Jan/20

19

AO Opening Day Intrigue Matches

Venus Williams vs Coco Gauff in a first round rematch at Wimbledon. Young vs old, can the kid school the vet again?

Monfils vs Lu. Lu is 36 now and he got in on a PR, though he has not played a match since mid 2018. He’s 0-3 career vs Monfils including a five setter in Melbourne.

Djokovic vs Struff. Not a walk in the park for the betting favorite. Struff’s volleys are among the ATP’s best.

Federer vs Steve Johnson. Fed admittedly is not ready, since not playing since the South American tour. Johnson just won a Challenger.

McNally vs Stosur. Old vs young, both like to get to net.

Lloyd Harris vs Diego Schwartzman. Harris will have his hands full with the human wall.

Fognini vs Opelka. Opelka beat Fog in four sets at US Open but the hot headed Italian avenged the loss at Davis Cup finals.

Ugo Humbert vs John Millman. The red hot French lefty vs the always tough as nails Aussie.

Cilic vs Moutet. Calling the upset here. The left hander from France enters his second AO and seventh major main draw with a lot of confidence.

F Lopez vs Roberto Bautista Agut. The Iron Man of Spain adds to his consecutive majors record but no way he beats the ATP’s most consistent counterpuncher.

Pella vs JP Smith. 22 seed vs the gangly Aussie veteran journeyman.

Tommy Paul vs Leo Mayer: Young American rising star vs the veteran Argentine war horse.

Mmoh vs Andujar. Is the American ready to make some waves in a major?

Daniel Evans vs McKenzie McDonald. Battle of the small guys.

Sandgren vs Trungeliti. Winnable match for the American now coached by Mike Russell.

Nishioka vs Djere. Nishioka is one of those players I would watch vs. anyone.

Albot vs Raonic. A first round flop by Raonic would officially relegate him to journeyman status.

Strycova vs Cirstea. Strycova is a feisty sort who gets under people’s skin. Fun to watch.

Paire vs Stebe. Highly probable this match on court 22 will produce some kind of drama that goes viral.

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214 comments

  • Andrew Miller · January 22, 2020 at 11:51 am

    Caught the Raonic warm up, he made a point of taking more volleys! Also hit the ball hard in warm up. That’s a tactic Brad Gilbert recommends I think – you get some of the nervousness out by blasting a few shots as hard as you can.

  • Hartt · January 22, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    Andrew, yes seeing Milos save those BPs was fun. Especially the first one, when he hit a terrific cross court winner after being stretched pretty well off the court.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 22, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    Raonic certainly has the arsenal to give Tsitsipas a lecture. But the vice versa also holds true. Good 3r showdown.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 22, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    Remember Ann Grossman told us last April at Sarasota Open Tommy Paul is the most talented young American with the most potential. Ann knows.

  • Andrew Miller · January 22, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    Redemption for Tommy Paul. Glad to see him make good on his potential. I was googling and had found this from 2017, from a reddit thread. It had regarded the 6-0 6-0 35 minute doubles match at the US Open, where Tommy Paul had partnered with Steve Johnson, and let Johnson down, and fans, by not being able to play the match with any ability, given he had a night on the town, got wasted, and could hardly remember where he was.

    Thankfully Mr. Paul is three years better, and has since made up for it with Jon Wertheim, who, calling him out but not by name in 2017, did a podcast with him last year. Apparently, and I have no idea, Steve Johnson was so distressed by the incident he gave all his racquets away to by-standers. A few people on reddit commented on it and why the USTA snubbed him for the wildcard last year.

    REDDIT QUOTE, August 2019:
    “My wife and I are Steve Johnson fans and like watching dubs at the Open, so we showed up to watch this match. Something was clearly wrong with Tommy Paul — we thought he had a virus or something at the time.

    Stevie wound up giving away all his rackets to kids in the crowd after the match, he looked mortified.”

    https://www.reddit.com/r/tennis/comments/cqobva/breaking_tommy_paul_refused_wc_because_he_played/

    Steve Johnson may not be able to buy a backhand, but for kids that was a nice gesture.

    Wertheim:

    “Rule of thumb to the young players out there: if you are going to “blow off steam”—as we kids euphemize it—by getting sloppy drunk after a singles loss, be sure you don’t have a doubles match the next day. When you are so intoxicated you barely recall which end of the racket contains the grip, you implicate your partner as well.”

    https://www.si.com/tennis/2017/09/10/fifty-parting-thoughts-2017-us-open-tennis

    Clearly Mr. Paul is three years better, and this is one of those “stupid stupid stupid” mistakes that young people or anyone of any age can make.

    If he goes further in this tournament or keeps pushing through to the top ranks, you can be sure that he will keep making up for lost time. Or I hope he does. He seems to be trying to put up his best for fans. He has also decided he wants to be Brad Stine’s “last student”

    https://www.atptour.com/en/news/tommy-paul-brad-stine-feature-adelaide-2020

    T-P had mentioned this in a comment way back regarding the incident. It’s fair to say that Tommy Paul is a different player today.
    https://www.tennis-prose.com/articles/scoop/us-open-intrigue-wednesday/

  • Andrew Miller · January 22, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    Hartt, Raonic struck that ball HARD, a little less margin but still decent probability shot. Don’t think Garin saw that coming (and in that game Garin seemed to see everything, he was tracking the ball well and almost had a way forward).

    It was the equivalent of popping a balloon filled with hope. I don’t think Garin gave up after that point but I can’t imagine he wasn’t a little deflated seeing a chance on the Raonic serve disappear.

  • Hartt · January 22, 2020 at 1:08 pm

    Milos’ 2nd shot was a lovely DTL winner, then a good serve. In typical Milos fashion he won the game with a down the T ace. Garin challenged the call, so we got to see that the ball was perfectly in the corner.

    I am feeling encouraged seeing this match. I don’t know if Milos can defeat Stefanos, but at least he is playing well overall. More first serves in the 2nd set would have been nice. One of my commies praised Milos’ service technique, so then of course he immediately had a DF and his first serve went MIA. But he did make a 2nd serve at 223 kmh. Poor Garin!

  • Andrew Miller · January 22, 2020 at 1:13 pm

    Tommy Paul’s redemption is great. Here on T-P a few years ago there was a comment following his US Open doubles match and how he and Steve Johnson lost to Bolleli and Fognini in 35 minutes. Well, that was apparently because Tommy Paul got wasted that August day in 2017, with Steve Johnson so upset (according to reddit fans who were there) that he gave away his racquets to kids watching the match. Jon Wertheim on his mailbag after the US Open admonished Paul but did not name him, just saying to the effect, “Don’t Ever Do This”.

    Wertheim had Tommy Paul on his podcast last year/2019 where he interviewed Paul on his progress. At the time I thought it was interesting how Wertheim was basically kind of hard on him, saying more or less, are you pulling it together, what’s your plan, how do you see your career (kind of pushing him) and Paul kept responding in a positive way that he felt his best tennis was ahead, he was learning from his mistakes, he wasn’t the same player, etc.

    I didn’t think about it much at the time of course, I didn’t know about the 2017 doubles incident and how Tommy Paul was officially in the USTA dog house ever after. There’s a reason that in August 2019, when he didn’t get the wildcard despite a #112 ranking (cut-off is Top 98 but Tommy Paul was the top U.S. player after that ranking slot, with Kudla, a few clicks back). Can’t say definitively but it may have factored in.

    I don’t think Tommy Paul has ever made good with Steve Johnson, they never partnered again for a doubles match. Johnson beat Paul a few years ago at Winston-Salem, about a year after their awful doubles match.

    Anyways, past is past. Tommy Paul is a different player these days and he cares way more.

  • Hartt · January 22, 2020 at 1:18 pm

    My commies praised Milos’ serve technique again, using slow mo to analyse it. and saying young players could learn by watching it. When Milos was a kid he spent hours and hours studying the Sampras serve.

    But at that stage of this match, Milos’ first serve was down to 47%, kind of shocking. These commies have to stop jinxing him like that!

  • Hartt · January 22, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    Milos broke Garin twice in the third set, with some good returning. His service rhythm returned and he hit 19 aces in the match, with his fasted serve 228 kmh. He seemed happy and relaxed in the post match interview. 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 22, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    I interviewed Tommy over the years. Fun loving normal guy, enjoys life and everything it has to offer. Was lacking that dedication and ability to focus, sacrifice and be a tennis machine. But he’s getting that part down now. He’s more professional, serious, motivated and organized. Grossman helped coach him and put him on a plan. She did not like moyano who was more of a buddy.

  • Hartt · January 22, 2020 at 2:05 pm

    I didn’t know much about Tommy Paul so found the comments here as well as the ATP article on him very interesting. It sounds like he is ready to work hard and focus on tennis. At just 22 he does have time to turn things around.

    The ATP article is titled “Paul, With Courier’s Former Coach, Ready To Make Good On Potential.” Paul talks about how the success of other American players his age has spurred him on.

    If the youngster is prepared to work harder it sounds like Brad Stine is a good coach for him. “To Stine, that means becoming a more disciplined player on and off the court and cleaning up old habits. Within their first week of working together, just after the 2019 US Open, Stine gave Paul a list of 11 things that he needed to adjust, eliminate or add to his game, and all were technically oriented.”

  • Andrew Miller · January 22, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    And Tommy Paul did what his coach said!!!

  • Hartt · January 22, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    I finally got to see a chunk of the Paul vs Dimitrov match, outside of when the ESPN feed had to go to an interview with Gauff, or the beginning of Serena’s match.

    When Grigor was up a break in the fifth set the commies basically gave him the match. Then, of course, Grigor got tight. Tommy played well, but I think this was more about Grigor playing poorly. This is a perfect example of why Grigor, despite all his talent, has not had better results during his career.

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