Follow-up to Wimbledon Draw Analysis

This is my competition. There is so much wrong with this kind of commentary. The premise is Roger will struggle to win this because of his age, the tournament is tough on +30 year-olds, etc. He provides some history, including the Ashe upset of a monster Connors (age 22) in 1975. Ashe was 31. That’s about the extent of an older tennis player winning WB. Federer did win when he was 30 in 2012, but the author’s point, I guess, is that if one is north of 30, forgetaboutit.

He says Federer will see difficulty from two primary sources: the power brokers (he mentions Cilic and Raonic as examples) who can over-power Federer, disable the Fed Express, so to speak.

The other source concerns the danger from “lower-ranked players who excel on grass and look to be in fine shape.” His example here is Feli Lopez.

I guess I’m calling-out this writer on his word-count. Do a little more with your evidence, perhaps even your argument – Federer’s biggest challenge is probably from the top seeds as this era’s oligarchy continues to reign and suffocate the aspiring youth.

Back to this writer’s examples, what render his entire argument inadequate. Federer can not see Cilic until the final. So why bring-up Cilic? That’s a stretch. Federer could see Raonic in the QF, a better example, but you might point-out that the Canadian is struggling fiercely and Roger, at this point, should survive a Bo5 v Milos. Poor examples of power-tennis that can hamper Federer’s run.

The Lopez example is even worse. If Federer faces Lopez, that means the Spanish S&V threat beat Djokovic in their 4R match. Federer would much rather face Lopez than a surging Novak, believe me.

Soft.

Federer could be threatened by Zverev the younger in their QF, but so long as the tennis goes according to form (Bo5 usually safeguards to prevent most tennis “accidents”), Federer will see much more threat from a more confident Djokovic (granted, that he is winning in convincing fashion in his dream draw). Or from one of the big boys in the top half. And sure Cilic could be that guy, but that means Cilic beats Nadal and Murray/Wawrinka.

Anything can happen. That’s why we play the game. But this writer seemed not to have followed through on his thought experiment.

Let me cut to the chase on why Federer has a much more difficult time than many of you think of winning this major. Keep in mind, his 2017 has been marvelous and the changes to his game, though subtle, have been dramatic and the results only confirm this, with still half of the calendar still to play.

First, I am still somewhat unconvinced he has found/maintained that early HC form he found and used to demolish a much younger ATP, including his career nemesis on three Roger Federer Wimbledon 2014.640x460glorious occasions. I am not convinced he’s in that kind of zone. Murray and Djokovic have been down during this Federer run, so one has to almost assume that for Federer to win, those two have to continue to struggle; of this we are unsure.

Secondly (now you’re peering into my soul), Federer can’t win this tournament. Why? Because the men’s tennis debate would be over; and sport debates more often than not continue because that’s the way sport and athletes interact.

Rarely is there a clear-cut ruler of a particular sport. A Federer 2017 Wimbledon title would raise holy hell and pretty much undermine so much healthy and heated tennis discourse. There would be hysteria, a crazed tennis humanity on both ends of the spectrum.

Sorry to break this news to you now, before even the first blade of grass has died.

I felt like I owed it to you. Seriously.

Cheers.

22 comments

  1. Haha Matt. If RF wins Wimbledon, he would have truly, finally, “nail in coffin” ruined tennis forever!! That’s what you sayin’, right, Matt?! Loved all your posts; keep ’em comin’, and as a recent commentator said, you covered so much and so brilliantly, you leave us only scrapes! Nothing much or more meaningful to add. Your analyses and how you read the game and it’s history, and how you put everything into perspective is remarkable and second to none, Matt! My utmost respect and admiration. Please keep writing. Tennis needs you. I do want to see the tennis world crumble though! I want RF to ruin tennis forever! That’s because RF is truly unique and once in a lifetime kinda figure. God really created RF on the 8th day, haha! He started the ruination, he might as well finish it; with Impeccable Swiss precision. He thoroughly deserves it; for his talent, his consistency, his evolution, his love of the game, his elevating tennis to another level, his on court demeanor, his promotion of tennis to unprecedented popularity and recognition, his popularity, his love of family, his non scandalous life, etc etc. Can you even name another player, past and present (even in other sports) who can hold a candle to RF? The worst you can say of him is arrogance and maybe boring for some….but I do have sneaky feeling that the Serb would find his form just in the nick of time, to spoil the party, ugh! Let the games begin…

    1. Ha ha. Stick around, TB.
      I seriously don’t think Federer pulls this off for both reasons, but mainly because I think he’s not quite in Melbourne/IW/MI form.
      The Halle final showed the business-end of the Express, but he’ll need low low UE (Mel/IW/MI form), serve monster and the bullying business-end.

    1. You and datarishik are new to the blog, of course. Welcome.

      Writers articulating Federer’s likelihood of winning is pretty inconsequential.
      If you read between the lines, there’s a nuance there that should excite Federer fans.

      Much of my discourse is at odds with your comment.

      Thanks again for reading nonetheless.

  2. Matt, great post as always and good job on exposing the crappy analysis on the net and beyond. You truly do leave us scraps, so won’t say much about this, but the McEnroe thing?

    The media storm around John McEnroe’s statements about Serena Williams and her skill/prowess relative to those who ply their trade on the men’s tour is a reflection of these times of mass delusion we live in.

    Also, I believe he was being kind. Serena would be sub-1000, at best, on the ATP. IIRC, both she and Venus lost to a guy ranked 200 or so about 20 years ago, and right after he had had a smoke. They managed to hold serve a grand total of once, between them.

    Rohan Bopanna beat Sharapova at Nick Bollettierri’s Academy long ago and he touched his highest ranking of 213 about 10 years ago.

    I have enjoyed the game of Justine Henin, Clijsters, even Venus Williams over the years – but I would never give them even a breath of beating Agassi even three years from now, when he’ll be 50.

    And lastly, let’s not forget – the legendary Battle of the Sexes was between a prime Billie Jean King and a 55 year-old chainsmoking Bobby Riggs.

    In any decent yuga, such things wouldn’t even have to be said; they would find tacit acceptance. Now, merely speaking the truth makes you the target of an online lynching.

    Don’t believe me? Decide for yourself. Just watch the first 5 minutes or so of this interview of McEnroe which is ostensibly supposed to be a promotion for his new book.

    The media storm around John McEnroe’s statements about Serena Williams and her skill/prowess relative to those who ply their trade on the men’s tour is a reflection of these times of mass delusion we live in.

    Also, I believe he was being kind. Serena would be sub-1000, at best, on the ATP. IIRC, both she and Venus lost to a guy ranked 200 or so about 20 years ago, and right after he had had a smoke. They managed to hold serve a grand total of once, between them.

    Rohan Bopanna beat Sharapova at Nick Bollettierri’s Academy long ago and he touched his highest ranking of 213 about 10 years ago.

    I have enjoyed the game of Justine Henin, Clijsters, even Venus Williams over the years – but I would never give them even a breath of beating Agassi even three years from now, when he’ll be 50.

    And lastly, let’s not forget – the legendary Battle of the Sexes was between a prime Billie Jean King and a 55 year-old chainsmoking Bobby Riggs.

    In any decent yuga, such things wouldn’t even have to be said; they would find tacit acceptance. Now, merely speaking the truth makes you the target of an online lynching.

    Don’t believe me? Decide for yourself. Just watch the first 5 minutes or so of this interview of McEnroe which is ostensibly supposed to be a promotion for his new book.

    All this media hoopla around his comments about Serena is the latest evidence of this age of mass delusion we live in. In any decent era, these things wouldn’t have to be mentioned; they would find tacit acceptance. Now even speaking the truth can make you the target of a media lynching.

    And the funniest thing is he was being kind. Williams wouldn’t be in the top 2000, let alone 700. Just for this he becomes ‘sexist’ – whatever the F that means.

  3. Matt, great post as always and good job on exposing the crappy analysis on the net and beyond. You truly do leave us scraps, so won’t say much about this, but the McEnroe thing?

    All this media hoopla around his comments about Serena is the latest evidence of this age of mass delusion we live in. In any decent era, these things wouldn’t have to be mentioned; they would find tacit acceptance. Now even speaking the truth can make you the target of a media lynching.

    And the funniest thing is he was being kind. Williams wouldn’t be in the top 2000, let alone 700. Just for this he becomes ‘sexist’ – whatever the F that means.

    1. Utsav, you might have sent the message twice thinking it didn’t go through, etc. Sorry about that.
      I agree with you 100% about the McEnroe comment.

      On top of it all, I am not a fan of her tennis. Don’t get me started 😉

      1. Yes, had submitted on my phone, and some of the text wasn’t visible so there’s been some duplication as you can see. You can remove the other comment if you wish.

        Oh yes – I remember your blog from way back about Serena, from back when the fangirl and yourself were on good terms. I read some of that blog recently BTW. It seems most of our friend’s audience is gone, and he has only invertebrate fools still there among his readership. No self-respecting fan of any player and/or tennis would comment there any more.

        McEnroe was right. The stats say that only 1% of the points in the women’s singles have been S&V. Shambolic.

  4. Excellent commentary, as usual, Matt. I’ll add a couple of thoughts along with a Wimby preview for the top contenders.

    1) Murray:the Scott no1 (soon to be dethroned-something that he readily accepts) showed signs of his true talent,especially in the third set of the Roland-Garros. Since then, he only played one match but I fear he needs more time to become competitive in the top level again. On a positive note, he seems to be in touch with reality as he acknowledged he has only a couple of years in the sports’ elite level, so we may get a glimpse of his mastery if he gets some momentum in the tournament. His draw is favourable so he should reach QFs at least since no grass top contender(save the flashy Brown) populates his quarter.

    2) Regardless of his clay domination (which Kyrgios blatantly previewed:”Nadal knows he won’t loose in Paris”) and the surface homogenization I don’t trust the Spaniard’s play on grass; not for the lack of ability but for the wear to his knees,his lack of rest and -last but not least- his age which forces him to focus his efforts on selected surfaces. Strategically, putting a lot of effort on grass given how easily his efforts can be derailed and with the HC season and year no1 around the corner just doesn’t worth it- ditching Queen’s was a good decision in my view. As Matt noted already his quarter is loaded, so all the more reason not to focus on this tourney and go to hard courts.

    3+8) Wawrinka-Thiem: the heavy one handers didn’t have good results on grass, as usual, and their game is not exactly favored by the surface, as Wimbledon seeding and past results indicate. Furthermore, Stan has a tough draw (the time for Stanimal to show was at the FO final, I’m afraid).

    4) Djokovic (no2 with the Wimby formula): the Aegon title was much needed to stop the rot-anything less would be one more confidence blow. On a surface he knows well, an inspired big server/hitter can always take him out early in the tourney. That being said, he has quite a favourable draw (save Lopez whom he usually handles well) till SF. I still doubt the Novak we know is back, but maybe his new mentality is needed for him to keep pushing after 30. I suspect if that he has a rematch with the great Swiss it will be similar to the 2015 USO final regarding the critical attribute but the tables seem to have turned this time.

    5) Federer (no3 with the Wimby formula) seems pretty calm out there. His serve, slice, touch, movement(as well as he can move in 2017…) is on track and I expect his topspin BH to come in play in second week when grass density around the baseline decreases, bounce becomes steadier and higher: as I noted earlier in the season, his improved/flatter BH seems to work better in slower surfaces with higher and cleaner bounce. Well, we shall soon see about that but as Matt eloquently noted, what the Maestro surely needs is this calm, decisive mentallity-other than that his game is second to none at the moment. His decision to skip clay probably will be judged according to this tournament’s result.

    6) Raonic had a pretty mediocre season and I don’t think it will suddenly turn around in London.

    7 + …) Cilic (good draw because of his seeding) and the rest of the big hitters (ex. Tsonga, Isner, Zverev, Muller, Khachanov, Kyrgios, Medvedev, Mahut) are due to a few QF appearances at the very least. In fact, I expect that not all of the big 4 will reach the semis although their seeding allows it.

    This edition of “The Championships” seems more important to Federer (legacy, obviously) and Djokovic (return to a relative form-stop the decay) than the current’s world no1 title defence or the current’ leader of the ATP race advantage. As much as I’d like to see some change at the top contenders(maybe a new semi-finalist in the top part of the draw) it doesn’t seem the time is now for a new champion to be crowned…

    PS 1: In sheer quality, quantity and depth of articles there is no competition to your blog Matt ( although good articles appear in various places from time to time, especially regarding the technical department of the game).
    PS 2: The monster Federer created came back to bite him in the form of the clay Bull so the GOAT debate (ridiculous concept for me) will never end. Still a strange hunch about the cosmos balance Matt, but I’ve learned to respect your premonitions.

    1. Thanks, BS. As usual, a valuable contribution to this blog.
      I need to get caught-up but it appears to jive with my read on the grass tune-ups: Fed isn’t quite topping-off and this will spell difficulty in the SF and F. Hell, he has Grigor and Sascha coming-up.

      For his sake, he needs to dispatch these two youngsters, quickly.

  5. Great post as ever Matt. Also very persuasive comments from blackspy.
    Just watching Kyrgios bow out…. Very disappointing. I thought his form prior to the clay court swing pointed towards a potential Wimbledon run. Djokovic for one would not have wanted to face him, and the projected clash with Murray could have been epic. I agree that the serb’s draw gives him a clear run to the semi. He has rediscovered his form at Wimbledon before (2014). Federer should make the semi too despite the (on paper) tough draw. Don’t see Dimitrov or Raonic stopping 2017 Roger. Not so confident about the other top seeds.

  6. Incondite, Easy Peasy! And it would be ecstatic to handle an RF win! Blackspry, good stuff. I would just add this. Why are not many (tennis writers and fans included) not taking injuries into much consideration when analysing the draw???! Murray, Kyrigios, Delpo and Raonic are obviously not 100 percent. They are not in contention at all and would be lucky to last the first week (as I write, Kyrgios has retired) Murray will not defend his title. Stan is not a threat on grass; yes, his moment was FO and he screwed up big time; what a pathetic performance. Thiem, not even worth a serious mention on grass. Of all the usual suspects, I think Cilic is the only surer threat. Nadal, if he is fit may make it to second week. RF may have jeopardise his excellent chances by broadcasting his intentions too loud too soon. Low expectations, playing freely and nothing to lose worked so well at AO for him. Why change the formula?! I believe Djoker will rise from the ashes. Just reading what Agassi is saying about Djoker and what they are doing is incredible; the most intelligent and discerning tennis coach I’ve ever read.

    1. Hey Tennisisthebest!

      Like you, I’d be gladdest to see Roger win this year. I am a loyal fan, and he is very deserving! But others are deserving as well, and whoever wins is almost always ‘deserving’ by definition.

      Anyway, I was asking how people would handle a Federer win, just as a joke! But after posting I wasn’t sure that it came across that way, so thanks for answering. The way you handled it so easily made it feel like my question was a lob that got spiked! 😉

      Good observation about many ‘experts’ not taking player health into account too – maybe some of them are just trying to keep everyone interested. I agree about Cilic too, that he’s the only dark horse who might be a threat.

      I tend to think a Federer – Djokovic semi is pretty likely at this point, and without seeing each player’s form, I’m not sure how to call that (still potential, of course) match…

      Best,
      Incondite

  7. I think you’re analysis is spot on, Matt.
    I haven’t been able to see much tennis lately, so I’m perhaps not placed very well to make judgement.
    The last time I saw Federer play was in his match against Khachanov, and he didn’t impress me at all that day.
    Like you wrote, Murray and Djokovic were down at the AO, and that sort of allowed Federer to gain confidence and get in the zone.
    The circumstance are very different now.
    I’m curious how things will play out against Djoker, who is playing well imo..

  8. I hope you enjoy your trip and stay in the mountains with your family.
    Happy national day in the US as well!

What say you?