Wimbledon QF Preview – (In Progress)

Quarter Finals

1. Murray (3 set) v Querrey (5 set)

2. Cilic (3) v Muller (5)

3. Fededer (3) v Raonic (5)

4. Djokovic/Mannarino v Berdych (5)

I will write this analysis tomorrow, but as you can see, based-on my sophisticated numerology, I can predict that Novak will win in 3 sets (follow the pattern there?).

Is there any pressure on Djokovic? You bet there is. He has to prove to someone, anyone (himself, his coaches, Pepe, his fans) that he is in major championship winning form. This isn’t Novak, #1 in the world, with a seasoned box including Wimbledon great Boris Becker on staff. This is Novak, clawing his way out from under the Djokollapse, who’s hired Agassi and Mario Ancic, a decent player back in the early to mid aughts, but left the game to go to law school and become a banker.

Brad Gilbert, referring to Djokovic’s R16 match today getting postponed (and finally moved to July 11), suggested that both Djokovic and Agassi must have been pacing back Agassi_Wimbledon-2017-player-Novak-Djokovic-988952and forth like Agassi used to do during his playing years, anticipating the start of his match (Gilbert coached the American for a time). These two have to be somewhat nervous since there’s a lot on the line – more so than for any other player (an argument I have been making all year, which I started in 2016). This is more important for him than it is for Fedal, Andy, Cilic, Mannarino, yo mama, etc.

Don’t be fooled.

And Agassi is not messing around. He’s doing this coaching gig pro bono. He’s going after people even somewhat critical of Novak, including John McEnroe; according to reports, McEnroe likened Djokovic’s fall to that of Tiger Woods’. Hmmm. We might have to consider the context here like was necessary with his comment about Serena’s relevance on the ATP. Agassi told Johnny Mac to shut-up.

So, from the nervous pacing to the mafia-like public relations, the Novak camp has to know that tomorrow had better be a smooth three-setter.

If you recall, I joked about the upset alert in my last post regarding Djokarino. Instead we got Muller Time (another t-shirt). I don’t think Novak has much difficulty tomorrow, but then again I don’t have much on which to base my confidence in Novak.

I will fill-out the QF preview tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

PS
Djokerfan is suggesting that there’s a conspiracy in putting Djokarino on Court 1 today, knowing full well that they would never get that match in, so moving the match to 7/11 is part of, again, some conspiracy to undermine Nole. Djokerfan is wrong again. The conspiracy, rather, is that this unrepentant mass needed something about which to hiss and piss; it’s not a meaningful tournament unless the Djokergirls and boys are crying. Alas, we have a complaint! Couldn’t cry about the draw. But they got something to piss on, after all. Only the Djokes on them. 😀

PPS
Good luck, Novak. Just play good tennis.
Berdych is waiting and playing like it’s 2010 😉

2017 Wimbledon Commentary Catch-up

You’re supposed to say, “do you want some chips with that ‘catch-up’?”

Thanks for the comments while I was gone; no internet service where I was, which is pretty primitive at this point in time and it wasn’t like I was in the bush. As I went into town, I could see and publish comments but really didn’t have time to read much, comment, etc. But thanks again for keeping the boat afloat.

I tried to respond to each of those comments having returned today.

I have caught scores throughout the first week and have since watched some highlights (which really just add to a pretty strong spring/grass tune-up narrative already in play). Needless to say, I am excited to see tomorrow’s 3R matches which include Federer and Djokovic, among others.

What is clearly present in this year’s tournament is that we have some pretty palpable drama at the top – one could make an argument (if s/he has the wherewithal 😉 . . . for all four (Murray, Djokovic, Federer and Nadal). Then, of course, there’s the Cilic-type who might be pretty dangerous.

But what is most interesting (perhaps remarkable) is that we have a richly loaded draw, amounting to massive contests late that will inform legacy and determine what could be a pretty epic final.

Murray appears to be returning somewhat, has a favorable draw and should go deep here (I am pulling for Querrey to make any sense of the other side of that QF). Pouille and Wawrinka, especially Stan, can go fetch me a pint. What the hell.

Murray is the defending champ and hometown boy, so he could be riding pretty high marching into a SF with . . .

Nadal. I saw the guy play and his FH is arguably the best in the tourney. The argument that one’s clay form can’t translate to grass is getting murdered by the bull. A big serve and bigger weapons are what it will take to keep him at bay. If he can come into the court  and run-around to the FH, he’s going to be very tough to finish (the BH is decisive, as well, as we know). He’s hungry as ever, he’s quite good at the net. . . the tennis intelligence works with this one, folks.

Nadal looks dangerous though he does have a dangerous draw, which I just addressed with a reader in the previous post. We suspect he’ll handle the lefty from Luxembourg, but Gilles is no grass slouch. That match follows a banger with Cilic. Cilic is angry and hungry and big. Nadal hasn’t an easy route.

A Murray SF could be anti-climactic if Nadal survives his next two matches, especially if the QF is Cilic.

The Federer Djokovic situation needs clarification with some viewership on my part, but I suspect Djokovic is going to be very tough in that SF. I received word from London this Day-Two-The-Championships-Wimbledon-2017evening that his next few matches have been waved so the Serb is awaiting his Swiss pal in the SF. Kidding aside, Novak looks confident. His groundstrokes look “back” from where ever they went and he’s coming to net, hitting lines, etc.

On the coaching front, he’s pretty dialed-in, too. Andre and Mario Ančić are captaining the Serb’s Wimbledon campaign. Andre’s confidence is quite interesting, calm and reassuring, which speaks volumes if the Serb is actually in the process of a peak for his showdown with Federer.

Federer, from the little I saw of his Lajović match, looks handsy with his FH (never a good sign). I need to see the BH (as does everyone) forcing the issue here to supplement the serve, net and FH. Running around the BH and trying to ping-pong the FH will not get the Maestro #8.

I wasn’t overly impressed with his tune-up, either: Halle seemed more of a Sascha dip, but Federer did take advantage, which is all one can ask. He did shut-down that final’s hype, but we do know the German gets another crack, most likely, in the WB QF.

First, however, Fed has to beat M.Zverev, Grigor and then Sascha, so long as the Younger survives Raonic or RBV. Tough draw for Federer.

A match-up with Djokovic could be incredible, but Roger had better have that AO/IW/Miami ambidexterity brilliance on display. Djokovic’s ROS and mental toughness, especially with the timing of a return and his coaching think-tank supporting this run could be a beast of an opponent.

There is no way I easily pencil Federer into the winner’s circle just yet. Seems terribly ill-advised aka fool-hardy to overlook his company here at The Championships.

Tomorrow will tell us more.

Seems way premature (and to be honest I hope I am wrong) but I see a Nadal v Djokovic final.

Remember, this is not a fanblog. I eat fanblogs.

Cheers.

Developing Story at the French: Djokassi

Greetings, my tennis fiends (Not a typo. Indeed, you are my “friends,” but with the French underway, and the sport’s history on the men’s side embellishing our dangerous tennis drunkenness: you and I are no better than fiends of this ghostly tale of legends and champions).

Having opened with that. . .

nothing too interesting to speak of on the court in Paris other than clay remains the main character in most of these matches; in other words, generally, among the 80-90% of the field, the result is a coin-flip. But that’s just clay for you.

Or we hear the collective character of a country come into play to explain a result, as we’ve heard many fans say this or that about the French on many occasions, getting down and not having the heart to fight. Does this explain my failure of highlighting the chances of one Jo-Willy Tsonga, who got embarrassed by a complete unknown in R1?

I have already written that post: What Could Have Been

But Tsonga is pretty much past the point of no return now. I was making more of a comment about the wide-open top half of Roland Garros.

The Del Potro match, if both survive to the R16 (even though Juan is less than 100%) will be a good gut-check for Murray since we know the Argentinian will fight with whatever weaponry he has. But don’t hold your breath, or breathe too deeply the cloud of dirt kicked into your face by some “unforeseen” result.

Again, nothing too much to speak of so far (too bad Sock has gone away, great emotional win from Stevie Johnson – a little nod to my fellow Americans).

I see Novak and Rafa have been fairly clean through these first two rounds, though the commentary seems to suggest that Novak’s two straight-set victories have not been without a little nervy and clumsy close-outs (I have watched highlights. Nothing too remarkable here). I’m not buying any of this concern, yet. I’m of the opinion that Novak is getting a lot of lift from the presence of Agassi.

Do you want to really know what Agassi brings to this story? This video is a good example:

Interesting juxtaposition between the two coaches sandwiching Novak in this tennis time and place.

I said this before: Agassi often assumed the role as the less gifted athlete, but he had the fight of a cornered cat, a champion cornered cat. He’s smart, competitive and, as many have noted, complicated in a way that makes his approach to tennis more than just the ROS, taking the ball on the rise, etc. Agassi has had to come-up with those intangibles to beat many bigger and more gifted tennis players.

He’s the classic underdog in a way, which is ironic since he’s held the top spot of the sport for stretches of hBoris40E9810200000578-0-image-a-64_1496066120744is career.

Sounds a bit like Novak. Novak has been a monster in this sport for years, dominant, pretty consistent, etc.  Yet he’s seen by many as a kind of underdog. Is it Fedal? Is it his and his family’s sometimes acerbic antics that have caused tennis fans to recoil, refer to them as classless, etc.?

Agassi has this gene, as well. We all recall his exhibition match against Pete (Rafa and Roger were on the court, as well) when he made reference, into the microphone that projected the comment to the hundreds and thousands listening, to Pete’s extreme frugality. Certainly caught Pete off-guard and made everyone, including Fedal, a bit awkward.

That’s where this Agassi and Djokovic relationship is really interesting. They’ve played the underdog (in an ironic way) throughout their careers and perhaps because of this slight, this under-appreciation, they’ve acted-out in ways that have often invigorated this role.

But they’re both smart. This we know. The video above is a good example of the tennis intelligence that precedes the American.

By the way, this is just another reminder of the intelligence of that earlier era of tennis. Look at the impact that Norman (who’s a little younger, of course), Lendl, and Becker have had on this era.

Again, the presentism of fangirls and boys is a terrible look deep in the heart of tennis literacy. Those old boys from back in the day would’ve eaten quite well in this day and age of super tennis.

The tennis should pick-up in Paris over the next few days. In that bottom half, Djokovic will get the tough but diminutive Diego Schwartzman, who loves the clay, then turn his attention to Pouille/Ramos-Vinolas, all of which sets-up the big QF that we assume is a winner of Goffin v Thiem. Having said that, Thiem has an emotional (and potentially inspired) Johnson, grieving the recent loss of his father; and Goffin has the awkward but dangerous Zaballos.

Definitely better clay foes on the rise in the Djokovic bracket. The writing here at Mcshow Tennis will certainly pick-up as the draw tightens.

Nadal, as we said in our short preview, has a pretty straight shot to the SF. I am not as confident as many about Rafa’s chances to win RG, but he should not see too much trouble until the potential epic we could see in that SF.

I am happy to see Dimitrov advancing and another Nadal v Dimitrov could be an interesting match, but, again, this is Nadal’s quarter all the way.

In the top half, it seems wide-open. No one stands-out at this point. A lot of you like Stan, but that’s fools gold until very late in the draw. Literally, there are too many names to sift through at this point.

I am quite intrigued, as you might have guessed, with the arrival of Andre. He has always been a complicated tennis entity. From his relationship with his father, to his quirky style, his win at WB, his career grand slam, and continued battles with one of the GOATS (who pretty much owned Andre) to this now savior status in the Djokovic box.

Even if Andre’s presence in Paris is limited, his affect on Novak, imho, could be ingenious. We shall see.

Looking forward to the next couple of days. Stay-tuned.

The War to End All Wars: Djokovic v 2017 Fedal

This is already a crazy year of tennis with 2017 Fedal taking aim at whatever Djokeray had planned for this new year of our Lord. If Nadal wins the French that begins this Sunday, then the shit has officially hit the fan. Really, if anyone other than Murkovic wins the FO, the Kingdom will have officially been ransacked and left for (near) dead.

I think Djokovic will redeem himself, perhaps even play with real purpose, renewed passion and focus at RG 2017. Agassi is an engaging guy, a great tennis mind and one hell of a fighter, so he should be able to give Djokovic a real boost in tennis motivation and its related execution.

Agassi fought and won many battles against seemingly more athletically gifted players. Though as talented as many of his peers, he often seemingly played the underdog role;

DArfUC-W0AA3Igp.jpg large

he dominated stretches of his career, beat guys like McEnroe, Becker and Sampras enough to enter the great pantheon of the sport. But most of us in our mind’s eye probably see him standing next to Pete, holding the runner-up trophy, definitively subordinate to Pete’s indomitable rule of that particular era.

Djokovic finds himself in a similar predicament, playing the underdog, looking up, despite whatever his gang of fans want to proclaim.

The Djokovic support groups (NoleFam, FanGirls, FanBoys, BlogBags, et al.) have taken this particular period of the Serb’s career to really bolster their cause of elevating him above the rest of tennis history. From sound bites, to saber metrics, the congregation has upped the ante of their idolatry by solidifying their position that Nole rules them all despite the fact that he’s in the midst of a mid-life crisis.

I have to hand it to them: there is no better way to show one’s support than to bleed the fanatic’s blood in the face of seeming decline.

The Serb himself told CNN recently, published in an article yesterday: “I am experiencing a little bit of a crisis, if you want to call it that” (CNN).

Sorry: here I go again. I called crisis after his U.S. Open loss through which he had the easiest draw since my kid’s 3rd grade two-square tournament at recess. He looked beaten, utterly weathered and at wit’s end despite getting 2-3 W/O, a match retirement or two and then having the honor of facing a disgraceful Monfils in a major SF. He was sacked by the Stanimal decisively in the final. The decline continued through to the WTF where he lost to Murray, lost his #1 ranking and any and all control of his ATP stewardship.

Djokovic hasn’t been his dominant ’15-’16 self since about a year ago (my team of forensic anthropologists have traced the emergency back to the finals of the 2016 FO). His Dubai title in January was misread; his 2R collapse in Melbourne was pretty predictable, etc., etc.

The mob cried rigged draws (Acapulco and IW) when all along he was struggling and actually running into a surging Kyrgios.

The mob began picking-up steam with efforts from Twitterland from a big FanGirl whose statistical analysis declared Novak the best because he has faced tougher draws at Masters and Majors than Fedal, and that the French draws through the years have been rigged against Nole. Another marvel of professionalism declared Djokovic the best all-around player based on his accomplishments across the different surfaces. There are more of these sorts of statistical renderings aimed at elevating Djokovic, whose career, imho, does not need such dramatic and practically contrived research to justify his legacy. Just recently there appeared another “argument” that at 30 years of age, Novak appears, based on some numbers scratched-out on a napkin, to be the GOAT.

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Needlesstosay, this lacks all kinds of historical perspective and context. Indeed, this is presentism running around with his head cut off.

So, I have to ask you as I’ve asked myself: why this surge of “evidence” to support Djokovic’s GOAT candidacy in the face of a year-long slump?  I guess the logic is right there, as a kind of defense mechanism. What better time to support and celebrate someone than when he’she is down.

The timing is interesting and I will still ask why such an effort is being made by, practically, an entire community?

With a player of Djokovic’s magnitude experiencing a slump like this, still relatively young at 30, why not wait patiently for him to return to form? This return could, believe it or not, be as soon as next week when the balls are tossed at RG.

Let me give you my answer to this question of timing.

First, Novak is not “only 30,” “which is the new 25,” something I’ve heard the likes of Brad Gilbert proclaim. We’ve all gone over this before: even if for the first time in ATP history the top-5 are all over 30, or that 30+ year-olds have won the last two majors (Stan and Roger) and that more and more 30+ are playing with viability (F. Lopez, Karlovich, et al.), this age is still a harbinger of decline. Agassi himself seems to have had this late, post 30 run at the majors, but he only won 2 after he turned 30 (which is incredible, actually).

And Wawrinka is a total outlier. He, I would argue, is “younger” (even at 32) than Novak. Novak has massive mileage to contend with. There’s a price to pay for winning 30 Masters titles. He’s been to a lot of Major finals, as well.

His mob is clamoring for acceptance (more so than transcendence, I would contend – they have to know their argument is pretty flawed given some obvious number disparities) because they sense something. They sense a couple of things.

FanGirls and Boys sense there’s an incredible exchange occurring in men’s tennis, as we speak. This has been Novak’s time to shine, since 2015 – the latest Novak peak. Roger is mid 30s and Rafa has been succumbing to his own mile(age). Fedal has been shrinking in Novak’s rear-view mirror the last couple of seasons, presumably getting even smaller as the clock has continued to tick and the calendar talk.

Then came Djokollapse at the mid-point to end of 2016.

Then came 2017. Here we are in what should be the midst of Novak defining his legacy, chasing Nadal and Pete at 14, Roger at (then) 17. Sure, Novak slumped following his personal calendar-type slam, but he’d recover even though Murray had brilliantly taken advantage of this seemingly small window of opportunity.

Melbourne turned into Fedal XXXV. Federer’s win there shook the tennis planet. He won #18, he beat Nadal, he’s 35 years-old, he then won the sunshine double (don’t even need to mention he beat Nadal twice in those title runs). Federer eclipsed 2017.

Then Nadal returned (having already made his mark on the difficult early hard courts) to his dominant clay form.

Here we are on the verge of Roland Garros, Nadal trying to win La Decima, looking as confident as he can at close to 31.

Three weeks after the FO, Federer, if healthy of course, will be waiting at The Championships for his scheduled run for that esteemed crown, an unprecedented #8 and #19. He’s even skipped RG (let Nadal handle that battlefront) to preserve his energies, and await that highly anticipated and prestigious (grass) turf war.

Then the boys are onto the quicker hard courts, destined for NYC.

Re-enter Novak Djokovic. Do you see what’s at stake here? Novak is playing not only for his 2017 form, to maintain his place in the top 2 or 3; he’s battling history here, literally, a resurgent Fedal, who’s legacies Novak, whether he wants to or not, continues to battle in hand-to-hand combat.

The FanClub’s persistence is quite telling of this tennis world war. If Nadal wins the FO with Federer lying in wait at Wimbledon, the crisis will only intensify.

What about Murray, Wawrinka (who looks to be finding a little more form in his defense of Geneva this week), Zverev, Thiem, Kyrgios (whose reaction to Zverev’s win was quite favorable), Sock, and Tsonga, et al.?

Just to clarify: there is panic in the Paris spring air.

As far as I’m concerned, the mob should wait. Be patient. These Twitter and Facebook arguments are trying too hard; most sensible tennis intelligentsia knows better. And most of us are too impressed with Agassi (at least as a tennis player) not to think that Novak does respond positively to this coaching and mentoring.

I’m certainly waiting. Novak, imho, can’t slump much worse. Look for a surge from the waning Serb.

I forbid myself to entertain the predicament of the Djoker if he continues to lose ground in Paris. The road to tennis glory only gets steeper after that.

PS
This is a short but interesting article providing some context to the hiring of Agassi.

5 Reasons Djokovic Fans Should Avoid Sharp Objects; or Shit or Get Off the Pot

Rome Fallout

Zverev Wins first Masters (first guy born in the 90s to win one ((sad))) and Djokovic Confirms Bizarre Form

Sorry for the delay in writing about the Rome final, Agassi, etc. To be honest, part of the delay was due to needing to watch the final on replay (my life, dear friends, is not only watching and writing about tennis 🙂

In watching this Rome final I had to pause (for perhaps hours, along with sipping my deserved adult beverage) to thank the late night forces that drove me to write “Djokovic Bullshit” on the eve of the final. That was as good a prediction as I’ve ever made. Between my pre-view/re-cap of the SF and defending the fortress against the Fangirls, I called bullshit on the whole thing.

I did not buy the semi-final between Djokovic and Thiem. Sure Thiem apparently doesn’t match-up well with Djokovic, which we discussed a bit and has been confirmed by Dominic himself (thanks for the link, Nambi), but Djokovic’s sudden heated animation and aggressive antics to go along with a near flawless tennis was just not quite making enough sense. In other words, if we read the tennis as an argument, a player making this or that “claim” in form or strategy, building a case throughout a tournament, season or even career, we can analyze these different “moves,” “claims,” and the evidence he or she provides to assess the strength or weakness of the argument.

That Thiem v Djokovic SF failed the narrative. Thiem’s position is reasonable in that he doesn’t match-up and he is out-of-gas: the result, from his perspective, was “logical.” That clears-up part of the equation. But why the exaggerated madman antics from Pepe’s pupil? Novak has been struggling; but he’s been more reserved, and classy in his work to regain his confidence and form.

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If you watch the final, Novak seemingly tanks the match. Either he simply had nothing to resist the 20 year-old German’s brilliance, or something is totally rotten in Belgrade (or Monte Carlo). What explains such a rise and fall of the Roman second seed? Just inconsistency? Pretty bizarre stuff.

The end of the match is very much a tank job. The Serb’s joker-like facial expressions, along with the agitated body-language we grew accustomed to last summer, contextualized him hitting meekly into the net or sailing match point sincerely long. In the end, this was a tank job.

So, what do we have here? Send a message to Rafa (Thiem SF) of the Serb’s clay superiority, but then show-up to the final drunk?

The television call of the match (Ted Robinson, Paul Annacone and Tracy Austin), the crowd and even Zverev were at a loss watching Djokovic’s horrific championship display unfold and implode at Foro Italico yesterday.

If I at all didn’t trust my gut on reading the ATP before (which isn’t the case 😉 , I certainly trust it now. I waved all kinds of banners and warnings after that SF; the tennis was incoherent. I don’t trust Djokovic right now on several levels. The final only confirmed my distrust.

Of course, the point of “Djokovic Bullshit” was also to call-out Nolefam. I have been charting this Djokovic crisis for so long now and their inability to see the light is a tragicomedy. This blog will be around for a long long time because I have so many points to make about BH, surface, style, player superiority, the highest level of tennis ever played and on and on.

Question:

Better form: Federer 2017 (let’s take any number of highlights such as his AO run, or parts of his sunshine double, say, for instance in the Miami SF v Kyrgios

or

Djokovic v Thiem?

More on all of that in another post.

This leads me right into the center-piece of this post:

5 Reasons Djokovic Fans Should Avoid Sharp Objects

First let me point-out that I appreciate the great legacy of Djokovic, his remarkable runs through the years, his ability to hold his own and even overcome Fedal on several occasions. If you have missed this, read some of this work as it may give you more of an appreciation for my criticism of him (and others). I am calling it like I see it. Those who write me off as a Djokovic-hater have something resembling only a poor primary school education or are such Djokerfanatic fangirls and boys that even perhaps despite an extended post-secondary education, they’re rendered incapacitated. I am fair and I am honest.

Without further ado:

  1.  The Djokollapse. For more foundational discourse and clarification of this, search “djokollapse” on my blog or scroll through some of the articles from September 2016, which takes us to the commentary following Novak’s 2016 U.S. Open final loss to Wawrinka. The collapse began, of course, after the 2016 FO (I have even suggested that the fourth set of the FO final got a little shaky despite the crowd shouting “Nole!” in unison almost throughout, only encouraged by his seemingly desperate gesticulations). Here’s the real concern here: THIS HAS BEEN DJOKOVIC’S TIME to dominate the proceedings and at 29, he should have. Granted, he did dominate, winning the Novak Slam, winning 6 of 8 – but he has more of that mountain to climb when you look at the sport historically and the discussion turns to GOAT (which it always does). This is an inherently flawed argument, as we’ve said – with the likes of McEnroe, Borg, Lendl and now Sampras getting the short-end of an almost meaningless argument. But it’s still an argument people have everywhere about this glorious sport and this golden-age in particular. When I coined “Djokollapse” I meant to accentuate/highlight the historical significance of this fall from grace at this most inopportune time. He flew too close to the sun, I guess. He lost the chance to add to his year-end #1s (with only Murray to beat), his WTF titles, and his general but powerfully significant position as the tour Don, the one who would still control the draw going into 2017. He lost all of that at a time when he could not afford to. I said it then, and I’ll say it again: this 2016 collapse would have devastating consequences on his legacy.What is important to point-out, however, is that this collapse was not unprecedented from Novak. One of the more decent Djokovic fans I’ve encountered and had several good discussions with about the game is Mat4. He pointed-out early in our discussions, as Djokovic solidified his latest run in 2015, that he believed Djokovic would not necessarily win that many majors, not of that high-teens count at least, because he’d already missed some of those opportunities. I had noticed the same thing, for example his losses to Murray at the US Open (’12) and WB (’13) finals. Losing to Stan in that 2015 FO final was tough, not to mention last year’s USO final. We’re talking about a guy who’s won so many big matches, 12 majors, 5 WTF, 30 Masters, but he’s had some dramatic misses. Some of these are forgivable. But the Djokollapse at the end of 2016, imho, is haunting.
  2. His inner-circle. Something seems off in the land of Novak, and I’m not talking about Serbia or Monte Carlo. I am not here to dig-up some kind of social media rumor garbage. His wife used to have a kind of cute, almost innocent smile that defined her visage; now, she looks sinister. The little brother sits beside her and on occasion we’ll catch Pepe, a few others and then the parents. With Marian and company along with Boris gone, executed, bye-bye, I just think as Annacone says over and over, “His problem is not tennis.” I agree although I am going to qualify that statement below.Folks, firing the entire coaching staff, but keeping Pepe, with Jelena now looking-on with that “I’m not amused” expression on her face, we hear she’s pregnant again and appears to building Novak’s matriarchy.

    By the way, people who wonder why Djokovic is not as popular as Federer or Nadal? Consider how his parents (especially his father) have behaved at matches when Novak was merely trying to compete, and the way Novak himself has and is acting.

    All this to say, the inner-circle seems to have some complication that could be obstructing his clarity and coherence.

  3. Fedal. Not sure how long this is going to last, but Federer and Nadal have arisen from the dead. The year could not have started-off worse for Djokovic. Think about it. Let’s say Djokovic actually does find a way to win Roland Garros. He’ll have survived the most stressful, pressure-packed couple of weeks that another implosion probably ensues. Think of the consequences for Novak (and especially his fans) if Nadal wins the French in a few weeks. 2017 Fedal, with Wimbledon on the horizon, will be in all of its glory.This is a massive by-product of Djokollapse. Finishing last year #1, winning the WTF and coming into 2017 feeling refreshed and ready to continue his charge would have probably prevented 2017 Fedal. But the king was dead, and Andy has clearly not been up to the challenge. The crown has been under siege.
  4. The field. There has actually been some solid evidence that legitimate talent is rising to the occasions on the ATP. They’re fairly young (some quite so) and talented. Let’s start with Nick Kyrgios, not only because he seems to have Novak’s number (under these 2017 conditions, at least). He is going to be (at last) a monster in many future draws. I should have started with Sascha Zverev. He won his first clay 1000, but he’s going to be solid on grass and HC, as well, presumably better given his serve, ball striking and creativity (he was hitting 134 mph body serves at Novak in the Rome final). This youngster is way ahead of the curve. Thiem will continue to grow and hopefully find some adjustments to handle quicker play, certain match-ups, etc. Goffin and Dimitrov will continue to compete. I see Grigor finding that early 2017 form during the second half of the season (hopefully getting over a couple of really tough losses –Sock in IW and Del Potro in Rome.Wawrinka has made a run the last three years. Raonic and Cilic can be dangerous off clay and Nishiouchi has a good match in him every other waning gibbous phase of the moon.

    There is trouble through out the draw now for Novak. We all know this because he has allowed that confidence to permeate the locker room. A year ago it seemed pretty thin at the top. The tour is turned up-side-down in 2017 and Djokovic has a lot of work to do to fight his way back to the top to stay there consistently.

  5. Age. Today, ironically, is Novak’s 30th birthday. We have (everyone has) gone over this age as a harbinger of decline in tennis (that particular age and having kids are the two death knells of the men’s game). Sure, these signs of age have been overcome by certain players, but such cases are still much rarer than otherwise.Sampras was 31 when he won his last major, a U.S. Open in 2002 that was pretty much the stuff of legend, conquering NYC as a 17th seed. Indeed, this wasn’t expected.

    Federer, 35, as we know, was also a 17th seed in Melbourne this year. This wasn’t expected. He beat four players from the top-10. Not an easy task. He’ll have an easier draw most likely at Wimbledon and the USO this year having raised dramatically his world ranking. But this was pretty remarkable.

    Federer won his first post-30 major at 2012 Wimbledon. #17. Then he went dry for almost five years.

    Nadal has not won a major since turning 30.  Although he looks perhaps primed to do so in a few weeks, this still will be a very challenging endeavor, if you ask me.

    Of course, the other name we need to mention in this group is Andre Agassi, who has agreed to work with Novak beginning in RG.

    Andre won 2 majors after turning 30. At 30, he beat Clement in the AO final in 2001 and Rainer Schuttler in the AO final in 2003, as a 32 year-old. He did make the USO final in 2005, as a 35 year-old, where he lost to Federer, but Andre, just to be clear, only has 2 majors past his 30th birthday.

    The argument that this relationship with Agassi is going to magically breathe life into Novak’s post-30 tennis seems a bit far-fetched. He is apparently inspired by Agassi, has been for years while the American has shown interest in Djokovic’s game, as well.

    Here is an unembeddable video that helps illustrate the connection Novak has with Andre.

    Sounds good, but will this pay dividends on court?

    People talk of the style similarities. Look: as great of a tennis player that Andre was, he was limited. His baseline style was a bridge to the future of the game, perhaps, but this, as we all know, is a grinding style of play and at 30 and beyond, you’re getting into some no-man’s land.

    Novak-Djokovic-Andre-Agassi

    And as I have said repeatedly, Djokovic’s style will not necessarily benefit him as he continues to grind this out, hoping to out-hit and out-run his younger and stronger opponents. We know how his tennis fares on the quicker HC. Cincinnati is the only Masters title missing from his trophy case and he has struggled on the HC of NYC in September.

    What if the grass is quicker!

    Becker was right to encourage Novak to come to net to shorten points. It’s advantageous on a few different levels. Although he did absolutely embarrass Thiem in the Rome SF, trying to sit back there and trade ground strokes with the Austrian, or Kyrgios or Zverev will be more and more difficult.

    This similarity in style may not be the match-made-in-heaven that some predict. There are so many other factors. Their careers have been different, their competition different, so a lot of this charming narrative of two distant relatives joining forces is flawed.

    Andre had fairly big breaks in 1995-97 that gave his body a rest from the tour and the grind of that base-line style. 1995 was one of his best years, reaching #1, but he took time-off toward the end of the season, allowing Sampras to pass him for year-end #1. Things got worse in 1996 and by 1997 he was ranked #141 in the world.

    That helps explain his formidable tennis past the age of 30, not to mention that the likes of Becker, Edberg, Sampras, Rafter, Courier and Chang had retired.

    Different set of circumstances for Djokovic and Agassi. And, again, Andre only won 2 majors past the age of 30.

    If Agassi can help Djokovic, this will be more from a mental stand-point. That’s where they are alike: both are brilliant competitors. We hear that the coaching will be quite limited, Andre only visiting Paris for a part of the tournament. But Agassi’s cerebral approach, his knowledge and experience could help calm the Serb.

    I would add, the point of this entire post, hopefully the American can make clear to Novak that the time is now! Taking an entire year to finally find your form is almost amateur; Andre will hopefully get Novak back on track. But it better happen sooner than later.

    Don’t believe the hype, Novak: 30 is not the new 20; Fedal and the rest of the field sense your instability; and, your family, for the sake of your tennis legacy, needs to understand the historical stakes.

    That has to be Andre’s message. In other words, shit or get of the pot.