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).



  • Doogie · November 20, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    I am just smiling: Who said Sock will/would practice and loose weight??? I am watching his Davis Cup doubles match with Sam – he is fat as never before :)))

  • Doogie · November 20, 2019 at 8:12 pm

    Sock in the same league as Jesse Witten

  • Andrew Miller · November 20, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    Scoop, if I play someone and they win they don’t care whether I am healthy or if I am just getting back into the game. These are competitive people, the most competitive in their sport. If I drink the night before and perform like bleep the next day and lose, my opponent is happy…for himself or herself.

    Like some well known U.S. players coming back from injury. Everyone is loading up on them to get a career best victory and say I beat former top ten player.

    Put this another way: Bouchard doing awful has given many other players more money, more opportunities, more ranking points. They should send thank you cards and tell her to keep up the good work…on Instagram. Or keep chasing those love interests, so that she arrives at their match in poor shape.

    One player’s bad day is another player’s pay day. We will all soon forget about Bouchard’s spectacular 2014 until the Canadian tournament. Genie who?

  • Andrew Miller · November 20, 2019 at 10:09 pm

    The sportswriters that stay current know this. An example would be Tennis Podcast – they are biting in their critique. They’d say so and so looks out of shape and aren’t able to play inspired tennis. And their characterization is exactly how decent coaches would see it – they’d say the player used to be good at X and now can’t do that so keep ball in play and they’ll inevitability spray the ball.

    Competitive people.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 20, 2019 at 10:23 pm

    Jessie Witten is playing Naples Futures as a WC this week. He’s ranked about 1619 in singles. He told me he keeps playing occasional Futures to keep a ranking. He also coaches a bunch of kids.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 20, 2019 at 10:28 pm

    Sock and Q Ball pulled off this massive in doubles, it was Bolelli who choked with a DF and some misses in the 3-1 break back to 3-2. Then USA served to level at 3-3. Bolelli was the weak link, Sock was solid, Q was the hero. Sock is still heavy. I wonder if it’s some kind of screw up in whatever he’s taking, like a certain former top 15 Argentine who tested positive and gets super fat now, with a big fat ass and boobs, suspect for taking female estrogen which is a mask for steroids, wonder if they went too heavy with the estrogen and really screwed up his body? Because to see a once super fit warhorse fitness freak who beat Federer, with a big fat ass and man boobs is just bizarre. Sock almost has that look. Something is not right with the way Sock looks, he has to be trying to lose weight and change diet but he still looks fat. Bizarre.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 20, 2019 at 10:29 pm

    Bouchard is a stepping stone now, the superstar who did a Cecil B DeMille in reverse, From star to journeywoman.

  • catherine · November 21, 2019 at 12:40 am

    Why do we keep talking about Bouchard ? She isn’t even interesting as a player.

    My prediction: Coco Gauff will win every GS this year and also in Fed Cup and Olympics.

  • Andrew Miller · November 21, 2019 at 12:41 am

    Saw the Houston highlights with Bouchard over Grammatikopoulou. Bouchard shows glimpses of good things from 2014. Her game has NOT evolved much – marginal improvement. She said she had spoken with Graf, Agassi, and Agassi said wait for your shot and that showed up too, she had patience to wait out the barrage of winners from Grammatikopoulou, pick her spots.

    That’s all good. Her racquet looks like a problem, she doesn’t wield it like her old Babolat. She served “pretty well”. Her movement was BAD. One strategy I like was she took the ball earlier and that threw off Grammatikopoulou, she’d hit a ball back a little harder and it messed with Grammatikopoulou timing. Same ball, just harder.

    I get the sense she trains hard. Just not that she focuses on doing better in different areas of her game. Bouchard could be stagnating not because of her injuries or her Instagramming or disinterest even. Could be a simple story that she didn’t develop any new tricks. That X on her back stayed on her back.

    She says nice things about Gil Reyes. Reyes must be a great guy. He got Agassi back, then Verdasco. Now Genie Bouchard.

  • Andrew Miller · November 21, 2019 at 12:43 am

    Catherine I’m kind of obsessed with players that are shooting stars. Or that back come backs. Or who flail in their comebacks, or why they can’t reconjure the magic. But we covered a lot of Muguruza 😉

  • Hartt · November 21, 2019 at 6:46 am

    But why isn’t Muguruza a much bigger topic than Genie? She had a LOT more success, having won 2 Slams and 7 titles overall, and having hit No.1. The prize $ alone shows the difference, Garbine has won over $19 million, more than 3x what Genie has won. Genie may have done well in 3 Slams in 2014 but the reality is that she has won just one small tourney.

    Garbine is just a few months older than Genie, so presumably she can make a comeback. She is an extremely attractive woman, so she ticks the boxes in the looks dept.

    What happened to Genie is not difficult to figure out. As Andrew said, the biggest thing was she did not improve her game, and she doesn’t show any signs of making substantial changes now.

    I am somewhat interested in her because she is Canadian,but I don’t think she is important enough to warrant the kind of swipe Scoop just made.

    If we want to look at downfalls Sharapova is a more interesting case, because she did have a big career. She simply can’t play well any longer, so what motivates her to keep going? Is it pride? Does she want to prove she can succeed without meldonium? She has business interests, so it’s not as though she hasn’t other outlets. She is incredibly wealthy, so it isn’t the $. She may love tennis, but is that enough to have one embarrassing match after another? Will she retire soon?

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 21, 2019 at 7:00 am

    For Bouchard to call on agassi Reyes Graf for help shows good ambition. The girl still has drive. Commendable.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 21, 2019 at 7:01 am

    Kerber hires new coach, Kindleman.

  • Hartt · November 21, 2019 at 7:04 am

    There is a report that Bajin will coach Yastremska. I could not find confirmation, but this seems likely. I looked at her IG for the first time – lots of glamour and sexy pics.

  • catherine · November 21, 2019 at 7:40 am

    Yes – it’s been confirmed.

  • Hartt · November 21, 2019 at 7:53 am

    Here is Kerber’s tweet:

    “As much as I’ve enjoyed my time off, I’m excited to get back into training. Happy to announce that Didi Kindlmann will be joining my team as the new coach! Work starts here, and I‘m thankful for the people in my team that share the same vision moving forward!”

    So WTA coaching news is coming thick and fast!

  • catherine · November 21, 2019 at 7:57 am

    Why has Kerber chosen Kindlman as a coach ? He wasn’t much as a player and has coached no fewer than 3 women in the last two years – Keys, Mertens and Tomjlanovic – I’d wonder about someone who has had such short stints.

    I thought Angie might go for a bigger name, considering this is probably her last year on the circuit where she has any chance of winning anything. She’s got to go for some changes, and if these aren’t visible soon, ie post AO, then I think that will be it for her.

    It’s obviously not a question of money – maybe there isn’t a long queue of elite coaches for someone at the end of their career and of course we don’t know how many turned her down.

  • catherine · November 21, 2019 at 8:23 am

    Angie didn’t share her holiday snaps this year which is unusual. Maybe she was auditioning coaches instead. She was silent on Twitter for exactly one month.

    I’m not persuaded by the same old stuff about ‘vision’ and ‘moving forward’ – Fisette was the only coach who really advanced her game, if only for a short time, and that brought her Wimbledon. She’s now on the cusp of the top 20. Boris Becker could have helped with her volleying. Kindlman’s 3 previous pupils aren’t known for their attacking skills although Mertens does approach the net from time to time.

    Overall, I suppose I’m disappointed. But we wait and see.

    But I love reading between the lines.

    Hartt – I would expect Maria to play at the Olympics, if Russia isn’t banned, and then retire at the end of 2020. I don’t know why she stays active as a player. Perhaps it helps in her business ventures.

  • Hartt · November 21, 2019 at 8:55 am

    Has Maria played enough Fed Cup recently to qualify for the Olympics? But of course the ITF finds ways to get around its own rules when it suits them.

  • catherine · November 21, 2019 at 9:15 am

    Hartt – possibly not. But I gather there’s a good chance Rusdia may be banned from the Olympics – something to do with non-compliance re doping, so that could be a problem solved.

    Kerber – may be Angie doesn’t want a high powered coach now, with all the stress that comes with it. Her choice in the end.
    A few days ago she was in Copenhagen pictured at some kids’ event. I think she’s probably good with children. Comfortable on their wavelength.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 21, 2019 at 9:19 am

    Kindleman has a low price tag. Shoot, maybe he’s paying Kerber to pose as her coach. Like you know who ta glou.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 21, 2019 at 9:23 am

    Sharapova and most players will keep on going as long as they can, the life on the tour is luxury and catering beyond what you can imagine. Perfect easy life, everything taken care of. As Guy Forget said, it’s not reality.

  • Andrew Miller · November 21, 2019 at 9:44 am

    Because Muguruza, Sharpie are hall of fame players. It’s like talking about Nadal, Federer, Djokovic…what is there left to say? After every Nadal comeback it’s like what a heroic comeback from injury! Only the seemingly 900th time that he’s proven his zero critics wrong! Sportswriters themselves have run out of words to describe them.

    Here’s the kicker. I watch Tsitsipas and as you know I have a soft spot for ranking Zverev below his brother as a player and consider him the least talented next genner and the most spoiled. He redeemed himself when he spoke about past players and his reverence for them, which makes me think he actually has seen a clip of them for like two minutes.

    But I watch Tsitsipas and our standards for what tennis should look like have changed because of these maniacal big three players. Why and why should we ever feel sorry for Djokovic? For Nadal and his knee? For Federer and his quest for even more slams? We love greed that much?

    With Tsitsipas there’s now a comeback for imperfect tennis, for suspect serves and more errors. This is tennis as it was played before these super champs became nearly unbeatable, maybe talking 2005 when the sport was still competitive rather than supportive of a monopoly of three kings.

    Wishing for a Muguruza comeback? Why? That’s interesting. It’s interesting we want champs to get even more.

    Anyways probably should get behind Yastremska. She hits a whale of a ball in a mostly mindless way and there’s nothing Bajin can do to change her approach. It will be a victory if she hits straight down the center to unnerve the opponent and then take advantage of her wicked ball bashing abilities until the sugar high runs out against better players.

  • catherine · November 21, 2019 at 9:50 am

    Scoop – Maria’s actually not very often on the tour because she’s so often injured, so it seems to me she wants to keep a toe in the water until gets too cold to bear 🙂

    It’s true Kindlmann probably doesn’t cost a lot and he very likely won’t be as strict as, say, Fisette – the reward for that was W’don of course but the downside was maybe more than Angie could tolerate long term.

  • Hartt · November 21, 2019 at 10:05 am

    Muguruza is interesting because why has such a talented player under-performed for some time now? It isn’t even a matter of getting more Slams, but of getting better results generally.

    I think the Maria story, with her tough childhood, then early success at 17, then glamourous lifestyle, plus the meldonium saga, is far more interesting than Bouchard. I have never been a fan, but am interested in why she continues to compete when the results just aren’t there. She is ranked No.136 and at age 32 and with many injuries, she isn’t likely to make a comeback. This has to be painful for someone with her past success.

    According to Wiki, Forbes estimated her earnings at $285 million, obviously mainly from endorsements. She has business interests outside tennis, so why not just hang up her racquets before she goes even lower in the rankings? Does Maria even have a coach now?

    Federer has said he wanted to play for as long as he was competitive, vying for big titles. Sharapova is well past that now, and I don’t think anyone would blame her if she chose to retire. But she doesn’t show any signs of that.

  • Andrew Miller · November 21, 2019 at 10:06 am

    Bouchard did some good things against the very talented Grammatikopoulou. I felt confidant Grammatikopoulou would win because she was firing winners off seemingly every ball. Somehow Bouchard figured out she had to cut out the angle by hitting right down the center of the court. This is the same tactic that Dimitrov used against Nadal in 2013 at the Australian, which worked very well for a few sets, depriving Nadal of the chance to open up the court and run Dimitrov ragged.

    Bouchard did the same thing. She hit a hard ball that Grammatikopoulou hit back, then took it slightly earlier and hit it slightly deeper and harder right down the center. It flustered Grammatikopoulou, who had up to that point enjoyed punishing Bouchard for her far worse movement than I remember.

    So, pro move. Beyond all the social media and hoopla and everything else and suspect work ethic, which Canadian coaches say is not true, that she works like a fiend, it’s good to see thinking on the court. It’s evidence that advice from the greats actually works, and that she took notes.

    So why support a flameout? Don’t have to. I appreciate comebacks from players that people even I criticize harshly. I’m genuinely confused when some players don’t make an effort, and I’m confused by players that are so incredibly skilled that win despite making no effort.

    Jack Sock is a good example. Might not believe it but the man is ferociously talented. His forehand is “mean” – it’s blistering. He is also a far better thinker than we’d imagine I think. His drawbacks include his movement and his abysmal backhand, which is only redeemed by fact that it’s better than Steve Johnson’s backhand. Why wouldn’t someone want Sock to do well again? Or other flameouts from the US that have sunk to the middle tiers of the challenger world? Isn’t it more interesting to see these guys and women outthink their opponents?

    I can understand why few would be a fan of some players. There are some cautionary tales and some super brats and people that don’t respect the sport. Hope they change and not holding my breath. Some players will always disappoint. I’m sure Noah Rubin if he does a sports diary would enlighten. But my guess Rubin will write a book or make a movie, he’s a smart guy.

  • Andrew Miller · November 21, 2019 at 10:12 am

    Maybe because Muguruza treats coaches like ants under her foot. Her coaching clips are priceless. She calls over coaches to chew THEM out. I’m sure the coach is nothing to her but an expense. She might start by hiring someone with some repute who won’t put up with that.

  • Hartt · November 21, 2019 at 10:15 am

    Rubin recently talked about the things that made being a tennis pro enjoyable. As you’d expect, these included travelling to different places and meeting a wide variety of people.

  • Andrew Miller · November 21, 2019 at 10:23 am

    Federer, Nadal, Djokovic understand that it’s the game that gives them everything. They know the second they’re gone their relevance is over, the most they can hope for is the Nadal Cup in 2030 🙂 or Federers future book: My Slam Trophy Case is Awesome!!!

  • catherine · November 21, 2019 at 10:24 am

    You might be surprised to learn that Kerber’s new coach Kindlmann was once Sharapova’s hitting partner – the music goes round and round 🙂

    Muguruza is interesting because most players, having won FO and Wimbledon, want to go on and win more, not just become famous as a mountaineer.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 21, 2019 at 11:27 am

    One former WTA coach who worked with several top WTA players told me some of the players treat the coach like a slave and sometimes demand sex.

  • catherine · November 21, 2019 at 11:51 am

    Scoop – you’ve made that comment before and I really wonder if you should repeat it. No proof,no names and it’s sleazy.

  • Hartt · November 21, 2019 at 11:57 am

    I am nervously waiting for the beginning of Australia vs Canada, due to start in a few minutes. Kyrgios is not scheduled to play this QF, so you have to wonder if he is injured.
    This is the lineup:
    Millman vs Pospisil
    De Minaur vs Shapovalov
    Thompson/Peers vs Pospisil/Shapovalov

    I hope Canada can win both singles. Vasek is a good doubles player, but he and Shapo have played just once as a doubles team, and that was on Monday.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 21, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    Catherine, the former coach is a good friend who has never lied to me and has no motive to. I believe him. And I believe the revelation helps to report a true nature of the tour that most media outlets don’t know about. Another former WTA coach has also hinted strongly about this but he didn’t divulge anything concrete yet. But his hints were heavy and loaded and easy to understand what he was scooping me at. I believe this aspect is a reality of the tour and understand it needs to be kept secret for image reasons. We don’t shy away from truth here Catherine.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 21, 2019 at 12:08 pm

    What is Kyrgios injury? Or did Hewitt bench him because he doesn’t trust him under pressure?

  • Hartt · November 21, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    I haven’t heard any reason for Kyrgios not playing.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 21, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    Millman vs Pospisil over Kyrgios vs Pospisil doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Especially with De Minaur the underdog vs Shap. We know Hewitt and Kyrgios have a prickly relationship.

  • Andrew Miller · November 21, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    Scoop, I think this has been reported and documented in books such as Michael Meshaw’s Ladies of the Court. Meshaw apparently was pretty spot on, and there are psychotherapists that treat players. There is a particularly depressing rumor running on Bajin that’s an open secret as well. He’s a guy that wants to be around greatness but also allegedly can’t control himself because he’s himself. He gets let go because of those flaws from my understanding, people say enough is enough.

    Unless there is captivity (which is bad) or physical abuse (also, bad and criminal) or grooming (again, bad, wrong) and like you’re saying it “can” go both ways (makes sense). All that is bad stuff.

    The player community is a community and like the world it has problems. Elements of the culture from before are there. There are people players should stay away from and players people should stay away from. Meshaw and I think Noah Rubin wants to say listen let some sunshine in here and to me he’s right. To me some bad cases are Meghan Shaughnessy – good player who basically grew up around the coach.

    It may be a small percent, but it’s unsettling. It always will be.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 21, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    Things are going to happen in the tennis world just like they happen in life. Top players will bring the opposite sex into the locker room late at night, a player will meet another player in a car in the parking lot at a major. Some star players may hire a harem of four prostitutes and parade them in his stadium player box at a major. Some star players may hire a harem of prostitutes and parade them around the player hotel lounge in Indian Wells so obscenely that every senior in the room abruptly walks out. Tennis is not all Roger Federer and Rod Laver squeaky clean anecdotes.

  • Hartt · November 21, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    Vasek won a tight TB against Millman. Hopefully he can play with confidence in the 2nd set.

  • Andrew Miller · November 21, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    Most players live off spam and crackers.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 21, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Pospisil has really turned his career around. I remember the stringer at the pro shop by IMG said Pop got his strings done there and he had no idea bout strings and just used what he was using, the stringer tried to tell him a certain new combination to help him get a better feel and Pop declined. Then a few months later Pop was recommended the same new string combination and tried it and loved it and told the first stringer who was like, That’s what I told you months ago. Why didn’t you listen. Made Pop seem kind of like a tennis air head. But he’s red hot now and doing big things.

  • Hartt · November 21, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    Vasek won in SS! He has played so well in this DC. I hope he can keep this up in the regular season.

  • Hartt · November 21, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    Now Shapo just has to defeat de Minaur. That should be an entertaining match.

  • catherine · November 21, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    The more I look at Kindlmann’s CV the more uninspiring it appears. He’s coached a few mid-level WTA players, usually for short periods (Mertens for 3 months, Pavs for 6 mths, the longest Madison Keys for just over a year). Also Laura Robson back there somewhere. But who hasn’t coached Laura ? Can’t find how long for Tomjlanovic but he’s obviously not with her now.

    To me it’s a hiring by a player who isn’t expecting to be around that long and isn’t too bothered about results. Angie will also be in charge. I’d be surprised if Dieter lasts the year.

  • Hartt · November 21, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    Shapo won the first set vs de Minaur.

    Then Denis played poorly in the 2nd set with too many UFEs and DFs.

    They are on serve in the decider, Denis leading 2-1.

  • Andrew Miller · November 21, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    Kerber: coasting is AWESOME! Maybe she’ll get a Pert Plus endorsement etc. And she can say so in Deutsch. Ser gut! Again I think Kerber has already proven her Hall of Fame reps and can sip pina coladas all day from here on out.

  • Hartt · November 21, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    De Minaur won the decider. He was solid and focused. Denis wasn’t focused enough, and made way too many UFEs and DFs.

    So it will come down to the doubles. I imagine FAA and Pospisil will play the doubles. Denis has played a lot of tennis over the last few days.

  • Hartt · November 21, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    RBA’s father passed away. His mother died about 18 months ago. His wedding was scheduled for next weekend.

  • Andrew Miller · November 21, 2019 at 5:34 pm

    De Minaur wants to end year with a win.

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