Of course, I am referring to the tournament in Los Cabos and the popular Citi Open in Washington D.C., two hard court tune-ups for the gentlemen this week.
I’ll keep this short, just wanting to give a nod to a couple of trends that I’m watching. Taylor Fritz is playing Los Cabos, the American NextGener for which we started to develop a couple of expectations last year as he was in the news for his decent play, breaking into the top 100, reviving the American tennis heart beat, perhaps. But he’s had a bit of drop-off, just not getting beyond R1 in bigger tournaments. Been a bit of a disappointment.
He survived Kukushin in 1R yesterday, coming back from losing the first set TB to take the final two sets 2 and 2. Well done. He followed-up that with a victory tonight over #23 Ramos-Vinolas, a difficult assignment, in straights. We get a Fritz v Kokkinakis in R16 tomorrow, which I will have to watch. Certainly an advantage to the Aussie who has played pretty well over the last few months; he beat another decent American youngster in Tiafoe in 1R.
Querrey, Feli Lopez and Berdych are also still playing south of the border.
The other American I’m watching is Tommy Paul, advancing today in D.C. by beating 7-seed Pouille. Brilliant result for another NextGen, who’s now 20. He survived Casper Ruud in 1R, due to a retirement in the third set the American led 3-0, a solid match of young athletic types before the 18 year-old Olso resident waved the flag.
I watched most of the Pouille v Paul match and though this did not have much memorable tennis through much of the first set, the TB heated things up until Pouille DF at 6-6, giving Paul serve and his second SP, which he converted. Paul broke the Frenchman in the 2nd game of the 2nd, and looked to serve-out this match.
At 3-1, Paul had a tough hold, needing some strong ball-striking to keep 17 in-the-world Pouille from taking back control of the set and probably the match. He held, but was then broken at 4-2 in a fairly dramatic game in which Paul managed to save 5-6 BPs before succumbing. With Pouille putting the set back on serve, Paul immediately broke back and served-out the second set 6-3. Really solid work from one of the American youngsters we haven’t seen do much at all on tour.
He and Fritz brought a bit of flare to their professional prospects having done well in the Juniors. In 2015, in their last year in Juniors, Paul beat Fritz in the French Open Juniors final and Fritz answered back in the Jr. USO final.
So, nice to see these two, this week, gaining some confidence, advancing. Paul has the lefty from Luxembourg tomorrow, who beat Paul easily last week in Atlanta if I’m not mistaken. Good luck against that veteran’s wily serve and volley.
Sorry to focus so much on the Americans here, but perhaps one might understand the broader appeal – we need the youngsters to grow-up and play some ball (any youngsters!). This dearth of talent or maturity from the younger players has been pretty astonishing.
At the same time, I did find myself, admittedly, imagining a Davis Cup American side with some winning depth in the future (if we’re lucky). Americans have had some depth over the years, as you know. How about that one DC squad made-up of Pete, Andre, Jim and Todd Martin. Any surface, any day, anywhere. Ha ha.
The rest of the draw in D.C. looks fairly appetizing. Although defending champ Monfils has been dismissed, as well as Zverev the elder by the pesky Pella, tomorrow’s matches include: DelPo v Nishikori and the younger Russian Medvedev v Dimitrov, which should be interesting. Zverev the younger, Raonic, Thiem and Sock also have matches tomorrow.
Speaking of rooting for the youngins’ to get their crap in gear, Sascha, who needed a little work to get by the young Aussie Thompson today (tough match), has added the almost forgotten Juan Carlos Ferrero to his coaching staff. He will work with Alexander Sr. and continue to develop the tour’s strongest younger threat, who already has a Masters title, as you know. This is a great sign that the young German isn’t wasting time, nor does he appear to have an over-bearing parent/coach. The relationship in the box appears to be great, though this is the first week they’ve worked face-to-face; Ferrero was tapped in Madrid a few months ago, apparently.
More needs to be discussed in terms of this next generation’s progress, possibly a sequel to the Lost Boys (Raonic, Kei, Grigor, et al.). 2017 Fedal only magnifies the tour’s insecurities as far as the golden era after-life is concerned.
Folks, sorry if the tinkering-with-the-look-of-the-blog is annoying. I am trying to do as much of this on my own as I can, and you can probably discern that I am not one of these youngsters who masters electronic devices and their social media as if they’re programmed to do so from birth.
Any feedback you have is welcomed and appreciated. Hopefully this will all be seamless, with minimal distraction.
Be sure that the tennis conversation will continue, unabated, and begin to ramp and boom as the boys start to rattle their big HC engines, destination NYC.
Looking forward to tomorrow’s matches and discussing these matters and more, so stay-tuned.
And, yes, of course we will continue to explicate the DHFE jeremiad.