Partial Reaction to the USO Men’s Final

The first part (will write and publish all parts — see Table of Contents — throughout the day, between work responsibilities). Stay-tuned!

  • The loss or the win — however the fuck you want to see this match (you can’t have it both ways).

This was an extraordinary match. No other way to describe how this men’s final unfolded. Novak had literally nothing left. Is that what we saw? The fittest and best Bo5 player simply ran out of gas? This is compounded by the fact that Medvedev had all sorts of energy, having lost only a set all tournament (against a bunch of riff raff). You can go look-up the time-spent on court that the media flash about and sure Novak had simply more time and more difficulty getting through his draw than did the Russian.

So is that the take-away? Novak was too tired, too spent to take-on this fresher player?

The guessing will always be there with this match, this failure to achieve the CYGS. I am guessing now even as I write this. I want to say his form was off. I didn’t watch every match of Novak’s in its entirety, but I saw most. The best form, no question, was in that QF match with Berretinni. His play in those final three sets seemed to indicate that Novak was going to another level for the SF and F. His ROS was ruthless, against a big serve from the Italian. His ground strokes were sharp, at angles that spoke in that elevated form, a language many have seen and heard Djokovic speak; his defense-to-offense echoed some of his greatest form that can shut-down the best players while practically hitting them off the court, as well. A ruthless form. Novak appeared to have that quality as he moved-on from that QF.

We should also keep in mind that he spent a lot of energy in that first set with Berretinni. Go back and look. The first set lasted about an hour. Novak was drenched; there was that typical first set nervy tennis from the Serbian great. Those final three sets seem to have erased that difficulty. But if the prevailing theory is Novak ran out of gas at this Open than the first set of the QF is more significant, not to mention he probably exerted a lot more energy in that elevated form in closing-out the Italian than we think.

I have written a lot about Novak’s style. Back in the day, when Novak would struggle, I would turn to this typical argument: Novak’s style is unsustainable. Go back and read portions from the “Djokollapse” writings. To summarize, I argued that as Novak aged, his preferred approach to get into these longer exchanges with these younger and stronger players would not bode well long-term.

That’s a big part of my consistent criticism of the goofy, unfortunate THBH style. Takes creativity out of the game, reinforces one’s ability to hide his/her flaws, and pushes a more defensive, but at the same time (because of training and equipment) a consistently harder hitting style. Couple that with youth and you have the modern game, but for a pinch of genius in a few classically trained players.

Zverev, Rublev, and Medvedev come to mind. Rublev is the extreme example, the archetype of this style disaster. I have been arguing this for years. Novak is 34 years-old now. He seems fresh, on the one hand; but I guess too much of a good thing is exactly what we have here (both the style and reference to his draw at the ’21 USO, which we’ll get to next).

Watching Novak break players down from the BL with his incredible consistency and depth from both wings is a thing of beauty. I am not a THBH fan, but his mastery of his style, hitting all manners of angles, on top of the BL (not 20 feet behind said BL), the BHDTL, the drop-shot, the improving net game . . . Novak’s brilliance is in this style and in his ferocity of competitive spirit. Celestial elegance and demonic intensity. This is what has made him, for all intents and purposes, the greatest of all-time. Federer is too angelic and Nadal too ungodly. Novak is the most complete.

  • The draw. I remember tweeting that Novak’s half is stacked before the first ball toss. Someone certainly tossed Medvedev, if you know what I mean. Clear at the beginning and at the end. Bullshit sandwiches for everyone.
  • The stupidity of fanboys and fangirls, again. Such obsession is stupid on arrival, but there was a great example during this tournament of many members of Nolefam missing the forest through the trees and pooping in their pants, again.
  • The future — TOTALLY SPECULATIVE, but some interesting stuff on the future of the tour, where Novak goes from here, etc.
  • Maybe some discussion of GOAT since there seemed to be a lot on the line yesterday in the Men’s final.
    We’ll assess the situation.

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