Tennis Prose



Tsitsipas better than Federer at 21?

At age 21 after the 2002 ATP World Tour Finals, Roger Federer was ranked six in the world.

In 2003 Federer would win his first major at Wimbledon, just weeks shy of his 22nd birthday.

Stefanos Tsitsipas was also born in August (1998) and yesterday won the Nitto ATP Tour Finals at 21, he is currently ranked six in the world but was ranked as high as 5 in August.

The Greek’s best major result to date is the semi in Australia this year. He also made fourth round at Wimbledon, Roland Garros and 2r at US Open.

At 21, Federer lost first round at Roland Garros and Wimbledon and made 4R at the other two. Federer made two major quarterfinals the year before in 2001 and actually regressed in his major results from age 2001 to 2002 but he of course won Wimbledon in 2003.

So a case can be made that Stefanos Tsitsipas is actually the better player at age 21 than Roger Federer. Slightly more accomplished, slightly more consistent in his Grand Slam results.

Federer won his first World Tour Finals in 2003 and finished that year ranked no. 2 behind Andy Roddick. Federer won his first Masters Series title in Hamburg in 2002.

So the comparisons of Federer and Tsitsipas at the same age is very, very close. Up to age 21, Tsitsipas may be ahead by a nose. But obviously Tsitsipas has a lot of work ahead of him in the following years if he wants to continue to progress at a Roger Federer rate.

Tsitsipas will need to win his first major in 2020 and then add two or three majors per year for the following five years to just keep pace with King Roger.

Can he do it? Can Tsitsipas even surpass the Federer Grand Slam success explosion after age 21 to 26 (Federer won one major in 2010, none in 2011, one in 2012 and none from 2013-2106).



  • Scoop Malinowski · November 23, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    Yes I know that Hartt, but Catherine has more capacity to unearth gossipy info than you do, thought maybe should inform us more about the future Mr Halep’s background. She is taking over where Jeff left off )

  • Andrew Miller · November 23, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    Re Safina, she had to try harder. She wasn’t her brother in the talent dept.

  • Hartt · November 23, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    I’ve been on the Simona story. The man’s name is Toni Iuruc, and some sources claim he is a billionaire, while others say his wealth is more on a par with Simona’s.

    “The word is out that Toni asked Simona’s father Stere for a permission to marry his daughter and while Toni was given a green light, Simona’s dad had one condition — the wedding has to be after next year’s US Open, as he wants Simona to play all four Grand Slams in 2020.”

  • Hartt · November 23, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    What Simona had to say about the relationship in a TV interview:

    “Now I am more relaxed and open. I have a dear person. We have a normal relationship, I feel very well. But I would like it to stay personal. I belong to Romania when it’s about tennis. Love and tennis can coincide, but I think personal life is the most important one. I am dating someone and I would never be able to sacrifice my family for tennis”, Halep declared.” (Tennis World)

  • Hartt · November 23, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    A bit more on Simona’s fiance, including something about his previous wives. There are many articles in Romanian, but my Romanian is a bit rusty!

    “Iuruc is 40 years old, 12 years older than Halep. He is of Aromanian, just like Halep. The Aromanians are an Eastern ethnic group native to the Balkans.

    Iuruc is very wealthy and owns 6 companies in Romania. He is either a millionaire or a billionaire depending on who you ask but he is very wealthy!

    Iuruc has been married twice before. He was married to model Arina and then to a woman named Liana.” (

  • Hartt · November 23, 2019 at 6:52 pm

    Spain defeated Britain today in SS, although the 2nd set TB went to 10-8.

    It is probably more accurate to say that Rafa beat GB, based on what I read about the match.

    So Canada will face Rafa (and Spain) tomorrow. I guess Shapo will have to take on Rafa. I don’t envy the youngster.

  • catherine · November 24, 2019 at 1:17 am

    I’m afraid I’m a bit behind on the Simona news and so is T-T for a change. I knew she had a bf who is older than her, is supposedly well off and in the photos I saw was on the pudgy side.

    We can’t intrude on other’s happiness of course and hope all the best for their future but I admit I’m a little surprised. Twice divorced ?

    Hartt will keep us up to date because she has a Romanian contact through MCM so we can look forward to the inside news. Expect Simona’s retirement in 2021.
    RE gossip – Hartt sees many more online sites than I do so she’s probably ahead on the gossip front. I just pick up odd bits and pieces, sometimes from contacts.

    Meanwhile, Gauff mania will commence again in Auckland where she could face Serena and Bianca. Auckland tournament organisers must be ecstatic.

  • catherine · November 24, 2019 at 1:36 am

    I wonder if this will turn out a strength or a weakness competitively for Simona – players may see her as vulnerable because she won’t have her mind on the job, on the other hand she could be freed to focus more and feel under less pressure.

    My prediction ? Simona’s won Wimbledon and the FO. She wants the other 2 but so do a few of her rivals. So she won’t get them.

    We’ll doubtless see her fiance courtside next year. I just hope he’s a rich as he claims. (I’m the bad fairy)

  • catherine · November 24, 2019 at 4:11 am

    Tournament (exhibition) in Abu Dhabui with Nadal, Djokovic etc
    – and Anisimova and Sharapova.

    Not exactly stellar women. I thought Maria was injured and surely she doesn’t need any more money and Amanda isn’t a headline act. Did everyone else turn this $$$$$ pot down ?

  • catherine · November 24, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Fed sets attendance record in Mexico City as 42,500 people turned out to see him play Zverev. He’ll be going to S Africa to play a fund raiser later this year and that’ll probably set a new record too. Quito in Peru is he and Sascha’s last stop. I imagine the tour has raised the level of tennis awareness in S America although I think it’s pretty popular already in many countries there.

  • H · November 24, 2019 at 8:02 am

    Re Simona’s fiance, he was with her at Wimby but kept a low profile and did not sit in the player’s box. He was at the dinner, however, and looked nice in those pics. As Catherine said, he isn’t exactly slim as a photo of him in a bathing suit showed.

  • catherine · November 24, 2019 at 8:47 am

    I know someone who went to the dinner and she never mentioned him ! I didn’t see pics.

    No mention in the papers here either during W’don which means his profile was almost subterranean or I wasn’t very observant.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 24, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Catherine, are you implying this mystery fiancee could be a beard or a smokescreen to divert people from suspecting Halep and Cahill have a secret affair?

  • Hartt · November 24, 2019 at 9:12 am

    There are a couple photos of him at the Wimby dinner, looking quite elegant in his tux. One has Simona’s parents as well.

    There is a photo of him at a Wimby match, but it looks like the photographer had to be quick to get the pic. Obviously he was trying to stay in the background.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 24, 2019 at 9:15 am

    Looks like these Federer attendance figures in South America prove Federer is bigger than Davis Cup. What happened in Colombia? Something about a curfew mix up? How on earth could they let a curfew cancel the match?

  • Hartt · November 24, 2019 at 9:18 am

    Toni Iuruc was also in photos of Simona and her parents at what looks like an awards ceremony in Romania, because there are lots of flags and Simona is clutching an award.

    So he has been around, but fans outside Romania weren’t all that aware, although there have been a couple articles in English about the relationship. My Romanian source has known about him for some time, but he isn’t much help on the gossip front!

  • Hartt · November 24, 2019 at 9:36 am

    What Canada’s team did this week was truly amazing. They were ranked No.14, I think it was. With injuries to both Milos and FAA, Pospisil and Shapovalov had to play every match and win against Italy, the USA, Australia and Russia.

    To be realistic, they are big underdogs against a Spanish team that is basically a “ravenous” Rafa, who is playing at an incredible level even by his standards, and one other player.

    Scoop, here is what your favourite tennis official, Louis Borfiga, had to say about the team’s success:

    “Borfiga, the former French Tennis Federation official who is often credited with the recent advances in Canadian tennis, was asked what he was most proud of in the Canadian players. “The spirit – the team spirit on court an off court,” he said.

    “If we’re in the final it’s also thanks to the back-up players – Félix (Auger-Aliassime) and Brayden (Schnur). There’s been an incredible spirit all week. I always say you make it to a final with the little details and those kinds of little details are part of what gets you to a final. They’ve had such a positive spirit, and the way they helped each other – whether it’s the off-court training or in the locker room. It’s mainly the team spirit that has really struck me this week.” (Tennis Canada site)

  • Jon King · November 24, 2019 at 9:41 am

    The Sharapova-Anisimova exibition is an IMG and Nike thing. They share an IMG agent, Max Eisenbud. And Nike gave Anisimova a huge deal as their ‘next Sharapova’.

    Expect tons of Anisimova hype going forward. They want her to be the next glamour girl. A bit of a stretch as she has neither the looks nor game of a young Sharapova. But get ready to be swamped with all the Anisimova and Gauff hype you can possibly stomach in 2020.

  • catherine · November 24, 2019 at 9:50 am

    Scoop – no no no no – Simona’s fiance is real enough. I just wasn’t paying attention during Wimbledon so his presence slipped past me. My usual source assumed I knew all about it.

    BTW – the other players kept their mouths shut pretty well I think. No sneaking to the tabloids that I know of.

    Federer is bigger than anyone or anything but not bigger than a curfew in Colombia

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 24, 2019 at 10:35 am

    or was the curfew a ruse to cover for cash dispute over payment?

  • Harold · November 24, 2019 at 10:53 am

    Jealous sport father is never a good look. Anisimova was well on her way before her fathers unfortunate passing..

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 24, 2019 at 11:09 am

    Never like to see teenagers manufactured into money making star products before they win anything noteworthy. We have seen this formula used in the past much to the detriment of the player used in the production.

  • Harold · November 24, 2019 at 11:15 am

    DC finals on FS2 in US

  • Jon King · November 24, 2019 at 11:31 am

    What does Anisimova’s dad have to do with this discussion? He was well known down here and was coaching several other girls when he passed. He was a very nice guy, met him several times, had pleasant convos about coaching girls, but he is not relevant to the discussion.

    The facts are like Scoop said is that these players have not won a thing yet before getting the money. How does that along with the hype impact their tennis results? That is what the discussion is about.

    Fact is Sharapova WON Wimbledon at age 17 and had the face of a super model. So it made perfect sense that she then signed a ton of endorsement deals. Fact is Anisimova has NOT won anything yet and does not have the face of a super model. Yet Nike and IMG are hyping her as if she has.

    Seems like a simple concept to me….one player getting the rewards AFTER winning….the current crop getting the rewards BEFORE winning.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 24, 2019 at 11:44 am

    Vaidisova and Capriati were rewarded heavily before they won anything noteworthy and their career crashed. But the tennis industry puts major value on star power and how much product stars can move and thus there is a race to score those stars before they actually become stars. It’s the nature of the business.

  • Andrew Miller · November 24, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    I feel bad for Asinimova, losing her dad must be enormous. I hope she finds something in the sport.

  • Harold · November 24, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    Had Popsicle won yesterday, would, or should Canada have sat him for FAA?

  • Jeff · November 24, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    Looks like the Davis Cup was a rousing success. I have seen people complain that Spain is at home but someone would be at home anyway – the old system of alternating home ties made little sense.

    I hope they bring this event to the US – maybe at Los Angeles since there is no big tennis event there anymore. It could give the sport a boost in our country.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 24, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    Impossible situation for Felix Auger Aliassime to have to try to be the villain and beat the home hero who just lost his father. Impossible to have to win in that situation but special learning experience. No way was anyone but Federer or Djokovic was going to beat Agut in this situation and they may have even failed. Agut played the match of his life, specially inspired like Buster Douglas vs Mike Tyson shortly after Buster’s mom died. For those who live under a rock, Douglas was the first man to beat Tyson in Japan. Amazing performance masterpiece by Douglas and we saw a similar masterpiece today by Agut.

  • Hartt · November 24, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    I was rooting for FAA but couldn’t be sad that RBA won. With everything he has had to deal with he played a great match.

    To be realistic, Shapo does not have much of a chance against such a committed Rafa, but I hope he can play well.

  • Hartt · November 24, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    No surprise, Rafa and thus Spain, won the Davis Cup. But Shapo played some terrific tennis in the 2nd set, taking it to a very close TB.

    The Canadian team looked so sad at the ceremony. They will fight hard to have a shot at the Cup next year.

  • Hartt · November 24, 2019 at 5:34 pm

    I think Shapo has a good attitude about the match.

    “Shapovalov on Nadal Davis Cup defeat: ‘I think it’s pretty special to be playing in an occasion like this against world No. 1, he’s playing at home. And it was just a lot of fun to be on the court there. Of course, it sucks to lose, but it’s just a big learning experience for me'” (George Bellshaw tweet)

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 24, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    Both Felix and Shap gave strong efforts but came up just short, in a situation like this you have to think the deciding factor was home court and the cheering support from the fans which absolutely has an effect on each players spirit and psyche. Hewitt was special in that he was impervious to home or away Davis Cup ties and could fight like a demon in either situation. I think Shap and Felix fractionally deferred to the home team without even knowing it. Not going to call it a subconscious tank but each was affected by the full house Spanish cheering against them.

  • Hartt · November 24, 2019 at 5:48 pm

    Scoop, did you see the matches? The Canadian fans were small in number compared to the Spanish fans, but they made a LOT of noise, and gave the Canadian team excellent support.

    I don’t think it is a big mystery why Felix and Denis lost today. They were up against better, more experienced players. Rafa faced 3 BPs in the entire tourney, and one of them was today. RBA is ranked No.9 for a reason.

    FAA and Shapo can use this experience to help them do even better next year. I am looking forward to their seasons.

    Rafa had some kind words about Denis:

    “Nadal. ‘Shapovalov will play big finals a lot of times imo. Canadian team will be almost unbeatable in the next couple of years. Denis is special. He got a lot of things that you can’t practice.’”

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 24, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    I saw the second set of Felix RBA. Canadian fan contingent made no impact on match from what I could hear. Knew Nadal would win but Shap gave him more trouble than expected and almost pulled it off despite Rafa having home court advantage which was major deciding factor IMO.

  • jackson · November 24, 2019 at 9:39 pm

    Hartt, I’d like to compliment you on your excellent post about the DC. Not many fans can be as fair and realistic as you have been (and Scoop, as usual, doesn’t know what he’s talking about).

    I was so torn in that first match. Like you I’ve been a big fan of FAA since he was 14 and I so wanted him to do well after finally getting a chance to play, but I also didn’t want Roberto to lose after his tragic week, plus I didn’t want Rafa to play singles AND doubles again. I don’t think he could have as he was so exhausted he could hardly stand on his feet in his second set against Shapo.

    I’m not particularly a fan of Denis but I have to give him a ton of credit for his play this week. He had to have been as tired as Rafa but he gave him a heck of a match. So happy for Vasek too. He deserves all the credit he was getting from the media and I hope his back held up to all that playing and that he can carry his confidence into next year.

    So thrilled for Rafa to win this Davis Cup. He played like a man possessed this week. I mean, he’s intense at the best of times but he was totally FIERCE all week and carried the team of his back. It was amazing and so fun to watch.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 24, 2019 at 10:14 pm

    Hartt, on tv FS2 channel, the crowd sounded totally for Spain. Felix tried his best but seemed overwhelmed by the situation. Naturally. Very very tough challenge for a teen to deal with. I have DVD of Rafa first critical Davis Cup match, vs Stepanek in Czech in fifth rubber when he was 17. Rafa overcame everything, step, the crowd, the pressure and eked out the win 767664. Incredible early display by young Rafa under massive pressure. Jackson did you see this match?

  • Jeff · November 25, 2019 at 1:12 am

    I don’t get into the goat debate but if we counted Davis Cup and doubles, Rafa has to be the best player of all-time I would say.

    In reality we don’t count those things though…

  • Jeff · November 25, 2019 at 1:18 am

    My one criticism of Davis Cup is having it in Madrid every year. It has to be moved around.

    I think Los Angeles would be great to give the U.S. home court. Certainly the success of Canada would make Toronto a great place to host or maybe Montreal so teams like France could also have fan support. I don’t know if Australia could host given that they already have the ATP Cup. Argentina could be a cool place as well. Certainly London and Paris will get their shots at it and probably Tokyo too. And now that Italy is good, Rome or Milan makes a lot of sense.

    The question then becomes how can Pique fly from Barcelona every day to these cities.

  • jackson · November 25, 2019 at 2:42 am

    Scoop, I have seen tape of that match but not for a long time. It’d be fun to see again. A few days ago someone posted video on Talk Tennis of Rafa’s third round match at Wimbledon a few weeks after he turned 17 against that Thai guy whose name I can’t remember or pronounce. It was on centre court and Rafa was getting a lot of crowd support, surprising for someone who must have been pretty much unknown. He went to the net quite a bit and was a pretty good volleyer even back then. He even hit a tweener!

  • Hartt · November 25, 2019 at 7:54 am

    Scoop, my Canadian TV channel may have exaggerated the impact of the approximately 400 Canadian fans by showing closeups of them, but observers from other countries also talked about how boisterous they were in their support. Having been at a live DC tie I know from personal experience how incredibly loud they are – I had to use ear plugs and even that wasn’t sufficient. At this tourney they even broke their cowbell and had to get a replacement. The core of the group started in the Canada vs Spain tie in Vancouver in 2013 and they have been perfecting their chants, etc. ever since! Thanks to the heroics of Frank Dancevic, now Canada’s DC captain, and the skill of Milos Raonic, Canada caused a huge upset by winning that tie in 2013.

    I am not saying that Rafa and Roberto did not get any inspiration from the Spanish fans, just that I don’t think that was key to their wins. The Canadian youngsters were impressive, but compared to the experience of the Spanish players they are still babies.

    FAA had already experienced his DC baptism of fire. Last February he had to play the fifth and deciding rubber in Slovakia for Canada to make this past week’s finals. So, without that win Canada wouldn’t have even been in Madrid.

  • Hartt · November 25, 2019 at 8:07 am

    The ITF and Kosmos say that the DC finals will be in Madrid next year. The original idea was that it would move to another city after that, but already they are talking about a third year in Madrid, which would be totally unfair. But the ITF does not have a good track record when it comes to making proper decisions.

    I imagine there are many cities that would love to host the tourney. Unfortunately, it would be a big problem to host it in a Canadian city this time of year. They would need to convert a current stadium and those are busy with hockey and basketball. FAA was being realistic when he said he would never have the opportunity to play a DC final in front of his home fans.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 25, 2019 at 8:26 am

    Hartt, I only saw the second half of the second set and Felix was on the edge of the cliff, down the break 3-1 and so it was hard to spark him, the Canadian crowd seemed to sense it was over for Felix and at that point of the match their enthusiasm and spirit were not strong enough to make an impact. Felix looked all alone out there and did not make any eye contact with the Canadian corner. They were not helping him.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 25, 2019 at 8:34 am

    The Madrid Cup.

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