As masterful as Nadal’s tennis was in painting Undecima, we still have to maintain our core beliefs about the sport, which means generously provide our honest observations and commentary with regards to 2018 Roland Garros that might not blow so much rainbow and magic bunny beauty at my discerning readers (we have standards to uphold around here). You know some of my thoughts on clay, for instance. I clarified some of this commentary through out the 2018 clay season; I have several past commentaries on the clay.
Here’s just two from the finger-tips written over two years ago.
I’d like to think my discourse has matured, so read with a grain of salt, but I’m probably more or less on that same horse, riding that same trail.
What I’d really like to clarify, if this has not been made fairly definitive in my last couple of posts, is that Nadal and I have a very complicated relationship.
Have you ever not particularly liked someone; you bitch about this and that, throw a little (or a lot of) shade at this innocent, maybe can’t quite put your finger on the reasoning, or you can, but still the feelings you have are admittedly more antagonistic than they should be?
And then a friend of yours offers the penetrating remark: you don’t like him/her because they remind you of you.
Ha ha. Funny, right? Maybe a little embarrassing, too. You hope no one heard that.
I may be critical of clay (and I am; said argument is clarified more in those referenced posts), but in my weakness (nostalgia) and affinity for gut-wrenching competitive glory, I think I’m more of a fan of Nadal than I want to admit.
Which only means I need to continue to critique and undermine variously — we like our food, beverage and company discourse complicated. You know the score.
He is, you know, a clay-court specialist. . .
What other basic observations can we take from Roland Garros 2018?
The second best player in the field was? Diego Schwartzman. That’s the clay, and Diego is a perfect dirt-baller, who might have given Nadal even more trouble had the match not seen a rain delay.
Watching the Cecchinato v Thiem (same with the Djokovic loss), one could clearly see the threat he posed. The Thiem SF could have gotten very interesting, but for Thiem’s ability to take care of the TB, assert himself and not make a mess of that match.
But, again, that was a classic dirt-baller wreaking havoc. I would be having a field-day had the Italian made the final (I would have lost the battle — I picked Thiem in 3 sets; but I would have won the war: Nadal v Cecchinato in the French Open final! Yeesh).
Lastly, on Djokovic, just to reiterate: he should have crushed Marco. No two ways around that. Only one option. He got a great draw there to reach at least the SF, but perhaps the final. Can not lose to Cecchinato there, no matter how da Vinci-like he was around the clay that day. I’m not buying it.
I’ll say it again: he’s still not right. He’s missing that endurance, the almost robotic perfection of his (especially) BH, the deliberate toughness, the Djokovic poise, tactfully denying and playing through opponents with his distinctive aplomb.
I charted the Serb’s form. He looked good, getting through the draw not great but good enough, which has its own value — and like I said: he has in the past found a higher quality in later rounds, obviously, paralleling the stakes of the match. Sampras-like. Yep, I just nonchalantly compared Sampras to Leo da Vinci.
Juan Martin should be strong as the season progresses; he was a sitting duck v Nadal. Move on to grass, my man.
Zverev had a tremendous tournament, killed a few demons and can file that experience away for later; he will be a very difficult opponent on all surfaces in a few years or less. Great stuff from the German.
I’ve said enough about Thiem as far as this tournament is concerned. I beliem in Thiem. Been saying that for over a year. But I’m done with his one-dimensional game. His impressive power and great heart make him a crowd favorite. Just needs some variety, something he can apply more to other surfaces, etc.
And now we wait for the arrival of some missing faces: Kyrgios is in Stuttgart. He could see Federer in a SF. Have to wait on any of that, even for the Swiss. People say Roger has a tough draw, hasn’t played in three months. Ha ha. That’s on Roger. No one’s really feeling sorry for the world #2 are they?
If he makes the Mercedes Cup final, he reclaims #1. Then he really has to start winning/defending those points. I think the race for #1 should, again, be quite interesting, so long as everyone stays healthy, which is actually not probably all that simple. Both Federer and Nadal got injured last year. Nadal hung-on for dear life. Then he crashed. Federer followed suit.
I have a lot to say about all of that.
As for the defense of Federer’s clay omission, I never did get around to that. You might remember that last year I was pretty disappointed.
His form at 2017 Miami was peak 2017 Federer. Scintillating stuff. Transcendent. To shut it down for the whole clay season seemed quite disappointing and risky. He put me in my place.
The leadership of Ljubičić is for real. We’ve been over this: the Croat knows the weight and baggage of clay, especially with the Fedal circus in full-swing (Ivan would have recommended Roger take a few more clay breaks over the years).
But there’s this, Mr. and Mrs. tennis fan: Federer played in 17 straight French Opens.
Not even Nadal can say that; he’s played in 14 consecutive (total) FOs.
Federer’s ancient, so the fact that he’s still competing, we have to give him the nod here and wish him well.
Will be quite nice to see how Stuttgart plays-out.
He has Mischa in R16, maybe Shapovalov in QF, and Feli Lopez/Kyrgios in a SF? A lot of tennis to play.
In closing, this is pretty inspiring and makes me (almost) want to cover some WTA. Obviously I don’t, but let me admit that I thought to myself during the French that Halep had to win her first major in Paris for that tour to find some (more) credibility. If two of the biggest threats (draws) are an “older” gal coming-off drug suspension and 36 year-old new mom, yikes.
Bravo in consolidating that #1 ranking and winning your first (of many?) major!
Cheers to Halep and Romania (watch the video if you haven’t seen it):