Feb/13

10

Rhyne Williams Beats Dancevic and Ginepri and Takes Dallas Challenger

I’ve been high on RW since last summer when I saw him play in the Challengers. Now the not-yet 22-year-old has won the biggest Challenger event in the U.S. taking down Canadian Davis Cupper, Dancevic, and U.S. Open semifinalist, Ginepri. I’d thought last year’s US Open would be Ginepri’s final event, but he’s still grinding. I guess he’s only a year younger than Roddick, and at 29, maybe Robbie has something left in the tank.

But Williams has clearly set himself up as the No. 1 contender to another RW as the next best American young player. At first, it looked like it’d be Klahn or Steve Johnson, and then Kudla, and then Sock who would emerge, but it’s Williams and now let’s see if this win propels him into prominence this year.

14 comments

  • Andrew Miller · February 10, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Big things can come from modest momentum. Keep it up kid! Good to see Ginepri fighting hard. I thought he gave up. Among his class there’s almost no one left. Roddick is retired, Blake is heading that way soon, Dent gone, Fish may have a few more years, and then Ginepri. And beyond them Baker, Reynolds, Yani, Kendrick…and that pretty much does it for this generation. The one behind it, led by Querrey and Isner, should try to make a push this year and next to show what its generation accomplished. You also have a whole host of players that are on the #100-#300 rankings – maybe they will benefit as more players retire.

    All in all I’d say the last 3 years or so – since Roddick won Miami – have been humbling for U.S. ATP players. Beyond a few great events here and there – a resurgence of Fish or Roddick playing a lights out tournament, Querrey finding his form to get back into the conversation, even DY stringing together a few victories – finding momentum on the ATP side has been hard for fans!

    I’d guess the best thing to do would be to start going to challengers and cheering the heck out of U.S. players to let them know that someone wants them to push it.

  • Andrew Miller · February 10, 2013 at 8:39 am

    Just saw some of the Dancevic-Williams on youtube. To Williams’ credit he definitely is competitive and seems to hit the ball very deep. Seemed Dancevic had the match in hand – up 3-0 in set three, with the break. Loses the break and wins one more game as Williams took 6 of the next 7 games. Dancevic’ game (and much more beautiful than Williams’ game) had a few fatal flaws – his ball was falling short and Dancevic was playing way off the baseline. Williams played, it seems, right on the baseline and was able to move forward (even if he rarely did, he COULD move forward at any time, and end a point if he ever needed to). Dancevic decided to play a safe third set – as in playing too conservatively, wait for Williams to make mistakes – just as Williams’ strategy of punishing Dancevic for playing conservatively fell into place. He moved Dancevic around (“run em”) which just created more and more opportunities to run Dancevic into the ground. Smart playing.

    Williams threw his racquet so often – that can spell some trouble. Certainly a very emotional player. But maybe he is completely aware of what he’s doing and distracted Dancevic. Hard to understand what was really going on – was the racquet smashing part of the strategy, get Dancevic distracted then steal the match? Probably not. On the whole though – I’ll say this much.

    Williams is a smarter player out there. He has a big serve and a solid forehand (from what I can tell). Not sure what’s on the backhand side. Seems like he can play a transition game (this is key – be able to move in when you have to in order to end a point) and doesn’t mind punishing an opponent for playing safely. All of this is good for an elite player, probably prerequisites – if you don’t do any of this you lose.

    So I think he has an effective game. He seems to waste some of his energy on the racquet throwing and could benefit from a few strategies to redirect some of that energy into his tennis so that he doesnt lose matches that he should win, or wins some matches he should lose. There’s a big game there in this Williams kid.

    Yeah he’s probably the best U.S. player I’ve seen the last few years. DY I think hits the best ball, but as we know that doesn’t matter. Beautiful games don’t win big. They have to be combined with strategies. And it seems Williams has been well coached (seems by his cousin) and apparently been working on fitness with the USTA (got to do it, even though this is no fun at all).

    Yeah, probably the best up and coming U.S. player I’ve seen. Not just flashes of brilliance, but sturdy playing. I like his game more than RH, who despite a big serve doesn’t seem to bring anything other than desire to the tennis court. Williams has something else going on, a good brew of mental toughness, a desire to dictate the terms of a tennis match, and a strategy to execute.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · February 10, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Can’t put a finger on why Williams is winning but he is winning. He established himself at US Open qualies last year, and kept it going. There’s nothing extraordinary from other players in his ranking range that stands out when you watch him he just finds a way to win. People like Jim Courier are believing in him too, Courier said he sees Rhyne and Steve Johnson in the top 100 soon. Williams has something, that X factor. All the players have all the shots but only a few can execute at the key moments.

  • Author comment by Dan Markowitz · February 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Andrew, I like your analysis of Williams. I’m not a big Harrison fan, but you can’t say he only has a big serve going for him. He moves extremely well. It’s a lot harder to impose your game on Djoko and Murray than it is Dancevic and Ginepri. So you have to consider the competition.

  • Andrew Miller · February 10, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Dan you are right about RH, it’s more than a serve. But it’s less than a bad haircut and a forehand.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · February 10, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Really impressed by Paire, what an athletes, flashy movement, flowing strokes, nice smooth serve motion, will come to the net, very good quickness and movement. He’s top 40 now and on the rise. Nice win by Gasquet, he’s having a great year so far.

  • Author comment by Dan Markowitz · February 10, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Scoop,

    Why are you so in love with Paire? I know the guy has nice strokes and is smooth, but he strikes me as a guy who is a pretty player, but not a good fighter, a little aloof. I like Chardy better than Paire.

    Another question is, why do the French have so many good male players while America has 3 good players, one mediocre and the rest not much to speak of? Tsonga, Gasquet, Monfils, Benneteau, Llodra, Chardy and Paire. Recently retired: Grosjean, Clement and Santoro. These are much more memorable players, with much more flair than American players. Besides Roddick, Blake and Fish, who has America produced who has made you want to go out and watch play? DYoung could have been such a dynamic player, but instead he’s a sulky, not nearly swashbuckling-enough underachiever.

    In my mind, hire some French coaches to coach the American juniors because the current guys, PMac, Higueras, Berger et. al, really aren’t getting the job done. I’d rather watch Raonic and Dancevic play than Isner and Querrey. For me, the only Americans I seek out to watch play are Fish and Blake, and they’re not looking too good of late. Maybe Williams or Sock will be of interest because I’ve seen Harry, Klahn, Kudla etc. and they don’t do much for me.

    I mean, come on, as a kid I watched Smith, Ashe, Mac and Connors. Even Gilbert, Dr. Dirt and Mayotte were far more interesting players than what we have today.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · February 10, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    I think Paire has something special Dan. I think he’s going to have a good career. He’s got that little something extra and special, like Dolgopolov, Rios, I say top 15 for Paire.

  • Author comment by Dan Markowitz · February 10, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Are you aware of the fact that at 23 he’s won, I think this number is right, only 6 slam matches. He’s gotten to the 3rd rd of Wimbledon and that’s it. Doesn’t the guy have a bad attitude? Dolgo has always had a good attitude, even as he mysteriously, maybe because of his illness, disappears after having good results.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · February 10, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Paire’s progress was gradual but he’s there now and I think going higher. Look how hard it is for Tomic Dimitrov and Harrison and Sock to move up the ranks and make finals of ATP events. Paire’s doing just fine. Can’t believe Zeballos is hangin in there with Rafa, up 5-4 in the third. Would be shocked if Rafa lost.

  • Andrew Miller · February 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    It’s gotten so bad for the U.S…that players like Jesse Levine have signed up to play for Canada. With Levine following Bogomolov, next thing you know we will lose Sweeting to the Bahamas…we can’t even convince Tommy Haas, a U.S. citizen no less with a 19-7 Davis Cup record for Germany, to play for the States. Speaking of Davis Cup, maybe Pat McEnroe’s legacy of using up and coming players as practice partners hasn’t worked. Before, I believed it was smart: give U.S. players a taste of the big time and they will want to be a part of it. While competition for the Davis Cup spots HAS been good (the fact Spadea pushed to be included, however unfairly he was treated, or even DY’s lashing out at Pat Mac for overlooking ranking, and the fact that U.S. players rarely turn down the call these days, shows that Davis Cup at least brings out players’ passion), player development via Davis Cup practice partners has not worked out well – they rarely put themselves in contention to make the squad. This is even in the era of a new U.S. Davis Cup team, with Isner and Querrey. For better or worse, Davis Cup practice partners have been firewood – there’s no correlation between being selected as a practice partner and being a future Davis Cup player. Or you could say, on the totem poll they rank about the same as the ballkids, but maybe lower.

    Anyhows. I once thought that if you were selected as a practice partner, this was a good thing. You got exposure to Davis Cup pressure, got to watch the top players. Now I believe the opposite – if you don’t make the Davis Cup team, or are at least considered strongly, you’re just not an important U.S. tennis player, and unless you get your game together to make the decision hard for the Davis Cup captain, you will probably stay irrelevant, both for U.S. tennis and for pro tennis.

    If you’re a practice partner, it’s clear to me, you’re firewood.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · February 11, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Bogie and Levine were not going to crack the USA lineup anytime soon so maybe it was a business decision or perhaps they were invited. Bogie did not do well in his debut for Russia last year. Levine has a shot to play #2 singles after Raonic if Dancevic falters. Can’t see Haas playing for USA, or Germany any more really.

  • Steve · February 13, 2013 at 9:56 am

    I don’t know the exact reason the French have so many good players but I’ve seen the FO facilities and the building where Monfils trained out of and it leads me to believe they spend their tennis funds wisely.

    I also saw locals playing tennis at a very high level.
    Every French player I’ve seen or hit with was a high level.

  • Andrew Miller · February 13, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Ya never know. Has there really been any French youth since the breakout of Monfils, Gasquet? Not really. Same for U.S. Same for Germany. Australia seems ok for emerging talent. Spain doesn’t seem to have put any big players up since the Rafa era began.

    My guess is we don’t know where the next crop of good players will come from. We have a Serbian #1 (who knew?) who follows a Swiss #1 who followed a Spanish #1.

    Who knows where the next crop of players will come from. Like it or not, players like Gasquet and Monfils are probably just a shade off their prime. We haven’t seen the next generation of tennis players. My sense is that with a wave of retirements we’ll be seeing a lot of players we never knew existed.

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