There are a few more thoughts on London and 2016. We could talk about 2016 in light of the return of Del Potro, Roger and Rafa’s difficulties, the Stanimal, Pouille, Zverev, et al., and we will! But we’re focusing here on the tour’s top two, the guys that just played that whale of a final in London (not) and have for us, consequently, a pretty enticing 2017, as in What The Fuck is going to happen? The WTF result is resonating right now, so we’ll stay in these parts before venturing again into the future and beyond.
Did you hear Becker’s thoughts on the wane of the Djoker? Here’s what I would say to Becker about all of this: sshhhh. Although I have to admit that I’m not politicking to keep my job as Novak’s coach, the German’s dismissal of Murray is a boomerang, no? Such ill-advised commentary has to feed the Scot’s desire just a bit, no? Lendl, too. I can only imagine the Lendl-Murray campaign loves this rhetoric and builds on this blind strategy being formulated by Djokerville. Boris seems pretty out-of-touch. Nole misses Roger and Rafa, so he’s not really trying? Hey, Boris, good luck campaigning to keep your job.
The old I’m-losing-because-I-don’t-respect-my-competition excuse is almost a white flag. And even if it is true to a degree (McEnroe losing the Borg rivalry – as the Swede retired in his mid 20’s – probably did enhance the demise of the American), don’t talk about it. You’re just giving Murray and Lendl more reason and desire to change the course this era of men’s tennis.
What I thought about after seeing Novak go 2-0 on Nishikori in that first set of their SF was completely contradicted in the final. I was fooled. I thought Novak had form and was going to be very difficult to beat. Sure, I made the argument that Murray’s strength of character could get to the Serb; but the Serb looked like he’d found his stroke, so we were going to see the logical return of the king.
Novak’s serve in the final was solid early, so what this Murray-win amounted to was what I had hoped would happen: Andy just had to stay in the match. Hold your serve. Stick around for after-dinner drinks, etc.
What happened at the WTF was similar to what transpired at the U.S. Open back in September, if you ask me. Here was Novak’s USO draw: he beat Jerzy Janowicz in four, got a w/o against Jiří Veselý in 2R, a Youzhny retirement in the 3R (up 4-2 in the first), an easy straight-set win over the young Brit Edmund in the 4R 2 1 and 4, and then a retirement from Tsonga in the QF, an absolute shitshow from the easily conquerable Monfils in the SF and a loss to Stan in the F.
I actually thought Djokovic would rise to the occasion and beat Stan, that another run from Stan the Man was out of this world. Djokovic simply wasn’t tested, nor did he probably have any form in the first place (no shit, sherlock). This is an actual reality: karma. People have complained about Rafa’s draws in the past, that he was always gifted an easier route to the final, Djokovic and Federer getting placed in the same half, etc. Well, this just goes to show: you can’t escape the legacy gods. You can’t get gifted a favorable draw time and time again. The USO and the WTF both illustrated how the favorable draw does little, in the end, for the fortunate one. Tennis (and life) don’t work that way. Rafa didn’t benefit from those draws and neither is Novak.
Or Nole just had no form in both tourneys and his soft brackets were coincidental. 😀
Speaking of soft: Nishikori. I’m still blown-away at how shity he was in that SF. And it threw everyone off. People at the O2 said very few had Murray winning that match. Why? Had to be because Djokovic drowned Kei in the shallow end. That was a leaky diaper in kindergarten. Nishikori chased his balloon into the street and fell through a manhole.
As I said in regards to the Wimbledon SF and F where Raonic looked so good against Roger and got man-handled against Murray: Murray was so much stronger than the rest of the field. He pushed Milos around the court in that WB final, never felt a threat what-so-ever. There was such a stark difference between Andy and everyone else. That’s at least how it looked.
Very similar case here. Nishikori let us down. Djokovic, however you want to look at it, beat a far inferior player in the SF, which gave people little insight into the final; per usual there is a big gap between the top and the rest of the field. Raonic is the only “field” representative who is making a viable push toward the top. The Nishikori, Monfils and Cilic’s of the world are a step behind (despite Marin’s glorious 2014 shock-the-world).
Aside from this more macro look at the top vs. the field, Nishikori’s play just seemed really bewildering. Play so well vs Murry in the RR and have nothing left? Or was Djokovic just off in the final? That theory doesn’t work. The drop in form (or whatever you want to call it) is on Kei. And yes the parallel to WB means this: Ranoic, like Djokovic, played a weaker opponent in the SF, only to get drilled by the much stronger Scot in the final.
One of my readers made the comment that Murray might have become Nadal-like with Lendl’s mental toughness clearly strengthening his composure and perhaps his ability to pressure his opponents with consistency rather than offensive brilliance.
You might have noticed an edit here at the end of this post. I mistakenly combined the weakness of the “field” point with the sometimes corrupt ATP draws. Really two different points of discussion. Either way. . .
PS Enjoy the Davis Cup, Cilic v Del Potro showdown.