Tennis Prose



Cilic Shows He’s A “Vicious Competitor”

If you watched the finale of the St. Pete final between Marin Cilic and Taylor Fritz, you saw the difference in their body language and facial expression down the home stretch of the third set.

Cilic was down 15-40 on serve in the 3-4 game but came back and won it. He showed a more fierce facial expression and body language and fist pumps while Fritz played it cool and stoic.

Cilic held and then won the final two games for 76 46 64 and his 20th ATP singles title.

Pancho Gonzalez and Jimmy Connors said “all the great champions are vicious competitors.” Today it was very evident, Cilic defeated Fritz because he was the more vicious competitor.

Fritz, ranked 28, hasn’t won an ATP title this year but he did win one last year.

Alexander Zverev beat Frances Tiafoe 75 64 in the Vienna final for his fifth title of the year.

Stefanos Tsitsipas seems to be realizing he needs to make a mental tweak to his mindset, and become a more ruthless, vicious, self centered competitor…

“I have two more [tournaments] left and I’m trying to give my last breath on the court and become more of a selfish player on the court, and unveil my killer attitude on the court,” Tsitsipas said. “You have to be this way. The best players in the world, they are very selfish and they want everything for themselves, and I’m this way too.”

“When I’m on the court I’m not mixing it up with my outside life, and I’m able to separate those two. I think once you become soft and start kind of getting into your emotions and feeling many things at once … it’s not really good for you.”

“So blocking all of that and letting it pass through and just being able to stay in the moment, these are some qualities that top players have developed and are able to compete at such level, not really care what’s happening on the other side of the court.”

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  • catherine · November 1, 2021 at 2:58 am

    Stefanos is right of course but not many players have put it so bluntly. Also interesting that the qualities he talks about are essentially masculine and conflict with feminine social ideals. So we’re asking women to behave more like men on court (and off it) and still retain ‘soft’ female public appeal. That’s asking a lot. Not hard to think of a few talented women players who failed in the maybe impossible task of dividing their characters and suffered accordingly.

  • catherine · November 1, 2021 at 6:32 am

    Off topic, but the Fed Cup, now known as the BJK Cup, starts today in Prague, and is getting as much attention (ie none) as the late lamented Davis Cup. Ignored by the WTA (it’s an ITF event)fans, if there are any, will have difficulty finding results.

    I liked the old Fed Cup, the home & away was a great format. And why BJK ? As far as I know she had nothing to do with the Federation Cup which was inaugurated in the early 60s by the ITF. BJ played in the Cup, on and off, but I can’t see any reason why she should have her name on it now. The WTA has re-written history concerning Billie Jean.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 1, 2021 at 8:45 am

    Catherine, Stan Smith once said being a pro player defeminizes women. Tsitsipas is right indeed, he must become a more vicious, ruthless, self absorbed person and player on the court to win a major, what he has learned so far is his obsession and talent are not quite enough to do it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 1, 2021 at 8:51 am

    Catherine, it’s another inititiave to ramrod some more BJK and what she stands for down the public’s throats. We may see every pro tournament erect a BJK momument around the world – but nothing for Rod Laver, Margaret Court, Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Chrissie Evert, etc. BJK is a nice women but the she is far from the darling of the public. She’s a political pawn the powers that be want us to bow to.

  • Hartt · November 1, 2021 at 11:52 am

    I am watching BJK Cup today. Canada is playing against France. My sports channel is giving it excellent coverage. Francoise Abanda won her match vs Ferro, which was unexpected. Then Rebecca Marino lost vs Cornet. In doubles Dabrowski/Marino won the first set vs Burel/Cornet but the French team is up a break in the second set. On paper the Canadian team is a big underdog but I hope they can win the double match and win against France today.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 1, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    Hartt, expect a lot of unexpected results now after what the unspectacular junior Emma Raducanu did at US Open. Any ordinary pro or talented junior is now capable of doing what Raducanu did. The WTA universe is now completely unpredictable. Anett Kontaveit is the latest WTA marvel.

  • catherine · November 1, 2021 at 2:43 pm

    Hartt – yes, there’s been a bit of an awakening re BJK Cup but last week you basically had to Google it. Of course there’s no British interest so nothing in the media here. I saw it was Canada v France and wondered why Bianca wasn’t playing. Fernandez I could understand.
    But I still regret the change from the Fed Cup. Germany played Czech in Prague 2014 – one of the best ties, all came down to Petra who beat Kerber in a long tiebreak. Now they are playing each other again – different times.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 1, 2021 at 2:59 pm

    It really is a disappointment three of the best and historic competitions in tennis have been phased out or severely altered. Davis Cup, Fed Cup and Hopman Cup were all such unique events. The sport will survive of course, but what will be the cost and consequences?

  • Hartt · November 1, 2021 at 7:46 pm

    Gaby Dabrowski is such a good doubles player that she was instrumental in winning the doubles today. Canada will have a tough time against a strong Russian team tomorrow. I am not a fan of Francoise Abanda, but she deserves credit for playing Fed Cup when she can and performing well. She won the last 5 Fed Cup matches that she played, spread out over several years. As interim captain Sylvain Bruneau said, Abanda likes the big stage. She was very ill with Covid and as a result did not play many tourneys this season, so her showing today was even more impressive. I was very disappointed that neither Bianca nor Leylah took part. Especially Bianca, it is not as though she should be exhausted – she has not played all that many matches this season.

    I agree that it is a shame that Davis Cup and Fed Cup were changed so dramatically. I am glad I got to see one Davis Cup tie live because there won’t be another opportunity under the new system. The home and away element was such a huge part of Davis Cup and Fed Cup.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 1, 2021 at 10:14 pm

    Hartt, did you see how hard Leylah trains off court with that fitness guru Duglas? She trains as hard if not harder than any player. And after her us open run, bjk cup must seem like a small potatoes letdown. Leylah has every right to big time her way out of the bjk cup, credit to Krejcikova for playing it. As we know the Czech Fed Cup team takes these end of of year team events very very seriously. Amazingly Krejcikova is even playing bjk with Guadalajara next week. And she lost today to a fired up Kerber who is nowhere near retiring (Catherine). I think Leylah and Emma changed the sport. Now we are seeing do many unknown or down and out players suddenly reviving with superb results. Koepfer was on a terrible losing streak slump and today as a LL he upset Murray saving seven mps. Abanda has resurfaced out of nowhere. It’s nice to see big underdogs scoring huge results.

  • catherine · November 2, 2021 at 2:13 am

    Scoop – Maybe Angie felt she had something to prove in Prague, having skipped out on the Olympics. And alone with her old buddy Petko she’s the last survivor of that great generation. Spotted her having a chat with Barbara Rittner before the match – no doubt discussing retirement plans 🙂 Still, I expect she’ll play a reduced schedule next year, as a 34 year old veteran.

    Great result for Canada, but like Hartt, I fear Russians will be too tough.

  • catherine · November 2, 2021 at 2:54 am

    Scoop – these days BJK is credited with being the one and only force behind the development of modern women’s tennis, but of course that’s not true. It was Gladys Heldman, through her contacts with Joe Cullman and other wealthy Jewish businessmen and tennis lovers who provided the sponsorship (tobacco) and the money to get the tour off the ground. Sadly, Gladys felt pushed aside by BJ’s role as the leading player and the rift never fully healed. BJ received good reviews for her recent book but it perhaps should be read in tandem with Julie Heldman’s own autobiography, ‘Driven’, which gives a more realistic view of the era and the people – not all of whom were heroes and heroines, and not all of them told the truth either.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 2, 2021 at 8:01 am

    Catherine, Kerber is showing there is a lot of fire left in her heart, she still love it and she still believes she can beat the best. I see her as one of those sticking around till her body falters, her mind and spirit are still eager for more and beating the likes of Krejcikova will only inspire her more.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 2, 2021 at 8:06 am

    Catherine, I didn’t know the full story to this, your version disproves the mainstream narrative that BJK was the sole force behind the WTA. Not fully in trust of BJK’s honesty as she most likely fabricated saying Arthur Ashe switched his public stance being against equal prize money to supposedly telling her in private that he eventually did agree with equal prize money. She included this possible lie in her book, though there is no media or link evidence of Ashe saying he was for equal prize money. His book Days Of Grace was published a year before his passing and there is no mention in his book that Ashe switched stances on equal prize money. This possible lie severely damages BJK’s credibility.

  • Hartt · November 2, 2021 at 9:12 am

    No surprise, Daria and Pavs beat Carol Zhao and Rebecca today. Carol was a last-minute substitution for Abanda, who has a blister on her foot. Stephanie Myles posted a schedule of the BJK Cup prize $. The Canadian team, with just 4 players, will split $400,000. That is huge $ for low-ranked players like Abanda and Zhao. It will help fund their upcoming seasons.

    After the USO Leylah’s father said her schedule for the rest of the season was IW and BJK Cup, so I don’t know what changed. Recently she was added to the World Team Tennis event slated to start in a few days, but she has withdrawn from that.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 2, 2021 at 10:55 am

    Leylah father may want bigger appearance fees. She may be the most intriguing attraction right now in WTA after Raducanu’s recent struggles.

  • catherine · November 2, 2021 at 11:10 am

    Scoop – let’s just say that without BJ (and Rosie Casals in a supporting role)women’s pro tournaments would have struggled for spectators. But equally, without Gladys Heldman, Joe Cullman and Philip Morris there would have been nowhere to play and nothing to play for.

    Ashe and other men players were primarily concerned that women’s tournaments weren’t going to diminish their own prizemoney pot. That’s always been the issue. Arthur would’ve been quite comfortable with separate tours and separate prizemoney, which is the way things were going. And I feel his overall attitude to women did change during the 70s, a time of great social turmoil. By the 80s much of the previous hostility to the nascent WTA had pretty much died down.

    So I wouldn’t necessarily conclude that BJ was lying.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 2, 2021 at 12:24 pm

  • catherine · November 2, 2021 at 1:37 pm

    Scoop- I don’t think it really matters much now. Crowds will turn up to watch what they want and people don’t always recall exactly what they said at different times.
    It’s not an argument I want to get into anyway. Not after 30 years or more.

    BTW did you hear that Raducanu was gobsmacked at the amount top coaches charge for their services ? She’s probably doing a few quick financial calculations. We’ll see who she turns up with in Linz. My suspicion is she’s struggling a little physically and needs a good trainer as a priority.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 2, 2021 at 3:09 pm

    Catherine, these coaches want her money. I was told Federer only paid Annacone around a $1000 a week at Grand Slams. But look at the massive promotional exposure Annacone got as “Federer’s coach.” Priceless value in that. Coaches will try to squeeze Raducanu for as much money as they can but it sounds like she knows she’s the boss and she won the US Open title not Andrew Richardson or Nigel Sears. I can see all these Emma job applicants being too demanding and greedy and it’s possible she may never find a fair honest coach she can trust to have HER best interests at heart. I was told by a very wise tennis parent that finding the right coach is the hardest task – because every coach has three other priorities above the player – 1 themself, 2 their family, 3 money, 4 finally is the player. So for an 18 year old US Open champ to have to deal with all this is far from a delight.

  • catherine · November 3, 2021 at 3:50 am

    Defeats for US, Canada, Germany in Prague. Bencic won key singles v Kerber who ended up injured. Belinda loves team play and representing Switzerland. Stalwart in Hopman Cup with Federer.

    Kerber exited glumly, although she tried her best. Apart from Zverev, German tennis is in the tank now. Angie’s success hasn’t had any appreciable effect on the women’s game. No good juniors coming through. Earlier this year Barbara Rittner called the lack of talent ‘frightening’.

    Will Emma inspire Brits ? I wouldn’t bet on it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 3, 2021 at 8:32 am

    Rudy Molleker hasn’t panned out for Germany at all. Mona Barthel showed promise but fizzled out. Kerber had a very tough draw but she was competitive vs the Olympic and French open champions.

  • Hartt · November 3, 2021 at 9:18 am

    I am not sure that money is the overriding factor in Leylah’s decisions. As the top player, probably playing both singles and doubles Leylah would have made serious $ at the BJK Cup. If she had taken the team to the SFs or finals there would have been even more. According to Myles the prize $ was pro-rated among the players, so Rebecca Marino was the player who did very well financially, having played four matches.

    Leylah was with her father in Ecuador, his home country, last week, supporting her younger sister Bianca, who was playing there. Family is important to Leylah, and she is very close to her younger sister.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 3, 2021 at 8:11 pm

    Hartt, maybe probably Leylah wants a break to recharge batteries. It makes sense. She had an incredible run in NYC and to play small tournaments after just doesn’t inspire or excite her. Taking a break and then targeting AO and put all her energies into that makes the most sense. The younger sister’s results are okay in ITF juniors, not nearly has good as Leylah’s. I don’t believe little sister is even in the top 200 or 300 yet.

  • catherine · November 4, 2021 at 10:36 am

    Petko has announced that she will be retiring at the end of next season.

    As for Kerber – ‘Wenn mein Herz es sagt, hoere ich auf’.

    Which I guess will be the same time.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 4, 2021 at 10:43 am

    Petko is finished, she’s no longer a threat to win big tournaments and she won’t suddenly get better. Kerber is still very much a contender for big titles.



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