Jun/19

13

Can We Show A Little Love for Dustin Brown?

The 34-year-old German-Jamaican just beat Alexander Zverev in Stuttgart, 6-3 in the third set. We’ve written about Brown before here at Tennis-Prose.com, but with some of our favorite players like Sam Groth retiring and Victor Estrella Burgos flagging, the Dominican at 38 is now ranked no. 382, Brown is still getting it down, winning a Challenger in France on clay last month, and now beating Zverev on grass for his first ATP Tour win this year.

Brown’s story has been well-documented, his beginnings in Jamaica, a country that has never developed a top ATP player, and then his odyssey in Germany where his parents bought him a Volkswagon van to travel around minor-league pro tournaments in to cut down on expenses. And Brown has become one of the most if not the most, in a world populated by Gael Monfils and Nick Kyrgios and Jack Sock, colorful, eccentric, exotic players on the pro tour and he’s still wining at 34.

What makes Brown so much fun to watch play? Firstly, he doesn’t know the definition, much like Kyrgios of a “rally shot.” Every ball he plays whether it’s a second serve or a shot from five feet behind the baseline, he blisters except for when he’s hitting deft drop shots, often off his forehand wing from the baseline with a chipped, inside-out slice. Brown charges the net a la Paul Annacone or Serge Stakhovsky-style often utilizing the seldom-seen anymore chip-and-charge. He will hit drop-volley shots, half-volley lobs and spinning sweeping winners flying off alongside the baseline in full dash. He loves playing and winning; he’s kind of like a Jimmy Connors half-Jamaican, half-German wunderkind.

At 6-5, 172-pounds he is as skinny as Kevin Durant and often wears different colored-shoelaces and dons his long dredlocked hair in either a big bouffant woolen hat on top of his head or cascading free-flowing down to his waist. Often after winning a point, Brown will get back the ball he won the last the point with and start the next point with that same ball. He never asks the ball boy for more than two balls to start his serve and he plays at the pace of a jay-walking New York city pedestrian.

If there is a more fun, inspiring, greater story and entertainer in tennis than Dustin Brown, I haven’t seen him. I don’t know how much longer Brown will continue to play on the pro tour (he’s certainly the type of guy who will likely be playing tennis tournaments somewhere into his 40’s and possibly 50’s); he’s had back issues before, once having to retire to Nicolas Mahut up a set and 5-2 in the second set of best-of-three match in France; but if he’s playing at a tournament near you, make sure to buy a ticket and watch him play. He is the 8th Wonder of Tennis.

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44 comments

  • Jg · June 13, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    I saw the last 3 games, I have never seen him wearing the grey hat, a good look. But he was so dominant those last 3 games, Zverev didn’t know what to do, I suspect with a little more practice and play on grass he will figure it out, but Dustin is a threat on grass against anyone and frustrating for a lot of these guys who aren’t used to the style of play, and stick to the same old. With the grass becoming more playable it may be the most interesting surface to watch pro tennis. If you saw the Mendeleev Pouille match yesterday you would agree. They were playing like on a hard court but it was much more interesting with a little
    more strategy and mixed in shots sprinkled in.

  • Jg · June 13, 2019 at 8:23 pm

    Add Kudla Monfils to the list, Kudla is such a good grass court player, so much better than on the other surfaces.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 13, 2019 at 8:26 pm

    Kudla could be the best American grass player right now.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 13, 2019 at 9:47 pm

    You’re right, Jg, about grass being a very enjoyable surface now to watch tennis on, but I thought the same thing this year about RG, that the points were shorter than the usual long clay points of yesteryear. I wonder if that’s not just the Stuttgart courts and if Wimbledon they’ve gone too far and made it too slow where players will stay back predominantly like on hard courts.

  • Jg · June 14, 2019 at 9:05 pm

    So they announced team Europe for Laver cup, now they have to announce the world, I guess I would say the Canadians and Del Po?

  • Dan Markowitz · June 15, 2019 at 1:51 am

    Brown lost a very close match to Felix with all three sets going to breakers. You’d have to put Nishikori on the world team and maybe de Minaur who’s actually ranked one spot ahead of Shapovalov. Tiafoe has actually slipped to no. 35.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 15, 2019 at 3:00 am

    This Felix v Brown match from Stutgartt is one of the best matches I’ve seen all year. The shotmaking is breathtaking with Felix displaying one of the most lethal forehands in the game and a much improved serve and Brown showing great hands and touch and hitting some ridiculous full-run winning forehands cross-court. Great stuff!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTAfDxPqXa8

  • Hartt · June 15, 2019 at 5:56 am

    I posted about the FAA vs Brown match on another thread, but this is the obvious one.

    FAA had 30 aces to just 3 DFs I think it was, He had a first serve % of 66% and won 83% of first serve points. As Dan said, he served very well. It was such a close, entertaining match, and of course I was very happy with the outcome. FAA showed true mental toughness when he broke Brown when Dustin was serving for the match.

    Sorry, Dan, I can’t help it. Do you now think Félix is a good player?

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 15, 2019 at 6:47 am

    I saw highlights again of Brown beating Nadal at Wimbledon. Brown is a wizard. Tremendous win for Felix to survive and beat Brown.

  • Hartt · June 15, 2019 at 8:07 am

    Brown is so good on grass that yes, this was a terrific win for FAA. I enjoy watching Dustin, especially his wonderful volleys, so I hope he can get his ranking high enough to play more often on the main tour.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 15, 2019 at 8:29 am

    Hartt,

    I am impressed with Felix. Great movement, big shots and great desire. He’s only 18 so we’ll have to see if all this translates into big wins in slams. I was impressed with Raonic and Shapovalov too and while Raonic is having a nice career, his hopes of winning a slam one day seem dashed and Denis has not done well this year with almost a .500 record at 15-13 and really only one good tournament, Miami.

  • catherine · June 15, 2019 at 8:57 am

    FAA wins in w/o v Raonic. Injury ?

  • Hartt · June 15, 2019 at 9:56 am

    Milos withdrew because of a back injury. He was treated for it during each match this week.

    As a Milos fan I have pretty well given up on him. As soon as he makes the slightest headway he is injured yet again. He’d missed the entire clay court season because of his knee. I literally have pages of notes on his injuries.

    He was very classy in addressing the Stuttgart fans, saying how disappointed he was, but happy for FAA, that he would get to play another final.

  • Hartt · June 15, 2019 at 9:58 am

    Dan, I couldn’t resist giving you a hard time, because there was a time when you weren’t at all impressed with Felix, and I was defending the youngster.

  • Hartt · June 15, 2019 at 10:08 am

    It’s true that Shapo isn’t having a great year so far, but I am waiting for the whole season before passing judgement.

    In a recent press conference FAA was asked about Shapo. I thought he handled the question well, saying that players had peaks and valleys in their careers and Denis had a good season last year when he, Felix, did not, but that he may be having the better year this season. FAA also indicated that Denis’ great run a couple years ago at the Rogers Cup created huge expectations for Denis to have big results right away.He did not actually say so, but I think the implication was that those expectations were unrealistic. That is what I’ve thought all along, so was glad to hear Felix say this.

    And poor Shapo is getting tough draws. He will face Delpo in the first round at Queen’s.

  • catherine · June 15, 2019 at 10:38 am

    Caught some play in Nottingham between the showers – Vekic bt Maria 7-5 6-0 6-0 to reach the final. Something’s going right in Donna’s life. And Torben Beltz has made a huge difference to her game. I used to think she was a terrible player.

    In honour of Steffi’s 50th birthday I found some of her matches on YT. OMG she moved fast around the court. I’d forgotten. Makes some of the girls today seem such clodhoppers. Just side to side to side. Not everyone of course, but the majority. And the forehand ! I never get tired of watching that.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 15, 2019 at 11:49 am

    Raonic is really perplexing. No one’s injured as much as he is. I remember when Izzie went down in Miami he said he expected to be back by Madrid. No chance. When big guys get injured, particularly a foot injury, they have a long tough road back.

    What’s happened to Sock? Didn’t play Little Rock like it was reported he would and haven’t seen him in any of the grass events yet.

    Steffi married a younger man in Agassi who is only 49. Yes, I was watching the Vekic match for a bit today. A lot of these women just can’t move today. You see the Samantha Crawfords and Louisa Chirico, they’ve failed to make it and probably injuries and movement problems are the reason.

  • catherine · June 15, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    I don’t really understand the movement issue either – you’d think with all the physio advances and better excercises and treatment etc that women would have iumproved their movement but in some cases they seem to have gone backwards.

    I don’t know – maybe in the days when girls served and volleyed more they had to learn movement skills up and back and turning fast etc and now most of the time they don’t have to do that. And slow courts don’t help.

    Don’t think Vekic’s going to be a tremendous player – she’s just a lot better than even a couple of years ago. Maybe her snapping up Beltz as a coach the minute Angie dropped him was a sign that she was going to take things seriously. I imagine he had a few offers.

  • catherine · June 15, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    Hartt- any news on where Bianca’s playing ? I’d hate to think she might follow Milos’ injury prone career.

  • Hartt · June 15, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    Catherine, I haven’t heard anything about Bianca recently. I did find a good twitter source for info on Canadian players, but he hasn’t had any Bianca news.

  • Hartt · June 15, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    Shapovalov and Bopanna will play the Stuttgart final vs Peers/Soares, two excellent doubles players. But Shapo and Rohan did beat the Bryans in this tourney, so they should stand a chance tomorrow.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 15, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    I would not be shocked if Raonic intentionally dodged this showdown, he had everything to lose. A loss to Felix is devastating to his psyche. And it’s a minor event, no reason to go all out and play this week, when Queens and Wimble are what really count. And it’s suspected Raonic did this before, the Delray Final he defaulted to Sock after beating Delpo in the semi and showing no sign of any injury and Sock was a terror back then. I’m not saying Raonic tanked this semi but it’s okay to wonder. Felix is intimidating right now.

  • Jg · June 15, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    Agree a loss to Felix would be devastating to his head going into Wimbledon, on the other hand, this was a good opportunity for Raonic to actually win a tournament, it’s unlikely he wins Wimbledon, this may have been his chance. When is the last time he won a tournament.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 15, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    raonic has his eyes on winning wimbledon first and foremost. a minor title…he’s been there done that. raonic has one major goal still unfulfilled. defaulting to felix also gives the kid a big break. this title is more important to felix than raonic. if felix beats berretini in final he may owe raonic a favor.

  • Jg · June 15, 2019 at 7:15 pm

    Check out the Dudi Sela Behind the racquet, man he ( at least in my eyes) is a successful tennis player at the pro level, it’s tough! Would like to see Noah Rubin monetize this somehow.

  • Jeff · June 15, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    Without a doubt Milos pulled out to avoid the loss. Plus it is not an important tournament or anything.

    Felix is the most talented teenager I have ever seen – of course I am not that old so I never saw Nadal as a teen. It is funny how everyone says Kyrgios is so talented while Felix goes under the radar just because he behaves like a normal human being.

    Felix will certainly win multiple Slams with ease

  • catherine · June 16, 2019 at 1:22 am

    Social notes: Caroline Woz gets married (at last) in Italy – tennis guests included Serena (bridesmaid) and Angie K (friend) – can see retirement for Caro not too far in the future.

  • catherine · June 16, 2019 at 1:47 am

    Grass preparation ? Serena’s not playing until Wimbledon but Angie’s supposed to be in Mallorca and she could do with some practice so not good timing for Caro’s wedding.

    Sharapova will be back in Mallorca but if I were a betting person I’d put some £s on her w/drawing.

  • Hartt · June 16, 2019 at 6:19 am

    Maybe Félix does not get the crazy attention that Kyrgios does, but he is no longer under the radar. He first made waves at 14 when he was the youngest player to get an ATP ranking point. People have been talking about him since then, although Tennis Canada tried to keep him under wraps to a degree. But experts have been predicting big things for him for years. Now that he is on the main tour more tennis fans and journalists have been able to see what a terrific young talent he is.

  • catherine · June 16, 2019 at 6:57 am

    Hartt – More on Canadians – Bianca is entered for Eastbourne as of now. But no news that I can find about her physical state. Sadly, there are already stories around identifying her as a ‘lost talent’.

  • Hartt · June 16, 2019 at 8:07 am

    Yes, I knew Bianca was entered for Eastbourne, just was not sure if she would actually play it.

    She turns 19 today. It seems rather early to be writing her off! 🙁

  • catherine · June 16, 2019 at 8:26 am

    Yes – but unfortunately there have been players whose early injuries persisted and they faded out of the game. I fervently hope Bianca isn’t one of them because women’s tennis really needs her.

    Birmingham first round- Sabalenka v Su-Wei. I’ll take S-W in SS.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 16, 2019 at 8:49 am

    Felix was protected, when we did a biofile at eddie herr three years ago, a coach figure looked at me with suspicion, and only let me interview him when I was deemed legit. they were clearly careful with their prodigy. there is nothing rebellious about felix, he’s a good straight smart bright nice kid who is approaching his career maturely and professionally, unlike kyrgios who does it his way. btw, anybody see kyrgios and shap played doubles together in halle vs haas and santoro? jimmy arias would not like that decision by team shap.

  • Hartt · June 16, 2019 at 11:33 am

    Scoop, I remember when you did that Biofile with Félix and you commented then about the protectiveness of the coach.

    FAA just lost a very tight 2nd set TB to Berrettini – it was very exciting. Matteo played great today and deserved the win, but FAA was not far behind. They both had very complimentary things to say about the other after the match. Félix did look totally devastated immediately afterwards, but he handled the ceremony with great poise.

  • Hartt · June 16, 2019 at 11:37 am

    I don’t think Kyrgios will have any effect on Shapo, so Arias can rest easy! Denis is a lively character, but he is an ambitious professional. Besides, he has his good buddy Félix to keep him on the straight and narrow. 🙂

  • catherine · June 16, 2019 at 2:52 pm

    Losing is so hard…..Donna Vekic sheds a few tears and is comforted by Annabel Croft after a tough 3 setter goes Caroline Garcia’s way in Nottingham.

    The tournament was weird – outdoors and indoors and sometimes both in the same match. This will be a wet summer. That W’don roof went up just in time.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 16, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    Berretini on his third match point returned FAA serve and suddenly grunted wildly loud and FAA made the early error, netting a bh. Crafty play by Berretini.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 16, 2019 at 6:42 pm

    Since Tsitisipas beat Berrettini I expected FAA to beat Berretini too. But matchups are funky and Berretini is skyrocketing in his improvement curve. Tsitsipas is making waves again by saying the big 3’s dominance is boring. I say greatness is never boring. Nor is envy.

  • Jeff · June 16, 2019 at 11:32 pm

    Interesting to see that Taylor Fritz practiced with none other than the GOAT – Federer – in Germany. Fritz and Tiafoe are our only hopes to become stars, although I do not foresee either reaching a Slam final or even a semifinal.

    Kyrgios not backing down from his comments on Nadal and Djokovic in a Telegraph interview. He was seen practicing tweeners and wearing NBA gear last week in Germany.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 17, 2019 at 8:10 am

    jeff it’s too early to write off fritz tiafoe or opelka or donaldson or any young player. stan wawrinka proved it takes a while sometimes. agassi lost his first 3 major finals.

  • catherine · June 17, 2019 at 11:11 am

    Hsieh edges past Sabalenka in Birmingham in 3 sets, 7-1 tiebreak in the 3rd. Aryna had 6 dfs today but served 8 aces so that is an improvement. Brusque ‘handshake’ from S – no doubt feeling this was one that got away from her.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 17, 2019 at 11:21 am

    Sabalenka is becoming one of those players like Dimitrov Berdych Tsonga Monfils – great expectations unfulfilled. Hsieh seems to be getting better with age. She’s a wonder of the tennis world.

  • Jeff · June 17, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    Tiafoe flops in a loss to Mahut. Grass does not suit him at all.

    Amazing matches tomorrow – DelPo-Shapo, Tsitsipas-Edmund, Kyrgios-Mannarino and Felix-Dimitrov.

    Raonic set to face Cecchinato. This would prove that he intentionally pulled out against Felix.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 17, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    Tiafoe proving still that Jimmy Arias’ evaluation of his career is spot on…Inconsistent results.

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