Tennis Prose



Best volleyer in the world today is Jan-Lennard Struff


Jan-Lennard Struff made two insane volleys today to defeat Tomas Berdych 76 in the third in Qatar. One was a backhand at his ankles for a winner and the other was in the final tiebreak – a forehand volley cross court winner also at his ankle.

Lennard ventured to the net eighteen times and only lost three points at close range. Many of his volleys were astonishing to see and, to my eyes, better than the volleys of Federer, Nadal and Lopez.

The only criticism of the six-foot-five German 27 year old, was his choice in attire. Versus Berdych he wore a disastrously ugly Diadora outfit consisting of red knee high socks, black and red shoes, black shorts, red shirt and a red hat.

Despite his questionable taste in court wear, Struff is a major league talent. He hung equally with Berdych from the baseline but was more aggressive in his net attacks. Berdych is now the third top ten scalp of Struff, who has also defeated Wawrinka and Dimotrov.

Lennard, who was ranked 46 three years ago, said after the match he’s worked on strengthening his mental game and he feels it’s all coming together now, finally at age 27. He says his hero was Pete Sampras and he certainly showed flashes of Sampras in today’s sensational win which could trigger a breakout year for this vastly underrated powerhouse.

Another player who played a spectacular match today was Borna Coric. The Croatian saved match points against top tenner Pablo Carrena Busta today, and twice broke the Spaniard when he was serving for the match.

Twice on match points Coric serve and volleyed successfully vs Carrena Busta, the no. 2 seed. Coric finally won the epic 57 62 76.

It was the best win I’ve ever seen by Coric and it looks reasonably probable that today’s win will spur Coric, who had an inconsistent 2017 which included two losses to Adrian Mannarino, to a breakout run in the forthcoming weeks.

Coric and Struff were both so impressive today that I’m very curious to see how they do for the first quarter of the new season.

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  • Moxie · January 2, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    I saw parts of both matches, and agree, generally, Scoop. I'm not sure if Struff is the best volleyer in the game, but he did show great stuff at the net today. And Coric was very sturdy, in the face of so many MPs against, while PCB was disappointingly lacking in aggression with so many chances. I like both Struff and Coric, but they have to show us more consistency in the day-to-day matches, not just getting energized for big ones.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 2, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Moxie; Struff volleys today was the best volleying performance I have seen since Sampras played. Seriously, Struff was spectacular today. He is a big strong guy who went toe to toe with one of the best in the business Berdych and prevailed. Coric I thought for sure was going to crumble but somehow he hung in there and finally won. Busta is a tough nut to bust, he's so steady and such a solid counterpuncher. Coric took it to another level today. I will be shocked if Struff and Coric do not vault up the rankings by the summer. That's how good they were today.

  • Moxie · January 2, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    Both were encouraging performances. I will debate you on Struff's outfit, which I saw the commies were against, too. But he says he likes the long football socks. If they gives him confidence, I'll be fine with that. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 2, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Not sure if socks can give a man self confidence but anything is possible. The only other time I can recall seeing anyone wearing red knee high socks is Ronald McDonald the hamburger clown ๐Ÿ™‚ I don't even think Mattek Sands has dared to go red knee high. But hey, if he keeps winning, keep wearing em. If he wins the title, I might start wearing them too ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Moxie · January 2, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    Remember when Raonic kept wearing that sleeve, when he was winning? And let's not pretend that red knee socks are beyond Bethany M-S. She'll out-rageous anyone. I do have to laugh when tennis breaks out the fashion-police, though. I think the knee-highs are about to infiltrate.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 3, 2018 at 1:18 am

    Sounds like Jack Sock’s injury is serious enough that we shouldn’t expect much Down Under from him. I say he’s gone by the third round.

    We’ll point towards Delray (where he has to defend his points), Indian Wells and Miami to get his season going in a positive fashion.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 3, 2018 at 1:23 am

    Kyrgios hurt again. He will never be healthy.

  • catherine · January 3, 2018 at 1:55 am

    Sorry Hartt – Canada had a bad day in Hopman Cup.

    Duke – I don’t think Kyrgios trains well. I’ve read that in a few places.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 3, 2018 at 7:44 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Kyrgios is Philippoussing his career away. If only he had a work ethic and dedication as Hewitt or Courier…

  • Chazz · January 3, 2018 at 8:30 am

    Watch out for the 18 year old Australian Alex De Minaur. Kid can play, I watched one of his Aus Open qualifiers. He just beat Raonic and beat Steve Johnson yesterday, both in SS. He plays Michael Mmoh next, who is playing well and just beat the older Zverev.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 3, 2018 at 9:19 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    De Minaur with two monster wins this week. To beat Johnson and Raonic is probably the most impressive achievement of the year so far. Johnson and Raonic both had poor years last year (to their standards) and wanted to make statements but De Minaur, who has the skinny body of a junior, must be a special talent. Mmoh is also off to a hot start, finally winning his first ATP main tour level match and then the follow up win vs Zverev. Kid could be ready for a smashing breakout later this month. And a spot on the Aussie Davis Cup roster.

  • Andrew Miller · January 3, 2018 at 10:35 am

    Gavrilova, my favorite Aussie player.

  • catherine · January 3, 2018 at 11:50 am

    Not too keen on the new Adidas lines for AO. Nice for Muguruza and Woz, Stella McCartney, but the rest are a bit heavy looking to me – don’t call up summer in Oz. Maybe a German idea of summer.

    Still, if you’re paid to wear the stuff…..

    Angie on the cover of glossy magazines again – won’t she ever learn ?

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 3, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    I like the intensity Gavrilova plays at, she plays tennis like a kamikaze, full throttle all over the court. A lot of players play like they are wearing a gown or top hat but Gavrilova digs down deep and goes all out. She just looks like she's trying harder than everyone else. Love her workrate and intensity.

  • catherine · January 3, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    Yes, but she’s not winning enough. It can be exhausting, displaying all that intensity. Throttle back a bit.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 3, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Nope. Some players need that level of intensity and drive to win their matches, without it they don't win. I can relate with how Gavrilova plays and I have noticed her quality in other USTA tournament players I have seen in tournaments in NJ NY and Florida. If Gavrilova can raise her intensity even more I think she will win more.

  • catherine · January 3, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    I suppose we may mean different things by ‘intensity’. Steffi Graf played with more intensity than any player I’ve seen but you were hardly aware of it unless you happened to be the player on the other side of the net.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 3, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Early season showdown between Slam contenders in Svitolina and Konta. Haven’t met in a couple years. I’ll go chalk with Eli

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 3, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Tsitsipas scores a major league win defeating Gasquet 63 64. Domination by the teenager. Tsitsipas flows around the court like silk but he can wallop that ball with his long Kuerten like loosey goosey limbs. Tremendously focused and mature beyond his years, it's now easy to envision Tsitsipas becoming the most aesthetic player on the tour, like a Federer or Sampras. And the concept of Tsitsipas becoming the ATP king some day and Wimbledon champion look anything but far fetched.

  • Michael in UK · January 3, 2018 at 5:50 pm

    And then Andrei Rublev beats Verdasco who was 7th seed!

    The men’s tennis year is off to a brilliant start with all so many young players doing so well early on. And yes I agree with you Scoop, Tsitipas is terrific to watch.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 3, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Michael do you see the traces of Federer and Kuerten in Tsitsipas?

  • Michael in UK · January 3, 2018 at 6:48 pm

    he certainly does move very smoothly and elegantly, and then wham!
    I really can’t say which of the younger players I am most excited about, I think at moment my top 3 are Tsitsipas, Rublev, and Shapovalov. What do others think?

  • Hartt · January 3, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    I’m about to watch highlights of Tsitsipas vs Gasquet. Agree that the youngster is an exciting talent, and have to agree with Michael that 3 youngsters to be very excited about are Stefanos, Rublev and Shapo.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 3, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Michael; Felix is in that echelon too. He beat Tsitsipas at US Open junior semis in 2016 in straight sets. Also like Sebi Korda, Fritz, Kozlov, Paul, Opelka but right now Tsitsipas is the leader of the pack. Because Shapovalov is still stuck in a mini slump and hasn't had a big win in a while.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 3, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Kerber looked very good today beating Bouchard 61 64. She looks rejuvenated and back to her old self when she was at her best. She's going in the right direction and she just needs a big win to send the message to all the players that she is indeed back with full confidence. She looks like she really wants it and intent on proving last year was an anomaly.

  • catherine · January 4, 2018 at 2:20 am

    Scoop –
    Must sound funny – not getting on Angie’s bandwagon but I’m not going to climb aboard yet.

    I don’t believe people change, not really, and the things that tripped her up last year are still there and waiting to come back. The character stuff.

    She wants publicity and she doesn’t. She’ll work hard and then blow it all when she says yes once too often and the outside pressure gets to her.

    Being on a glossy magazine cover, which must have been done before she’d hit a ball in anger this year, was something she could have put off or done without altogether. Seems she can’t resist it. The glamour side.

    Angie has another side, which is stronger. She should
    believe in the values of that side, her committment to the game, the striving, her talent, and just let the other junk go.

    So, we’ll see. Get past Gavrilova, past younger players who may have no particular respect for her on the court, past two rounds at the AO, and I’ll be optimistic.

  • catherine · January 4, 2018 at 8:54 am

    You can understand the magazines’ attention to Kerber because that’s the way they work – forwards, not backwards.
    Makes sense for them but might not make sense for her – that’s the risk.

  • catherine · January 5, 2018 at 6:02 am

    Impressive win over Gavrilova for K. Really took hold of the match – excellent serving.

    Germany for the Cup ?

  • Hartt · January 5, 2018 at 8:53 am

    If Germany does get through to the final they will face Fed and Bencic, who I think would have a definite edge. But this upcoming mixed doubles should be fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Joe Blow · January 5, 2018 at 10:37 am

    Donโ€™t watch that much of womenโ€™s tennis, but I think Strycova has the best two-handed backhand volley. She actually plays some S and V

  • Moxie · January 17, 2018 at 11:00 pm

    How're you fancying Struff's chances v. Roger this evening? Court is fast, by all accounts.

  • El Dude · January 17, 2018 at 11:28 pm

    Moxie said:

    How're you fancying Struff's chances v. Roger this evening? Court is fast, by all accounts.Click to expand…

    She says with hope ;).

    The title of this thread should read "Best volleyer in the world faces Jan-Lennard Struff."

  • Moxie · January 18, 2018 at 1:48 am

    "She says," (more accurately,) "with irony." Don't think for a second I don't want a Rafa-Roger rematch, for the revenge.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 18, 2018 at 9:05 am

    Scoop Malinowski writes:

    Moxie, no I did not fancy Struff's chances but he put up a respectable challenge to the Almighty One. Looked like Fed went headhunting on that one backhand ripper.

  • mrzz · January 18, 2018 at 9:36 am

    Struff is indeed a world class volleyer.

  • DarthFed · January 18, 2018 at 10:04 am

    You are right, Roger still owes Rafa a ton more revenge! Long ways to go though.

    As for this thread I'd say Struff had some really good volleys and some really bad misses. Pretty common for 90% of players on tour. Tough to say who is the best volleyer today. Roger and Mischa Zverev are on the short list.



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