Alexander Zverev

Nitto ATP Finals Day 3: Federev v Zvererer and A Sock Star is Born


First set seems like less a chess match and more of a show of intimidation. I like the tennis actually, the players showing-off the breadth of their skills: aces, two wing weaponry, serve & volley, swinging volleys, trying to assert their dominance simultaneously. Watch the game at 5-5. Tense stuff, tight. Don’t just look at the tennis quality in a vacuum, people: this is Federer v Zverev, ATP Finals and we all know this is essentially the final, the sequel played in a few days.

I really need to keep this short.

I’m hearing people say the tennis was error-prone, less than magnifique, but I say it had the tension of a heavy-weight bout with some big-time tennis.

First set is, we’ll call it, pretty even; but I thought Federer looked better. Nonetheless, to the TB they go, and though Federer gets off to a miserable start, Zverev blinked (barely). Federer even saves a set point at 5-6 and triumphs at 8-6.

You should know the story, at this point. Federer breaks game one in the second set, looking to close this deal in straights. But he’s broken twice, subsequently and loses the set 5-7. He comes hard in the third at 1-1, breaks and runs-away, leaving the uber-talented German with a breakstick.

Again, one can whine all they want about the errors, etc., but this was very high-stake tennis. Federer’s box looked nauseous. The court looked tense (Federer showing all kinds of agitation, especially in that second set), warm, and thickly merchandised with class; this IS the class of the tournament unless Dimitrov or Sock want in on this.

Federer’s FS continues to be a point of discussion here. The weapon abandoned him a bit at the end of that first set, especially the TB there when they alternated some massive points, even SPs. But the slice-BH seemed to curve to the rescue for world #2.

By the way. . .That double-handed BH hasn’t just, stylistically, taken a dump on the more classic BH; it often prevents guys from developing a slice, which only means that the argument I’ve subtly championed all along (that the more classic, traditional tennis is superior) needs, of course, more time and energy from me to drive this home.

To be clear: the slice, a brilliant, often overlooked shot, brought-up today in the Fed v Sascha match, is another resounding reason to stay classy.

I only caught the end of the Sock v Cilic match. Sock is doing some things on the court right about now. Look at the scorelines from Paris-Bercy. He has several big wins of which he drops the first set and roars back in Sock fashion. This roaring style is only getting more refined.

I only saw the tail end when the match could have gone either way. Sock came up huge. The BH played an enormous part here. And some of that retrieving foot speed continues to impress all kinds of critics and players alike.

Bravo to Sock and Federer.

Zverev v Sock is going to be must see, folks.

I like Sock in this but I’m an American so don’t you dare listen to anything I have to say. . . on anything!

Ha ha.

Stay tuned!

Cincy 2017 Downgraded to ATP World Tour 500 Event?

Of course not. But the draw is missing: Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka, Cilic and Nishikori, at least.

So, let’s see some of these young lads take-up the slack.

We’ve already begun this discussion, previewed the younger field briefly, ahead of schedule. We’re ahead of schedule at Mcshow Blog.

The biggest hiccup in all of this is the loss of Federer, not just his loss to Zverev, but the suddenly very real possibility that he is feeling a bit the wear-and-tear of this 2017 affair.

Wrote this last week: “Let’s start with Roger. I watched most of his first match v Polansky. He looked sloppy, bad at times and still breadsticked the local cuisine 2 and 1. He won one of his service games in less than a minute, literally :58 seconds it took to win a game. Looking at the scoreline, however, did not give one any indication that he may struggle a bit vs. Ferrer in his second match.

He looked old against Ferrer, who’s about equal in age to the Maestro. David hammered Federer’s second serve, kept the 2-seed off-balance, used his relentless defense to attack a seemingly tired Federer. As I said on Twitter, Federer looked hungover; he was sluggish and even grumpy, at one point smashing a ball deep into the stands upon missing a fairly routine overhead smash.”

The final the same kind of slop. I wrote he’d found some comfort between then (^) and the final, but he really hadn’t. Part of this is the difficulty of his draw (or lack-there-of). I wrote in my preview that Nadal clearly had a more difficult draw (Shapovalov aside). Federer played his draw on one leg. What gave away his trouble throughout was his visible frustration throughout. He looked irritated, tired, hungover (I tweeted this during Ferrer match). In reality, he was bit of a mess.

I imagined a rise in the SF because of a bump in efficiency; he looked more in control. Most of us were a bit deceived as well by his is 2017 form in general, which has been odd, to say the least. His dominance. Other than those 2 losses prior to Sunday (themselves bizarre against Donskoy and Haas), has Roger broken a sweat in 2017 other than some mild perspiration in Melbourne?

In other words, I was a little surprised by Zverev’s dominance. The second serve and FH were too much, especially for an ailing Federer. Zverev’s second serve averaged around 115mph and he had one DF. Good luck with that.

But the injured Federer didn’t give us much of a look in the final at a chance exchange with the strong 20 year-old. A healthy Federer maybe turns this final into a classic? How bad is the injury? When exactly did it surface? Again, I say he looked less than 100% all week (if he was disengaged, not wanting really to press – why play?). We’re left with a few questions.

Some are surmising he should have sat Montreal and come-back for Cincy. I say, if he’s injured — it’s probably not devastating — now he can rest for NYC with some good HC reps under his racket. If he’s hurt, he’s out. Pretty simple and an elderly injury will stand-up to this tour like the final went yesterday. Even worse for an injury, Bo5 September hard courts is tax season.

Good for Zverev, picking-up his second Masters title. I am more interested in the youth development at this point. We need deeper and deeper fields with more danger, more parity.

That Federer and Nadal were advertised as fighting for No. 1 going into Cincy is almost absurd.

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I’m pleased that Tommy Paul beat Donald Young today. Isner next with a chance to play Sascha. In fact, Sascha plays hopefully Tiafoe, who’s up a set now.

Here’s a highlight of the Paul v Young match. DY comes to play usually. This is a physical match. Paul commits errors but has enough serve and athletic tennis in him to beat some decent competition. Good news.

Indeed, how will my American brethren do here.

Maybe that’s really how to grow this blog, become a fan blog. Seems to be the trend, folks. Sure, I have a nice loyal little readership that spans the globe (best part of my audience). But I want to build threw the roof.

And those corny fanblogs do that. Part of that politicized global culture, I suppose. People are going crazy. I suppose my blog should be crazzier to tap into this madness. Sad.

Oh yeah, back to the tennis. Nadal has a tough draw with Gasquet and probably his buddy Gilles Muller next. Then more HC athletes will await the Spaniard’s slightly over-valued chase for #1.

More on #1 later, when I feel crazy enough to write a crazy post about that crazy #1 ranking.

Montreal Final: Federer v Zverev

Even if Nadal had survived Shapovalov and then beaten Mannarino, his hypothetical SF v Zverev could have been a loss, as well. Zverev is into his 6th final in 2017. Along with Federer and Nadal, the class of NextGen has clearly been one of the year’s brightest lights in these darkened days of the end of this golden age. For a year and a half he’s carried the torch for this future of tennis atp-montreal-zverev-edges-shapovalov-to-set-the-final-clash-with-federerwe keep talking about now. The Shapovalovs of the world are great theatre (and writing material), but the  future of tennis, right now, is Sascha and everyone else. For us to truly Beliem in Thiem, for instance, the Austrian needs to find his HC and grass feet (especially HC). Sascha won his first Masters title on clay (beating Djokovic in the final) and he continues to find the business-end of the draw in almost every tournament he plays.

Overcoming the Canadian teen, to be fair, was no easy task. That match was tight and the second set, highlighted by the TB drama was tremendous championship tennis. Tense, guys surviving MP and SP, rallies that you rewind to watch again because of the shot-making, the beauty and power of the game on full display. I might watch the second set (especially the TB) again before I hit “delete.”

The diagnosis most of us gave Shapovalov earlier still stands: a tennis that’s raw and a little reckless. But put yourself in his coach’s shoes: isn’t this what you want in your young charge at this point? Despite these shortcomings, he’s getting by some tough opponents, finding the experience people need to improve, and fine-tuning his game.

maxresdefaultAnd if you’re only looking at the stats, at the almost 50 UE, and only recalling those crucial rallies where he clearly overcooked the FH way wide, then you’re missing the meaning of this story. His ability to hang-around, save a MP or two, reach a SP in that TB, what would have been huge momentum shift, almost surviving to a third and final set. . . there was a ton of brilliance in that match still from the tennis of Denis.

A hearty standing ovation on the kid’s run here in Montreal. And like I said on Twitter, I think his game will translate well to Bo5. Let’s hope he finds the main draw in NYC, which sounds like a reach. I hear his ranking will keep him out of the qualifying tourney, so he probably needs a WC.

And I’m sure many want to see how he does with a more neutral crowd. Clearly the Canadian 18 year-old was advantaged in the hustle-and-bustle of Montreal. Indeed, lots to look forward to from this youngster. At the very least, his play, along with the likes of Tommy Paul’s play in D.C, and Kokkinakis’ in Los Cabos signal to the rest of this aspiring class of NextGen stars that the time is now. Get your games in order and take some swings at this elderly ATP!

We’ll see how Zverev fairs against one of these elders today.

Federer looked good against Haase yesterday, his form improving upon each successive round.

This is Sampras-Djokovic-like, almost stumbling through the draw, yet getting more dialed-in as the stakes rise, the opponents’ levels rise. Haase didn’t play poorly, but Federer is just finding his feet and controlling his shot more effectively. The players have mentioned that the conditions, among different elements, are causing the ball to fly, making the ball a bit difficult to control. Federer, in one interview, mentioned he was finding it the case where he needed to almost target the ball at the top of the net, or just below, for it to find his opponent’s half of the court.

Like any tournament, surface or era (extend this to different equipment, as well), players have to adjust. Those who adjust the best are the best. Sorry to oversimplify here. But again, this brings me back to fans saying that the 2017 Melbourne courts were too fast for Djokovic – don’t say that out-loud.

Federer had to bag his S&V at WB for years as the courts slowed and chunked-up the tennis. He didn’t necessarily complain: he has eight of those. Adjust to the conditions.

That’s what Fed has done in Montreal.

He should beat Zverev today.

Talk to you on the otherside.

Coupe Rogers Semi-final Saturday

What’s the more interesting storyline here?

2017 Federer ?
or
ATP Youth On the Rise?

😉

The second SF is rich, very rich. Sure, the first entails Federer’s continued 2017 epilogue, which is nothing short of spectacular, but that’s a known quantity, a known quality, if you will. We don’t want to discourage any hype surrounding the Federer v Robin Haase SF.

But, folks: you know where we come-out on this. Before any of this Montreal business-end genius even hatched, behold our nod to the tour’s youth in pre-Montreal fashion which has given-way to fucking big bird!

Two big birds.

Zverev v Shapovalov

I’m so geeked for this match. To be clear, I missed the Shapovalov v Mannarino QF, but will catch it later tonight. I know one thing having not even watched a second of the match. It’s brilliant. We needed this. Badly. He’s the youngest Masters semi-finalist ever, I’m willing to bet. 😉

Either way, the youth has risen. Let this truly be the harbinger of a new era. New characters, new legacies.

You know what this really boils down to, right?

The one-hander vs the two-hander. And you know who I like in this match, right?

A primary point of Federer’s dominance is his style, which we’ll define as that which encompasses all of his skill, talent, etc. He is a handful for most if not all of his opponents, which seems a fairly obvious observation. Are you with me? But the point here about his style concerns his sustainability, his longevity, his relevance.

He isn’t playing very well this week, though he is starting to find some rhythm, consistency, and urgency (the business-end necessity). But he can still win despite this kind of drop in form. Nadal, on the other hand, though he had a tougher draw perhaps, has to play at absolute peak to win (on non-clay). His “vamos” style is based-on a massive sense of momentum, which he masterfully finds and manipulates. I might say that Djokovic is similar in this regard. He has to be teeing-off on his opponent, rampant to a certain extent.

Federer has been able to reach SFs and Fs throughout his career, in winning form or perhaps not so much. He has so much game, so many weapons, such a fluency of the language – that’s his genius.

Part of this is his OHBH.

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I am partial to the one-hander and even tend to think many of these players who use it have a bit of an advantage (bias perpetuates deception 😉 ). Sure there are many other factors in players’ success, but the one-hander is such a marvelous element of style.

Let us observe this great debate in tomorrow’s second SF. Among other things.

Here’s to two brilliant matches to set-up a North American hard court Masters final.

Cheers!

Montreal Masters at the QF

The youth has risen!

Timing is everything. The timing of Shapovalov’s upset of Nadal gets us deeper into this discussion of youth that I started a few days ago; glad I slid that under the door and into the press in the Nick of time. . . 😀

Indeed we have seen a bit of this youth’s gunfire in Montreal. How good, again, is the timing here? U.S. Open Series is well underway, and we have the Montreal business-end to digest along with Cincy on the immediate horizon. NYC is in the distance. . . can you see it?

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Let’s skip through some highlights of a few matches that are helping to define Montreal, a potentially significant turning-point in competitive balance and hierarchy. Time will be the best judge on much of that, but shrewd analysis can help clarify and interpret the narrative.

Let’s start with Roger. I watched most of his first match v Polansky. He looked sloppy, bad at times and still breadsticked the local cuisine 2 and 1. He won one of his service games in less than a minute, literally :58 seconds it took to win a game. Looking at the scoreline, however, did not give one any indication that he may struggle a bit vs. Ferrer in his second match.

He looked old against Ferrer, who’s about equal in age to the Maestro. David hammered Federer’s second serve, kept the 2-seed off-balance, used his relentless defense to attack a seemingly tired Federer. As I said on Twitter, Federer looked hungover; he was sluggish and even grumpy, at one point smashing a ball deep into the stands upon missing a fairly routine overhead smash.

But he got his wits about him, held serve enough to win the second set and won going away in the third. Sure one sees him still a favorite to win this, especially given the draw, but he doesn’t seem overly eager, nor his tennis very urgent in advocating for the title.

In his pursuit of #1, I suppose we could be a little surprised by his lack of form here in Montreal; at the same time, though, with with Cincy, USO, fall hard courts, and WTF still on the schedule, there is plenty of time and opportunity.

Dear Jack Sock, I did not include you in my ATP Youth On the Rise article – and you’re only supporting this editorial move. At only 24, he should have, perhaps, been included along with the rest of the even younger American youth contingent; but he wasn’t. And his tennis (attitude) seems more in affiliation with the lost generation. We’ll see how the year transpires with him, but his D.C. result (granted, he did run into the hot Anderson there) and this loss to Ferrer has to sting.

The tennis of that next little bracket, of Nishikori, Monfils and RBA, has been quite dramatic. To be honest, I did not catch much of any of this; the tennis of Kei and Gael doesn’t quite secure my study (I probably shouldn’t admit that).

Monfils, of course, had one marathon win in him, overcoming Nishikori, but the gritty RBA out-lasted the quirky Frenchman yesterday, setting-up a potentially tight one against Federer today. The Spaniard could be empty from his tilt with Kei, but he usually gives the audience value and looking at Federer’s tennis at this point, today’s QF between Federer and RBA could be a decent contest.

Ahh, the Thiem v Schwartzman match. I saw the last part of this, when Dominic was serving for match at 5-4 in the third. To make a long story short, two things about these players reiterated their clarity: 1) Diego is a tough out, a feisty retriever and ball striker who can certainly go the distance with almost anyone, especially on clay; and 2) the clay game has some trouble on the harder, faster surfaces. Watching Thiem try to finish the Argentinian the other night was torturous. He couldn’t hit through the court, was rendered offensively almost impotent. This match with Schwartzman was like watching a match on clay. Long-winded rallies, players running out of patience, the survival of the fittest and the player with the biggest margin on his ground strokes. Not the most interesting kind of tennis unless you want to see players stagger to the ends of points, the business-end of the match looking more like a couple of buddies hitting in the desert, playing for a couple of cold beers.

Sorry about that – got away from me. Thiem needs more offense: memo to his coach and him. You are too good to only excel on clay. Looking at Shapovalov’s stroke, there’s no reason Thiem’s game, including the classic OHBH, can’t transfer. This loss was disappointing, mainly because he had the match on his racket, needed to end this affair, but couldn’t. . .as it kept on going, and going. . .and one could see the Austrian begin to wilt as much in confidence as in fatigue. Take care of that deficiency, Dom.

To Diego’s credit, in yesterday’s R16, he next went down a set to American NextGen Donaldson (whom I did include in that previous post) 0-6 before mustering his trademark grind to outlast Jared 7-5 7-5 in final two sets. Good for Schwartzman. And to be fair, he is only 24, so perhaps he’s merely getting back at me here, taking-out #BeliemInThiem and my fellow American youngster for good measure. You officially have our attention here in San Diego, Diego! 😉

Anderson clearly remains on the rise. He made the final last week in D.C., beating a string of tough opponents, and continues here in Montreal to feel confident on these hard courts. Disposing of Querrey yesterday was a good look from the S.African who now gets a rematch with Zverev. That could be a very competitive match.

Speaking of Zverev, good on him for taking care of Kyrgios in routine fashion, but it does look like the Aussie is hurting. The announcers spent as much time talking about the match as they did imploring Nick to get his shit together. This means the general maturity along with getting healthy, which is part of the preparation and professionalism that the best master in this brutal sport. Whether it’s throwing a match emotionally or never quite getting healthy to play 100%, the effort is wasted. That was the message from the call and from anyone continuing to watch this talented bloke come-up short.

Part of this conversation entailed the natural comparison to Zverev; not to jinx the German, but the point was made that he maintains his health. I mentioned in my previous post how serious he is, seemingly the most mature of the entire NextGen class. He’s winning more, more impressively and he’s even added more expertise to his box with the hiring of Juan Carlos Ferrero. Listen to Zverev speak (listen to his D.C. champion address from last week): maturity. Even his happy birthday wish to Federer was measured and echoed the maturity of which we speak (look at my twitter feed for that tweet containing the messages to Fed from several players).

How about that Zverev v Gasquet match? I suppose the signature point was a Gasquet MP that lasted 48 shots, won of course by the young German. The noted criticism of this rally and probably of the Frenchman, in general, is something we just mentioned with regards to Thiem: not enough risk or offense in his ball striking or point strategy.

Do we get a Federer v Zverev final? Something tells me no, based on the element of surprise that has grown legs and developed a mind of its own.

I mentioned in my Montreal preview that Raonic has struggled but I thought he might be one standing in Rafa’s way (the top draw has been more difficult than Federer’s half). So, Raonic does continue to struggle, not surprising from my end as I am not a fan of his tennis whatsoever and Shapavolav’s game reiterates this point which I will clarify in a moment.

I made a small mention that Mannarino has been playing well, going back to his finals appearance in Antalya, his R16 run at Wimbledon, and QF run at Los Cabos last week. He took care of Raonic and the tough NextGen Chung, both in straight sets. With the emotional high that Shapavolav hit last night, Mannarino could very well be the antidote that none of us wants, especially the young Canadian and his inspired local support.

Shapovalov’s win is certainly inspiring. We brought him up in our look at the youth, but we certainly didn’t predict anything from the outset. However, in yesterday’s comments, Clint and I went back-and-forth a bit about this guy’s moment of opportunity and his game in general.

To my point about Raonic (not a fan of that awkward stoicism – though it does speak pretty meaningfully to a professionalism that has seemed to have benefited the giant): this youngster has “panache.” This is important in the Canadian’s or any of these youth’s rise and separation from the pack. Denis let the crowd get involved; he encouraged it, along the lines with what a player like Nadal has done his entire career. Roanic, I doubt, would have done that. That’s just not Raonic and speaks to his quality.

We talked yesterday about how the crowd could be a factor in this match, but I did concede that I was hoping that the Canadian would simply “resist” the 1 seed. I followed this up with the point that Nadal, in my humble opinion, “is inherently vulnerable on anything but clay, but he’s riding pretty high right now, sure.”

You know from reading this blog that I have always been underwhelmed by Rafa’s overall game. Granted, he’s the clay GOAT. But that style of tennis isn’t as potent on the other surfaces, especially HC (grass was slowed significantly since ~1997). No, I did not envision Shapovalov’s upset of Nadal. But I am not as stunned as someone like Ben Rothenberg.

Look at how far back Nadal is in this match last night. That defensive posture, massive top-spin and a less than lethal serve puts the opponent in play, often.

1297981562632_ORIGINALBut let’s be clear: Nadal’s opponent last night has massive offense (see discussion of Thiem above). The tennis of Denis is offensive, has flair and the guy can not only handle the big moment, but he might seek it (similar in character to Zverev). This is the separation, what we can look for in these youngsters to determine the contenders from the pretenders.

For instance, what happened to Dimitrov in that third set vs Haase? Sure, the game is tricky and anything can happen in a match (and Haase is playing well), but my point is that for some of these guys trying to find room at the top as a the Big 3 (or 5) continue to graze glutinously, they need to be there mentally as much as physically. Sure, stating the obvious here, but that’s what last night’s match might have clarified more than anything else.

Two things, actually.

The tennis from Denis Shapovalov or any top-of-the-tour contender must evidence championship character (panache/flair/guts) and have enough offensive skill to finish the kill.

I won’t say he must, as well, have a one-handed BH, but this doesn’t hurt 😀

Indeed, brilliant stuff from a teenager who’s moving the needle.

Enjoy the QF action.

ATP Youth On the Rise

The complicated discussion of the ATP youth took a more positive spin last week (for which I will provide a more positive spin), which naturally follows from play earlier in the year and is actually part of a basic cycle of life: the young grow, mature, become stronger and more refined in order to overcome their elders. However (and this has become pretty redundant over the last ten years or so), the this discussion has been suffocated by the delayed/nonexistent fulfillment of the youth (the lost generation) on the ATP.

This is really a discussion/essay/thesis all to itself. What the fuck has happened to the younger generation of players who should have been poised to make more headway into the Masters and major level tournaments? Most will say that’s because the big 3 (or 5) have been just too strong/great/wonderful/heroic blah blah blah. But that doesn’t excuse a more genuine effort from players not named Fedal or Djokeray or Wawrinka. The emptiness of challenge from the field against these top dogs as been bewildering.

We saw glimpses of the Dimitrov talent in January where he swept a solid field at Brisbane and then made a solid run in Melbourne, finishing with a stand-up effort against Nadal in that classic AO SF.

But it wasn’t just his results. I wrote a bit, excitedly, about his all-court game showing so much promise early-on. He’s baby-Fed for a reason, but does have his own style and it’s an ascendant style that should frighten the stationary, defensive status quo of the tour. But he’s failed to break-through, whether that was in Melbourne vs. Nadal or afterwards, at IW, Miami, on clay or even the lawns of SW19 where he gave the tennis world all sorts of hope back in 2014 when he made the WB SF, losing to Djokovic in a tight four-setter 64 36 76 76. This is merely trivia at this point. His consistency has been an issue certainly, but his loss to Federer at WB this year seemed to really expose the Bulgarian’s glaring weakness: his serve. At 6′ 3″ he should be much more imposing on that feature of his game.

Nishikori makes perhaps the best case of this era’s “youth,” but despite this rumor based only on consistency (ironically, given his investment in injury), he’s without a Masters title, and only one major final appearance (’14 USO). This we’ll find pretty much describes most youthful candidates.

Raonic? WB final appearance, some major SF appearances, as well. But I’ve never thought he was much of a challenger beyond a big serve.

Cilic and Del Potro are perhaps the two that really do symbolize this group’s short-comings. Cilic captured his one major (’14 USO), but has had massive consistency issues since (though has looked quite good at times this season on multiple surfaces deep into draws). Del Potro is just a sad story. Hopefully he can rebound in the near future (saw signs of an improved BH), but by winning his first major at 20 years of age, and showing all kinds of character in big matches against the big 3 early-on, this legacy will have tennis fans scratching their heads, and mumbling the shoulda coulda woulda eulogy in their tennis dreams.

There are just too many Dolgopolovs and not enough Del Potros.

But there’s a new era in town. It’s about time, right?

This youth includes these gents:

Dominic Theim – 23. He looks poised, especially on clay. Some strategic changes to his game will open-up success on the other surfaces, as well. We have followed him closely. His heart is in the right place; he wants to play, compete and win. It should be just a matter of time.

Sascha Zverev – 20. Has a Masters (Rome), comes from a good tennis family and added a coach (Ferrero). He’s the most serious, it seems, with a very serious game, big ground strokes, serve and mettle. Will continue to get better and at 6′ 6″ we have our Del Potro second-coming.

The Russians – Andrey Rublev (19), Karen Khachanov (21), and Daniil Medvedev (21). Khachanov has made the most noise, perhaps, but Medvedev has challenged all year and Rublev won Umag a few weeks ago, his first ATP title. Lots of potential here.

The Australians – Kyrgios (22), Tomic (24), Thanasai Kokkinakis (21) and Jordan Thompson (23). The first two are well known, and we’re getting to know the other two. We can delete Tomic based-on his continual failure in the professional ranks. Kyrgios has been documented by us all, in terms of his talent and his emotional instability. He’s arguably the most talented/gifted of this next class, but he has to find some deeper draws, some finals and some titles. He needs to keep growing along the lines of the commitment shown from Zverev.

Kokkinakis has all kinds of potential. He made the Los Cabos final last week after beating Berdych. A fine run from this youngster who’s been battling some injury the last couple of years.

I enjoyed watching this highlight between Taylor Fritz and Kokkinakis as this is potentially what the future of the tour could look like. This is a QF in Los Cabos.

This is a close match, especially that first set which more or less is decided on a ball hitting the top of the tape. Good stuff.

The Americans – Taylor Fritz (19), Frances Tiafoe (19), Jared Donaldson (20), Reilly Opelka (20), Ernesto Escobedo (21), Tommy Paul (20) and there are a few others like Frantangelo (24) and Mmoh (19). This is a good group, a lot of youth here. But, we’re seeing a lot of inconsistency (naturally) and/or just the lack of experience (strength) to muster a significant breakthrough.

For instance, I was really looking forward to a Tiafoe v Kyrgios Montreal 2R, but the American lost today to the Lorenzi 67 60 26. That just seems a lack of focus. This may be the brightest of the group, with some nice showings over the last couple of years (he played Federer pretty well in Miami ’17 early rounds losing 67 26). He’s an athlete at 6’2″ and, again, only 19.

Fritz has seen the most press given his small pedigree from Juniors and he has some tennis in the family. He became the youngest American to reach an ATP final (since Chang) with his run at the 2016 Memphis 250. He lost to Nishikori in that final. This showed all kinds of promise. He’s backed-off that a bit with some untimely losses, lack of consistency.

Donaldson beat Pouille in 1R play here in Montreal, but it looks like Pouille is having a bit of a sophomore slump. Either way, the kid Donaldson does have some fight in him and he gets Paire next.

Indeed, Pouille is having a tough time against these younger Americans. As I pointed-out in a recent post, Tommy Paul took care of him in straights in D.C. Tommy Paul has some pedigree as well from Juniors, which I clarify briefly in that previous post. He’s a clay courter by way of American east coast tennis where he grew-up playing on mostly clay.

This translates into a lot of top spin, but speaks to his ability to chase balls, keep points alive and use some of that athleticism and stamina to challenge and beat an opponent. I saw a lot of him from last week. After beating Pouille, he was asked about his next opponent, Gilles Mueller, who spanked the American in Atlanta the previous week. Paul hadn’t even been looking at the draw, didn’t really care. The demeanor was a very good look. He was brimming with confidence, which he explained grew as he found his feet and the longer rallies against these higher ranked players. A bit of that defensive tennis mentality but overall just a way to build confidence: stand your ground; get the ball back in play.

He had three MP against Nishikori in the Citi Open QF. He beat Pouille, Mueller and then had Kei at MP in the second set. The Japanese player looked fragile, actually played a bit of gamesmanship, apparently, as he looked at the end as the young American tried to close the door (Kei was not at the end). But, imho, that loopy clay-groomed top-spin came back to bite him; Paul has a ton of game and the future looks quite good for this guy, but he needs a flatter ball on this surface. At least so he can hit through the court at those critical points in the match. Three MPs.

Still, a solid week of work for the youngster.

The Rest: Canada’s Denis Shapovalov (18), Croatian Borna Coric (20), South Korean Hyeon Chung (21), France’s Quentin Halys (20), and, of course, Canada’s other bright youngster, 16 year-old Felix Auger Aliassime. Among others, of course.

As these veteran greats take tournaments and parts of seasons off, opportunity becomes rich for one or two of these youngsters to rise-up. We all want to see it. Believe me. Even if one of them beats your hero, the sport needs this young blood in a bad way.

Did I miss anyone or anything?

Another discussion that bounced high amongst the tennis crowd was the discussion of court speed. We’ll take this up in another post, but D.C. pretty much blew some minds as the center court and the Grandstand 1 court (especially) measured off the charts fast. Jim Courier weighed-in on this information and some overall views he has on court speed.

Hope you’re enjoying the tennis and the discussion.

Rogers Cup 2017 Draw

Good evening/morning/day: I had hoped to post a broad write-up on the tennis I saw from D.C. and Los Cabos. Myriad story-lines and thoughts about players, court speed, Fedal 2017, the US Open, the loss of Stan to add to the plague that’s hit the ATP, etc. But that will have to wait – not going to waste the few notes I scribbled and the links to highlights I bookmarked.

rogers-cup

But the Rogers Cup is already underway, so let’s just make a few quick remarks about this tournament.

At the top is Rafa’s half and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he has a tougher draw than Federer; then again, the matches have to be played, so a draw’s difficulty on paper is often not what it turns-out to be. Nonetheless. . .

Nadal most likely gets Coric in R2, DPo in R16, QF with the likes of Raonic, Goffin or Mannarino, who has been playing well (Rafa should get Raonic though he did flame-out in D.C. to Jack Sock in that QF round in straights). The SF match is against the winner of the quarter from hell. If Rafa survives his quarter, he will get the winner of Sascha/Kyrgios/Khachanov/Anderson/Querrey/Tsonga.  That is a loaded bracket right there.

Naturally, we like Sascha who’s growing before our very eyes, but Kyrgios, I guarantee, will play much more to his early 2017 HC form here. He’s a softie (is there word his girlfriend left, which left his game abysmal the last month?). Tough to keep track of these soft Aussies; but Nick’s game is treacherous when he’s dialed-in/pissed/whatever turns him on. Remember that in both Indian Wells and Miami Kyrgios handled Sascha fairly well (IW was really one-sided). In other words, as well as the Younger is playing, Nick’s game is remarkable when he’s “feeling it.” Unfortunately, that’s a mystery.

Anderson, of course, is playing well, having reached the D.C. final last week, playing some very solid tennis and Querrey doubled-up his Mexican stash (winning Los Cabos to go with this title in Acapulco earlier in the year). Tsonga is probably due for a little run and we know Karen’s game has some depth.

With the news of Murray not playing this week, Nadal has a real shot at claiming the ATP #1 rank, which would be quite an accomplishment for a guy whose game was in the toilet two years ago. But that’s Nadal. I remember thinking in 2012 he was done.  .  .

Roger’s draw looks like this:
R16 (if he makes it) should be Sock or Edmund, QF with Nishikori/Monfils/RBA and SF with the survivor of Theim/Zverev the Elder/Dimitrov. Again, matches can swing a different way, so the match-ups could change, prove more difficult/favorable; we’ll have to see how this plays-out.

Indeed, this really is all about 2017 Fedal at this point. Tough to imagine this when we started the year – though Djokovic was spiraling, Murray was exhausted from his 2016 run, and Stan we never can tell anyways when he’ll make his presence felt. So, sure surprising, but the plot points for this had been planted as early as late last year. Of course, Cilic is missing from the Montreal draw, as well.

Federer has never won this title in Montreal, though he’s been contradicting all kinds of trends this year. I just don’t see much in his draw that could really trouble him; Dimitrov has not found that form from January, and the likes of Theim and Nishikori don’t appear to have the HC balls to overcome Federer. So unless he really has some kind of allergic reaction to the tennis of Uniprix Stadium, he should reach the final.

Nadal must have all kinds of motivation to bring his A game. I believe I read where if he makes the SF he claims the top spot of the sport, but correct me if I’m wrong. Still, if Raonic is finding some HC form, he could be tough as could the winner of that quarter of death (Sascha, Kyrgios, et al.).

Let me know what you think.

I’ll get that other post off tomorrow, looking back at last week’s tennis, for instance the play of Tommy Paul (I brought this to your attention after his win v Pouille and he made a bit of noise beyond that – hope you caught some of his play) and a few other thoughts – there was a lot of good tennis discussion just from the D.C. play.

Certainly another theme to track right now is the play and somewhat encouraging rise of the youngsters. Can they continue to make way (Kokkinakis, Kyrgios, the Americans, of course Zverev, et al.)?

The time is now, especially with a depleted veteran troop this week in Montreal.

PS
Happy Birthday, Roger Federer
36 on 8/8/17