Brady, Leylah Fernandez and Emma Navarro. That is an excellent field.

The big 8 players: Who is improving now?

Andy Murray

With no one playing tournaments due to the coronavirus, the question is: Are they are improving, on court and off court? The great thing is that it has been almost two-and-a-half months at home, so they can heal any injury issues. 

At this point, they feel very good with their legs, knees, arms, backs, etc. Actually tennis players are rarely 100 percent healthy because they are playing all the time. They play month after month, from January all the way into November. Basically, the entire year. 

A schedule of tournament after tournament means too much wear and tear. For the foreseeable future, this isn’t going to change on the ATP and WTA tours.

Right now, all the players have said that they want to come back ASAP, because they miss it. 

Of course they do, because the reason why they managed to reach the top 10, top 100 and top 200 was playing constantly, learning how to hit the ball properly.

But, as the top players say, they always have to improve. No one is perfect. Here are eight players who are great, but what are they currently doing to get even better? 

Novak Djokovic
The Serb can crack his backhand, forever. His serve, his returns and speed is outstanding and his forehand is much better than when he started. However, he has to flatten out his forehand and nail it down the line. Get rid of the spin.
Rafa Nadal
The Spaniard is so efficient, with his heavy and hard forehand, his deep returns, his first serve, and volleys. Plus he has lot of confidence when he gets to the net. However, his backhand is O.K. — which is much better then he started winning his first Slam in 2005 — but it can fall short, and he needs to nail it cross-court.
Roger Federer
The Swiss can do so many things: his phenomenal forehands, his tricky serves, his intelligent returns, and he bangs down so low that he can kiss the net. He has won 20 Grand Slams, which means that right now, he is the best player ever. However, while he has improved his one-handed backhand, he still needs to leap on the ball and hit it close to the lines. If he is going to upend Nadal and Djokovic, who have beaten Federer many times, the 38-year-old has to take a huge amount of risks to win one more Slam.    

Andy Murray
Yes, Brit Murray hasn’t played much over the past two years because he was seriously hurt and he almost retired. But the three-time Grand Slam champion is a darn good player. If he can become healthy again — which will be very difficult — then, at some point, he can reach into the top 10 again. The 33-year-old loves watching tennis, playing tennis and thinking about tennis. That is his life, at least or now. For him to go deep again, he cannot continually grind it out, the way he used to. He has to go for his shots pretty early or he can become wounded once again. 
Ash Barty
The Australian No. 1 Barty has won a Slam at Roland Garros. Since she returned a few years ago from a try at cricket, she became much better month after month, with confidence and more court sense. She has a tremendous variety, and she is so steady. However, she needs to improve her serves, especially her second serve. Or else, players will attack and knock her way back in the court. 

Bianca Andreescu

Serena Williams
She has the best serve, forehand and backhand, But Serena needs to come in more at the net and put the ball away. She is 39 years old and just getting older. Can she can win one more Grand Slam? When will she do it? Does she still have the mental strength to take a slam final? I have no idea, but she can do it, and finally retire with a phenomenal 24 majors.
Sofia Kenin 
At the start of this year, the American won the 2020 Australian, her first Grand  Slam. She is very strong, young, and she pushes herself forward with huge swings. She took down Ash Barty and Garbine Muguruza to win it. She can be very combative, her forehand has a lot of spin, and she slaps her backhand. But she can be inpatient If she wants to become No. 1, she has to clam down. But she is already on her way there.

Bianca Andreescu 
The Canadian is young. But, last year, when she rose up quickly, she nailed so many winners that it was so clear she would reach the top 10 immediately. She did, because she was never afraid and she won the 2019 US Open, blasting everyone. She does get hurt a lot, which is not good, but hopefully she can figure it out. If she is going to improve, she needs be more consistent in the rallies.

Nadal and Spain win the Davis Cup

Rafael Nadal

It is the end of the year, for the men, after almost 11 months. They are done, finally, at the end of November, and the No. 1, Rafa Nadal, has had a tremendous year. 

On Sunday, in Madrid, Spain won the title at the Davis Cup, beating Canada 2-0. 

Nadal won everything, in singles, and believe it or not, in the doubles, too. Through the year, the lefty Spaniard rarely plays doubles because he wants to make sure that if he does, he could get hurt and he would not play at all. But the 33-year-old is very careful now, with the exception of playing clay constantly, but when he is conscious of how his body is reacting, then he can just rip the ball and be aggressive.

On Sunday, in the final, he edged the young man, Denis Shapovalov, 6-3, 7-6. The Canadian Shapovalov had a fine event, in the singles and doubles, too. But, in this match, Nadal was a little more intense and he was on fire. Over the past two years, the now 20-year-old Shapovalov has gotten better, and next year, he may crack into the top 10, but currently, he get frustrated, and he knock it too long. Shapovalov looks pretty darn good, but to win the match, he had to overcome the fans who were screaming for Nadal. To stun Nadal at his home, well, Shapovalov would have to play 100 percent. That is very difficult, and while the Canadian was trying as hard as he could, he must realize that the 19-Grand Slam champion Nadal is better than he is. 

Shapovalov did upset Nadal in Montreal two years ago, but that was then, and this was now.

In the first match, the veteran Roberto Bautista Agut beat a super young player, Felix Auger-Aliassime, 7-6 6-3. Nadal was raring to go, and he did. Nadal was lethal with his big forehand, and he mixed his serve into the middle into the chest, and he touched the corners. He could swing it away, because Spain already was up a match.

Nadal won all eight matches, including five singles, and three doubles. He did not drop a set. He is the clear No. 1, winning Roland Garros, the US Open and now the Davis Cup, among others. 

Since 2000, Spain has won the Davis Cup six times. It wasn’t just about Nadal.

Next January, Nadal will be thinking about winning the Australian Open. If he does that, he will tie with Roger Federer at 20 Slams. Of course, he can wait until Roland Garros, which he has won 12 times in June on clay, but perhaps Nadal wants to celebrate on the hard courts in Melbourne. He never brags, but for everyone, they have to here the voices when you are sleeping. You cannot take it away. Or perhaps, the dreams will hide you, but for Nadal, when you are awake, then you will think about it and believe he can still beat everyone. Just like he did at Madrid.

Zverev has started to climb up the mountains, beats Nadal

Alexander ZAverev

No. 1 Rafa Nadal can play fantastic in the winter, the spring and the summer. But, in the fall, the Spaniard’s legs collapse. He wants to play — he always wants to walk on the court and crack the ball — but he is 33 years old. While he can win another Grand Slam in 2020 (isn’t Roland Garros his for the picking?), or to win the ATP 1000s, too, that does not mean that he can compete a lot year after year.

Yes, this season, Nadal won Roland Garros and the US Open. That is tremendous, but he absolutely has to rest. He does a bit, but in the ATP 1000 Paris two weeks ago, he pulled out after the quarters. He wanted to be healthy in anticipation for London.

Against Alexander Zverev on Monday, Nadal couldn’t play well at all. He could not smoke the ball. He hit it short, and all over the place.

Zverev did play quite well; he was solid, strong and patient. He beat Nadal 6-2, 6-4, which was a little bit surprising, considering that Nadal had beaten the German five times. But, not this time. As the Spaniard said, he came to London, but his body is suspect.

“I am disappointed, because knowing that I will not be at my 100 percent in terms of feelings, in terms of movement, in terms of confidence or hitting the ball. I needed my best competitive spirit , and I was not there in that way,” Nadal said.

How about this? Zverev hit 26 winners, while Nadal hit just three forehand winners. Given that his forehand is the best in the game, he just wasn’t sharp. He is dealing with his abdominal injury. Maybe on Wednesday, Nadal will shake it off and pound it.

“What really matters is I need to play much better in two days,” Nadal said. That’s the only thing.”

The good thing about Zverev is that he admitted that he has had a so-so year, and he struggled, a lot. Last year, a year ago, he was riding high. Then he slipped way down. Over the past month, he has started to climb up the mountains. On Monday, Zverev looked very different.

Can Zverev, the defending champ, win it again? It is too early to say, because they just started and they will play three matches, win or lose. Zverev really likes the London O2. On Wednesday, Zverev will go against Stefanos Tsitsipas, who just beat Daniil Medvedev.

At the Slams, Nadal has played for 15 years, while the other three are just starting out. All three of them are enthusiastic, but Nadal must be irritated because he lost. He doesn’t like pushing the ball, so on Wednesday, win or lose, he is going to swing much harder and, hopefully, inside the lines.

Nadal, Djokovic and Federer will clash at the ATP Finals

Rafael Nadal, Rafa Nadal

Rafa Nadal comes into the ATP Finals with just a week off since he withdrew from the Paris Masters semifinal with an abdominal strain, and there are a lot of questions about him physically — but not about his game.

The lefty can smash his forehand, stay very patient, and is still willing to have long rallies where he will blast it into the corners when the other player is exhausted. The 19-time Grand Slam champion has also improved his backhand — it’s deeper now — and he is tough to beat at the net, when he comes in. Though he stands way behind the baseline when he is returning, almost on the wall, he can get it back regularly and then get into the point.

While people know that he is the best player ever on clay, winning 11 times at Roland Garros, he has won on hardcourts both at the Australian Open and the US Open. So when Nadal is healthy, he can beat them all everywhere.

But the problem for Nadal at the ATP Finals has been being healthy, because he’s withdrawn or retired there six times, exhausted from a long season. This time, he says he doesn’t know what shape he will be in when he takes the court. He really wants to win it, though, badly, and certainly can if he plays like he is capable of.

Serbian Novak Djokovic has won here a lot of times before, and he might do it once again. The photos show why — when he is locked in, his eyes are very wide, and he is looking directly at the ball. He will return deep, and then he will camp on the baseline with his amazing backhand, and he will rally crosscourt until he can knock it down the line. He has won 16 Grand Slams, and this year, the Australian Open and Wimbledon. That was crazy, considering that the Spaniard and Djokovic have played each other 50 times. Most of it, it was darn close.

Djokovic just won ATP Masters Paris, and while he was a little bit injured and off during the last few months, he has been around for a long time and he knows that as long as he practices, he will eventually return playing terrific. Currently, he is very close to playing 100 percent, and he is feeling confident. He wants to become No. 1 again, and push everyone aside. Without a doubt, he is the top favorite to win it again.

Roger Federer has had a solid year. He was unable to win a Grand Slam again, but he also won four tournaments, which means that he is still alive. In July, at Wimbledon, Federer lost 13-12 in the fifth against Djokovic. Even if he lost, he is still good on the move, and he can be spectacular. Federer thinks deeply, and he can change the tactics when he has to, using his variety. At the ATP Finals, he has won a record six titles. He has beaten them all, but he has lost, too. In 2018, he went down to Alexander Zverev. In London, he has a fine chance to win it once again, standing at the net and putting away his volleys. Federer is always very competitive against the top players.

The ATP Finals odds have three distinct tiers, according to Sports Betting Dime. Djokovic (+120) is in a class by himself, followed by Federer (+400), Medvedev (+450) and Nadal (+500). Zverev (+1200), Tsitsipas (+1200), Thiem (+1400) and Berrettini (+2200) are the longshots. The best value among the bottom four looks to be Tsitsipas. With wins over Djokovic, Federer, Nadal, and Zverev (twice) this season, his upside is as high as Medvedev, though his consistency is lacking.

Daniil Medvedev has had an incredible year. He started back in July, when he reached six finals in a row. It took the 23-year-old Russian five years to become smarter and more thoughtful about when to go for it and when to hold back. He is tall, steady and he can rip his first serve, his forehand and his backhand. Now, he’s aiming to show the fans who he is. Recently, Medvedev said that he wants to become No. 1 soon. Yet he first has to upend the big boys — Nadal, Djokovic and Federer. He has a wonderful shot to win it all.

Dominic Thiem is no longer one of the youngsters, as he is now 26 years old. But, the Austrian still has a long career in front of him, so he can grab a major, perhaps next year. On clay, he has reached the final twice at Roland Garros, and looked very good as he has heavy strokes, deep shots, but he could not do enough to upset Nadal.

On the hardcourts, Thiem has improved a decent amount over the last couple years and his first Masters title this season was on this surface. He moves well inside the court, he can be aggressive and go for the lines, both ways, with his forehand and his backhand. Yet to win the tournament would be his best performance ever and, at the moment, he doesn’t quite look close enough.

Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas has had a very good year at times, though he can be up and down. He has played a number of long matches this season, showing he can smash his first serve, pin his forehand and he can also rally, too. He certainly needs to return better, but in the past year, the 21-year-old is very steady with his backhand. Tsitsipas is intelligent, he listens to his coach, and his goal is that one day, he will become the best player on tour.

Maybe he will, but first, in London, he has to focus every moment to upset the great veterans and he must find the corners because of the speed of the indoor court. Tsitsipas may not win it all, but he is very excited to be there for the first time, so he will give it all. To win it would be surprising. He isn’t ready yet. But, soon.

When Zverev is on, he can be very positive, but when he isn’t, he can become very angry. Problems off the court this season have sometimes left him not concentrating fully on the court. That is why from March through September, he lost early and often. Yet in the fall, he recomposed himself, and while he isn’t playing fantastic, but he is much better than he was at the US Open. He was mentally gone there, saying he had no confidence.

It was very different at the 2018 ATP Finals, which Zverev won, beating Federer and Djokovic. It looked like he was going to win a major, but he didn’t. Perhaps, some year, but currently, mentally, at the ATP Finals he is not playing at the level to win it again.

From nowhere, an Italian made into the ATP Finals and it wasn’t even Fabio Fognini. Matteo Berrettini is pretty young, and he has yet to win a big tournament. But, at the US Open, he upset Gael Monfils in the quarters, 7-6 (5) in the fifth. He was overjoyed. When he started the year, he was ranked No. 54, and in April, he took off.

Berrettini is a huge hitter with his forehand, but he can be steady, too. He is 23 years old — so he is still young — and he will have to get better all around. Yes, next year he can make an attempt to enter the top 5, but this week at the ATP Finals, he has virtually no chance to win it. He will be very nervous.