Feb/20

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2020 Off To A Roaring Start

We have another first time Grand Slam major winner, a girl who was losing to Zidansek at Eddie Herr four years ago. Sonic Sofia Kenin outshined the biggest stars in the WTA with her sensational AO win.

Novak Djokovic took another step to all time greatness with his 17th major and one of his hardest-earned, the five set triumph over Dominic Thiem.

Lleyton Hewitt extended his non-retirement with another Grand Slam appearance, another loss with Jordan Thompson to two Korean wildcards.

Benoit Paire is 7-3 this season. All three of his losses have come in final-set tiebreakers. ATP Cup RR: l. to Kevin Anderson 2-6 7-6(1) 7-6(5); Auckland F: l. to Humbert 7-6(2) 3-6 7-6(5); Australian Open R2: l. to Cilic 6-2 6-7(6) 3-6 6-1 7-6(10-3).

Thai-Son Kwiatkowski just won his first ATP Challenger in Newport Beach. The 24 year old is ranked 181.

Tennys Sandgren needed six years to win his first ATP main tour main draw match (Citi Open vs. Go Soeda 76 63 in 2017). Now he’s reached two major quarterfinals and is ranked 56. His career high best ranking was 41 in January 2019.

35 year old Dustin Brown is still out there. He lost in the second round of qualifying to 36 year old Gabriel Garcia Lopez 63 63 in Montpellier. He’s now 2-6 career vs GGL. Brown is currently ranked 230.

Alexsandr Dolgopolov, remember him? He has not played a match since Rome 2018.

The US top ten women’s rankings don’t look like you’d expect: Kenin 7 – career-high; Serena 9; Keys 12; Riske 18; Anisimova 29; Stephens 35; Collins 50; Gauff 51 – career-high; Brady 52; Davis 62.

Top 10 American men as of 2/3: Isner 18; Fritz 36; Opelka 38; Querrey 40; Sandgren 56; Paul 70 – career-high; Johnson 75; Tiafoe 79; Giron 111; Kudla 113 .

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278 comments

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 1:28 am

    Jeff, I have to second guess Thiem. I hope the translation of his interview was way off. I agree with you. Dom, why? I mean, WHY?! I hope Mladenovic does well, I like her. For whatever reason I like the emotional French WTA players – Cornet, Mladenovic, I was a Mauresmo fan, loved her game. Cornet cracks me up with her drama, I like how Mladenovic deals.

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 1:29 am

    Nakashima is pretty good as a newbie, I think Tiafoe played like a veteran the last two sets, competed. Nakashima stayed there, but I think he needs a lot of work. I wrote a ton on it, sorry to bore everyone.

  • catherine · February 7, 2020 at 5:34 am

    I haven’t seen Dominic’s interview but if he really said that then Kiki deserves better and I hope she gets it, romance wise, and Dom just sounds like an arrogant twit.

    Kiki didn’t deserve Bajin either.

    Re Dom – maybe Muster was hinting at a few home truths there about houses looking nice on the outside but you don’t see what’s within. Not until you’re there.

  • catherine · February 7, 2020 at 5:42 am

    I mean Kiki deserved better than Bajin, who was oh so sorry afterwards (he said) but I bet didn’t care two pins at the time and led her to believe he’d stay around a little longer.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 7, 2020 at 6:26 am

    Thanks for the vivid details of Nakashiafoe. Good match, wish it was on earlier. Nakashima is on everyone’s radar now. Passed out Korda and Brookby.

  • Hartt · February 7, 2020 at 6:35 am

    The only thing I’ve seen about what Dominic said about his split with Kiki was in Tennis World, and we know how reliable that site is! One sentence is so poorly translated it doesn’t even make much sense. According to the article, Dominic said that a girl takes a lot of time and commitment, and he isn’t looking for anyone now. Then there was the bit where he said he thought in the future there would be a girl watching from the stands. Not great, but not as terrible as it sounded at first.

  • Hartt · February 7, 2020 at 7:32 am

    WTA Insider has an interview with Kenin. From it:
    “And yeah, I’ve been overlooked. But you know what? I proved them all wrong. And this is just incredible. I did this for myself and for my family. Sharing this with them is everything to me.”

    https://www.wtatennis.com/news/1603457/-i-ve-been-overlooked-but-i-proved-them-all-wrong-kenin

  • catherine · February 7, 2020 at 8:09 am

    Fed Cup – Osaka loses to Sorribes Tormo 0-6 3-6. Wow.

    Naomi hasn’t played well since hiring Fisette.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 7, 2020 at 8:17 am

    Osaka ready for the next stage of life, being the best is not her top priority. She did it. No need to do I again and again.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 7, 2020 at 8:19 am

    No need to attack Thiem over one sentence, perhaps badly translated sentence. His record of class and sportsmanship are impeccable.

  • Hartt · February 7, 2020 at 8:23 am

    There was discussion about the Sorribes Tormo vs Osaka match. Naomi’s weakest surface is clay. and SST is good on clay, so this match may not be as significant as it first appeared.

  • catherine · February 7, 2020 at 8:45 am

    Hartt – yes, I didn’t expect Naomi to shine on clay but that scoreline was surprising. Looks like CSN is beating Doi.

    Some switching around in Canada/Switz. I’m afraid Canada may lose but without Bianca it’s a tough task.

  • catherine · February 7, 2020 at 8:49 am

    Scoop – I imagine Naomi, at 22, still has a desire to be the best and will try to reach that peak again. Otherwise she might just as well retire now.

  • Hartt · February 7, 2020 at 9:07 am

    I am watching the Leylah Annie Fernandez vs Jil Teichmann match. Jil won the first set TB, but the youngster played well overall, and showed why she is an exciting prospect.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 7, 2020 at 9:09 am

    She could sloane stephens slide her way through her career. she clearly didn’t really want to beat the coco whippersnapper either (subconscious tank). seeing a disappointing pattern with osaka. she used to be a wrecking machine who used to cherish making serena scream come on!, now she’s an ambassador with ordinary results.

  • catherine · February 7, 2020 at 9:28 am

    Well, in that case we’ll see Wim skip off when his contract ends and land – where ?

  • catherine · February 7, 2020 at 9:42 am

    Barty withdraws from Dubai with a foot injury; Svitolina takes a WC.

  • Hartt · February 7, 2020 at 10:17 am

    Gasquet had to retire in the 2nd set of his match vs Pospisil after losing the first set. That is sad because Montpellier is usually a good tourney for Richard. But Vasek needs some wins to move up the rankings after losing so much time last season after his back surgery.

  • Harold · February 7, 2020 at 10:28 am

    Watched Gasquet yesterday again Lopez. First game of third set, he was limping, I didn’t think he’d finish that match. Changed the channel, and was shocked to see he won the 3rd 6-2. Knew he wasn’t gonna win, or finish today..he never finishes a tournament healthy after a few rounds..

    This French generation missed a ton of events due to injury, Gasquet, Tsonga ,and Monfils have had real good careers, could’ve been historical careers if they’d have stayed healthy and focused.

    Good Debate: last 15 years Mens USA vs Mens France

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 11:19 am

    It is a good debate, USA/French men. Maybe Roddick was the best of the USA/French men’s players, otherwise France had a better group of players?

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 11:28 am

    At least Thiem’s mom likes Kiki – a botched translation (maybe botched…it’s Tennis World!) – December 2019. But no worries, Nadal loves Thiem! See further below from a reputable outlet/EFE:

    “I really loved Kiki really as a person and a tennis player, she is working very hard and focused on her career”

    More on Thiem/Muster. Thiem must dislike Muster a lot!

    ““It didn’t work out, it was more dramatic for the public than for us,” he reflected on Muster’s departure from his squad and shared it with Der Standard. “I am my own boss, I know what I want, what I have to do to be successful, I am highly motivated

    https://www.essentiallysports.com/tennis-news-atp-i-am-my-own-boss-dominic-thiem-opens-up-on-split-with-coach/

    More of these bizarre sites – Nadal says he was hoping Thiem would knock off Djokovic.

    ““Obviously, yes (I would have preferred Thiem’s ​​victory). I don’t have to be a hypocrite, right? It would have been better for me personally if Thiem won…This tournament is particularly good for Novak. And right now he is today, the best player in the world. This is what the numbers say. And the only thing that can be done is to congratulate him on another great success…Obviously, in the ‘Next Gen’ there are many good, young players, and in the semifinals, there has been one, which is Zverev because Thiem can no longer be considered ‘Next Gen'”

    https://www.essentiallysports.com/i-dont-have-to-be-a-hypocrite-rafael-nadal-wanted-novak-djokovic-to-lose-australian-open-2020-finals-atp-tennis-news/

    Or in Spanish:
    https://www.elmundo.es/deportes/tenis/2020/02/05/5e3b077bfc6c8376568b46ac.html

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 11:30 am

    Osaka should Sloane or Muguruza it. Win slams when you feel like it and otherwise take it easy. She’s already a hall of famer and has cash flow from sponsors. IG it and forget the rest.

    (I don’t believe that, but she’s welcome to do so, and there’s a precedent too – Serena Williams used to play very, very few tournaments. Maybe Osaka should do that, develop some other interests, play when she wants).

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 11:34 am

    Thiem’s mom loves Kiki. But Nadal loves Thiem, said he wanted to see Thiem beat Djokovic. I think Nadal’s got his reasons, but one of them is he likes Thiem (and said…Thiem beating Djokovic would of course be better for him!).

    Nadal congratulates Djokovic and said he slept well knowing either one of them would win the Australian.

    Nadal…please stop the charades that he doesn’t care about the record books. He cares. A LOT.

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 11:38 am

    I shall attack Thiem. Actually I don’t. I believe he has a Thiem problem, but it could be why he’s so good. Looks at Muster, says (actually says this), “I know best” – and who are we to argue? Thiem sees his competitive final as proof he doesn’t need Muster and he’s doing great.

    I disagree, but final is a final. I am more along the lines of the title of Ben Bloom’s column today, “Dominic Thiem now just another nearly man working in the shadows of sporting greatness”.

    But, credit to Thiem. He was willing to chuck everything even in my view a mistake, I mean, MLADENOVIC!!!

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 11:40 am

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    Vesely in Semis in ATP/Pune/India, Berankis, Duckworth, and either Kwon or Gerasimov. This will be a nice ATP win for whoever gets it.

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 12:21 pm

    The Tiafoe “get a new coach” call has quieted for now. He played well against Nakashima. Nakashima has a good, versatile serve that should serve him well. Thought both he and Tiafoe need to spend some time on the ball machine – Tiafoe’s forehand gets better as his strategy gets sharper.

    Fun match. Tiafoe should try to win this challenger, prove to himself he get gut out these tough matches, then double down on what’s working. He thought his way through the tougher than expected Nakashima. Maybe the Nakashima hype is justified – troubled to see him so winded, but fact he kept up on serve made a big difference (and fact that return of serve isn’t a strength for most players he will face on tour)

  • Hartt · February 7, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    Since the chances of Canada getting into the Fed Cup finals are just about nil, ironically Canada will play a home or away tie in April. Here’s hoping Canada gets “home” and all the players are healthy.

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 12:26 pm

    Would like to see Tiafoe build an attacking game also. His strategy was good to make the Nakashima match a battle of attrition, where the more he moved Nakashima the more tired Nakashima would be, and that seemed to be what took place, with Nakashima not moving the extra steps to make balls or hit shots. Nakashima also pulled up a lot on his balls, which flew.

    Tiafoe would benefit from watching some Navratilova, where she seemed to bend everyone’s game to suit her style, so too Novotna. Watching Navratilova, it was fascinating to see how players were almost lured into giving her a lot of balls she would knock away for winners, whether volleys or overheads.

    The story ultimately may be Nakashima or even both of them – could be a preview of two guys that have a lot of room to improve and go pretty high in the rankings world. As always depends on what they do from here on out.

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    Canada’s FedCup chances looking bad…miracle if they can win the dubs and push it on the singles side.

  • Harold · February 7, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    Watched chunks of two matches last night. Krueger/Kudla, and Nak/Tiafoe. The double K match had way more variety. The Nak/Tiafoe match was groundless, grounders and more. They crush the ball, but hitting a slice bh, or a once in a hundred chip fh, is the only variety..

  • Harold · February 7, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    Groundies

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    Could be. Seemed like a lot was dictated by indoors, and the fact these two hit a big ball. The Kudla ball isn’t very big – he’s a counter-puncher (no shame) that loves grass courts, needs to do everything he can to win a point. I don’t know the Krueger game 🙁

    Kudla has always had a very solid, nice, all-around game. One of the few U.S. men that can hit a good ball, technique-wise, no matter what wing (I think Nakashima does also).

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 3:36 pm

    Kenin – had no plans for a dress! As of 2:30AM after her Australian triumph, she had had no plans. I think Catherine mentioned this? Now I can tell why everything felt so out of place when she was on the banks of the Yarra river with the championship title.

    Courtesy of: No Challenges Remaining Podcast/Courtney Nguyen

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 7, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    Tiafoe blundered badly by dropping Ginepri and hiring his buddy. He stagnated, stopped improving, killed his progression. Lost a year. But in the right coaching hands Tiafoe can be top 20.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 7, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    Gasquet is becoming injury prone. He’s not the hardest worker on tour, know for a fact he’s a slacker on proper warm up and stretching. Needs to take better care of his body

  • catherine · February 7, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    Andrew – I mentioned Kenin’s dress looking an ill-fit and and I also said that at W’don they have a selection of dresses ready for the winner to choose from so avoiding the situation Kenin found herself in.

    But I can understand why she didn’t have dress ready 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 7, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    Wilander said when each tennis match is no longer life and death important for the highly ranked player, that player will slide down the rankings. Osaka proving Wilander theory is dead on right.

  • catherine · February 7, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    Naomi was in tears at the end of her match v ST – she hid her face in her towel. 50 UEs can’t have helped her state of mind. It’s a process called ‘learning to play on clay’.

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 4:37 pm

    Do we have Tiafoe’s side of the story? Someone else asked this and, in fairness to Tiafoe (and in light of the GQ story), isn’t there some more information needed?

    First, Tiafoe was no longer part of Ginepri’s day to day, as Ginepri was working on building his “Ginepri Performance Tennis Academy” when they were working together in 2018. Most of the day to day work was with Paul Kinney. This change was made at the end of 2018.

    Without Kinney and Ginepri, Tiafoe made the Australian Open QF and also made the Miami QF. That doesn’t seem so awful – with Kinney/Ginepri he won the Delray tournament – and then achieved his best “big” results when they were out of his life.

    Ginepri was funded by the USTA – so the expenses did not come out of Tiafoe’s pocket.

    For all travel in 2018, he traveled with Evenden. Kinney and Ginepri weren’t anywhere to be seen. According to reporting on the subject, he traveled with Evenden because his ranking began to go in the wrong direction in early 2018 and he needed someone on the road.

    By all indications, the break from Kinney and Ginepri took place before Tiafoe’s best results, even though he won the Delray title with Ginepri and Kinney. We have no idea who was paying for what, or what was requested.

    What we do know based on reporting is that Tiafoe’s results were better without them for a good four months, and we also know Ginepri thinks the world of him.

    There has to be more to this thing than “Tiafoe shouldn’t have said goodbye.” By all indications he needed someone for travel, and if Ginepri was pouring his energy into Ginepri High Performance Academy rather than Tiafoe High Performance, I think that says a lot.

    Otherwise the reporting on Tiafoe is wild, and we know he had a slump from the French Open onward, and that he’s just getting back some of his level. The last half year have not been a good run for him. But there has to be more to this than he shouldn’t have left – what if Ginepri had already “left”.

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    Another part: Tiafoe wanted to train in Maryland. Some may be his brother: his brother wanted to play pro ball, like Ryan Harrison’s brother Christian who keeps getting injured. We don’t know the promises players make to their families.

    Tiafoe in the GQ article, which I think Tiafoe should have postponed given he was at the NC tournament (where he made a QF in August 2019, Winston-Salem – one of his better results), he talks about how much the JTCC means to him or whatever it is called – the tennis center that is part of the USTA cluster in Maryland. Tiafoe might have decided he wants to raise the profile of local tennis players and decided that people could go train with him. I think it also allows for his brother to train with him – his twin brother.

    There’s only one way to solve this. Scoop has to bio-file him.

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    Remember also, Tiafoe bought his parents a home and told them, well before he made a cent in pro tennis, “I will take care of all of you”. That’s exactly what he’s done.

    So players make their choices. To me those choices don’t always make sense. I don’t get why Thiem tells Kiki “bye forever”, or why Tiafoe tells Kinney and Ginepri that he can’t work with them – it seems like a shock to me, and his performance since leaving them was uneven up until this solid challenger run.

    But I’d say he does have specific goals, whatever they are, and that’s where he’s putting his chips. All his support, including his agent etc, they are all around the area where he now lives – he hits the courts where he’s most comfortable and may be one of the most “accessible” players. I don’t know if he hits with local players but that may be one of his goals too, to develop a few so that his legacy is bigger than himself.

    I will probably eat my words again. But it seems we should ask Tiafoe some questions.

  • Hartt · February 7, 2020 at 5:14 pm

    Wimby must have a TON of dresses to choose from. I remember when Andy won the title and his mother chose a beautiful form-fitting gold dress from the Wimby collection. She looked sensational, but all Andy could say when asked about how she looked was “very glittery.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 7, 2020 at 5:20 pm

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 7, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    Fig Boe’s former agent told me momma Foe got caught stealing $20,000 from son. So these players have a lot on their plates to deal with.

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    Tiafoe probably handles things well. He doesn’t (quite) live at home – he lives in a pretty nice part of the city, and his parents live quite a bit up the road (but better than where they had been at the tennis center!). For what it’s worth, he trains at the same place where he and his brother learned the game and apparently gives a tour to anyone who want to see it – hes’ constantly around where he “grew up”.

    If it’s true regarding whatever rumor, it wouldn’t be the first time for a player and all the people they look after. Some players cut themselves off from where they are from and go and live in Monaco. What Tiafoe, some others do, is they go home and then everyone wants a piece of them.

    His mentors are very good – they are at the top of the basketball world (and they are basketball team owners – pretty big deals).

    I think he keeps things close to the vest. He has to, there’s too much on the line. In reading more about him I see that he puts a lot of pressure on himself – in that regard he’s not that different than Alex de Minaur and others. His game to my eye has a lot to it, and I think there are some models for him that would work because he has some things that can’t be caught – the competitive instinct and the sheer speed. Everything else he has to improve the level of consistency.

    Anyways, I appreciate the bio-file, I read elsewhere that his hero was Del Potro. I think Tiafoe said he wanted to go to South America.

    Wikipedia:
    “Tiafoe’s tennis idol growing up was Juan Martin del Potro, in part because the Argentine was the first pro to sign a tennis ball for him.[43] The two first faced each other at Acapulco in 2017, with del Potro winning the match in a third-set tiebreak. Tiafoe picked up his first win over his idol at the 2018 Delray Beach Open en route to his first career ATP title

  • Jon King · February 7, 2020 at 7:11 pm

    Andrew, JTCC is an interesting story. But lets not give USTA credit because it succeeds despite them.

    JTCC was founded by an investment banker who loved tennis. He wanted to start a program to develop juniors. He developed a great program and later the USTA came in and named it a national training center.

    But the JTCC people kept control of the actual training. Thank goodness because most USTA high performance is a failure.

    Tiafoe’s dad was hired to clean the place when it started. Tiafoe started staying there as a young boy while dad worked to clean, the staff took an interest in him and the rest is history.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 7, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    Jon, me and Dan went to JCC when we were covering Legg Mason about ten years ago, Dan played a set with Tiafoe and I played an Asian girl prospect. Great memories.

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 9:32 pm

    Kudla so far up on Tiafoe. 5-5 in second set, with Kudla up a set. Neither winning much on their second serve. Kudla as always a nice SV game. No answers on the groundies – never thought I’d say this: Tiafoe has better groundies than Kudla, but Kudla has a better SV game.

  • Andrew Miller · February 7, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    I’m going back on Kudla: hits off his back leg. Bad habit.

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