A little update on the actual tennis from my end.
Japan. Love Stan preparing for this last big stretch of HC. The next few weeks should be loaded with victory and death.
Japan has a huge draw. Stan, Paire, Kyrgios, Cilic, Simon, Nishikori, et al. Paire has been playing well for months, it seems, but I see Kyrgios getting by him for a huge match v Cilic/Nishikori. Big time tennis. Here’s what I’m seeing: Kyrgios is going to win Japan and based on his game in general, along with a bit of what I saw today (watch it: Roger-like snappy forehand, Djokovic backhand along with 6’4″ great athleticism) – the fact that he’s back in the game after that little controversy, feasting on the mediocrity, he is coming. With decent trajectory, he will be winning big big tournaments soon. Athlete and big, deep guns. Stan v Kyrgios will be huge (then again, if that sneaky Frenchman beats him in the next match, ha, I guess I wouldn’t be terribly surprised, nor if he got beat in the SF or to hard charging Stan in the F). So did I just shit on everything I just said?
Very tough draw in Japan, couple of guys could win that thing. But Kyrgios is the future if he grows-up and gets his shit together. He’s the next level. Rog and now Djokovic have brought the game to a very high-level – the GOAT all surface, all-court tennis. But it must keep progressing. Kyrgios looked absolutely comfortable as hell on the court. He’s the next.
China is the annual Djokovic trip to Beijing? He owns the place. Nadal, of course, is in the draw with a pretty clear pass to the SF (Tsonga loss helps) though Jack Sock and, potentially, Fognini are in the way. Go Jack Sock. Control your game, deep breaths. You can beat Nadal.
Djokovic is hitting the ball so well, from both sides. I watched some of his Zhang match. Big rallies, great hitting. Djokovic looks so efficient, so solid. Ball is so deep on his opponent. And no one can hit with him. Good luck with that. With all of the hoopla going down now about Novak over Roger, I saw both SF in person at Indian Wells (Novak/Murray and Roger/Raonic). Roger made cream cheese out of Raonic who had just EMBARRASSED Nadal in the QF. Roger looked perfect for March. Djokovic toyed with Murray.
But Djokovic was on an entirely different level. In the final, Roger won the 2nd set TB to get the place into a frothing heap of tennis orgy, but Djokovic more or less routined him: 63 67 62.
China Update: I just watched Nadal v Sock. Sock looked good early, securing an early break in the first and holding on for 1-0. Then Nadal returned the favor in the second set. Sock had opportunities to break back but the Spanish Magician spun his little spell on the clumsy American. Too bad. I was rooting for Sock to make a move here and establish some confidence against a very beatable Nadal. Problem is they’re very similar type players, meaning not as much upside for the American. Poor court positioning, practically on or behind the baseline “Beijing” court sign during rallies. Not good. Both players flirted with this strategic dilemma and Nadal actually looked better once he moved forward, became a little more offensive in his play.
But he’s just not the same player. He doesn’t have the speed or the strength. Go figure. Weak serve and his backhand now finds the bottom of the net regularly. Fun to listen to the announcers try to rationalize this fall from grace for the dopey Spaniard. They want to talk about confidence, sustaining form, blah blah blah.
Meanwhile, Nadal continues to glance frenetically at Toni throughout the match. Doesn’t look good. Not sure what’s going on there, but doesn’t look good.
Speaking of not looking good. Here’s a link to a video I took tonight during the changeover between the 2nd and 3rd sets. Listen to Lindsay Davenport and Paul Annacone try to make sense of whatever Nadal is ingesting there in his chair. Looks suspicious. Sure, it’s probably not steroids, but the guy is a wizard, a magician. He’s been fooling tennis for years. Just watch the video. It’s hilarious if use of that sort of creepy nutrition makes you laugh.
And unfortunately, I have another Nadal post up my sleeve. So, between some comments on Japan and China, stay tuned for that!
Japan Update: Benoit Paire continues to play well. I did say I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the Frenchman beat Kyrgios. Kyrgios up 1-0 (6-3) and then pretty much dismissed. Keep battling, Kyrgios. I still like your game, a lot.
In addition, Nishikori, who is very tough on that court, was still very impressive in his 3 set win over Cilic. Cilic looked very good in the first set. Hats off, Mr. Nishikori.