Notes on a Wednesday

The grass continues to befuddle a few of our higher ranked players and, in fact, as you know, London this week has become a kind of journeyman’s journey.

The top three seeds are vanquished at Ageon Championships with Murray getting beat in straights by lucky loser Thompson from Australia, Raonic getting over powered by Aussie super boy Kokkinakis, who has yet to live up to the youth hype of his countryman Kyrgios, and Wawrinka falling to grass veteran F.Lopez, which we probably don’t even consider an upset; Lopez is playing well and likes the grass, a finalist last week in Stuttgart.

Nice to see the young Kokkinakis rise-up, but we need to see a lot more from him before we start putting him in the same sentence as his better half: Nick Kyrgios. Speaking of, he looks to be dealing with some hip trouble, extending from the clay, and was dismissed via retirement down a set to American Nick Young, who had some nice showings on earlier hard courts.

Winner last week in s-Hertogenbosch Gilles Muller just beat Tsonga in 2R (R16) at Ageon, so he continues to use his solid serve to advance (that final v Karlovic was an ace factory, probably not a match enjoyed by our clay court fans).

Other notable play in London is to see if Dimitrov can find some form pre-Wimbledon. He’s down a set now, so we’ll see what happens there. Cilic should be able to find some deeper draw this week in London and I’m a bit interested in watching how this young Canadian Shapovalov fares vs. Berdych today. This kid, unlike the two Australian super boys who are now 21 years-old, is still a teenager. Looks like he can play. Good test today against Big Berd.

Murray’s loss is not a good look, like the loss from Federer last week. Federer has this week to find some rhythm, but Murray has to just get his shit together at this point. Murray should be able to outlast many an opponent in the Bo5 format and probably gets Andy-Murray-819267a decent draw from the top, as the no. 1 seed. He looked like he’s looked most of the season yesterday, sluggish, defensive, uninspired. His tennis in the RG SF vs. Wawrinka showed signs of the more offensive Murray, which, combined with the world-class defense, becomes a fairly potent brand. But simple defense won’t cut it. He has to raise his level, starting confidently in a couple of weeks.

Federer should get tested in Halle. Zverev the elder might help the Swiss groove that S&V a bit. Down the draw there are some other potential interesting matches for the people’s Wimbledon favorite. Looking forward to watching some of these Halle contests with the likes of Pouille continuing to build (though he has a difficult one next with local grass authority Mayer), Khachanov, Zverev the younger, Thiem, et al.

A nice counter-point to my Djokovic post yesterday about his fall, that in my sportsman’s mind seems among the tennis intelligentsia such a whisper at what amounts to the gates of hell, would be a little commentary on the Federer milestone, upon posting his 1R Halle win against the unlucky loser Sugita: 1100 wins.

That list puts a lot of tennis history into perspective. Makes you almost want to open the door on the statistical arguments that really persevere through time and space.

When you enter the discussion of greatness in anything, you are taking for granted to key elements: genius and time. The craft of greatness has reached a highest level and this level has been maintained over a period of time that we can define in various ways, depending upon the craft.

In tennis, Federer’s career consistency is incredible. For one perspective on that, see my comparison of Federer and Nadal in terms of their 2017 level. Federer’s level is consistent with his level over the last several years. With Djokollapse (and Ljubičić, the improved BH, etc.) he has made quite a move to the winner’s circle, but the level has been high for years. Nadal’s level in 2017 is more of a surprise. Period.

This is the context of my concern for Djokovic.

Speaking of which, let’s see how Eastbourne treats the Serb. I am certainly rooting for his improved form and confidence.

French Open 2017 Aftermath

Are you all ready to move-on to grass? Wasn’t the French terre battue quite the scintillating high none the less? Let’s not get too used to these sorts of fireworks; let’s truly appreciate what is going on here. How long can these “farewell tours” last, after all?

The continuation of this story starring Fedal and their seige of the ATP tour continues to boggle the tennis imagination: their assault on the supposed top of the tour and the lost generation, which we can only hope doesn’t extend to nextGen, as these poor teenagers, like their slightly older siblings, have to be still staggering from the highs and hangovers of Melbourne and Paris.

Seeing these two elder statesman dominate like this is at first brilliant; their tennis styles and qualities are historical, perhaps the best the sport has seen.  Any doubt of this, including the consideration of other players into this specific wing of our tennis pantheon, seems to have been eclipsed by the reemergence of the Fedal comet, which was first seen in 2006-7. Hell, it’s 2017!

My playful “#2017Fedal” still stands, of course, but it’s significance has to be more closely examined, especially in light of this past couple of weeks. To the point: RG 2017 brought the tennis planet again to a searing celebratory high; but perhaps this is a cause for concern about the rest of the ATP (the history and future of the game). It’s almost embarrassing, referring specifically to what happened in Paris last week.

In other words, this is my now more thoughtful and honest takeaway from the French Open: what the fuck was that?

Seriously, what was that?

We were certainly caught-up in the matches, the different narratives (Thiem, Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka), the main one being La Decima, and you and I know exactly what happened: each and every narrative was obliterated by Nadal’s conquest. What I mean by “obliterated” concerns the realization that no one, in no conceivable way, stood a chance against the 31 year-old.

What’s your take on Thiem now? Ha ha. What about Djokovic? Maybe a different surface, pal. The rest of the tour and tennis universe have returned to the worship of the Spanish clay immortal. This 2017 clay campaign seemed destined, appropriate and truly historical. This is a fair assessment. But by the conclusion of RG, everyone is trying to stay upright: Nadal has confirmed his position to challenge Wimbledon, the rest of the calendar and finish the year #1.

You and I might be quick to point to surface and style elements that complicate the above statement, but the sea change that Melbourne foreshadowed is pounding the shores of our beloved sport. We owe it ourselves to put this year into more perspective.

At least that’s what I’m going to (continue to) do.

Nadal’s run in Paris was, as we know, as dominant as he’s ever been. The only more dominant run at Roland Garros is, still, Borg’s run in 1978. Nadal lost 35 games at this year’s French whereas Borg conceded only 27 that year. Go look at the scorelines of Borg’s matches. The American Roscoe Tanner was responsible for 12 of those 27 games in the 4R. The rest of the contests are cute little baskets of bagels and breadsticks, your typical impeccable French bakery products.

(Interesting reminder of the ever-so-flawed GOAT debate: the Swedish former no.1 retired when he was 26 years-old, despite accomplishing so much — 11 majors; and more to the point, there are some of his seemingly ancient records that even the great Nadal can’t quite eclipse.)

The Spaniard’s tennis couldn’t be touched last week. Nadal’s SF and F were the real eye-openers, as his draw was fairly (or unfairly) barren. Thiem and Wawrinka were both embarrassed; or, to be fair, made exempt from any embarrassment by how dominant was Nadal. How can you blame or hold at all responsible these players in light of this absolute peak Nadal?

Truly stunning stuff. He didn’t miss. His ground strokes were nearly unreturnable; forget his ability to retrieve or  his enhanced serve (Moya’s influence seems effective); his defense was offensive. These matches weren’t even worth watching there was so little competitive balance. I was the one a bit embarrassed. Seriously.

I guess what’s so insane is the actual level of Nadal’s French Open tennis. Again, this tournament was a continuation of 2017Fedal, where two greats met in the AO final, and again in the Miami final (Roger dominated the early HC like Nadal dominated the clay). We coined #2107Fedal then, so to our credit, the theme was indeed a real development of the sport. This read on the tennis coincided with the read on Djokollapse. We made sense of this all winter and spring.

Consequently, we were reading the result of Roland Garros back in January – March.

But I have to admit that this French Open, in the end, is just bizarre. Although I just explained how we weren’t that surprised by the Nadal run in Paris, the level at which it occurred, especially in the final two matches, caught-us off-guard a bit. Of course, this was La Decima: he’s owned the venue, loves that court, the history, his success, etc. Should we be surprised by his French dominance?

We return to the discussion of confidence. Nadal has his confidence (and health) back; with the Spaniard, health has been a real issue throughout his career, partly from that style of tennis. Taking the time-off in 2016 (he’s taken time-off throughout his career) seems to have helped him get right. But I have a hard time reconciling the Nadal form of 2015 and 2016 with this past couple of weeks. It’s so so different.

Shouldn’t I say the same thing about Federer’s win in Melbourne, that it was as bizarre? Besides, he’s actually four years older than Nadal. Shouldn’t his #18 be considered a bit of a surprise, too? Sure. Federer’s run there is for the ages, remarkable, genius. I’ve included Nadal in this run as he’s risen to the challenge, played some inspired tennis, as well.

The French, then, was simply a development of this early run from Nadal; but, I didn’t quite expect the level at which it was played, the juxtaposition of that with his 2015-16, along with his age. You and I even discussed throughout the tournament the prospects of Rafa being challenged. By the eve of the final, most if not all of you had gone belly-up, conceded your man/womanhood.

Here’s why Federer’s 2017 run isn’t that surprising. Just looking at majors, let’s go back to 2014, to see how the Swiss generally played throughout the year:

2014:
AO – SF
FO – 4R
WB – F
USO – SF

2015:
AO – 3R
FO – QF (to Stan)
WB – F
USO – F

2016:
AO: SF
WB: SF
Then Federer was out the rest of the year due to injury, his first extended leave from the tour (missing the FO that year broke his incredible streak of consecutive majors).

2017:
AO: Win

Prior to the 2017 Australian Open win, Federer, dating back to 2014 was in the final four 7/10 majors, three finals.

Nadal over the same period:

2014:
AO – F
FO – Win
WB – 4R
USO – DNP

2015:
AO – QF
FO – QF
WB – 2R
USO – 3R

2016:
AO – 1R
FO – 3R and W/O, taking the rest of the year off due to injury.

Prior to the 2017 season, Nadal, dating back to 2014 was in the final four 2/10 majors, but this included a final and a win in 2014. His 2015 and 2016 seasons were pretty bad.

Federer has been consistently good on tour. Some of his “consistency” records are hallowed and, as I have argued pretty thoughtfully, have hurt him as he’s always been “there” and often facing an opponent who happens to be in a rarer peak form. Do the math.

The 2017 AO win is in line with a consistent string of deep draws and near misses from Federer. I think Novak benefitted legacy-wise (listen to the Djokerfans) by facing a 34 year-old Federer, as the Swiss still carried massive appeal/credibility.

Nadal’s career doesn’t arch that way, nor has it really ever. He’s been very up-and-down in form. We know this.

All I’m doing is putting this 2017 French Open awkwardness into perspective. The Jekyll and Hyde nature of Nadal’s tennis continues to strike me as a bit odd. And this is not the case with Federer. Do not confuse the two.

We’re also talking about the very popular current topic of tennis slumps. We’re in the midst of Djokovic’s slump.

People are putting that into perspective by comparing his to other players’ slumps.

Federer’s 2013 is his “slump.” His back in 2013 caused him all kinds of trouble. He made a SF in Melbourne that year, but otherwise was pretty much a third or fourth round exit. Otherwise, Federer has been pretty consistent in his dangerous form, though age has certainly been a factor. in 2013, Federer was 31.

Nadal’s most recent “slump” (he has had several), of really half of 2014 -thru 2016 takes place when he’s 28-30 years-old.

Djokovic’s current “slump” occurs in his 29-30 years of age.

Do the math: Djokovic has time to rise, based on the Nadal model. I think they are similar in style, so this might continue to track a kind of similarity. I think Novak does find his form again, but my concern has been time. He is definitely working against the calendar at this point. The comparisons to Agassi and Wawrinka, on the other hand, don’t work. Nor does comparing Djokovic or Nadal to Federer really work. Agassi was practically out of the sport, had a very inconsistent career and Stan is simply the Enigma (late bloomer, rarified form, etc.). Federer has an historical consistency really beyond reach.

Nadal’s form at the French was simply surprising, for me. Is La Decima surprising? Not at all. But the level at which he played, based on his track record is.

Back to confidence: you might want to say this is Nadal at Roland Garros, on the Court Philippe Chatrier, a place that simply inspires a kind of dominance over his opponent that only history can explain (his record a the French is 80-2 and the score lines are graphic).

But it’s been almost three years of ordinary and less-than-ordinary tennis from Nadal.

All this means is that his historical feat of the La Decima, at 31, in the manner with which it was done, is insanely remarkable.

And for the record, I am not surprised, necessarily, by #10. He’d won 9. This isn’t the surprise. Moreover, for me, this doesn’t add much to his clay legacy. His record indicated prior to this that he is the clay GOAT. So #10 doesn’t move that needle.

It’s his championship tennis bedside manner that has many people aghast. Me especially.

Is he the favorite now going into Wimbledon? We will turn our attention to some of that next, have a few things to say about Roger’s “no more breaks” comment (sounds like he’s nervous) and keep pushing for that highest form of commentary ever made. 😀

To be clear, Part II of this post follows later, this evening, Pacific Standard Time.

Peace.

Miami 2017 Finale

I hope this post isn’t as anti-climactic as Sunday’s final. Here’s how I began my preview of the Miami final a few days ago: “The Fedal final tomorrow is a bit anti-climactic to be honest. If you’re caught-up in the Fedal rivalry, you’re probably a bit confused. If you need any clarity on that, search my blog under Federer v Nadal H2H.”

I had Twitter lined-up, streamed the match on my computer, in case other “discussions” surfaced and needed any attention, and the quality of the picture on my Mac surpassed the quality of Fedal XXXVII.

The first set was certainly competitive, with Nadal actually establishing some control, pushing forward, letting Federer know that this could be a classic. Through 5 games, Rafa had seen 3 BPs to Roger’s 2. My notes clarified “nothing too spectacular,” as the guys maintained pretty uneventful exchanges, Roger came to net effectively, Nadal held his nadal-federer-indian-wells-2017-miami-reactionown, especially on serve and as Roger even pointed-out later, saving some of those early BPs was critical to the match. Nadal pressed Federer in that first set, but somehow (like the mettle Federer displayed in the QF and SF) the Swiss held and added pressure to the Spaniard’s Miami title drought.

Federer ended-up 1/6 on BPs in the first set; Nadal settled for 0/4. The break came and went and the first set went to Federer; the writing was on the wall. Nadal’s sweat drenched kit vs Federer’s wind-blown mane seemed to reiterate this Miami final graffiti.

The second set became almost tough to watch. You can see in my Twitter feed how critical I was of Roger’s game. He seemed to take points off, handle Nadal SS like a weekend warrior – the match lacked energy and intensity by the second set. I reported that Nadal was set to break and assume control, so long as he kept his serve. Roger’s nonchalance spoke volumes, in the end.

What explains this seeming lack of effort on Roger’s part? Mind you: I am not saying he didn’t put forth a championship effort – that would be wrong and foolish to suggest. But the tone was palpable: Federer was in complete control here; he didn’t appear troubled much at all. We are used to seeing Federer tangle with opponents professing such control and nonchalance, but the problem with this explanation is that two nights earlier, this same poker-faced tennis elder showed all kinds of emotions and intensity vs. Kyrgios. That was a match for the ages; the final vs. Nadal seemed more like an exhibition.

To say that Federer’s difficult draw may have qualified this championship match seems fairly reasonable; indeed, Fedal37 may have lacked the level of his previous two matches, so the Swiss simply flew with the punches.

Federer assumed control in the second set, especially late as he again found the break and served-out the match, securing his third Miami title, third tournament win of 2017 and third win vs. Nadal during this calendar year.

His 63 64 victory spoke volumes of his form and the current 2017 run he’s on, as well as the bigger picture that I have written so much about on this blog regarding the flawed (failed) analysis of these players’ H2H. I am not fact-checking this, but I am almost positive that Sunday’s victory brought the players’ HC H2H to 10-9 Federer.

The talk of Nadal’s excitement and comfort on the up-coming clay reminded me of more of these observations I made last year (or late 2015) when I dug into the H2H and what I called “Nadalism.” At one point I wrote a post discussing Sampras and Nadal, both of whom have 14 majors.

My main point (from what I can remember 😀 ) was that Nadal does not belong in the company of Sampras. I said something to the extent that Nadal would be remembered, mainly, as a great clay court player, the clay GOAT.

I don’t think I ever have to or want to get into those discussions again (unless I’m forced to): I respect Nadal and actually miss his dominance. Do you know how many AO and FO matches I stayed-up to watch, or woke early enough to see the first (or second) ball toss in many of those great Fedal matches? Take it from me: Nadal had his way with Roger, which we know is tennis lore.

This brings-up an important point with regards to Federer having this kind of dominance over the declining Spaniard. There is a balance in life. Some call it karma, balance, the truth and even life. I, and probably many others, feel somewhat sorry for Nadal, coming-up short like this, not finding that peak physical monstrosity that defined his tennis back in the day.

Miami on Sunday really underscored his shortcomings. He’s never won Miami, his decline seems pretty definitive, and Federer has found a game (at last) against which Nadal really can’t compete. The journalists around the world are especially echoing this last point: as much as Federer couldn’t figure-out how to play Nadal through much of their past encounters, Nadal seems the one lost now.

As we turn to clay, Nadal perhaps can locate some of that advantage we grew to expect, but this seems a bit of an uncertainty, as well. We’ll save that discussion for another day; I will add that I look forward to this clay season and watching 2017 Nadal bring this year’s confidence to defend his dirt legacy.

On the other hand, Federer will be skipping the clay, working-on his recovery – as many are now aware, as he told Brad Gilbert and certainly others this news following Sunday’s victory. But this has been in the works for over a year.

When Ljubičić was hired, this reduced (removed) clay season was part of this campaign’s agenda. Here’s part of that post I wrote back in December of 2015:  Ljubičić is going to help Federer, I believe, with some in-match mental fortitude. How to convert a BP, how to withstand an opponent’s surge, how to just play a little smarter when that is absolutely paramount. Federer’s beauty pageant is over. He needs to start winning ugly, getting the job done, with or with out the stunning pirouette that dazzles the crowd. If he has any hope of continuing to remain relevant and/or win another big tournament, he needs to listen to the big Croat, Ivan the terrible, and come-away with a more sustainable game plan.

Here I want to talk about Federer’s much diminished clay schedule. I am attributing this to Ljubičić. Here is another competitive strategy, a little more macro than the in-match help he’ll give the Maestro.

This will help Federer continue to ruin tennis. You are sick of hearing me reference this volume of essays that puts this golden era in perspective. My argument, as articulated in this series of posts, it that Roger has ruined tennis. This is both satirical and serious. I waited to write the Djokovic chapter; my patience has paid off since we are in a very interesting stage of the Serb’s career.

I referred to balance above. Almost certainly, Novak will rebound and find his confidence again. Does the resurgence of Fedal complicate this rebound? Most likely. This is another reason why the clay is a much anticipated schedule, even without Roger. Novak (and Andy, of course) will return to fight for their confidence, their tour points (both have several to defend and are both already free fallinIvan_Rogerg in the 2017 tally).

But the Novak chapter will be interesting. As will the essay that explores 2017 Federer, that phenomenon that few saw rising from the ashes to reclaim such dominance. I can’t tell you how much I believe that Ivan the Terrible has much to do with this. Federer has such a quiet confidence –  perhaps more it’s an assassin’s cool.

The manifestation of this is a much better BH, a more offensive court positioning, better ROS, insanely steady S&V (btw, did you see the point where Roger comes to net to meet a 118 mph Kyrgios FH that Federer softly forwards to the open court? I will search, find and post this point). Here’s the point. Scroll to the 9:20 mark to see this lethal FH from Kyrgios meet Federer’s insanely steady grip:

Looks like ATPmedia blocked this video.

It’s these physical improvements that SEEM to define 2017 Federer. But I argue it’s mostly mental. People, from Chris Everett to fanboy and girl bloggers alike, ask where did this Federer form come from? How is he doing this?

The fanboy will say it’s Djokovic’s slump. To be fair, we can’t say how Djokovic would factor into this run because he’s been dismissed from each draw he’s shared with Federer.

Ljubičić is at least part of the common denominator. If you never watched Ivan play, you have little to go on here, other than taking my word for it. He got to #3 in the world and certainly one career highlight was winning IW in 2010 where he beat Djokovic (4R) and Ivan-LjubičićNadal (SF) before taking down Roddick to claim that prestigious Masters title. He lost to Roger in the 2006 Miami final in three TBs. He has been critical of Nadal for taking too long between points. In short, Ivan knows his way around this golden era tennis court, so to speak, and his level-headedness and business sense, in my humble opinion, have been critical in this resurgence of Federer, in 2017 Federer.

Lastly, people are crying about the crowds again. The last big incident (at least that I caught wind of) was US Open final 2015. Both, interestingly enough, involve Federer.

I said it then and I will say it again: Federer can not control the crowd (though his whistling wife could be asked to shhh).

Then again, he completely controls the crowd.

With regards to NYC, if you win the US Open five times in-a-row, you will have a favorable reception. Granted, Federer’s fandom is well-documented, and a bit fanatic. But that kind of success breeds that kind of following. Folks, five in-a-row. He is beloved in NYC and elsewhere. People appreciate consistency, integrity and victory. These have defined his legacy. His genius is well received, one would think. I recall pulling for Agassi in the USO final 2005. To no avail. The Swiss giant had begun to spread his wings. Tough for people to disregard or deny that kind of “entertainment.” Pretty much what you see is what you get and people really like this kind of tournament-in-and-tournament-out brilliance.

On the other hand, Kyrgios is a complicated cat. I said recently that people need to keep their thoughts to themselves during those kinds of heated matches (though this is tough to control – I talked about seeing this in IW two weeks ago). But there are people saying that Roger cheated somehow, or his win over Kyrgios was unfair because of the crowd. That’s sour grapes or incapacity. My goodness that’s a weak argument.

Blame Mohamed Lahyani, the esteemed umpire. He did seem to provide some council to the animated crowd, but, I suppose, to no avail. Either way, Kyrgios is going to have to earn his reception. Roger, like many before and after him, developed that kind of support because of a certain kind of legacy.

I defended Kyrgios, but I have been very critical of him. He has done some deplorable things on the tennis court. Fans, who pay and support these players and their sport, do not easily forget this kind of lack of character. I have faith in Kyrgios. He will earn his stripes.

But again: if you are complaining about Federer’s popularity at this point, you’re a clown.

Look around. There are some things we have to accept. I am, as you all know, not a Fedfan. But I really appreciate great tennis (I still want to see Sampras ’96 v Federer ’06 😉

Thanks for sticking around and reading and enjoying this insane early season of ATP tournament competition.

Talk to you soon.

Miami Final, Fedal and 2017 Federer

That’s a lot of Fs, if you know what I mean.

We have another Fedal final, this time in a Masters tournament, so the past keeps coming back to haunt the tennis world in a worst-nightmare kind of way (if you fail to see the historic brilliance).

First, obviously, we got the AO Final that capped all kinds of upside-down tennis discussion. Indeed, if you can’t see said brilliance, you end-up thinking and talking like someone watching a different sport, which we may start calling “hero ball.”

Here’s what entails some of that madness:

The courts are faster!

Istomin was unplayable!

Andy is burned-out!

I have written about this but no need to link these discussions since you all should know your way around this place by now. In short, Djokomiami_open_federer_nadal_compvic has dipped big-time, dating back, I might say, to the FO final when he limped to the title in those final games against Andy. The free fall really started at WB and has continued throughout the end of 2016 through to IW/MI 2017.

Those who disagree that Novak has not been in a world of hurt, since May/June last year, point to one match that stands-out as a Novak-is-back example. Let me do you a favor and say that the Doha final was all kinds of complicated (see my write-up on that) and to go back further to the WTF SF vs. Kei, that was Kei laying an egg, which more or less defines Nishikori’s career. Again, let me know if I missed a moment of DjGOATovic since FO 2016. You should see that his matches recently involving Del Potro and Kyrgios, though they show signs of Djokovic’s championship fortitude, are more examples of a dip in form. Besides, one should see the limits of the Argentinian’s game right now.

Andy’s demise has been a little more of a corollary between his 2016 run to #1 and a bit of a drop in level (burn-out, etc). Having said that, the hurt that Zverev and Pospisil’s S&V put on the Scot has to count for something. Uh oh, we’re back to the speed of the court argument!

But the other thing that’s happened, obviously, is Nadal and Federer are playing very well. Nadal has an incredible highlight reel for 2017 already. Nadal has and is gaining confidence, no doubt.

2017 Federer is the hashtag everyone should use to designate this particular trend, movement, phenomenon, etc. The Swiss champ has taken the tour by storm. I, and others, have written already too much about this form that is really too much right now for anyone to deal with.

For the Djokovic apologist, his win over Del Potro, fairly dismissive, and his epic clash against Kyrgios yesterday should subdue this fan club’s hysterics, momentarily.

As I said in a tweet recently: I really miss Djokovic, but I do not miss his fan club’s myopia. We need the Serb back on track, but his fans retard the campaign. I bet you anything he finds 2017 Federer quite inspirational.

Back to the Fed Express.

A few numbers that have popped-up in the last few days. Here is 2017 Federer by some numbers:

He is still holding 90% of his serve, about 5% better than opponents (if you add-up all of these small percentage advantages he has against his opposition, you can easily see how the Ws keep compiling). He is #1 in first serve winning %, #2 in second serve %.

His 2017 BH is 3mph faster on average.

He’s used, in the past, the slice BH 38% of the time; now that happens 29% of the time during a match. Everyone’s been tracking the Federer BH.

He’s converting BP 50% of the time in 2017 vs 38% in the past.

On his ROS, he’s breaking his opponent 29% vs 24% prior to 2017. 

These last two stats above (in bold) are, imho, big-time Ljubičić effects. We’ve talked about the BH a lot, but the killer instinct or “win dirty” mentality is, theoretically, a result of some choice words between Ivan and Roger. This is aggressive tennis. From winning the first set against Nadal in their AO final, to winning pretty convincingly in most of his matches, he’s up early and often, pretty much suffocating his opponent from the word “go.”

These are just a few numbers that Cahill and Gilbert (among others) have divulged, in light of the streaking Federer, 2017 Federer.

He is backing-up his 2017 performances, which makes this a form, a level of talent the tour, minus Novak and Andy, has trouble dealing with. We saw this early, starting with his solid form at the Hopman Cup, backed-up by his 5th AO title; despite the dip in Dubai (pretty shocking the fashion of that collapse but Donskoy is no donkey), he wins a 5th IW and here we are in the Miami final.

Please tell me you watched the Kyrgios SF. This was the match we anticipated seeing in IW, but was postponed to yesterday. Kyrgios has been “unplayable,” flashing his talent all over the court, beating just about anyone in his way. Though he had the loss to Seppi in AO 2R, Querrey in Acapulco, and the W/D in IW, he has been playing an extremely lethal brand of tennis, serve, BH defense, FH genius and all.

The people (Djokovic fans) saying Nick is a serve bot are not the savviest of tennis aficionados (the nicest way to put that). That’s bias smeared all over that pretty face and stinks of a bitter beer that I actually enjoy, as if I’m drinking their tears, not because I wish ill-will or flaunt my own bias: I just like to expose the thin and emotional tennis “intelligence.” That’s not analysis, fanboy or fangirl. That’s banner waving hooliganism. That’s the likes of what I saw in IW, that I already described, of a Fedfan yelling, more or less, in the ball toss of his opponent with Fed up 5-1. That’s garbage.

Which brings me to this: Listen up: give Kyrgios a break, especially if you are in the stands. The belittling of a 21 year-old who is playing supernatural tennis, who may have more tennis talent and intelligence than anyone, ever, is just poor. Many many great players have shown a bit of a temper on and off the court. I advise people (these are not tennis fans) to back the fuck-up on their hatred for Kyrgios. You are embarrassing.

Sure I’ve called him out, as has the ATP. Tanking matches, or saying something disgraceful about another player, etc., is uncalled-for. He was suspended by the tour toward the end of 2016 and required to attend counseling. This is a brilliant tennis player with unreal potential. If you are at a match, rooting against the youngster, keep it to yourself.

Deal with him the way that Federer dealt with him. That match was tense and emotional (from both players) from set 1, game 1. Unbelievable tennis match, folks. The shot-making, the clutch serving, passing, drop-shots, BH, volleys. . . I could go on and on. This was an epic. The call compared this match to the Dimitrov v Nadal AO SF, which means the tennis was at such a high level, only barely (or not) surpassing the level of competitive spirit. This was a war.

Federer and Kyrgios have played six sets and all six have gone to TB, several of which extended beyond 7. This is monster tennis, ladies and gentlemen. Yesterday was the past and present against the future.

To be fair, this was similar to the Berdych Federer QF, in a way. Federer got a little lucky to survive Berdych; likewise, I’m not sure how he survived Kyrgios. The only problem with this “luck” description/theory is that Federer’s involved.

His play continues to just baffle the audience. His return of serve yesterday was a bit incomprehensible. He beat the biggest serve in the game yesterday and Kyrgios, along with the serve, does not lack for clutch. He saved multiple SPs, a few MPs and breaks throughout the match. Unreal nerves from the young Aussie. So impressive.

The 10th game of the first set, Nick serving for the set; Roger breaks back to even the set at 5-5. In that game, Nick made 3/4 first serves. Monster break, folks. The tension was thick as old honey.

In the first set TB, they’re at 9-9. Kyrgios goes to second serve. He unloads a ballsy 123 mph SS. Double fault. Federer serves it out, takes the TB 11-9. Courageous stuff out there for three hours. Rest up, Federer.

I followed the match on Twitter, tweeting my thoughts throughout the match. There’s a bunch of stuff over there. As Nick closed-out his consolidation of that break in the first set, he went back-to-back first serves 139 and 141 mph. This kid has a very very high ceiling. Calling him names is like you’re smelling your underwear. You look/sound incapacitated.

Fedal XXXVII – Miami Final 2017

The Fedal final tomorrow is a bit anti-climactic to be honest. If you’re caught-up in the Fedal rivalry, you’re probably a bit confused. If you need any clarity on that, search my blog under Federer v Nadal H2H.

Here’s how a tennis fan sees the final tomorrow. Part of you wants to see Nadal win Miami, something he’s never done. This is a tournament that suits him, from the surface to the climate and the character of the fans. He has admitted all of this.

Fedal has quite a history here. They met here for the first time ever in 2004. Nadal, who was about 10 years old at the time, beat Federer in the 3R 3 and 3. Federer beat Nadal in the 2005 final coming from two sets down (remember, they used to play Bo5).

By the way, speaking of Kyrgios and people critical of his immaturity, racquet smashing, etc., scroll to the 39th minute of the video below, their 2005 Miami final. You’ll see a bit of temper there. Also, see at the end of the match, how tired Nadal is. That’s an obvious affect of that reliance on the BL-defensive style of tennis. The ball-striking, which seems like vintage slower court tennis (ha!), is superb. Enjoy.

A Nadal win would be rich in tennis history along with reinforcing this 2017 run by the two tennis greats, who are way past their primes.

Federer has beaten him twice this year (people point-out 3 times in a row!), but, again, this refers to the H2H, a flawed analysis. 2017 Federer continues to make my case regarding the level of these men’s games. Federer has so much to offer an opponent. He should beat Rafa tomorrow. But this is tennis, and Rafa is playing very well.

What about 2017 Nadal? I agree – I’m glad you asked. Indeed, he has been quite good. His run at AO, for instance, on the way to the final, went through Sascha Zverev (5 sets) and Grigor, who was surging back then (5 sets). Nadal played Federer pretty even in the final.

He made the Acapulco final but was overcome by a rampant Querrey, who pretty much spanked Kyrgios in the SF. Then he lost to 2017 Federer in IW. In other words, he’s been playing well all year and continues to play well. I thought Sock would put-up a better fight in their MI affair, but this was not the case. He’s playing that efficient, heavy-handed BL game with an under-rated net presence. If you get loose against Nadal, he will make you pay.

Nadal is due tomorrow. The only reason I see Federer winning is the reason I saw him beating Kyrgios or Del Potro here at MI. He has so much for an opponent to overcome. The ROS is becoming a big talking-point of the 2017 Federer phenomenon.

At the same time, we’re waiting for Federer to hit the wall. His age and his consistently high level says a wall is coming. I would easily describe Nadal as a wall. I thought Berdych was the wall. Berdych played very well, should have beaten Roger. Kyrgios had Fed on the ropes in that third set TB. He was up 5-4 in that TB. Roger won the last three points, which included a double-fault from Nick. Berdych double-faulted MP.

Is that luck? Does Roger need a bit more of this favorable bounce to get by Nadal, overcome another wall? Does a win tomorrow by Federer absolutely obliterate the ATP?

Do you sense another chapter to my HRFRT? I penned the first few sections in the spring of last year; that time of year is upon us, so the story will continue (I have to write the Djokovic essay and looks like 2017 Federer is a kind of epilogue).

Enjoy the tennis, folks.

Behave yourselves! Which means root for the match, the sport and keep reading Mcshow Tennis Blog.

Cheers.

Miami and the Blog

We’re into the draw in Miami, so a few thoughts on that along with my continuing exploration of how to get this blog to blow the hell up and become a bigger part of my and your life (I am not kidding).

Quick thoughts on Miami. Nothing too startling. If you were caught off-guard by Pella beating Dimitrov, certainly that’s an upset – but I have to say that I don’t expect too many dramatics at the Miami Open. And this really isn’t that upsetting.

The field is depleted. Missing Murray, Djokovic and Tsonga for starters (especially the first two since the story-lines are pretty intriguing) hurts the top depth. I don’t expect Nadal to win this tournament, nor I am particularly high on Federer, but another IW/MI double from the old Swiss gent would be pretty demoralizing for the rest of the top guys. The points race is a fairly interesting story-line all by itself.

Federer will likely take-in a bit of rest during the clay season as that’s what I’ve heard from Federer in interview and Ljubičić said as much back in early 2016 when he joined Federer (if you remember, we loved that idea and said such a strategy would have aided his tennis self-esteem from 2008 on as the clay is where Nadal gained so much dominance over the rest of the tour, which he carried into non-clay events. There is no question in my mind that this dynamic hurt Federer and alternatively emboldened Nadal’s overall game. However, how do you tell Roger, the 2nd best clay courter in the world during this stretch to sit it out? Exactly. Tough call). But expect Roger to rest a bit during the 2017 clay as he anticipates a run at WB.

Having said this about Roger’s clay abstinence in 2017, this might give him a little extra motivation to try to pull-off the double in Miami. Again, this would absolutely rock the rankings/points race and add to the confidence of Federer, which has to be already sky high. But this is a tough tournament, with slower, wetter conditions, so he has his work cut-out and his draw has big-time resistance.

He gets Tiafoe today, a tough, athletic player who could give Roger a little run; then again, the kid is 19. But I like his game. After Tiafoe, Roger should get Del Potro. I suspect the Djoker fan club has their eyes on this match. Knowing how these folks think, they would use a Del Potro win as a massive boost to their flagging tennis egos. We’ll all have our eyes on this. If Federer is in form, I can’t see this as a very competitive match. But we’ll see.

Then the likes of Querrey, Thiem, Kyrgios, Zverev and Stan could meet a charging Federer, if that’s in the cards.

In the bottom, the likes of Nadal, Raonic, Nishikori, Sock, or Verdasco (seems like a guy who could flourish in Miami) could emerge.

Regardless of who is missing from the field, the tennis will get quite entertaining over the next week.

As for a nice transition from my brief (and superficial) notes on Miami to the discussion of my blog, you can go to the search bar on the top left of my home page and type in “Pella” and see what I have written about this Argentinian workhorse. His #158 in the world will Pellafool you. I have watched him play a number of times and have often been impressed with his athleticism and fight. At 26, he’s perhaps been moved by the same spirit that moves his slightly older compatriot, Juan Del Potro. Dimitrov ran into Pella. According to what I’ve already seen and written, not as big of a surprise as it might appear.

I think we’ll see Dimitrov hopefully find his form for the grass and summer HC. Sure he will continue to compete and do damage on the clay, but his all-court tennis will shine as the weather warms and we set sail for England.

Two more thoughts on young American prospects: Taylor Fritz continues to show almost remarkable ways to collapse in matches he’s got on his racquet, breaks in hand, etc. He was up 5-2 in the third against Kohlschreiber, only to lose in the decider’s TB 4-7. This has been a pattern from the young American. Sure he got a win over 6-seed Cilic in IW, but Marin is an absolute tennis turd stain right now. He’s out in Miami R1, as well. Horrible.

The other American, not as young as Fritz, is Donald Young who continues to show decent form. In IW he beat a tough Sam Querrey, who was playing well, coming off his Acapulco title and then Young just routined Pouille, who has shown all kinds of trouble on tour of late, compared to the flashes of brilliance he showed in 2016. The year is still quite young, so we’ll keep our eye on this Frenchman, but good for D. Young. He continues to play well.

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This blog is a healthy discussion of tennis, which I can only say because of the contributions of readers. I am so grateful for this chance to interact with the variety of readers I’ve had over the almost two years that I’ve been really pushing the tennis analysis and conversation.

There will be some changes to the blog, as I have to make efforts to build a stronger tennis empire 😀 , provide more coverage and commentary, offer more “products” or production, i.e., make this a better experience for tennis fans.

One thought I had was in simply changing the name to “Mcshow Tennis Blog International.” This might be a bit redundant, stating the obvious, only in that tennis is a massively international sport and culture. But this has been probably my favorite part of the growing readership – you all are from all over the world. This is not an American tennis blog by any stretch of the imagination. I even put the Google Translator on the homepage, to enhance this multi-cultural element (I understand that people can make this move on their own: I just wanted to underscore this value). Again, thanks for reading, folks.

I sense that some people build their site’s “strength” by offering some kind of news letter, which readers have to purchase. This seems a bit bold, but I wonder if it would make sense to make people at least become a “follower” in order to access the posts, etc.  I have to continue to explore WordPress to see what kinds of minor, but effective changes I can make.

As the readership grows, you will see things like a Mcshow Tennis hat or t-shirt. You laugh? Look: I want one, so I may as well make a couple of extra to see if they’ll sell. Indeed, I am going to be a bit bolder on some of these fronts.

I have been bold with my tennis commentary. Do you remember what I did to the Nadal/Federer H2H? Search that on this blog. How has that played out?  Not in the actual numbers, but in terms of the legacy, the argument that this weak statistical marquee is unbelievably flawed. It’s embarrassing.

How about my HRFRT series, which I am going to finish very soon (though I may have to continue to update this “book”) and compile in a more complete “package” for readers to enjoy. How has this played out? He is continuing to ruin, smash, destroy and ridicule this glorious sport of ours ;D

What about my Djokollapse argument last summer?  He does recover, I believe, but time is running out on his “harvest,” if you know what I mean.

These are all bigger arguments, chapters 😉 , compendiums, volumes that I need to compile for a more coherent read on these narratives or debates.

In other word, I will continue to be bold in my analysis and commentary. I only want to strengthen the infrastructure, the community and the commitment to Mcshow Tennis International.  Ha!

Continue to enjoy Miami, which looks a bit like Stan’s second 1000 title. 😉

Thanks again for reading.

Indian Wells 2017

What a start to the year for the 35 year-old Roger Federer. He had a “dip” in Dubai, but what the hell. Federer’s dominance in Indian Wells, out playing his opponents relentlessly, netted him his fifth PNB Paribas Open (to match Djokovic’s five IW titles). In the season’s biggest and most popular Masters-level tourney, he sent every opponent packing, in fairly routine fashion. You know what I’m talking about.

The tennis in Indian Wells had some highs and lows, but perhaps I’ll let you share your thoughts on some of those. At Mcshow Tennis, we’ve already talked quite a bit about Indian Wells, starting with our firm dismissal of the draw hysteria (though I did concede that the top half was irresponsible – there simply was not enough talent for a Masters in Roger IWthe top half – unless the organization thought Tsonga and Murray were enough of a “top,” along with Wawrinka and Thiem?. . .That just doesn’t make enough sense with Dimitrov, Nishikori, Sock, Del Potro, or even Federer in the bottom; one or two of them could have joined the top without notice or harm. . . pretty mind-boggling given what happened when Tsonga and Murray both lost early. . . That was an impoverished bracket, naked and prepubescent).

You probably recall how I was able to attend both SF matches in-person, which we knew would be a little thin, especially in that top half. The Kyrgios withdrawal from the QF match against Federer was a surprise, but you couldn’t have been that shocked. That’s Kyrgios, the erratic, unpredictable Aussie talent whose antics eclipse his youth. Don’t forget: he turns only 22 in about a month, so this is a young guy playing an old man’s game (ha ha). His prodigious talent and early success, against some fairly stiff (and legendary) opposition, have created perhaps an unsuitable season of expectations.

This is the conflict surrounding Kyrgios. Are you giving him a break because of his youth, or do you overlook this excuse because of the talent, that (be careful now) somehow implies maturity. . . that just isn’t there, emotionally at least. I advise we remain optimistic on Kyrgios since we’ve seen him play some brilliant tennis, especially recently. Just as Federer has backed-up his fifth AO championship with his fifth at IW, Kyrgios backed-up Acapulco.

After the dismissal of Djokovic, for the second time in three weeks, we were certainly excited to see him play a rampant Federer. I was more excited about that match than just about any that might have been on offer in the desert last week.

The SFs were, as one publication asserted: the men against the boys. The Wawrinka v Carreno Busta match was very underwhelming. Despite the lack of name recognition, I was looking forward to seeing the young Spaniard play. But by the second set, with the Stanimal in pretty decent form, Busta was pretty much below the surface. The organization should have seen this coming. Not the best look for such a prestigious enterprise.

Federer v Sock developed a bit of competitiveness in the second set when the American found his feet and got his FH working; but Fed’s shot-making was just too good. Too much coming at Sock. Fed’s ROS and defense in general had the 17-seed shaking his head. Sock tried to come-in to give Federer a different look, but the passing shots perplexed the #1 American. No doubt Sock played some good tennis to even get to the SF, his first 1000 SF of his career, so IW  was a”win” of sorts, beating the likes of Dimitrov and Nishikori. But Roger was just too much, as cliche as that probably sounds. Sock really doesn’t have a BH. Federer has what amounts to two or three BHs.

To be honest, the SFs were pretty average, but the energy was fantastic and the views pretty stunning all the way around. I plan to invest a bit more next year, perhaps watch some of the previous weekend’s contests, as well, as there’s more talent through out the facilities, and the smaller courts come into play. Absolutely can’t wait for next year.

As for the final, Federer just never seemed threatened, a microcosm of the entire tournament that began with his 51 minute win over the Frenchman, Robert. The final seemed a bit like the Federer and Wawrinka  Melbourne match where Stan played some really solid tennis, but his counter-part kept the steadier upper-hand, enough to create that essential separation. The separation in IW was tight. You might have seen in the first set, with Stan serving 4-5 at 30-15. He hits what looks like an ace to push the game to 40-15, but the umpire rules wide. Roger motions wide himself, though this was not some wawrinka-indian-wells-2017-saturday-sfkind of gamesmanship from Federer. After several replays, one can see Roger thought it was out. Stan doesn’t challenge; it was in. Hence, it’s 30-30 and Federer goes on to break and take the first set. In the second set, Federer breaks Stan serving 5-6. So, certainly the tennis was fairly competitive, but Roger, again, never seemed threatened much at all. He faced almost zero break points on his serve and the BH just kept firing winners, shaping volleys, defending masterfully. . .pretty definitive tennis from the old man. I don’t want to leave-out his FH that went toe-to-toe with both Sock and Wawrinka, two of the bigger FH on tour.

Funny that Roger was 0-1 v Wawrinka in Masters finals going into Sunday. He almost joked how he was motivated to even that H2H. Whatever works. Federer is finding all the right buttons to push for sure.

Interesting dynamic between the two Swiss gents. Stan looks fit, by the way, and will be a very dangerous opponent over the next seven months.

So, not a whole lot to say, really; sorry for the delayed and pretty flat commentary. The Kyrgios v Federer match would have been a nice litmus test for both players, who have seemingly played some of the most inspired tennis this season. I suspect Roger would have won the match only because Kyrgios would have to solve so many riddles and Roger’s serve is on par with the youngster’s.

The whereabouts of Djokovic might have been given a little light, as well, given that he seems to have no answers for Nick.

Listening to Djokovic fans call Kyrgios a serve-bot is amusing. I don’t think they know what a serve bot is. I’ve heard (probably the same) people call Pete Sampras a serve bot. Again and again I see no reason why this blog shouldn’t thrive.

Folks, please beware. Fanaticism and incapacity is a two headed monster, in most cases. Exhibit A)  People talk of Djokovic’s IW tennis as a return to the highest level and in the same breath say that Nick is a serve-bot, shame on him, etc.

My word (as my mother would say), this is fun. I get to write about the great sport of tennis, its players, the stories, analyze the matches, etc., AND get my kicks undermining the slow roll of a very interesting family reunion that occurs in around tennis discourse: the family consists of two cousins who can at times seem like distant relatives, but at other times seem and sound like one-and-the-same individual, identical twins, I suppose. Their names are Fanaticism and Incapacity.

As I watched Federer glide around the court last Saturday to secure his 90th title, the fan experience was a reminder of how important that element is to the sport (fanaticism), meaning this is often a healthy part of the passion that is professional tennis. Be that as it may, the “passion” can be (let me say) foolish.

To make myself clear: as we’re watching the Federer Sock match, I’m giving a little support to the American, mainly so we all aren’t exiting the arena in about 60 minutes. Beyond that, I want to see some majestic tennis, see the players push each other, etc.

Some of the goofball fanblogging we’ve discussed is echoed in a bit of the fanaticism I heard in IW. Like I said, I’m giving really both players some support, as I am there to see a couple of pros put on a show.

Juxtapose that with the likes of fan yelling for Roger to “come-on!” as he serves at 40-0, up a couple of breaks, Sock pretty much handing Roger the first set 1-6. That, my friends, is incapacity.

But I know I need to be more understanding, because sports and fanaticism often go hand-in-hand; wish me luck.

I got into a little spat with a Djokovic fan on Twitter the other day. A different one. The Brit Greg Rusedski tweeted: “I don’t think anyone would have predicted Federer playing so well & no.1 in race in 2017. Quicker conditions & balls better for men’s tennis.”

I can’t see her response at this point (because she blocked me/ironically she was actually following me up until she blocked me :), but she said something about how Andy and Novak should/would be winning if not for injury and how is that good for tennis?

My response to her: “Woulda coulda shoulda. Is whoever wins Miami penalized because 1 and 2 are ‘injured’?” 

I carried-on a bit with her, pointing-out that Djokovic was not back on form and her hypothetical, again, is weak. Block.

This is feisty fangirl, friends to the other one CB3 I had a conversation with about a week ago, who compiled all of those “objective” stats.

Look, my point is the fanaticism is pretty weak, at times. I understand the passion; if you enjoy sports, you end-up pulling for a team/player you connect with, that represents your country, city, etc. But some of this “passion” is just absurd.

A classic from your favorite fanatic:

“I couldn’t have said it any better myself, _____. I hate it when ppl call an era weak too. I find it laughable and arrogant that Fedfans would call the current era weak when the 2004-07 era was even weaker.”

Ha ha ha.

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So where are we at this point, IW in our rear-view mirror, heading to Miami?

The IW final, really, involved the sport’s two best hard court players; I don’t think many will disagree with that. The Dilemmovic is happening before our very eyes. This is all something we were talking about here after the U.S. Open back in September. Folks, the Serb is taking some more time off and probably needs to find that form fairly quickly.

The Djoker fanatics have claimed he’s been back, that his two Del Potro wins were supreme, maybe legendary. Not the case. Del Potro is without a BH and isn’t very fit. He’s #34 in the world. Their match in IW was anything but classic. This is where the incapacity rears its head. I will do what I can here at this little blog.  I hope you enjoy the commentary.

Needlesstosay, Nole needs to find his serve, his patience and that steely nervous system he’s used to crush the beauty of so many ATP dreams.

Speaking of Del Potro, we’ll get to see him play Federer in R3 in Miami.

I put-off this post because of work and because I feel like I’m stating the obvious, here. That there wasn’t much to say about IW (though work is really the obstacle for this blog). Stay tuned for some more inspired tennis prose as the pros engage in Miami, my work schedule gets a little lighter and the discourse gets hungry for some not so typical, not so predictable tennis exegesis.

Thanks for reading, folks.

Up Next: IW Quarter Finals

Well, another quick post because that’s all I have time for. I leave tomorrow night for Indian Wells Semi Final action on Saturday. Not what I had in mind when I purchased the tickets.  I have the potential of seeing:

Pablo Carreno Busta v Dominic Thiem

and

Jack Sock v Nick Kyrgios

:0

That would be less than stellar in my opinion, but know that either way – I will be soaking-up the So Cal rays, hydrating and enjoying the lovely Indian Wells tennis facilities with great Masters 1000 passion!

Quick commentary on the R16 yesterday:

Federer completely outclassed Nadal. Go re-read my discussions of that H2H about which people (who don’t understand tennis) have gotten themselves sloppy wet. Roger’s tennis is so full of variety, depth, net-play, quickness, offense, defense and a great service game. This has pretty much always been the case, but we’ve wondered from time-to-time about his mental strength.

Closing-out Nadal like that was pretty impressive. Go look at the depth of Roger’s shots. That’s where Kyrgios will have trouble. The depth of Roger’s GS is a huge threat, along with the now best BH in the game (sorry, Stan), great ROS and that same silky movement.

Yes, the BH continues to shine in these high-stakes matches. I thought Federer was brilliant in his first match at IW vs. Robert, but thought he’d come back to earth a bit vs. his nemesis.

I was at IW in 2012 when Federer routined Nadal, so I have seen this show before. But this is different, here in 2017. Federer looks fresh, newly “commissioned” to take-care-of-business that a lot of us presume could be the Ivan factor. Ljubičić beat Nadal in the IW 2010 SF, so, again, think of the conversation in the Federer box surrounding this match. Ivan has been an absolute stroke of genius, imho. Which is how we’re describing Roger’s match and form at this point: genius. Again, look at the depth of his groundstrokes. He was painting Nadal’s sneakers with his paintball gun, brought to you by Wilson.

Likewise, Kyrgios outclassed Novak. I’m going to keep coming back to this: the baseline game is limited and lacks creativity, which means it’s not as interesting to watch as the iw-wed1-kyrgios2players simply have to out-hit each other. I watched Kyrgios get disinterested during some rallies, which is part of his demeanor, perhaps, but the rallies are just big BH/FH exchanges that can go on for hours. The other element of Djokovic’s game that has to come up in these discussions is his  serve. He is having to work so hard on both ends. Although he does have the best return game in the business, still, which I love to watch – his serve doesn’t scare many people.

Kyrgios, on the other hand, like Federer, has a deadly serve.  Quick points, easy holds. Intimidating.

This is just an extension of my last post about the Djokovic v Del Potro. Novak’s game is not dominant right now. He’s still looking for that extra step. But the baseline game of his and his more pedestrian serve have to ring of some concern. He’s not getting any younger. Kyrgios coming to net, playing more creatively and athletically is just a more complete display of tennis.

This discussion of style can be applied to the Wawrinka v Nishioka match. Go watch Nishioka. He is a young Nadal, running EVERYTHING down and falling in love with the top-spin. Some of those rallies in that R16 match got really tired, Stan resorting to a balloon ball approach, to limit his errors and try to avoid the upset. The young Japanese star was just staying in rallies, outlasting his opponent in most cases. He’s beaten some decent players of late, but Stan (the other great BH) showed true grit and big boy tennis down the stretch to hammer the youngster into oblivion. This match is good for Stan’s game, I believe. He was forced to reach down and find those huge FHs and BHs to reach the big QF match with Thiem. I get to see one of these two, which is a very solid outcome.

Great to see Stan find his heavy ball and punish another helpless victim (though it took a while to break the defensive mastery of the young Nadal apprentice).

Gotta go, but there’s more to come, folks. Enjoy the tennis!