Tennis Prose



Nakashima is a Tennis Terminator

Brandon Nakashima walks onto stadium court at the Delray Beach as if he’s walking to a practice at a public court. Nothing phases this 18 year old phenom.

He’s playing veteran Cam Norrie winner of 45 career ATP matches and almost $2m in prize money. But as the duel on court between man and boy ebbs and flows it is the veteran 24 yr old who shows signs of struggle and exasperation. Norrie keeps it on serve to 4-5 but looks and sounds like the underdog. Norrie yells cmons and has to fight so hard to keep up with the kid.

Ugo Humbert comes to watch the end of the first set. Norrie is serving at 4-5 and 30 love. Nakashima hits a net cord winner and them suddenly the set is over. The reaction? Nothing but a towel point and to his chair where he sits up right looking straight ahead and sipping a blue drink.

Nakashima shows zero emotion. He plays like a tennis machine terminator. Total focus. Between points it’s on to the next. Every step he takes has purpose. There are no pouts or random glances to the audience. Perfect body language.

The second set is the same story. Norrie raises his intensity but nothing bothers the terminator. In the last game with Norrie serving for survival, Nakashima rips a backhand pass winner that a guy behind me calls “The shot of the day.” Nakashima again shows no emotional reaction after the shot. Same thing on the next point a running forehand winner up the line for a match point. Norrie finally hits his last shot long and it’s over. Finally Nakashima expresses emotion for making his first ATP quarterfinal. He bashfully raises his hands half way up.

After the match at the press conference with eight reporter’s he reveals some scoops. Coached by Larry Stefanki for four and a half years. Just started with Pat Cash. Knew he could play this pro level because he had a lot of close practice matches in the last few years with the likes of Fritz, Querrey, Giron, Johnson. He just needed the opportunity to do it on a pro court. This is why he told me he is not overwhelmed by the situation. He already knows he can play with the best players in the world.

We did a biofile after the press conference. Nakashima actually seemed to struggle with some of my questions like last book read and funny memory more than he did on court with Norrie and Vesely in the first round, also a straight set win. Nakashima shows struggle in his facial expressions which he did not in the match. Offbeat questions from left field are handled though like the best shots from the best players. He gives a superb biofile which I will post this weekend.

The Nakashima game is super solid and consistent and executed like a ten year veteran. His mental strength and maturity are what impress the most. He does nothing wrong. He has every shot and perfect technique and speed and heavyweight power when needed. He reminds me of an eastern Europe boxing champ Gennady Golovkin. A perfect athletic champion machine both mentally and physically.

Nakashima can save American tennis. His potential is that high. A very long way to go of course but already so many important steps have been taken.

The next obstacle in the way of the Nakashima machine is Yoshihito Nishioka who bested Noah Rubin today 6162.

I highly advise all tennis observers to watch Nakashima very soon. You will not be disappointed. And that is 100% guaranteed.



  • Scoop Malinowski · February 21, 2020 at 2:23 pm

    You know they are really desperate to find flaws when they criticize someone for how they walk. What’s next, criticizing someone for how they talk or breathe or drink water out of a bottle? Let’s put an end to this silly nonsense of nitpicking the 2020 Australian Open champion.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 21, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    Very impressed by Humbert, watched him a lot this week. He is dominating Tiafoe now. He has a different demeanor than the other French, he’s more fierce, more ruthless, he actually reminds me of the former great heavyweight champion Vitaly Klitschko facial expression wise and his demeanor. We will be seeing a lot of Humbert over the years, he is at no. 44 now but he is going higher much higher. He won his first title this year. He has a big lefty serve, especially out wide on ad court. Dominating forehand. He has everything. Works hard, goes out after every match and works more. Ugo Humbert. He’s going places in the ATP. Stay tuned for the Ugo Humbert Biofile coming soon…

  • Jeff · February 21, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    I suspect that Kyrgios and Sock will head down to South Beach for the weekend, go to an NBA game on Saturday night and party till the wee hours. Kyrgios and Sock apparently hanging out daily.

    Good theory on the appearance fee. Kyrgios knew advancing would jeopardize his weekend plans so he pulled the rip cord on the first match and still got a good week of practice in. He knows points in a 250 are no big deal.

    I think the comments about Kenin is because she is terrible at social media and her posts draw scorn from fellow millennials. So while she is a great tennis player, being bad at social media is considered embarrassing to her peers. Hence the awkwardness and weirdness comments. My suggestion is a PR firm help her learn how to navigate it better.

  • Jeff · February 21, 2020 at 2:29 pm

    I didn’t watch it but looks like Humbert manhandled Foe. I hope Foe didn’t pull a no-show since he wants in on the weekend partying with Nick and Sock.

    This generation of U.S. men has lost momentum. No one is really poised to break through. It is true that Nakashima is our last hope. And Dan’s son after that.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 21, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    Nah let Kenin be Kenin, organic not some PR creation. No, Sock is more serious now. His fiancee was here with him, very supportive, and he has a very supportive coach in Bogie. No more goofing around with Nick. Sock is clearly very in love his fiancee named Laura Little who was a superb supporter, literally jumping out of her seat, up and down, with a hand high in the air. She stuck with Sock all through his losing 2019 and she is still backing him. They have a good bond. No more time for Kyrgios.

  • Hartt · February 21, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    Catherine, I’ve given up trying to figure out when Bianca will be back playing. I guess it will happen when it happens.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 21, 2020 at 2:41 pm

    Humbert destroyed Tiafoe, 61 62. It shows how much Humbert is improving because he lost routinely to Tiafoe just months ago at NEXTGEN finals. Humbert is working hard with his coach, no entourages, no distractions, just work. Tiafoe was here all week with his brother, coach (buddy) and parents.

  • Hartt · February 21, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    Wow, Simon just beat Medvedev in SS, taking the 2nd set 6-0. I was taking a break from watching tennis, so don’t know what happened.

    If FAA wins his match today I think he will face Simon.

  • Andrew Miler · February 21, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    Beware those post breakuot sponsorships. They gut your ambition 🙂

  • Andrew Miller · February 21, 2020 at 3:01 pm

    Keninmania!!! Still believe WTA has a lot of chaos going on, but for me the thing that stands out at least for the hard core tennis observer in me is Kenin’s unbridled competitive nature. Her fierceness did it for me – I have noticed for a while how she hid a lot behind that visor and, assuming she keeps doing what got her to this point, she may feel more freedom to put her stamp on other things, do some star stuff. Even post an Instagram extravaganza. I don’t know how much it matters…the X on Kenin’s back is now obvious, the tapes are out, the burden’s on her to show the Australian was no fluke (even though, seriously, that Australian run of Kenin’s was great! Not as great as the Andreescu run to the US Open last year, but nonetheless a riveting run and a special one).

    She doesn’t have to do anything. In fact it’s kind of unwise – she has a slam to her name and it’s possible that’s it, given the precarious nature of tennis careers – sometimes you are Iva Majoli rather than Mugs the Magnificent! However tempting it is to do otherwise, I’d appreciate this WTA tennis era for what it is: the tennis is very good, the players are exciting, and if you were to bet on anything it’s that you can’t bet on anything. It has the any given day feeling of a healthy sport, with the exception of the totally incompetent WTA, the China problem the sport has, the odds players will get lost in their social media accounts, the dearth of good sportswriting (…) all sort of minor when set against how many good players there are. A lot!

    In terms of consistent players on the tour, I have been impressed with Halep for keeping her cool every tournament. She’s become one of the best players in the last few years because of this consistency despite a pretty high risk game (I think it’s higher risk for a small player!).

  • Andrew Miller · February 21, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    Andreescu and Doha…so predictable. Imagine that she may be depressed and hoping for another Fed Cup round too just to remember competitive tennis – last year must seem distant and like a dream to her. I will have to say something that I don’t want to say: the breakout year Bouchard has was followed by a slump and a freak accident, and so too the Andresscu superstar year – an injury and way too much downtime for an ambitious person like Andreescu. I’d imagine she wants this hiatus over as soon as possible.

  • Andrew Miller · February 21, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    HURKASZ…can’t get excited. Have seen this guy do well at small fry tournaments then get drummed out when the big boys show up. He’s a man that lives for the small fry tournaments.

    A little worried about that Marseille lost to Bublik by Mr. Shapovalov! And Tsitsipas d. Pospisil – Tsitsipas is serious again.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 21, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    Hurkie has hit a wall with coach Boynton.

  • jg · February 21, 2020 at 4:12 pm

    Tiafoe should watch Nakashima and see what a coach can do for you, Nakashima hitting something Cash like volleys in first week of coaching and staying in points.

  • Hartt · February 21, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    FAA just beat Gerasimov in SS. The first set was close, but then Felix ran away with the 2nd. So there will be one Canadian in the Marseille SFs after both Shapo and Pospisil lost earlier today. FAA will face Simon, after Gilles beat Medvedev very handily. Felix will have to be prepared for a lot of rallies when he plays the human backboard, Simon.

  • jg · February 21, 2020 at 5:03 pm

    Looks like Nakashima ran out of gas, definitely needs conditioning, he didn’t put away a volley in the tie break and that made the difference

  • Hartt · February 21, 2020 at 6:06 pm

    It was nice to see 3 Canadian players make the QFs of Marseille, even if only 1 won his match. Apparently this has happened just once before in Canadian tennis history. (I am presuming this did not happen before 1990.)

    We will have to wait and see if FAA can get to the final.

    “With Denis Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil also into the last eight in Marseille, it is the first time three Canadians have reached the quarter-finals in an ATP Tour event since 1990 Rio de Janeiro where Martin Laurendeau (QF), Andrew Sznajder (Finalist) and Martin Wostenholme (SF) did it.” (ATP site, article on FAA, Feb. 20)

  • Krzysztof · February 21, 2020 at 6:17 pm

    I think there is too much hype around Nakashima. It looks a little bit like Liam Broady case some time ago who was expected at this forum to do big thinks on ATP circuit but the truth is different…

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 21, 2020 at 7:07 pm

    Krzysztof, Broady had a hot streak in Challengers a couple of years ago, Dan was impressed and predicted he could become a threat but he faded away. SOmething is missing in Broady. I know he is a big admirer of Rios, that should be helping him more. Nakashima’s fitness and overall strength are a weakpoint now and Cash noted that. He did look tired in practice yesterday vs Istomin and doing the volleys at the end. Another coach told me Nakashima has never really worked very hard in his junior career, I don’t know how he knew but he did say that with some certainty.

  • Andrew Miller · February 21, 2020 at 7:58 pm

    Fitness and 18 year old Nakashima: Not too hard. Hard, completely within the realm of totally doable. Hire a trainer. Not like he has to revamp any part of his game – get strategy down, get fit, go from there.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 21, 2020 at 8:04 pm

    From there it’s big trouble for the top 100. This kid has greatness in him.

  • Andrew Miller · February 21, 2020 at 8:06 pm

    As to Broadymania […] I think Naomi may be the better Broady! Liam flubs some shots and could use some work on the consistency end of things. A lot of players should be spending friday nights hitting on the wall or the ball machine rather than the send button on their social media.

  • Andrew Miller · February 21, 2020 at 8:07 pm

    Tired of greatness. Bring it every match!

  • Hartt · February 21, 2020 at 9:58 pm

    Raonic just defeated Johnson in SS, 7-6, 6-3 in very blustery conditions. Milos got off to a slow start but then generally played well, particularly considering the conditions. He made some nice volleys, and his BH was working, giving him some good DTL winners off that wing. He faces Opelka next.

    So Milos and FAA will be in SFs tomorrow, Milos in Delray Beach and FAA in Marseille. Also in Marseille, Pospisil and Mahut will play a doubles SF.

    So a few Canadians in action.

  • Jon King · February 21, 2020 at 10:33 pm

    Blustery is the word. We live about 15 miles north of Delray Beach and its crazy windy here.

  • Jeff · February 21, 2020 at 11:59 pm

    Interestingly, Simon is 3-0 against Medvedev so that is a matchup problem.

    Thiem down a set and a break to No. 128 Gianluca Mager before the rain saved him in Brazil. Thiem having a difficult week.

    Humbert showing that the young Americans may be behind him in the pecking order now. That was a beatdown of Foe.

    Can Opelka pull the upset over a diminished Milos? A U.S. player other than Nakashima badly needs to step up.

    Interesting that Kyrgios went straight to Acapulco and skipped a chance to head to South Beach. This is where his greatest triumph happened in life. Perhaps he can display some magic yet again.

    Harrison v. Norrie in Acapulco qualifying action.

  • catherine · February 22, 2020 at 4:03 am

    Info on Rybakina: Born in Moscow but represents Khazakstan because the tennis federation supported her. Used to do gymnastics and ice skating but grew too tall to carry on. Had offers from 15 US colleges but turned them down. Coach is Stefano Vukov. Currently tops for aces in the WTA.

    She has a dog – don’t know if he/she travels with her. Idols are Federer and Justin Henin, although at 20 years old R can’t have seen Henin live.

    Upcoming final v Halep will be interesting.

  • catherine · February 22, 2020 at 4:49 am

    I go for Halep to win SS. Elena will be tired and Simona is moving very well. Her height disadvantage (6″) will very likely become an advantage.

  • Hartt · February 22, 2020 at 8:06 am

    Catherine, thanks for the info on Rybakina. I keep hearing about her and am anxious to see her play.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 22, 2020 at 8:26 am

    Surely Nick injury in Delray will vanish perfectly conveniently in time for Mexico!

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 22, 2020 at 8:52 am

    Rybakina is not Rybakova? Hope there is not a Rybanova.

  • Hartt · February 22, 2020 at 9:27 am

    Scoop, Elena Rybakina is ranked No.19 and is 20 years old.

  • Andrew Miller · February 22, 2020 at 10:04 am

    Rybakina’s runs remind of Plisko 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 22, 2020 at 10:10 am

    Hartt, thanks I was getting Rybakina and Rybakova mixed up. Certain player fall through the cracks on my radar sometimes. Anisimova getting to top 20 is another, though she was about 60 or 75. Nishioka outlasted Nakashima 64 in third. Nishioka is a marvel, a wizard. He never bends his back and he gets so low with his legs. Perfect mover. I was watching his forehand follow throughs and on almost every forehand he finishes with the Yonex in a different spot. His movement and leg work are a major key in his success. You have to watch this guy play and move. You don’t even feel like watching the opponent sometimes, you like to see Nishioka darting around like a high speed spider weaving a web. He never stops moving and he could rally for 24 hours straight without a miss.

  • Hartt · February 22, 2020 at 10:26 am

    Stefanos just played a great match vs Bublik. He did very little wrong in his SS win in the SF, and will face either Simon or FAA in the final. Whichever guy he faces, it will be very tough for his opponent. He has stressed in the last couple on-court interviews that he is concentrating on each point, and you can see that in his play.

    There was a little band and lots of “singing” between games, which created a fun atmosphere. I imagine it will be wild for Simon. Fortunately, FAA has been in an away Davis Cup tie, so that raucous atmosphere won’t be new to him.

  • Andrew Miller · February 22, 2020 at 10:58 am

    whoah..might get Tsitsipas-FelixAA final? Even if it’s Simon, another great “Felix” week. Shapo might have his sea legs back, too. The Canucks have indeed had a good few weeks on the balance on the ATP tour.

    Meanwhile, on the WTA tour…we are now waiting for L. Fernandez given that Andreescu is MIA. She’s like a phantom on the WTA tour. We hear more about Pliskova, who is allergic to high stakes pressure.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 22, 2020 at 11:16 am

    Drama queen. Like that Felix vs Tsitsipas final. See if that Tsitsipas one win late last year was a fluke.

  • Jon King · February 22, 2020 at 11:30 am

    Ci Ci Bellis is another sad WTA story. She made her comeback after 18 months at the AO. Now has withdrawn from every tournament since.

  • catherine · February 22, 2020 at 11:50 am

    Halep/Rybakina going into the 3rd. Unfortunately my live stream cut out….

    Elena and her coach speak English during occ.

  • catherine · February 22, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    Simona squeaks through in t/b after 2 1/2 hours. That should help send Rybakina whizzing up the rankings.

  • Hartt · February 22, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    I was so excited to see FAA win his SF match vs Simon. Felix improved as the match went on, making more first serves and hitting fewer UFEs. He was pretty good about staying patient until he had a good shot at a winner. He even won a few long rallies against Gilles, never an easy thing to do.

    But Tsitsipas was simply amazing in his SF vs Bublik. I know FAA has a winning record vs Stef, but if the young Greek plays in the final like he did today, he has to be a heavy favourite.

    Felix will play in his 5th final. His first 3 were when he was still 18 years old.

  • catherine · February 22, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    There’s something Sharapova-ish about Rybakina – the height and the build. But Elena has a wider range of shots and her serve seems a more fluent action so no injuries there one hopes. This was very close match and Simona had some nice words to say about her opponent at trophy time. Full Roumanian box but I didn’t see Cahill.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 22, 2020 at 7:44 pm

    Halep had to fight for her life to win this title no. 20, Rybakina is your prototype baseline heavyweight, reminds me of Keys, heavy power. Could use a little more emotional adrenaline here and there instead of being a robot. Halep is your ultimate grinder.

  • Jon King · February 22, 2020 at 8:12 pm

    We must be seeing two different players. The Rybakina I saw has a huge serve but not really much power, she pretty much slaps and slingshots her forehand…accuracy but not really power. The opposite of Keys forehand. Forward movement also lacking.

    My hunch is she is fairly new to most players, has the advantage of surprise, and once the scouting reports get around, this will be about as high as she ever gets in her career rankings.

  • Andrew Miller · February 22, 2020 at 9:55 pm

    X (Raonic or Opelka?) vs. Nishioka for the Delray Title. Nishioka put a big fat 6-0 set on Humbert to win it – that had to hurt after they were tied at a set all, and especially because Humbert won the first set 6-1. How did Nishioka do this? Humbert looked like he owned Nishioka and played superior tennis in the first set, and Nishioka clawed his way into the match. He put a lot more balls in play in the second set and then had some beautiful approach/volley combinations. One could be forgiven for watching these two and believing that the years ahead will be a renaissance for young left handed players, as Shapovalov, Moutet, Humbert, Nishioka and many other young talented left handed players start taking up a lot of tournament slots.

    In Rio, Thiem loses to Gianluca Mager. That’s right, G. Mager. Big two handed backhand, and a confusing, confounding loss. Hard to believe Munar match tired Thiem out for this QF dual with the Italian qualifier yet…it did. From the looks of it Garin may have Coric on the ropes and head for the finals, but perhaps Coric has more in the tank…c’mon…Coric has nothing in the tank 😉 In the other semifinal in Rio, it’s Mager, a qualifier that knocked off Thiem, against Balazs, a lucky loser from Hungary that took out Spain next genner Pedro Martinez.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 22, 2020 at 10:02 pm

    Nishioka masterpiece today. Blend of tennis Perfection of ball control, pinpoint accuracy, efficient movement. total bagel domination of a red hot confident player Humbert. Nishioka was in wizard form today playing with a magic wand.

  • Andrew Miller · February 22, 2020 at 10:47 pm

    How did Nishioka adjust to Humbert’s 6-1 first set? Humbert was handing Nishioka his hat. Seems like Nishioka began to go a little bigger on his groundies and kept up the pressure by rushing the net, and Humbert lowered his level just enough for Nishioka to pounce. Quite a pounce though. Humbert seemed to be smashing Nishioka and all the sudden Nishioka was running across the finish line. Anyone who was there?

  • catherine · February 23, 2020 at 1:22 am

    Jon – I tend to agree with you overall. I’ve only seen a couple of Rybakina’s matches in full but I didn’t get the feeling – here’s a new No 1 – unless she changes her game as time goes by and builds on her serve advantage. She can actually perform quite well at the net but she didn’t do that v Simona. So it depends on her development.

    Keys has a great forehand but she’s pretty inconsistant.

  • catherine · February 23, 2020 at 1:35 am

    WTA are puffing Rybakina is a vain attempt to plug the gaping hole left on the tour by the absence of BA – the Queen over the Water.

  • Harold · February 23, 2020 at 8:22 am

    Rybakina is the new version of Safina…all she needs is the anger and frustration, and she’ll have Safina’s act down pat…

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