On The Line podcast: Double Dubai delight for Elina Svitolina and young guns run the ATP

With five tournaments on the cards, there were plenty of things for the On The Line podcast crew to talk about this week.

It was another packed week of tennis action with five tournaments taking place last week with five tournaments taking place. Two of the biggest tournaments of last week were in Dubai and Rio with the winners not really a surprise to us in either tournament. 

In Marseille and Delray Beach, it was the week of the NextGen Players on the ATP as two youngsters saw silverware for the first time this year.

Svitolina Loves Dubai

For the second straight year, Elina Svitolina has captured the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship. The Ukrainian took the title over Daria Kasatkina who had an impressive week herself. Other than an opening match test against Qiang Wang, Svitolina did not drop a set, including a comfortable win over Angelique Kerber

The other finalist, Kasatkina, had herself an impressive week as the "Comeback Queen". The Russian saved match points against Johanna Konta and then followed that up with quite an impressive comeback against Garbiñe Muguruza in the semifinals. When she puts it all together like she did this week, it is no wonder why people are excited about Kasatkina and her future in tennis. 

Meanwhile, struggles for players like Konta, Jelena Ostapenko, and Kristina Mladenovic. Konta and Ostapenko have really not found their form this year with the Latvian likely hitting her post-Grand Slam wall that many players hit after winning their first title, a year later. For Mladenovic, it really just is a confidence thing. Despite finally ending her rut in St. Petersburg, earlier than expected exits in Doha and Dubai are still a cause for concern for her, especially with the number of points she is defending over the next few months.

Four Players With Their Biggest Titles

Though it was a 250, Karen Khachanov arguably won his biggest title in Marseille this week over Lucas Pouille. He also has a 250 title, from Chengdu, but this title saw back-to-back wins over top-20 players. The Russian's season has been excellent so far with a majority of his season's losses coming to Juan Martin del Potro (Auckland and the Australian Open) and David Goffin (Montpelier). 

Frances Tiafoe comes through with his first career ATP World Tour title after defeating Peter Gojowczyk in straight sets in Delray Beach. The Amercian beat his idol, Juan Martin del Potro and Australian Open semifinalist Hyeon Chung en route to the final. The young American is now hoping to kick on, even more, to really impress after a solid first full season on tour.

Frances Tiafoe celebrates his first career tour-level title in Delray Beach (Peter Staples/ATP World Tour/Getty Images)
Frances Tiafoe celebrates his first career tour-level title in Delray Beach (Peter Staples/ATP World Tour/Getty Images)

Diego Schwartzman won the biggest ATP title of the week at the Rio Open. Tournament favorite Dominic Thiem stunningly crashed out to Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-0 as the Austrian may have been likely fatigued after winning in Buenos Aires the previous week. Nonetheless, Verdasco roared his way to the finals where he was outmatched by the wily Argentine in the final. The final of Rio will be a first-round matchup in Acapulco.

Just like Khachanov, another player this week took home silverware similar to their one previous title but could claim this as their biggest one. Alison van Uytvanck of Belgium won the Hungarian Ladies Open after defeating Dominika Cibulkova in three sets.

The Belgian defeated two top-30 players to win the title, taking out Zhang Shuai and then former WTA Finals champion Cibulkova in the title match. Should van Uutvanck kick on once again, Belgium will have a solid one-two punch of women's players with Elise Mertens and herself, just like they did in the 2000s with Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters.