You know the big theme in D.C.: taken-over by a bunch of teenagers and Sascha, who’s only twenty-one.
Tsitsipas had a whiff of hope in that second set, but one can see the difference between these 19 year-olds and Sascha: inexperience and just a natural lack of professionalism. Sascha was de Minaur or Rublev a couple of years ago, showing promise and all of that. But Zverev also has that pretty impressive tennis family around him. He not only grew-up on tour with his brother making noise back in 2009 before succumbing to all sorts of injury, but his father and the rest of that agenda speaks to a more professional approach to the tour.
Sascha has had more coaching influence than just his father. They had a cup of coffee with Juan Carlos Ferrero that started back in 2017 but ended this March. He’s hired Murray’s well-known trainer/conditioning coach Jez Green. He’s talked and trained with Ivan Lendl, though nothing is official yet on that end.
If you look at Sascha, you just see someone totally committed to being successful on this tour. He already has three 1000s. Yesterday’s routine final completed his defense of the Citi Open, a 500 level tournament. Sure the criticism of his major results still stands, but this kid is getting it done. Tough to argue with that.
And that’s where a Tsitsipas or de Minaur will have a tough time overcoming this confident and ambitious German at this point. They just need more experience on tour, more strength and more of a program that any player has to have to face the demons of these bigger ATP draws.
Tsitsipas has the game, has the passion. Annacone talking about a cab ride with Stefanos and his father/coach during last week’s tennis furthers some optimism. Annacone tapped into the Greek’s desire to bring tennis glory to his country. Annacone made good reference to another player with Greek blood, one Pete Sampras. Paul pointed-out how Pete never worried about his serve (let’s say rarely if at all). Pete’s game plan for just about every match was finding a little opening to break his opponent’s serve, because that meant, pretty much, the match was over. He was that confident in his serve.
Hint: Stefanos, develop your serve. He’s 6’4″ and can serve big, but his ball-toss is too loose, inconsistent. He just needs polish to his already solid game. The one-hander looks good, but we know that has to tighten-up in these big matches, especially against big two-handers who will pick on that shot.
Tsitsipas made us smile in D.C. He was our dark-horse.
The final was the same set-up from the teenage Aussie. He has a coach and, of course, a mentor in Hewitt, in addition, so he is actually building a little program. One can see it with this guy’s tennis. He’s focused, non-stop and should only be getting better.
We’ll say the same about Rublev. These are solid talents.
Why do I still like Tsitsipas more than the Aussie or the Russian if we’re talking about the 19 year-olds? Because Stefanos can actually move forward, finish at the net, actually looks to finish at the net on occasion.
If you watched the Rublev v de Minaur match you were tired through the second set. Their commitment to the BL is their undoing. That’s this generational tattoo that needs removal.
But the point is Zverev is just bigger (doesn’t hurt his cause), stronger, more polished skill-wise (the BH is his best weapon), has more support and is more confident than these teenagers.
Congrats to Sascha.
Another thing I noticed was the lack of parental supervision at the Citi Open. How did these youngsters take-over the tournament, plant firmly into the ground their Next Gen flag? Where was the veteran presence that seems to dominate these kinds of proceedings?
Well, since this was a 500, chances are the Big 3 are not there. That leaves it to the likes of a Nishikori or Goffin, a guy like Stan or maybe Isner?
Isner, as we explained, made a bad scheduling error. He was burned-out. Stan is done, still injured, misses Magnus, whatever. He’s getting a decent opponent is his first round match these days and getting sent home (he opens with Kyrgios in Toronto).
That leaves us with Kei and David. Kei was outclassed by Zverev in the QF (Sascha has already out-classed Nishikori by career, to be honest) and Goffin succumbed to the rising Tsitsipas. That was routine, which backs-up my theory that the Kyrgios-like Tiafoe tanked that match with Goffin. Not a good look from the American (maybe he was injured, to give him the benefit of the doubt? Unfortunately, he’s a complete wildcard at this point and will continue to be).
Indeed, the Lost Gen keeps going about their business. Hence the rise of Next Gen.
The boys go bigger this week at the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
We have Big 3 action, or at least Big 2.
Nadal might have Kyrgios (or I suppose Wawrinka) in R16, Cilic/Edmund/Coric/Querrey/Mannarino in QF, and Del Potro/Nishikori/Shapo/Cabo Champ Fognini/Isner in the SF.
There’s danger, but if Rafa is on his game he should at least get to that SF against Juan Martin. The second quarter, as you can see, is loaded. Nishikori should get by Haase and then he and DelPo play, winner playing a Shapo or Fognini type just to get to the QF.
We didn’t report at all on Cabo, but Foghat routined DelPo in that final. New hair-cut and all.
In the bottom, the SF should have winner of Djokovic v Zverev against an Anderson or inspired Raonic.
But there are some pretty deep draws here in the bottom, too.
Raonic opens-up with Goffin (that Goffin wins that would be so typical; these lost gen boys are a complete shit casserole when it comes to any logic or predictability).
One of those boys probably gets Dimitrov in R16 if he can survive a possible Verdasco R32.
That first QF will be winner of those boys v Kevin Anderson if he’s not still recovering from WB.
In the bottom, let’s start with Djoker. He gets Chung R64, then a no-name, then a Thiem or Tsitsipas (or Dzumhur I suppose who made Cabo SF and can play) R16, before his likely QF match with Sascha.
Zverev shouldn’t have too much trouble getting to that QF. A match to watch early is the Auger-Aliassime v Pouille R1 match. The Canadian got a wild card and should be pumped to play a 1000 in front of his countrymen and women. And this 17 year-old can play.
Would really be shocked if Novak and Sascha don’t square-off in that QF.
Djokovic, coming off a massive installation of confidence in WB, should be very difficult here. We’ll see how the tennis unfolds, but that serve he used to keep Nadal at bay in WB looks pretty devastating to go along with the rest of his game.