Draw Analysis

Obviously play is underway. My last post about the draw had such disinterest or indifference I probably shouldn’t have even published; but in the end I like that I’m evidencing the problem I have with the ATP at this point: boring as shit. I am going to say a few more specific things about the draw in this post, about some of the tennis I’ve seen, which really only amounts to Djokovic’s match. I have seen enough.

I said in that last post, essentially, let’s not make a big deal out of the draw. The champ will have to play solid tennis, peak late in the tournament, perhaps get a few breaks, and rise to the occasion when it really matters in order to seal the deal. Nothing new here. Making a big deal out of this or that quarter can be more hot air than actual analysis, especially when the field has such parody (mediocrity) and we really have to see players get into the later rounds to conceive of some kind of pattern, sense a specific development (run), etc. There is so much mediocrity (garbage) at this point, making-out some kind of detailed analysis of matches is bullshit. What’s Berdych or Gasquet or Raonic going to do that might surprise you? Exactly. We’re hoping for Christmas in July.

I will offer you in this post my prediction on this tournament because I’ve seen and know enough at this point and A) I think I’m dead on and B) I have nothing to lose. Yes, this conversation can change since we have so much tennis to play; but again, I’ve seen enough.

Let’s first wander through the draw with a little more attention to detail than what I provided in my last post.

First and foremost, Murray has the toughest half. I must have been asleep when I wrote something along the lines of Murray is in pretty good shape. His draw is loaded. I still like him a lot here, but I sensed at first glance (my bad) that he was in cruise control and Djokovic had the tougher half. Wrong.

In the states we’re basically suffocated by ESPN. I stumbled-upon their tennis page where they, I guess, have a number of writers/analysts who have a good take on the tournament. Ha ha.

Everyone had Djokovic but a few have Murray. Okay. The dark horse pick is narrowed down to two players amongst about 10 “analysts.” Kevin Anderson and Zverev. That’s it. Wow. Kevin Anderson? I’m not even pointing this out because he’s already OUT of the draw, loser in the first round to Istomin. I’m saying that’s just awful. And Zverev? Maybe, I guess, but the guy has really zero experience in these big tournaments. At least Kyrgios knocked-off Nadal two years ago, meaning he was about 17 then. Just kinda surprised that “think tank” came up with only those two. Shit, at this point, picking a dark horse is great because he’s really a huge dark horse given that the field is so poor in terms of legitimate threats to the crown. Unreal. Even in the heyday of Sampras, you had a big server who could find enough first serves or an Agassi or Rafter to make a threat or an impact. You and I both know this is the Novak and Andy exhibition.

As a side-note, the idiots (I’ve heard it from a few people) who say the Sampras era was boring, with two-shot rallies, etc., are . . . indeed. . . idiots. Sampras’ athleticism is matched only by Federer. The all-court game is lethal and a buried treasure, seemingly. It’s a finisher’s mentality. This Djokovic/Murray era is quite different. Not the same kind of sublime all-court tennis. Watching some of the early Djokovic, I actually see him coming in a little more than he does now. You see, when the equipment doesn’t overcome the skill, you have to rely more on athleticism and shot technique, manufacturing points, etc. Baseline bombing is the name of the game today and, no, it’s not necessarily a progression of the sport. Sorry.

Where were we.

Let’s go through this as quickly as we can:

Djokovic has the likes of Ferrer in the R16 and then Raonic in his QF.

This is paired with Federer’s R16 against Simon and then the winner of the Cilic/Nishikori bracket in that QF.

So, Federer, we can only hope makes it through. Not a very difficult draw and he should beat any of those weaklings despite the old man playing with his (my new term from my last post) mummy rust.

So, Federer and Djokovic should find that SF. We can only hope. Give us a little prestige, pretty please.

The bottom half is a zoo.

Murray has the following: Kyrgios (R16), Tsonga/Gasquet (QF) and winner of Wawrinka v Berdych/Zverev/Thiem in the SF.

There will be some upsets, but those are your guys. Does Tomic get by Verdasco (tied 2-2 as I write this) and make a run? I like Tomic’s grass game but he’s a toddler emotionally.

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Analysis:

As for that top half, Djokovic is in great shape. His draw is a joke, again. The only hope Raonic has is the intangible that McEnroe brings to his composure. We know the Canadian has made progress, with the start of 2016 as some recent evidence where he beat Federer in Brisbane and was rolling at the AO, but got hurt v. Murray in that SF. In other words, he does have some big artillery for these kinds of tournaments.

I would say Raonic’s IW match against Djokovic is less a indicator than his his play at AO. He does have some game and the question is what can McEnroe do to perhaps give him that extra juice to beat the world #1. Huge long-shot. But if he has a big serve going and gets more and more comfortable on this S &V surface, could put a scare into the Serb.

Other than that, Djokovic is SF bound, no question.

Federer has to find the glory. Period. Do you want to see an absolutely awful bracket? Go look at the Cilic/Nishikori section. That’s where we are today. That’s pretty bad, folks. Does Cilic rise up? Can you believe I just wrote that? Federer has to, for the sake of our interest in this bloody sport, make that SF. Otherwise, check my pulse.

Murray’s quarter is a monster. Listen to this: Kyrgios could beat Murray in R16. Do not be surprised. The Aussie brat has been given the worst draws of late, which he deserves, but this is no better. He has #2 in R16. But the Aussie could be a nightmare for Murray. Beware.

After that, Gasquet you know is going to be very tough and so is Tsonga. Those guys are twins. Good tennis players but poor competitors, especially late. If Murray gets by Kyrgios, and he should, I suspect we get what we want. Murray into the SF vs a beatable Stan or whomever.

Here’s why I like Murray to win 2016 Wimbledon. I like his form, based off the clay season and his familiarity with current venue. Where Djokovic, a much better clay courter than Murray BTW, had his home crowd in Paris, Murray will have his throngs pulling for him. I think this matters.

In fact, I heard a couple of English journalists talking today about the field, the tournament. They made it clear (most of us know this) that Djokovic is still behind Federer and Nadal in terms of popularity (or tennis legacy for that matter). And this bothers Djokovic. Does he use this to motivate his tennis? For sure. He probably wins this tournament because of his form and this disrespect, which has to bother him.

But I think the crowd behind an in form Andy will be a lot to overcome.

Moreover, I think the Lendl factor is big. He never won Wimbledon. Think of the things that probably bug the crap out of Lendl. This tournament and Novak Djokovic, which he’s basically articulated recently. His presence in the box is enormous. He’s Darth fucking Vader. Andy won Wimbledon with Lendl in his box before. Against Novak.

That’s what happens here.

My other prediction is still an Andy win, but I have Federer (a looooong shot) finding his form and going FO SF 2011 on Djokovic, denying the Serb a final appearance, but Andy beating Fed in the final. I know, that’s reeeealllly juicy.

The point here is I see Djokovic dropping his form a bit. He has had a massive 2016 so far. The French was like two weeks ago, basically. This is his let-down. I already predicted this back in January, so I’m sticking to those guns.

And I have to respectfully disagree with Courier and Annacone about Djokovic’s R1 match. I thought he looked very tentative (I know, that’s Djokovic). He does this; he peaks late in the tournament. No question. But I just don’t like his grass tennis.

Winning his fourth will be quite impressive, historical and dominant. But I think we have a different song to sing this time around.

7 comments

  1. This was an absolutely quality post Matt, wonderfully paced too btw, and love the irony and sprinkled pessimistic humor, had me chuckling all the way to the end. Now other tennis bloggers look no further, this is how you make an absolutely god awful Wimbledon draw interesting! XD

    1. Ha ha.
      I am trying.

      Would be a thing of beauty to see Lendl “win” this, a nice nod to the history of the game we’re being told to forget.

      Do you remember how strong was Lendl’s game? Eight straight USO finals, bullied opponents, loved the nastiness. Not everyone liked him because of his demeanor. I had no problem with Lendl.

      His glare from the box is symphonic.

      1. I was a toddler at the time Lendl was in his prime, I came to the sport of tennis in the late nineties, but judging from the videos I have seen and what I have read, Lendl was a monstrosity, and his reign of terror was no easy feat. And I agree this man can absolutely motivate you to do better, I wouldn’t be surprised if Lendl was enforcing a no “privileges” policy, if Andy doesn’t perform well, he’s not sitting at the dinner table that day.

    2. Yeah, think how deep that field was. 1985 USO for instance: Mac, Lendl, Connors, Wilander, Becker, Edberg, Noah.. .
      Lendl was the Sampras before Sampras. Even in that deep field, he rose and dominated. 5 WTF, extended world #1. . .

      They say Andy’s mph was higher during ’12-’13 campaign with Lendl. He was just more aggressive and won two majors because of that.
      Andy has a tough draw, so hopefully he gets through okay.

      1. It’s insane just how deep that particular field was, people claiming this to be the golden age of tennis, need a wake-up call.

        Andy definitely deserves a shot at the title if he can pull through to the final with his draw, I hope he can maintain his stamina levels throughout, and not waste too much energy like he did at the FO this year. But the more I watch the less I am interested in the current state of the ATP, as you write, we are forced to root for Federer to make this tournament semi watchable, because there are no other players in Novak’s half that on paper have any remote chance to make it interesting, and I hope your wishes of an in-form FO2011 Federer/Djokovic upset pans out, would be a tennis fairy tale in the making.

        I will soon be off on vacation, I will keep an eye on the blog from time to time when Wi-Fi is in ready supply, and will make sure to chime in and celebrate with you if a miracle or two happen during the tournament, take care Matt!

  2. Nice analysis as usual Matt. I’ll add a couple of thoughts for the second week, and go back writing a comment on the HRFRT article series whose wider point of view and deep comments I find very intriguing.

    Q1: Well, before new year we have both predicted Djokovic losing this Wimbly but I guess neither of us saw Querrey send Novak packing. We should have been more careful: as Djokovic plays into form, he is usually more vulnerable in the beginning of a tournament and big servers trouble him regularly on grass. Also, in hindsight, Querrey had a small advantage compared to Anderson; he did rest after winning the first two sets (Djokovic in 2015 used Anderson’s tiredness to get back to two sets all). The rumor-mill is in high gear at the moment (regarding Djokovic’s assumed physical/mental problem) but as another tennis fan said it’s not a question if he will stop playing that well and breaking records but when. Raonic is the obvious favorite at the moment but he has to face Goffin (not the best on grass but still better ground game and very good this season) and Mahut (/Querrey?). I think he can make it to the semis with Mc Enroe at his corner.

    Q2: Federer is obviously rusty, as you noticed and has had an relatively easy draw. I don’t count Cilic as a serious threat as he is inconsistent and Nishikori suffers from his serve on the surface. He should make it to the semis if he plays solidly.

    Q3: The unpredictable quarter (since that was Wawrinka’s quarter whose game on grass leaves wanting…). Berdych is the most experienced and playing solidly (after a pretty mediocre season for him), so he should be a given a small edge over competition.

    Q4: Murray was a favorite for this Wimbledon before it started, but his draw can prove to be tough. Nevertheless he avoided dropping any sets (recovering some breaks in the process) in the matches he played that should preserve his strength for the tests he has to face now: Kyrgios (if serious), Tsonga/Gasguet and maybe a reemerging Berdych?

    The obvious favorites are Murray joined by Raonic (based on pre-Wimbledon performance); second’s week slower grass courts and Lendl should help the former get another Slam to his name.

    1. black spy, good stuff. Murray definitely looks motivated and in form.

      I wonder about the conditions. I will explore this and more in a post today.

      Everything pretty much on par with what I expected, though, like you said, perhaps we didn’t see Novak leaving so soon. Predictably, however, his level dipped, big time.

What say you?