Ubaldo Scanagatta's 2020 Predictions: Tsitsipas To Rise, Federer To Fall And No Major Glory For Serena - UBITENNIS
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Ubaldo Scanagatta’s 2020 Predictions: Tsitsipas To Rise, Federer To Fall And No Major Glory For Serena

For the first time on Ubitennis.net, my predictions for the 2020 season. Last year I got 24 out of 30, how will I fare this time around?

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Dear readers, first off I’d like to thank you for your ever-growing support. For this reason, I’ve decided to publish my annual Crystal… Bald predictions for the 2020 season, a long-standing tradition for my Italian readers.  

 

How did I do last year? Well, my numbers clearly came around, since I nailed the opening 11 prophecies, most of them not as easy to foresee, such as Federer not winning any Majors but reaching the French Open semis and joining the 100 Tournaments Club, or Nadal winning the Roland Garros for the 12th time, Osaka taking the AO, or a NextGen player making a Slam final, as well as the more pessimistic ones on Murray and Del Potro’s fitness – needless to say, I’m proud of this Federeresque record, and I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to replicate it in the future.

Obviously, I badly missed on some others: for instance, I predicted a great year from Sascha Zverev (actually, judging from his 2020 form so far, last year might have actually been triumphant in comparison), and a heroic Serena Williams comeback, whom I thought would tie Margaret Court’s record tally, but I fell a couple of finals short – especially recalling the Centre Court steam-rolling by Halep.

So, now that my ethos and credentials have been shown (sort of), let’s get going with a whole new teleological haul, i.e. what will happen in Year 1 of the new decade:

  1. Federer won’t squander any more match point leads.
  2. 2019 was the last year so thoroughly dominated by two of the Fab Four.
  3. A NextGen will win a Major. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if we were in for a brace of youngsters.
  4. Tsitsipas will reach the Top 3 – he is also the likeliest to win a Major.
  5. Nadal won’t be rude to me, and I will be more careful with the phrasing of my questions.
  6. However… Zverev might underperform in the first six months of the season (and especially in Melbourne and Paris) due to the many exhibitions played with Federer that are likely to hinder his conditioning. If that were to happen, I’d be all but compelled to remind Rafa that he said to me: “If Sascha doesn’t win a Major in two years, you’ll be allowed to tell me that I’m a tennis illiterate.” Diplomatic incident alert, y’all.
  7. I will scheme to get Djokovic to say “not too bad” one more time.
  8. I’ll be interviewed by Channel 9, the Down Under network that will broadcast the Australian Open for the first time, whose brass won’t want to miss a chance to discuss my viral gags with the Big Three.
  9. I’ll make peace with Fognini – okay, this is too far.
  10. The new ATP chairman, Andrea Gaudenzi, will deny ever advocating a shortening of sets from 6 to 4 games. A very earnest bloke in the past, he’ll become a politician in his own right – it’s everybody’s fate. He’ll court the powers that be and he’ll forget about the small time reporters who saw him grow into this position.
  11. The NextGen ATP Finals will be moved to Turin in 2021 as a leading-up event to the actual Finals.
  12. Jannik Sinner, Italy’s most promising player, will have a similar progression to Djokovic’s. Nole finished as No.83 at 18 years old, in 2005, before reaching No.16 the following season. Sinner finished last season as No.78, and I believe he could be No.16 by the end of 2020.
  13. Benito Perez Barbadillo, Nadal’s manager, will mellow and learn to appreciate others for what they are, with no prejudice.
  14. Serena Williams won’t win a Major, thus not equalling Margaret Court’s record of 24 Slams. She betrayed me last year by not making it, so I’m tanking her this time around.
  15. Coco Gauff will experience some growing pains early in the year, suffering from the media pressure, but then will rise.
  16. Andreescu and Osaka will meet in a Major final.
  17. Denis Shapovalov will break the Top 10.
  18. The biggest letdown between the ATP No.10 and 20 will be David Goffin.
  19. Nick Kyrgios will rise from the ashes.
  20. Medvedev and Tsitsipas will re-assert their place as Slam contenders.
  21. ATP comebacks of the year: Del Potro and Chung.
  22. More letdowns: Zverev and/or Federer.
  23. ATP Top 5: Djokovic, Tsitsipas, Medvedev, Nadal, Thiem.
  24. WTA Top 5: Andreescu, Osaka, Barty, Halep, Bencic.
  25. WTA comebacks of the year: Muguruza and/or Stephens.
  26. Amanda Anisimova will also stage a comeback after a difficult end to last season.
  27. WTA letdowns: Serena and/or Pliskova.
  28. The biggest letdown between the WTA No. 10 and 20 will be Angelique Kerber.
  29. A final, chauvinistic prophecy: Matteo Berrettini won’t manage to keep the eight spot in the rankings – hopefully, he will get back to the top when the ATP Finals will move to Turin – while Fabio Fognini will come back to the Top 10 early in the year, and the will crash out after Monte carlo.
  30. A final, chauvinistic prophecy, Part II: Italy will have another great year in men’s tennis, with as many as three players in the Top 20.

PS: I know that No.22 will piss off a lot of people, but I’m prepared to take the heat. Happy 2020!

Translated by Tommaso Villa

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Former Rival And Top 10 Star Names Novak Djokovic The Greatest Of All Time

The two-time US Open quarter-finalist has issued his opinion on the Big Three of tennis.

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There is no easy way to establish the greatest men’s tennis player of all time, but according to Janko Tipsarevic it is his fellow compatriot.

 

Tipsarevic, who retired from the tour earlier this year, has named Novak Djokovic as the best player of all time based on his own experiences against the prestigious Big Three. A group that also features Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Djokovic is a 16-time grand slam champion who has won more prize money than any other player in the history of the sport (over $139 million). He has also achieved the year-end No.1 spot five times so far in his career.

“I played against everybody, I know who plays them when they are the best version of themselves and, with all due respect to Nadal and Federer … I know that I view this subjectively, but Novak Djokovic is the best tennis player of all time.” Tipsarevic said during an interview with Telegraf.rs.

Interestingly Djokovic is the only member of the trio Tipsarevic has beaten on the tour. Doing so at the 2011 ATP Finals and 2012 Madrid Masters. He lost all three of his meetings with Nadal and six times to Federer.

Others may argue against the 35-year-old by saying Djokovic is yet to win more grand slam titles than the other two players. However, he is the youngest of them all. Tipsarevic believes that it is only a matter of time before Djokovic breaks more records in the sport. Emulating similar comments that have been made by Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

“Novak is the best tennis player of all time.” He stated.
“It’s very important that people look at the statistics for these ten years: who did what, who won the most tournaments.”
“I think when it is all over the next three or four years, Novak will statistically outperform the two and be internationally recognized as the best,” he later added.

Despite recently retiring, Tipsarevic will still be seen on the tour in 2020 in a new role. He has been appointed as the new coach for world No.40 Filip Krajinović.

How the Big Three compare

Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic

Roger Federer

Age

33

32

38

Grand Slam titles*

19

16

20

Total titles*

84

77

103

Top 10 wins

171

205

224

Prize money earnings 

    $119,601,561

    $139,144,944

        $129,231,891

*ATP tournaments and grand slams only 

 

 

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Editorial

2019 US Open: A common road led by contrasting routes for Dominik Koepfer and Hyeon Chung

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Hyeon Chung, 2019 US Open
Photo Credit: Tata Open Maharashtra/Twitter

Amid the huddle of early-round exits and some scattered withdrawals, a couple of players made the most of opportunities they received at the 2019 US Open. Dominik Koepfer and Hyeon Chung came through the qualifying rounds to win their initial couple of rounds with conviction and make their way forward even as rest of the playing field blew open around them.

 

Being qualifiers is the denominator common to them this week. Yet, in a way, the 23-year-old Chung is trudging a familiar route as compared with the 25-year-old Koepfer who is a relative newer face to watch at the Slams.

In 2018, Chung had made it to his first semi-final at a Major – at the Australian Open – taking down then six-time champion Novak Djokovic in the fourth round. The 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals’ titlist reached a career-high of 19 in the world after his Australian Open jaunt in 2018. Koepfer, on the other hand, is yet to break into the top-100 – with a career-high of no. 113 attained in the second-week of August. His best result at the Majors – before his fourth-round appearance at the US Open – was reaching the second round at Wimbledon this year.

None of these differences in the respective roads they have travelled on the Tour mattered as they tried to make it to the main draw. Chung’s injuries that kept him away from the circuit (for almost five months this year) meant he had to start from scratch, at the Challenger level. Koepfer’s being a mainstay on the Challenger circuit – for now – meant he, too, would start from the same position.

In doing so, the sport has made levellers out of them. Their past results do not matter. It is how they do against the opponent of the day that matters. Three qualifying rounds followed by the sterner main-draw test that also comes by way of lengthier matches. In this regard, Chung has already faced two such difficult matches in his first two rounds this week against Ernesto Escobedo and Fernando Verdasco in which he had to play five-setters to extricate himself.

The draw’s narrowing has also meant the task ahead of them has gotten harder. This is also where their paths diverge once again. If Tulane University alumnus in Koepfer is the equivalent of a dark horse, Chung’s previous experience makes him a dangerous floater.

If the two end up being truthful to this tag of theirs, the chaos component at this year’s US Open will be the accentuation separating itself from the monotonous.

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Editorial

2019 US Open, And The Growth In The Divide Between Players And Officials

The 2019 US Open has barely begun but off-court news surrounding the sport’s refereeing officials have reverberated more than the on-court results.

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Nick Kyrgios, Steve Johnson, 2019 US Open
Photo Credit: Andrew Ong/USTA

Argentinian chair umpire Damian Steiner was removed by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) for giving interviews without consulting the ATP about accepting those. Among the players, Nick Kyrgios and Serena Williams continued with their less-than-respectful behaviour. Kyrgios towards the ATP which docked him $113,000 in fines for his rants against Fergus Murphy in Cincinnati. And, Williams towards Carlos Ramos, who umpired her 2018 US Open final against Naomi Osaka.

 

These incidents are revealing of the dichotomy spanning the players and the officials’ positions. Let us look at the players’ side of this chasm first. Kyrgios’ had no remorse about his behaviour against Murphy. Neither was he upset about being fined. Nonetheless, he attempted to duck from his mistakes by blaming the ATP for the penalty.

“Not at all. The ATP is pretty corrupt anyway, so I’m not fussed about it at all,” Kyrgios replied to a question about the fine in his post-match press conference. He, then, turned into a quasi-interrogator as if perplexed by the question, and the fine. His rhetorical question was, “I got fined 113K for what? Why are we talking about something that happened three weeks ago when I just chopped up someone first round?”

Kyrgios’ lackadaisical approach towards rectifying his errors was infuriating. But perhaps not to the same level as the exasperation evoked by Williams’ words, in her press conference.

After her first-round win over Maria Sharapova, Williams, in response to a question about Ramos not umpiring her matches at the event this year, chose to be snarky instead of giving a straight answer. “Yeah, I don’t know who that is,” she stated impassively as though the person and the events of the previous year did not concern or involve her.

Now, imagine a scenario in which either Murphy or Ramos, or both wanted to speak up and finally decide to share their vexations about receiving such attitude from the players in an interview. They cannot even do that without seeking permission from the sport’s governing authorities. Moreover, a message was sent in making an example out of Steiner that umpires did not have the backing of their job if they decided to forgo the rules.

The game’s viewers may take it as in indication that tennis’ rules belonged to the “never to be broken” category. However, this move will only embolden the players to be more abrasive and impolite to the umpires. Instead of looking at them as maintainers of the game for the duration of the match.

Case in point: Stefanos Tsitsipas’ ranting at Damien Dumussois when the Frenchman asked him to quicken his time at change of ends. “You have something against me. You’re French, probably. … You’re all weirdos,” he went on, insulting not only the umpire but also his nationality, and his countrymen.

Undoubtedly, it was said in momentary anger because of how the match was turning against him. Yet, if the rules are to be so correctly enforced – and they were in this instance, in Dumussois asking the eighth-seed to speed up – players ought not to complain.

However, grievances – actual and perceived – are bound to come up. As such, sanctioning players with fines (and even suspension) for raging at the umpires is a stop-gap remedy. Players will not – and did not – hesitate to fulfil the terms of their punishment. They will also continue with their tirades, as and when things do not go their way in a match.

On the other hand, for the umpires, this is like a repetitive cycle of viciousness. Tennis’ managerial authorities need to incorporate a system in which the umpires get to openly communicate about the players’ misconduct without being isolated, and treated as the sport’s second-rung members.

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