Strike two, Mcshow.
Tiafoe and Kyrgios are out.
The first subject is vastly unproven, but I said let’s see the young American consolidate Delray Beach. That was a tremendous run highlighted, for me, by his man-handle of Shapovalov.
I didn’t get to write-up more of that tournament win, but a few qualities emerged in watching Tiafoe that resemble Kyrgios. I am going to say, for now, that four distinct similarities between the two are now filed-away to be referenced for future tennis discourse.
One: The forehand. Look at how each takes his racket back. It’s not a great look to be honest. A lot of movement. This helps account for the whip that both put-on the ball. The FH is a massive top-spin weapon for both, especially that CC shot. Sure Kyrgios is a more proven and overall better player and prospect, his FH more dangerous and versatile, but this shot from both begins their style similarities.
Two: Athleticism. One of the qualities in Kyrgios that adds to his fear factor is his athleticism. He down-plays this quite-a-bit because of his slouchy shoulders and quasi-tank antics we see often from the surly Aussie. But don’t overlook the other-worldly athleticism of this NBA-obsessed younger. His footwork, his nonchalant net touch, his hops, his serve — this all speaks to a physical prowess that makes him light-years ahead of guys like Nishikori or Raonic. Kyrgios, however, has competing talents such as the aforementioned propensity to tank, stay injured, lack motivation, etc.
But I digress.
Tiafoe’s athleticism is otherworldly, as well. His east-west movement should make him very tough as he progresses (he needs to develop more north/south movement, however). He’s explosive, which of course informs his serve and his ground strokes, among other parts of his game. Tiafoe and Kyrigios are those light-on-their-feet/walk-on-their-toes types. If you’ve been around sports enough, you know the type. They both have this distinct quality to the way they carry themselves around the court; this athleticism to go along with that similar take-away and whippy FH gives them all kinds of shared character.
But it goes deeper than that.
Three: Impetuous confidence. Kyrgios is the reigning king of this discussion. And Tiafoe has not put himself in quite the display, but it looks promising that he shares a bit of this quality, as well.
I have two examples of this, but it’s enough. Granted, this isn’t very illustrative, but some of us need only a shred of evidence to go with our mountain of inference and intuition.
We’re in the Shapovalov match. The first case occurs as Dennis serves at 5-5 in the first set. Tiafoe gets to a break-point, wins the point with a brilliant little BH ROS CC, unplayable, and the American runs to his chair pumping his fist, streaming with energy at the chance to serve-out this set.
Scroll to 4:10 in this video:
Kyrgios made the same move while playing Federer in the Laver Cup. Remember, he had Roger on the ropes in that final match, the final singles contest to determine the winning side.
Scroll to 14:18. What a point in that second set TB.
The other example comes in the Tiafoe v Chung Delray Beach QF.
Sroll to 15:35. Tiafoe decides to not even try to return a very returnable serve.
Tiafoe is up the break in the second set, Chung is serving at 3-5 to stay in the set. The game gets to 40-0 and Tiafoe doesn’t even bother to play the last point, but instead starts walking to his chair, content on relying on his serve to secure the second set.
I don’t have a problem with this, necessarily. This did catch the announcer’s attention as I’m sure many others watching the match. Tiafoe served-out the set.
Very Kyrgios-like antics on the court.
Four: Inconsistency. Again, Tiafoe hasn’t really been around and relevant enough to make a definitive call here, but just as I wrote in my tardy IW draw analysis that I sure hope Tiafoe can make a move here at IW, consolidate Delray Beach, etc., he succumbs sheepishly to his fellow American Escobedo. I did add that Frances might not be an IW guy, but that’s no excuse. Pretty poor from, as Brad Gilbert calls him, Lighten Up Frances.
That was certainly the American in me hoping to see our tennis tradition further rekindled. Tiafoe no-shows at IW. Perhaps Fritz can make as statement today v Rublev?
Kyrgios no-shows IW, as well; he pulled-out before his first match with an injury. Nothing really new here though I do think he’s been battling injury for months now. Too bad.
Two of the three I wanted to see make a bit of a show here in IW are already gone. Did I curse Novak, as well? Geez.
Having said all of that, I did see another youngster’s play in IW who also represents that athletic style and tradition of today’s youth, who aspire to be as much like Ronaldo and Lebron as they do Federer, I’m afraid: Felix Auger-Aliassime.
I know he’s been talked about for a while. But let’s rememeber: he’s only 17. Although his press coverage is been somewhat eclipsed by his fellow Canadian teenage buddy Denis Shapovalov (18 y/o), FAA’s dismissal of Pospisil yesterday was brilliant and all eyes are on him now.
He has Roanic next.
Check the inside-in FH, the FH in general, and the great movement for the 6’3″ prodigy.
The FH will be legendary.
Enjoy the tennis!