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 14, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    Krajinovic played so well he was both aggressive and steady. Can he win the tourney? Perhaps, if he plays at that level. My commie predicted that FAA would win his SF vs PCB, and that Gael would prevail against Filip, with Gael winning the title again. Obviously I am hoping for FAA to take the title, but since he has a cold, that may be tough. However, the youngster managed to get past Bedene today, despite being ill.

  • Hartt · February 14, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    Andrew, thanks for the FAA link. Felix is still so young, and is such a hard worker that he will continue to improve. He and his team have always stressed long-term development, rather than going for immediate results. Plus, he is incredibly mature. He is mature at 19, was mature at 14 and I bet he was mature at 5!

  • Andrew Miller · February 14, 2020 at 6:07 pm

    Ryan Harrison was mature at 15, too 😉 Spoke in long, flowing paragraphs with an awareness beyond his years.

    Felix strikes me as a player that is open to learning and incorporating observations into his game, which will help him as he grows into his game. It’s good for players of all ages – helps Karlovic as much as opponents a third his age.

  • Andrew Miller · February 14, 2020 at 6:10 pm

    Biggest different, Felix well coached and open to it. He has some world class coaches in his player box that are proven.

    One thing that has separated players like Raonic, Shapovalov, Felix AA from their U.S. counterparts is that the Canadians have opted for excellent coaches for the most part over, say, their parents or a new coach every six months or a shared coach with three other players. Pairing themselves with strong coaches has provided them with more stability to develop.

  • Hartt · February 14, 2020 at 6:57 pm

    Coaching is an area where Tennis Canada has had an important influence on Canadian players. There are good coaches in the national system, and then Canada helps young players connect with good coaches when they turn pro, either from within Tennis Canada or from outside of the organization. For example, I am not positive, but think that Tennis Canada played a role in Milos working with Galo Blanco early in his pro career, and that was a successful coaching relationship for some time.

    Then, some coaches for the young pros are from Tennis Canada itself, such as Guillaume Marx and Frederic Fontang for Felix and Sylvain Bruneay for Bianca. And although he no longer coaches Shapo, I think Martin Laurendeau played an important role in Denis’ development.

    Speaking of parents as coaches, FAA’s father has been in Rotterdam this week, which is rare, because he is a tennis coach, working in Quebec. But he only coached Felix when FAA was a kid.

  • Hartt · February 14, 2020 at 7:02 pm

    Shapo and Bopanna are in the doubles SF in Rotterdam, and will face Kontinen and Struff. The youngster-oldie team has done well in doubles, providing valuable experience for Shapo, and at least he is still in the tourney. It seems if both Denis and Felix are playing singles in the same tournament, only one of them does well. I expect Scoop has some theory about that!

  • Andrew Miller · February 14, 2020 at 10:54 pm

    Caspar Ruud: highest ranked Norweigian player in history, ties his dad Christian Ruud, who reached the #39 spot around 25 years ago. Courtesy: Jose Morgado

  • catherine · February 15, 2020 at 8:17 am

    I can just see women’s tennis turning into a non-stop coach fest with more attention being paid to the coaching than the actual play. And I did read an article recently, can’t remember where, that concluded 90% of occ coaching made no difference to the way players performed.

    This is just a silly stunt and the kind of thing BJK would encourage because she hasn’t a clue in the world how to ‘promote’ the sport. Makes women look incapable as well. Congratulations WTA.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 15, 2020 at 8:28 am

    Hartt, no, it’s just a coincidence. There are no coinincidences.

  • Hartt · February 15, 2020 at 8:33 am

    With the WTA wanting so much coaching during matches, why don’t they just get rid of the pesky players, and let the coaches duke it out!

  • catherine · February 15, 2020 at 9:20 am

    Hartt – that did occur to me, and as well – imagine the distraction of everyone constantly looking at their boxes and what if the signals are misinterpreted and a player does just the opposite and loses, and the time wasting….oh, and I’ve just thought of a great WTA idea – if you don’t have coaching during a match and you win you’ll be fined because you didn’t ‘promote the game’.

    This is clearly the ‘Serena rule’ BTW.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 15, 2020 at 9:37 am

    Maybe tennis should just change the court alignment to a square like a boxing ring and have each player in opposite corners with a team of cheerleaders coaches exhorting them on and they sit on stools on changeovers, getting rub downs, pep talks, back scratches. Mouratoglou might prefer this idea, he gets a better seat and more camera face time.

  • catherine · February 15, 2020 at 11:15 am

    Looks like Kerber isn’t playing in Dubai – missing Qatar as well ? Seems to me like a program for someone who isn’t looking past 2020. Glamour shot on IG instead. Injury ? Maybe just playing around. Her coach must have a second job.

    Clijster v Bertens for her first match. It’s going to be hard for Kim. Julia G in the qualifying which hasn’t happened to her for a while I don’t think. Beat Giorgi.

  • catherine · February 15, 2020 at 11:23 am

    Bertens plays Rybakina in St Petersburg final.

  • Hartt · February 15, 2020 at 11:44 am

    FAA just beat PCB in straight sets. Generally he played well, and importantly, did not get tight when serving for the match. This is Felix’s first hard court final. Last year he had 2 on clay, Rio and Lyon, and 1 on grass, Stuttgart. The ranking points were very important, because the points from last year’s Rio final will come off, I think this coming week.

    FAA is the youngest Rotterdam finalist ever, beating out Federer by 4 days!

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 15, 2020 at 11:48 am

    A girl named Leonie Kung is in the Thailand final, I have never seen he name before in pros or juniors. She is from Switzerland, she beat Hibino in semis.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 15, 2020 at 11:49 am

    The real Felix is suddenly back, must have been an impostor the last few months.

  • Hartt · February 15, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    Regarding Felix, he had an ankle injury in the fall, so could not play several tourneys. Beyond that, he is a youngster, and young players, as a rule, are not consistent. They can have a good run, and then suddenly be in a slump. As a fan of several youngsters I have learned the hard way not to get too excited when they are doing well or too down when they are in a slump.

    FAA had some nice wins in the first few months of last season, but he also had some early losses. If he can manage to string together a few good months he could go up in the rankings. Bur his best opportunity may be in the 2nd half of the season because he didn’t do well last year from about Wimby on.

  • catherine · February 15, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    Leonie Kung is 19 and ranked 283 – I’ve never heard of her either. There are quite a few names that crop up in these smaller tournaments who are pretty much unknown. They tend to vanish back into obscurity once they have to qualify in the main tournaments.

  • catherine · February 15, 2020 at 12:43 pm

    Kung lost to Swiatek in the 2018 W’don girls singles. I’ll look for some videos of her.

  • catherine · February 15, 2020 at 12:55 pm

    Leonie Keung (should be umlaut), Swiss German, looks like a run-of-the-mill counterpuncher from WTA highlights I saw of her match v Wang. Quite slimly built. Can’t see greatness ahead unless she gets some variety in her game.

    The pink courts in Thailand are awful.

  • catherine · February 15, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    Kerber is puffing up her partnership with Olelynggard in Copenhagen (hence the glamour) who make jewellery it seems (she wears some) so I suppose it makes sense to sign up the commercial stuff as you see your game moving south. Nicer than battering at the draw in Dubai which is quite tough and unique in that all the qualifiers seem to be in the same half 🙂

  • catherine · February 15, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    Petko has had a knee operation and hopes to return for Stuttgart. Hints she could retire at AO 2021.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 15, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    Thanks Catherine the great source of odds and ends information. Kung slipped by my radar, until now.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 15, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    Kungs mom is Asian. So she is half Asian half Swiss.

  • catherine · February 15, 2020 at 2:55 pm

    Yes, her name could be Asian and is actually German. Leonie doesn’t look particularly Asian in fact and she is quite thin, or was in the match I saw. Pretty routine game.

    Rybakina is up and coming – she leads the WTA Aces board and has had some good results in the last few months.

  • Hartt · February 15, 2020 at 3:44 pm

    Monfils played extremely well in his match vs Krajinovic, winning in SS, although the 2nd set went to a TB.

    FAA will have to play his absolute best to defeat Gael, the defending champion, in Rotterdam tomorrow.

  • Hartt · February 15, 2020 at 6:08 pm

    I see Rubin defeated Lorenzi in the Delray qualies.
    Gulbis and Istomin also won their matches.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 15, 2020 at 6:26 pm

    Both Rotterdam semis have the same scores, 76 64. Maybe a first in ATP history?

  • Andrew Miller · February 15, 2020 at 6:30 pm

    Exciting times – next gen everyone knew about but no one expected to make waves is the group moving ahead. Step aside, Stefanos!

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 15, 2020 at 6:34 pm

    Monfils peaking again far away from a Grand Slam. Sock and Monroe lose in NY Open QF to Inglot Qureshi. Sock skipping Delray doubles. Nick teaming with Thompson, they play Bryans 1R. Edmund vs Jung or Seppi NY Open final. Will anyone show up to watch?

  • Andrew Miller · February 15, 2020 at 6:34 pm

    Rybakina has put together a good year (already!). Wouldn’t be surprised if she wins title No. 2 for her 2020 campaign. It would be an upset as Bertens has played VERY well (only shock for Bertens was the loss to Muguruza, but even Bertens was shaking her head at the lines Muguruza painted with her winners during their match – she was hitting maybe a few inches/cm from the sidelines!).

  • Andrew Miller · February 15, 2020 at 6:42 pm

    Torpegaard vs Watanuki for the Cleveland challenger. Who saw that coming? Escobedo was the last U.S. guy standing, and Torpegaard made short work of Bellucci (who barely beat the up and coming Blancaneaux, who had ousted Harrison earlier in another huge battle). Bellucci must have been gassed – Torpegaard really put the beat-down on him, 6-1 6-1. Cleveland has been interesting – the tougher draw, very global, young guys breaking through in new ways. Big time changing of the guard across the sport.

  • Andrew Miller · February 15, 2020 at 6:46 pm

    Rotterdam doubles: pros take over. Surprised if Herbert and Mahut don’t add this to their trophy case.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 15, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    Kwon plays Delray, I will get the Kwon Bioile.

  • catherine · February 16, 2020 at 5:40 am

    Cocomania up and running at Delray Beach for an exhibition.

    Dubai – Reshuffle and Clijsters debuts v Muguruza which will be interesting if nothing else.

    Julia Georges fails to qualify, losing to Cirstea. Is the curtain falling on the Petko/Kerber/Georges generation ?

    No Olympic medals in my crystal ball.

  • Hartt · February 16, 2020 at 6:56 am

    A surprise that Julia did not get through qualies.

    I understand why Bertens can’t play Dubai, but it is sad that she will miss the tourney.

  • catherine · February 16, 2020 at 7:43 am

    DKat also lost to Kiki M in qualies.

    Julia hasn’t played well for a while so I wasn’t really surprised. May be wrong but I feel this is the final act for the German trio. Petko is doing a few other things now, writing, commentary etc and I’m afraid Angie’s career probably ended at Wimbledon last year, in the sense of being a genuine threat to anyone.

    Unfortunately there seems to be no nextgen in German women’s tennis.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 16, 2020 at 8:13 am

    Why did bertens withdraw?

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 16, 2020 at 8:15 am

    Cocomania might overshadow the whole ATP week. Let’s see if the men fill up Coco Stadium too.

  • catherine · February 16, 2020 at 8:32 am

    Bertens is playing in the final in St Petersburg – that’s the only reason I can think of.

    Did Conchita M play at the same time as Kim ? I didn’t follow tennis then so don’t know. Anyway, I’m sure she can give Mugs some tips.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 16, 2020 at 8:50 am

    Tomic vs Gulbis for Delray main draw. Kozlov beat Bolt, looks like Kozlov is done with nike.

  • Harold · February 16, 2020 at 9:01 am

    Was talking tennis with an old friend. Got on the topic of biggest surprise semi, or finalist, or winner of a Major..we came up with some strange results

    Aus- Shuettler
    French- Puerta
    Wimby- Voltchkov semis( we watched him from age 14 in Brooklyn)
    US- Cahill( semis in 88)

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 16, 2020 at 9:51 am

    Harold, many slam semi stunners – Verkerk, Janowicz, Keifer, Haas, Bag, Gonzalez, and Jiri Novak who lost to Thomas Johansson in five sets 64 in fifth.

  • Harold · February 16, 2020 at 10:03 am

    More surprises at the Aus, and French..fewer shocking suprises at US and Wimby..

    Haas got to 3 in the world..not that much of a shock, Gonzo too

  • catherine · February 16, 2020 at 10:07 am

    Bertens quick winner over Rybakina 6-1 6-3 in St Petes.

    Not sure which Kim would rather face – Kiki or Mugs.
    Mugs probably – she’s more error prone.

  • catherine · February 16, 2020 at 12:03 pm

    As Monfils soars Svitolina slumps. What’s to be done ?

  • Andrew Miller · February 16, 2020 at 12:04 pm

    WTA Dubai qualifications rounds…enough said. Incredibly hard just to make it to the first round.

  • Andrew Miller · February 16, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    Rotterdam: Monfils d. Felix AA, straights. As Scoop said, Monfils shining in obscure tournaments, but if Felix had won this would have been the biggest moment of his life.

    Edmund and Seppi for the NY Open? Edmund smacked Kecmanovic, sends him back to the minors (Kecmanovic is having a good year, surprised he couldn’t make this a fight, maybe ran out of inspiration etc).

    Buenos Aires, Caspar Ruud gets Sousa (lucky loser) in final. Ruud highest ranked (guaranteed) Norway player in the history of tennis.

  • Andrew Miller · February 16, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    GEMS: Monfils can buy dessert, do laundry, etc, that one is easy.

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