Jun/19

21

Stefanos Concedes Felix Is His Master

It’s very rare that a top player verbally concedes that a younger, lower ranked player is their superior. But today in London it happened. Stefanos Tsitsipas offered a rare glimpse of reality and humility by a tennis star when he confessed after losing to Felix Auger-Aliassime 75 62 that the Canadian is his superior.

“He’s the most difficult opponent I’ve ever faced. I think it’s gonna take a couple of tries to beat him.”

Felix is now a career 5-0 vs Tsitsipas, the top seed at Queens, including a 64 62 win this year in Indian Wells and three junior triumphs.

Tsitsipas pondered the aspects of Felix’s arsenal that give him particular trouble. “It’s really difficult because he has one of the best returns on the tour. He has a really powerful, accurate serve which is tough to read.”

“He’s really quick and fast which is really hard to find all of that combinations together combined. Big backhand, big forehand. He can create a lot of opportunities from his backhand but also at the same time he can be very aggressive from the forehand side.”

“There’s not much to come up with when you play him. He’s pretty much solid from everywhere.”

Keep in mind that Tsitsipas has already beaten Federer, Djokovic and Nadal. But he has never beaten Felix.

It’s astounding these tribute words of respect by Tsitsipas for Felix, which are of a higher level of awe and admiration than anything he ever said about Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.

“It does worry me (having to deal with Felix for big titles in the future) because it’s upsetting that he’s better than me, I have to accept that he’s better than me. I might not ever beat him. But if I think that way…I just need to wait, years maybe, for that chance to come. If not then not. If yes, that’s fantastic. I will donate $10,000 for that win to charity.”

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52 comments

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 21, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    The last time I remember a top player verbally conceding another player was better was Hingis to Davenport after she got crushed again by Lindsay and she just confessed after the match “I could never beat you.” Incredible moment of sincerity, rarely see or hear it. Tennis egos are usually not that fragile especially for a top player. It takes tremendous play to provoke such a candid revelation.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 21, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    What most surprised me today was the crowd reaction after the match, the huge roar was something you rarely hear in London, especially for a foreigner. Felix is beloved already. I really can’t ever recall hearing a crowd roar after a match like that before, even for Murray and Henman wasn’t like this today. Astounding how the crowd has embraced this kid already. They might even prefer him vs Federer, very possible.

  • Hartt · June 21, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    There were a couple things that struck me about what Stefanos said. First of all, he gave an excellent description of FAA’s game. He did omit Félix’s weakness, his 2nd serve that can get him into trouble, especially with DFs. But, for the most part, Félix does have an exceptionally well-rounded game.

    The other was that this was gracious on Stefanos’ part, although saying FAA could beat the big 3 may make him feel better about his own losses to Félix. But Stef was very honest, to say he is concerned about their rivalry.

    As far as the fans at Queen’s embracing Félix, this does not come as a surprise. Although the youngster is not flashy, he is very appealing. He has that “it” factor. I think I have talked about the way many French fans supported FAA when he played against a French guy in the final of the Lyon Challenger, and the same thing happened with Spanish fans in Spain a few months later. In Spain, kids were calling out “Ali” much to the annoyance of the Spanish player.

    Part of it is just that he is such a terrific player. Part is because he is so young, and looks young. One woman claims he has “9-year-old eyes.” Am not sure I totally agree, but I understand where she is coming from. And then there is his amazing maturity. I call Félix an “old soul” because he was mature way beyond his years even an a 14-year-old kid. And of course for French fans, who adore him, there is the fact that his native language is French, even though he speaks excellent English.

    I remember years ago his father was quoted as saying he wanted Félix to be a good tennis player but, more importantly, a good person. I think fans sense that this is a substantial young man, a “good person.”

  • Hartt · June 21, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    In talking about Felix’s appeal, how could I forget his killer smile? 🙂

  • Hartt · June 21, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    I was thinking some more about the Stefanos and Félix rivalry and actually I hope that Stefanos is able to beat FAA at some point, because they could have a terrific rivalry. But for a true rivalry each player has to win against the other. These two young men could be the future face of tennis.

    They both have well-rounded, entertaining games. They are close in age – Stef is exactly two years older than Félix, who was born on August 8; Stefanos on August 12. Interestingly both their birthdays fall during the Rogers Cup. Both youngsters have a lot of fans. Toronto has a large Greek population and Stefanos had many boisterous fans during his run to the Rogers Cup final last summer. We talked earlier about the impact of players’ looks and both are tall, attractive young men. Both are articulate and multilingual.

    There are enough differences to make an intriguing rivalry, including very different personalities. Plus one is North American and one is European.

    I hope that both have successful careers and that we fans get to enjoy many matches between the two.

  • Hartt · June 21, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    Here is FAA’s response to Stefanos’ comments – just what I would expect from the down-to-earth Felix.

    I think objectively he’s (Tsitsipas) a better player. He’s better ranked and he’s a better player than me. But maybe the matchup, one against each other, I have a bit of an advantage. I don’t know.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 21, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    Felix haa proveh plays his best vs the big name players. Fedalkovic better be afraid. Very afraid.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 21, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    Said this before and sat it again, if any young player can upstage and exceed the majesty of Fedalkovic, it’s Felix and my money is on Felix.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 21, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    Tsitsipas is super likeable but Felix comes across as more cool, more stable. More comfortable on the big stage. Tsitsipas is a little overbearing, he may want it too much. But it worked for Hewitt Nadal. Felix has that Fed Sampras cool.

  • Jeff · June 21, 2019 at 9:21 pm

    I said before that Felix is the most talented teenage player I have ever seen. I agree that outside of his 2nd serve he has no weakness.

    What is crazy is that he has only played a main draw match at a Slam once. Has a player who has never won a Slam match ever won the entire tournament? Right now, you have to say that Felix’s Wimbledon title chances are better than those of Tsitsipas and Zverev, probably Thiem as well since he never plays well on grass.

    More likely is it that Felix will be a contender at the USO this year. I am concerned that he is playing so many tournaments. Hopefully he cuts down on the hardcourt events since he has so many points. A good goal for him is to make the ATP tour finals.

  • Vijay · June 21, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    I, for one, would eagerly spend the next decade plus watching Felix. Good looking (like Marcus Rashford), good person (clearly), and such an attractive and smooth and effortless game. Doesn’t seem to exert or overextend himself.

    But, besides his second serve, his toss on his first serve is a all over the place, or at least that is how it seems to my eye. I can’t tell if he can hit all serves with the same toss. That’s a big differentiator for the top (3–5) guys, and just the little extra he needs.

  • catherine · June 22, 2019 at 4:35 am

    I think that was a rather strange thing for Tsitsipas to say. They are both young and at this stage in their careers Stefanos has virtually taken himself out of the competition, mentally. He may live to regret it.

    I agree with Scoop – I’ve never heard a top player say such a thing about an opponent, male or female. And I’ve often wondered why Hingis thought she couldn’t beat Lindsay. I never thought Davenport was that great. She certainly wasn’t a Graf, Navratilova or Williams. Reflected maybe on Martina Hingis’ whole attitude to the game.

  • catherine · June 22, 2019 at 5:28 am

    Jeff – great players often emerge really quickly. One moment they’re ‘NextGen’ and the next they’re winning GSs. Felix looks like one of those.

    WTA – off topic but topical – nice to see Julia G in form again after her injury and putting Putintseva back in her box in B’ham. A fan’s comment: ‘that big forehand will never grow old’.

  • catherine · June 22, 2019 at 5:39 am

    PS Julia is playing doubles with Barty in B’ham and they often practise together. Julia is almost as good a volleyer as Ashleigh. I saw Kerber volley a couple of times in Mallorca so I think the volley is going to catch on in the WTA 🙂

    Kyrgios has been hit with another hefty fine – at this rate his fines are soon going to overtake his prizemoney.

  • catherine · June 22, 2019 at 6:56 am

  • Hartt · June 22, 2019 at 9:04 am

    Catherine, Bianca is not in the Eastbourne draw. This is not a good sign for her playing Wimby, but I hope they are being very careful about when she comes back, and wait until the hard court season.

  • catherine · June 22, 2019 at 9:33 am

    Hartt – thanks, I haven’t looked at the draw yet. Seems like they knew she had w/d and didn’t say. Bad on the part of the organisers. Doubt she’ll be at W’don.

  • catherine · June 22, 2019 at 9:38 am

    Angie has taken a WC, in her place I presume.

  • Jeff · June 22, 2019 at 9:55 am

    Sam Querrey faces Kukushkin in Eastbourne in what we can call a must-win for his career.

    Two years ago, he shocked Nadal to win in Acapulco and reached the semis at Wimbledon and quarters at the US open. Now he is ranked No. 68. Clearly his marriage has caused his career downturn.

  • Hartt · June 22, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    Feli Lopez played very well to defeat FAA in the Queen’s SF. Feli used his experience and grass court skills to take the match in 3 sets. But the youngster played pretty well for the most part, and making the SF was a good result.

  • catherine · June 22, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    And in Mallorca Bencic bt Angie in 3 – she’ll play Kenin tomorrow. Belinda’s improved over the past year so it wasn’t a surprise result. Angie may be glad she’s entered Eastbourne now.

    In B’ham Georges plays Barty and then they will play doubles together in the final. Weird.

  • catherine · June 22, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    Barty/Georges have withdrawn from the doubles SF, which seems sensible, leaving Groeneveld/Schuurs v Hsieh/Strycova.

    Some naughty person suggested Kerber has been having lessons in post match net behaviour after losing. Warm exchange with Belinda.

  • Hartt · June 22, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    What’s with these elderly tennis players?

    Fed being in the Halle final is not a huge surprise, but Feli Lopez is in the doubles AND the singles finals in Queen’s tomorrow. These guys are 37 years old.

    Poor Feli had to play a long, tough match against FAA, then immediately finish a doubles match, and then go on to play the doubles SF. Will he be able to walk tomorrow? Or is he Superman? Andy Murray must be thrilled with his choice of partner, and the crowds at Queen’s must be beyond excited!

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 22, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    Nice to see Lopez get these wins, he needed these wins and the points as his ranking is 105 and he wants to keep playing next year. Lopez is one of my favorites, nice game, more aesthetic than Federer IMO. Just not as good.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 22, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    Bencic looks in better shape, thinner, must be eating healthier and smarter like her old friend Mladenovic who became thinner and fitter but her singles results are still lagging.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 22, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    Jeff, you can’t blame Querrey’s wife for his ranking drop, he’s always been prone to bad results and slumps. Just typical for his career, ups and downs. He can turn it around with one good match win.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 22, 2019 at 5:49 pm

    Enough of Kvitova’s knife attack, don’t want to hear about it anymore. It’s beating a dead horse almost as bad as Serena’s doing it for working and single mothers.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 22, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    Catherine I have to look up the head to head, Davenport was destroying Hingis and dominating all their matches to the point that Hingis verbally tapped out. I don’t think HIngis ever beat her again after that one where she conceded. Gotta look it up.

  • Jeff · June 22, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    Scoop,

    Is Serena a mother? I haven’t heard anything about that. That is a story that should be covered more. Hahahahahahaha.

    On the serious side, I have some quality gossip that just came in. Jack Sock has been training in Charlotte, NC, see the Tweet below. This training session was with Sam Kavarana, a second team Atlantic 10 selection.

    Why is he in Charlotte? Why, his gal Laura Little, who is Miss North Carolina and a Charlotte Hornets cheerleader. If all goes well, Sock will be at the Winnetka Challenger tournament in July.

    https://twitter.com/Davidsontennis/status/1142504795464503296

  • Jeff · June 22, 2019 at 11:07 pm

    I just got done watching Federer’s cakewalk over Huges-Herbert. He looks to be in top form. I’d say he is the Wimbledon favorite based on this week and I expect him to beat Goffin tomorrow.

    Djokovic is only preparing with the Boodles and Rafa in another exhibition. So I would put them below ROger as the favorites.

    On the women’s side, my 3 favorites are Kvitova, Pliskova and then Ash Barty. I don’t see Naomi as a threat on this surface. Dark horses are Bencic and I think Venus Williams could have some magic left.

    Also I hope Danielle Collins wins some matches since I am in lover with her!

  • Jeff · June 22, 2019 at 11:54 pm

    The Kvitova interview was very moving indeed. We can only imagine what that must be like. That was one of the best tennis pieces I have read in some time. And it is quite relevant given that she is about to start a quest for another Wimbledon and the court case in Brno was just this year.

    I highly recommend it to all.

  • catherine · June 23, 2019 at 1:17 am

    Scoop – It’s the interviewer who’s talking about the knife attack. He was probably told to do that. Petra’s just answering. Did you read the piece ? It was published in the Guardian for the general reader. You seem to know everything and be bored with it all but not everyone is. It’s also very well written.

    ‘Flogging a dead horse’ – that’s not a very nice thing to say. People are still going on about Seles and her stabbing all these years later, including you. And that was less serious physically although Monica seems to have been more traumatised.

    There’s quite a lot in that article which I didn’t know – and nothing to do with the assault.

  • catherine · June 23, 2019 at 1:42 am

    Bencic is thinner and fitter but she won in Mallorca mainly through Kerber’s usual third set flop, which has had a pronounced effect on her results this year.

    Also, Angie is missing the necklace she has been wearing for years and years. I hope she can find it again for W’don.

    If Ashleigh wins today she takes No 1 from Naomi. The No 1 ranking has been something of a poisoned chalice for women in recent years.

  • Hartt · June 23, 2019 at 9:22 am

    No surprise, but Federer won his 10th Halle title. Goffin played very aggressively in the first set, and looked like he could take the set until Fed won the TB. Goffin seemed deflated after that, even playing out of his shoes did not give him the set. He was tight in the TB and in the 2nd set. Fed won the 2nd set easily.

    He now has 102 titles to Connors’ 109. I think he has a real shot at passing Connors.

  • Hartt · June 23, 2019 at 9:42 am

    ASh won against Julia in SS, so she is the new No.1. I think she is experienced and mature enough to handle it.

  • catherine · June 23, 2019 at 10:09 am

    Ashleigh is also playing at Eastbourne – I hope she’s not overdoing it on the eve of W’don. Must have been hard for Julia playing her good friend and doubles partner.

    Angie will be watching Mallorca final closely. She is drawn to play Kenin first match in Eastbourne.

  • Hartt · June 23, 2019 at 10:39 am

    Yes, you have to wonder if playing Eastbourne is a good idea for Ash.

    Asked how she would celebrate she said she was getting into a car to drive to Eastbourne.

  • catherine · June 23, 2019 at 10:56 am

    I know some people who’d take a privare plane ! Not for Ash though. She’s down-to-earth, mature and articulate – hope she can hang on to No 1 for a while.

  • Dan Markowitz · June 23, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Something tells me with Lopez’s win in Queens club that Scoop is think FLo has a good chance to win Wimby. Jeff, Qball has been on tour for like 14 years, you think a match against Kukushkin in a Wimby warmup tournament is a career match for him? Qball has faltered in the last two years a lot, but I don’t think he’s in danger of dropping out of the top 100. Yes, he’s no. 68 now and hasn’t won a match since April, but he’s only 31 and still has a monster serve and fearhand.

  • Hartt · June 23, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    Yes, I do hope Ash can stay at No.1 for a while. And I hope she has a great run at Wimby. the WTA could use some stability.

  • Jeff · June 23, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    Federer showing he is the odds-on favorite as I said. A superb performance and dominant week. He is flicking away winners with ease.

    Dan, Querrey is slumping badly and needs some confidence. He reached the Wimbledon semis just 2 years ago. His career is on the line if he wants to play top-30, top-25 tennis. Otherwise he can hover in the 80s for the remainder of it.

  • catherine · June 23, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    Kenin wins Mallorca over Bencic in 3 (2 tiebreaks). Not good news for Kerber who meets her in Eastbourne – Sofia is just the kind of player who will have her in knots.

  • catherine · June 23, 2019 at 2:45 pm

    I didn’t see the whole Mallorca final (it was 2hrs +) but what I did see was played almost entirely from the baseline. Belinda did finish a few points at the net but on Kenin’s side it was largely biff bang. You could have been watching a clay court match. Kenin strutts around a lot and produces conveyor belt WTA tennis. Belinda played the same game and lost, although she didn’t serve well enough (13 dfs) to give her enough confidence to be aggressive.

  • Jeff · June 23, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    One of the matches to watch in Eastbourne is Taylor Fritz vs. Paul Jubb, a 19-year old from England.

    Jubb is a rising talent who you may have seen since he won the NCAA singles title, only dropping one set in the tournament. He beat Denis Istomin and former US Open quarterfinalist Andre Rublev to qualify and now faces Fritz. The British crowd should be backing him big time.

    The winner plays the top seed, Guido Pella.

    Other men’s matches to watch are Hurkasz v. Ceccinato, I am picking Hurkacz on my gambling site.

    On the women’s side is a fiery matchup between Putentseva and Collins along with Buzarnescu facing Ostapenko

  • catherine · June 24, 2019 at 1:24 am

    Jeff – because Jubb has spent so much time in the US at college the public here is hardly aware of him, so far. A couple of good wins should change that. I think he’ll be on the pro circuit after he graduates.

    Penko served 20 dfs in her last singles match so if I were you I’d pick Buzarnescu 🙂

  • Hartt · June 24, 2019 at 10:47 am

    Marcos Baghdatis is retiring after Wimby. From the ATP site:

    “The former World No. 8, who played his last ATP Tour event at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in February, issued a statement on social media, saying, “I wanted to take the time to write to you all and let you know that this upcoming Wimbledon will be my last tournament as a tennis professional.

    “I am extremely grateful to the All England Club for granting me a main draw wild card… and giving me a chance to say goodbye to the sport that I love so much and has been such a big part of my life for the last 30+ years. This decision was not an easy one. It has proven tough for me, especially physically, to come back to where I feel like I belong.”

  • catherine · June 24, 2019 at 11:01 am

    Fallout at Eastbourne: Barty, Georges, Sevastova have withdrawn. Putintseva bts Collins (retired).

    Weather this week is hot, wet, stormy etc.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 24, 2019 at 11:04 am

    Will miss Bagdhatis, he was an electric player who could rouse the stadium like Connors at his best. But he was not able to summon and sustain that level enough to stay at the elite level. His win vs Federer in IW was the highpoint of his career, he told me in a Biofile we did in Washington three years ago. I remeber Jimmy Connors son Brett was fired up in excitement watching Bag beat Fed on court level, Bag could spark up a stadium into pandemonium. That loss to Agassi at US Open just crushed him it seemed. He was never the same after that. But we will always remember his magical AO run to the finals and that win vs Federer in IW. Will miss the Great Bagdhatis. Hope he can muster up one final surge of greatness.

  • Jeff · June 24, 2019 at 11:39 am

    I don’t pick the women’s matches since I have no success.

    I parlayed Hurkasz over Cecchinato and Tomic over Seppi so I may win this bet.

  • Harold · June 24, 2019 at 11:43 am

    As a sports bettor in the late 70’s and 80’s, all I can say is Thank the Lord, my bookmaker didnt take bets on Tennis.

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