ATP Sport Tennis

No 18. Alex de Minaur

Alex made a blistering start to 2019 winning his first ATP tour title in his home town of Sydney. He backed up this title with two more at Atlanta and Zhuhai. Other highlights were making finals in Basel and NextGen final in Milan. However, he suffered a five-match losing streak leading into Roland Garros which prohibited him from achieving a higher ranking in 2019.

At 20 years of age de Minaur is gaining momentum and will be in the mix for a top 30 spot again in 2020.

My thoughts on de Minaur are fast, diligent, Hewitt-less-mess and respectful.

Fast: Demon is lightning quick and possibly the speediest player on tour. No drop shot or ball hit away from him is safe.

Diligent: de Minaur seems to be very hardworking and well prepared and leaves no stone unturned when it comes to fighting for a match win.

Hewitt-less-mess: This is my term for his never say die attitude on court and willingness to fight for every point no matter the circumstances. This trait and his game style combine to have him often compared to Hewitt. However, I append with less-mess to indicate he does not have the anger trait that Hewitt possessed.

Respectful: Genuinely seems to respect the game and the players etc. who have come before him. He loves to play for Australia and continue on the tradition of Australian team tennis.

Likes: I enjoy seeing him chasing down a well-executed drop shot or racing across the court to hit a forehand winner on the run. Sometimes launches himself airborne to smack a forehand winner.

Dislikes: With his game style, he doesn’t attack enough preferring to counter punch and wait for opponent errors. He does possess a good volley so could initiate coming forward more offensively rather than just opportunistically coming to the net.

Areas for improvement: Although de Minaur has a decent forehand and backhand, they are not well-rounded. The forehand cross is error-prone, and he wins too few points using the inside-out forehand. Alex can also sit back and wait too much and risk getting bossed by an opponent (As evidenced in the Milan final against Sinner and Federer in Basel). He needs to keep working on improving his serve as he doesn’t get enough free points with it. His homework is definitely to seek out the master of all the all-court game on YouTube.

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.