TennisWinterI suppose we’re a bit off-season right now with a little news trickling in about this or that but with the ATP on break, most of the on-court drama has been put on pause.  That’s fine.

Two things have my attention right now (tennis wise), which I intend to write about; any comments here for insight and other related thoughts on the matters, tennis, please, fire away (as long as we’re using words, literary arguments as our “fire,” we’re terribly brilliant and nurturing compared to the deaths and threats being made by terror in our scattered and shattered communities around the world.  My God, this shit is fucking awful.  “Oh, the humanity“).

Two things:

  1. Who in the world is going to upset the tennis status quo (TSQ)?  I remember reading recently, some crazed monologue somewhere, that Novak upset the status quo, recently.  Wrong.  The victimization of Nole in 2015 is about the greenest sentiment I can remember, broiled in naiveté. Who will we have new in 2016 to add challenge to the tour. This is getting old pretty quick; this explains any frustration I’ve had recently.  Part of Federer’s run here is incredible, unprecedented and part of it is a sign we need some new apprentices to be indoctrinated by today’s sport legends, offering hands-on on-court tutelage. We need new blood. Lob your suggestions of 2016 aliens that will add intrigue to the Land of Nole.  Del Potro?  How are you doing?  Senior, por favor:  Vivir! There are signs of life with that Argentinian giant. Any other signs of life out there?  Anyone?
  2. I’m drowning in Big Three histories and fantasies. I refuse to accept 100% that the current era usurps all tennis royalty and greatness.  It’s celebrated enough, even by me.  I totally understand living in the moment, but the game is much bigger than this 4-major-accumulation race, this H2H comedy.  The marketing, the madness. Essays characterizing the past, more, we need. I’ll leave it at that.

I hope all is well.

NOVAK flying

14 thoughts on “December

  1. wilfried

    Not sure I get what you’re suggesting exactly in your post.
    If it is more suspense, more real competition you want to see at the top level, I’d agree with you , although to me Djokovic merits his domination of the field as much as Federer did before, which immplies that I don’t have a problem with it continuing still a bit longer.
    If it is better coaching, more genuine, insightful advice to the younger players by the senior players you want to see, I’d agree with you as well. This sort of thing would be very welcome. But Im’ not sure the top players are really interested in this kinda stuff. Djokovic might be like that a bit, but Federer, why would he, Roger Federer, a player that doens’t seem to listen enough to his own coaches and for a lon time didn’t even have a coach, be interested in giving advice to somenone else? Besides, what do young apprentices, his sparring partners hear from him more than the general advice that you need to work hard, and keep working hard ?
    And indoctrination? Don’t know for the English language, but in Dutch, this is a word loaded with very negative sense. I’d say, indoctrination no thanks, I don’t need that, and apprentices don’t need that either.
    Young people need good examples. genuinely, insigthful and wise advice from the older one, and if somehow possible, for free.
    But I guess in the kind of world we live in today, this is asking a bit too much.


    1. The tutelage and indoctrination is said more as a kind of expression suggesting the younger players will learn via exposure to the tennis of these top guys. The doctrine I’m referring to is the highest level of tennis, played with class and respect for the game, if you really want me to define whatever “doctrine” to which I refer.

      Not the point. I want more youngsters getting deeper into draws, building a broader competitive field on the tour. It’s very very thin right now. Of course, this is Novak’s time and I’m not trying to deny that or wish for some kind of change at the top. I’m a fan of Novak. I’ve made this very clear on this blog.

      As I asked in my previous post, please do tell who the genuine threats are to Novak right now, beyond a couple of Swiss guys. And one of them is getting a little long in the tooth, sorry to say. As much as we want to say Roger is better than ever (“Look, two of the greatest of all time in their primes are squaring-off!”), that’s a myth/fantasy. He’s going on 35.

      So, back to your question: I want more depth in the field. Currently, there is none.

      And again, players learn by getting spanked by the best. That’s being indoctrinated into the pro game. Sorry if that word rubs the wrong way.

      Thanks for commenting, Wilifried. And I agree with Mat4 about Belgium and Goffin. He is a fine player; such experience can bode well for his play on the tour. Despite not having some of the “gifts” of other younger players (height, power, etc.), he plays solid tennis, wins matches and is learning how to play in those big moments. I’ll be rooting him on, for sure.


      1. wilfried

        Thanks for explaining.
        To answer your question about genuine threats to Novak, well… if Novak continues at the level he ended this season (which I expect to be the case), it’s on his racquet I think.
        Olympic gold however, which is one of his main goals this season, might have an impact on his performance in WImbledon or/and the US Open. Hard to imagine that he can get the golden slam. Would be an incredible achievement.
        As for the upcoming Australian Open, I expect Andy Murray to be bigger opposition for Novak than 34- years old Roger Federer.


  2. Hello, Wilfried, glad you’re here too. Sorry for Belgium, I rooted for Goffin, but I guess I was one of the… happy few, to quote Stendhal. But the glass is half full: Belgium made the final — it counts too. And David has progressed a lot in the last year. He still has to toughen up, but he has the game, and I am sure he can play even better.


    1. wilfried

      Hello Mat4, I wish I’d have your tennis acumen and knowledge, but I don’t, unfortunately, which explains partly why I can’t comment often.
      I like David Goffin as a player and as a person, and follow his career.
      David got an invitation from his idol Roger Federer to spar with him in Dubai, from the 27th of december till the day of new years eve last year, together with Alexander Dolgopolov and some other youngster.
      Great opportunity I thought for David to get some advice from the maestro for his career. So I was looking for some interesting information on the internet in David’s interviews. Apart from the general advice that you need to work hard, I couldn’t find nothing really serious. Either David didn’t receive any interesting feedback, or he didn’t want to talk about with the press, or, perhaps I’m not good enough in heuristics to find the type of information I was looking for.
      Anyway, next are David’s results: in the first couple of months of the next season they were not really of the sort to suggest that he derived much benefit from his sparring sessions with Federer. His ATP Chennai result was decent, but from the Australian Open unwards, it was overall pretty poor in comparison with the second part of his previous season. I honestly hope and think that David will benefit more from losing to Andy Murray in the Davis Cup final, than from having sparred a couple of times with the Maestro in Dubai .
      So, as a fan of David Goffin my perception of the support David got from his idol is not really positive..
      And David is not the only example that comes to mind.
      Take the case of Grigor Dimitrov. Last season top 8, today not even in the year-end top 25. Didn’t Grigor have soem kinda contract with Roger Federer’s agency (academy?) to be coached and mentored by the Maestro, or is this cooperation only going to happen in a distant future when it is too late for Grigor’s career ?


      1. I wouldn’t assume that Roger is undermining these youngsters. That experience has to remain a positive experience for Goffin unless Roger did something to upset the Belgian? Same with Demitrov. Don’t you think Grigor’s personal life might have some say in his results, as well?

        The fact that Roger is doing this is all one needs to acknowledge. What more can he do? I would assume this is a positive exchange.

        Development of talent is tough to gauge, no? In every walk of life. This “instruction” (“teaching of the doctrine” 😉 may not pay-off right away. Goffin did have a better 2nd half, as you said. Dimitrov seems to lack focus, consistency, etc. Who knows what’s going on in these players’ lives. Good on Roger, at least, for building the fellowship.


  3. Utsav

    Agree with some of the sentiments here. No likely candidate in the next generation at the moment. Then again, change often comes when you least expect it.

    On another note, a certain “learned” commentator (who is disliked by us both) has recently taken to labeling Roger as a PR bot, status quo guy. I, for one, find this ludicrous. Let’s look at the facts:

    1) Federer, with Murray, is calling for a tougher anti-doping regime.
    2) Federer, as chairman of the ATP Players Council, has lobbied for more prize money to be given to first round losers at majors and other tourneys, so that being a tennis pro is viable for the journeymen.
    3) Federer has spoken against the daft 2 year ranking system proposal made by Nadal, arguing that it would keep players from breaking through.

    It’s astonishing, the number of people talking out of their asses these days. It seems to me, on this evidence alone, that Federer is the guy fighting hardest against the status quo. Or at least the bad things about it, as he sees them. This is my assessment, as a Federer supporter and as someone who’s followed ATP politics for years. Your take?


    1. The doping issue is too mysterious. As we all know, many many cheating athletes have passed many many tests. Doping is so sophisticated, I would guess and the cheaters with money to burn will out-pace the system. I guess the “passport” has helped? Not sure. I think guys are on drugs now. Especially those who are injured a lot, inconsistent, etc.

      Nadal is very typical, in my mind, of a guy who has used (maybe still does). And there are others.

      Look at Tiger Woods at this point. He is literally falling apart. He can no longer even play GOLF, not the most athletic sport. He used, it’s pretty much assumed. That was the era. Injuries almost always follow that kind of regimen.

      Roger is pretty solid on the PR front, but good for him. At the same time, he is not too hesitant to speak his mind even about other players, like Novak at the WTF (a little controversy).

      It would have benefitted him perhaps if he wasn’t so “respectful” toward Nadal. You know what I mean. Can you imagine Lendl or Johnny Mac with Nadal’s antics? Lendl would’ve kicked over Nadal’s little bottles, all lined-up perfectly.

      The players who have pushed back on Nadal have beaten him. Roger perhaps could’ve been a little less congenial (IMHO).


      1. Utsav

        Woods is an excellent example. I think that if we ever find out, it’ll be a la Lance Armstrong. Or Agassi’s crystal meth experiment. Years in the future, when the sport doesn’t stand to lose too much in credibility or prestige.

        Roger is not the most expressive player out there. For that, you go to someone like Gulbis. But at the same time, he has been fairly outspoken over the years about what ails the tour (in his view). Only a fool would argue that he’s been anything but good overall for the ATP. Unfortunately, there are many such fools.

        I’m completely in agreement with you about Rog being too nice to Nadal though. You don’t take crap from a bully. You stare him down. 2015 has shown that Rafa has a soft centre, like most bullies.


    2. That ultimate fanboy is the guy talking about how Novak upset the SQ. He has been as much a part of the SQ as anyone since 2011, at least. The talk of Roger’s fans and Novak not being liked. . . I don’t buy it as some kind of conspiracy. I explained this already. NYC might have a thing for Roger – he won it 5 times in a row. Novak has not been so good there and has been “controversial,” whatever that means. Fans are not stupid. You can’t make that argument. If the fans don’t like your guy, you have to examine why.

      And you watch: Novak will be plenty popular in NYC next year.


    3. wilfried

      Hello Utsav,
      I don’t read that ‘learned’ commentator’s blog for a long time anymore. It’s not worth it in my opinion. His tennis analysis is not objective enough to be taken seriously and he doesn’t respect your opinion unless you praise him all the time.
      As for your points, it’s true that Federer and Murray called for a tougher anti-doping regime but they only did so – to my knowledge at least – after they already made their way up in the rankings and couldn’t hurt themselves too much with this sort of request. As a matter of fact I used to read Sergio Cruz’a articles on his blog (an ex-pro with a tennis academy in Switzerland) in the times that there was still free access to his articles. I remember him having serious doubts about Roger Federer being clean as well, and being very critical to him as far as any promotion of Swiss tennis and young players outthere.
      As for your second remark, pleading to upp the prize money for the first round losers is not enough in my view. DId you ever wonder why Djokovic’s total prize money is as high as Federer’s, having played many years less on the tour and having won fewer big titles ? This is only possible because prize money of the top players has increased even more. So to talk about bettering the situation for the less priviliged players is a bit easy and gratuit for them. Let’s start talking about making tennis more democratic and more accessible for talented youngster whose parents don’t have the money to pay all the expenses that come with playing on the tour and how to solve that problem in all the countries where young people play tennis.
      Just my view, with due respect for yours.
      As for doping in tennis, it is the elephant in the room …


      1. Elephant indeed. I have a hard time believing Roger’s dirty. A real hard time. Too consistent. As I recalled in a recent conversation, do you know how many majors he’s missed in his career? Zero. How many has Rafa missed? Something like 10.

        As much as I like Agassi, his inconsistency is a little too interesting. Guys like Pete and Roger (#1 forever and ever) are legendary in their consistent dominance. That’s the bar. Those two are at the top in many ways (tennis, class, etc.).


      2. Utsav

        Hey Wilfried! Lovely hearing from you.

        This is all new info to me. Would definitely welcome new and fresh info. Thanks for the injection of fresh perspective, unlikely as I think it is that Federer is a doper. Cedric Roelant seemed to agree, and his career graph doesn’t really fit the pattern.

        As for the prize money issue, I completely agree. I remember reading a Stakhovsky interview that was circulated a lot a few years ago, and I remember him saying that it was BARELY viable for him to continue touring. Winners taking way too much and the obscene prize money for the WTA…well, let me not say too much about it.


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