I think I’ll call these kinds of more scattered musings, accompanied perhaps by a lull in writing, where I can aggregate a few different points about a few different things: BTO. And, yes, it’s a nod to the notorious MTO that’s tarnished some of the legacies of this latest golden era of tennis. I took a BTO. . .
This week has seemed like a little calm before the final round of 2015 ATP fireworks of Basel, Valencia, Paris and London. The Basel draw has plenty of interesting match-ups. Federer, defending champ (winner of his home tourney six times), gets another shot at Nadal, maybe. He would’ve been given another shot at a H2H with the whimsical Spaniard in last year’s version, but Nadal ducked him, losing to a seventeen year-old Borna Coric in the QF. But of course this year is different? Nadal is finding his confidence? I guess that’s what’s going on. Who knows.
Either way, the draw looks to be quite good. Hopefully, Rog, Stan and Rafa will happen upon some solid form for the following two big tournaments that put a wrap on 2015. Hell, can anyone just give Novak a genuine match?
I’m not keeping too many tabs on the WTF qualifications (the legit guys are in), but I did see that Tsonga, surging for perhaps that final spot with Nishikori battling some injury (and Tsonga coming off a big Shanghai), lost to Rosol in Vienna R2. Yikes. Again, what could have been. Speaking of Rosol, Nadal gets the Czech in Basel R1. We know the Spaniard has struggled against him in the past, so good luck there with that one.
The Americans are coming! I decided to wait to write about the draw theatrics at Stockholm and Vienna this past week as a couple of Americans made some noise deep and ended-up in the finals of those tournaments. I actually saw the first set and the beginning of the second set of the Ferrer v Johnson final. I can’t believe the American got through KAnderson. Johnson looked sharp today as he finally closed-out the first set against the feisty Ferrer. After struggling to close at 6-3, he was able to break Ferrer to take the first set 6-4. Then Johnson was broken game one of the second; that was pretty much a sign of things to come. But the tennis looked pretty good, serve and FH wise. His BH is anything but world class. I noticed a big improvement in fitness that seemed to enable him to play such solid tennis, make a 500 final, his first. Bravo, Stevie Johnson. Are you going to make that promising junior and college career stand-up and become a legitimate 500/1000 player?
I don’t see Johnson having quite as much promise as Jack Sock who made the Stockholm final v Berdych. At 23, our hope is that his overall fitness and tennis game (mental and physical) can marry the kid’s power. He’s having glimpses of success through-out the year, even smaller achievements at majors. In doubles, he’s thriving. He and Pospisil beat the Bryans to win the 2014 Wimbledon final. He’s made Roland Garros 4R in singles. Reaching the final this week in Stockholm is, again, the kind of success that helps build his confidence. Great stuff from a couple of Americans.
What is going on in American tennis, after all? Are things dismal, our Davis Cup fortunes resting on guys like Isner and Querrey, ATP journeymen at best? Are Sock and Donald Young ready to lead the Americans?
Here are some names we can keep an eye-on: Taylor Fritz (17) #1, Michael Mmoh (18) #2, Tommy Paul (18) #6, Reilly Opelka (18) #7. Those are their ages and ITF world rankings (Juniors). Fritz won the USO, Paul the FO and Opelka won Wimbledon all in 2015. Are they as promising as the 17 year-old German Zverev who is actually winning matches on the ATP? Not yet. But they are coming. American tennis is certainly pining for another chapter of dominant American men’s tennis. This weekend’s play from Sock and Johnson, along with the 2015 play of these teenagers are promising signs.
Looking forward to the tennis this week. Will certainly have more to write about.
Plus I want in on this laughable gossip about Roger playing the best tennis of his career, now. Ha! The irony is the people making this argument are Djokovic fans (biased beyond repair). Do they realize they’re making the case not for Novak, but for Roger? They don’t. Can’t see the forest for the trees. I’ve addressed this already. But will get after it some more.