Teenagers attack the Tour – This Week in Tennis

by Jonas Eriksson

In this episode of This Week in Tennis, we talk about how teenagers attack the tennis tour, in light of Fonseca and Mensik’s success.

Teenagers attack the ATP Tour

The theme for this week was all about surprises. Not huge surprises perhaps, but unexpected results. It is clear that the teenagers are coming. We have a new wave of players popping out and the two guys that stood out for exceptional performances this week was Joao Fonseca and Jakub Mensik.

17-year-old Fonseca reached the quarterfinals in Rio before he was ousted by qualified Mariano Navone, who had the tournament of his life. In Fonseca, Brazil has a new promising talent with an impressive power game, which is excellent.

What racquet is he using? Well, apparently he had been trying both the new VCORE 95 and his old Yonex VCORE SV 98, which was the model before they changed the 98 to a 16/19 string pattern. 

His racquet is relatively heavy, but without a crazy swing weight. The specs are 348g, 331 SW strung. There is lead tape at 3, 9, 12, and the throat, and he uses a leather grip.

Mensik means business

Jakub Mensik is using a Blade 98; it could be a Pro, meaning H22, or a regular Blade 98 (not sure what generation). Like Fonseca, he can generate massive power and has a big serve to back it up. He reached the final in Doha, losing to a clutch Khachanov, who won two tie-break sets 14-12 in this tournament. People sometimes forget how mentally strong Khachanov can be on a tennis court.

Khachanov commented that he felt like he was playing John Isner at times in the match.

A tough loss for Mensik in his first tour final, but a great sign of things to come.

So a title for Khachanov in Doha and two Argentinians settling the Rio title with Baez and Navone playing at the time of this video going live. I have a feeling Baez will have won the title when you watch this. 

But there has also been a tournament in Los Cabos in Mexico.

Thompson from nowhere

I predicted that Tsitsipas would defend his title, but he lost to the surprise eventual winner in Jordan Thompson in the quarter-finals. Then Thompson was super clutch in three tight sets against Zverev in the semis and then beat Ruud in the final.  This result kind of came out of nowhere, and this is what Thompson said afterward:

I spent so many hours on the court this week. In the quarter-final I could have been double bageled, I could have been losing 6-0, 6-0. And now I’m about to lift the trophy, so I think it’s still a miracle,” Thompson said post-match, repeating the line he used after the semis.

This is Thompson’s first title and he will reach a career-high 32 in the world. Thompson began his 2024 season by beating Rafael Nadal to reach the Brisbane semi-finals, and also reached consecutive quarter-finals in Dallas and Delray Beach prior to his Los Cabos run.

That wraps up the ATP Tour for this week.

Sabalenka’s racquet and Paolini’s success

But we also had a WTA 1000 in Dubai, where there were, of course, more surprises. When discussing how teenagers attack the tennis tour, we could have talked more about 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva, but she did lose in the first round to Sterns this week.

I predicted another title for Swiatek. But Kalinskaya beat her in the semi-finals, after beating Gauff in the quarters. She beat Ostapenko before that. What a run!

But Paolini was too tough in the final and is heading to a WTA personal best ranking next week in the top 20.

So how did Sabalenka do? Well, she lost in her first match back from the Australian Open to a brilliant Donna Vekic.

And by the way, thanks to Tan Tennis, these are Sabalenka’s racquet specifications.

Strung weight: 324 grams
Balance: 32.7 cm
Swing weight: 326

She strings her racquets with Luxilon Alu Power mains and Luxilon Ace cross.

Week 9 on the tennis tour

Alright, let’s look at week 9 of the tennis tour.

Dubai ATP 500

We are in Dubai and Acapulco for two ATP 500 tournaments and we have one ATP 250 in Santiago, Chile.

Many top guys are already in Indian Wells, practicing. We saw Novak and Rafa share a flight. And not a private one either, which resulted in a viral moment on social media.

But many players want or need more matches.

The draw for the Dubai ATP 500 features players like Medvedev as the top seed, as Rublev, Hurkacz, Khachanov, Humbert, Mannarino, and Bublik. Medvedev has a tough one against Shevchenko in the first round, and there is a potential upset alert. Two players desperately looking for form are Andy Murray and Dennis Shapovalov, who play in the first round.

Rublev has yet to quite find his form in recent tournaments, so I am not going to predict him to win. I feel like Hurkacz might win this one and that nets more than six times your bet on the best tennis betting sites.

There are several exciting first round matches, but Murray vs Shapovalov stands out in “the quest to find my form”.

Acapulco ATP 500

The draw for Acapulco ATP 500 is not quite as stacked as the Dubai one, but still strong. Zverev is the top seed and has been relatively reliable this year, but can he win? Rune is coming to the tournament with his new and old coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. Let’s see how this newfound relationship works out.

Top seeds are: Zverev, Rune, De Minar, Fritz, Tsitsipas and Ruud. We have some exciting match-ups in the first round with Tsitsipas vs Safiullin, Evans vs Shelton, Arnaldi vs Fritz, Ruud vs Eubanks.

My prediction will be that Ruud, on the heels of a confident final run in Los Cabos, will take the title.

Check out our betting section for tips on sportsbooks and upcoming tournaments. For these finals we founds good odds (and bonuses!) over at .

Chile Open ATP 250

We will also be on clay in week 9 and this time we are not in Argentina or Brazil, but in Santiago, Chile.

Top seeds in the draw: Jarry, Baez, Fils, Tabilo, Hanfmann, Diaz Acosta

We must keep our eyes on Fonseca and Navone after their Rio runs. Recent ATP winner Darderi is also a threat in this event. I am a bit surprised to see Fils making a clay court trip since I perceive that to be his weakest surface, and his results have shown some struggles. Maybe I’m wrong, but it made more sense for him to do hard-court tournaments ahead of Indian Wells.

My prediction is that home player and top seed Jarry will take the title.

San Diego Open WTA 500

There are two tournaments in USA to prepare for Indian Wells. The strongest one is the San Diego Open WTA 500.

Top seeds in the draw: Pegula, Haddad Maia, Navarro, Pavlyuchenkova, Yastremska, Kostyuk

The tournaments leading up to the BNP Paribas Open are VERY open and it’s difficult to do any strong predictions. We will go with gut feel and draw to predict Haddad Maia to win in San Diego.

ATX Open WTA 250

There are not only podcasting comedians in Austin, Texas, but also a WTA 250 tournament. You can check out the draw here.

Top seeds: Kalinina, Stephens, Collins, Bronzetti, Parry, Wang

Collins is doing her last season on the WTA tour and so far she has played well. I think she can take home the title here. Fans of the one-handed backhand should watch Diane Parry.

Let me hear your predictions for these events in the comments below!

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1 comment

Ryan Williams February 26, 2024 - 05:46

Sabalenka hitting so hard with that racquet spec is as wild as Alcaraz playing with a stock Pure Aero 98.

Is there any truth to the idea that the physically stronger players are gravitating toward lighter specs? Looks that way with those two + big hitters like Sinner, Fritz and Tiafoe playing with sub 335g frames (not to mention Kyrgios, who I believe plays with a 340g stick with a SW around low 320s). Compare them to a guy like Schwartzman, who plays extended with a hefty SW.


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