Tatsuma Ito from Japan was the player I was referring to in my last chapter who made 46 unforced errors in his first round qualifying match at the US Open yet still won. How do you think his opponent in that match now feels ? If I was him I would be furious with myself for not capitalizing on the many, many chances that Ito presented. Ito has gone on to qualify for the Open with a rather remarkable turn around in form.
After handing his opponent nearly 12 games in errors in round 1 he tidied things up in round 2 with just 16 unforced errors but his stats in round 3 were unbelievable. Ito made just 2 unforced errors in his final qualifying match to gain a spot in the 128 man field in New York. Making just two mistakes in a match is ridiculous but his winner count was also hard to comprehend. The Japanese player hit just 5 clean winners to go with his two 'silly' mistakes, so what sort of player is he ?
In round one he was obviously just playing 'hit up' tennis or in other words a game that had no structure or tactical side to it. His second round match was obviously one that had the mouse running around on the treadmill at last and his third was almost perfect.
Tatsuma Ito is ranked 127 in the World, a fantastic tennis player who was rather unlucky to not receive direct entry into the open at Flushing Meadow due to the Wild Card system. Justice prevailed however as he will now pick up at least $30,000 US for a first round appearance.
The Tennis World is full of players such as Ito who are technically brilliant but lack the tactical mind to take their games to another level. It does however give budding young players the reality check that is required to become not only a shot maker but one who can also think their way to victory.
The US Open is a tournament that is played on a surface that is considered 'neutral' with no advantage to any style in particular so the thinking becomes even more important. The Europeans who dominate the clay court season will struggle to make an impression in New York as their style requires the ball to come at a slower pace. The hard courts will not give them this luxury .
There is one particular section of this year's draw that I find rather intriguing beginning with the Berdych- Hewitt match. Whilst I don't believe the Aussie can win I still think that's a tough opener for the Czech. Don't be surprised to see the veteran Baghdadis push Cilic the number 14 seed in their opening match and Dustin Brown may just sneak past Tomic. So what about the above mentioned Tatsuma Ito ?
He plays American Steve Johnson, a steady player but one who Ito will fancy his chances against. If he keeps improving on his unforced error count then he may just double that $30,000 he is guaranteed of already.
So who am I tipping ? Can't go past a man who is possibly the smartest player of his time, or any time for that matter and a man who's all round game and mental strength is second to none. I am picking the man who's practice shirt rather confidently says in bright letters 'BETTERER'. You can't beat the great man from Switzerland when it comes to self belief......