Nothing surprising about Miami but we first and foremost need to acknowledge how much we appreciate the consistency and willful greatness of the Djoker.
Had Kyrgios gotten past Nishikori, we might have had some fireworks. I did not see the Aussie – Japanese tilt, but understand that Kei was strong, aggressive and professional in spanking the youngster.
Although I have continued to buy stock in Kyrgios despite the public’s criticism, he does worry me a bit. To be dominant in this sport, one has to adopt a kind of stoic watchdog-deathstare to guard the drama and emotion of championship tennis. Great players have tempers, become upset; but the maturity, will and mettle of the great athletes is undeniable. Sure there’s the physical necessities. But that certain intangible we simply call “greatness” has to emerge for long-term success in this or almost any sport.
I read recently a piece by Peter Bodo about Gasquet. He destroys Gasquet; this is back in 2008 or so. He laughs at the comparison to Federer. Why? I’m not sure he says it this way, but Gasquet has not a hint of this greatness (I completely agree). Nor do players like Simon or Berdych or Murray for that matter. As I started to blog about tennis a year ago, having watched the sport my entire life, I was surprised to see apparently knowledgeable tennis folk giving these lesser players so much chance. Then again, there are a lot of draws through-out the year and we have seen some of these “subordinates” rise-up. But that’s always an exception.
Does Kyrgios have this flair for the magic? We’ll wait and see. People are all onboard the Kyrgios will be top-10 at the end of 2016. There’s nothing insightful about that. The question is will he go even higher.
Nishikori winning that SF was a bust. He had no chance vs. Novak.
I watched the final. He can’t consolidate at 1-0 in the first. He breaks back at 2-4 but can’t consolidate at 3-4. On the other hand, Djokovic breaks back at 0-1. And he breaks back at 4-3. This was a man vs. a boy, not to be too tough on Nishikori. The match had all of the tennis of their AO QF match about a month ago when Djokovic spanked him there 3 2 and 4. Nishikori trying to out hit Djokovic, hoping to end points quickly, hit lines and ride some kind of momentum? Fatally flawed strategy, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Kei is just not a 1000 final type. Other than that 2014 USO shit show, Nishikori is not able to handle this kind of quality.
(Ooops, I brought-up the ’14 USO, so you know what that means. I have to throw Cilic under the bus again. Here’s what I want you to do: watch this player’s progress this year. Maybe even next year, as well. Tell me what you find. That 2014 USO final four was one of the most disturbing couple of days of tennis in the history of tennis balls. Get-the-fuck-out-of-here. With the sport clamoring for major talent, where in the hell is this USO champ? Keep an eye on that guy. If any of you want Cilic stock, there’s a few notes in my trash can.)
In the end, congrats to Novak on another Masters. He is without peer. I have been calling this the Djokovic era for a year now. People still like Nadal to return from his “slump,” think Roger is playing better than ever despite his age (and now the surgery, which is a product of age in case anyone was wondering), and many still think Murray is legitimate. I have only recently seen the voices of the sport say it’s just the Big One.
It’s been the Big One for a while, folks. Sigh.
A little perspective on Nole. There isn’t much out there to challenge him, folks. Miami, consequently, was a giant ho hum but for the interesting look at Djoker v Thiem. Thiem and Kyrgios with a side of Raonic is about all you got, folks. Enjoy.
Now, where was I. . . Oh yeah, Nole. He is absolutely historically great at this point. He’s running into the proverbial deep-end of the big boy tennis pool with the rest of the 2016 season as a potential feast of glory. If he finishes ’16 with 13 majors, wow. If he wins the Calendar, he’s going to solve world hunger. But 13, very realistic, would/will be truly unreal.
But I have a little issue with the big historical claims to fame. They’re so wrought with flaw, poured into a tulip of bias. The weak era arguments are weak. I don’t have a problem with that aspect of today’s oversized enthusiasm for this golden era of unprecedented greatness. If you think Djokovic’s legacy will somehow be degraded because the field has been so weak for about 2 years and counting, you’re not very smart. He’s earned this, like I’ve said.
Rather, I just think people are often prisoners of the moment.
My problem is with the idea that this era is so absolutely the GOAT. Here, for example, is the Masters titles list:
All Time Masters 1000 Titles
1) Novak Djokovic 28
2) Rafael Nadal 27
3) Roger Federer 24
4) Andre Agassi 17
5) Andy Murray 11
5) Pete Sampras 11
Wow, look at this era dominating the charts (sarcasm). Wow, and look! By these calculations Murray is right in the mix there with Agassi and Sampras.
Folks (spoiler alert), the sport has changed a lot over the years. The equipment, the nutrition, the pay, focus on title-accumulation, the schedule, the events, etc. This list tells me a few things. Firstly, it tells me that Novak has won a shit load of tournaments. And Agassi and Sampras played in a different sport. That’s about it. Nadal’s numbers are. . . yeah, read through my archives. Sure, Roger has been prolific, we knew that already. And then there’s Andre, Andy and Pete, the three musketeers. Seriously, it was almost a different sport, if you ask me.
We can go further back and say look at Borg’s and Conner’s decisions not to play certain majors. If Pete and Andre played in this era, under these “conditions”. . .
I am absolutely on-board with Djokovic dominating. I am not one to cry the sport is weak, the sport is in trouble (at least not yet; tough to see anyone beating Novak in these big tournaments though, which is a little odd. Who has the game to do it? And get the F out of here with your Murray bullshit. He’s D.O.N.E. Maybe Fed rises again? I’m not so sure).
But I do think that the Novak-is-playing-the-best-tennis-ever-played spiel is troubling. Those are the words of a prisoner of the moment.
You might have heard something along these lines about Stephen Curry or Lebron James. Folks, this is a different NBA than what was played as recent as the aughts and for sure in the 90s and on back. Dennis Rodman, the mega talented and mega flawed individual, said Lebron would be a pretty average player in the 90s. I’ll disagree and say above-average, but the point is here’s a guy who’s 6’9″ and plays in a league that prevents players from playing really tough D. Lebron’s numbers, therefore, are totally inflated. Rodman’s insight has been overlooked. And then you have James’ post-season legacy. This only supports Rodman’s and my argument.
Curry is the diminutive guard who can shoot from way outside. No question, the guy is pretty incredible from beyond the arc. But that’s just it; without the three-point line, he’s just a good shooter. People are putting him in the same air as a guy like Jordan. That’s just very poor perspective. That’s awful sport intelligence. He won a championship last year, but has yet to consolidate, which is what champions like Jordan or Djokovic do.
As we speak, Curry’s Warriors are trying to break Jordan’s single-season record of 72-10 from back in ’96. They have been ahead of that pace all year. They lost tonight to the Minnesota Timberwolves at HOME, losing a 17 point lead. They are at 69-9, with four games left. People get a little ahead of themselves, I’m afraid.
That’s the prisoner of the moment phenomenon.
In tennis we have a bit of that (we have that in life, folks, a natural reaction to the times in which we live). But tennis, not unlike basketball, has had even more changes I would argue that render it a very different sport from the one we enjoyed 20-30 years ago. At least acknowledge that.
Novak Djokovic is no Stephen Curry or Lebron James. Novak is the REAL deal. But let’s take a break on the this-is-the-end-of-the-world-and-Nole-is-Jesus-he’s-gonna-save-us! routine.
He is a brilliant champion and there is no one (and I mean no one) who seems willing to stop him. Carry-on, Mr. Djokovic.