Monday, May 22, 2017

Weekend Tennis Roundup

Alexander Zverev -- aka the second coming of the Swiss Miss -- signaled his arrival among the tennis elite by beating Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 Sunday to win the Italian Open. The 20-year-old Zverev became the youngest player to win a Masters 1000 event since Djokovic won in Miami a decade ago at 19. 

"It's nice to know that I can compete and play and win the biggest tournaments on tour against the biggest players on tour," Zverev said. Djokovic destroyed Dominic Thiem -- fresh off snapping a European losing streak to Rafael Nadal -- losing just one game and beat Juan Martin del Potro in convincing fashion.. But in the final, all of his weaknesses and lack of weapons seemed to be on full display -- which hearkened back to how Venus Williams's game seemed invincible in 2000 and 2001, then looked like it had more holes in it than a pack of Kraft Swiss Singles. All of this is to say the game is 90 percent mental, and his belief is gone. We found out the rumored intervention of Andre Agassi was a-go for Roland Garros, for whatever good that might do.

On the women's side, Simona Halep didn't lose in the first round after winning the previous week's title. But it sure would have been nice if she'd been able to look like a legitimate front runner in Paris, instead  of losing 6-1 in the third to Elina Svitolina, who surged to No. 1 in the season-long rankings race by taking home the crown. It was a tour-best fourth title this year for Svitolina and the most prestigious trophy of her young career. The 22-year-old Ukrainian also leads the tour with 31 match wins this season. "Every day I'm just trying to work on my mental part, my physical, my tennis," Svitolina said. "Everything just came together and I'm very happy that it's happened in such a big tournament."

Meanwhile, you undoubtedly heard that Maria Sharapova was denied a wild card into the main draw and qualifying for the French Open, which was a bit shocking considering she's a two-time champion. She was granted a spot in Birmingham and says she will attempt to qualify for Wimbledon (she's ranked high enough to get into its qualifying automatically now), where she's also a former champion.

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