2017 Fedal

2017 Fedal Officially Over and Out

Fun while it lasted, no? The lasting image we have of this amazing year, dubbed 2017 Fedal, looks something like two worn-out veterans smiling, waving to the crowd, who’s on their feet, some crying, as these old legends, empty, victorious and defeated simultaneously, walk away. . .

Think of the various endings that could have wrapped this story of 2017 Fedal. We’ll keep it simple and say 1) that Nadal could have consolidated his YE #1 by bringing a flury of form at the ATP Finals where he’s never won. Or 2) where Federer, though even a little disappointed in not challenging #1 (skipping clay was that forfeiture), lifts his 7th ATP Finals trophy.

Having Federer and Nadal battle each other for this London year-end title would have been the cherry on top, of course.

Of course, none of this occurred.

Some call Nadal’s pull-out of London a failure.

Some will call Federer’s loss in the London SF to Goffin a failure.

The word here is both assessments are correct on some level (and much of this depends on one’s point-of-view), but the year and the way this all ends is such a complicated menagerie of tennis folklore and legend that only Mcshow Blog can possibly wrap it’s tennis imagination around such an affair, such a dramatic story. And indeed we will.

Congrats to David Goffin!

Here’s another small Belgium national flag to honor such a massive win from the Belgian.

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Indeed, I’m taking some credit for this upset, for flying the flag a few days ago and making amends with my Belgian friend, Wilfried. Congrats to all of the Belgian tennis faithful.

I certainly never said Federer had this match in the bag. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Let us now observe Dimitrov’s victory. He can’t possibly lose to Sock can he?

Do you see the irony?

A wrap on the two matches later today or tonight.

Some Belgian ale certainly on tap tonight. ๐Ÿ™‚

Nadalism/FedFan and the WTF

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This post started as a return to the contemplation and reconciliation of Nadalism.

At the end here, on the eve of WTF, I’m confounded by this contradiction involving Nadal. But the appearance of the Fedfan on my blog broadens this post since Nadalism is this institutionalized bias toward the Spanish great and we all know Fedfan shares this oversized enthusiasm for article-1191415-053FFAE1000005DC-754_634x387their own star (I think I have a lot of Federer fan readers, we are all fans of Federer of course, but my more passionate readers, I think, have the wherewithal to keep their wits about them).ย  For sports fans, enthusiasm and passion are a huge part of the playing field, so to speak, granted; but I have clarified on several occasions how this can turn to fanaticism and, voilร : you have what can amount to an ideological booger. Mcshow Blog is not a waste bin for your booger, fanboy.

Speaking of fanboys and girls, did any of you catch some of the social media aftermath of Roger winning several awards yesterday? The back and forth concerning, especially, Federer’s sportsmanship recognition is a five-setter on the toilet. This is bottom-of-the-barrel bullshit from people who can’t see the forest for the trees.

Let’s get to work.

Nadal’s rise to #1 is truly astonishing, but is it?

Here’s the contradiction:ย  I have this impression that Nadal hasn’t been consistent enough throughout his career, year-round, on all the surfaces, at all the “big” tournaments, that despite his clay concentration and other huge accomplishments (H2Hs, majors, masters, etc.), he’s been less of a champion than some of his competitors and historical comps. Part of this argument, by the way, has concerned his style, which might actually be all that’s left when I get done “reconciling” this contradiction. For what it’s worth, that 2017 U.S. Open, where he’s camped 35 feet behind the BL, made my skin crawl. My bad.

So, where does this guy fit into the grand scheme of men’s tennis greatness?

I think I’ve been wrong in my “calculations” and this aforementioned “impression” has, indeed, been part of my own bias. My claim that in 2012, for instance, he was on the proverbial Medical examiner’s table is flawed.

Although the 2015-16 form was truly abysmal (and this, like many of these “things” with Nadal, do add-up), if I hadn’t already lit that part of town with my criticism of Nadal (Nadalism — my bias), I might not even have seen this 2015 and 2016 “sewage” as another episode of the end. From where I was coming from, 2015 (actually might’ve begun in 2014) to 2016 seemed like, again, his run had come to an end.

I might not be so surprised about his 2017 return to #1 (remember, we’ve qualified this already, as well: Djokeray absent, Federer 36 years-old, and the “youth” of the tour a bunch of scared, orphaned kittens).

A post like this is partly a glance at my brain researching parts of a bigger narrative, such as one that I’ve already drafted (HeR FaRT) or others that I have in the works: in the end, this blog is a giant narrative of men’s tennis, hopefully spanning several years. Conveniently, I can just organize some of the pieces into sharper, more crystallized accounts and arguments that better tell the story for interested readers as the time comes and/or the stories manifest themselves.

And I do want to thank that Fedfan for his trouble: he inspired that PSA for the Clown Show; I have a growing assortment of such reprimands or diatribes. Thanks again, fanboy.

For sure, Nadalism is personal: I have to reconcile my Nadal phobia. As 2017 progressed and I watched him play, rise and shine across the men’s championship landscape, his quality did seem almost natural; again, 2015-16 wasn’t that long ago and that latest form failure had been filed amongst the other issues and inconsistencies I’ve seen with Nadal.

Consistency is a huge factor, at least in my “book.” This has been my primary issue with Nadal.

I said earlier that Nadal looked to be fading in 2012. I wasn’t perhaps following as closely then as I am now, but this does look like a flawed account of Nadal that I was writing. Or was it?

Sketch of his rise and fall. . .and rise

As he burst onto the scene in the mid-aughts, he began his initial rise. He was #1 by 2008. This, of course, is the year he won Wimbledon for the first time. He had arrived, establishing this first break from the clay chain. This was his 5th major, adding to his four FO titles.

2009 was an odd year in that he got his first and only AO, but then seemed overcome with injury as he was beaten at Roland Garros, and withdrew at Wimbledon. He did make the USO SF that year, but he got absolutely mugged by the surging Del Potro 2 2 and 2.

2010 was a return to form, especially as the season wore-on. He retired in his QF match with Murray in Melbourne, but then won the next three majors. Back to #1.

Then the rise of Djokovic, seemingly, which complicates the picture. Djokovic owned 2011, winning three majors. Nadal won his customary French title, but relinquished #1 to the Serb.

And this is where I go wrong (or do I?). How can I argue that Nadal was going away when the following events took place:

The 2011 Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals were Djokovic wins against Nadal. Nadal is still around, big time.

The 2012 Australian Open, we recall, was the great Djokovic v Nadal final, the Serb consolidating his 2011 ascent in a breath-taking (for many) five-set war.

The rest of 2012: wins RG, loses 2R at Wimbledon, and withdraws from the U.S. Open.

The absence at the 2012 U.S. Open extends to the 2013 AO; he misses two majors in a row, following a 2R dismissal at Wimbledon. That seemed a bit like a ship grounded and listing in the heavy ATP surf that was a charging Serb, Murray still growing, and Grandpa Federer always lurking.

Then the iconic 2013 FO SF between Djokovic and Nadal, Nadal prevailing in the fifth 9-7. Imagine that going differently? That was his big comeback from the dead. So, in a way, I was right that 2012 and even early 2013 seemed like the Spaniard was sputtering.

He follows his eighth FO with a 1R dismissal at SW19. Again, that Nadal rollercoaster. And it gets better. He wins his 2nd USO that September and goes on to finish #1.

His journey from 2010 #1 to 2013 #1 was a mess. He remained, I will argue, buoyed by that red clay and took enough time-off here and there to make some significant runs at majors not on clay, really the 2010 grass and N.A. hard courts and 2013 N.A. hard courts. We’re not looking at Masters titles in this time-frame, but his summer hard courts were fairly successful; he swept Canada and Cincinnati in 2013.

This is so complicated because of the other players Nadal was battling for these titles, especially Djokovic, who came along just in time to prevent Nadal from really running amok on tour. That’s another discussion for another day.

Then the 2014 to 2016 swoon (I cleverly added a year ๐Ÿ˜‰ , which is typical Nadal, really. And then 2017, which is brilliant and complicated, as well.

So, where do I come-out on this? What’s up with Nadal? I do think it’s important to put Federer’s time-off in 2016 into perspective; that was his first extended break from tour. Nadal has had several “breaks” throughout his career. When this kind of time-off is granted, players can return full of health, fitness and form. People want to point to Federer in 2017 as a good example, but this has been Nadal’s M.O. throughout his career.

We will see how this informs Djokovic, especially, in 2018.

And we know part of this inconsistency with Nadal is his playing style. This, supposedly, explains his extended absences. But it is also something to consider. When the Nadal fans have been naturally offended by the drug accusations, they’re going to have to take some of that because he’s missed extended periods of tennis, only to return to form and continue to win majors. Either way, that seems a bit unconventional, to say the least.

I am not calling him a drug cheat. But these down-cycles in his career have to be taken into account either way. In the end, I think he really is just injured a lot.

I decided to revisit some of this narrative at this time because of the WTF, kicking-off tomorrow.

In this story of Nadal, this year-end tournament has proven to be a huge problem. One can complicate and reconcile until he’s blue in the face the career of Nadal. He’s one of the greats, no doubt, in all of his peak-to-valley-to-peak complexity and phenomenal competitive greatness and nuance (and obsessive compulsive disorder).

But the WTF has eluded this particular great. There is no argument here.

Which is part of my conjecture that this will be his year, as I think such a mark (zero WTF titles) is a tough pill to swallow in this gargantuan debate and tennis discourse we know and love.

Indeed, the idea is that the tennis gods would provide this vulnerable champion his missing treasure.

My brain says Federer’s form is too good for any of these top eight. He thrives on the indoor court, at this time of year (especially with the Serb on the shelf). Federer’s new and improved offense (and defense, especially that ROS) should prove to be tough for these youngsters and even Nadal to overcome.

I will say, however, which I almost always warned even back in 2015 when Federer found so many deep draws and Djokovic standing between him and the title: he has to serve well. When his spot serve is as brilliant as it can be (110 mph aces), he is virtually impossible to beat at this point.

But stranger things have happened. And now that Moya’s insistence that Nadal is 100% is being countered with Nadal’s own recent suggestion that his knee is not 100% and that he could, in fact, not make his match Monday. . .who is to know.

We will have a much better read as play gets underway.

2017 Nitto ATP Finals Commentary

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Between little posts like this and comments from you all, we should be able to keep the tennis IQ pretty high as these men enter battle in a couple of days for a very prestigious title at the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals.

Let’s get this out of the way: seeing someone other than Fedal win would be a tremendous development, for this guy’s career (whoever that may be), and for the ATP story going into 2018. Just as all of these “youngsters” try to forget their 2017 beat-downs from Fedal, here comes Djokovic (on a mission), Murray, Wawrinka, et al. The “middle and lower class” of the tour need all of the help they can get; and a win from the non-Fedal contingent in London next week would bolster the rebel forces (the Star Wars analogies work too well).

Dimitrov winning is perhaps one of the popular dark horse wagers. His in-form tennis can be a struggle for any opponent. This would be a huge final statement on 2017 if the Bulgarian can come-up with a title here. Making the final would be very promising, but that’s not enough at this point, for this guy. Dimitrov, as many have, would get Federer in a SF. A win there and he gets Nadal in a final. Deja-vu or breakthrough? This guy has the tennis to challenge, but can he slay these dragons? The time is now, Grigor.

Thiem is so fun to watch, a run from the Austrian would be unreal, as in marvelous. But unless he can come-to-net a bit, finish some points more quickly, hit that BH DTL as well, find his diabolical serve. . .he’ll just continue to fatigue in this hard court of tennis jurisprudence. He is way under the radar here, even from my vantage point; but his form can be electric and Thiem, who’s had success against some of these other top guys, isn’t afraid. The concern is his record of late, but I remind everyone to imagine if Del Potro doesn’t come back from the dead in that 4R USO match: who knows but then again, who cares? Such is the way of the tennis court room and Thiem needs to make a brilliant closing argument on his 2017 case. Beliem in Thiem.

Goffin is here for a reason. I still think next week’s Davis Cup final and his overall game doesn’t quite set-up here in London, but who knows. If Nadal is vulnerable, hopefully Goffin can expose that with some sharp ground strokes and tennis fortitude. Nothing to lose should be the Belgian’s motto.

Zverev is another outsider favorite. He’s won some big matches, beaten some big-time opponents. Many have him in the SF with Federer.

Cilic has the game, obviously, to win some matches, too. He’s done okay on hard courts in his career ๐Ÿ˜‰

Finally, Sock has to be flying pretty high right about now. What a year. IW SF, Laver Cup, Paris and now London, just to name a few. He could be peaking at the right time and with a new lease on life (maturity), who knows.

Seeing the pictures of the WTF gala, catching word that Federer is gobbling-up year-end awards, etc., the collective non-Fedfan contingent (hopefully even the players) have to have had about enough. Too good from Federer all year. Embarrassment of riches.

That’s a big reason I don’t see this ending with Federer. I sensed he was primed for Shanghai and Basel when I called those victories. Here in London I don’t see the Swiss holding the trophy. If Nadal declines and Federer’s Becker boys only want an autograph from the Maestro, well, then it’s full-steam ahead for the FedExpress.

But there’s a twist here at the end; I’m just giving you a heads-up. The tennis gods, tennis narrative, history, the rebels vs. the Evil Empire, whatever you want to call this or however your planets align and spin: What started in Melbourne in January ends here in November London, in the cold, where 2017Fedal will finally come to a close. . .

Yes, aside from the fact that I beliem in Thiem, I also believe in karma (macro equilibrium, balance, etc.). Federer winning here would break the scales.

To be continued.

Another post is coming later today, in which I continue to reconcile my struggle with Nadalism. Is it fact or fiction? Am I onto something or living next to that big river: Denial? The complexity of it all. I love it. And love hashing this out at Mcshow.

To be clear, I can’t wait for Sunday morning PST when this 2017 Nitto ATP Finals gets to tossing some tennis balls into the air. Get your popcorn ready, folks.

Stick around here for discussion and more analysis. We’re just getting warmed-up.

2017 Nitto ATP Finals Draw

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Singles โ€“ Group Pete Sampras
[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP)
[4] Dominic Thiem (AUT)
[6] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)
[7] David Goffin (BEL)

Singles โ€“ Group Boris Becker
[2] Roger Federer (SUI)
[3] Alexander Zverev (GER)
[5] Marin Cilic (CRO)
[8] Jack Sock (USA)

There you have it. We suspect, only just beginning here to sip our morning tea, on first alert, that Nadal has a much easier draw, but then again he’s injured. And this is a funny sport, so often things aren’t quite as they may appear.

All things being equal, Zverev and Cilic (even Sock to a certain extent) are the most dangerous, outside Fedal, given their power. The only player in Group Sampras with some kind of dark horse stride would appear to be Dimitrov, but we know how reliable is that guy’s form.

Thiem seems pretty worn-out, not his favorite surface, and I just don’t see Goffin with enough on the hard courts to really take charge here. Of course, if Nadal is really limping around, then that group is wide open.

Federer begins with Sock (Sock may be in the best form of Group Becker’s bottom three); Federer could have his hands full.

What, then, is our take on Nadal, readers? Is it safe now to say he was pulling Guy Forget’s leg (pun intended)? Pulling-out of Paris like that (27 apologies) was then a nod to the security of YE #1 and an opportunity to rest for the WTF?

That actually makes more sense, but all of the reports of him blowing smoke up Forget’s skirt (sorry, Guy) and all of the medical reports (published on social media, mind you) that claimed his medical team had determined that this was the same knee issue and that playing London was probably not worth the cost, given the Spaniard’s desire to play well in 2018 and on; makes this a bit of a another case of smoke-and-mirrors.

Nadal could have secured another 1000, given what transpired in Paris, most likely if his knee was actually okay. Either way, he’s in London and has the group make-up to sail easily into the final four.

Remember, earlier I said my hunch was this would end for Nadal winning his first WTF; just been that kind of year, folks. The cards have been dealt and he looks good.

But what about the knee?

Qualifying 2017 Fedal

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See my previous post where I addressed the rise of Nadal to #1, in retrospect, and how that might have stung with my apparent insight over a year ago when I buried him along with his kitchen sink (as the saying goes). But I hint at the end of that last post that this year, this claim, becomes a bit complicated, as well (with many things Nadal).

And too I need to remind everyone that there really wasn’t any negative bias in 2017 from me as I recorded and made commentary that was both fair and celebratory regarding the play of the 16-major Spaniard.

I was just being honest and reminding you all myself that I had been quite tough on the guy in the past, as I think said toughness was warranted. I am not the tennis status quo. I am not a mainstream media hype doctor. I-call-it-like-I-see-it.

I want to back-up even further and look at 2017, focusing on the background for a bit, which took-on a certain blur with the mess of fireworks going-off in the foreground, which amounts to Fedal splitting the four majors and putting a strangle-hold on the entire season.

As we turn to the eve of the World Tour Finals in London that begin November 12, we know and will continue to digest all that has happened this season. Remarkable, incredible, truly historical stuff from Fedal in 2017 that took the tennis world, record books and athlete expectations, among other things, by storm.

Be that as it may, we need to talk about the season in light of what didn’t happen. Or more significantly who didn’t happen. As astonishing as 2017 was in terms of the Fedal dominance, the continued emergence of Sascha, some other gems from next-Gens like Tiafoe and Shapovalov, Fedal had minimal competitive obstacles or distractions (other than age, especially in Federer’s case, which makes his year even more unbelievable, obviously).

The absence of Murray and Djokovic made the bigger, more meaningful draws much easier to navigate. The previous #1 and #2 in the world were, it’s safe to say, not nearly 100% in the first half of the year, and both finally bowing-out for good at or around Wimbledon. As the US Open Series opened-up (N.A. hard courts) the virtual rest of the 2016 top-ten went away on injury-leave for good, too. The Wawrinka-Nishikori-Raonic-et al. clan seemed to buy-in on this sabbatical.

And let’s get this straight: this was Federer’s first “sabbatical.” I’ve read bullshit fanboy/girl garbage about how Federer taking so much time-off is almost unfair, blah blah blah. Federer’s absence from the 2016 French Open was his first miss at a major his ENTIRE career. Even the “sudden” surge from Federer in 2017 was framed as a “surprise.” We’ve been over this: Federer’s previous majors, the ones he played prior to 2017 AO went: SF 2016 WB, SF 2016 AO, F 2015 USO, F 2015 WB.

2017, I’ve argued, wasn’t shocking from Fed in terms of results. His form, more accurately, was what had changed. His court position, BH and that business-end of the point/game/set and match might’ve been different. But not so much the results.

The field was different, though, too. The Djokeray absence, especially the missing Djoker, was another significant difference, or change. But not necessarily the quality of tennis. Just look at the data.

Back to the injuries. We’re not going to leaf through the annals of tennis history to verify, but I feel pretty confident that the ATP injury-list we saw by mid-summer 2017, of the kind of talent that had gone away, was unprecedented. As if no one wanted any part of Fedal.

Of course, the discussion around injury, as a result of the schedule, gained momentum throughout the light-weight tennis commentary with which the sport is unblessed. That’s another discussion for another day, but I was certainly reminding folks of a few other factors that play into this stream of injury.

Did Nadal and Federer benefit from this weakness at the top (and mid-section)? Yes. No question. We can only hope that they have this same (or similar) form next season.

But the other part of this weakness of the 2017 tour (to qualify the dominance of Fedal) is the complete shitshow that is the lost boys/generation/etc. This is not just about Dimitrov and Nishikori and Raonic. This is a tennis-plague of staggering proportions. It’s as if the legends are on some kind of performance enhancing drug, just them, just the Federer/Nadal/Djokovic contingent. Of course, I am not making that argument. But the sport is a mess, really.

Look at Paris-Bercy, for instance. Or any number of other tournaments this year where the usual suspects were nowhere to be found.

Congratulations to Jack Sock. He’s actually not a complete imposter, but you know what I am talking about.

I don’t have the energy here to go through a bunch of examples, but Grigor sure is easy to find. Of course, I was terribly interested in his early season results as he mounted quite a charge that actually started toward the end of 2016. He mastered a solid draw in Brisbane this year before his great run in Melbourne. He has to beat Nadal there in that SF. But he didn’t.

He lost his ass in IW with MPs and the USO utter failure, coming-off his first Masters title in Cincy, has to be the biggest tennis turd this side of Djokollapse (I will never let Djokovic off-the-hook on that one, sorry). Dimitrov is a disaster. As the USO draw imploded, already weakened by the exodus of frightened top-tenners, that Nadal bracket up-top was especially horrid.

I completely digress (but not really). Is Sascha Zverev really going to inherit the tennis earth? With Djokovic, especially, coming for scalps in 2018, I can only wish the German a lot of luck. I half-jokingly said recently that the younger one is at this point the more hope and promise he has. I fathomed that the unborn represent the sport’s future (ummm, you’re stating the obvious there, Mcshow. True, but I’m trying to underscore the crisis and see if anyone out there is awake).

Folks, this discussion of the rest-of-the-field is terribly disheartening. I beliem in Thiem, and so do you. The Americans have a couple of youngsters as do the Canadians. The Canadians. . . between FAA and Denis the 18 y/o tennis super star, the future is. . . . completely unfounded. We can only hope.

Think of the gap established in 2017 between Fedal and the rest of the tour. The two legends practically toyed with the field. They’re not even close, can’t even whiff these gents’ after shave, let alone tennis genius.

Why not? WTF (and we’re not talking about London here, but rather what the bloody fuck is wrong with the rest of the field?)!

It’s two sides of the same coin: brilliant we have so much greatness at the top and an incomprehensibly shitty rest of the population. The inequality (and this rings true in more ways than one) is massive. Again, think of how far the tour’s 2017 “promise” was from Fedal.

Which brings me to Federer, who at 36 years old, really shouldn’t be doing what he’s doing. This is absolute insanity. He’s 36.

Were you as baffled reading my 2017 Basel Final: the French Connectionย post as I was writing it? Do you want to know the thesis of that piece? It was actually pretty simple.

Federer is old. That’s it. That’s all I was really trying to say. The Basel final was brutal to watch. He was agonizing. He had to play the tournament. He knew he couldn’t chase-down #1 because he couldn’t back that up with a Paris win. Why not? Because he’s old.

He got himself into this situation because. . . he’s old. He skipped the entire European clay calendar. Skipped it. I wrote about how significant that would be. I said he’s retiring. Why? Because he’s old.

That’s where I was going with the racquet. Folks, the real reason he’s SO GOOD this year? His racquet looks like something Nadal would use; it should be illegal. I don’t recall the specs now, but Federer, probably to his chagrin since he’s a traditional guy, sure enough, went to a ginormous racquet with the forgiveness of a rules official working the clock at a Nadal or Djokovic match.

I remember really seeing this in stark definition vs. Mannarino in Basel. Mannarino’s racquet looks like a jacuzzi on a stick. And Federer’s is right there, big as a tear drop from God who sees the sport circling the drink, having resorted to this hyper-drive of equipment and style that’s rendering this circus. God, help us!

Indeed, this just clarified the age of the Maestro. Brilliant stuff this year, playing his part in the 2017Fedal epic; but the signs are there as well, folks, again, obviously.

At least he’s got himself in seemingly good enough shape to represent in London.

This might not be something his other half, Nadal, can say, as we turn our attention to this fiasco, of Nadal missing the WTF.

Folks, with a bum knee, why would Nadal play Paris? After Shanghai, skipping Basel and Paris should have been the program. The WTF takes precedence over the year’s final Masters. This is not even debatable, not given Nadal’s company in the sport, given his history at this event. Given the prestige of being #1.

If your knee was sore, you should have waited to secure your YE ranking in London.

I actually thought he might catch London, right place at the right time. We’ll see what happens. Maybe he still does play and maybe he wins his first WTF. But it’s not looking good. On many levels.

The more things change (I have to say it, with apologies. . .), the more they stay the same or plus รงa change, plus c’est la mรชme chose . . . ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

Nadal and My Stream-of-Consciousness

I’m in the business of trying to explain myself. That’s how this works, this blog at least.
My last post was all over the place, but still an impressive piece of stream-of- consciousness. No? Well, let’s just agree to disagree on that one. ๐Ÿ˜€

Thanks again to Wilfried for his article on top players’ connections to Paris-Bercy. As I said a few weeks back, I would like to build a little staff of contributors that will only add depth to this greatest tennis blog on the planet. I like the idea of variety since this could discourage you all from getting, perhaps, too tired of my crazy (genius) tennis imagination ๐Ÿ˜‰

We need blogs like this one here more than we can imagine, I’m afraid. Obviously, I write about tennis, but you’ll probably see a move to address more topics and conversations as this lovely world of ours continues to seemingly spin out of control.

On and off the tennis court, what in the hell is going-on?

To stay off-court for a second here (pardon the social commentary), the “world” and its mainstream media are ill, have been plagued with greed and other deadly sins (hence the importance of “other” media even if many social media are, in fact, obnoxious and, as we’re learning more and more, actually a terribly effective sociopolitical tool used against our better judgment, both personally and politically).

America, my home, seems to be leading the way on this theme park-like ride of crazy and reckless political and social themes. I am ashamed of so much of this recent political swill that we’ve all been forced to consume. Politics, from my limited perspective, has always been a corrupt kind of incomprehensible world of people pursuing power often saying almost anything to get votes, more power, attention, people scared, sympathetic, etc. At this point, people are angry, confused, defensive and scared.

With my little voice, I apologize, on behalf of my America. At the same time, we’re definitely not alone in running this horror show, but we have, for awhile, maintained a strong leadership position in this very threatening government-by-the-financially-powerful (which seems inherently greedy and disinterested in living and breathing species and their environments – schools, the actual environment, food, etc.).

To be fair, the system is really the issue, so even Trump, in my humble opinion, in the end, signifies just our latest messenger, or by-product (the horror). In other words, the illness is much bigger than the clown-like, narcissistic orange man who sits in the White House. But enough of this dreary and depressing discourse that almost no matter what you or I say, or how we say it becomes, for readers, a kind of diatribe rife with personal politics, ideology and defensive dialogue disguised as thoughtful debate.

Back to tennis.

Nadal is out in Paris due to injury, the right knee still the issue.
Yes, the old right knee, the one I documented here in Shangahi:

After Shanghai, he didn’t play Basel because of the knee. The knee appears to be what’s kept him out of finishing Paris (unless he suspected the draw would finish him off).

What about London? Curious why not, if the knee was that bad, sit-out Paris and give himself over three weeks of rest to prepare for what is the WTF, where the best-of-the-best square-off. We can defend Nadal until we’re blue and long in the tooth, but this decision to play Paris and put London in total jeopardy (not sure how he can conceivably play London if the knee is that bad that he can’t play a qualifier in Paris QF) seems a bit suspicious.

You can hear the voices: Is he dodging Federer?

Given he only needed one win at either Paris or London to consolidate the YE #1, is that what he did in Paris? I guess that’s a smart move if he’s too hurt to play a single full tournament. Consolidate #1 and call it a year. This has to be what he’s considering at this point. Why even go to London at this point?

How you feel about this set of circumstances depends on who you are. Some will find his move here practical; even the likes of Guy Forget think Nadal was professional in his decision to play Paris (at least a couple of rounds). Some will consider the #1 well-earned, the fruit of a remarkable year of tennis from AO through to the USO, winning 2 of 3 majors, making the final in a third, dominating clay, in the end doing enough to accumulate the most points needed to reach YE #1.

Others will call him out and say he got lucky and that this effort here, skipping Basel, bowing-out of Paris and skipping London is not a very stout representation of world #1.

Hopefully, you consider both viewpoints, and the several in-between, that your position is thoughtful and complicated because this situation is pretty complicated.

#1 is a huge achievement. Nadal and everyone around the sport knows this.

Despite however I feel about the knee and his finding #1 almost by default (although I will clarify Federer’s role in this in a minute), I have to eat a little crow on Nadal and say to everyone out there that apparently ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

Are you familiar with my criticism of Nadal? About a year prior to that criticism, my critique of the flawed Fedal H2H hit the newsstands.

Referring here to the articles in which I explained my coined “Nadalism,” I was very tough on Rafa. These were penned in the winter of 2016, where he was still struggling to even be taken seriously on the tennis court of the time. 2015 represents a really low point for the Spaniard, so I had all of that informing these February articles/posts. He was embarrassing. Here’s a quick glance at his 2015, but remember that these numbers, like most statistical analysis, often do not tell even half the story; the eye test almost always proves to be the best discovery. His shot from both sides was short, impotent and his usual on-court aura of intimidation and confidence, gone.

Of course, I remember having a similar thought in 2012 about Rafa: he’s done.

And then we recall 2013.

But 2015 and 2016 were bad and given that the guy was getting into his 30s, I had had enough of the ever-injured, always volatile, always clay Rafael Nadal.

So, I have to be absolutely humbled by the tennis of 2017, no? Yes and no. The resurgence of Fedal has been quite the narrative, one that I have documented consistently on this old blog (#2017Fedal). His Australian Open run was truly incredible and he had the break on Federer in the 5th. He seemed to “normalize” a bit after that on the spring hard courts, leading into clay. And then, of course, he went berserk. We know how this season has panned-out for Nadal. We will always look amazed at his USO draw. But that’s not his fault. The numbers don’t lie.

Watching his run unfold throughout the year, I am not that shocked by #1. Watching the tennis in real time, we were able to see the campaign unfold before our very eyes.

Taking a step back, however, and not hiding from anything I’ve said on these pages of this blog, I am quite shocked how the tennis gods facilitated the rise of a 31 year old Nadal to #1 in the world. I have to acknowledge my very critical commentary on the crafty lefty. Even if you aren’t going to call me out, there you have it.

But as the season winds-down, we also have to acknowledge that this hasn’t ended all that great for the Spaniard (how in the hell do I say THAT after he reaches YE #1 for a 4th time in 2017, tying Johnny Mac, Lendl, and Novak. Remarkable stuff!).

Word is he’s probably not even playing London. We’re still in the land of speculation, but that’s almost certain to materialize in the next few days. More hard courts, along with the top eight players on tour, including one very hungry and motivated five-time WTF champ.

I stand by my assertion that we will know who is truly POY after Paris and London. Roger got that disturbing Basel title out-of-the way and has skipped Paris to prepare for London. Why? Because the WTF is the fifth major, folks. WTFs and YE #1s are practically a combined reward for a season’s dominance.

As I’ve said, Nadal is the player of the year as we speak. Points, No. 1, two majors, a third final. . .tough to argue.

But if Federer wins the WTF, his case will be equally impressive. Look at WTF and YE #1s. They’re quite the parallel, practically synonymous. I thought Nadal would be healthy enough for this ever-important end-of-the-year test after his self-inflicted right knee injury in Shanghai ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  I thought he’d make London a priority.

At the same time, he’s still #1. . .

To be continued. . . tomorrow, where we qualify 2017, aka the Murkovic disappearance and ATP field implosion, and how a 36 year-old ended-up really playing like a 36 year-old, including his God-forsaken racquet!

Stay-tuned. We have a lot of work to do!

Nadal Injured in Shanghai?

Scroll to 5:00 on this highlight where Nadal dumps his volley into the net and loses his serve, after trying to consolidate his break of Cilic in the second set. He’s pissed.

So pissed that he takes two swipes at his right knee with his racket. Is that good for the knee? Probably not.

In the final vs. Federer he had a wrap on that right knee. He wasn’t wearing any sort of wrap prior to that, prior the beating he gave his knee after that failed volley.

The way this goes at this point:

BASEL, Switzerland (AP) โ€” Top-ranked Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the Swiss Indoors next week, denying fans a possible final against Roger Federer.

Nadal says he’s taking medical advice to protect “over stressing of the (right) knee.”

He says the injury affected him last week in Shanghai, where he lost the final to Federer in two sets.

Federer’s win over Nadal was a fifth straight against his longtime rival. That streak started in Basel in 2015 when Federer won the final of his hometown tournament.

In Nadal’s absence, the No. 2-ranked Federer will be top-seeded as he seeks an eighth Basel title.

______________________________

We understand the gamesmanship all of these blokes employ. But I’m not sure this sudden right knee condition wasn’t a bit of a self-inflicted wound and/or part of his personal PR machine.

I think he probably does need a break. Nice little run from the Spaniard. Did his knee compromise his play in the Shanghai final? Maybe. Was that injury from all of the ass-kicking he did in NYC and China? Not sure. He might have run-up against a buzz-saw.

The next question will be answered when we see Federer’s schedule, which has to include Basel. Does he follow that with a run at Paris with only a week-off before London?

#1 seems pretty much out-of-reach for Federer unless he were to go for broke, and win 2/3 or all of these remaining events and Nadal were to fade, continue to struggle with that knee . . .