2017 Federer

Nitto ATP Finals Day 3: Federev v Zvererer and A Sock Star is Born


First set seems like less a chess match and more of a show of intimidation. I like the tennis actually, the players showing-off the breadth of their skills: aces, two wing weaponry, serve & volley, swinging volleys, trying to assert their dominance simultaneously. Watch the game at 5-5. Tense stuff, tight. Don’t just look at the tennis quality in a vacuum, people: this is Federer v Zverev, ATP Finals and we all know this is essentially the final, the sequel played in a few days.

I really need to keep this short.

I’m hearing people say the tennis was error-prone, less than magnifique, but I say it had the tension of a heavy-weight bout with some big-time tennis.

First set is, we’ll call it, pretty even; but I thought Federer looked better. Nonetheless, to the TB they go, and though Federer gets off to a miserable start, Zverev blinked (barely). Federer even saves a set point at 5-6 and triumphs at 8-6.

You should know the story, at this point. Federer breaks game one in the second set, looking to close this deal in straights. But he’s broken twice, subsequently and loses the set 5-7. He comes hard in the third at 1-1, breaks and runs-away, leaving the uber-talented German with a breakstick.

Again, one can whine all they want about the errors, etc., but this was very high-stake tennis. Federer’s box looked nauseous. The court looked tense (Federer showing all kinds of agitation, especially in that second set), warm, and thickly merchandised with class; this IS the class of the tournament unless Dimitrov or Sock want in on this.

Federer’s FS continues to be a point of discussion here. The weapon abandoned him a bit at the end of that first set, especially the TB there when they alternated some massive points, even SPs. But the slice-BH seemed to curve to the rescue for world #2.

By the way. . .That double-handed BH hasn’t just, stylistically, taken a dump on the more classic BH; it often prevents guys from developing a slice, which only means that the argument I’ve subtly championed all along (that the more classic, traditional tennis is superior) needs, of course, more time and energy from me to drive this home.

To be clear: the slice, a brilliant, often overlooked shot, brought-up today in the Fed v Sascha match, is another resounding reason to stay classy.

I only caught the end of the Sock v Cilic match. Sock is doing some things on the court right about now. Look at the scorelines from Paris-Bercy. He has several big wins of which he drops the first set and roars back in Sock fashion. This roaring style is only getting more refined.

I only saw the tail end when the match could have gone either way. Sock came up huge. The BH played an enormous part here. And some of that retrieving foot speed continues to impress all kinds of critics and players alike.

Bravo to Sock and Federer.

Zverev v Sock is going to be must see, folks.

I like Sock in this but I’m an American so don’t you dare listen to anything I have to say. . . on anything!

Ha ha.

Stay tuned!

2017 Basel Final: the French Connection

federer-sky-10292017.aspx

Federer wins Basel (his 8th) and pulls-out of Paris. I said in an earlier comment: “I think it would almost benefit Federer to go out early in Paris. He looks off. Winning the WTF has much more consequence (especially historically).”

Good decision. The best part of that quote/comment is the part about he’s off. Not the most enjoyable final on Sunday, from either side. I’ve heard folks say it was a great match. Granted, there were many twists and turns, three sets with a potentially pivotal first set TB. And the shots were here and there, the dramatic BP saves, the breaks of serve, etc.

But the FederPotro Saga and the year-end drama (the fact that this bizarre year is coming to a close) seem to overshadow the actual tennis, not to mention the idea that Federer is more nervous in Basel than he is on the clay against Nadal.

Federer looked edgy, tight, annoyed.

Federer’s FS chimed-in at 52% (53/101).  That seems to convey a physical issue. The headline regarding his withdraw from Paris Masters is either his back injury is back, or he’s taking preventative measures to ensure “the back” doesn’t come back. Either way, he’s 36 and has a history of back issues, it’s November (Happy Halloween, everyone) and he’s had a very rigorously physical year.

I’m sticking to my guns. Sunday’s final should’ve been a straight-set win. He had it in the bag, in the first, serving for set, or up 3-0 in the TB. In the end, he gifted Juan a Swiss chocolate before going 4 and 3 and lifting number 8. But the agitation and tight tennis it took to get there. . .

I recall one of our readers/commenters wondering if Federer could take-in more 250s and 500s, as a way to extend his career, etc. I responded pretty emphatically, “No.”

A rationale was provided but this Basel tournament was enough to convince anyone that these tournaments are beside the point and really pretty unnecessary if you’re a big-picture person with majors and masters filling-in your ATP landscape. He had to play Basel, from what most of us understand; he was obligated, by contract. The tournament carries a lot of meaning, memories, etc. He’s been in the final eleven times. Once upon a time he worked the tournament as a ball-boy. He carried the damn thing on his back!

So this final, especially, to my point, was hard to watch. Seemed almost unnecessarily necessary. Even though he was probably never going to play Paris this week, Basel made sure of that.

We suspect a run at #1 really became too much of a reach after the USO QF (although that bird had already been shot and cooked months earlier).

But still. Play Basel, to skip Paris, and forego the chase for #1.

As I watched this Basel final, even some of the other matches of this tournament, my mind wondered a bit (as will this post).

The 2017 narrative has everything to do with Fedal, injury and the lost sport (the “lost boys” paradigm has gone almost mushroom-cloud as we start to wonder about the championship character these legends are bestowing future generations).

Why does Denis Shapovalov seem more dangerous than Grigor Dimitrov or even Kei Nishikori? The younger the player is at this point, the more promise he has. Really it’s the unborn that gives us hope now.

Never, in the history of this sport, was a 36 year-old beating top tennis players 5-10 years younger. Nadal is right behind him, at 31, and Djokovic will most likely add to this ruination in 2018, the Serb turning 31 in May.

And what was to be a Fedal battle for #1, Nadal has secured YE #1. Most of the story is right here:

Nadal played in 9 of 9 Masters events this year.
Federer played in 4 of 9. Simple math, folks.

Numerically, Nadal just has the edge.

This is a huge accomplishment. Federer would be lying if he said #1 didn’t matter. Futhermore, he would have to acknowledge his own responsibility in this failure.

And this all unraveled for him back in May, when the tour was in Rome. Not sure if you can follow this, but I was writing about Rome when the announcement came, that Federer was skipping the French. I responded in only the way I can. I interrupted the post I was writing and turned my attention to the announcement, the terrible news that it was. I complicate the discussion: I agree Federer should’ve skipped some clay in the past (we’ve talked about this a lot), but skipping this year just seemed really unfortunate, for the tour, for the tennis, for him. The last lines of that post read:

Wow. Sorry about the oddity of this post. Began writing about Rome and wanted to throw some Djokerfan rumor-mill into the garbage. Then Federer pulls the plug on Paris. Wow.

Again: this reads true farewell tour. This is it, folks. London and NYC, WTF and that’s all she wrote. The only explanation.

I spoke of retirement, etc. Granted, he’s probably not retiring after London; why would he? The point I’m making is . . .  that was a very consequential move to skip the clay.

Sure, he was healthy enough then to win Wimbledon.

But now, despite probably playing the best tennis on tour, he has no shot at #1.

And playing Basel reinforced all of this. He’s been on his farewell tour for about 3 years. Djokovic was the only player who could beat him (again, the lost boys saga is now a zombie movie where the ATP field is more or less the walking dead to Fedal and Novak’s reigns of terror).

The French announcement was, for me, a big tell. Which relates to my thoughts on Basel.

Playing without a first serve, committing 40 UEs and looking and sounding like he’s a frustrated middle-aged guy teaching his son how to play, wanting perhaps to go inside and have dinner (it’s getting cold out here!), have Juan finish is homework and go to bed; all of this brought me a sense that reality isn’t this #2017 Fedal fantasy.

Sure, Mcshow is nostalgic.

Remember the 2012 French Open QF between these two?

Switzerland Federer      3 6 6 6 6
Argentina del Potro  6 7 2 0 3

Was 2017 Basel a microcosm of that epic, where Federer hands the man a lead and then circles the wagon?

Who’s to say . . .

Sorry for the delay in writing; the final was certainly anti-climactic; perhaps a foreshadow to the rest of the year.

And now that THAT is out of my system, I will carry-on, despite another very troubling thought. . .

Federer’s tennis racquet is a depressing state of affairs . . . this helped explain some of my disinterest in the final as this weapon of choice caught my attention, particularly.

To be continued . . .

The FederPotro Saga and Tsonga

Tsonga should handle Pouille in the Austrian tennis tournament final tomorrow. But you never know. If Jo Willy prevails, it’s his, I think, fifth title of the year. Holy shit! Go, Jo Willy (though I like that other guy’s game, too, despite his sophomore slump).

Federer should handle Del Potro tomorrow in Basel, but this one has even more intrigue. Del Potro has won here twice (def. Fed in the final each time in ’12 and ’13), Del Potro has beaten Federer this year in another big match (USO QF), and Del Potro is playing for London qualification. In other words, the Argentine has much to play for and confidence with which to compete.

us-open-2526739w620On top of that, there’s a little injury rumor making the rounds, regarding DelPo. Someone asked Roger about it in his presser, and he clearly is a little annoyed. He said he heard about it in Shanghai, yet the gentle giant made the SF. He heard the big guy was scanned by a physician last week- then the big guy won Stockholm. And here he is in another final with this little pet injury rumor. Roger isn’t buying the injury bullshit. He said he’s prepared to play against a healthy enough Juan Del Potro. And, granted, everyone has a little niggle or two, but injury is a big, touchy use of the language.

Federer obviously looked better today, but as I mentioned in some recent comments, he was literally on the verge of losing that QF match against the Frenchman. Federer acknowledged that today. There were a couple of points I can think of that were very pivotal (Mannarino in the third set dumping that short floater into the net – easy put-away; and Roger coming-up with that BH half volley from the BL that miraculously beat Mannarino who was coming to net following a wicked ROS. . .and that was just those two points). As Federer said: that match got pretty complicated.

One of the reasons today’s SF v Goffin was so much more one-sided was the flight of the ball from Goffin’s racket, not to mention his court positioning. Mannarino played a much more aggressive style, up on the BL and much flatter, difficult groundies. The Mannarino match was frantic and Federer, quite frankly, had to be almost lucky, as I’ve said now a couple of times, to get through that. Goffin is further back and his ball spins and sits-up so much more.

And regardless of the opponent or the style, if Federer is getting a good look and crack with the FH, especially, he’s blistering the ball. I don’t see Del Potro moving well enough tomorrow to beat Federer, unless, as Tracy Austin said earlier today, Juan’s first serve is up around 70%. He’s mashing the serve right now, and he has the ability to stay calm and cool in such an environment that enables players to stick-around and perhaps make a little magic, even against Federer in Basel (which Juan has done before, obviously).

But I think to exchange with Roger point to point, he will be tested big-time and if he is at all compromised physically. . . Federer prevails in straights.

The only reason I say straights is I think Federer is a bit annoyed and perhaps wants to make a case – against Del Potro, and for the outside shot he has at #1. According to Annacone, he’s more nervous in Basel than he is at any other venue throughout the year. So, this might make him even more touchy and a bit rude, to go with the annoying excuse-machine he might perceive across the net tomorrow.

If Del Potro prevails, and we know he can, this is yet another reason why he’s anything but a clumsy, BL grinder; never heard that one.

To beat Federer, you have to have a bit of class. The tall drink of water that is Juan Del Potro is, indeed, a tall glass of class.

Fed: “pas assez” to this French Revolution

f4dfc7639d4ade3d08ff399a3b1174e9

Gerard Stricher

An autumnal 2017 French uprising is underway, my fellow Tennisians. On this eve of the season’s final Masters, in picturesque Paris, some French tennis players have attempted an early siege of this final leg of the European indoors.

In Vienna, Gasquet took-out first-round opponent Feli Lopez, but more significantly, the tournament’s second-seed, and virtual hometown favorite, Thiem met his own demise at the Frenchman’s racket. Pouille and Gasquet met and combined their strengths in the QF which put Pouille into that bottom SF where he’ll play Edmund.

In the top half, you know what just happened there: the dangerously unpredictably seasoned Tsonga continued to advance his charge; he just upset top-seed Sascha Zverev in QF straights. Tsonga gets the German Kohlschreiber in that top SF. Quite the little surge from Jo Willy, having won last week in Antwerp, beating the seemingly unplayable Schwartzman in the final; this after Goffin, hoping to please his local countrymen and women, fell to the 19 year-old Greek qualifier Tsitsipas.

To summarize: the Austrian capital, as we speak, is seemingly under future French rule.

In Basel, Benneteau, Paire and Mannarino certainly had similar ideas, but the orchestration was foiled by Del Potro and Federer. Coincidence? Perhaps not.

Federer snuffed the petulant Paire earlier in the week and today survived his tight affair with Mannarino, hence this plot looks more and more like a Del Potro v Federer final; Juan beat the remaining Frenchman in his first round match.

However, Goffin and Cilic, both very worthy opponents, might have a thing or two to say about another chapter of the Juan and Roger saga.

Mannarino, breaking Federer at 4-4 in the first set, secured the opener. Federer broke early in the second and was able to take the match quickly to the decider, which was tight even at 3-3 before Roger finally forced his way into the SF.

You have to give-it-up to those Frenchmen. When you least expect it, on the eve of Paris!

The Basel SFs should hold much interest: Roger’s win today wasn’t routine; Goffin is capable of beating almost anyone; and the Cilic v Del Potro tilt should be quite the match given their tennis of late and their last match H2H, which involved the comeback for Argentina in the 2016 Davis Cup final against Croatia. Del Potro stormed back in the singles final from 0-2 sets against Cilic to take the final match and secure the championship.

I mentioned in my earlier post that I Juan Del Potro to find his way to into the WTF. I’m not holding my breath as a lot of good has to happen to him and, conversely, a lot of bad must befall a few other players, namely Carreno Busta, Querrey and Mr. Anderson.

Del Potro continues to play well, stemming from his play in NYC, a win last week in Stockholm and now this run in Basel where he’s won twice (’12 and ’13) beating Federer in the final both times. Of course, Federer is trying to win his eighth Swiss Indoors and defend last year’s title where he beat Nadal.

How does the 2017 WTF field look so far?

Nadal, Federer, Zverev, Thiem, Dimitrov, Cilic, most likely Goffin and then that final spot which is a bit up for grabs.

Last year’s field, just for comparison: Murray, Djokovic, Wawrinka, Raonic, Nishikori, Monfils, Cilic and Thiem.

Interesting, on so many levels, to say the least.

A Federer v Del Potro final in Basel would have some added WTF significance. Looking forward to seeing how this plays-out; as much as seeing Juan make the field, a Cilic win tomorrow wouldn’t necessarily be bad for the sport at all. Allons-y!

I hope to find some good tennis on the tele in the next few days

Write about that and some off-court junk including the split between Stan and Magnus and whatever might be up with Djokovic, currently looking for a second coach (the description is very much a Norman or Ljubičić type of guy). What are the chances now that Stan can continue to find his animal spirit? And the Novak projections for 2018 should be quite the French abstract expressionist art.

Cheers.

Shanghai Final: Federer def. Nadal 64 63

This was about as anti-climactic as the U.S. Open final.

Actually, that’s all I pretty much thought about during this routine win from the Swiss #2 in the world.

TELEMMGLPICT000143705748_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqpVlberWd9EgFPZtcLiMQfyf2A9a6I9YchsjMeADBa08If his back was 100%, Del Potro more than likely goes down and we have a Nadal v Federer SF (essentially F) at the 2017 U.S. Open. Federer’s hard court tennis is a thing of beauty, especially this 2017 version. He presents way too much for just about anyone, when he’s clicking on all cylinders (See: Jan – March 2017). But health is part of the challenge. He broke down and others took advantage, which is pretty much the theme of this golden era (or any time and space in life, on earth  . . . okay that got away from me). You get my point.

I woke at 2:00am PST to see Federer serve-out the first set and then made it through the second set before back to my interrupted shuteye.

This morning I watched on tape the first set. Wow. Match was decided in the first game of the contest. What was more telling: Federer’s unreal shot-making and demoralizing serve, or Nadal’s body language? That’s the debate we should be having here. What came first: the chicken or the egg?

I mentioned in my preview that Federer’s footwork, variety and serve would be too much even for this rampant Rafa. Pretty much the case.

The footwork and variety: the BH is back. It’s offensive. His volley is polished and his FH, how about that shorter-angled CC that’s out-of-play for even the great retriever, though FEDERER1not as big as the Del Potro hammer, is almost as lethal.

The serve. With Rafa getting broken in his first service game and Federer seeing blue skies throughout (one service game in the first, Federer took 50 seconds to hold, 3-4 aces in a row). That’s tough peddling if you’re Rafa.

Back to the U.S. Open thought experiment. Rafa started setting-up his ROS back behind the “Shanghai” stamped behind the BL. This of course brought back those memories of the U.S. Open where Rafa was literally butt-to-the-line-judge deep. It was an awful look. Del Potro and/or Anderson should have made him pay for that. Nada.

Federer toyed with this ROS strategy. Obviously the serve-and-volley came into play here; but really you saw how this just didn’t work for Rafa today. Nor should it ever. How can digging and looping a return back into play, barely, work at this level of competition?

The first set today should have been 6-2 Federer. This was IW and MI all over again.

So, what does this all mean? It means Federer won Shanghai, and he beat Nadal in the final to win this title. I have already vanquished the H2H hysteria, so I’m not about to change course on that. Federer avoided clay. Federer got hurt early in the summer hard courts. There are many factors and lines of reasoning, but in the end the H2H doesn’t carry as much weight as people want to argue. It’s just that, part of a larger argument.

We’re all about the body here at Mcshow Blog. The body of work.

If you were voting now, who would be Player of the Year (POY)? I would give it to Rafa, pretty much on the 3 major finals/ 2 majors factor. That kind of production at the biggest tournaments of the year is big-time.

Our buddy Jon Wertheim made some comment on Twitter suggesting that Federer’s 4-0 2017 H2H against Rafa puts the Swiss in the driver’s seat for POY, despite the rankings.

That’s the stupidity I shot down back in the day with my discussion of H2H. Wertheim was seen in his Federer pajamas, too, playing with his Federer doll. Cute.

Anyways, I could go on and on.

Our motto: See the light and the vast complication, exchanging hands in the light’s shadows.

Peace.

Cincy 2017 Downgraded to ATP World Tour 500 Event?

Of course not. But the draw is missing: Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka, Cilic and Nishikori, at least.

So, let’s see some of these young lads take-up the slack.

We’ve already begun this discussion, previewed the younger field briefly, ahead of schedule. We’re ahead of schedule at Mcshow Blog.

The biggest hiccup in all of this is the loss of Federer, not just his loss to Zverev, but the suddenly very real possibility that he is feeling a bit the wear-and-tear of this 2017 affair.

Wrote this last week: “Let’s start with Roger. I watched most of his first match v Polansky. He looked sloppy, bad at times and still breadsticked the local cuisine 2 and 1. He won one of his service games in less than a minute, literally :58 seconds it took to win a game. Looking at the scoreline, however, did not give one any indication that he may struggle a bit vs. Ferrer in his second match.

He looked old against Ferrer, who’s about equal in age to the Maestro. David hammered Federer’s second serve, kept the 2-seed off-balance, used his relentless defense to attack a seemingly tired Federer. As I said on Twitter, Federer looked hungover; he was sluggish and even grumpy, at one point smashing a ball deep into the stands upon missing a fairly routine overhead smash.”

The final the same kind of slop. I wrote he’d found some comfort between then (^) and the final, but he really hadn’t. Part of this is the difficulty of his draw (or lack-there-of). I wrote in my preview that Nadal clearly had a more difficult draw (Shapovalov aside). Federer played his draw on one leg. What gave away his trouble throughout was his visible frustration throughout. He looked irritated, tired, hungover (I tweeted this during Ferrer match). In reality, he was bit of a mess.

I imagined a rise in the SF because of a bump in efficiency; he looked more in control. Most of us were a bit deceived as well by his is 2017 form in general, which has been odd, to say the least. His dominance. Other than those 2 losses prior to Sunday (themselves bizarre against Donskoy and Haas), has Roger broken a sweat in 2017 other than some mild perspiration in Melbourne?

In other words, I was a little surprised by Zverev’s dominance. The second serve and FH were too much, especially for an ailing Federer. Zverev’s second serve averaged around 115mph and he had one DF. Good luck with that.

But the injured Federer didn’t give us much of a look in the final at a chance exchange with the strong 20 year-old. A healthy Federer maybe turns this final into a classic? How bad is the injury? When exactly did it surface? Again, I say he looked less than 100% all week (if he was disengaged, not wanting really to press – why play?). We’re left with a few questions.

Some are surmising he should have sat Montreal and come-back for Cincy. I say, if he’s injured — it’s probably not devastating — now he can rest for NYC with some good HC reps under his racket. If he’s hurt, he’s out. Pretty simple and an elderly injury will stand-up to this tour like the final went yesterday. Even worse for an injury, Bo5 September hard courts is tax season.

Good for Zverev, picking-up his second Masters title. I am more interested in the youth development at this point. We need deeper and deeper fields with more danger, more parity.

That Federer and Nadal were advertised as fighting for No. 1 going into Cincy is almost absurd.

maxresdefault

I’m pleased that Tommy Paul beat Donald Young today. Isner next with a chance to play Sascha. In fact, Sascha plays hopefully Tiafoe, who’s up a set now.

Here’s a highlight of the Paul v Young match. DY comes to play usually. This is a physical match. Paul commits errors but has enough serve and athletic tennis in him to beat some decent competition. Good news.

Indeed, how will my American brethren do here.

Maybe that’s really how to grow this blog, become a fan blog. Seems to be the trend, folks. Sure, I have a nice loyal little readership that spans the globe (best part of my audience). But I want to build threw the roof.

And those corny fanblogs do that. Part of that politicized global culture, I suppose. People are going crazy. I suppose my blog should be crazzier to tap into this madness. Sad.

Oh yeah, back to the tennis. Nadal has a tough draw with Gasquet and probably his buddy Gilles Muller next. Then more HC athletes will await the Spaniard’s slightly over-valued chase for #1.

More on #1 later, when I feel crazy enough to write a crazy post about that crazy #1 ranking.

Coupe Rogers Semi-final Saturday

What’s the more interesting storyline here?

2017 Federer ?
or
ATP Youth On the Rise?

😉

The second SF is rich, very rich. Sure, the first entails Federer’s continued 2017 epilogue, which is nothing short of spectacular, but that’s a known quantity, a known quality, if you will. We don’t want to discourage any hype surrounding the Federer v Robin Haase SF.

But, folks: you know where we come-out on this. Before any of this Montreal business-end genius even hatched, behold our nod to the tour’s youth in pre-Montreal fashion which has given-way to fucking big bird!

Two big birds.

Zverev v Shapovalov

I’m so geeked for this match. To be clear, I missed the Shapovalov v Mannarino QF, but will catch it later tonight. I know one thing having not even watched a second of the match. It’s brilliant. We needed this. Badly. He’s the youngest Masters semi-finalist ever, I’m willing to bet. 😉

Either way, the youth has risen. Let this truly be the harbinger of a new era. New characters, new legacies.

You know what this really boils down to, right?

The one-hander vs the two-hander. And you know who I like in this match, right?

A primary point of Federer’s dominance is his style, which we’ll define as that which encompasses all of his skill, talent, etc. He is a handful for most if not all of his opponents, which seems a fairly obvious observation. Are you with me? But the point here about his style concerns his sustainability, his longevity, his relevance.

He isn’t playing very well this week, though he is starting to find some rhythm, consistency, and urgency (the business-end necessity). But he can still win despite this kind of drop in form. Nadal, on the other hand, though he had a tougher draw perhaps, has to play at absolute peak to win (on non-clay). His “vamos” style is based-on a massive sense of momentum, which he masterfully finds and manipulates. I might say that Djokovic is similar in this regard. He has to be teeing-off on his opponent, rampant to a certain extent.

Federer has been able to reach SFs and Fs throughout his career, in winning form or perhaps not so much. He has so much game, so many weapons, such a fluency of the language – that’s his genius.

Part of this is his OHBH.

k2_items_src_7db160bf373b0765b084bfc22d0899cc-768x262

I am partial to the one-hander and even tend to think many of these players who use it have a bit of an advantage (bias perpetuates deception 😉 ). Sure there are many other factors in players’ success, but the one-hander is such a marvelous element of style.

Let us observe this great debate in tomorrow’s second SF. Among other things.

Here’s to two brilliant matches to set-up a North American hard court Masters final.

Cheers!