Seba Korda is one of five Americans in the last 16 of the opening slam of the year. Other than the surprise that that many US players have made it that far, the surprise that Russia has two players there and none of them is Daniil Medvedev. This shows that the days of three players sharing the majord every single year like barbeque grill meat is all but over. Seba the son of Czech great Petr,other than that he is a righty and his dad was a lefty, there isn’t much difference in the way that they play. They both like to build on a solid service game foundation. First set 5-4 Karen Kachanov first set, what a time to get the ace, serving to stay in the set. Aiming for the service line gives your opponent little time to react to the serve. Like all young players on Tour, Seba is still learning the tricks of the trade. One of those, is how to judge the ball condition, the flight of the ball, how it behaves on the court and when it is struck by the racquet. That feel of the game unfortunately can’t be taught. Check out tie break 1-1 ending up rather looking sheepish there the young American.
Karen isn’t a one time Masters Champ for nothing, great hard court game. What a way to seal the tie break at 6-5 but before that Seba’s best point of the match .The deep return of serve from Khachanov, Seba recovering well in the rally to outpunch the Russian from the back court. Karen a little hasty there to come to the net giving Korda the chance at the pass. Korda’s patient game should be a threat in the clay season should he stay fit. Korda’s coach Radek Stepanek had a strong clay court game too. You wouldn’t have seen the ending of the match coming like it did if you watched the second set. Both traded excellent ground stroke winner earlier on but the end of the set was dominated by Karen. Korda called for a trainer at 3-2. First hint of something being wrong with his fitness. Korda had pain in his wrist which greatly impacts his shot making. Watching 5-3(40-15( Karen) one can see the discomfort on the American’s face. A wrist injury in tennis is mostly caused tension which translates to tightening up the racquet grip. Easing up mentally is the tonic and not letting the pressure get to you. Not a great way to end a quarterfinal, but Kachanov will take it, his second since reaching US Open last eight last year. At least the US is guaranteed of at least one player in last 4, Tommy Paul will battle Ben Shelton tomorrow in the unlikeliest of quarterfinals.
Are you surprised as I am that the American contingent is turning up in Melbourne? It’s not a surprise in terms of how good this generation of tennis players are, but in terms of how many are in such top form at the same time. Guys like Michael Mmoh and Brandon Nakashima have been bubbling in the junior circuit before they came to the pros, so US tennis deserves it’s flowers. Mike is a second generation athlete whose dad was an Olympian for Nigeria.Sascha Zverev is no stranger to the Olympics being a gold medalist in Tokyo 2020 but had a forgettable end to 2022 with a major injury. Always a great server mostly because of his stature, he had a strong first set on the back of a strong first serve. As the match went on however his double fault count ratcheted up to cost him dearly. Watch vintage Zverev at 3-2(40-15) to consolidate break of serve. Another advantage of his height, ability to reach out for those corner placed balls. Mmoh came into his own in the second set. What I observed on his serve is that he likes to go wide and flat.
Watch second set 4-3 Mmoh 40-30 on his racquet. Mike didn’t put the wide enough. Not complaining, it gave us the chance to see a brilliant rally. His somewhat languid style may not be everyone’s cup of tea but he stayed in the point long enough to find the opening. That drop slice was majestic. Deserved second set win. So poor on second set was Sascha , he won just 37% on the second try. Watch third set 5-3 Mmoh (40-15) set point, that cross court forehand “had desperately need to get in the set” all over it. Understandable, he is way overdue a grand slam but patience is a virtue. It is so true in tennis that if you lose a big rally , the following one is likely to go that way because of the mental damage inflicted by the first. Check out 2-1 fourth and ultimately final set first point and 4-2 Mmoh (40-30). You just know it’s your day when you get those net cords , those tight net plays. Mmoh deserves this victory and now plays fellow American Jeff Wolf in Round 3.
Nadal is out of the first slam of the year and I don’t think it’s such a bad thing. Come what may Rafa’s status in the tennis HOF is secure. Sometimes one needs that defeat that signals your time is up. This is one such for the Spaniard. Rafa looked a step slower and immobile compared to last season. Watch 4-3 MacDonald 30-15. The normally great footwork on the baseline was so poorly executed the normally good forehand followed suit. Normally he allows himself a step back to get the angle right. Mackenzie MacDonald is an American player who is a late bloomer for me, having had his best singles season last year aged 27.The only thing left on his CV is that title, any title. Nifty mover on court, check out 5-4 set point on deuce with a great defensive game to boot, check out first game of second set 0-15 on the Nadal racquet. First of all when you defense lob, it is unusual and also risky to not go center court. The payoff was the overhead smash error from Rafa of which the Spaniard wasn’t at all comfortable executing.
This was the best game of the entire match and Rafa losing his serve so early in the set was the point of no return. How on earth did Mackie get the ball back from the Rafa serve at 0-40? Not all doom and gloom for the 22 time times Grand Slam champ. Check out 2-0 Mackie first point, turning back the years with that serve and volley play that won him Wimbledon all those years back. Too bad it didn’t happen often in this match. Not to be hard on Rafa be looked to be carrying an injury. Having gone back on serve he pulled up during the eighth game. It’s a testament to his sportsmanship that he continued even though he could have easily forfeited. Thus the odds were heavily staked against him going into the third set two love down. So going to an twelfth game of the last set was an achievement worth its flowers. The key to prolonging the match for Rafa was to shorten the point by going to the net more. Check out 3-3 (15-0). The emotion on the Nadal team after the match may signal the end is nigh. Time will tell.
Dallas on the road to Tampa for the final wild card playoff game. End of an era? Certainly looks like it. It’s a matter of opinion but Tom Brady shouldn’t have come back. This was as poor a regular season as I have seen him in a while, his teams rarely drop to 0.500. That is not to say TB12 isn’t that good. He got 351 yards ,46 yards more than Dak Prescott but Dak’s success rate was the ultimate difference. Dak had 76% caught passes to Brady’s 53%. Slow start from the Bucs whose defense looked vulnerable. The opening TD Schultz from the Cowboys looked soft from the Tampa Bay perspective. How poor was the TB offense? Check out 2nd Q 6-0 Cowboys 2nd and goal, the Bucs with the football. Brady and number 17 Cage not on the same frequency and it happened way too often. It was an awesome night for Prescott. Loved his first TD. Pressure situation at 2nd Q 6:13 4th and Goal. The TB defense had just come from a huge defensive play at 3rd and Goal, where a lesser person could have gone for the FG.
That 18-0 half time lead was big and proved insurmountable, and Brett Maher is one relieved kicker. He missed all TD confirmation kicks bar one. What’s up with his technique? Using the right hand post as a measuring stick, Maher is too far to the right such that when he kicks he slices through the football too wide. Taking an extra step did him in. The Bucs took long to come to the party. The Cowboys were having their own way. Check out the TD at 18-0 10:13, 2nd and goal. Look how much time Dak had with the football. Being given so much time also gives the wide receiver Gallup the chance to maneuver. And no he wasn’t out of bounds. TB12 rolling the years with that 50 yard pass to Jones at 24-0 Cowboys , seconds left in the third, was the major highlight for Tampa in an otherwise lackluster, disappointing game. Tampa ending their season with a negative win-loss record, time to move on from Brady, reestablish that attacking instinct for 2024 which possibly means coach Todd Bowles time may also be up
He likes to play villain but deep down he is a patriotic softy. Nick Kyrgios, Australia’s only realistic hope for a first home Grand Slam winner since 1976 has been ruled out of the year’s opening major. Nick has been very active since the year started. By playing a charity practice match with Novak Djokovic, he not only endeared himself to the locals, it apparent cost him the Aussie Open. A slight tear was detected on the lateral meniscus otherwise known as the knee. What causes the tear? It is not that difficult to see that tennis has a lot of impact on the knees. Sliding and running after lost causes is the name of the game and sometimes the knee twists the wrong way. It is an impact injury meaning that it may not be visible to the naked eye but the victim has got to be in agony. The fact that he played on against Nole showed that he didn’t want to let the fans down and possibly the injury progressed gradually. This is not to say Nick couldn’t play on against Nick Safiullin tomorrow. Although movement somewhat, with the right pain meds and heavy bandaging one can play especially low stakes matches. Now let’s explain what exactly is injured when the meniscus is torn.
The knee is three bones intersecting together without touching each other. Touching each other would be disastrous as the friction will ear down the bone faster than you can say arthritis. Tissue called a meniscus acts as a shield against this rubbing together but it is anything but flexible. It cannot withstand certain force, thus a tear is more than possible. This injury is common in most team sports like basketball and also in individual sports like tennis and badminton. Like said earlier, not all are serious but walking the cautious route doesn’t hurt. One should immediately stop the activity, bandage ,after cold or warm compress depending on your beliefs, and elevating. I don’t know if Nick will have surgery on his knee, but what I do know is small torn meniscus injuries heal on their own. What we know is it developed a cyst which is not a good thing because cysts indicate some sort of infection. So the right call was made by Nick’s doctors. The Australian Open, which is lacking star power in the form of players such as Osaka, Alcaraz , Venus and Monfils, couldn’t afford to lose a high profile player like Kyrgios. So it begs the question is it the timing of the event or is it the poor scheduling by the players’ backing staff? For me its a little bit of both. Coming from a holiday season and straight to the grueling hard court Slam under extreme temperatures isn’t my favorite mug of Victoria Bitter. I guess this is a matter of preference on both sides.
You must be logged in to post a comment.