Tennis Prose



They are still grinding…

By Scoop Malinowski

This week I noticed some familiar names in ATP Challenger draws who are still grinding it out and trying to make it back to pro tennis relevance and prominence.

Thomaz Bellucci is 34 now and ranked 973 but he won’t let his career end just yet. The four time ATP singles title winner is in Cassis, France and qualified for main draw but then lost first round to alternate and world no. 216 Hiroki Moriya 64 63. Bellucci has earned over $5m in career prize money.

Former Wimbledon semifinalist Jerzy Janowicz is 31 years old now and ranked 971 but he is showing signs of a possible return to the top 15. As a wildcard this week in Saville Challenger, Jerzy has won two rounds including a R16 win vs world no. 116 Carlos Taberner 16 64 76.

Kenny De Schepper is 35 years old now and ranked 359. He qualified in Cassis but then lost first round Zsombor Piros 64 63.

Malek Jaziri is 38 years old now and ranked 422 but he lost first round in qualis at Cassis to a wildcard named Thomas Laurent 61 30 ret. Laurent is 24 years old and ranked 1297.

Denis Istomin, winner of two ATP singles titles, is 35 now and ranked 435. The former world no. 33 (in 2012) who has earned over $6.3m in career prize money, is in Thailand this week playing in Nonthaburi and he beat Aussie Dane Sweeny 62 63 in the first round.

Evgeny Donskoy, who once beat Roger Federer in Doha, is 32 now and also playing Nonthaburi. The Russian is now ranked 331. Donskoy lost in the first round to 395 ranked 21 year old from Khazakhstan Beibit Zhukayev 76 76.

And Toshihide Matsui, presumably the oldest man in the ATP at age 44 and ranked 1666, also played on Nonthaburi but lost first round of qualies 64 76 to Philip Sekulic. Matsui’s best ranking was 261 way back in 2006.

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  • catherine · September 7, 2022 at 11:46 am

    Slightly on-topic:

    Emma’s beginning her long climb back, or maybe she just wants to see the world….

    Strong draw in this 250 event.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 7, 2022 at 11:53 am

    No, Catherine, Raducanu is not playing there for a vacation. She’s eager and anxious to regain her status as a WTA star. Just like Murray who is taking another wildcard into Astana, I believe that’s WC no. 43 now for Murray. Speaking of wildcards, Venus said she’s not retiring. With such a low ranking outside 1000 she will need a lot of wildcards because she won’t play low level itfs. She will take away a lot of wildcards from younger players.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 7, 2022 at 9:26 pm

    Less than half full Ashe Stadium to see world no. 1 vs USA’s no. 1. Two fine players the establishment has made little effort to market and promote. Pegula has about the same amount of charisma and personality as Evert, Borg, Austin, Martina and Steffi showed on court. Big win by Tiafoe today, exactly what the establishment wanted. Sinner vs Carlito should be fun.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 8, 2022 at 8:18 am

    Incredible display of tennis warriorship by Alcaraz and Sinner! Sad that one had to bow out in defeat, both are worthy Grand Slam champions. Looks like Carlito is ready to make history. This kid looks unbeatable right now.

  • MATT SEGEL · September 8, 2022 at 9:19 am

    I have come to almost want whatever the establishment doesn’t which would have been Rublev or Sinner getting to the final, so it was a disappointing day for my “stick it to the man” fan-self. I really like Jannik and I hope this spurs him to be even better. He reminds me a little of Thomas Berdych in his looks.

    Can Carlos recover? Tiafoe hasn’t put on tons of mileage this tournament.

    Casper Rudd as number 1 is the last hope for what the establishment doesn’t want. Super nice, non controversial and nordic. Let’s go Casper!

    Although I really am excited about Alcarez and his ascension. A real generational talent it appears.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 8, 2022 at 9:27 am

    Matt, I don’t think the establishment wanted Rublev, Sinner or Khachanov to make the final. They do want Carlos or Tiafoe though, those are two very marketable assets. Ruud or Khachanov will be interesting. Hopefully the final won’t be as bad as the Rafa vs Ruud FO final was. Which looked like Ruud rolled over for the establishment’s favorite. Btw, I think Nadal is finished winning big titles.

  • MATT SEGEL · September 8, 2022 at 2:40 pm

    Yeah, I think Tiafoe’s comments before the match might have opened the flood gates as far as players not being afraid …or not, but it was a bold move by Tiafoe and he made good on it.

    Thank you for the update on Jerzy, as well as the others. He was a big time talent back in the day. Injuries, but he was almost revolutionary when he had his moment, the height, the power the movement.

  • George · September 9, 2022 at 3:20 am

    Alcaraz vs. Sinner was one of the most enjoyable matches I have seen maybe ever.

    What incredible speed and shot-making. These guys are evolving the sport like Lendl and Sampras.

    I have never seen speed like Alcaraz. He glides around the court. Faster than Monfils and more graceful.

    If Alcaraz remains healthy and motivated through his career, we could be witnessing the GOAT. Let’s see if he can win this grand slam.

  • Cory · September 9, 2022 at 7:43 pm

    I’ve always liked Istomin. Guy can be machine-like on hard… but he’s been so, so, so bad for like 3 years now… losing to anyone. You watch his Challenger matches and he wins so many great points… he’s still got it… but just coughs up every lead. Seems very mental IMO.

    Jaziri just keeps on trucking… it’s gotta end soon with no results. Seems like he’s playing for fun. Lots of trick shots and ostentation.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 11, 2022 at 8:17 am

    Cory, I wonder why they are playing still, so far far down the rankings to ever get back, all the years of travel and you would think they had enough of it. There is little money in challengers and itfs. Even if they somehow get back to a Grand Slam main draw, then they need a miracle to get to the third round. Maybe it’s that these guys know nothing else but tennis. I see Ryan Harrison is training hard for “a long road trip” to try to elevate his ranking from outside 500. Coach Sanguinetti is still with him.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 11, 2022 at 8:22 am

    George, the fitness and athleticism and power of Alcaraz is astounding. I can definitely see him evolving into a dominant juggernaut. Also wondering what the role is of Dr. Cotorro who is with Alcaraz at us open and is in the box. Sinner is also so impressive, if Sinner walked into my club looking to play, I would think I could beat him, he looks almost uncoordinated because he’s so tall and lanky. I can also see him being a dominant force but also a Berdych or Ljubicic type great player, just falling short of Grand Slam greatness. I would like to see Sinner serve and volley for a week straight in practice to enhance his tennis athleticism.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 11, 2022 at 8:26 am

    Matt, what did Big Foe say before the match? I missed that. Janowicz was a game changer, the run he had to Wimby semis inspired Gimelstob to say something on the air at Tennis Channel that I still remember, “The sky is the limit for Jerzy Janowicz.” I heard from the Polish grapevine his training habits and decisions were not the smartest. Training on a different surface as prep for the next tournament, things like that. Mishandling of injuries. Probably a wasted talent. But good sign he’s still out there trying to get back into the mix.

  • Matt Segel · September 11, 2022 at 8:56 pm

    “I’m definitely a different player from 2019, playing much better. I’m not going to have that first time playing him, excited to play,” Tiafoe said. “Now I believe I can beat him. I’m definitely going to come after him”

    My 12 year old son about Alcaraz…”do they test for those things that make people stronger”

    Kind of funny

  • George · September 11, 2022 at 9:01 pm

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 11, 2022 at 9:22 pm

    Sharp kid ) Still waiting for the Dr. Cotorro press conference but doubt he will ever put himself in a position to ever answer any media questions or spanish tennis media questions. Wonder how much Team Alcaraz pays Dr. Cotorro for his services and what exactly those services are.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 11, 2022 at 9:24 pm

    George, that win in Cancun just removed about a dozen forks out of Tomic. Let’s see if this was the spark he needed. One thing about Tomic is he’s even more unpredictable than Kyrgios and how ironic it would be to see him bounce back in 23. I ain’t counting him out, no way.

  • MATT SEGEL · September 12, 2022 at 11:53 am

    Q. You and Carlos have different routes to the final in terms of how much you played, times of day. How conscious were you that he played three five-setters in six days? Were you thinking to take it deep, see what he has left in his legs?

    CASPER RUUD: Yeah, I tried. That was a thought, for sure, knowing he played more hours than myself, finishing late many days after his matches.

    But, yeah, he’s young. I guess he recovers fast. He still looked fresh as ever on this match today. So not going to say it’s a surprise because he’s a strong guy, he works hard, he does all the right things.

    But it’s impressive he’s come from behind in some matches, played some four- and five-hour matches, still has that energy to keep going. All credits to him. His team, they do everything in the right ways.

    I think he also has help from I believe a doctor who also has helped Rafa for many years. He knows what he’s doing. He’s been able to keep Rafa’s body fresh and ready for many Grand Slams. So he has good help. He does all the right things.

    It’s impressive, for sure.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2022 at 12:24 pm

    Thanks for sharing this quote Matt. The video of this quote is making the rounds on twitter. It seems Ruud is carefully, diplomatically, with class, saying he suspects his conqueror of being a drug cheat suspect. Dr. Angel Ruiz Cotorro, the long time doctor of Nadal, was in the player box of Alcaraz yesterday. Ruud said this with a very kind tone but he added some sort of sarcastic smirk smiles into the delivery.



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