We’re taking a short break from the HRFRT series.
For the record, my impression is that not a lot of people want to hear it. Obviously, there’s more in there than just how Federer affected the sport. There are other points being made. Tennis, mirroring its broader culture, has gotten soft and more and more about the celebrity element. No question. So, a piece like my HRFRT stings like a bee, perhaps, for some. That’s just my impression. I’m trying to be objective and historical in my approach to that writing. But the fanboys out there, I suspect, may get their feelings hurt when we make these kinds of revelations that seemingly pee on their parade. Sorry about that. Not my intention.
The next part of my series will look at the rise of Nadal and Djokovic to counter the Fed Express. I won’t get too in-depth by reading a bunch of biographies, interviews, etc., but I know enough and can make some decent inferences to arrive at a pretty good perspective on how Fed’s dominance had a tremendous effect on these two players. It’s logical, basic cause and effect. My argument, of course, is Roger’s level of dominance led to a certain potency in the chase.
I might be considered old school, somewhat. The news recently of Lendl reuniting with Murray is good news for the Scot and brings a little of that old school tennis back to the fore. McEnroe teaming-up with Raonic is also good news, for the same reason.
But the Lendl development is fantastic. Did you see the article in The Guardian? Here’s a short passage that goes quite well with the coffee I’m serving:
But now he’s got a second day job and Murray made it clear their efforts will be trained on one player: Novak Djokovic. Lendl is up for that.
“In tennis there is the career grand slam, there is four in a row, there is the calendar year grand slam and the golden slam. He [Djokovic] has a chance to do that this year,” he said.
“Obviously Andy and I would like to ruin those plans if we can. But, if you go back in history, in ’38, when Don Budge won, and Rod Laver won in ’62 and ’69, those were calendar year grand slams. But I don’t believe there was another time when someone held all four [simultaneously].
“So, if you start looking at it that way, it’s phenomenal. You can make the argument that in ’38 and ’62 all the pros didn’t play. But ’69 was incredible and that’s what puts Rod in the conversation of greatest of all time with Roger [Federer]. We will never settle that argument, but it’s a fun one to have anyway – and Novak is holding all four.
A couple of things here. First, this is what I am detailing in my HRFRT series: a dominant player is pursued with massive intent and determination. The tone here from Lendl is typical Lendl, one we should be familiar with. It’s irrelevant if Andy goes out there and plays like Andy usually does along with Novak playing like he usually does.
Not a great match-up for Andy. They’re too similar, but Novak just plays that style at a much higher level. But what’s appealing is the old school Lendl saying, essentially, fuck it: we’re going after this guy. The eight-major tennis giant does speak from some level of genuine confidence. He and Andy have beaten Djokovic; Andy’s two majors are at the expense of the world #1.
The other good bit of old school rhetoric is his clarification of the grand slam. I saw some bullshit on one or two discussion boards (pure fanboy garbage are these out-houses) trying to equate the Novak/Serena/Woods slams with the calendar grand slam. They’re not the same because they’re not the same. I know that. So do you. Some refuse such reality. Lendl poured his two cents into that one, as well. Bravo, Lendl. He’s back.
Given my 2016 predictions, I had Novak with a bit of a let down after the FO. I still think this is in the cards, but I have trouble seeing anyone out there who can beat him. The Federer-Raonic-Murray trio seems to head the list (hypothetically), but in reality, how confident can any prognosticator be in those or anyone’s prospects against Djokovic?
For one, that trio probably ends-up in the same half of the draw.
So far, Roger has looked okay, at best, on the grass. Winning his ninth Halle seems like a must to give Roger a legitimate look. He most likely has to beat Thiem for that title. Murray should beat Cilic and then face Raonic in the Queen’s Club final if that plays-out accordingly. Those matches are worth some attention leading-up to Wimbledon.
I see Uncle Toni says Rafa will make his return in Toronto. Whatever.
Think back to the clay for a second. Do you recall Rafa’s early rounds at RG? Did he seem to be struggling? Well, apparently he was. He was battling a career threatening wrist injury while bludgeoning folks in his early round matches.
Here’s the question of the year: Why in the hell did he play Rome? He wins MC and Barcelona. He’s back. He’s a RG threat; we can smell La Decima. Rome? That’s when this wrist was starting to rear its head.
I don’t trust the Nadal camp with watching a rock. Are they that stupid over there? Would love to hear that rationale. He was preparing for Paris? Ha ha ha ha.
Enjoy the grass.