At the start of these Championships I wasn’t sure how far Johanna Konta could go, but she made a big impression on me with her victory over Sloane Stephens on Saturday. In Konta you Brits sure have a player to make the country proud.
One of the doubts I’ve had about Konta in the past is whether she can control her emotions when the going gets tough. Well, she was up against it early in the second set, having lost the first, but kept her composure and quickly turned the match around.
Holy mackerel, she has some serious weapons at her disposal. Her first serve can be deadly and she hits her ground strokes with real punch. Throw in her fluent movement and you have a very effective all-round package.
The women’s singles is shaping up nicely. Being world No 1 doesn’t appear to be weighing too heavily on Ashleigh Barty’s shoulders. I like the way she plays up on the baseline and always looks to go for her shots. For someone who stands only 5ft 5in tall she also has a damned fine serve.
Serena Williams, meanwhile, is improving with each match. In beating Julia Goerges in the third round she looked better than I’ve seen her for a long while. She was striking the ball beautifully. The serve is always a crucial factor for Serena and she appears to be finding a great rhythm on it. That could give her a major psychological boost because she should feel that she’ll only need one break of serve in each set.
At the start of the week my big concern about Rafael Nadal was how quickly he could find his game on grass, but the way he beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga showed how confident he is feeling now. He is striking the ball extremely well. If you’re going to beat Nadal you have to mix it up. If you get into a baseline slugging match with him there’s only going to be one winner.
Monday’s match of the day: Coco Gauff’s fourth-round encounter with Simona Halep will be a huge test for her. The kid has coped brilliantly with everything so far, but I can’t help wondering if the pressure might eventually get to her.
We know how well Gauff can play, but in Halep she’s facing one of the game’s best. Halep’s speed and ability to hit the ball early will be big factors and I’ll expect her to force the issue by going on the attack.
Ask Nick: If you have a question for me – whether it’s about how to improve your game, training techniques or anything else concerning this great sport of ours – just email me at QuestionsforNickB@gmail.com.
David has written to ask the $64,000 question: who is going to win the men’s and women’s singles next weekend? After the first week a few things are becoming clearer, but I still think it’s hard to come up with the names of the two champions.
Nevertheless, on the men’s side I think it’s ominous that Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are all looking so good. At this stage I find it hard to imagine any one of those three not winning the title.
As for the women, I still think it’s a pretty open contest. Several players have impressed me so far. The one thing I would say is that if Serena serves like she did against Goerges I think she’ll be the player to beat.
My A-Z of the IMG- looking back over my life at the IMG Academy in Florida which I founded in 1978. K is for Aaron Krickstein, who was one of the first students at the academy, along with players like Jimmy Arias and Carling Bassett.
Aaron earned the nickname “marathon man” because of his great record in long matches. In his career he won 27 of the 35 five-setters he played, which was quite a record. He also had one of the great forehands of his time. Aaron got to No 6 in the world rankings, won nine titles and made the semi-finals of both the Australian Open and the US Open.
L is for Sabine Lisicki, who has struggled in recent years but used to be ranked as high as No 12 in the world and was runner-up at Wimbledon in 2013. Sabine learned her game at the academy and for a time had one of the most potent serves in women’s tennis.
For more information on the IMG Academy’s tennis programmes email email@example.com or call +1-800-872-6425
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