Wawrinka and Nadal played an interesting and, yes, entertaining match.
One could say with confidence that Wawrinka choked (at 4-4 in the first, at 5-6 after the rain delay, and at 5-4 in the second).
One could say more complicatedly that Stanimal choked. I like this version because there’s reference to a form from Wawrinka we have been looking for, perhaps unsure we would see it any time soon. We appreciate things like irony and the oxymoron.
Stanimal choked? WTF? Heavenly earth?
One could say Rafa proved once again he’s one of the greatest chess masters the sport has ever witnessed. He is so deliberate, so point-win-oriented. The craft of the game comes much later on that list of priorities with this guy if he even cares. He doesn’t give a shit how he wins. We’ve been over this and we’ll continue to clarify: he was created to beat Federer. His often dull tennis does just enough to survive, to give him opportunities. He rarely beats himself.
He did this throughout this match as Stanimal began to rise from the ashes. At 4-4 in the first, on Rafa’s serve and Stan securing three break points (virtually set points here), you will see some of the dullest tennis from Rafa. He’s practically looping balls into Stan’s wheelhouse knowing he probably has a better chance hoping Stan will over-hit, commit the UE and gift the Spaniard a hand to get back into this game, save the set, maybe even the match.
One could just say we have ourselves the old banana in the tail pipe, Stan getting hoodwinked by the ever clever Rafael Nadal.
Either way, let’s reiterate.
Stan played some marvelous tennis. Do you remember me saying that the one-hander at this level, to have success, especially against a Rafa or Novak, has to have that DTL rocket in the bag (btw, HBD Laver and Federer yesterday — serious tennis royalty on these hot August nights!).
Stan turned the match on some of those big ground strokes he’s famous for. There was big time evidence tonight that we may have a real Stanimal sighting in September in NYC. Magnus is in the building too. I knew they broke, I heard or saw images of a return, but I didn’t have confirmation. Stan hasn’t lasted long enough in matches or tournaments for me to recognize. A wonderful sighting.
So nice to see that Swiss’ game firing on most of its cylinders.
This brought-up another thought: in the end, when this era comes to a close, with all kinds of GOAT debates resonating through the proverbial halls and empty courts, all the laughing and crying; the one truest statement will revolve around this point: These Big 5 made each other better. The latest examples are the Rafa v Novak WB SF and this match tonight. You and I both know that Rafa resurrected Stan this evening. Sure Wawrinka’s form was probably coming around eventually, but he needed to play Rafa, the final match of the day/evening, Masters R16 — boom.
Great match. I actually don’t mind him losing only because he’s played a lot of tennis this week, a couple of tough matches. The call tonight said his win over Fucsovics was a grind, lacked the kind of brilliance we saw tonight. So that means he’s got some good reps, some hard court match fitness, found enough heart to get through a couple of early ones, fought-off some match points, and then found some old school Stan the Man tennis while facing one of the greats.
Now rest, Stan. You deserve it.
Quickly on the other matches: Haase, as I have said a million times, has a classy game, is a true vet and can trouble all sorts of top players (a bit like a Gilles Simon). He took care of the last Canadian, who I thought might be able to get a little deeper here, especially as the draw had opened-up a bit. Still, good work, Shapo, and on to Cincy >> NYC.
Tiafoe and Kyrgios are separated at birth. Look at the athleticism, the FH (!) and a few of the antics (I’m talking about Frances). He’s not in the same area code as Kyrgios when it comes to antics, but the American can be tough to read and can throw some shade if you catch my drift. Kyrgios, on the other hand, is a kook; Frances is not a kook.
Good win for the Bulgarian. Does he have that 2017 Cincy form? I only refer to Cincy since he won it last year, but he proceeded to take a shit in NYC. If he’s flying high, that’s a good thing for this the draw, for the sport. Good job, Grigor.
Khachanov gets a nice win over Big John, Cilic advances, Zverev, Anderson . . . looks like a decent business-end of the draw.
Talk to you tomorrow.