Sinner season continues in Challenger

Winning the Next Gen Finals, at home, as a wild card would have been a natural ending point for Jannik Sinner’s breakout 2019.

He was asked about playing the Davis Cup Finals after the Next Gen final.

“Sorry to say that I won’t be there, because we have to prepare for the next season. I’ve played too much this year. I’m too young,” he said, as coach/manager Ricardo Piatti gestured from the stands

But the teen continues this week at a Challenger near Val Gardena, Italy. He’ll highlight the night session in doubles Tuesday, and in singles Wednesday.

On-court coaching at the Next Gen

The one week a year the men can get coaching during matches is this week at the Next Gen Finals.

It’s a bit impersonal; the coaches remain in the stands and a split-screen shows the interaction. But the same issue remains – most fans can’t understand.

The interactions were in English the first year, awkward for many. Now, they’re encouraged to speak English, but it’s not required.

Knowing which languages they need, you’d think the ATP would have been eager to top the WTA, prepared with translators and not dependant on hoping a commentator understands Spanish or French.

Top-class blooper reel from Paris

For whatever reason, last week’s Paris Masters tournament provided more than a full video’s worth of bloopers and funny moments.

Whether it was a complete whiff from Stefanos Tsitsipas, an ill-advised Tweener from Benoit Paire or a mishit backhand that nearly hit the stone-faced chair umpire, it was all happening.

Andrey Rublev being the only one in the arena who didn’t clue in on the wave got a lot of play (even doubles partner Karen Khachanov was right into it).

And let’s not forget the lucky fans who got ALL the pieces of Fabio Fognini’s destroyed racket.

Paris Masters draws record crowds

A Masters 1000 that has a chance of snagging all of the “Big 3” is going to be good box office.

In the end, they got about 1 3/4 of “Big 3” after Roger Federer pulled out late, and Rafael Nadal withdrew before his semifinal. But the Rolex Paris Masters set a new attendance record of 152,000 – smashing the old mark by 11,000.

With two Frenchmen in the singles quarterfinals and Mahut-Herbert winning the doubles, there was big local interest.

And even if Novak Djokovic was far too good for Denis Shapovalov in the final, he gave the crowd full value all week. 

Post-match “fun” with Nick Kyrgios

There were a lot of objectionable things from Nick Kyrgios during his three-set loss to Karen Khachanov Wednesday.

Which was (rinse, repeat), a shame because he displayed some of his brand of genius tennis too, at least at first.

A long-running rant that lasted several changeovers about a time violation.

Umpire Fergus Murphy giving him some ammunition by trying to posit that slowpoke Rafael Nadal gets the same strictness on the 25-second rule.

Some profanity towards Murphy after the second set – enunciated slowly, clearly and loudly as he knew the TV camera was right on him. Which resulted in a code violation and a point penalty applied at the beginning of the third set.

After some time, a request to go to the bathroom. The only purpose for this was to smack a couple of rackets against the wall (send the wall-repair bill to agent John Morris).

When Kyrgios emerged with them, Murphy had to crowdsource some advice. Because the canny Kyrgios, of course, didn’t smash the rackets on court. (He’ll likely find out soon that location doesn’t matter much in these cases).

Fast forward to the finale

The cameras didn’t leave Kyrgios during the post–match. And (we say sarcastically), he didn’t disappoint.

1): Hugging it out with Khachanov to make sure he knew it wasn’t personal.

Kyrgios

2): Calling Murphy a “f…ng tool” and spitting in his general direction.

Kyrgios

That’s going to cost him a lot of dough. Or should.

3): Did we notice Kyrgios was wearing two different shoes?

Kyrgios

4): Don’t know if the fans did, but they were begging for a stinky shoe (even some adults).

Kyrgios

5) Kyrgios obliges.

Kyrgios

6): And then – to be fair – he fires the other one to the fans on the other side of the court.

Kyrgios

7): Which makes this kid feel gypped. I mean, he begged THE MOST!

Kyrgios

8) Some autographs signed on the way out.

Kyrgios

At the start of the third set, when he was one false move away from being defaulted (and Kyrgios clearly was over the line where he was almost goading Murphy into doing it), he tried to convince the Irish umpire that a time violation was bogus.

Why? Because even though he had to re-grip a racket after smashing the two in the locker room, he claimed he was in the “returning position” for Khachanov to serve.

Auger-Aliassime respects Kyrgios the player. The person? Not his cup of tea

If he had to hit the return with the handle (we’ve seen him do this plenty), or with the grip hanging down, or whatever, no big deal.

Technically, perhaps yes. Hypothetically? Not really. Whatever else happened Thursday, Kyrgios did get a few points on some imaginary scoreboard for … creativity?

Another show, another expensive night for the Aussie.

(All screenshots from TennisTV which, as it happens, put through their high-priced annual streaming service renewal while all this was happening. It was like they KNEW!)

Kyrgios loses his … stuff in Rome

Kyrgios loses his … stuff in Rome

Nick Kyrgios revved up a rowdy crowd in Rome that was chanting his name against Casper Ruud.

And then it turned – seemingly because of one fan.

In a heartbeat, the racket flies (far too close to the  line umpire). A small racket bag stand goes flying into the middle of the court.

And then Kyrgios packs up his bag, shakes the hand of his opponent, the umpire and the supervisor, leaves the court and forfeits.

He received 20,000 Euros in fines, loses the 45 points he earned and is on the hook for his hotel bill.

Federer out of Rome with leg injury

After winning both matches Thursday (including a third-set tiebreak, comeback win against Borna Coric in the nightcap), Roger Federer pulled out of his quarterfinal against Stefanos Tsitsipas with a right leg injury.

Federer possibly sustained it by catching himself when he slid on a wet, slippery line.

With the rash of exits on the women’s side, Federer is the first on the men’s side out for health reasons.

Federer had plenty to say about the excessive watering to umpire Carlos Bernardes during that Coric match.

He also took a rare medical timeout for a blister.

Richard Gasquet wins in return

Former world No. 7 Richard Gasquet is back.

Out since last October, the 32-year-old had hernia surgery in January.

And he finally made his return Monday night in Madrid. His ranking stands at No. 39.

Gasquet is kind of a grimacer anyway. But he got up quite gingerly after the 6-5 changeover in the first set. In the above screenshot you can see the look on his face.

Nevertheless, he immediately broke wild card Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and won it, in exactly an hour. 

It took him nearly two to finish him off 7-5, 7-6 (5) – and set a date with Roger Federer.

Just like 2013, Zverev loses to Garin

In the 2013 French Open junior boys’ final (with different clothing sponsors), Cristian Garin beat Alexander Zverev 6-4, 6-1. He was 17, Zverev 16; it was their first meeting.

Garin had the tougher draw. He beat Cameron Norrie, Laslo Djere and Borna Coric to get there. Zverev beat Kyle Edmund in the quarters.

But Zverev broke into the top 50 April 18, 2016 – days after turning 19.

It took Garin almost exactly three more years, just before his 23rd birthday.

To each player, his own path.

Flashback Friday: the Munich quarterfinals, was their first meeting since then.

Zverev fought hard but Garin won again – 6-4, 5-7, 7-5.

Another early exit for Shapovalov

Rising star Denis Shapovalov has hit a bit of a plateau – just as he reached the top 20.

For the second straight tournament, the young Canadian exited in his opening match. They are the first two events with new coach Adriano Fuorivia.

In Monte Carlo, Shapovalov won the first set but went down 6-1 in the third to Jan-Lennard Struff. Wednesday in Barcelona, Cristian Garin beat him 7-5, 6-2.

Neither is a “bad” loss. But the quick deciding sets aren’t encouraging.

There’s a similarity to Shapovalov’s 2018 clay-court start. But the Canadian hit his stride in Madrid – and reached the semis.