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Here is this week's edition of Tough Call. Which 20-year-old will finish the year ranked higher – Alexander Zverev or Jelena Ostapenko?
Ready, set, go....
REASONS TO PICK ZVEREV
~ He’s currently ranked higher than Ostapenko (he’s No.12, she’s No.13).
~ He’s already been in the Top 10, debuting in the elite after winning his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Rome right before the French Open.
~ He’s due for a major breakthrough: Wimbledon was the first time he’s made it to the second week of a major, so could he be ready for a bigger breakthrough in New York?
REASONS TO PICK OSTAPENKO
~ She’s soaring up the rankings: She went into the French Open No.47 and she’s now on the verge of Top 10 - at this rate it’s only a matter of time until she’s Top 10 (or Top 5?)
~ Her French Open and Wimbledon points will be on her ranking for almost a year (so she has to do less than Zverev over the next 50 or so weeks to keep up with him).
~ She’s even with Zverev in the year-to-date race at No.5, but she’s a much stronger No.5 (she has 2932 points to No.1 Pliskova’s 3757, he has 2530 points to No.1 Nadal’s 6915).
OUR EXPERTS WEIGH IN
STEVE TIGNOR: Zverev
This is indeed a tough call. We already know Ostapenko's ceiling—it's basically limitless—but we don't know how consistently she can reach it. The opposite is true for Zverev; he's made it clear that he'll be a steady threat, and we know he has the right physical traits to reach the top. But we haven't seen his peak. Still, he seems more likely to me to go deep from week to week.
BRAD KALLET: Ostapenko
As much as I love Zverev’s game, he has yet to prove himself at the majors. He’s never been past the fourth round at a Slam. Ostapenko, on the other hand, won the French Open and had a terrific run at Wimbledon. Currently ranked No. 13, the Latvian has plenty of room to move up inside the unstable WTA Top 10. With more order in the ATP, it’s harder to gain significant ground.
NINA PANTIC: Ostapenko
One of the biggest challenges in tennis, especially at a young age, is defending points. Zverev, just 20, has had success for a longer period of time than Ostapenko, which may seem like a great thing, but he has to defend a lot more points the rest of this season (765) than the Latvian (200). Ostapenko’s go-for-broke style will have her swinging freely, while Zverev will feel the pressure to defend his title in St. Petersburg and back up two other semifinal runs.
ED MCGROGAN: Zverev
We have probably seen the best version of Ostapenko we’ll see for the remainder of the year—and possibly her career. That’s not a knock on the French Open champion, but it’s tough to see her surpassing the electric highs we witnessed at Roland Garros. Zverev, on the other hand, should not only win a Grand Slam title, he should contend for the No. 1 ranking. He won’t get there this year, but I’m betting he’ll finish higher on the season-ending totem pole than Ostapenko because of his affinity for hard courts, outside and indoors. Look for Ostapenko to come back to Earth when she comes to America.
ASHLEY NDEBELE: Ostapenko
Because of the current state of the WTA, Ostapenko has a very big chance of finishing the year inside the Top 3. She's showing the world that winning Roland Garros was no fluke and that she's ready to rule the women's tennis. Zverev, on the other hand, will have a difficult time penetrating the Top 4 since the men occupying these coveted slots aren't ready to give up the top reigns yet. He'll have to wait in line before he's admitted into this exclusive club.
STEVE FLINK: Zverev
Ostapenko should finish the year among the top ten in the world but Zverev will as well. I believe, though, that Zverev will be more consistent from now until the end of the year so I am giving him the nod.
About Tough Call:
In Tough Call, our TC Live panelists debate the toughest questions in tennis. Is Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal the GOAT? Who would win between 2007 Serena Williams and 2017 Serena Wiliams? On court coaching – yes or no? Tennis is a competitive, one on one sport. In Tough Call our experts debate – and our viewers decide who wins.