Tennis Prose



Rage and Joy at AO

Novak Djokovic was in peril of being ousted from the Australian Open by Alexander Zverev. The top seed lost the first set 76, won the second but found himself down 4-1 in the third. His instinctive reaction was to smash his Head Speed Pro racquet into the court three times to destroy the faulty equipment.

The release of violence and rage helped Djokovic once again to recover his senses and his highest level of tennis – he won five games in a row to win the second set. The fourth set was another intense struggle but Djokovic saved a set point and many other dangerous situations to win the tiebreaker. When Zverev’s final shot sailed just long, the suddenly stoic machine-like Djokovic made no emotional reaction, he just matter-factly walked forward to the net to shake hands with his crushed rival.

This non-reaction by Djokovic was a stark contrast to the roaring crazed screams he uttered after beating Taylor Fritz in the third round.

I believe the Fritz win was an important mental victory by Djokovic, and it restored some of the lost confidence from the US Open and Roland Garros failures last year. In his own mind, Djokovic has regained his aura of invincibility, and how he managed to survive and escape Zverev is what he expected, thus the reason why he did not erupt in any kind of emotional celebration. It’s all business now, and the tennis assassin must reserve all of his emtional adrenaline for the work that lies ahead. He has to break the will, the spirit and ego of Karatsev and Nadal or Tsitsipas.

Another player who benefitted by venting rage on his racquets is Aslan Karatsev, who said in a Russian interview before the start of AO that two years ago he was smashing all of his racquets. Now look at where he is. Karatsev just annihilated the far more experienced Grigor Dimitrov in four sets and is now just six sets away from winning a Grand Slam. Karatsev will already pocket over $800,000 for his work in Melbourne.

Karatsev is the miracle tennis has been waiting years for. He is the fresh new face who has emerged out of total obscurity to shake up the status quo. Look at all the marquee names Karatsev has outlived in AO…Monfils, Thiem, Sinner, Fritz, Moutet, Fognini, Agut, Khachanov, Nishioka, deMinaur, Kyrgios, Tiafoe. What Karatsev accomplishes from this point on is impossible to say. Anyone who thinks this is all just a fluke and will end soon and he will drift back to Challengers, could be tragically wrong. Anything is possible.

Su-wei Hsieh just proved it at 35, making her first Grand Slam QF. There is no greater admirer of her play than yours truly, and I did not see her beating even Andreescu after she lost the week before 60 62 to Vanuytvanck. I believe fatigue was a factor and six sets in two tough doubles matches drained Hsieh of some energy, which she needed every iota of vs. the wrecking machine Osaka, who looks as potent and lethal as any women’s player I ever saw. Big serve, fast movement, clutch serving down match points vs Muguruza, huge forehands and backhands, Osaka looks like a better version of prime Serena, but the question is if Osaka has the drive to dominate for over a decade and if she can stay focused on tennis.

Serena is playing the best I’ve seen her in years, her movement is notably better somehow which defies all logic. Halep seemed to defer mentally to the big boss lady, even saying in the press conference before the match that Serena “is the best” and she is not as confident now as she was at Wimbledon two years ago when she annihilated Serena in the final. She sounded like she knew she would lose, which is strange. The less said about that the better. Osaka vs Serena will be a much more interesting match between the past and future, mom against daughter, queen vs princess.

John McEnroe is saying the Stefanos Tsitsipas must show more emotional adrenaline and alpha male bravado, fist pumps, roars, and less Mr. Joe Cool and sort of detached from the confrontation. To be the best, Tsitsipas has to win the emotional war and not be overwhelmed. Sort of like what I suggested for Thiem and Raonic for years.

Unfortunately there will be no crowd support to inspire and excite Tsitsipas, he will have to generate his emotional intensity and adrenaline on his own. He has the shots, the arsenal, the experience to beat Nadal, but does he have the mentality and the belief and …the killer instinct?

Rublev vs. Medevedev…let’s just sit back and enjoy that Russian Civil War.

Did you hear Chris McKendry say “Cocomania” last night? It may mean she is a reader of because I have never seen any other media call Coco Gauff’s exploits “Cocomania” before.

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  • Scoop Malinowski · February 16, 2021 at 3:28 pm

    An observation about Hsieh. All of her instagram posts get really friendly positive comments always by Danielle Collins and Jenn Brady who even calls her “hero.” She is very popular with other WTA players, which is rare. Hsieh is also very popular with the media, who love her sincere, open, vibrant personality at her press conferences.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 17, 2021 at 7:40 am

    Barty in control a set up and 2-0 then Muchova calls for the injury timeout. After the delay, Barty could no longer play winning tennis and Muchova dominated. Another example of a fake injury timeout changing a match outcome. Further proof that fake injuries win matches and win Grand Slam titles if properly employed. Brady comes back and stuns Pegula in 3. Rafa blows two set lead, now locked in fifth with Tsitsipas.



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