The disaster is not my picks although I’ve missed everyone! Does this mean Nadal is in trouble? Lol.
Clay is social justice tennis. Other than the insane inequality of Nadal, everyone else, no matter his or her ranking, serve, FH, etc., is on equal footing. This is the everyman surface, a sort of blue-collar version of a sport whose origins are rooted in royalty and privilege.
My picks for today’s R16, granted I didn’t put much thought into it, make me look like a tennis pork-chop. Kholschreiber had been playing well (and I like his game), but he lost to the S. African, which is not surprising, but still. I was wrong about Edmund and Goffin, too. If I was serious about that pick, I might have had one more thought on that match and said Edmund’s win over Djokovic probably gives him a little more belief, which would make him a good pick. But I thought Goffin would have enough on a surface he seems to like.
Then Shapovalov beat his big countryman! I was wrong, but really preferred this result even in my pick. I remember seeing Raonic put-it to Felix A-A at IW, so I thought the big guy might try to overpower his other little brother here. Nice win for Denis.
So that makes me, so far, 0-3 on the day. Nice work.
And as Del Potro strutted-out to a 6-3 first set, he lost the second, and then needed to break back in the third to put that back on serve.
He went on to lose that match.
Coric jumped-out to a one set lead 6-2 on the struggling Thiem, and with the Croat serving for match in the second at 5-4, he’s broken and the Austrian goes on to take the TB 7-5. Now they’re in the third. Does this snap Thiem from his funk? I still don’t like his high risk/long shot tennis (literally from 15 feet behind the BL) very much.
But certainly I have been awful on these picks. What’s worse? What’s more awful than my picks? I’ll argue that Lajovic (the Serbian qualifier) advancing in that top half renders the tournament even more unwatchable.
Del Potro losing to Lajovic is not an isolated incident. This is clay. This is the problem with clay.
If one prefers this kind of dumbed-down tennis that neutralizes every aspect of the game and highlights a player’s patience and ability to handle the dirty defensive scuffle, that’s fine. But don’t then complain about a business-end of a draw full of average talent.
Of course, some will point to the shallow talent pool on tour being reflected in these draws, especially with Federer on vacay, Murray mending (I guess) and Wawrinka ready to announce his retirement.
Oh, yeah: and Djokovic.
At this point, shouldn’t we begin to wonder about Djokovic’s long-term outlook?
From his press conference: “‘There are obvious things that are not working well for me,’ the 12-time Grand Slam champion said. ‘But I have to keep working on them and pray that … and hope that my game will get stronger.'”
He went on to say:
“One or two points decide really these kind of matches [. . .] Luck was on his side a little bit. But, also, he was courageous enough to attack the balls when it mattered and deserved to win.”
I heard a wonderfully devout Jesuit priest talk about the role of prayer, asserting that prayer for things like saving someone’s life, asking God for a particular outcome, etc., is really a complete misunderstanding of prayer. Those of us who have lost a loved one, for whom we prayed, might even find some strange solace in these words, from a priest no less.
Djokovic praying for his tennis seems not the most pragmatic approach for the former #1.
You’ve heard me encourage his return, in a sense hope for the best for this guy. But he looks lost still and the results are not evidence of a return. Although he looked to be pretty solid v Nishikori, the vulnerability was still there; even his wins have been shaky. Players have a lot of belief against the one-time ATP patriarch.
There’s word that the tournament locker rooms are further evidence that players just aren’t intimidated by Novak.
He talked in his press conference of progress. But I don’t see it.
His serve in particular is ho-hum and his BH DTL has gone missing. Maybe if he finds that, and a few more pounds of muscle, he’ll find that energy and that form.
To me he looks weak, still; we’ve been talking about this for months now.
The Djokollapse does refer to the second half of 2016 to the present, but as I suggested in my previous post about Mcshow tennis discourse, this is a bit of a pattern with Novak, though perhaps not to this extent. This recent decline involved him being so high, holding all four majors, only to fall so far (his failure to defend 600 points in Rome could make him unseeded in the Paris draw).
But all of this detail seems almost irrelevant compared to the eye-test of the Serb. He still looks tired, unprepared, full of concession.
Seems such a sloppy, careless approach to one’s job/career, on one hand; and a deep deep loss of purpose and belief on the other.
Djokovic’s timeline of terror goes 2008 then 2011 then 2014. Aside from Melbourne, he’s had these odd sabbaticals throughout his career. We’re in the midst of his latest leave.
Will he return to form? One has to start to wonder how or even why?