Just a quick look at this 500-level event with some interesting match-ups and rankings ramifications.
We have all seen or heard the scenarios for Andy’s ascension or Novak’s drop, depending on how one looks at this. Novak, because of burn-out, etc., is off until Paris. Andy goes this week in Vienna.
I listened to a podcast a few weeks ago, something I rarely do (my 2017 goal will be to get my own tennis/sports podcast in the works since I love to talk, especially about sports. 😀
I enjoyed these two with their frank assessments of Kyrgios, Sharapova and the USO men’s final. They actually laid out the path Murray can take to #1 starting here in Vienna: if he wins Vienna and Paris and Novak does not make the Paris final, Murray is #1. This scenario has since been given more detail and such, but that’s pretty much the long and short of it. Murray has to win just about everything and Novak has to continue to stay off the court and when he does resume play, continue to struggle. David Law, one of the podcasters (Catherine Whitaker the other) pointed-out, as I’m sure others have as well, that despite the possibility of grabbing #1, Andy could lose it after London even, by the mere subtraction of his 275 (?) points he earned by winning the Davis Cup. In other words, a bunch of technicalities play into this quest for #1 at the end of
2016. What we do know is that the players can more or less decide things this week in Vienna and next in Paris and, finally at the WTF in London. We also know that with all things being equal, advantage Djokovic. Murray has already won the Asian double-header and presently plans to win this 500 in Vienna with two HUGE tournaments still to come, which he has to win, as well. Unless, of course, Novak continues to crash and burn.
What is more interesting, as we have already discussed, is what happens in 2017. Murray most likely continues to charge, knowing this is his last opportunity (2017) to add to his legacy; and with Lendl in tow, there is much hope in the Murray camp.
Murray has an interesting draw in Vienna:
He opens with Martin Klizan, winner of two titles in 2016 (Rotterdam and Hamburg).
Murray then faces Simon, who’s a bit of a trouble maker and the winner there gets the winner of Isner/F.Lopez. Lopez outlasted Pouille in three sets. Indeed, Pouille’s stock has dropped since his run in NYC and his maiden title in Metz. I wrote pre the Murray v Pouille R16 match in Shanghai that I did not see Pouille posing much of a threat to the Scot though I did not quite anticipate the bread-stick, straight-set spanking. Too bad the young Frenchman is not finishing stronger. He’s out here, early, but perhaps he has some redemption in mind for Paris next week in more comfortable settings.
That first SF will have the survivor of this four-top face the likes of Thiem (who plays Troicki) or Ferrer (who plays Sousa). The Serb beat Nadal at Shanghai so he hopes to keep up-beat, but Thiem, trying to secure a spot in London, should make the SF.
Murray v Thiem SF if the tennis goes according to plan.
The bottom bracket is wide-open. Berdych and Bautista Agut are out, but Tsonga lurks with the likes of young Khachanov, Karlovic, Kohlshchreiber and Fognini.
Murray appears to have some work in that top half.
In Basel, the top half should consist of the survival of battle amongst top-seed Wawrinka (survived a three-setter with countryman Chiudinelli), Gasquet (winner last week in Belgium), Cilic and Sock.
The bottom half has the likes of Nishikori, Del Potro and Goffin (who has to be stinging from his SF loss to Schwartzman in Belgium last week). Dimitrov and Raonic are out after opening round flame-outs. What has happened to Raonic?
Monfils and Thiem I suspect will fill-out the WTF field. Monfils is off this week and Thiem charging in Vienna.
But all eyes, more or less, are on Murray, and perhaps his autumnal shadow, harvesting ATP points, growing and casting a glance at the future, at the storm on the horizon.