The Smell of Farm Animals
Remember when I started the tennis commentary era on this blog (I covered mountain running prior to that — look at almost anything pre-2015) with Djokovic rolling, and Fedal literally going nowhere, the GOAT debates were hot-and-heavy (they always are I suspect with certain folk). The idea was Fedal had more-or-less ended its campaign, and Djokovic would assume full control of the tour, the hardware and presumably the record books. Thus that part of the discourse was in full-bloom, especially as Nolefam was concerned.
I certainly had Fedal pretty much looking to pasture, as well. Nadal especially. His game (always a kind of enigma) had reached a new low. After his FO 2014 win, he looked just about terminado, left to loop balls short and run-around in his nice Nike outfits.
I was hard on Federer, too; he hadn’t won since 2012 and even then, before that, his last real threatening tennis was played in 2010, more or less. Djokovic and Nadal, 5-6 years younger than Federer had taken-over.
By 2014-16 and Matt’s/Mcshow Blog, the Serb was pretty much taking care of business, showing Federer the exit on a few occasions in major finals, the Swiss, I argued, adding some much needed class to Novak’s dominance (there was, hopelessly, no one else, but a blue moon citing of Stanimal rustling around in the bushes).
I should have held-out some possibility of a dip from Novak. We have charted this. He’s made a habit of a kind of streaky tennis. In the past, he was H2H with some pretty tough hombres, so that might have been used to help rationalize some of those dips, but I just didn’t quite see the Stanimal maintaining much consistency, Andy rising to dominate the tour, nor were there any NextGen opponents like there have been the last couple of years.
Novak won his first major in 2008, next one in 2010, went nuts in 2011, then started firing again in 2014 thru 2016, and then . . . Djokollapse.
As patterned as his latest fall was, this one I have argued was so much more significant. I think this is fairly obvious, actually; no need to explain. He screwed the pooch we like to say.
So, I didn’t take such a set of circumstances like this seriously. Let’s say he dips a few majors in a row; understandable; but two years? I missed the extent of Novak’s latest dip in a pretty steady pattern of dipping.
If I had thought of that turn-of-events more seriously, I might, then, have given Federer a few chances at claiming the throne once again. Seems tough to contemplate, but he was, realistically, the only real threat in the heart of that 2015-16 campaign (go look at the draws/finals).
Once AO 2017 was in full-bloom, I said the evidence suggests this isn’t very surprising really given the Swiss’ consistency at the majors. Before the injury after 2016 WB (that was a SF), he was in a AO SF (’16), USO F (’15), WB F (’15) and so on.
I also, despite really liking the Ivan Ljubičić hire, didn’t think the Croat would have that much of an impact: he clearly did.
Nole in the big dipper, Federer healthy after a lay-off, with a Croatian spur in his game, and voilá, #2107Federer.
Nadal was the real shock. That was surprising, to say the least.
Wimbledon 2018 Brings Us Full Circle
Djokovic is back.
I will go into a specific analysis in the next few days of how the 2008 WB and 2018 WB relate to a real tennis fan and reader. Sure, I owe Tennis Channel a deeper discussion of that “greatest-match-of-all-time,” I guess my readers to some extent, but more importantly I want to get dirty again on these bigger discussions, the ones where we start reading the tea-leaves and try to make more profound statements about players and eras.
So stay tuned for that.
You see, with Djokovic reasserting himself, this may start to look a lot like 2015-16 not just on the court (perhaps with a few more contenders for the Serb to man-handle) but on this blog, as well, contemplating those bigger questions, contentions and misperceptions more often. The banter from the Serb’s fanclub has once again joined in this cacophony (or racket) of farm animal feces (I admit: even I like a bit of this GOAT debate 😉
Sure I have some ebooks to write, but frankly I have other work and other play that gets in the way of such. But those bookish items are certainly into this debate, establishing more clarity for the misguided.
For those that missed all of that nice heavy-handed discourse, the likes of which kept the comments section buzzing, readers applauding, etc., I had to take a break: the story wasn’t over, obviously. But it was. 😉
I as I have certainly reminded you, HRFRT was written in 2016, so 2017-18 must be added. The entire narrative became quite bizarre over the last few years, to be honest. That chapter in HRFRT that I never actually finished, the rise of his monsters, was meant to detail the development and complication of Djokovic, as well.
Imagine what the return of the Dark Knight has done to my story. But, again, remember how really everything that’s happening has been part of the same pattern, which I used to build my treatise.
So, I have to turn then to these concerns, which is probably what most want anyways.
At the same time, the tournament coverage will limp along as does this season, with all kinds of arrows pointing to a nice summer for the Djoker.
A Bit of News
Roger is out of Rogers Cup. Not surprising. He points to scheduling and surely he’s right.
But he knows the stakes got much higher with Novak ready to return seemingly and ominously to the hard courts. One would think his solid BL game he just used to win his fourth Wimbledon will translate nicely.
And Federer looked terrible in his loss last week to Anderson. Seems an age and confidence matter. How can there be really much more here for the 37 year-old who has won three majors in the past two years.
To his credit, Canada is likely where he lost any chance at winning the U.S. Open last year. The back injury he sustained in that final v Zverev haunted him, likely, through the rest of the year (2017), with a small window of form in Shanghai.
I guess he figures a tune-up on his favorite Masters courts in Cincinnati will put him in enough form and confidence for a run at his 6th USO. As I said weeks ago, well before Wimby, he needs another U.S. Open crown more than he does another WB.
The tour, with or without Djokovic’s return, is humming at the possibilities of still much familiar tennis still to play. The hard courts seem to give a lot of players a bit of a lift; evens the playing field a bit.
More news: How about my claim (like many I’m sure) that Pepe and that whole vibe was part of the rot we smelled in Djokovic’s camp. This is straight out of Lord of the Rings, where an evil interloper takes hold of the king and precipitates the kingdom’s demise.
Marian made clear that Pepe had to be gone in order for Novak to return to championship form. I love the suggestion from Vajda that Novak needs to think again about making his opponent uncomfortable, dismissing the treatment of tennis as a philosophy. Bang. Something was truly amiss in that camp beyond that Novak had reached the pinnacle of tennis, completing his Slam.
To bolster Novak’s cause Cecchinato won Umag last week, which adds value to that tricky opponent that up-ended the Serb in Paris. I thought the loss was unfortunate, but either way, what gave me all the insight that I needed on Novak and SW19 was his SF v Nadal in Rome along with some of his early matches on the lawns. Even the loss in Queens mattered less to me: Playing Nadal or Federer in a Bo5 is a completely different sport. Rome told me almost everything I needed hear (and see). 🙂
Staying with the Italians, Fognini wins Bastad, impressively keeping his cool and focus, beating some tough opponents; and Stevie Johnson wraps-up the play on grass in taking the title in Newport. Well done, gents.
Gstaad and Hamburg this week before D.C. next week really kicks-off the N.A. hard courts.