Just a quick recap from me about what happened this week in tennis. The only big four member in action this week was Nadal who was back on South-American clay after his first round exit in Melbourne.
And it doesn’t look like that loss did his confidence much good. He made it to the semi-finals but then ran into Thiem who I have been hyping up a fair amount since around the beginning of last year.
Thiem had one of the best wins of his career when he defeated Nadal 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(4) even though Nadal only looked like a shadow of the player he was. Just loads of uncharacteristic unforced errors and lacking his usual clutch tennis.
It looked like Nadal was on his way back during the fall last year but the loss against Verdasco set him back again. You could say he was unlucky with the draw to run into a red hot Verdasco who can beat anyone on a given day, but that’s just the brutal reality of men’s tennis.
And let’s not act like Nadal’s decline was not a long time coming either. As an early bloomer(he won his first French Open only days after his 19th birthday) with the most brutal game style in the history of tennis, it is astonishing that he lasted as long as he did.
The clay court season is still ahead where Nadal will do everything in his power to regain confidence but he is not beating Djokovic at the French again. He really looks done winning slams, which is great after all the GOAT hype.
He is the clay GOAT. No more, no less. No player who was as reliant on clay as Nadal was can ever be the overall GOAT. And that’s the end of that.
To get back to Thiem, it was still a big win for him over Nadal and the important thing is that he went on to win the title today against Almagro, 7-6(2), 3-6, 7-6(4). Almagro is not known for his mental strength, but winning two consecutive matches in third set breakers shows good mental fortitude from Thiem nonetheless.
I’ve asked question about his mental fortitude but he is still young and as long as he keeps improving in that area it is fine. This was his fourth title after winning three titles in a breakthrough year in 2015.
All four titles have come on clay and they are all ATP 250 level. I can see him being a future Thomas Muster who happened to be from the same country as him and dominated on clay. He is a solid bet for a future French Open champion.
Hopefully, he can do more than dominate clay, though, because I think he has the game to do so and he is great to watch with that classic one-handed backhand. He is also pretty complete with a big forehand, big serve, good movement, and net skills.
His biggest drawback is his big swings off the ground and perhaps his return game. But with some hard work I’m sure he can stand closer to the baseline and take the ball on the rise on faster surfaces.
- Fritz Shows Promise in Memphis
Hard as it may be to believe, it seems the US finally has a male tennis player to genuinely get excited about again. The last time that happened was back in the early 2000’s with the rise of Roddick, and yet Roddick never came close to scaling the heights of his predecessors Sampras, Agassi, and Courier.
It has been a long, dry spell for American tennis but they may finally have a big champion on the horizon again. 18-year old Taylor Fritz just lost 6-4, 6-4 in the final of Memphis to Nishikori but he showed plenty of promise in making the final.
He’s got a big serve, he looks very solid off the ground, and mentally he looks stable too. As we know tennis has become a baseline game and having a solid two-handed backhand is a big asset. And Fritz does have that.
It’s early days but he looks like an exciting player and I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for him. And congrats to Nishikori for winning a fourth consecutive Memphis title. Of current players I think only the big three has been able to do that.
- Federer – Halle, Wimbledon, US Open
- Nadal – Monte Carlo, Barcelona, French Open
- Djokovic – Beijing, World Tour Finals
Finally, in Rotterdam this week where Federer withdrew due to knee surgery, the top seed Gasquet withdrew as well before a golden opportunity to win his frist ATP 500 event. The player who took advantage was Martin Klizan who defeated Monfils 6-7(1), 6-3, 6-1 in the final.
Monfils also had his first opportunity to win his first title above ATP 250 level but these French players just don’t have much mental fortitude. I always thought Klizan has a pretty nice lefty game. He was really blasting that forehand for winners this week.
He seems a little unstable mentally but still a great week for him and his first ATP 500 title after having won three ATP 250 events.
This coming week is the events in Rio de Janeiro, Delray Beach, and Marseille. Nadal will be in Rio again while Stan will be back in Marseille. So as always plenty going on on the ATP Tour and I will keep you up to date as usual.
See you later!
The is in your court.