Fed: “pas assez” to this French Revolution

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Gerard Stricher

An autumnal 2017 French uprising is underway, my fellow Tennisians. On this eve of the season’s final Masters, in picturesque Paris, some French tennis players have attempted an early siege of this final leg of the European indoors.

In Vienna, Gasquet took-out first-round opponent Feli Lopez, but more significantly, the tournament’s second-seed, and virtual hometown favorite, Thiem met his own demise at the Frenchman’s racket. Pouille and Gasquet met and combined their strengths in the QF which put Pouille into that bottom SF where he’ll play Edmund.

In the top half, you know what just happened there: the dangerously unpredictably seasoned Tsonga continued to advance his charge; he just upset top-seed Sascha Zverev in QF straights. Tsonga gets the German Kohlschreiber in that top SF. Quite the little surge from Jo Willy, having won last week in Antwerp, beating the seemingly unplayable Schwartzman in the final; this after Goffin, hoping to please his local countrymen and women, fell to the 19 year-old Greek qualifier Tsitsipas.

To summarize: the Austrian capital, as we speak, is seemingly under future French rule.

In Basel, Benneteau, Paire and Mannarino certainly had similar ideas, but the orchestration was foiled by Del Potro and Federer. Coincidence? Perhaps not.

Federer snuffed the petulant Paire earlier in the week and today survived his tight affair with Mannarino, hence this plot looks more and more like a Del Potro v Federer final; Juan beat the remaining Frenchman in his first round match.

However, Goffin and Cilic, both very worthy opponents, might have a thing or two to say about another chapter of the Juan and Roger saga.

Mannarino, breaking Federer at 4-4 in the first set, secured the opener. Federer broke early in the second and was able to take the match quickly to the decider, which was tight even at 3-3 before Roger finally forced his way into the SF.

You have to give-it-up to those Frenchmen. When you least expect it, on the eve of Paris!

The Basel SFs should hold much interest: Roger’s win today wasn’t routine; Goffin is capable of beating almost anyone; and the Cilic v Del Potro tilt should be quite the match given their tennis of late and their last match H2H, which involved the comeback for Argentina in the 2016 Davis Cup final against Croatia. Del Potro stormed back in the singles final from 0-2 sets against Cilic to take the final match and secure the championship.

I mentioned in my earlier post that I Juan Del Potro to find his way to into the WTF. I’m not holding my breath as a lot of good has to happen to him and, conversely, a lot of bad must befall a few other players, namely Carreno Busta, Querrey and Mr. Anderson.

Del Potro continues to play well, stemming from his play in NYC, a win last week in Stockholm and now this run in Basel where he’s won twice (’12 and ’13) beating Federer in the final both times. Of course, Federer is trying to win his eighth Swiss Indoors and defend last year’s title where he beat Nadal.

How does the 2017 WTF field look so far?

Nadal, Federer, Zverev, Thiem, Dimitrov, Cilic, most likely Goffin and then that final spot which is a bit up for grabs.

Last year’s field, just for comparison: Murray, Djokovic, Wawrinka, Raonic, Nishikori, Monfils, Cilic and Thiem.

Interesting, on so many levels, to say the least.

A Federer v Del Potro final in Basel would have some added WTF significance. Looking forward to seeing how this plays-out; as much as seeing Juan make the field, a Cilic win tomorrow wouldn’t necessarily be bad for the sport at all. Allons-y!

I hope to find some good tennis on the tele in the next few days

Write about that and some off-court junk including the split between Stan and Magnus and whatever might be up with Djokovic, currently looking for a second coach (the description is very much a Norman or Ljubičić type of guy). What are the chances now that Stan can continue to find his animal spirit? And the Novak projections for 2018 should be quite the French abstract expressionist art.

Cheers.

4 comments

  1. I take it, you think YE #1 is already decided? It might be, at that, especially if Del Potro spoils Federer’s bid for the 500 points that come with the Basel title. Both are not at their best currently (rumours of sickness for Federer, Delpo might be fatigued), so we’ll see how that plays out. In Paris a tough draw awaits Del Potro with Zverev again (looks banged up by now though), followed by Dimitrov and Nadal. If he can make it through this, a WTF qualification would be well deserved.

    Don’t forget about Tsonga though who can still sneak up from behind and surpass Del Potro with a Vienna win and a good showing in Paris.

    One thing is for sure: the WTF field has the potential for an extremely unbalanced draw, especially if Del Potro makes it.

    1. Of course Tsonga. But come Paris, he’ll probably go-out early. Did you read my “what could have been” article about Tsonga? Love his tennis, but like most, I feel like he came-up a bit short under the big lights; then again, 2008 AO was a thing of massive beauty.

      The nod goes to Nadal right now. Paris and WTF obviously determine the final outcome. There’s still tennis to be played in 2017.

      Making three major finals, and being #1 is the name of the game (success at the biggest tournaments and consistency/points – should they change the point system? Probably, but under these rules, he’s the leader in the “club house.”). As I have alluded to now a few times, this is a role-reversal from their early days. Federer would be #1 and have been most successful in more majors; and be down to Nadal in the H2H. I would say Fed is POY in that case because of ranking and consistency/success on the biggest stages. I’ve downplayed H2H (wrote a bunch of articles on this blog re: Nadal v Federer).

      This is all premature, however. Paris and London will crown the 2017 king.

      I think it would almost benefit Federer to go out early in Paris. He looks off.
      Winning the WTF has much more consequence (especially historically).

      1. “He looks off” was countered a bit with that SF win over Goffin, 1 and 2. Still, he was quite “up-against-it” vs. Mannarino. Almost lucky to survive that QF.

What say you?