Tennis Prose




Jan/23

19

Americans Thriving At AO

By Scoop Malinowski

A balance of power shift appears to be occurring at the 2023 Australian Open with American tennis declaring itself as the future superpower of the sport.

Mackenize McDonald shockingly slayed defending champion Rafael Nadal with startling impunity 64 64 75.

Then Jenson Brooksby dismissed the second seed Casper Ruud in four sensational sets 63 75 67 62.

Then Tommy Paul fought back from a 2-1 deficit to conquer Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 64 in the fifth.

Michael Mmoh annihilated 12th seed Alexander Zverev 67 64 63 62.

JJ Wolf crushed 23 seed Diego Schwartzman 61 64 64.

Ben Shelton dominated Nico Jarry 76 76 75.

Sebastian Korda won his first two rounds and next will face Daniil Medvedev in third round.

And there were three more close calls that could have easily gone the American’s way too. Taylor Fritz lost in five sets to Alexei Popyrin, Maxime Cressy lost three close sets to Holger Rune, and qualifier Brandon Holt mishandled a two-set lead on Roberto Bautista Agut only to lose 64 62 36 26 26.

What I find most impressive about the American troops of players is the diverse styles, personalities and fierce competitive natures. Brooksby and Shelton both remind me of a young Lleyton Hewitt in how they are very animated and vocal on court about expressing their positive emotions and fighting fury spirit and they fear nobody. Tiafoe exudes total confidence cool and that million dollar grin that indicate he knows where he’s going.

Paul and Fritz have the goods to beat anyone. Wolf has blossomed into a powerhouse of a player. Explosive Mmoh has finally emerged from the pack with his long overdue statement win. Cressy is a nightmare to play with his big serve and non-stop attacking. Where McDonald goes from here is anybody’s guess but top 20 seems totally plausible. And don’t forget about Brandon Nakashima (who lost a five set thriller to McDonald in the first round) and Reilly Opelka, who is at Fashion Week in Milan. Sebi Korda may be the most impressive one of all.

But up next will be a grudge match between two young Americans who do not like each other. I’m referring to Brooksby and Paul. I won’t disclose the details but you can be sure these two titans are not pals.

“That’s going to be another battle for sure,” Brooksby said of the third round showdown vs Paul. “A lot of Americans are doing really well right now and we’re all pushing each other. I’m just looking forward to the next one.”

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8 comments

  • catherine · January 20, 2023 at 5:18 am

    One American lost – Azarenka crushed Keys. Vika’s on a roll. Seems she wants to prove something.

    Swiatek doesn’t appear to have a problem with the much criticised balls. Proving great players could win hitting lumps of clay.

  • catherine · January 20, 2023 at 5:40 am

    Interesting comment from WTA site on Key’s match hinting why she hasn’t fulfilled her promise when it comes to major titles:

    ‘Azarenka remains one of the tour’s finest tacticians: The numbers tell a familiar story of Keys’ oscillating form. She slammed 14 winners to eight unforced errors in the first set, during which she impressed with her movement as well as her trademark power. In the second and third sets, Keys racked up 31 unforced errors to only 13 winners.

    But the numbers themselves don’t tell the story of the tactics. In the second set, Azarenka began reading Keys’ game better and better: anticipating which direction her hammer blows were going in, and sprinting across the court to retrieve them; eliciting a plethora of errors with deep returns at Keys’ feet.’

  • catherine · January 20, 2023 at 7:35 am

    Jessica Pegula has no doubts about her ability to sweep all aside at the AO:

    “I feel like I’m in control the whole time. Again, you’re in charge of the moment. The moment’s not really getting to you,” she said, revelling in a new-found ability to intimidate her opponents.

    “Sometimes I do feel, now that I’m on the other side, I can feel the girls kind of panicking a bit, maybe not playing to their full potential because maybe it’s a little overwhelming.’

    She added a few more words about her all-round greatness and ability to reduce Swiatek to tears in the United Cup.

    I’d love to hear the locker room chat in Jessica’s absence.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 20, 2023 at 8:08 am

    Catherine, Pegula sounds like she’s getting full of herself, she may need and get a dose of humbling. Or perhaps she does feel unbeatable right now. Cocky talk like this from players is very rare – and a breath of fresh air.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 20, 2023 at 8:10 am

    Catherine, I noted how good Azarenka looked in the first round match, so focused and in total terminator mode vs a tough opponent in Kenin, I know a top player in top form when I see it. Keys has always been a powerful but predictable player.

  • Gregg · January 20, 2023 at 12:45 pm

    Scoop, not even a hint about Brooksby and Paul?

    Enjoying tournament especially with all the American’s success. What I don’t like is needing espn+ to watch the late matches and how during the day they show over and over American women’s matches on TC and ESPN. Ok, Kostyuk’s red dress is nice but how about the Korda win over Medvedev. I think I’ve seen every Coco shot 7 times.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 20, 2023 at 6:14 pm

    Gregg, Paul’s coach is Brad Stine and he told my friend during US Open a comment about Brooksby which indicated they dislike him. It has to do with Brooksby’s lone wolf attitude and his giant ambitions. Broosby basically does not bow to the older Americans and hence they are extra motivated to want to put him in his place. Paul did beat Brooksby earlier this year.

  • Gregg · January 26, 2023 at 3:01 pm

    Ahhh, thx

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