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ROUNDTABLE — Evaluating Marius Copil After Basel

Tennis Accent Staff

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Dan Hamilton - USA TODAY Sports

Three Tennis With An Accent writers assess the Romanian after his special week:

NICK NEMEROFF – @NNemeroff

Marius Copil had a career week in Basel. For someone as talented as Copil is, I hope this is the start of an upward surge for him.

He has stellar mechanics, a booming serve, and can move forward with consistency and potency.

There are so many tennis players who could improve their strokes by analyzing what Copil is doing on his forehand, backhand and serves. His strokes are simple, fluid and most importantly, repeatable.

Copil struggles on the move and while defending. Slower surfaces don’t suit his game, but if he can figure out how to improve his defense and properly apply his game on clay and slower hard courts, his ranking should keep moving up.

Copil is 28 years old. As we have seen with Stan Wawrinka, there is still plenty of time left for Copil to create the best moments of his tennis career.

SAQIB ALI – @saqiba

Marius Copil was introduced to me by a friend as the Romanian Federer. I had not seen much of Copil. My prior recollection of him was that he had a huge serve. Copil had come into Basel qualifying with a pedestrian record of 10-19 – which tells a story of a professional tennis player who has gotten looks in 19 tournaments on the ATP World Tour but still has not made a lasting impression.  The tour to me runs beyond the Big 3 and other superstars. On a weekly basis, any player can emerge and make his game speak to the audience. Copil came through the qualifying and traveled a long route in Basel. He gained enough mileage to reach the final and become one match short of winning a title, similar to Ernests Gulbis’s run in Stockholm last week. The feat of winning an ATP Tour event as a qualifier has been accomplished eight times this year, twice at the ATP 500 level with Nikoloz Basilashvili in Hamburg and Daniil Medvedev in Tokyo. That tells you there are quite a few exciting narratives on tour.

Copil’s run here probably came at the expense of missing the qualifying rounds for the Paris Masters. In the process he bagged a decent amount of ranking points (300) and prize money, which will make him enter more main draws for 2019. Is he Federer-like or Ljubicic-like (the backhand in particular)? That is for you to decide – what matters right now is you and I will have plenty of looks at this talented Romanian at the start of the 2019 season.

MATT ZEMEK – @mzemek

I had some remarks to offer about Copil on this week’s Tennis With An Accent podcast with Saqib, which will be released on Tuesday.

You can find all the links here, with the added note that the Radio Influence link will be tweeted out once the show goes live. You can go to RadioInfluence.com and the Sports Podcasts drop-down menu to find our show’s homepage:

For the sake of not duplicating my podcast thoughts here, I will offer some original remarks exclusive to this roundtable.

My main insight on Copil is this: He has lost a number of very, very close matches in his limited pool of main-draw tour experience. Beating Marin Cilic in Basel was a good win, but Cilic is not a world-beater at 500s and Masters, as we know. Sascha Zverev has been playing well. He made the semifinals in Shanghai and looks like a player who has more fuel in the tank compared to 2017, when he plainly ran out of gas and was unprepared for autumn, a natural reality for someone unaccustomed to the full-year grind of tour life.

Copil, by beating Zverev on top of Cilic, can say that he can put good matches together. If his Basel run ended right after beating Cilic, he might have been skeptical toward himself and doubted his ability to back up good wins with other good wins. By adding the Zverev victory to the Cilic triumph, Copil can say to himself, “I can replicate this. I can get into the habit of this.”

It is so crucial for athletes to gain visible evidence of an ability to replicate performances on separate nights. I am therefore more optimistic about Copil not because he beat Cilic, and not even because he made the final, but primarily because he beat two elite players this week, not just one. That’s the reason the Romanian has a good chance to raise the floor of his results in 2019. I genuinely think you will see him win a decent amount of main-draw matches at tournaments. No, I won’t predict major quarterfinals or Masters semifinals, but if Copil can become a round-of-32 player at the majors and a round-of-16 player at the Masters level, that will give him plenty of points and some comparatively hefty paychecks.

Copil doesn’t need glory. He needs to start banking some prize money and a firmer foothold on tour in 2019. If he does that, he will be able to say that he really did “make it” in a more profound sense.

I hope that professionals who struggle for many years eventually find the light. As a human being, I want other human beings to be fulfilled and happy. We should want that for our fellow travelers.

Sportswriters can’t root for athletes to win, but they can certainly want human beings to succeed. A lot of people will be pulling for Marvelous Marius Copil to succeed next year on tour.

The Tennis With An Accent staff produces roundtable articles and other articles with group input during the tennis season. Staff articles belong to the TWAA family of writers and contributors, as opposed to any individual commentator. Our staff produces roundtables every week of the tennis season, so that you will always know what the TWAA staff thinks about the important tennis topics of the times.

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