I didn’t really mention anything about Raonic in my last post, summing-up IW play. Good for him to make his first Masters final. As it were, he had re-injured himself, which Novak graciously acknowledged thoroughly in post-match interviews, not that the Canadian had much of a chance anyways.
Again, Novak has really pinpointed his tournament peak schedule: survive the early rounds and peak. This is out of the book of Sampras or Becker (his childhood idol and coach, respectively). I suppose he can get caught early in a 500 or 1000 best-of-three format, but it hasn’t happened in a long time. Good luck “surprising” him in a best-of-five. We saw a near miss at the AO with Simon. Novak committed ~100 UE and still survived. His approach is state-of-the-art, built to last.
The Raonic re-injury is a reminder of his fragility. He battled injury last year, was injured late in the AO (clearly he should have beaten Murray) and then again in Indian Wells. Granted, this is probably the same injury flaring-up, but it speaks to the difficulty of getting through draws consistently and competing at such a high level. As I have said several times, his height is a big disadvantage. I think he has built enough of a game to win a Masters and maybe even a major. But the likes of Novak and other smaller, more athletic players will make those final rounds of big tourneys difficult for Milos. The serve is huge and he can even come to net, has big ground strokes. He might be the era’s Ivanišević. We’ll have to wait and see.
I’m a little surprised Raonic is playing Miami. If he’s playing well, then Nadal’s little draw will be a little more interesting; otherwise, the Spaniard has a cake walk to the QF with only Raonic (if he’s healthy) and Sock to make “the collapse” really have to earn his QF bid. Beyond that, his quarter includes Isner, Kyrgios and Wawrinka. But if Raonic is hurt, he won’t see a thing until he gets to the QF.
Some interesting match-ups on the horizon: Kyrgios v Baghdatis (do not be surprised if the Cyprus native teaches the youngster a little lesson though Kyrgios should be able to keep his cool and advance); looks like we will get Thiem v Novak in R16 in a few days, though probably not the best surface for Thiem who should become very formidable on slower HC and clay; Steve Johnson beat Zverev to end his little early spring fling and gets Berdych next, who should beat the American; Goffin looks poised to reach another QF and play the survivor of Ferrer, Cilic and Simon (we would think Ferrer plays Cilic for that, but you never know with him and Simon is no rookie). Lots of tennis.
The Federer withdraw is no surprise (I did see someone refer to his knee and now stomach as part of a silent ban for PED. If that’s the case, then the Sampras-Djokovic family tree will rule the sport until further notice ((of course following Novak’s consolidation of his right to this era’s crown))). Federer should never have even been in Miami. Others say he was there to pick-up an appearance fee and chime-in on the ATP v WTA ordeal. Should never have been there. I said it was too early for the knee a few posts ago. No surprise he’s gone for whatever reason (other than PEDs).
As for the controversy. Moore and Novak (and anyone else) have that opinion because there is documented proof of the discrepancy. The ATP does carry the WTA to a certain extent. To clarify, we are at the end of a golden era that has the men’s sport at an all-time high, so this is not really a slap of the WTA. The WTA, on the other hand, is pretty unwatchable, and some of the ladies, indeed, are quite attractive, etc., etc.
But in this social and political time and place, you don’t go “there,” especially given the nature of the media today. Sorry. Especially in America, where the wheels of progressive thought have incredible traction. The money is obscene, anyways. Let it go. You are not going to win that battle in these times of economic and social inequality.
I was a little surprised that Novak said that in public. But as Malcolm Gladwell and more scholarly historians will tell us, cultural legacies are powerful. Novak’s own dad has a grand exhibit of off-color remarks. If people ever wonder about Novak’s popularity in comparison to Fedal, let these kinds of incidents help clarify. You can’t have it both ways.
Novak’s father aside, I respect Novak for speaking up while dominating the on-court discussions, as well. I don’t think he’s going to necessarily raise his “approval ratings” with the public, but I respect him for taking a stand. I don’t buy into the “approval ratings” that other people cry about with Novak (the crowd was so hostile, pro-Federer or Nadal blah blah blah). Novak is his own man.
On the other hand, Federer really having nothing to say is no surprise. Hence, his popularity. Do the math. If Novak (and by association Novak’s father) is going to take those positions publicly, understand that he will not be as cuddly and cute as Roger. I think this makes Novak more interesting.
Lastly, a little update on the young Americans. I got to watch Michael Mmoh play Sasha Zverev in R1 Miami the other day. Wow. Mmoh has a fantastic game. His movement on the baseline was very impressive. He exchanged with the big German no problem, winning many of the longer rallies (there were several 20+ shot). His second serve really let him down, but his first serve was solid and, again, his movement side-to-side had a kind of polish that speaks to some long-term success. He TURNED 18 in January. Young gun. Annacone and Carillo were effusive watching Mmoh play Zverev to two tight TBs.
I finally got to see Tommy Paul play. He lost in R1 to fellow American Smyczek in three tight sets. Paul’s game seems less polished, which is fine for an 18 year-old. I like finally getting to see him play the ATP. Along with Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz, and Reilly Opelka, this young American contingent looks pretty promising.
In fact, Fritz challenged Ferrer valiantly to a first set TB (6-8) before conceding the second more easily. These are signs, hopefully, of a next generation of Americans bringing that culture back to tennis prominence.
Did I miss anything?
Which reminds me, you might see some NBA commentary come this way over the next few days and weeks. The Stephen Curry and Lebron James GOAT bullshit needs some love.