Week 7


Very strong field in RotterdamJannik Sinner [14] was unseeded, and it created a unique situation that in 2R two players met, who presumably finish several years together in the Top 10 this decade: Sinner, with surprising ease, avenged four straight defeats to Stefanos Tsitsipas – the Greek has a decent chance to become No. 1 in the world in April (especially if Novak Đoković is forced to skip the Indian Wells/Miami combo). Daniil Medvedev [11] captured the title easily, he admittedly dropped two sets, but all ten required sets he won having big advantage over his opponents… The revival of Dutch tennis is noticeable, for the first time since 2003 two Dutchmen advanced to the Rotterdam quarterfinals (both ‘wild cards’). There were years in the 90s with 4-5 players from the Netherlands in the Top 100, in the previous decade Robin Haase was hanging alone in it, and currently there are two Top 50 blondes, wearing caps everywhere, with bizarre surnames: Botic van de Zandschulp (“of the sand shell”) and Tallon Griekspoor (“Greek track”, semifinalist this week). Two other guys who may advance to the Top 100 soon: Tim van Rijthoven and Gijs Brouwer (quarter-finalist this week).
Carlos Alcaraz [2] returned to action after a 3.5-month break in Buenos Aires. He wasn’t rusty since the first points, lost a set in his opening round, against a clay-court specialist who played his best tennis at the final stages of that set. The runner-up Cameron Norrie [12, first player to lose two finals this year; drops to 4-9 in finals] surprised me choosing the Golden Swing, but I think it’s a consequence of the Davis Cup – Britain played as a guest in Colombia, and Norrie apparently decided to stay in South America for a month. “I felt very comfortable playing the final,” Alcaraz said post-match. “I knew that it was going to be really difficult. I started really focused on what I had to do at the beginning, my game, my level. This is the level that I have to play in finals.” I suspect the shortest Top 100 player, 30-year-old Diego Schwartzman [32] is done after four years in the Top 20. The Argentine has won just 1 of his last 11 matches, fighting for every point for so many years finally takes its toll. Playing in front of the local crowd it was a very good opportunity to reverse the unfavourable fate, yet he was destroyed in both Argentinian events by inferior opponents.
FloridaMatija Pecotić [784], the 33-year-old Croat who wasn’t known even as a Challenger player, became the second oldest player to win a maiden ATP match. He went through the qualifying event and stunned in the first round Jack Sock who has been struggling with injuries since 2018 and plays sporadically. The title captured the main favorite Taylor Fritz [7] who has been playing tie-breaks with fantastic efficiency lately, 12-1 record (16-1 including a December Exhibition in Saudi Arabia). At Delray Beach, Fritz added another two tie-breaks. “The fans especially, the turnout was incredible and it makes me really proud to be an American playing at a home event, with many people in the stands.” said Fritz after the final in which he wasted a match point in the 2nd set. Thanks to this title, he has secured No. 5 in the world next Monday.


Michael Stich [11], the Stuttgart titlist, was extremely lucky that he survived the second round match: he was trailing 4:5* (15/40) in the 3rd set against the Olympic gold medalist Marc Rosset. The Swiss player, known for his unconventional behavior, decided to finish the match with an ace and committed two double faults in a row risking his second serves! Stich was also lucky that two top seeded players, his potential opponents in back-to-back matches, withdrew during the event: Petr Korda (upset stomach) and Boris Becker (fever). Especially avoiding Becker was very beneficial because at the time German fans loved Becker instead of Stich (it’d slightly change at the end of the season) and one week before Becker destroyed Stich in Milan. In the final the local umpire (Peter Richter of Stuttgart) helped Stich a bit. Richard Krajicek fired an apparent ace saving the first match point, but the linesman called it out. Richter didn’t intervene. On Krajicek’s second serve Stich played a perfect forehand passing-shot. One year before they played similarly tight match in the Australian Open quarterfinal. Then triumphed Krajicek, he also won their third and last five-setter, another Stuttgart final (in 1995). “I would have been happy with much less money because I’ve been waiting for an ATP victory for a long time,” said Stich, commenting a big winner prize in the second richest ATP event of the season (only “Masters” offered more that year). At 5-all in the decider against Krajicek, Stich withstood two mini-match points with volleys.
Pennsylvania Derrick Rostagno [91] could increase his level facing top players, and he benefited from Jim Courier‘s tiredness after exceptionally demanding previous week in Memphis. Rostagno stunned the No. 1 in the world in straight sets, snapping his 12-match winning streak, and it was an important moment of the season because Pete Sampras reaching the semifinal that week, began to chase his one year older compatriot. The doubles specialist Mark Woodforde [44] captured his 4th and the biggest singles title. He took advantage of Ivan Lendl‘s retirement in the 62-minute final. Lendl lost the first point of the 10th game (thanks to that Woodforde edged 40-39 in total points) and decided to quit… he suffered a pulled muscle on his left side just below the rib cage. Woodforde almost avoided playing a match point also against Rostagno in the semifinal because an angry American slammed a ball towards the umpire, he could be disqualified, but only got a penalty point. Their shake-hand was very awkward, similar to the one I observed after the Delreay Beach ’23 quarterfinal between Mackenzie McDonald & Michael Mmoh.
…Finals 2023…
Rotterdam (ATP 500, hard indoors)
(6)🇷🇺Daniil Medvedev d. 🇮🇹Jannik Sinner 5-7, 6-2, 6-2
Delray Beach (ATP 250, hard outdoors)
(1)🇺🇸Taylor Fritz d. (4)🇷🇸Miomir Kecmanović 6-0, 5-7, 6-2
Buenos Aires (ATP 250, clay outdoors)
(1)🇪🇸Carlos Alcaraz d. (2)🇬🇧Cameron Norrie 6-3, 7-5
…Finals 1993…
Stuttgart ($2,125M, carpet indoors)
(6)🇩🇪Michael Stich d. (5)🇳🇱Richard Krajicek 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(4), 3-6, 7-5
Philadelphia ($575K, hard indoors)
🇦🇺Mark Woodforde d. (4)🇺🇸Ivan Lendl 5-4 ret.
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