Indian Wells Wrap

Greetings.

There’s a lot going-on right now, which does get in the way of posting to my, apparently, insightful yet forgettable blog. In addition, I suspect you all watched the tennis in IW, have a bunch of interesting and thoughtful observations yourself about the tournament, the tour, and some particular players, so why do I necessarily need to address these topics in such a timely matter? The readership is pretty steady, indeed, but this is just a hobby, folks. This emanates from an inherent (inherited) madness to discuss and analyze tennis.

And apparently my hobby is straight-setting the professional discourse. No question. Which pisses me off, actually. Hopefully you can understand my frustration. I sponge the culture and, quite frankly, find a dismal dearth of interesting discourse on our glorious sport of tennis.

One take-away from my time at the IW tennis complex, watching matches on SF Saturday, listening to the tennis talking-heads, among others, rattle-on about the tennis is this: they’re reading my blog. Or they should. And they should pay me, in which case I’d be happy to add more to their frames of reference and general analysis.

Part of this take-away, of coming to grips with my frustration is this: I’ve been watching tennis longer than they have. They’ve been in the sport, at a professional level perhaps. Sure. But A) that doesn’t necessarily make one a good analyst and B) I have the athletic chops and experience AND analytical skills to trump the claim that because they’re former tennis pros or journalism majors that they might offer more than Mcshow Blog. The proof is in the pudding.

Listening on my ear-piece to the ESPN chumps while watching Federer v Coric, these “pros” sorta stumbled into the Djokoric comparison. Annacone had said during the Federer v Chung QF that Chung reminded him of Djokovic; I had already suggested, which seemed pretty obvious, that the young Croat has a similar game to the Serb. Sure, Chung’s ground stroke depth and weight, along with his marvelous ability to retrieve, is Serb-like, but the better comparison is Coric.

By SF Saturday, having read my blog for a week or so, or just finally coming to this themselves, we got some of that. Sorry, that’s offensive. I do this in my sleep. The difficulty that Coric gave Federer was right out of the Serb’s playbook. This was an enormously great match to see in person. The added wind and the really exceptional form and quality from Coric made the final push to the end simply a phenomenal sporting event. I will almost certainly come back to this match later.

But that’s not even my point.

Despite this just being a hobby, I know I can still do more with this discourse than these “pros” do with treasure chests of access and resource to support their games. My eyes and an internet connection will straight-set much of what you get out there, my tennis faithful.

I’m just saying.

So, sure I need to get my IW Wrap post written, but I’m busy (at a real job) and I’m pissed off!

Do I start to vlog, produce podcasts and/or freelance for other syndicates to build the brand? Do I sell HRFRT merchandise and get those Ebooks published to sell and start to really build this tennis empire that may (probably) never come to pass?

Who knows. That’s a lot of work. I am solo, usually sit and write on the spot for an hour or so as the desire and/or insight comes to me, pre and post match/tournament, or on a good one which has endowed the tennis intelligentsia with HRFRT and Djokollapse among others. Sure these are unfinished, but cut me some slack. Again, I’m Hans SOLO over here (sans Chewbacca).

Tennis: BNP Paribas Open-FInals

I should live-stream me calling a match. You can ask my teenage son about the third set of the IW final. When Federer hits that beautiful CC BH ROS that puts Juan Martin on the brink of tragedy, breaking the Argentine for the first time in 8 million years, handing Federer the serve for the title, I simply said: Fed gets broken here.

If you didn’t see that, you need me. That was a no-brainer.

Granted, when Federer proceeded to go 40-15, my insight looked thin and forgettable. And no doubt that’s a choke on his part– but my initial comment (DelPo breaks back here to even it at 5-5) was part of that much larger narrative. This was DelPo’s tournament (and Fed had already used up a lot of his mojo in the SF).

I don’t even have time now to get into all that my brain curated over the last few days of this Cali Masters. Indeed, ideally I need a press pass, a laptop and a nice seat from which to view more matches and write more words, in a more timely fashion.

I have a break coming-up, so I suspect this site gets a little boost in content because now we have Miami in the on-coming traffic.

So what about that IW conclusion.

I wrote this about two weeks ago.

I like Del Potro a lot in this tournament. I guess court comfort is a thing and DelPo has played well here in IW. He crushed the mini-Hewitt who’s actually a decent player. Juan looks very healthy and dangerous.

I had also seen him destroy Sascha a few weeks before that in Acapulco. Del Potro is on an unbeaten streak of his own, so he certainly didn’t drop out of the sky and surprise us.

Juan Martin went away for a couple of years, but those of us who knew him, knew him quite well and have been watching a steady progression on this latest comeback. Look at his BH from 2017 Acapulco, to 2017 US Open to 2018 Acapulco/Indian Wells. The more offensive top-spin BH really made a showing in his and Nadal’s SF in NYC back in September. He took the 1st set there using that shot since Nadal, naturally, tried to target that weakness. Clearly, DelPo didn’t have enough to finish that.

His 2009 US Open run alone carved him into the sport’s histories. In ’09, beating Nadal 2 2 and 2 in the SF and outlasting a rampant Federer in the F is a crash course in the majesty of the Tower of Tandil.

I watched just parts of the IW Final; I saw the entire third set, but I did watch the scoreboard and knew how both were playing. Del Potro had the upper-hand from the start. He had a bag of beans in Raonic in the SF, which I watched live, so Juan Martin had all kinds of energy and probably what we might call some healthy frustration since you might want a little more “preparation” in a SF with the stakes this high. Again, Milos was terrible. How he made the SF is sad. Tells you how much players like FAA (who has been on the tour for 4 minutes) need to play play play.

In short, the Final was a long-time coming. Federer had denied his demons long enough. He’d secured #20 in Melbourne, got to #1 in Rotterdam, secured #1 in IW by dismissing Chung in the QF after that tight first set, got wizardly in the SF with an incredible display of nerves and class, but came to an end against the assassin of Argentina. What worked against Chung and Coric needed something more (coincidence that Ivan was missing from Federer’s box and shortly after I saw this tweet from the master?):

Federer/Houdini had a great run, no doubt. More on that later, in a different blog.

And if you don’t know the class and commitment of Del Potro; again, welcome to Mcshow Blog.

Long time coming, too, indeed, for Juan Martin.

An interesting conversation that springs-up in the aftermath of this Indian Wells final is the legacy of DelPo, the rivalry with Federer, etc. For instance, does he have Federer’s number or as some drunken stooge might wonder, who only watches mainstream tennis coverage, does he own Federer?

Such a short-sighted failure comes from reference to the result Sunday, which was a long-time coming actually (see Acapulco, the development of the BH, the other win streak and Federer’s fallibility), which means there’s all kinds of readable context in there, and then reference to the U.S. Open (’09 and ’17). Actually, Del Potro has also had a bit of success against Roger at the Swiss Indoors in Basel. The Argentine has beaten him in that final twice.

However, Federer’s 18-7 overall is still pretty definitive, if you’re into those kinds of numbers. And he was 3-1 v Juan Martin in 2017, beating him in Miami last year (R32), the Shanghai SF, and Basel F.

The gentle giant is, by comparison, 5-9 against Nadal overall and 4-14 against Djokovic.

The tragedy of the giant’s wrist injury can be felt a bit in those numbers and the easily imagined what-could-have-been.

One of the most poignant facts about last Sunday was yet another installment of “a long time coming:” as everyone knows, that was Del Potro’s first Masters title.

A win there by Federer, who, as we know, had three MPs, would have put him at 28 Masters and maintained the nil in DelPo’s ledger. Sorry, but given the circumstances, the form of both players, their routes to the final, their careers and so on, this was Juan Martin’s to lose. And, indeed, he almost did.

A bigger miss perhaps than Federer’s inability to convert at 5-4, 40-15 for his 6th IW title was his inability to break Del Potro early in the third with the Argentine still smarting, still visibly upset at missing his own MP in the 2nd set TB. Federer absolutely should have broken early in that third; that was his only chance.

Juan’s serve was really the big story in this final. Although he was finally broken in the ninth game of that decider, it was his ability to hold, really to go unchallenged on serve even when he was seemingly quite vulnerable after that dramatic 2nd set TB.

Sure a lot of people love the ground strokes, the almost unplayable FH, and the massively improved BH, but DelPo’s serve was truly responsible for serving-up that trophy.

This is a tremendous achievement for the big guy.

As we turn to Miami, a potential Federer v Del Potro rematch looms in that final. Federer, from what I gather, needs to reach the QF to retain #1 as the tour turns to clay, where Nadal will most likely re-emerge to defend all of those titles and points.

Federer’s draw looks good on that maintaining #1 front. I’ll turn my attention to Miami next, a belated look at the draw to foresee a repeat run from both or not.

Perhaps others will emerge, the Indian Wells drama having taken a bit out of Fedotro.

As you can see, the desert, I’m afraid, took a bite out of me.

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