2022 Paris Masters: Observations from Opening Two Rounds

The final true tournament of the 2022 ATP calendar resides in Paris. The 1000-event features Carlos Alcaraz, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, among others, and will ultimately cap off the tennis season for the players who aren’t competing in the ATP Finals, Next Gen Finals and/or Davis Cup.

The tournament has also featured some intriguing three-set matches, including a few on Wednesday.

So, how are things playing out? Who has the best chance of winning this event? And what players can use their current momentum for the January Aussie swing to start the 2023 campaign?

Players Who Are Having Great End to Season

There are players who are just playing on another level right now, and those include:

  • Denis Shapovalov
  • Felix Auger-Aliassime
  • Mikael Ymer
  • Holger Rune
  • Lorenzo Musetti

Shapovalov has really come into his own since making the final in Seoul. While he lost to Pablo Carreno Busta on Wednesday, he took the Spaniard to three sets. He also made the final in Vienna last week and reached the semifinals in Tokyo earlier in this hard-court swing.

What has really helped the Canadian succeed, is keeping his outbreaks under wrap. Instead, he’s channeling that energy into his game and his power on both wings.

Here’s another Canadian who is on a monster run. FAA is the hottest player in tennis right now, as he’s captured three titles in a row and is in the midst of a 14-match win streak.

On Wednesday, Felix barley escaped Ymer in a match that featured a third-set tiebreak and over three hours of tennis.

I’ve criticized Felix on this site multiple times during the summer for his shaky and inconsistent play, but the man is on fire right now and looks like one of the best players in the sport. Remember, he’s beaten Alcaraz twice during the latter part of the year.

Speaking of Ymer, the Swede has been absolutely terrific and is playing some of the best tennis of his career. His turnaround started in the Davis Cup, as he defeated Diego Schwartzman in straight sets and Jannik Sinner in three sets.

Since then, he’s reached the quarters in Metz, the semis in Florence and another quarterfinal in Stockholm. He lost to Felix on Wednesday, but there’s nothing to be ashamed of with that performance.

Showing greater offensive ability means good things to come for Ymer.

Let’s move on to Rune, who at 19 years old has really come into his own over the last couple of months. He’s up to a career-high ranking on 18 thanks to an appearance in the final in Basel, a tournament title in Stockholm and a finals appearance in Sofia.

Rune has been gritty in a lot of his matches, especially against Roberto Bautista Agut, when he owned clutch points against the Spaniard.

On Wednesday, Rune smoked Hubert Hurkacz, and that’s not a result we’re taking lightly. Rune truly has the ability to end up in the mix with Alcaraz and Sinner as the best young player in the world, and is a contender to win this event in Paris.

Musetti isn’t known for his abilities on hard courts, but he has certainly proven doubters wrong during this European swing. The Italian served masterfully in his win over Marin Cilic here in Paris and made quick work of Nikoloz Basilashvili (1:09) in his second-round match on Wednesday.

He lost his opening-round duel in Basel, but won the tournament in Naples (over Matteo Berrettini) and reached the semis in Florence and Sofia.

Things are looking positive for the Italian.

One Final Run for Simon

Taylor Fritz was -850 to beat Gilles Simon on Wednesday. Instead of blowing out the Frenchman, Fritz lost in three sets (5-7, 7-5, 4-6).

This is Simon’s final tournament of his career, and he’s making the most of his wild card berth. Simon beat Andy Murray in the opening round and upset Fritz thanks to his lack of unforced errors and steady play.

Simon certainly doesn’t look ready to retire, even at 37 years of age.

But next up is FAA.

And that’s the worst possible draw for Simon. Felix has played a lot of tennis of late, but Simon also just played over three hours of tennis at his “advanced” age.

Paul Gets Better of Nadal

Tommy Paul has put together a career season in 2022, including a Round of 16 appearance at Wimbledon. But the American hasn’t lived up to his potential during this indoor hard-court swing, playing ugly tennis in Stockholm and choking away his opening-round match against Dominic Thiem in Vienna.

He also got bageled in the opening-set of his only meeting vs. Rafael Nadal.

So, that’s why a lot of people weren’t expecting much from Paul on Wednesday.

Well, those people turned out to be wrong, as the American came back down a set to upset Nadal in Paris. This came one round after a dominating straight-set performance against RBA.

We already know about Paul’s athleticism, footwork and talent, but he displayed an efficient and effective net game vs. Nadal, and his fitness appeared to give Rafa some trouble, especially in that third set.

Paul now has to face his third straight Spaniard (Carreno Busta), but I like his chances to pull off what will likely be another upset. He’s playing with great confidence, and if he uses his net game and fitness to his advantage, that will keep Carreno Busta from dictating points.

2022 Antwerp Tennis: Previewing Day 3 of European Open

The European Open from Antwerp, Belgium featured three-set matches galore on Tuesday, as four duels went the distance.

On Wednesday, the draw picks up steam as the two top seeds play their first matches, two Americans go head-to-head and Dominic Thiem looks to continue his improved form.

Let’s dive into every match on Wednesday’s schedule of play.

Daniel Evans vs. Constant Lestienne

Evans is a much better, more experienced ATP player than Lestienne. He’s also had great results against Lestienne in the past, especially their most recent meeting in San Diego (6-1, 6-3).

But in their only meeting on an indoor hard court, Lestienne kept things close, losing in a third-set tiebreaker in Quimper back in 2019.

Lestienne, who has been a fixture on the Challenger Tour, has seen solid results in his last three ATP tournaments. He reached the quarterfinals in San Diego, the semifinals in Tel Aviv and won a match in Gijon.

While Evans should win this one, I expect Lestienne to keep things relatively close based on past results on a similar surface and form. But I don’t think it will be close enough to cover the 3 games on the betting line.

Dominic Stricker vs. Richard Gasquet

Both of these players are coming off of emotional first-round wins — Stricker upset 34th-ranked Botic van de Zandschulp while Gasquet saved three match points to beat Stan Wawrinka in three sets.

Despite being just 20 years old, I think Stricker handles this situation better.

This represents an opportunity for the Swiss to build on one of the biggest wins of his career, and he has advantages in two areas.

  • Stricker has never played Gasquet, which will be an adjustment for the Frenchman.
  • Gasquet played a two-hour, grueling match on Monday and he’s 36 years old.

Give me Stricker in this spot.

Dominic Thiem vs. Michael Geerts

It’s always tough to fade players competing in their home country, but in this case, I doubt Geerts — who is mainly a doubles player — will put up much of a fight against an improved Thiem.

Last week in Gijon, Thiem mentioned after his first-round match that it was the best he’s felt on the court since returning. He then went on to beat Marcos Giron and Francisco Cerundolo while being competitive against Andrey Rublev.

I think Thiem not only wins this match, but covers -5.

Hubert Hurkacz vs. Jack Draper

It’s tough to argue with how well Draper played in his opening-round match against Jenson Brooksby. He smoked the American, using his powerful forehand and serve to his advantage. He never allowed Brooksby to get comfortable, and it truly feels like this is a week where he can breakthrough convincingly.

Hurkacz will serve much better in this spot than Brooksby did in the first round, though. He also earned an indoor hard court title back in 2021 in Metz.

These two have never met, but I like I said, I feel like this is Draper’s week.

Manuel Guinard vs. Geoffrey Blancaneaux

Two Frenchmen lucky losers square off in this matchup, and I’m going to lean toward Guinard because of his form.

Guinard made the Round of 16 in Gijon last week, winning two qualifying matches before taking down Fabio Fognini. He lost to Cerundolo in straight sets, but he did force the Argentine into a tiebreaker in set one.

I watched Blancaneaux play in US Open qualifying, and while I liked his game, he’s lost three straight matches, including a recent retirement.

Marcos Giron vs. Sebastian Korda

This is the match I’m most excited to see on Wednesday, as these are two Americans who haven’t played since their thrilling three-setter at Newport Beach in 2020.

We’ll start with Giron, who made his only final of the 2022 season at San Diego and then gave Thiem a tough match in Gijon last week.

Meanwhile, Korda also reached one ATP final this season, and that run came last week in the same event (Gijon).

Korda notched some big wins along the way (Andy Murray, Roberto Bautista Agut and Arthur Rinderknech) before losing to Rublev in the final. At only 22 years of age, Korda just couldn’t keep up with the Russian (Rublev), who was just on another level in terms of experience and talent.

I love fading players after they’ve played deep into tournaments in the previous week — and that’s especially the case with a younger player like Korda.

I like Giron to win this one.

Jaume Munar vs. Yoshihito Nishioka

Both of these players are inconsistent, but they’ve recently had very promising results.

Munar beat Casper Ruud in straight sets in Toyko while Nishioka won Seoul, topping Ruud, Daniel Evans and Denis Shapovalov in the process.

This should be a competitive match, but I think the fact that Nishioka hasn’t played an indoor hard court tournament during this swing actually favors Munar in this match.

I still think Yoshi wins this one — he had a week off last week and I love to favor his groundstrokes on quicker courts — however, I would take Munar to win the first set from a betting perspective. I think it will take Yoshi a set to adjust to the surface.

2022 ATP Tour: Takeaways From Tokyo & Astana 500 Events

While there are two more ATP 500 events at the end of October, a 1000 event in Paris in November and the ATP Finals in Turin still to come, last week in Tokyo and Astana marked one of the final massive weeks of the 2022 tennis season.

That means we will soon be turning our attention to the Australian Open — the first Grand Slam of 2023.

But before we get ahead of ourselves (the excitement for 2023 is real — especially for this site, as it will be our first full season up and running), let’s break down our three takeaways from last week’s two 500 events.

We Got Robbed of One of the Matches of the Year

Carlos Alcaraz vs. Jannik Sinner at the US Open was insane (in fact, there were multiple insane matches in New York this year). The Rafael Nadal-Daniil Medvedev five-set final at the Aussie Open was a thriller. And Nadal-Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros had a wildly high level of play.

But the match between Djokovic and Medvedev on Saturday in the Astana semifinals was special, too.

Medvedev was playing the best tennis I’ve seen him play in a while, acting like a backboard from the baseline, picking his spots effectively on groundstrokes and serves, and frustrating Djokovic (something we all know few players can do). He won the first set 6-4 and honestly looked destined to pull off the upset in straight sets.

While Djokovic wasn’t serving at his best, his play was undoubtably strong himself, especially late in the second set when he started to stage his comeback.

Medvedev missed a routine volley that could’ve been the game changer, helping Djokovic win the second-set tiebreaker 8-6 to even the match at a set apiece.

We were headed for a thrilling third set in a match that would’ve most likely been the best non-major battle of this tennis season.

Unfortunately — and to the shock of many, including Djokovic — Medvedev retired immediately following his second-set defeat.

It was odd to say the least, at least to many of us watching the match. The Russian didn’t visibly seem like anything was bothering him physically.

Even Djokovic’s reaction was of pure shock, as he mentioned post-match that he didn’t expect Med to retire despite him showing signs of slowing down during the late stretch of the second set. He also mentioned that the Russian was the better of the two players in both sets.

Medvedev later explained his retirement to the media, mentioning a “strange pop in my adductor.”

Medvedev has beaten Djokovic four times in his career in 11 meetings, so it’s not shocking that he was able to assert himself against the 21-time Grand Slam winner.

But what was shocking — and disappointing — though was the fact that we were all robbed of arguably one of the best and most elite matches we’ve seen this season.

Denis Shapovalov Coming Into His Own

First of all, hats off to Taylor Fritz who beat US Open semifinalist and fellow American Frances Tiafoe in the Tokyo final (7-6, 7-6).

Fritz has had an up-and-down last two or so months, losing in the first round of the US Open to Brandon Holt, putting forth a questionable performance in the Davis Cup and nearly blowing a second straight lead to Cam Norrie in the Laver Cup.

But ultimately, the American captured his third title of the season and is now ranked in the top 10 for the first time in his career.

Fritz may have lifted the trophy, but there’s another player that I’m even more impressed with.

That man is Denis Shapovalov.

One week after reaching the final in Seoul, Shapovalov made another deep run at Tokyo, getting to the semifinals before dropping a three-setter to Fritz.

Shapo had a strong chance to win that match, too — he was up a break (3-1) in the third set.

But that’s besides the point, as Shapo’s attitude seems tweaked (it’s too early to say changed). He seems much more focused and energized, showing less outbreaks and disturbing mental mistakes on the court.

Sound familiar?

Nick Kyrgios has turned over the same leaf in 2022, and Shapo seems to be (hopefully) following his path.

Like Kyrgios, Shapo has undeniable talent. We know the pace on his groundstrokes are incredibly difficult to prepare for and execute against, and his serve is no slouch. He doesn’t nearly have Kyrgios’ upside, but they face similar obstacles in their careers that they seem to be working on.

Yes, Shapo told the crowd at the Italian Open to “shut the (expletive) up” earlier this season, forcing his ex-coach to drop him following that tournament. He also has finished seasons strong in the past.

But maybe this time is different, especially since Mikhail Youzhny reunited with the 23-year-old before the US Open and there have been positive results in Asia.

Obviously, things continue to evolve with the Canadian because one outburst could ruin this entire narrative. But at least for now, Shapovalov seems to be playing at a high level, which can be explained in part because of a potential shift in attitude.

Tiafoe Isn’t Going Anywhere

This takeaway may seem obvious to those who watched the US Open. Tiafoe was a semifinalist, beat Nadal and took the eventual champion of that same tournament, Alcaraz, to five sets. His serve was nearly untouchable the entire event and his maturity level was impressive.

Even after the Grand Slam result, I actually was still questioning whether Tiafoe would be a consistent contender at a high level.

And it turns out I’m wrong.

Because Tiafoe sure did compete this week.

He reached the final at Tokyo, and looked strong while doing so. He did get bageled by Soonwoo Kwon, but that was the only set he lost before the final — plus Kwon has been playing excellent tennis in his own right.

Tiafoe absolutely smoked No. 32-ranked Miomir Kecmanovic in their quarterfinal match and again looked like a worthy top-10 player for most of the event.

My reasoning for questioning Tiafoe has always been his consistency. Sometimes he can get wild with his groundstrokes and his serve hasn’t always been this effective. But his confidence is sky high and reaching a 500-event final (even if the draw was much weaker than Astana) shows that his trend is continuing upwards.

And it doesn’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon.

2022 ATP Tour Buy or Sell: Brandon Nakashima, Lorenzo Sonego Highlight September

As we approach the final two months of the 2022 ATP Tour season, it’s time to check out who we’re buying and selling for the final stretch — and beyond.

Who will thrive the rest of the season and into the future?

And who will fade down the stretch — and possibly into 2023?

We have your answers below. Let’s dive right in.

Buy: Brandon Nakashima

After capturing his first ATP title last week in his hometown San Diego, Nakashima is up to a career-high ranking of 48.

While he dropped just one set in five matches in the tournament, the American was playing elite tennis even before he entered the Barnes Tennis Center in California.

Naka showed out in New York for the US Open, impressing in a second-round, straight-set win over Grigor Dimitrov before taking a set off Jannik Sinner in Round 3. He also reached the Round of 16 at Wimbledon, defeating Denis Shapovalov in the process.

I’m buying Nakashima now because I believe his upside is even greater.

I truly think he can be the best American tennis player. Yes, yes, I know Frances Tiafoe has beaten him four times (plus he just made the semis of the US Open), Taylor Fritz is ranked No. 12 and Tommy Paul had an excellent summer, but Naka is only 21 years old and has showed an advanced baseline game and elite decision-making skills.

If Nakashima can continue to develop his serve (it has looked a lot better over the last two tournaments), I think he is capable of becoming a top-20 player in no time.

Sell: Lorenzo Sonego

I’m going the opposite way for the other ATP Tour title winner last week. The 27-year-old Italian won Metz (250), failing to drop a single set (!) against Aslan Karastev, Gilles Simon, Sebastian Korda, Hubert Hurkacz and Alexander Bublik.

But let’s be honest, the Italian hasn’t had a great season overall.

He’s under .500 (23-24) in 2022 and had a single top-50 win all season before last week. He was ranked as high as No. 21 in the world in 2021, but there’s no better time to sell his stock than now.

Sonego can get a bit wild at times on both wings, and that’s why his game can be streaky. I’m not going to discredit him for his excellent play in Metz, but I’ll bank on last week being about him catching lightning in a bottle.

Sell: Aslan Karatsev

Karatsev doesn’t have a high stock at this point, but the Russian has just been flat out bad this season. Even though he won a title in Sydney to start the 2022 campaign, Karastev is 15-23 overall and has won more than one match in a tournament just twice since then.

He’s currently on a four-match losing streak, and lost in the first round in two of the three majors he’s competed in during 2022.

Most recently, Karatsev bowed out in the first round of Tel Aviv, losing to No. 87-ranked Tomas Martin Etcheverry in three sets, 6-2, 6-7, 6-4.

I wouldn’t want to back him from any perspective moving forward, especially after a match-fixing scandal earlier this year.

He’s also 29 years old, so the career trajectory isn’t there. Plus, players showing zero confidence is a bad, bad sign in an individual, mental-based sport like tennis.

Buy: Juncheng Shang

This one may seem odd, as Shang is not a regular on the ATP Tour. He’s lost all three of his ATP main draw matches this season, and is not a name casual tennis fans have come across yet.

If you follow the Challenger Tour, though, you have a pretty good idea of who Shang is and what his potential is.

First, here’s some background on Shang. He’s a 17-year-old Chinese player who is ranked just inside the top 200. His forehand is potent and his backhand has potential. His serve isn’t the biggest, but his groundstrokes give him an ability to control points despite his young age.

Obviously Shang has a ton of development to go and you can see his youth in a lot of his matches, but I’m buying his stock now while it’s as low as it can get. He’s completely under the radar, and that’s what I like for the purposes of this exercise.

Again, Shang isn’t going to breakout on the ATP Tour this year — or even next year — but the future is there — and is noticeable.

He passes the eye test — I’ve watched multiple matches of his, including his most recent loss to Jordan Thompson.

But most importantly, look at his results this season.

Shang won a Challenger Tour event in Lexington, reached the finals in Granby and won an ITF event in Naples.

His other notable results include:

  • Beating Francisco Cerundolo (who is now 27th in the world) in qualifying at Indian Wells
  • Playing Soonwoo Kim (who beat Felix Auger Aliassime two weeks ago in the Davis Cup) to three tough sets in Madrid qualifying
  • Upsetting Etcheverry in Eastbourne qualifying
  • Beating Brandon Holt in Indianapolis qualifying
  • Beating Thompson during his Granby run

And these are his losses since the beginning of June:

  • Thompson (Ranked 102)
  • Gabriel Diallo (Ranked 519) (Came in Final)
  • Christopher Eubanks (Ranked 153)
  • J.J. Wolf (Ranked 111)
  • Thiago Monteiro (Ranked 94)
  • Evan Furness (Ranked 223)

Diallo and Furness are tough defeats, but one of those came in a Challenger Tour final. The other losses come to respectable players who play more tour-level events than Shang.

Seriously, watch out for this kid.

2022 US Open Observations: 4 Takeaways From Tennis’ Final Major of the Season

Two epic weeks at the US Open concluded with Carlos Alcaraz defeating Casper Ruud in four sets to capture his first Grand Slam and earn the world’s No. 1 ranking.

While tennis never stops — the Davis Cup is this week and Alcaraz confirms he will play — let’s pause after the year’s final major to go through four observations.

The Future is Now

With Novak Djokovic unable to play, Roger Federer injured and Rafael Nadal on a major downswing (more on that below), the US Open was wide open for the first time in a long time.

Would Alcaraz break through at just 19 years of age? Was Nick Kyrgios capable of winning a major? Was Daniil Medvedev really the true favorite? And how about the likes of Jannik Sinner, Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas?

Not only did we get the answers to those questions, but we learned the future is right now.

When Djokovic returns, he’ll still be the best player in the tennis for the time being, but at 35 years old, how long the Serbian has at a high level is an obvious question.

What we do know is Alcaraz and Sinner will be fighting in majors for a long, long time, and their time is now.

Alcaraz is a rare breed. Not only does he have unbelievable court coverage, wicked groundstrokes and a flashy style of play, but he has rare mental toughness. What 19-year-old kid would be able to win three straight five-set matches and still win a Grand Slam? What player in general — regardless of age — would be able to even win three straight five-setters like he did?

Alcaraz is the answer, and that mental toughness and grit is the reason why.

Meanwhile, Sinner is right up there with the Spaniard. Remember, the Italian beat Alcaraz on two other surfaces this season, and was this close to beating him on another at the US Open.

Sinner needs to work on his second serve (as does Alcaraz), but his ball striking is elite. While he gets very streaky throughout matches, his mental toughness — like Alcaraz — is very strong at 21 years old.

Ruud is “old” compared to Alcaraz and Sinner, but he’s just 23 years of age, too. The Norwegian reached his second Grand Slam final of the season, thanks to his efficient play from the baseline, consistent serve and level-headed mindset. He isn’t flashy like Alcaraz and Sinner, but he’ll be right there with those two in majors for years to come.

Then there’s Frances Tiafoe, who came out of nowhere to make a semifinal run. He too is still growing at just 24 (more on him below).

Those four proved they can play at a high level at a major event, but that’s without factoring in an injured Alexander Zverev and two players who were bounced in the first round of the tournament, Taylor Fritz and Tsitsipas.

I don’t believe that Zverev and Tsitsipas have the mental edge that Alcaraz and Sinner do, however, their talent and abilities are undeniable, which will keep them in the top 5-to-10, at the minimum.

Overall, we’re seeing the transition of tennis from the Big 3 to the “Rising Youngsters” right before our very eyes.

American Tennis Renaissance is Here to Stay

The revival of American tennis was a massive discussion before the start of this year’s US Open, and it lived up to it’s billing in Queens.

Tiafoe became the first American to advance to the US Open semifinals in 16 years, and came within one set of advancing to the final.

Now, the Americans still own a near 20-year drought without a major championship — Andy Roddick in 2003 — but they are inching closer and closer to breaking the mark due to the depth of the current group.

Tiafoe is an obvious contender. This run will do wonders for his confidence, as he has been inconsistent and unable to put his game fully together in the past. His serve was firing on all cylinders in this event and his clutch gene was evident by his 8-0 tiebreaker record.

He beat Nadal, Andrey Rublev and Diego Schwartzman, and dropped just one set in the tournament before his semifinal match against Alcaraz.

But Tiafoe is not the only American to be excited about after the US Open.

While Tommy Paul lost in the third round, he pushed Ruud — a finalist — to five sets. He had a brilliant summer, as well, defeating Alcaraz and Marin Cilic in Montreal and earning a career-high No. 29 ranking.

Brandon Nakashima also lost in the third round, but he took a set off Sinner and looked capable of pushing the Italian further. If Naka can continue to serve like he did against Grigor Dimitrov, the American can back up his already strong baseline game and elite level-headedness.

And even Jenson Brooksby played Alcaraz tough in Round 3.

While just one American (Tiafoe) reached the Round of 16 and Fritz lost in his opening match, the potential is there for American tennis, and the revival is real. Expect players like Tiafoe, Fritz, Paul, Nakashima, Brooksby, Sebastian Korda, Maxime Cressy and Reilly Opelka to continue to rise and be a factor in big tournaments.

Who will ultimately rise from the pack? That remains to be seen, but as of now, it’s definitely Tiafoe, Fritz (despite his poor US Open performance), Paul and Nakashima.

Nick Kyrgios Not Ready to Win Big One

There was a lot of buzz about Kyrgios coming into this event.

And it was well deserved.

Kyrgios finally seemed to be piecing things together. He reached the Wimbledon final earlier this season, won the Citi Open in D.C. and lost a total of two matches between his trip to The All England Club and the US Open.

The antics were getting more rare (beyond screaming at his player’s box), and he truly looked focus and determined for the first time in his career.

Kyrgios produced arguably the greatest match he’s ever played in the Round of 16 against then-world No. 1 Medvedev, obliterating the Russian with untouchable groundstrokes and his serve. He was getting the crowd involved and looked like he was truly ready to compete for a Grand Slam title.

But that turned out to be wrong. Nick is not ready to lift a trophy at a massive event like the US Open.

Why? Because with all the expectations on his shoulders (the new betting favorite and a clear path to a possible title), he flopped in the quarterfinals, losing in five sets to Karen Khachanov.

Now, it’s not Kyrgios losing that makes me say this — it’s how he lost. He lacked energy. There was little to no motivation. He failed to get the New York night crowd involved when it was obvious they wanted to erupt for the Aussie. He seemed to be dealing with some type of injury in the opening set, but the stage looked a little too bright for Kyrgios.

It pains me to make this statement because Kyrgios — despite what people say on social media — still cares. It’s obvious he wants to win now more than any other point in his career, especially at the Grand Slams.

But that doesn’t mean he is ready to win a Grand Slam. Maybe next year he will be — as this transition continues — but for now, Kyrgios has to settle with having a wonderful season.

And that doesn’t sound so terrible for the Aussie after all.

Major Concerns With Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal is one of the best players of all-time — if not the best — and an obvious future Hall of Famer.

But I tell it how I see it, and right now, Nadal isn’t at a championship level.

Yes, he won the French Open and reached the Wimbledon semifinals before retiring due to an injury, but ever since then, he’s looked mortal. The 36-year-old has battled a plethora of injuries over the last few years and doesn’t have nearly enough of the fitness he used to possess.

Nadal lost to Borna Coric in his opening match at Cincinnati, essentially giving away a tiebreaker in the first set thanks to a plethora of errors.

He also lost in the Round of 16 at the US Open by looking a couple steps slower than Tiafoe. Even before that loss, Nadal dropped a set to No. 198-ranked Rinky Hijikata in the first round and lost the first set against a 35-year-old Fabio Fognini in Round 2.

Let’s not forget, Nadal was also very beatable at Wimbledon. Beyond cruising past Lorenzo Sonego in Round 3, the Spaniard lost sets to Francisco Cerundolo and Ricardas Berankis, and struggled against Fritz before suffering an injury.

This is bad news for a player that sees Alcaraz, Sinner and others rising all while Djokovic remains at a world No. 1-level. Will Nadal be able to recover at the late stages of his career? That is truly TBD for the first time ever.