Tennis Prose



Amazed by Soonwoo Kwon

Kwon at 2019 US Open qualifying.

First time seeing Soonwoo Kwon play on TV but what a sensational first impression by this tenacious and talented Korean.

Kwon, attired in Fila from head to toe, dismanted a healthy and motivated Milos Raonic 76 67 64 at the New York Open. It is a shocking upset by this unknown world no. 84.

Most impressive was his solid game and emotional intensity. The five-foot-eleven, 22 year old has a good serve and deadly accuracy and consistency from the baseline and a capacity to end points with winners on either wing. After every big point Kwon will yell CMON and or fist pump, but in a composed, veteran, mature fashion. Kwon clearly believes in himself and he means business. He is not on the ATP Tour to pay homage to the legends, he’s here to knock them off.

Last night before a sparse but intrigued crowd, Kwon’s last three service games were easy holds, both at love and then the final game, he netted a forehand on the first point off a wide serve. Then he closed it out winning four points in a row. There was no hint of a choke by the Korean. Raonic was even grunting at the end – a rarity for him – trying to hang in there with Kwon on the baseline rallies but he could not do it. An urgent, desperate Raonic gave it all he had, loping and striding all over the court chasing down Kwon’s shots but it was a futile effort.

The sky is the limit for Kwon. He can beat just about anyone. He has the right attitude to slay any giant and not give too much respect. Raonic has to be in a state of shock by what Kwon did to him last night. And let me tell you now, Kwon has only just begun. Be sure of that. Players with his consistency, firepower, cool under pressure and emotional adrenaline are nightmares to play. He will only get better.

I first saw Kwon play at US Open last year in qualies, he beat JC Aragone 64 16 64 in the first round of qualies. His roaring and yelling CMON, his unusual intensity, made him stand out. He then beat Oscar Otte in two sets and Steven Diez in three 46 63 63 to make the US Open main draw, but he ran out of gas and had to retire to Hugo Dellien 36 46 62 23 (retired).

This year he lost in five sets in AO to Nikolaz Basilashvili.

Kwon qualified at Wimbledon last year for his first Grand Slam main draw, beating Polmans, Brands and Domingues, but lost in the first round to Khachanov 67 46 64 57.

So Kown is still looking for his first Grand Slam main draw win.

Kwon broke into the top 100 last year in Los Cabos where he qualified and lost to world no. 24 Pella in three sets in the quarterfinals.



  • Hartt · February 13, 2020 at 7:35 am

    Kwon sounds like an impressive player. Can he win this tourney?

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 13, 2020 at 8:02 am

    Hartt, based on what I saw yesterday from Kwon, would highly advise to not get against him.

  • Doug Day · February 13, 2020 at 9:14 am

    Oh Canada. Did you see Pospisil is going to take the maple leaf to another level? Hydration and high performance from the Canadian taking maple syrup mid-match. Maybe it can cure my back pain too.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 13, 2020 at 9:32 am

    Raw honey is better than maple syrup.

  • Andrew Miller · February 13, 2020 at 11:02 am

    Good win against fierce Raonic. Sorry to see him out so soon, but good Raonic fought until the last ball – that’s why next tournament he’ll win.

    Kwon must be good. Hard to knock out Raonic on an indoor court anywhere in the world. Minor setback for Raonic, but good opportunity for Kwon to see this kind of match through to a win. And a good way to play. If you’re going to face an excellent player you have to play like you mean it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 13, 2020 at 11:11 am

    Andrew, Kwon has something. He beat Pouille last year and his been moving up. Research says he played university tennis three years ago. He only played in one junior grand slam (AO) and got to second round. His best ranking was 43. Played a lot of ITFs from 14-17 but was not a great junior, lost to guys like Santillan, etc. Seems to be late blooming now. Raonic was busting his tail trying to win last night, grunting, hustling, scrapping, scrambling but he could not solve Kwon. Incredible performance by Kwon who played perfect tennis along with having the belief he would win.

  • Andrew Miller · February 13, 2020 at 11:32 am

    It’s hard to beat Raonic, have to work very hard. It’s one of Raonic’s greatest attributes – he plays very hard. So nice work from Mr. Kwon!

  • Andrew Miller · February 13, 2020 at 11:33 am

    Beating Pouille is meh. Pouille lets fans down. Worst best French player. Hope Mauresmo is helping him.

  • Andrew Miller · February 13, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    Nice piece on Potapova/WTA. Clearly the youth revolution on the WTA tour is inspiring players like Potapova. When she sees others doing well she says, I can do that.

  • Andrew Miller · February 13, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    Cleveland Challenger: Blanch d. Cressy, bravo! Incredibly close match, gets it 7-6 in third. Escobedo d. Tabilo, a young lefty Chilean (another left handed wunderkind!) in the top 200. Don’t know much about the kid.

    Another kid, Watanuki from Japan, all of 21, is also marching through the draw.

    There is a youth rebellion afoot in the ATP challengers. That will spill into the rest of the ATP. A lot of players will have to get better just to stay in place.

  • Hartt · February 13, 2020 at 5:51 pm

    Krajinovic just defeated Pospisil in SS, winning the 2nd set TB. Both players had a lot of errors, and Vasek had a MTO for his knee late in the 2nd set. He is scheduled to play the Calgary Challenger in a little over a week, where he will be a big draw, so I hope he will be OK to play. He could also pick up some valuable ranking points in that tourney.

    So now Canadian tennis fans have to rely on FAA, who will play Bedene (after the Slovak had a big upset over Tsitsipas).

  • Andrew Miller · February 13, 2020 at 6:16 pm

    NY – Opelka d. Nishioka. May be on his way to defending his title. Edmund d. Koepfer, now in QF. Jung d. Norrie (nice, nice tournament for Jung).

    Cleveland: Blanceaux d. Harrison in 3, glad RH fought the good fight. Kudla d. Korda QUICKLY 6-1 6-3. Sarmiento d. Aragone.

  • Hartt · February 13, 2020 at 6:33 pm

    I see several American players are slated to play the Challenger in Drummondville, Quebec, next week, including Kudla, Klahn, Wolf and Mmoh. Outside of a few youngsters who received WCs, Brayden Schnur, the No.2 seed, is the only Canuck in the draw. The German, Dominik Koepfer, is the No.1 seed.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 13, 2020 at 6:35 pm

    Watanuki is a feisty Japanese player, saw him play Korda at US Open juniors two years ago. Cressy is our serve and volley master. Blanch is a big hitter on the cusp of his breakout. Tabilo is a very skinny lefty but has pop on his shots.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 13, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    Bedene is not Slovak, he’s Brit now. I think he was Slovenian.

  • Hartt · February 13, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    Scoop, we were both wrong. I knew I should have checked on Bedene, he was listed as “Slov” and I took that to mean Slovakia, but he is indeed Slovenian. He is no longer a Brit when it comes to tennis, however. When he wasn’t allowed to play for Britain in international competitions because he had been on Slovenia’s Davis Cup team, he went back to representing Slovenia, so he could play in Davis Cup and the Olympics.

  • Jeff · February 13, 2020 at 7:42 pm

    Leaving this comment for Catherine, how about the news that Kerber and Zverev will play mixed doubles in Tokyo. Gonna be fun to see them again

  • Andrew Miller · February 13, 2020 at 9:08 pm

    Cleveland: Bellucci d. Wolf (straights); Torpegaard d. Mmoh in three very close sets, 7-6 in third. Good to Mmoh playing as hard as possible! With that competitiveness and his big game Mmoh should be rising higher this year – I am surprised he has fallen so far since his breaking the top 100 more than a year ago. His ranking fell fast following early round losses in 2019 and then the shoulder injury – he seems to now be recovering his form.

    These injuries are inexplicable.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 13, 2020 at 10:54 pm

    Thompson finally slays Isner 76 67 64. First time in four tries. Opelka looks like the repeat champ, or Kwon.

  • catherine · February 14, 2020 at 12:50 am

    Jeff – Kerber gave an interview on German tv saying she hopes to play mixed doubles with Zverev in the Olympics but she’s mentioned this before. I don’t know who else she’d play with anyway as Sascha is the top German and they’ve played Hopman Cup.

    If of course the Olympics actually happen (virus etc) and some new prodigy doesn’t arrive from the German girls’ ranks and take Angie’s place since she’s on the slide out of the top 20.

  • Andrew Miller · February 14, 2020 at 1:05 am

    Blancaneaux – R. Harrison: great tennis. Harrison has STILL GOT IT. Blancaneaux, quite a player – Blancaneaux won. Has all the shots. Harrison looking smoother, a cut above even at his low ranking against up and coming talents like this 21 year old Frenchman, who is punching way above his weight at the 280 ranking. Perhaps he will climb the ranks like Pouille.

    Saw some of the Mmoh – Torpegaard. Mmoh should have won this match. Not impressed with Torpegaard game. Mmoh hits a huge ball – a little weaker on the strategy side. The Dane Torpegaard reminds of a poor man’s Grosjean – maybe his speed keeps him in it. Former top player at Ohio State.

  • catherine · February 14, 2020 at 7:34 am

    Alexandrova gets a w/o v Kvitova in St P. Haven’t heard if it’s injury. Petra’s reaching that stage.

  • Hartt · February 14, 2020 at 8:49 am

    Petra said it was illness. She wasn’t feeling well yesterday and wasn’t better today.

  • Andrew Miller · February 14, 2020 at 9:17 am

    NY Open: half qf players are next gen, Kecmanovic and Humbert, Kwon and Opelka. Obviously the change of guard is not just around the top ten but goes very deep.

  • catherine · February 14, 2020 at 9:29 am

    Hartt – I noticed earlier that I’d seen a photo of Petra in St Petersburg at some function and she looked dreadfully thin. Maybe she should take some time off and get strong again.

  • catherine · February 14, 2020 at 9:39 am

    I hope Naomi’s Netflix documentary (tracking her to the Olympics) doesn’t interfere with her performance on court. She’s doing a lot of extra stuff.

  • Hartt · February 14, 2020 at 10:24 am

    The PCB vs Jannik Sinner match was terrific! Such high quality from both guys. It was so close that although PCB won in a third set TB, Jannik actually had 1 more point in the match.

  • catherine · February 14, 2020 at 10:48 am

    Sakkari bts Bencic 3 sets in St P. Belinda’s having a wobbly year.

  • Andrew Miller · February 14, 2020 at 10:56 am

    P. Carreno-Busta mustering up his best Ferrer impressions 🙂

  • Andrew Miller · February 14, 2020 at 11:27 am

    Rotterdam: Felix AA putting the beating on Bedene. Up a set and a break. Not to put us too far ahead in the draw…but the remaining players are Carreno Busta, Monfils vs Evans, Krajinovic and Rublev […]

    Buenos Aires – your final eight: Ruud vs Lajovic, Monteiro vs Sousa, Londero vs Pella, Schwartzmann vs Cuevas. It will be interesting to see if Schwartzmann, having lost the Cordoba final to rising top Chilean Christian Garin (who has blossomed under Fernando Gonzalez, great coaching job) can win at least one of his country’s tournaments before the inevitable return to the North American hard courts for Miami and IW.

    Cleveland, decent change for a U.S. men’s player to win. That said, I like the Blancaneaux vs Bellucci match – if anyone’s seen Blancaneaux ya know, that guy is good. He’s in the top 300 but he is a Player. He stays healthy, gets stronger, he will be another top 50 player from France, which is becoming the land of top 50 players. Blanch-Watanuki – if what Scoop says is right than this should be a good one. Sarmiento-Torpegaard – Torepegaard wasn’t making an impression yesterday, I have no idea how he won his match against Mmoh, a true nail-biter. He hits a jumping ball that doesn’t seem to have all that much on it, awkward forehand, steady backhand and a lot of enthusiasm. Not signing up for it. Maybe Sarmiento can win this, he’s been playing big.

  • Andrew Miller · February 14, 2020 at 11:28 am

    Spoke too soon on Felix AA, 3-3 in second set with Felix AA tied with Bedene.

  • Hartt · February 14, 2020 at 11:32 am

    Anrew, you jinxed FAA, who was broken right after your post, and they are back on serve. Apparently Felix is congested, so that must be making it tough for the youngster.

  • Andrew Miller · February 14, 2020 at 11:39 am

    Thailand: in enormous upset Kung (Switzerland WTA Ranking of No. 283) d. Wang and in still large upset Tig d. Zheng, while Linnette still playing well makes the semis. In a large upset Hibino d. Svitolina. A lackluster result from Svitolina, again. This Thailand tournament can’t be what Paradon Srichaphan was hoping for.

    St. Petersburg: Sakkari d. Bencic in three. Bencic is NOT having a good 2020, whether regular tournaments, Fed Cup, or anything. Sakkari keeps rising and IS having a pretty good 2020 campaign. Rybakina does well and has done well so far this year, defeats Dodin – surprised no one else shares an opinion on Dodin! I think she would make an excellent friend for an up and coming ATP player that wants to learn more about France and French tennis from a WTA point of view (a roundabout way of saying I think she’s a good looking WTA player!) 😉

    Bertens playing well – currently up a set on Potapova. I liked the WTA interview with Potapova, she seems like a decent person. I’d think she’d be good for a Bio-file.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 14, 2020 at 11:51 am

    I met Blancaneaux’s hitting partner buddy coach at US Open a couple of years ago, he said Blancaneaus would be no. 1 someday, he said with a sly smile, I didn’t know if he was joking or what. Just remember that. Then I followed his results and nothing for over a year.

  • Hartt · February 14, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    Whew, FAA managed to overcome his cold, and Bedene, to win in SS, including a tense 2nd set TB. I hope he is feeling better tomorrow, it could be a tough match vs PCB.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 14, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    Did Tsitsipas subconscious tank to Bedene to avoid Felix rematch?

  • Andrew Miller · February 14, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    Blancaneaux – am impressed. Hitting partner knows something – he’s a little bit slender, but he has all the shots and a nice way of revving up his game. The Harrison match as very good – Harrison seemed inspired to play a worthy opponent (?)

    In comparing him with, say, Seb Korda – another kid with such variety in his game – Blancaneaux was different in that he did all Korda did with more firepower, more conviction, and more style (which is something, I thought Korda has a nice, nice looking game). Korda got smashed by Kudla in Cleveland.

  • Andrew Miller · February 14, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    Felix AA…has to be thinking he can win Rotterdam (!)

  • Andrew Miller · February 14, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    Scoop, Potapova biofile?

  • Hartt · February 14, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    Andrew, it would be amazing if FAA could win Rotterdam. He has finalist points from last year’s Rio 500, so it is important for him to do well in Rotterdam. But that coughing is concerning. However, he has done well in a tough field, and this will stand him in good stead for other hard court tourneys.

  • Andrew Miller · February 14, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    Whatever Felix AA does…no supplements!

  • Hartt · February 14, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    I imagine FAA’s team is very aware of what he can and can’t take. 🙂

    He has a terrific record for a 19-year-old. Plus these SFs, he was a finalist in Rio last year. So the next step is to win a title.

    Michael Gallo

    “This is Felix’s 3rd career ATP 500 SF and 7th overall

    3 ATP 500 (2019 Rio, 2019 Queen’s, 2020 Rotterdam)
    3 ATP 250 (2019 Lyon, 2019 Stuttgart, 2020 Adelaide)
    1 ATP 1000 (2019 Miami)”

  • Andrew Miller · February 14, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    Rotterdam – winnable. Comes down to strategy and “how much does he want it” (he means every player left)

  • catherine · February 14, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    Sweet sweet IG from Bianca with her Valentine’s Day precious Coco Andreescu 🙂

    (Thought I’d get Bianca’s name in here somewhere just in case she’s being missed)

  • Andrew Miller · February 14, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    (Thought) Andreescu and Muster have a lot in common…

  • Hartt · February 14, 2020 at 3:54 pm

    I posted the pics of Bianca and Coco on Match Call Migrants, but the folks here lucked out – I have no way of posting photos here. 🙂

  • Hartt · February 14, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    Monfils had a pretty easy win over Evans in Rotterdam. Gael is the defending champ.

    Rublev vs Krajinovic is on now. Given Andrey’s current form, winning just about all his matches, he has to be a heavy favourite.

  • Andrew Miller · February 14, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    Krajinovic with upper hand on Rublev…with some heroics this tournament is looking increasingly winnable by a player that does not yet own an ATP title

  • Andrew Miller · February 14, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    Nice (not amazing, not unique, just good for what it is) piece on says what some of the comments here have suggested – Medvedev, Tsitsipas, Shapovalov may need to hit the reset button for 2020 given this year isn’t the second half of 2019, when the three promising stars, Medvedev and Tsitsipas more than the late-stage breakout of Shapovalov, had banner years (almost as big as one can have on the men’s side these days).

    I don’t know what reset means. I’ll interpret it liberally as “get yourself a pina colada or some gatordade, and re-think a few things for 2020”. My prescription would be to enter a few tournaments and play doubles only – good way to get some good practice in real world conditions without the burden of singles, then enter the big hard court tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami refreshed.

    I’m sure the next piece is something like: “Andreescu sits out 2020 due to inability to be 100 percent ready, hovering around 99.9 percent ready or just saying that” 🙂

  • Andrew Miller · February 14, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    Krajinovic shuts book on Rublev. For what it’s worth some nice thinking from Felix Auger – shows he does have a strategic sense. Doesn’t have all the pieces, such as an off-speed game to complement his full-throttle game, but he is a thoughtful player. This was good.

    “Before facing the Slovenian, Auger-Aliassime watched Bedene’s performance against Tsitsipas to prepare for their quarterfinal.

    “I was actually playing doubles at the same time, but you know I had time to assess it, watch videos, see how he played him,” Auger-Aliassime told Tennis Channel’s Prakash Amritraj after the match. “See how Tsitsipas played and then kind of make an idea for myself.””

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