Wimbledon Preview Part 1

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.

4 thoughts on “Wimbledon Preview Part 1

  1. Never mind hot-headed fans Matts, continue your HRFRT: it’s a refined series of articles for people who can or want to see a bit more than the obvious. Preparing a couple of big comments on that; Hopefully I’ll find some time soon to contribute to your point of view.

    Now, considering the preparing tourneys to Wimbledon, I’m not impressed: Federer being ok-ish dismisses pretty much anyone apart from Thiem having obvious movement/back issues impeding his net play considerably? Thiem, a heavy hitter is due to another final soon? Murray and Raonic (again big hitter not best in slice department) to contest in the other final of 500’s tournaments? Is the tour that shallow even on grass (which supposedly offers chances to other types of players) ? It’s hard to see any other player than the three you mentioned troubling Djokovic no matter what. Thiem’s recent runs may have some impact in the future; he’s too green at the moment for the top grass players, I guess, but his confidence makes him dangerous.

    I like a lot the Lendl rehiring and relative statements; adds some interest to the tour by just being honest. Not sure Djokovic is more talented that Murray in the technical department; but I’m pretty sure he uses what he’s got much better. Can Lendl help Murray on that? I guess he can, but will find out in a couple of months I guess.

    Nadal is pretty irrelevant on grass anyway, so he did well to skip Wimby. After all, chances are (statistically speaking) he wouldn’t get to week two, so why bother? After all these years moaning about the short clay season I recently read uncle Toni just saw the elephant in the room (near the end of his nephew’s career) by stating there should be a bit longer grass season and a grass masters 1000. Comments?

    Bookies estimate Roger’s chances to be better in USO; I guess they take into account court speed and his recent return from injury. That being said and following your line of thought (regarding Nadal’s Rome participation) wouldn’t it be wiser for Federer to avoid Stuttgard/Halle to recover completely since he seems to be yet hampered from his back?

    Keep on the good work Matt!

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    • Thanks, blackspy. I’m not discouraged and will continue to bring the commentary/articles. No worries on that front.

      A grass 1000. Ha! Brilliant. Toni is smarter than he looks. . .:D

      Seriously, why not? I know something that would make all of the Djoker and Nadal fans scream with delight: make Halle a 1000 and retrofit Federer’s Masters total. Indeed, why multiple clay court Masters and no grass?

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  2. Uncle Toni should have gotten the boot a long time ago, but that is nepotism for ya. I personally don’t see believe Murray has the game to beat Djokovic, in fact I believe he physically is way ahead of the Serb. Saying that Novak plays at a much higher level than Andy is a bit too harsh, true the Serb has mastered the art of controlling his nerves and executing a tight game plan, something the Scot desperately needs to reacquire, seems like Lendl took that with him when they departed 2 years ago. I believe what is keeping him down is the mental blockade he seems to have when playing Novak at the really big events, which really wasn’t the case with Lendl by his side in 2012/2013 where he started becoming a threat to Serb, snatching those two majors and the Olympics.

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    • A much higher level might be a little harsh, but Djokovic right now is just executing brilliantly. Beating him three sets seems to be a very tough task, which brings us to fitness. He’s a very very tough out.

      I think Murray could be tough at WB if he’s smart and gets through without too much difficulty. Lendl might just give him that edge he needs. Keeping better his emotions about the court has helped. I still like my pick that Djokovic has a let down on grass, having won the first two majors, and seeing the Olympics just on the other side.

      We’ll see.

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