MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — As the Tour descends to the U.S. for the winter and spring swings of California and Florida, codebreakers are needed to understand the patterns that have emerged in professional tennis over the past month. is not.
Over the course of four weeks, the small group at the top of the sport was a little crowded with two of the most important tournaments outside of Grand Slam events. State still bans entry of foreigners who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 (Novak Djokovic).
19-year-old Spanish wonder Carlos Alcalaz was already in the group in what was becoming the biggest draw in the sport. But once again make room for Daniil Medvedev. Medvedev, a magically idiosyncratic Russian who dropped out of the top tier last year, won his first Miami Open on Sunday after reaching the final at Indian Wells two weeks ago, and Yannik beat Sinner to his win. defeated 7-5 6-3.
Elena Rybakina is officially there too. I lost.
Then there’s Sinner, a slick Italian who reached the semifinals at Indian Wells after losing to Medvedev on Sunday. He cemented himself as the most reliable contemporary rival to the nearly unstoppable Alcaraz, Sinner faced his Alcaraz and beat him in Friday night’s semi-final, 3-3 head-to-head. I set a record. By the way, Rybakina managed the same tricks as her Swiatek and recently became her Kryptonite in a way no one else has.
Medvedev said he had “the best start to the season so far” and has won 24 of his last 25 matches and four of his last five tournaments since losing in the third round at the Australian Open in January. I am listing.
Trophies and big checks are handed out each March and April in Indian Wells and Miami, but this time tennis has moved to Europe for the clay-court season and then the grass.
Nadal, the so-called King of Klee, who won 14 titles at the French Open, posted a picture of himself on Instagram. Stretching for Shots During Practice A subtle hint last week that he’s ready. Djokovic was not vaccinated before, but he has endured forced layoffs as he has come back stronger. There is no doubt that he will not do the same this time.
These three may be ready to strike, but they also know the ever-evolving challenges that await them. Although he finished a round out of reach for the finals here in Florida, Alcaraz showed incredible shotmaking and left another many casualties, making him one of the most devastatingly powerful forces in the game. solidified his position.
Top American Taylor Fritz enjoyed a chance to face Alcaraz for the first time in Thursday’s quarterfinals. Wondering what hit him, he stepped away from hitting in straight sets as Fritz slammed out his 110 mph second serve, making this Spaniard a clean winner. Fritz squashed a backhand across the court and Alcaraz hit back with an impossible backhand. Alcaraz said Djokovic, Nadal and Roger felt a level of suffocation he had never experienced the first time he faced Federer.
Fritz said, “I felt like I could take a breather with those guys more than this match.”
Medvedev was safe from Alcalaz on the other side of the draw, but was watching on TV — Medvedev watches a lot of tennis on television when he’s alive in the tournament — and Alcalaz hit a forehand with breakneck speed. I saw that he shook his head.
“Why can’t others play Carlos?” Medvedev said. “Hmm, I can’t hit a 110-mile forehand. Yeah, that’s an advantage.”
But Medvedev, who lost to Alcaraz in the men’s singles final at Indian Wells, was as good a pundit as he was a player, and made a counterintuitive analysis. Conventional wisdom suggests that trying to beat Alcaraz is silly because that’s the way Alcaraz likes to play.
But Medvedev said that’s probably why Sinner was more successful against Alcaraz than anyone else. increase. But Medvedev said, “Yannik can hit the ball very hard. I think there’s ping-pong tennis like that. That’s where he can bring him trouble.”
And Sinner came back from a setdown with Alcaraz to force him into leg cramps in another highlight reel display.
“You have to shoot where you normally wouldn’t,” Sinner said against Alcaraz.
Medvedev, who had now won all of his matches, presented another challenge to Sinner, who had been awakened by bad weather. Flat power didn’t fly into the Sinner’s strike zone like it did on smooth hardcourts.
Early on, Medvedev lured Sinner into a long rally. Sinner shifted to a more aggressive tack and that helped.However, still in less than 100% condition and stepping into his three-hour battle with Alcaraz, he was in 86-degree heat. Weakened in stagnation, he was unable to find the next gear he needed to win his first Masters 1000 title.
“It’s getting closer and closer,” Sinner said of his uneven record against Medvedev. “Every player has one or two weak players.”
Another pattern worth noting: The unkempt Medvedev is said to be the best Medvedev. His game was flat when he showed up to play with his hair almost done and clean-shaven like he had just gotten out of a Lacoste fashion shoot. As he hangs down and steps up a size or two in his shirt and stands on the court, he seems to fully realize that he is the artist and assassin within him.
It’s no surprise that Medvedev has been pretty unkempt this past month. He’s also working with a new mental coach, whose name we won’t reveal, after a year that didn’t work out.
“I always try to do my best. I always try to work hard. You never know when you will be paid.”
Even after losing Saturday’s final to a 13-game winning streak, Ryvakina will continue to be a force that grows more and more fearsome each month heading into the clay-court season. She won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon last year, but her ranking fell as the Tour withheld her points from the event rankings after Wimbledon banned Russia and Belarus from competing. remained artificially low. She spent the entire summer and fall trying to make up for it, but when she arrived in Australia to rest, she reached the final, losing to Alina Sabalenka in three sets.
Since then, she’s used her powerful serve and rolling backhand to overwhelm her opponents and has barely given up. After a fascinating first-set tiebreak, she finally ran out of gas on Saturday. Kvitova, who won her ninth Masters 1000 title, saved six set points before winning 7-6 (14) 6-2.
“I’m happy with the run and very proud of myself,” Rybakina said when it was over.
And what to do with Kvitova? She is her 33-year-old, two-time Wimbledon champion who just won her first Masters 1000 title since 2018, and her attack at home in 2016 put her in a dominant position. not to mention her left hand was bleeding and her ligaments were torn. Even Kvitova, who sat next to the glass trophy on Saturday evening, couldn’t answer it.
“I don’t know what this does,” she said. “The clay is waiting, then the turf. The world of tennis is so fast you can’t just stand there and watch this trophy.”
Neither Medvedev nor good players last month. Novak, Rafa and Iga are waiting.