Tag: harold mayot

Young guns to watch on the ITF Tour

THE International Tennis Federation (ITF) is well and truly stacked with developing talent, and Draft Central is beginning to delve into the young guns coming up through the ranks emphasising those who have burst onto the scene and showcased some exciting qualities in their junior years. While many of these players are beginning to feed into the ATP and WTA Tours, there are some great youngsters who are yet to break into the fold and will look to build on their 2020 form heading into the new year. All rankings are as of November 30, 2020,

Junior boys

Carlos Alcaraz (ESP)

Age: 17
ATP Tour ranking: 141

An exciting youngster looking to really break onto the ATP Tour scene is Alcaraz, with the developing Spaniard proving he is more than capable of producing excellent wins. With five titles to his name in 2020, including three clay court Challengers to go with his two M15 hard court titles, there is no doubt Alcaraz has the star power to continue propelling himself up the rankings and hitting some real strides.

Lorenzo Musetti (ITA)

Age: 18
ATP Tour ranking: 128

The young Italian is the second ranked youngster on the ATP Tour at the moment, and it shows in his consistency and drive to continue going one better. While still developing his craft and looking to continue his strong efforts against top 100 players, Musetti has showcased plenty of potential on Tour since debuting in 2019, and will look to keep his strong run going in 2021.

Brandon Nakashima (USA)

Age: 19
ATP Tour ranking:
166

American youngster Nakashima is a talent worth keeping an eye on, with the ability to be the next big thing credit to his high work rate and powerful swing. Like Musetti, Nakashima’s ability to shock top 100 players has been a key to developing his skill, flourishing on wildcard entries and using his athleticism to fly out of the blocks. Currently at his peak ranking and steadily developing, look to see Nakashima continue well into 2021.

Harold Mayot (FRA)

Age: 18
ITF Tour ranking:
1
ATP Tour ranking: 
426

ITF world number one Mayot is an exciting developing talent, with the 2020 Junior Australian Open title under his belt and a proven winning ability. With plenty of tenacity and determination, Mayot still has a way to go before truly impacting on the ATP Tour scene, but there is no doubt he will get there once he further develops against strong, more experienced bodies.

Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN)

Age: 17
ITF Tour ranking: 2
ATP Tour ranking: 511

A consistent performer on the ITF Tour, Rune is one to watch in the future. While he did not win a Challenger tournament, as was his 2020 goal, three M15 titles on the senior ITF Tour is certainly nothing to sniff about. More than that, and it proves the 17-year-old is more than capable of competing against those bigger bodies in the future, especially on his preferred surface of clay.

Dominic Stephan Stricker (SUI)

Age: 18
ITF Tour ranking: 3

While Stricker is yet to really break onto the ATP Tour scene, the youngster has proven he is ready to step up to the next level and with a current ranking of third on the ITF rankings, there is no doubt he has the capacity to do so when he gets an opportunity – and an uninterrupted season. A Junior Roland Garros title in 2020 and the likes of Roger Federer to look up to certainly will aid in his progression heading into 2021.

Junior girls

Coco Gauff (USA)

Age: 16
WTA Tour ranking: 48

One of the most high profile young guns in the world at the moment, Gauff is the gift that keeps on giving with her rate of development and potential given how far she has come in such a short time. Still just 16-years-old, Gauff’s  ability to leave it all on the court and command victory as an underdog – including two straight sets victories over Venus Williams – have seen her rocket into media attention.

Daria Lopatetska (UKR)

Age: 17
WTA Tour ranking: 355

Another exciting youngster breaking onto the scene is Lopatetska, with the versatile Ukrainian able to put out excellent efforts across a range of surfaces and, even with an interrupted season following on from major knee surgery in 2019, has showcased plenty of grit and determination to get back out there. With a heap of potential and Elina Svitolina on her side, it is only a matter of time before Lopatetska is back on the cards.

Katrina Scott (USA)

Age: 16
WTA Tour ranking: 447

Scott may still be only 16-years-old, but her exciting potential has seen her rocket into contention on the WTA Tour alongside Gauff, following her compatriot’s footsteps onto the senior rankings well before expected. A competitive youngster who has showed no signs of stopping since her debut at the 2020 US Open as a wildcard, expect Scott to continue developing and keep the USA superpower going as she heads up the rankings.

Polina Kudermetova (RUS)

Age: 17
ITF Tour ranking: 6
WTA Tour ranking: 775

The younger sister of Veronika Kudermetova, there is no doubt 17-year-old Polina knows what it takes really break onto the WTA Tour stage. While she has not really made it there yet – in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic and limited court time – the Russian youngster is a proven winner throughout the years and, with an ability to fight every second, will look to continue developing with more time in 2021.

Elsa Jacquemot (FRA)

Age: 17
ITF Tour ranking: 1
WTA Tour ranking: 535

The 2020 Junior Roland Garros winner and current world number one on the junior ITF Tour, Jacquemot is one to watch in the future. With two titles to her name in 2020 and a whopping 89 per cent win rate – 12 straight on clay – the French 17-year-old may not have broken onto the WTA Tour just yet but certainly has the proven winning ability to be a huge threat on Tour.

Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva (AND)

Age: 15
ITF Tour ranking: 2

The youngest player on this list is 15-year-old Andorran Jimenez Kasintseva, and while she is still developing her court craft there is no denying she is a star of the future, holding the Junior Australian Open title in 2020 and only leaving top spot on the ITF rankings when Jacquemot took out the Roland Garros title. With an overall win rate of 88 per cent and just three losses on tour, expect big things from the young gun.

ATP Teenage Stars – Dominic Stephan Stricker

YET another developing talent who has found plenty of form on the ITF circuit is 18-year-old Dominic Stephan Stricker, hailing from Switzerland with one of the greatest players of all time to look up to ahead of him. But while Roger Federer is heading towards the latter stages of his career, Stricker’s is just beginning with the young gun showcasing his array of talents in 2020 on both the junior and senior ITF tours.

With four wins from seven matches on the men’s tour, there is no doubt Stricker has a way to go before he can realistically match it with the elite talent on the ATP Tour stage. But while the left-hander had some issues against the bigger, more experienced bodies on the senior circuit, a quarter final berth at the Junior Australian Open – losing to eventual winner, Harold Mayot – and huge Junior Roland Garros title in October propelled Stricker into the top ranked juniors, sitting third at year’s end only behind Mayot and Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune.

While Federer is arguably still top dog for Stricker when it comes to influences, he is one on a list of many after the 18-year-old had the opportunity to train alongside the ATP Tour’s elite players as a hitting partner at the ATP Finals.

“It was unbelievable at the ATP Finals,” Stricker told itftennis.com. “I was there for two weeks and it was an amazing experience to hit with (Dominic) Thiem, (Daniil) Medvedev, (Stefanos) Tsitsipas and (Andrey) Rublev – four of the best players in the world. I really enjoyed every practice and learned so much.

“It really was something special. I learned so much: how players of that calibre play the day before a match, go about things the day of the match and how they warm up. I feel it will help me, for sure. I really did enjoy every single minute.”

While the interrupted season has been rough for many, it was one to remember for Stricker, who not only came away with the junior grand slam title, but also showcased his high ceiling and excellent work rate to develop so thoroughly during the extended break.

“It was a special season and a hard one for everyone as nobody really knew how many tournaments there would be or, at times, if there would be much tennis,” said Stricker. “Looking back, though, it was a very good year for me and I have improved a lot.

“I was so glad to get the chance to play one last Junior Grand Slam after the junior events at Wimbledon and the US Open were cancelled. I just went out there to try my best and I won it, which was a great achievement.

“While I don’t think there has been a huge difference, life has definitely changed since winning in Paris and a lot more people tend to recognise me on the Tour as a Junior Grand Slam champion. It’s been a memorable year.”

The youngster will look to officially break onto the ATP Tour scene in 2021, with ultimately nothing to lose after an exciting year on tour in his final season as a junior. While technically ranked on the ATP Tour at 1159th in the world – as at publish – Stricker has the capability to propel himself up the rankings and realistically, has nowhere to go but up from here on out.

“I haven’t really set a goal but I want to try and improve my ATP ranking and to start playing Challenger events,” added Stricker. “I just want to go as far as possible and, who knows, maybe go back to Paris and enjoy some more good times there.”

ATP Teenage Stars – Harold Mayot

THE top ranked player on the Junior ITF Tour, 18-year-old Harold Mayot is a player who has plenty of potential and realistically, has not yet had a real opportunity to prove his talent and depth. As the 2020 Junior Australian Open champion, Mayot is more than capable of working under pressure and showcasing plenty of grit each time he steps out on court.

The French talent scooped up his first major tournament title in the process, with six straight wins on the hard court coming in handy during the interrupted season, seeing him finish with a 100 per cent win rate given the lack of court-time to complete the year. While Mayot looked to be the favourite at the Junior Roland Garros, coming in as top seed, he failed to make it past the second round on the clay in early October.

Looking to the men’s rankings in comparison to his accolades on the juniors, and Mayot may not have the same impressive wins on the board but has certainly made a point on Tour and showcased some solid moments. While his 88 per cent win rate on the junior tour – seven wins from eight matches – is impressive, he still has some work to do against more experienced bodies with 14 wins from 24 matches on the men’s tour.

Certainly still a solid effort, sitting 249th as an 18-year-old (411th on the ATP rankings) – and earning a wildcard entry to the Roland Garros in the process – but not quite yet where he needs to be to make a real dint on the ATP Tour.

As a hard worker with an excellent work ethic and plenty of determination, Mayot is an exciting talent and will look to break onto the scene with plenty of vigour in 2021.

“He’s a very big worker, a very big fighter,” said Sebastien Poublet, Mayot’s physical trainer. “He loves tennis.”

“He only speaks about tennis – all of the day. He’s looking to work harder every day. He’s watching tennis on his phone, on TV. He has the passion for it. That’s Harold.”

Hamburg finalists fight back from two-set deficits to stage remarkable first round wins

STEFANOS Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev are lucky to survive the first round of the French Open after slow starts almost cost the Hamburg European Open finalists. A tight turnaround between the ATP500 event and the Grand Slam meant some soreness for the talented top 15 players, but neither would have expected to go two sets down against their respective opponents at Roland Garros.

In a match that lasted three hours and 12 minutes, it took the fifth seeded Tsitsipas five sets to come from behind against world number 109, Jaume Munar. Whilst the rising Spanish 23-year-old has shown some promising signs over the past couple of years, he almost caused the upset of the first round by racing away to a 6-4 6-2 lead against the Hamburg runner-up. It was clear Tsitsipas was not his usual self throughout the match, serving just six aces – as well as six double-faults, and hitting 54 winners throughout the contest.

Munar played well with 38 of his own winners and won 36 per cent of his points off Tsitsipas’ serve, breaking him five times from seven opportunities. With just 21 unforced errors Munar had an incredible game, but Tsitsipas stepped up when it counted to win 4-6 2-6 6-1 6-4 6-4.

Relieved just to get a win, Tsitsipas said he was not feeling it early on and struggled to get into the game, but was pleased to work his way back into the contest.

“Playing a best-of-five [match] can be very challenging and I am really happy that I will walk away from [Court] Suzanne-Lenglen today with a win,” Tsitsipas said post-match.

“I don’t think I’ve ever played a match like this before. “The emotions and the nerves at the very beginning were not there, but [I made] slight adjustments and tried to find a way to win, a different way. “It wasn’t working out for me in the beginning. Nothing was working… But I am really proud of myself, the effort I put in and the amount of dedication.”

Rublev had a tougher challenge against a highly rated Sam Querrey, in what was a titanic struggle over three hours and 17 minutes. Querrey stepped up in the opening two set tiebreakers to claim a 2-0 love, and was at 5-2 with a break in hand. It seemed as though the Hamburg champion was headed for an early exit at Roland Garros, before the Russian won five consecutive games – breaking his opponent twice – to take the third set. From there, Rublev had the momentum and he never lost it, winning 6-7 6-7 7-5 6-4 6-3.

It was Rublev’s first win at Roland Garros and now he sets his sights on a clay court talent in Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina who defeated French teenager, Harold Mayot for a spot in the Round of 64, 7-6 6-3 7-5. It was not a good day for the French with the home nation representatives dropping like flies. Aside from Mayot, Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet, Ugo Humbert, Gregoire Barrere and Quentin Halys all lost on day three, leaving just three Frenchmen in the Round of 64.

Simon put up a fight against ninth seed Canadian Denis Shapovalov before the youngster and newest top 10 player won 6-2 7-5 5-7 6-3, while Humbert won a set but had a shock loss to Australian lucky loser Marc Polmans in a disappointing defeat for a player who last start knocked off world number four Daniil Medvedev, 6-2 6-2 3-6 6-3. Halys took Marcos Giron to five sets but lost 8-6 in the fifth in a four-hour and 22-minute loss, while Gasquet and Barrere were beaten in straight sets by seeds, Roberto Bautista Agut and Grigor Dimitrov.

Meanwhile number one seed Novak Djokovic looked like he had some place to be, dismantling rising Swede Mikael Ymer in just 98 minutes, 6-0 6-2 6-3 barely breaking a sweat on his way to the second round. The only quicker match was Roberto Carballes Baena stunning Steve Johnson 6-1 6-1 6-0 in 83 minutes, almost unheard of for a three-set match. Matteo Berrettini had a similarly one-sided result against Vasek Pospisil 6-3 6-1 6-3, while Cristian Garin and Dusan Lajovic both made their way into the Round of 64 with four-set wins over Philipp Kohlschreiber and Gianluca Mager respectively.

Way out on Court 12, Brazilian clay courter Thiago Monteiro added to a horror fortnight for 31st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili after the clay courter lost in the first round defending his Hamburg title, and then was bundled out in straight sets first-up against Monteiro at Roland Garros, 7-5 6-4 6-2. In unseeded matches, Slovenia’s Andrej Martin, Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas, South African duo Lloyd Harris and Kevin Anderson, Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis and Hungary’s Attila Balazs all advanced through to the next stage of the tournament.

Picture: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

2020 ATP Roland Garros preview: Can Nadal win number 13?

RAFAEL Nadal is always the nominal favourite at Roland Garros, probably because he has only lost three matches there in his entire career, of which one was via retirement. The King of Clay will be keen to bounce back from a shock loss to Diego Schwartzman in Rome to really put a stamp on his favourite event and extend his ridiculous lead at the top of the French Open titleholders.

With the draw released yesterday, it was announced unseeded Belarusian Egor Gerasimov has the near-impossible task of taking down the 12-time winner, with Nadal’s run to the third round fate-accompli with a likely matchup against the winner of first round battle, Daniel Evans and Kei Nishikori.

The entire quarter of the draw has some big names, but mostly in the top eighth, with Alexander Zverev (sixth seed) and David Goffin (11th) in there. Goffin has a tough first-up match with Italian young gun Jannik Sinner in one of the danger games for a seed, while 23rd seed Frenchman Benoit Paire lost his only match since returning from a positive COVID-19 test result and if he finds form could face Goffin the third round. Australian Alex de Minaur reached his first Grand Slam quarter final at the US Open but after an easier first round qualifying opponent, has Zverev for likely company in the third round.

If we are talking about matches to look forward to, then look no further than Dominic Thiem‘s quarter of the draw. The back-to-back runner-up will not have to wait until the final to play his nemesis Nadal, landing in the same half as him. Gael Monfils is up the other end of the quarter taking on in-form Alexander Bublik in a tough first-up game. Thiem himself has to take on Marin Cilic, but should have him comfortably covered on clay.

The match of the first round has to be 16th seed Stan Wawrinka up against wildcard Brit, Andy Murray. Both are Grand Slam winners and to draw in the first round is an unbelievable event. Murray is also the last wildcard you would want to face if you are Wawrinka. Also in that draw we see a ton of Americans and Frenchman running around, including teenager Hugo Gaston who if he can overcome compatriot Maxime Janvier, could have a crack at fellow young gun, Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second round. Schwartzman takes on rising Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round, whilst Casper Ruud is in line to face Thiem in the third round if he can make it.

Without Thiem in his half, it is hard to see Novak Djokovic not reaching the final as the third best clay courter in the world. He has drawn improving Swede, Mikael Ymer in the first round, and has an overall smooth draw to the fourth round, with just Hubert Hurkacz in his way. A third round clash between Cristian Garin and Karen Khachanov would be on the cards for the right to play Djokovic in the fourth round which would be the Serb’s first test.

Australian John Millman has fallen in this quarter of the draw, up against Pablo Carreno Busta in what will be a tough, but winnable game for the Australian. The match of that eighth has to be seventh seed Matteo Berrettini up against Vasek Pospisil, with the in-form Canadian showing in recent weeks what he can do now he is back within the automatic entry for Grand Slams. Jan-Lennard Stuff takes on Frances Tiafoe in the first round too, while Roberto Bautista Agut has drawn Richard Gasquet in a match that will possibly be the longest of the seeded games.

In the second quarter of the draw, the best players yet to win a Grand Slam are in line to face off in a quarter final with fourth seed and US Open semi-finalist Daniil Medvedev and fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas falling here. Medvedev has the dangerous Marton Fucsovics in the first round, while Tsitsipas takes on improving Jaume Munar. The quarter might not have the op-end quality in terms of other seeds, but they have some seriously talented clay courters.

Nikoloz Basilashvili is a known performer on clay, as is Dusan Lajovic and Filip Krajinovic, all who fall into the quarter. Denis Shapovalov and Andrey Rublev do not always have the consistency in their game, but they, along with the ever-dangerous Grigor Dimitrov round out the seeds. The match of this quarter is likely unseeded pair, Serbian Laslo Djere and Kevin Anderson, with Djere favoured due to the service. Keep an eye out for young Frenchman, Harold Mayot who takes on Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Top 5 Matches to Watch:

[16] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) vs. [WC] Andy Murray (GBR)
[11] David Goffin (BEL) vs. Jannik Sinner (ITA)
[3] Dominic Thiem (AUT) vs. Marin Cilic (CRO)
[7] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) vs. Vasek Pospisil (CAN)
[32] Daniel Evans (GBR) vs. Kei Nishikori (JPN)

Prediction:

Nadal to defeat Djokovic in four sets, with Thiem and Tsitsipas to lose in the semis. Expect a surprise quarter finals opponent for Thiem, with either Schwartzman or Coric potentially getting there over Monfils. Medvedev, Zverev and potentially Bautista Agut to round out the final eight, with Berrettini’s form of late a little shaky.

Picture: Getty Images

Delray Beach/Marseille wrap: French teen pushes former top 10 player on home soil

THE second day of main draw matches in Marseille and Delray Beach got underway with a mix of surprising and statement-making results.

DELRAY BEACH OPEN – DELRAY BEACH, UNITED STATES:

A number of tight three setters and two retirements marked a busy day at Delray Beach with the Round of 32 complete. Among the tight contests was British qualifier, Cameron Norrie downing third seed American, Taylor Fritz 6-4 6-7 6-4 in two hours and 12 minutes. The 24-year-old Brit won the first set in a tight one, before dropping the second in a tiebreaker, 7-4 before bouncing back to break again and win 6-4 6-7 6-4. Ranked 60th in the world, Norrie is far from an easy-beat and he showed it in the match, winning 78 per cent of his first serve points and more importantly, 59 per cent of his second serve points. He broke Fritz three times to the American’s once, and survived a barrage of aces from the third seed 22-year-old, as Fritz piled on 13 to six, and won 84 per cent of his first serve points. While his serving was strong, his return was not great, with a low return rating of just 86, winning just 28 per cent of points on Norrie’s serve.

In other results, fourth seed American, Reilly Opelka had to fight back from a set down to defeat Latvian qualifier, Ernests Gulbis 6-7 6-4 7-6 in three tight sets, as did sixth seed Frenchman, Ugo Humbert. The 21-year-old world number 44 defeated American lucky loser, Stefan Kozlov 6-7 6-3 6-1. In a much easier match, second seed Milos Raonic bounced back from a disappointing Round of 16 loss to Soonwoo Kwon at New York to smash Uzbekistani qualifier, Denis Istomin 6-2 6-2. Not needing to play out full matches, Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic and American qualifier, Noah Rubin both were ahead when their opponents – Jordan Thompson and Jason Jung respectively – retired. On Court 4, Cedrik-Marcel Stebe fought off a more determined Bernard Tomic 6-2 3-6 6-2, while Steve Johnson triumphed on home soil with a 7-6 6-4 win over Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen. In the later matches, wildcard Jack Sock stunned eighth seed Romanian and reigning title holder, Radu Albot, while rising United States talent, Tommy Paul downed Colombian lucky loser, Daniel Elahi Galan in straight sets.

ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] M. Raonic (CAN) defeated [LL] D. Istomin (UZB) 6-2 6-2
[Q] C. Norrie (GBR) defeated [3] T. Fritz (USA) 6-4 6-7 6-4
[4] R. Opelka (USA) defeated [Q] E. Gulbis (LAT) 6-7 6-4 7-6
[6] U. Humbert (FRA) defeated [LL] S. Kozlov (USA) 6-7 6-3 6-1
[WC] J. Sock (USA) defeated [8] R. Albot (ROU) 3-6 6-3 7-6
T. Paul (USA) defeated [LL] D. Galan (COL) 6-2 6-4
M. Kecmanovic (SRB) defeated J. Thompson (AUS) 6-2 RET
C. Stebe (GER) defeated [LL] B. Tomic (AUS) 6-2 3-6 6-2
S. Johnson (USA) defeated H. Laaksonen (SUI) 7-6 6-4
[Q] N. Rubin (USA) defeated J. Jung (TAI) 6-4 4-3 RET

OPEN 13 PROVENCE – MARSEILLE, FRANCE:

He might have lost, but rising French teenager Harold Mayot showed he is not too far off being a settled contributor on the ATP Tour, going down 6-4 7-6 to experienced compatriot Gilles Simon, on debut. Handed a wildcard, the French world number 509 took out the Australian Open Junior title, coming in as the number one seed at that tournament. He was handed a rough ATP Tour debut in his home country, but did not let anyone down with an admirable performance against a quality player. He pushed Simon for almost two hours and only went down 7-3 in the second set tiebreaker as it was just the more experienced Frenchman’s serving that was the difference. Simon produced nine aces and only dropped five points off his first serve, but Mayot still managed to break the 35-year-old once. Simon broke the teenager twice from six attempts, but was more effective upon return, winning 40 per cent of the points. Overall Simon was a bit too experienced for Mayot, after all Simon was a former top 10 player a decade ago. While he might be coming to the end of his career, his opponent’s is only getting started.

Along with Mayot, another French wildcard bowed out on home soil, as 24-year-old Antoine Hoang suffered defeat at the hands of rising Polish star, Hubert Hurkacz. The number eight seed won 6-4 6-1 fairly convincingly and moved through to the next round where he takes on red-hot Canadian Vasek Pospisil. The 29-year-old continued his rise back into the top 100 with a win over lucky loser, Emil Ruusuvuori 7-6 6-3 with Pospisil’s protected ranking not likely to be needed for much longer. In other results, Next Gen Finals winner Jannik Sinner built on his top 10 victory over David Goffin at Rotterdam to take down Slovakian qualifier, Norbert Gombos who is no slouch, having knocked off top 30 player, Pablo Carreno Busta in Montpellier last week. Elsewhere, Marin Cilic moved through in three sets against Belarusian qualifier, Ilya Ivashka 3-6 7-6 6-4 to set up a Round of 16 matchup with the out-of-sorts Denis Shapovalov, while Slovenian Alijaz Bedene caused the upset of the day against fifth seed Russian Karen Khachanov breaking the top 30 player in the final game of the match to win 4-6 6-4 7-5

ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

A. Bedene (SLO) defeated [5] K. Khachanov (RUS) 4-6 6-4 7-5
[8] H. Hurkacz (POL) defeated [WC] A. Hoang (FRA) 6-4 6-1
J. Sinner (ITA) defeated [Q] N. Gombos (SVK) 6-4 7-6
M. Cilic (CRO) defeated [Q] I. Ivashka (BLR) 3-6 7-6 6-4
G. Simon (FRA) defeated [WC] H. Mayot (FRA) 6-4 7-6