ATP Tennis Tsitsipas

No 6. Stefanos Tsitsipas

Built on his break out 2018 season by winning three titles including the prestigious and highly coveted ATP finals. What an amazing feat to win the Next-gen finals in 2018 and then win the full tour finals one year later. He pulled off some incredible wins and completed at least one victory over each of the top 3. Stefanos also competed in probably the highest quality match of the year losing to Stanimal at Roland Garros in 5 tight sets. This match may have caused his mid-year slump around Wimbledon such was the effect the loss had on him.

At 21 years of age, he has many significant years ahead of him on tour. I wouldn’t expect anything less in 2020. The Greek warrior is a mysterious character and evokes different responses when I talk to other fans about him. Words for my take on him are: vitality, athletic, strong, complex

Vitality: He’s got a spring in his step. Walks the court like he is walking on air when he is playing well. Is very active on social and seems to love life, which may be down to a near-death experience he had while swimming in 2015.

Athletic: At 193 cm (6′ 4″) with broad shoulders and immaculate posture, he has the ideal modern players physique and knows how to move it extraordinarily well.

Strong: Mentally tough. Tsisipas can take setbacks in his stride. Sometimes spits the dummy, but he’s a top player because he moves on quickly.

Complex: Must be the Greek philosopher heritage. He can be thoughtful, exciting and confusing all at the same time in some of his social media and interviews.

Likes: I like his attacking all-court game. Excellent hand skills at the net and I enjoy his inclination to come to forward. With that kind of mindset, you have to have a superb overhead, and he does. Prepared to take risks, but always with situational awareness. He is a smart player.

Dislikes: I think he is guilty of sometimes oversharing on social and can seem dramatic. Not a big deal, some fans probably enjoy that. I’m not thrilled when he beats Federer.

Areas for improvement: His serve while good, looks like it could do with a few tweaks to minimize the chance of 1, breaking down under pressure and 2, putting stress on his shoulder. His homework is to go check out Fed’s serve over the break on YouTube. As his dad has said in interviews “he is a good boy” so I’m sure he will do his homework 🙂

ATP Medvedev Tennis

No 5. Daniil Medvedev

Bear, as he is affectionately known, had one heck of a year in 2019. At the age of 23 the lanky 198cm (6′ 6″) Russian had a breakout year winning four titles. Two of these were Masters 1000s with victories in Cincinnati and Shanghai.

It was an ultra-consistent season for him, and at his age, he should continue to evolve as a top-flight player. My only concern for 2020 is that he has a lot of points to defend so he will have no margin for any let down after such an active 2019.

Although I have watched him play quite a bit in 2019, I do not know a lot about him, but let’s dive in and see how I read him. Thoughts are: cunning, risk-taker, measured, relentless.

Cunning: Meant positively. Like a fox or a chess player in his case (he likes chess) he thinks his way through the drawn-out points and can pull off a deceptive drop shot or hard-hit winner when it appeared he was struggling. Has deceptively good speed as Djokovic will attest after repeatedly failing to drop shot him this year.

Risk-taker: His general stock approach seems to be Djokovic like with consistent groundstrokes and depth. However, unlike Djoker, he will occasionally throw caution to the wind with a blasting winner out of nowhere or booming second service ace.

Measured: The bear has excellent rhythm, and no rally seems too long for him.

Relentless: Like a diesel engine, goes all day, and his endurance and ability to give repeat effort is outstanding.

My likes and dislikes:

Likes: Does most things well. Bear has beaten Djokovic and gotten under his skin a few times. The way he casually throws his serve toss then crushes it. Bombing second serves at Djoker in Cincinnati was a highlight.

Dislikes: Not a lot. The length of time it can take for him to win a match is a slight peeve against my time sometimes. When he wound up the New York crowd and threw in the middle finger, seemed a bit silly, but he did rectify that.

Areas for improvement: He does do most things well if not always attractively, so he could benefit with a little homework over the offseason watching Federer YouTube vids to gain some style points.

ATP Sport Tennis

No 4. Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem
2019 was an impressive year for the Austrian

Five titles, including his first Masters 1000, ensured the Austrian powerhouse had his best season ever. Thiem has been a building force for a few years, but this year with his new coach Nicolas Massu took the next step. In another lifetime this would have taken him to number 1, but with arguably the three best still playing well, 4th was the highest-ranking available for mere mortals. He was unfortunate to be ill at the US Open where I thought he could have won it. The way that tournament evolved, I think he would have beaten Nadal.

Having just turned 26, Thiem is now in his prime and still possesses more room for improvement. We should see him competing for top billing next year.

Giving my opinion on Dominic is easy. Here is why: power, resolve, mature, impressive. He ticks a lot of boxes for me.

Power: Hits it hard on both sides. His backhand is a Stanimalesque (a word I just made up) sledgehammer, and his forehand is fearsome.

Resolve: He has developed a steely edge to his game now. He can handle adversity and fight back and not get down on himself. This improvement has seen him able to fight back more often, which is a crucial ingredient if you are going to maintain a high ranking. A great example is his come back from a set down at Indian Wells against a flowing Fed.

Mature: To be clear, he doesn’t have dickhead moments. He has his head screwed on right and seems a friendly, well mannered and respectful young man.

Impressive: All of the above makes him impressive on and off the court. He is a player for whom I make time to watch and follow closer than most.

My likes and dislikes:

Likes: The ripping backhand, kick- serve, newfound patience and willingness to use the cross-court slice (seems to have been a focus coming from Massu) to wait for the right ball to rip. That he is coming forward more to finish points at the net. That he goes for it often, but smart enough to leave some margin for error. When he beats Djokovic or Nadal.

Dislikes: When he beats Federer. When he plays too deep (does seem to be addressing this though).

Areas for improvement:  Volleys need work, and his backhand is technically not as sound as Stanimals but could get there. I recommend he spend more time on grass if he wants to do well at Wimbledon. Homework is to watch the Stan backhand and Federer volleys on YouTube. These two improvements would put less stress on his shoulder and allow him to finish points quicker. Long matches winning the hard way have been a problem in the past.

ATP Federer Sport

No 3. Roger Federer

At years end it felt like a strange season for Fed. It ebbed and flowed a little. He put in some brilliant performances and collected four tournaments with two runners up, but lost a few times surprisingly. For anyone other than the holy trinity, this would have been considered an outstanding season. One thing you can not ignore is the man is 38 and still doing mind-blowing stuff on the court. Wimbledon was a massive blow to all of his fans and of course it had to be against every Fed fans favourite Djokovic.

Fed should be able to stay in the top 10 until he is about 53, so no doubt that will be the case next year. He is, of course, starting to explore new frontiers for a tennis player of his vintage at this elite level. One day (hopefully no time soon) he will feel he can’t stay there anymore. Until then, though we have to assume he will continue to be in the top tier.

Now, my opinion, on the Fed. When I think of him, the first words that come to mind are grace, beauty, talent and effortless. There are so many more superlatives that I could use for him, however, in the interest of time, I’ll keep it to the usual four. It’s more than fair to say that he is far and away, my favourite player and the one who I follow the most closely.

Grace: On and off the court carries himself with polish and class, no matter the circumstances.

Beauty: Plays with a beautiful attacking all-court game. Possesses every shot in the book and executes them all with style personified – think 1hbh up the line, the inside out forehand, the overhead backhand smash and much more.

Talent: When the tennis gods decided to create the ultimate player, the result was an all-court attacking player named Federer. He has superb technique, but sometimes he hits the impossible shot such as a backhand half volley flick off the baseline – up the line no less for a winner, or a little inside out forehand flick to leave an opponent stranded — talent plus.

Effortless: Makes the hard look easy and graceful, beauty and talent results in it looking effortless. Unlike someone like Rafa, he never looks like he’s doing it hard. Glides around the baseline like a ballet dancer float like a butterfly, forehand stings like a bee. You get the idea.

Likes: How much time have you got? I’ll try to be succinct. Serve, forehand (especially the inside variations), overhead, volley is flawless, slice and dropper – so yeah pretty much the main shots you need to be any good at tennis. I also like immensely any time he beats Djokovic (psst Djokovic secretly wishes he had Feds skills).

Dislikes: When he occasionally gets it wrong strategically like on match point at Wimbledon ☹. Some of his Uniqlo outfits such as that worn at Roland Garros were terrible. There is a hint of Master Chef with some of his others too.

Areas for improvement: Forget about improving any shots, but converting breakpoints might be a handy skill for an ageing body! He said once he doesn’t practice returning, so maybe start doing some? Homework this office season is to get Uniqlo to sell his stylish outfits in Australia, like the one he wore at Hopman cup. Once Fed has done that, he should put his feet up and watch himself on YouTube – start here with one of my favourite matches if he doesn’t have the time here is the summary “Kyrgios plays lights out, but RF still wins!” because he was in some of his best form during Q1 2017.

Did I mention champion? No one is more deserving of that tag in all of sports than the Fed Express.

Some Fed action shots, because you can never get enough of those…