This is a perfect opportunity to look at the field that most likely defines the draw at “The Championships” in a couple of weeks.
First a rhetorical question: will 2015 go down as the year that Federer played the greatest tennis of his career, or as a kind of tipping-point signaling a critically low-point for the ATP, in terms of talent depth?
The first option echoes what some people vehemently argued, who turned-out mostly to be Djokovic fans. Granted, I think Federer gave some of those finals some needed class, a little more “weight,” if you will; but in no way could I fool myself to think this was somehow a “peak” Federer. I argued more than once that this claim is laughable. He was about 34 years-old, especially in the last two majors, a newly minted 35 in the WTF.
Folks, Roger losing in Stuttgart and then here in Halle is not necessarily news. Fairly symbolic that he lost to Thiem and Zverev, respectively. Federer looks terribly inconsistent, tired or unmotivated, as if he’s taking a stroll; I guess it beats staying at home and watching the kids. For the health and future of the sport, we have to applaud the youngsters for facing the once king of the grass and turning him away.
Another rhetorical question: would it be better if Federer had won his ninth Halle, beating Mayer in the final? For the rabid Fed fan, or actually for the Djokovic fan who has more to gain here perhaps, Federer coming into the Fortnight off of a confident Halle victory might have been just what tennis needed.
I’m afraid this is fools gold, folks. The tennis status quo is pretty pathetic outside the Serb playing consistently high-level tennis, mostly when it counts. One might read a bit more into my Rome QF “celebration.” We had something there, sorta.
Glance back at the players of consequence from the QF of all of the 2015 majors and the first two from 2016, which amounts to the depth of the tour.
Murray, Raonic, Wawrinka, Nishikori, Federer, Berdych, Nadal, Monfils, Ferrer, Cilic, Goffin, Simon, Fel Lopez, Tsonga, Anderson, Gasquet.
Our youngsters consist of Thiem, Kyrgios and Zverev with a Tomic thrown in since beggars can’t be choosers.
As anyone with any sense can see (what I already said in Preview Part 1), you have Murray and Raonic and maybe a nostalgically motivated Federer? Maybe Stan improves on a couple of back-to-back QF appearances? The youngsters are just too young and inexperienced to threaten deep. Maybe Tsonga finds some form, Kyrgios grows-up. . . Berdych?
Folks, this is a mess.
I think the answer to that first rhetorical question, about Federer in 2015, is the latter, obviously. Federer in 2015 was a band-aid on a festering wound that’s badly hobbling the ATP.
My attention now (other than wanting to see Thiem, Zverev and Kyrgios improve – the only true talented youngsters) turns to the likes of Magnus Norman, Ivan Lendl and Johnny McEnroe. I’ll even throw in Ivan Ljubičić.
By the grace of god, gentlemen, snap those boys into some major championship form.