Tennis Prose



The AO Transformation of Adrian Mannarino

By Scoop Malinowski

One of the biggest, best surprises of this AO has been the court demeanor transformation of Adrian Mannarino from stoic, joyless, introvert into a more animated, fun-loving, showman. It seems to have unlocked something inside Mannarino and he’s notching some of the best wins of his career.

Mannarino surived a five setter with James Duckworth in the first round, then blitzed ten seed Hubi Hurkacz in three sets, and last night he dismissed last year’s semifinalist Aslan Karatsev in four sets.

The 33 year old lefty from France is known as a skilled stylist but in the big moments on the big courts, he always seemed to fail, not because of a talent shortage but more because of a lack of intensity, fire, passion and extrovert qualities. Mannarino seemed too shy and beta to beat the big stars, a task which takes alpha male mindset and attitude. A timid man can’t rule and dominate the court.

Mannarino has a history of shying away from the big moments. He’s 1-9 in ATP finals and 7-44 vs the top ten. But his record in five setters is 9-4.

Mannarino, who won his lone ATP singles title (in 2019 on grass in s-Hertogenbosch), was at his most frustrating worst at Wimbledon last year, outplaying Federer on center court but looking uncomfortable in such a spotlight match, afraid to win, afraid to upset the crowd, afraid to be the villain. In the end, Mannarino surrendered to the crowd pressure and gave up a match he absolutely could have won if he had the arrogance and cockiness and ruthlessness to compliment his tennis arsenal.

Now suddenly Mannarino at this AO is showing and unleashing some alpha male qualities. He’s smiling and yelling after big points and great shots. He’s pointing fingers. He’s interacting with his box. He’s shuffling his feet after stunning shots, a sort of muted Muhammad Ali showboat move. And it’s working. A new Adrian Mannarino has emerged and he’s taking out big scalps now instead of being the noble, passive, beta loser.

I don’t know why it’s happened but it has. Has the 69th ranked Mannarino read my comments about him at this site and the light went on in his head? Or has he just figured it out for himself, learning from the dynamic alpha monsters like Djokovic, Alcaraz and Nadal, who he will play in the fourth round.

Interestingly, Mannarino has only played Nadal twice in his career, losing 75 64 at Paris Indoors in 2019 and 61 76 in Beijing in 2016. Maybe the new, animated, alpha Mannarino can threaten or even knock off Nadal who may be surprised by the differences he will see tomorrow.

Adrian Mannarino Biofile interview

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  • Cory · January 21, 2022 at 5:46 pm

    Scoop, i’ve been a Mannarino guy for many years… he’s tricky… lots of flat balls throws opponents off. Obviously the adroit trick shots too. I’ll be rooting for him here, but barring a Nadal injury, i just don’t know (i’m sure you agree). I agree, it’s great to see this often,missing fire from Mannarino.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 21, 2022 at 6:02 pm

    Cory, did you notice it too? I noticed it very in very subtle expressions in the Hurkacz match highlights. And then even more animation vs Karatsev. Love to see this and it proves what I’ve been saying for years, emotional adrenaline is a secret weapon in sports and especially tennis. Sure it seems impossible but if Mannarino can somehow match and up Nadal on the adrenaline meter, the upset is possible. But is Mannarino willing to be a beast for one night? Or will he be intimidated by Rafa’s ruthless ferocity and resort back to his old beta passive ways?

  • Hekho · January 22, 2022 at 5:14 am

    Just as Serena Williams and Kyrgios, Mannarino injured himself because of a slippery court and had to retire.
    I understand the appeal to interpret everything through the lens of Alpha/beta male concept, but come on you can do better.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 22, 2022 at 7:45 am

    Hekho, It looked like Mannarino was terribly uncomfortable playing that match vs Federer on his favorite surface. UYou could not sense that? Part of him of course wanted himself to win but a part of him was afraid to win from being up two sets to one. You could not see that inner conflict? My belief is Mannarino looked for and found a way out of his torture chamber. You don’t see the important of beta alpha in tennis and that Mannarino tends to lean toward the beta side? Psychology and mental factors are a major element of tennis and it’s always discussed and speculated here. Thanks for your comments and welcome to the site Hekho.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 22, 2022 at 8:48 am

    Fritz knows he can win this title because he should have beaten Djokovic last year, he plays Tsitsipas next. Felix is long overdue for what he’s doing now, he may make up for lost time. Surprised Cilic knocked off Rublev. Cressy has been the best surprise so far, he’s destroying people and doing it with no emotion, total pure focus as if he really believes and expects to win tht title. Watch his body language, watch how he’s playing in the highlights. He plays Medvedev next.

    Collins is in super beast assassin mode, she needed to to overcome Tauson. Swiatek cruising through draw. Cristea upset Pavlyuchenkova. Keys has looked better than she ever has. Anisimova vs Barty will be a good one. The big news of the tournament is how the tv ratings are down massively. The best ratings so far was Kyrgios vs Med but the ratings are way down.

    It’s been confirmed the TV ratings for the
    @AustralianOpen so far are down and in a BIG way. They barely even broke even last year so the AO can expect crippling losses this year and may even go under now.



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