The Indian Wells final four will be complete after tomorrow, the first half getting decided today/nite with Raonic taking care of Monfils and set to join Goffin, who followed his victory over Wawrinka with a straight set win against Cilic. You know, bias is a funny thing. I was called biased by a commenter a couple of days ago. I think with Nadal something’s rotten in the state of Denmark. I think about the same with Cilic, Mr. one-major-wonder. We know what might have contributed to that run in NYC 2014. I have a problem with that kind of stuff. Forgive me.
So, Goffin’s win today was perfect. Who knows where Stan’s psyche is at this point. He has a nice outfit, for sure. Stan has that ability to dazzle us with his one-hander and his inconsistency. But that’s Stan. Nice to see Goffin consolidate some promise and overcome some sizable odds and opponent body weight to reach a big Masters SF.
Bravo to the 25 year-old Belgian. He faces the 25 year-old Canadian where I do see Raonic as a favorite only because of his professionalism and 2016 form. Looks like he’s overcome that abdominal injury that hampered him vs. Murray at the Australian Open SF. Most of us agree that Raonic is breaking ground on sheer will and dedication, despite his height disadvantage.
The other SF should be Djokovic v Nishikori, decided tomorrow following Djokovic v Tsonga and Nishikori v Nadal.
Tsonga looks good though I have only seen a couple of games and don’t generally trust him. Djokovic looks to have found his business-end-of-the-tourney form and his recent success against the Frenchmen suggests Djokovic advances.
But we know Tsonga’s potential. I did see a few games vs. Thiem and was a little surprised that Tsonga had so little difficulty with the young star. Thiem seemed to struggle quite a bit with the weight of Tsonga’s shots, seriously struggling to even get balls back to the net. Thiem had a tough three-setter against Sock, which might have played a part but the take-away was Tsonga was hitting the ball quite well, clearly over powering the youngster.
We suspect Tsonga to play Djokovic tough. At least I do.
Nishikori v Nadal you would think goes the way of Kei. If Kei has recovered from his tough R16 win over Isner, he should beat Nadal. No question. Obviously a pro-Nadal perspective is going to say that Nadal is gaining confidence (whatever that means – what happened to it?).
His “win” over the teen Zverev has him back on form according to the peanut gallery. Nadal barely got by Mueller. I watched that match. Granted, that’s Nadal. For whatever reason (some of it is definitely clutch) he squeaks by, lives to fight another day. The Zverev collapse was horrific. Hopefully that kid does learn from this. Nadal advances.
So, if you’re asking me we have Djokovic v Nishikori to see who faces the winner of Goffin v Raonic.
One thing seems certain with the trials of Indian Wells 2016. The Big Four as we know it is dead. For one, many tennis fans have Wawrinka as much qualified for this lofty four-top as Murray, both with two majors and Wawrinka having success more recently. Let’s take a look at all four.
Andy Murray: he’s the classic bridesmaid, some of which is not of his own doing, but from the sheer luck of the draw 😉
It’s like NBA stars who played during the Jordan era. Tough luck. Murray just doesn’t have the make-up or the game to finish these big tournaments. Remember, I hold Nole responsible for even allowing Murray to establish this faint semblance of dominance (having lost to Murray in those two major F). Murray is not royalty in this age of tennis royalty.
But that was then. Now? I’m not going to over-estimate his early IW exit this year (because he never really plays that well there), but I clearly see the Scot beginning his decline. He has the child. He has his beloved DC legacy, his solid, seemingly perennial top five stature. The youth of the sport is upon us, no question.
Andy is distracted by the past and the present. He’s been beaten down and has found success elsewhere, recently.
Rafael Nadal: you know where I stand on this guy. His game is beleaguered. That’s it. He will be out of the top five by the end of the year.
Roger Federer: my take on the recent news of his decision to play Miami – too soon. Roger’s injury is trouble for the Swiss. (Yes, I’m going to reference my Fed motto again, for the 23 millionth time) He’s been on a farewell tour for a few years now. The injury consolidates my argument. Watching Dubai and IW is too much for the uber competitive Swiss, so he’s back at Miami to trigger his spring and summer build for some big events. But I think it’s too early. I think he’s pushing the envelope here. He doesn’t even “like” Miami, his wins there coming in ’05 and ’06; recently, he’s skipped this second half of this Masters back-to-back, choosing to play IW instead.
He’s Roger, so he’s solid. But I see the slide begin to pick-up speed. As I said in my 2016 Prediction post, this is the last real relevant year for the Maestro. If you don’t see this, wake-up.
That leaves us with Novak. The other three aren’t in the same class as the Serb at this point and, yes, I’m stating the obvious.
Naturally, this leaves us with this 2016 watch or trend: at what point will the Big Four be declared dead by mass perception.
What phraseology or terminology will help us define this next era?
I have it!
The ATP 2016 will be a great story starring Zorro (Nole). Zorro. Nole reminds me of this masked hero figure. Here’s a definition of the character that seems to fit perfectly:
“a dashing black-clad masked outlaw who defends the commoners and indigenous peoples of the land against tyrannical officials and other villains. Not only is he too cunning and foxlike for the bumbling authorities to catch, but he also delights in publicly humiliating them.”
Enjoy the IW final four.