Three is a Crowd: The Allusive Triple Entendre (at Least)


Our Three ATP Player Council Leaders

This men’s tour is not very interesting right now (that includes even a Masters this last week, and another one on the horizon, in fact underway as we speak). This means (among other things) that I need to pleasure my analysis, turn things up, get things lit (as the kids used to say, I think), for the sake of this blog. I’m actually falling asleep typing these sexy words.

Nadal just won his 35th Masters title, extends his lead in that only partially relevant category or metric (remember this line of reasoning?). He didn’t have to play a SF or a F to secure this title, his 5th Coupe Rogers. His SF opponent took an early holiday and his final opponent, the young yet dangerous Daniil Medvedev, wet the bed.

That was a very weak tournament, folks. Montreal 2019 put us to sleep long before the weekend’s snooze-fest. I searched for watchable tennis. . . going to the “must-watch” criteria, etc.

In the end, Nadal won, easily. As you might have heard, this was his first career non-clay title defense. Indeed, he had never defended a title that isn’t played on clay. He had to wait until he was 33 to see that achievement.

The Big 3 are only getting better, seemingly (though that’s a loaded statement given their different ages — one’s about forty years-old — and the suggestion that I am agreeing with that lunatic mainstream belief that these boys are playing at career peaks).

They’re not — the tour is just a pile of mediocrity.

The triple entendre of my title, Three is a Crowd:

  • Big Three Dominance: they own the place.

This era continues to fluctuate between “legendary” (looking at the Big 3) and “lily-livered” (looking at the multi-generational failure of tennis competitiveness). We don’t need to go into this dominance or lack thereof, but this really sad state-of-affairs continues with no end-in-site. Montreal 2019 underscores this analysis. Djokovic and Federer absent, yet the string of young guns in that field came-up way short of securing this elusive pedigree, of practically ANY big win.

The Masters and Major dominance of the Big 3 is embarrassing.

  • The Irony of the use of “crowd” when there’s really only three, which speaks to the depletion of talent, yet the Big 3 have continually crowded the biggest matches with their legendary talent, and the biggest titles, not to mention three is an odd number, hence the saying.

Three’s a crowd. Ha ha. This is usually used when there’s three of you, hanging-out, which can stage a bit of awkwardness or three kids playing together and one gets left-out, there’s an odd-ball, odd-man-out, three’s an odd number, etc.


This irony implores us to question all of this, whether this is healthy, what this means, how could this be? There’s only three at the top, yet conversely this seems like too many. Again, Federer and Djokovic took the week off, but Nadal still maintained their triumvirate dominance. There’s only three, so how is this a “crowd” yet they continue to “crowd” the trophy ceremony with their big smiles and miles of fanatical fans who crowd the tennis discussion boards and social media landscapes with their garbage that crowds-out more meaningful and balanced tennis analysis/commentary.

  • There’s three distinct groups of players on tour.

Finally, there’s this obvious observation of the tour. One could say there are just two groups of players: the Big 3 and everyone else. But we now see that the second, subordinate non-Big 3 group can be divided into two distinct groups:

The Young

These are the Next Gen types, the twenty-somethings, maybe even a few teenagers. We have watched, studied, analyzed probably sympathetically and optimistically. The next great or greats are in this group, we tell ourselves. A few are genius, precocious, sent from Heaven, Djoker-like, baby-Fed-esque, etc.

You do the research, or continue to watch this youth movement play-out. They are, almost collectively, staggering as of late. Coric and Shapo missed the train, are lost these days. Zverev and Kyrgios need all kinds of help to fulfill their destiny. FAA, the Russians and Thiem seem brilliant on one or two points or sets or matches, but have needed a change of clothes (what’s that smell?) more recently. Medvedev’s final yesterday against Nadal was simply a disaster. And save the Yeah but Nadal is one of the greats salvo.

and . . .

The Restless
Del Potro

Guys in this group have actually been more likely to snag a big win. This is the thirty-somethings who have been bobbing around in the bloody water, somehow surviving the generational beat-downs. They have some experience, might get a good draw, match-up well with a Big 3, etc.

But the results have been pretty meager, as well.

This is all pretty astonishing, folks.

You see Djokovic’s Cincy draw. Federer’s in that top-half, too. As is Kyrgios if he can find his ass, Tsitsipas, who has to start doing something and a few other blokes.

The bottom has Thiem and Zverev, both pretty soft at this point. Nadal withdrew, so this looks to have Federer or Djokovic, survivor of the top half, winning this title.

And no I wouldn’t be surprised at all if a non Big 3 were to challenge this argument, my insanity.

The bed has already been made here. I’m not saying anything controversial, or disrespectful. This is the ATP tour, circa 2019.

I could have done something with the number 3 having definitive spiritual resonance, as well. So, yeah this title, this post, this triple entendre could be extended, fantasized more, made more and more lucid, coherent and ridiculous.

This double-edged sword is all we have, no? 😉

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