Let’s Begin Again with some Back to Basics

This has been a tennis blog, but that discombobulated mess has not kept my interest so let’s start with some other basics and get to tennis towards the end here. For this blog to continue I will have to stretch my brain anyways; may as well start now.

I do miss writing. This is a great opportunity to organize my thoughts and put some of these (thoughts) in writing. Engagement with an audience is secondary. Nice to see the numbers, some comments, but to depend on that is equal to having expected the sport of men’s tennis to continue to flourish beyond the big 3.

Indeed, first and foremost I want to write because this activity makes sense for me: my personal health and professional growth. Taking a break from this blog has been partially due to other pursuits and a disruption in the sport; partially due to lack of thriving quality on the ATP court and partially due to my own neglect.

And the day-in-and-day-out distractions, on top of everything, which have coincided with the break in play that began back in 2020, have consumed me. How do you even care about a failing professional sport when the very country you live in is under attack from within. This has been truly insane.

For example, the States of America are (have been from the beginning) a shit show of white supremacy, (gender, racial, ethnic, etc) inequality and horrific capitalist nihilism, all of which are grotesquely intertwined and dependent upon each other.

In the broad sense of the word, this country has been only figuratively united because our historical, social, ethnic, ideological, religious, and moral divisions have been too much to truly overcome; our inherent divisions have been either somewhat tolerated, totally ignored, un- and under reported, and, of course, cosigned for by enough of us.

The very foundation of this country was built for a wealthy white man to wield his power. In the early days of this country’s white civilization (having secured “rights” to erect this experiment in democracy via brutal usurpation of the natives’ lands), only white landowners had the right to vote. Being white didn’t even ensure your right to exercise your vote. The fucked-up, complicated hysteria unleashed across America today revolves around the small (shrinking) minority of wealthy white man’s rule.

“Common” white men and later other “classes” of citizens eventually earned certain rights, which we know are still under attack to this day. The Republican party is attacking American voting rights and other rights as we speak. You should be well aware of all of this, even if you don’t live in this plutocracy.

Funny thing is someone reading this will shake his/her had and say, Mcshow (Matt) is a left-wing nut.

Ha ha — the left is watching this country go up in flames, so I am not aligned with the stereotypical left.

But the attack underway from the right is no fucking joke. You know of what I speak, Gandalf.

So I will have to share my thoughts on this, for really one reason only: I am learning more about this American lie each and every day. I was born into my own white privilege. I have been, like so many of us, slow on the uptake.

Do I think America will be okay, in the end? My optimism is waning, for sure. Our leadership is an absolute horror show. The right is angry, scared and unhinged; the left is incompetent, confused and benefiting from the same kind of privilege that many on the right enjoy.

We are, in short, being governed by a powerful minority, whose power and persistence were edified by this country’s origins. See: The Electoral College.

So, my first basic point of this “Back to Basics” post from Mcshow is America is a shit show (there is really too much one could research and discuss in light of such a statement, so we’re okay with this meaningful tease). Are there “good” things about America? That seems like such a stupid question at this point. We have to put down this crazed pseudo-Christian, extreme hateful conservatism asap, which is, actually, impossible since this is who we are.

To be honest, the collapse of the Pheonix Suns in this year’s NBA playoffs made me wince at not having blogged more consistently, about some of these games, match-ups, etc. I am a life-long sports fan, but don’t really follow each and every game or sport until the playoffs. I follow enough and my insight, fostered in this life-long obsession, is easily unearthed.

I have never been a Chris Paul fan. He has never proven at all to be a player of consequence, which pertains only to post-season play, when teams and players are playing for a title. I have known of Paul’s game from his college days at Wake Forest. He’s a good player, but he has no hardware; his teams, largely under his “leadership,” have always come up short.

The last two years the aging Paul has found a nice place to compete in Phoenix, with a younger team, with a pretty talented roster. They made the NBA Finals last year, lost to Milwaukee, and were certainly en route to the finals again this year. They had the best regular season record in the league this year.

But as the playoffs began, you could see their effectiveness begin to wane.

I told my kid (a burgeoning sport scholar) that this Phoenix team is not built for the playoffs. An analogy can be made, perhaps, with how a tennis player’s game translates from Bo3 to Bo5: the great ones, obviously, will consistently win in the longer format.

In basketball, the best-of-seven game format is a different competition from a one-and-done format that describes the regular season. Phoenix rolls into town, or your team arrives in Phoenix, on Wednesday night and they might run you out of the building. The whole regular season scheduling, game significance, and intensity are different compared to the road to a championship that is the post-season playoffs.

I wish I had been charting this discussion as Phoenix lost a game 7 at home to the big underdog (betting-wise) Dallas Mavericks. A lot more I could say here, but give me a chance to cover that type of context and insight as it develops, as I used to do with the ATP. I wasn’t actually watching this game 7 early-on, but tuned-in and saw the half-time score of Dallas 57, Phoenix 27. Way to show-up for a winner-take-all game 7, at home, as the massive favorite, Chris Paul, et al.

My “Back to Basics” point here is Chris Paul is a pretender and, more to the point, championship conditions construct the legacy.

So, to summarize so far:
1. America is imploding under the panic of a white ruling class’ demise.
2. In sport, championships (competition intensity and competition formats in tow) define character and greatness.

And finally, getting back to tennis and continuing to get “Back to Basics”:

3. The ATP is an unfortunate mess of mediocrity.

My view can be worded even more accurately by suggesting that it’s really unforgivable. I have been saying this for years, really. The prospects of Dominic Thiem, Tsitispas, the younger Canadians (every other month), Zverev to a certain extent (a few years ago), some decent looking Russians, an occasional run by an aging Wawrinka or Del Potro, along with an understandable American bias feigning some excitement for Fritz, Paul, Tiafoe or Opelka painted a kind of silver-lining to my dark clouds covering the ATP.

Bottom line: the fact that Federer (up until a few years ago — though who knows if he’ll rise again to beat more of these young “threatening” goblins of the professional ranks), Nadal and Djokovic have dominated for so long is embarrassing.

Yes, there are two ways of looking at this reign of dominance (we and others have paraded the numbers — a truly unreal dominion of the sport): they are so good or the younger (lost) generations are so bad.

I don’t need some kind of statistical deduction to convince you that the later is the case. Nadal’s win at Melbourne in January is just the latest exhibit in my case — that the field is utter garbage. Of course, if Djokovic hadn’t been banned from that tournament, he would have won AO 2022.

The point is we are in a bad way as far as the field is concerned. If I could jump ahead a few years, I might have that statistical death knell to one’s suggestion that this is more about the preeminence of the Big 3; my resounding, unimpeachable conclusion, that this field has been and continues to be rubbish, will come in the likely results we see in big tournaments on clay and hard courts for sure, over the next couple of years, with such dominance continuing for years to come, barring any injury or other unforeseen change in circumstances: Carlos Alcaraz.

He will likely struggle on grass. He is still quite young. And the Medvedevs of the world will challenge him on hard courts, perhaps. But that’s when you know that the field has been so bad. None could challenge the Big 3 consistently, especially at majors. Our first real threat, and we’re pretty certain he is for real, is an 18 year-old (he turned 19 last week, so follow along here).

In 2022, over 20 years after the start of the Fedalovic reign of terror, we have our next “great” player? Are you fucking kidding me? As Thiem and Medvedev and Zverev and Tsitsipas, et al have continued to founder, we were looking at the Big 3 finally retiring (in 5-6 years the way things were going) and handing this sport off to such behemoths of tennis quality as Sinner, Rublev and so on.

What a disaster.

But here we are. Getting Back to Basics.

I will actually breakdown what’s happened from my POV in the last couple of years/majors and go from there.

Roland Garros is on the horizon and all that is at stake in The City of Lights gives us quite the context.


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