By Jason Barron
Frances Tiafoe will look to play well in the year-end ATP Next Gen Finals tournament in Milan. Tiafoe is part of a field of 8 players who are all 21 years or younger. For any young player on the tour it is their goal to make the Next Gen Finals.
The tournament is played under special rules with each set played up to 4 games instead of 6 and if the set is tied at 3-3, then they play a tiebreak to decide it. It makes for quicker matches and the players really have be on their game to start because there will be less chances to make a comeback.
In Tiafoe’s first match he beat Polish player Hubert Hurkacz in 4 sets 4-1, 4-2, 2-4, 4-3 (12-10). Tiafoe started the match out with strong serving and quick ball striking. Hurkacz did make a comeback in the 3rd and 4th set, but Tiafoe was able to hold his nerve and outlast his opponent in the deciding tiebreak. Tiafoe will have his work cut out for him in his next match against the 15th ranked player and tournament favorite, the Greek wunderkind Stefanos Tsitsipas. They have played once before with Tsitsipas winning in straight sets in 2017.
Tiafoe will need to serve well and make Tsitsipas come to the net to make him uncomfortable. Tiafoe can’t get into too many long baseline exchanges because that is playing to Tsitsipas’ strengths who utilizes strong groundstrokes to win points. Tiafoe should look to put away points with clever backhands and be wary of the Tsitsipas’ serves because he can be tough to break when getting his first serves in.
Tiafoe has likely reached his own personal goal of making it to the Next Gen Finals. Next he will face his toughest test and history has shown that Tiafoe tends to struggle against taller players, standing at 6’2, while Tsitsipas is 6’4. After the Tsitsipas match, Tiafoe would play Spanish player, Jaume Munar the following day.
Tiafoe should beat the lower ranked Munar, but the real test will come against Tsitsipas, the youngest player in the ATP Top 20. The match is scheduled for Wednesday, November 7th. Stream the Next Gen Finals with Amazon Prime.
Stephens and Keys raise the bar in Fed Cup playoff
By Editorial Team
The Fed Cup has come home for the US women’s team to the Alamo state with both Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys in the drivers’ seat.
After the early round defeat to Australia, Madison is anxious to redeem Team USA and position itself in the running for 2020. When asked about the status of the team and anticipation for the weekend, Keys stated,
“We’re playing to stay in World Group I. It’s obviously very important, We were all really bummed about the loss, and we’re looking to walk away with a win after this weekend.”
Chemistry is definitely in favor of the US team as the players and coaches are all very close off the court as friends, but against Switzerland its definitely a business trip.
Coming off a title win in Charleston, Madison is set to keep the momentum going full steam as she prepares to make a decent run toward the French Open later next month.
While title hopes are around the corner for Madison, Sloane is planning on regaining her rhythm and finding her strokes while she competes. Fans shouldn’t be surprised if Sloane goes deep in this year’s French Open as she is able to turn it around on a dime – noting last year’s final run in Paris.
Stable coaching appears to be Sloane’s biggest challenge now as she must find a suitable replacement after Fed Cup Captain, Kathy Rinaldi, has been filling in recently for Sly Black.
This Fed Cup match should a simple win for the deep high caliber of talent on the US team. Play is scheduled for April 20-21 in San Antonio, Texas with matches aired live on Tennis Channel.
Healthy, Tsonga takes on Edmund in Morocco
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is up against top seed Kyle Edmund tomorrow in the Grand Prix Hassan II in Casablanca, Morocco.
Tsonga is having a good start to the season with the exception of an early qualifying loss in Miami. Playing on the red clay surface is definitely a new venture to Tsonga after being off seven months from competitive play.
After his first round win over Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, Tsonga commented on his form:
“It was my first match on clay in a while. So I’m happy that I won today. I did what I needed to do today and played well during the first set,” said Tsonga, whose last outdoor clay match came at 2017 Roland Garros. “It has been almost two years since I didn’t play on outdoor clay. It’s nice to be back on clay.”
Perhaps this is the biggest test for Tsonga since his recovery. A win tomorrow could definitely put the Tour on notice while improving his ranking just before going into the red clay stretch and grand slam season.
Keys wins 4th title in Charleston
By Editorial Team
Madison Keys was able to defeat the 5th seed Caroline Wozniacki 7-6, 6-3 today to win her 4th title and 1st tournament win in close to 2 years.
This win against top WTA Tour players is great for Madison’s confidence as she goes into the thick of the clay court season.
Red clay has not been that kind to Madison even after reaching the semifinals last year. 2019 could be the year for a grand slam title, but consistency and health will play a major role in that for Madison.
The first 3 months of this season have been dismal for Madison with little to show in term of wins, but at the Volvo Car Open – her favorite tournament – she was able to overcome major hurdles with big wins over Sloane Stephens and Caroline Wozniacki.
Volvo Car Open
“It means so much,” Keys stated in her post-match press conference. “I’ve always loved Charleston. It’s always been one of my favorite tournaments, so to now be able to say that I’ve won the tournament and be on the trophy is really, really special.”
“It’s definitely been a really great week for me, especially after having some really tough losses the last couple of weeks,” Keys continued. “And to be able to really bounce back and have a really good week of training with my coach, Nacho, and then be able to come and win the tournament, it definitely is a very good springboard for heading over to Europe.”
Is it Madison’s year? Fans will have to wait for the French Open and hope that a favorable draw propels her to the end of the second week.
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