Do We Argue Enough?

You should sense that I am not exactly the warm-and-fuzzy type when it comes to communication, engaging in a meaningful conversation. Much of my commentary, points of discussion, or general input on the tennis world I hope can be described calvinarguing0as having a bit of an edge. Of course, the occasional rant will often clarify this tone that I do want people to read: that I care a lot about these issues, to the point where certain events or one’s, imho, flawed point-of-view will get a caustic read-and-response. I think that makes for better discourse – we’re willing to engage, to heat-up the discussion because this is more interesting, healthier and generally leads to a better, richer understanding of the point/issue/argument/etc.

This following quote is from an article I found online, titled Why Fighting For Our Ideas Makes Them Better:

“After studying newlyweds for just a short period of time, psychology researcher Dr. John Gottman can predict whether the couple will be together in five years with over 90 percent accuracy. So how does he do it? He gets them to argue. Gottman watches the couples debate, and he analyzes how they fight. Surprisingly, the ability to engage in healthy, respectful disagreement is a huge predictor of long-term success.”

I am a firm believer in this approach to discussion and conversation. I hope I am curating this style of discourse here at Mcshow Blog.

Many readers do comment on the neutrality of my arguments and commentaries, that the bias of the fanblog is absent from my blog; this is very good to hear since this tells me that readers appreciate my call-it-like-I-see-it perspective and insight. Besides, I am not a fanboy, so at least I’m successful, then, on conveying a more mature and balanced point-of-view.

However, one probably notices that many of these fanblogs and snake-pits-of-bias generate a lot of reader involvement, comments, etc., that seem somehow inspired by the  “lunacy” of some of this parochial, starry-eyed fanaticism. This even inspires some heated debate, lively discussion.

Do we have enough of that here? I believe we do. But perhaps we need more.

I’m not too worried about this; again, I think we engage, disagree at times, agree to disagree, work to complicate and clarify each other’s points and perspectives. The comment sections have often been better than the posts, if you ask me.

I hope you all feel comfortable championing a different perspective from my own on a particular issue.

Please engage. The more the merrier. In fact, the more different and diverse the character of the conversation the dandier. 🙂 Of course, I will work on providing the platform for such discussion and complication. Let’s mix-it-up.

FWIW, I am off to Los Angeles shortly for some International Champions League soccer exhibition between Real Madrid and Manchester City. It’s a bit more than a friendly; hopefully we see some passion and genius erupt in the Coliseum tonight.

The best part? I am taking my son and three of his nutty soccer teammates.

Long live sport and our passionate conversations about the game!

Cheers and thanks, as always, for reading.

In What Direction Do We Go?

The ATP is slowly getting its collective feet ready for the N.A. hard courts, with Atlanta this week and then Washington D.C. next. These will give way to the back-to-back weeks of Masters HC (Montreal and Cincinnati) before the short breather (Salem) prior to the year’s final major in NYC (tennis’ HC capital).

Meanwhile, the boys last week and again this week were and are still swinging away on clay (Umag and Bastad last, Hamburg and Gstaad this week) and some even cured their left-over grass appetite in Newport, Rhode Island, which coincided with Andy Roddick’s and Kim Clijsters’ induction into the Hall of Fame. Looked like everyone thoroughly enjoyed the HOF festivities, both heavy-weights having represented themselves quite hall-of-fame-roddick-and-clijsters-tennis-44695-jpgwell throughout their careers. The highlight of each player’s career perhaps best symbolized by the year’s final major (the U.S. Open) where Andy claimed his only major in 2003 and Kim won her second USO in 2009 as an unseeded wild card, the only time that’s ever happened; she backed-up this title with her third and final USO in 2010 (ending her career with three USO and one AO).

Paralympic legend Monique Kalkman-van den Bosch along with journalist and historian Steve Flink and tennis instructor and innovator Vic Braden (posthumously), who died in 2014, joined Roddick and Clijsters in the 2017 HOF class.

Giving the enchanted audience a reminder of this season’s play, Isner ended-up with his third New Port title, hoping this will jumpstart his summer HC run with the win over Australia’s Matt Ebden.

I caught the Bastad final between Ferrer and Dolgopolov, which turned-out to be quite entertaining as the Spaniard took the first set 6-4 and raced to a 5-1 lead in the second before having to fight-off a suddenly motivated and sharpened Ukrainian before finishing the set and match 6-4. Ferrer needed seven championship points to finally turn-away his opponent and claim his third Swedish Open title. The match conclusion, celebration and ceremony ended-up really delighting the crowd who got to witness a very gracious Ferrer almost come to tears after a two-year title drought. How can you not appreciate the Spaniard’s grit and humility along with the win from anther 35 year-old.

Which reminds us of what’s happening at the top of the tour.

In what direction do we go?

The sense is Federer will find some of that match play in one or both of the Masters events coming-up to ready his steed for the run in NYC. His tennis is certainly a watch on grass, but actually the HC interpretation is tough to top in my book. We’ll take a closer look at that storyline as we get to Montreal, can assess some other players to watch on these faster courts where players with much deficiency have trouble hiding.

Speaking of deficiency (note these terribly subtle and smooth transitions. . .;), Novak appears to be taking a seat for New York and maybe longer as his Serbian doctors recommend a break to heal that ailing elbow. We will venture more into this odd set of circumstances later, but with the reiteration from the Serb saying he’s been dealing with this injury for a year-and-half, this again, I remind, is part of the legacy; he picked the absolute worst time to “get injured.” We can raise our eye-brows at the prospects of him perhaps winning 2016 AO and FO with a bit of an elbow, but our eye-brows will continue to move at his inability to address this nagging injury and perhaps tilt our heads at the moves he made with his coaching staff and his scheduling in light of this very troubling set-back.

In the end, injury is part of the palette with which these players render their masterpieces. Nadal has never defended a non-clay major (it might be any non-clay title); injury or deficiency got the better of him through out his storied and magnificent career.

If you ask Roger right now what he think is most responsible for his 2017 success, he’ll say health. He took the time to get healthy. Nadal would most likely say the same about his 2017 success.

Speaking of 2017 Nadal, who do you think Rafa would be smart to practice against in his HC preparation. Look it up: I saw a Tweet with an image of him and Dimitrov on the courts at the Rafa complex. I wonder why he’s having a go with baby-Fed? 😉

We’ll comment a bit on this week’s tennis, but the Citi Open next week will be our first best look at the HC and some of its more ambitious practitioners before we head to Canada for some more meaningful hard court tennis.

Still, I have broader tennis narrative issues to address, as well as some thoughts for you and me regarding this blog.

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I’m fairly exhausted, and a bit anxious actually, as I’ve been researching a direction not just for this interesting ATP peloton (congrats, Mr. Froome on your fourth Tour win, by the way); I am aiming to upgrade this blog and my overall commitment to its function and its growth.

Reading and linking all over the web for credible and insightful clues on such matters is not exactly how I want to spend my waking hours. I have consulted with some professionals and will be investing a bit to get the reading and writing more streamlined, the site more organized with hopefully more charming and dynamic aesthetics. You know, just trying to improve on the look and feel of the blog/site.

In addition, and part of this expansion of sorts, I am starting (slowly) to work on the ebook that I’ve been talking about lately. I mean to revise, polish and finish (I guess, even though the ruination continues) HRFRT.

Originally, I had in mind to actually sell this ebook. But the plan going forward is to offer this free to anyone once they “sign-up” to follow the blog, which enables them receive an email each time a post is written, etc. This is actually pretty beneficial to us both, but you can probably see how this is key to the growth and success of a website or blog. I have several followers now, but I want to certainly add to this number (the more the merrier) and offering this interesting ebook (HRFRT) as an initial incentive and gift should be a decent incentive, hopefully.

I do need to expand and revise (and finish) this series. Reading back over it, I have the skeleton and parts of the body of this beast up and moving, but I need to add, clarify and complicate this argument. I intend to really bring this thesis to fruition (it’s looking actually like my commentary manifesto)

As this will be an update (the ebook published and gifted to you in 2017), I need to mummify or anthologize the original piece. Why? Because the timing was magical (on the eve of 2017); this even surprises me that I conceptualized and wrote this series of posts that emphatically argues that Federer “ruined” tennis. . . at the height of Djokovic in June of 2016.

I certainly plan to write many other more lasting arguments and commentaries about our outrageous sport of tennis that go beyond draw and match analyses. The academic in me pushes to find these glorious and complicated patterns that help us endeavor the difficulty hypothesis.

I really enjoy keeping this blog going, as you know. Writing about tennis throughout the year brings me much reward; this only means that I really appreciate how some of you find even an inkling of value in the work. Without the audience, there is no Mcshow Tennis Blog. Again, thank you for helping me build this community of tennis fans with tennis insight (ah, a possible tag-line!).

(Another snazzy segue. . .) In expanding the blog/site, I am projecting to include discussion of topics that go beyond tennis. I have done some of that already, writing a bit about the NBA, and so-forth. I am a sports junky, but I have to really care about the discussion in order to make the writing matter, to make it matter to you.

Nonetheless, I hope to simply move into a broader range of discussion.

At the same time, who knows. This is part of that anxiety I mentioned earlier. I like where we are at this point, and the blog is growing. No complaints; I just feel a few smart improvements can benefit us both and I think you agree with me on this.

Or, how about I wake-up tomorrow and the money-tree in my back yard is blooming, beyond my wildest dreams; therefore, I can travel the world, follow the ATP tour and watch live and write about tennis all day, every day!

If you have any advice or feedback that reflects on this blog transition, don’t be shy; your insight has been critical to the discussions we’ve had over the last two years, and I may need your insight now more than ever! You can email me directly, as well:  mcshow@gmail.com.

Full-steam-ahead on the tour and #2017Fedal, especially with N.A. HC on the horizon. So much more to analyze going into this final major.

What is the Biggest Surprise of 2017?

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For starters, we might say there a few surprises to this tennis season, beginning with #2017 Fedal. That these ATP elder statesmen have, combined, won every major championship and every Masters level tournament, minus Rome (that’s 3 majors and 4 Masters tournaments between the two) is a bonafide trip down memory lane.

To round-off the 2017 “headlines,” Djokovic is still struggling since going-out in the 2016 WB 3R and Murray, after chasing-down the #1 ranking from the 2016 Djokollapse, has really failed to maintain that sparkling form since the start of 2017. Whereas a year ago we were talking about the Djokeray combat that would resume and reach perhaps new heights in 2017, Fedal have emerged as the new tour dons (“new” seems like an odd term to use here).

We’ll focus our discussion on these guys, the top of the tour, the “Big 4,” though I am happy to say that a few other developments that have probably not surprised too many of us, but have certainly been promising, concern the play of Thiem and Zverev (both brothers actually though Sascha’s first Masters is great news), the emergence of Khachanov and even a glimpse finally of Thanasi Kokkinakis; and speaking of young Aussies, Kyrgios’ play in February (Acapulco) and March (Miami) was quite fortuitous. The Brisbane/Melbourne of Dimitrov squared gave us all a bit of a thrill, as well.

Of course, there are other interesting stories being told on tour this year, but we’ll put that top-of-the-tour back on the table here and have another look.

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Federer

Let’s start and actually focus on the surprising rise of Federer, who sits currently at #3 in the world, but who, along with Nadal, looks to be battling for year-end #1.

You probably know where I’m going here:

Federer’s 2017 dominance is not very surprising.

If you disagree with this statement, please feel free to field an answer in the comments:  what is so surprising about his dominance?

Here’s a summary of his year and the “surprise”:

  1. Most people point to the injury of 2016, how coming-off a six-month leave of minor surgery, rehab and rebuild to win the first major of the year is unreal, supernatural, is suspicious and shocking – beating 4-5 top-ten players, all of those five-setters and beating Nadal in the final, down a break in the fifth, as a 17th seed.
  2. He then goes-on to win the Sunshine Double, beating Nadal two more times, both times in straights, decisively, including the Miami final.
  3. He sits-out all of clay and returns to win Halle for the ninth time and Wimbledon for the eighth time.  He has, meanwhile, returned to the top-three in the world rankings and along with Nadal, has his eyes set on world #1.

How did all of this happen? Why should we not be very surprised by this?

If you read my blog, the seeds of my disagreement with the TSQ (Tennis Status Quo) should be pretty apparent. I will generally be 2 to 3 steps ahead of the mainstream. I hope you’re starting to believe that, will spread the word, and keep reading.

Federer’s History

Melbourne 2017 has Federer in the draw, as a 17 seed. We’ve gone over this before, but what are out expectations of Federer at a major? Naturally, we go to recent history and see some pretty clear patterns.

Before the injury exit, he made the 2016 WB SF and lost a five-setter to Raonic, in which he was up 2 sets to 1. He missed the 2016 French because of the lingering injury he exacerbated at SW19; this was the first major he missed in his entire career. Did you get that? 2016 French was his first miss at a major tournament. He started the year at the 2016 Australian Open where he made the SF. Of course, he took his leave after WB in 2016, so he missed the USO. In 2016 he was 34 years of age.

Mid-post quiz: how many majors has Federer missed in his career as of today?

2015: AO-3R RG-QF WB-F USO-F (33 years of age)
2014: AO-SF RG-4R WB-F USO-SF (32 years of age)
2013: AO-SF RG-QF WB-2R USO-4R
2012: AO-SF RG-SF WB-W USO-QF

Looking at those results, all things being equal, does it surprise you that Federer made the final at 2017 AO? That he went so deep, is this a shocking development? The answer is no. He may not have been closing the deal in 2014-2016, but he was getting into the business-end of the draw, per usual.

As for the time-off, and people having trouble grasping his return at that level? Well, it’s new to the Federer program, this leave of absence. You nor I have experience watching Federer come-off an injury-leave like that. To say you’re shocked or this is somehow unbelievable, suspicious, etc., is an overreaction. You, I’m afraid, don’t have a clue how he comes-off injury.

Actually, I take that back: prior to his 2017 return, he did come-off one missed major (some considerable time-off), which was 2016 Roland Garros. What happened after that? He proceeded to reach the WB SF where he was a set away from reaching the final to play his pal Andy Murray. In other words, Federer had come-off injury prior to 2017 AO and he did pretty damn well.

So, throughout the summer and fall/winter of 2016 he gets a real chance to reconfigure his game, rest, get healthy, scout and get prepared for Melbourne and what-do-you-know: he absolutely ruins the return of the tour in 2017.

But his deep run, itself, at Melbourne, should NOT be a surprise at all. That’s what he does at majors, what he’s always done.

Ivan Ljubičić

We’ve been over this a lot lately. The Revenge of Federer was not the title of that post, but that’s what the WB final amounted to: the latest installment of the Maestro’s deadly return (Nadal, Kyrgios, Zverev, Raonic and Cilic all got taxed big-time). This clutch professionalism is the result of some kind of renaissance. I and I am sure many others wondered why Federer seemed to take points, games or even sets off even while advancing to major final fours (really throughout much of his career). Of course, this lacksidaisical tennis seemed more apparent on the big stages against Djokovic or Nadal. With your skill, Federer, what in the world are you doing not serving 85-90%/70% 1st/2nd, converting that absolutely critical BP? Are you afraid? Are you a choke?

Tough to call a guy with 17 majors (at the time) a choke, but you all know what we’re talking about here.

Bits of 2016 ( two majors played, two SF appearances) and 2017 look like a revamped mental approach – and the common denominator is Ivan. He was a bad ass, a guy without a lot of talent, certainly a more blue-collar player, and what do you know: Federer is playing some blue-collar tennis (it doesn’t look blue-collar because he’s the one swinging the racquet, but you better believe it’s blue-collar).

The revenge is telling of this kind of ethos, as is his latest run at WB, which you know had to have been #1 on the 2017 agenda: and the plan worked. He didn’t drop a single set. That’s professional. He did not fuck around (I am going to find some footage of that 2010 Indian Wells run where the Croatian, as a 20-seed, beat Nadal and Djokovic on his way to beating Roddick in the final).

Federer is healthy; that’s a big factor. On top of that, this no-time-to-waste, blue-collar work ethic spells the run of 2017. The team has him primed; his serve (1st and 2nd), ground strokes (BH is exceptional) and closing-awareness are sharpened. SABR? That’s 2015, pre-Ljubičić. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that made the final cut for Ivan the terrible’s “Federer’s winning form.”

Even the clay abstinence is an Ivan innovation (we’ve detailed this several times). I was still critical of his 2017 implementation, but that was Ivan’s insistence, I suspect, since he said such a pattern would have benefitted Federer earlier in his career.

Nadal

Are we surprised that Nadal is playing so well? This is more surprising than Federer, actually, because he fell-off the face-of-the-earth in 2015. He looked gone, adios but given his injury-plauged career, this would not have been much of a surprise for him to make a kind of come-back (I wrote him off, admittedly. But I can’t deny the pattern. This is what Nadal does – so don’t be surprised).

Where Federer had missed two majors through 2016, Nadal had missed ten. He has done this throughout his career, taking time-off and coming back strong.

When they met in the AO final, I tried to clarify how, despite the one-sided H2H, Federer could very well win (this should be very close), given their recent form. Federer back through 2014 has been at the top of the tour, especially in the majors. Nadal has been MIA often and even coming into Melbourne this year he was one of the first to see the 2017 Djokollapse, not having to see him on that side of the draw. Nadal’s appearance in that AO final was much more surprising, but we have this kind of pattern from Nadal and we’ll have to ask Novak about his role in this, as well.

The point is Nadal’s 2017 hasn’t been that surprising other than we probably didn’t see the absolute maniacal form he found on the clay.

Djokovic

We have to attribute some of the Fedal re-emergence to the Djokollapse. This has been severe and tragic. I have documented this since 2016 USO (here and here, but there’s a lot more, as I hope you know).

I am surprised by the severity of this decline, but this is not out-of-touch with the Djokovic career arch. We’ve been over this, as well.

First major in 2008. Next major in 2011. 2011 is huge, but the 2012-14 period amounts to only 3 majors. 2015 is massive and he wins the first two majors in 2016, but it’s been a free-fall since. So, this fall, then, is not that surprising.

You get the pattern, the argument, folks?  There is NOTHING surprising about 2017 – though the Fedičić formula has been pretty stealth, pretty remarkable.

Murray

Murray’s 2017 isn’t that surprising either as his career zenith was 2016 where he grabbed  #1 finally, in large part because of Nover-the-falls, but he hasn’t defended this honor much at all, nor has he been much of a #1 in our collective tennis imagination, either.

Folks, not very surprising. Don’t let the mainstream media fool you. “Oh my gosh, how did Roger do it? Incredible? Unreal?” Not really, actually. He’s continued to play pretty dominant tennis (as is the case with his massive variety and fluid form that does not beat him up), and there have been some other factors, too, such as the continual roller-coaster ride that is Novak’s tennis career.

Thoughts?

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The Blog

I am in the process of trying to revamp my blog, make it a lot more dynamic, efficient, brilliant, etc.

One of the first items on the agenda, for which I do need this upgrade, is to finish and package HRFRT. I am going to polish it, and sell it as an Ebook. Sure, this helps fund this blog and the work I want to do, but I think it will be a particular artifact that really speaks to the essence of this blog. I have other arguments/narratives too that I’d like to curate a bit more thoughtfully.

Many/most/all of you might tell me to go to hell on such a venture, but I’m willing to risk that. This will push me to polish and develop some of the commentary, which I think you gather is pretty much written on the spot, in a couple of hours at most, each. I have other ideas too for generating some revenue (random ads do not appeal to me, by the way).

I do know that this blog/venue is nothing without you all. The core group is brilliant (you know who you are). I encourage more of you to chime-in and give the tennis some chatter, give some of my long-windedness some feedback 😀

Continued thanks for reading and responding.

Cheers to you all.

Timeout: Let’s Burn Some Bullshit

Because we’re on the web (can’t deny my blog is on the internet, unfortunately), we get more or less tossed-in to this bath-house of points-of-view, some of which fail on several levels. However, the positives of the internet, I’m afraid, outweigh the negatives, which, granted, is a vague generalization, but you and I know I’m right about this. We have so much ease and insight at our fingertips via the internet: the smartest of us, then, will be those who can discern the legitimate from the bullshit.

I work hard on this blog and know, in fact, that I need to step-up my game even more. The blog as a genre has grown and has become a more and more credible platform for additional perspectives on a variety of topics. This development advances social, intellectual and democratic agendas and is, therefore, valuable, among other things.

But there are still and always will be much less constructive blogs, discussion boards and articles, etc., that litter the interwebs and potentially our thought processes. Again, I don’t think this is necessarily a doomed condition.

This just means that you have to develop the ability to read and understand what is decent from indecent, honest from delusional, etc.

The Djokofans are upside-down right now (I mean the crazed, belligerent types, about which you can read at that infamous dump emanating out of S. Africa and his sibling-hysteric apparently coming-out of Britain, among, I am sure, many more).

I address this bullshit from time to time. I did so around the time of Indian Wells, here and here.

Here’s what everyone’s favorite tennis blogger wrote recently (you probably saw he called WB rigged, Djokovic persecuted, etc.). His lunacy is better represented in pretty colors.

“I’ve posted tables before which showed that Djokovic gets the toughest draws and face the stiffest competition and the above confirms this fact. It also shows that Federer had the weakest competition of the big four throughout his career.

So not surprisingly, Federer has won the most slams. Some of the most striking facts are that Djokovic won only one of his slams without facing a big 4 member in the final while Federer won 12 slams without facing a big 4 member in the final. Federer has also won 11 slams without facing any big 4 member at all while Djokovic had to beat at least one big 4 member in all the slams he won.”

I have addressed this in so many ways, this being one of the more recent articles.

There are two major problems with this ridiculous point about facing the “Big 4.” One is the inability to acknowledge that Federer played virtually in a different era; as my linked article points-out, by 2008, Federer had 13 majors, Nadal had 5 and Djokovic had 1. That’s not a typo, nor do you have to be an authoritative tennis historian to see a problem with this “Big4” criterion. Wipe the bullshit from your chin.

This “Big 4” point used to criticize Federer’s opponents is rife with fallacy; you pick which specific fallacy applies: Incomplete comparison – in which insufficient information is provided to make a complete comparison. Inconsistent comparison – where different methods of comparison are used, leaving one with a false impression of the whole comparison. False equivalence – describing a situation of logical and apparent equivalence, when in fact there is none.

The second problem is putting so much ill-advised stock in the composition and development of a draw. No one can control a draw other than the players contesting those matches. I have heard people talk about the anti-climactic 2017 Wimbledon final, how this might affect Roger, the quality of the win, etc.

Please note: this has no bearing on the quality of that major. Federer’s draw was tough, he played well enough to win, Cilic couldn’t muster the goods in the final, so Federer wins his 19th. That’s what happened and even more so: that’s what the records show and will show in the future.

Remember the Mcshow Tennis Nadal v Federer argument (a series of posts I wrote over a year ago)? One of the flaws with that H2H is Nadal often was no where to be found late in the draw in tournaments that didn’t take place on the red dirt of RG. Is that Federer’s fault? That he didn’t get to play the #2 seed, who went out in the 3R? Shit happens, folks. You can not blame a player because other players shit their pants earlier in the tournament. Djokovic, Nadal and Murray bowed-out early in this last Wimbledon, so we should discount Federer’s win? Ha ha.

In fact, what will become clearer to you novice thinkers is that the very fact of one’s survival becomes a big part of legacy. If you can’t stay healthy, that’s a flaw and once that can of worms is opened, we can go all sorts of places. Staying healthy is part of the program. If you can’t, you won’t and no one cries for you other than your sad, diapered little fans who are really just sport hooligans who could care less about tennis.

The idea that Federer’s 19th is blemished because he couldn’t play Djokovic in the semi-final, or Nadal/Murray in the final is so weak. Those three players lost prior to playing Federer. Can you wrap your brain around that fact? They didn’t play well enough to advance. Do you understand that?

I have to keep this somewhat focused since so many extensions arise – health and consistency are HUGE factors folks and like I have been arguing for almost a year now, the Djkollapse has been tragic. That’s part of that story, part of the 12 majors, his BH, etc.. Just like Nadal’s injuries are inseparable from his clay success and his non-clay inconsistency.

Please read more closely, with more discernment and breadth of knowledge. Please.

Next:

“Federer is the talented one who currently has the most slam titles. Nadal is the great fighter and clay court GOAT. Djokovic is the most complete if you include the mental aspect and has the highest peak level. They are all incredible players and it is unlikely that any of them will ever be officially crowned the GOAT.”

Someone explain how Djokovic is the most complete player. He’s a baseline grinder with superb flexibility, has a great ROS and a decent serve. This “most complete” claim is a vague statement that lacks any sort of definition/delineation. He has been described as having a very natural stroke, from his early days, his timing superbly natural, his turn through the ball exquisite. But there’s a lot more to tennis than FH and BH from the BL.

This will get played-out, historically. We will get to why Federer’s 2017 is not that surprising, but why Djokovic excelling at the age of 35-36 might be. Read that last sentence again (I have posed it a million times): how, do you gather, will Djokovic play at 33, 34 or 35? That has to do with one’s game, style and related health which play massive roles in one’s legacy. Sorry if this seems so obvious.

Lastly and most ridiculously:

“There are many more variables than what I touched on in this post. For instance the biased scheduling we saw at Wimbledon but far more importantly the influence of the mainstream media. By always promoting Federer as the embodiment of all that is good and noble and victimizing Djokovic as the villain they influence the way Federer and Djokovic are perceived and treated as a result.

The media has enormous power and in politics, the powerful use it for instance to win elections and to make people vote against their own interests. It is the ultimate brainwashing tool and very easy to fall for if you are not inclined to think for yourself and hold a certain skepticism for everything you hear in the mainstream media.

Anyway, the media is just one other factor that I wanted to include because it is part of a rigged system whether in sport, politics, or whatever the case may be. I never talked about it before but I saw how enormously influential it is in American politics and thought it is an underrated and overlooked influence in tennis.

But I will leave it at that. [. . .]”

Ha ha ha ha ha aha.  The media affects the results of matches? That’s the argument. Are you talking about the popularity of a player and how that affects the fans and therefore the playing environment? Right: I just articulated your argument more effectively than you.

If a player is beaten by the crowd, what’s that player’s prospects on tour? This is a joke, right? The media controls tennis matches. The popularity affects scheduling, etc. Does the media affect the draw? Was Djokovic’s victimization the reason he got such a soft draw at 2017 WB? Help us out here.

I know: part of the conspiracy is Roger gets a tougher draw, therefore his matches are against higher quality opponents, which encourages the organizers to put such a quality match-up on CC whereas Djokovic gets the shitty-easy draw so his matches can be moved to Court 1.

Is that what you fangirls are arguing? The softer draw was part of the conspiracy?

This sophomoric blogger completely loses his ass when he gets into world politics here, or American politics in particular and the role of the media. One can see he’s trying to add this political association to strengthen his argument that the media affects tennis matches. The media is big in politics; therefore, it’s big in tennis. Another weak logical fallacy, I’m afraid.

The latest chapter in the media’s influence on politics is that the media, as a whole, failed the American people in the last Presidential election. Literally, there was one poll out of the University of Southern California that appears, in hindsight, to have seen a much tighter election. On the whole, the media failed, did not affect the election other than one could argue that the American people rebelled against the mainstream media narrative: that Hillary Clinton would be the next US President.

In other words, don’t give the media that much credit.

And we’re talking about tennis, so to the point here, you’re in way-over-your-head.

To come full circle: we bloggers are here to keep the mainstream media, hopefully, more honest and perhaps more and more unsure of their own significance.

At the same time, a blogger off-the-rails doesn’t give this new genre much advance. Maybe ease-up on your fanboy antics, enjoy and analyze the sport more objectively, so you don’t make such a fool of yourself.

I have a lot more to say folks about more things tennis and this blog (a lot of thinking going-on here about the direction of the season and this blog). I will post another article tonight (by writing that down, such goals more often come to pass). 🙂

Cheers!

Federer Routines Cilic for Eighth Wimbledon Title

You probably watched the final, at least heard about what happened or didn’t happen.

We could blame the blister, I guess. Quite unfortunate for the aspiring ATP threat with one major and one Masters. Cilic looked solid through the first four games, had the BP, 42433FF000000578-4690146-image-a-45_1499880580015missed, was broken in the next game, lost the first set 3-6, went down 0-3 in the second set, called for a MTO, broke-down emotionally, actually cried, lost the second set 1-6, still couldn’t get anything going in the third set, Federer stayed true-to-form and that pretty much synopsizes this gentlemen’s final.

Cilic’s serve never showed-up, which could have been a huge factor on the grass (he came into the match with 130 aces), and then his vaunted groundstrokes took-off to see a play in Stratford-upon-Avon; hope they had fun. Just a “cruel” (as Federer reminded us in his post-match address on-court how these finals can treat a particular player) set of circumstances for the 28 year-old Croatian.

In the end, as we, our kids, their great-great-grand kids and anyone else interested look back at this match, Federer won. Sure, there are these kinds of circumstances that should be clarified, thus qualifying the win, perhaps; but we all know how tough this tour can be, how “unfair” it may seem at times. Whether we like it or not, these results tell a pretty  convincing story.

For this match, we should start with the numbers. In this case, the number 8. One of the interviews pointed-out that he was born on the eighth day of the eighth month and today he claimed his eighth Wimbledon, beating Marin Cilic 63 61 64 (3 + 1 + 4 = 8). I know, that’s corny, but the lighter, softer lob is used here as I move to another storyline that I neglected in my post yesterday about match themes for this gentlemen’s final: Revenge.

This topic came-up in our lead-up to the match, in even the comments from the “Storyline” post. I smell insight, another perspective on what we’ve been tracking as far as the 2017 Federer is concerned. I mentioned in the comments of my “Storyline” post that there was another obvious theme I neglected to mention. This was in reference to the idea that someone beyond the Big 4 could win a major, a discussion growing more and more surreal as these guys get into their late thirties (at least one of them).

But “revenge” is, indeed, a neglected storyline that I was hoping you all would help me find (in addition to several others). Hence, the richness and multilayered landscape of a deeper discourse that I endeavor daily to render here at Mcshow Tennis Blog.

Please be aware that if you watch a particular sport with keen interest, you might have a particular favorite player or players with whom you identify. What happens here is you develop a bias toward this player. When you venture, then, toward discussion and any level of analysis or insight, your point-of-view is potentially (likely) skewed. That’s fine; in fact, it is so common, you might think I’m being melodramatic to bring to light this so obvious flaw in our rationality.

This really comes into play when we hope to analyze a given event (let’s get back to tennis here). If one endeavors to analyze legitimately, bias can and will strangle one’s credibility (I have to admit, however, that sometimes a crazed, lunatic obsession can yield some pretty interesting insight, at times, given the gigantic energy of interest).

The latest Federer run, as you probably know, has pushed some “fans” to some typical kinds of “analysis” that lose any lasting resonance because of the bias stink that distracts and undermines. It’s reactive, unreasonable, too emotional, half-witted, has a short half-life.

For example, Wimbledon was rigged (see my Rant) and/or Federer is doping. I will take-up the latter point (the spirit of that hysteria) in a post this week.

That’s the “analysis” of some of these “fans.” If you are reading this and you have fallen into that kind of poop in your pants, I am glad you’re reading this. If you want to be taken seriously, I suggest challenging yourself to a deeper deconstruction of the tournament or the year/career of Federer (the conspiracy garbage is laughable, seriously). Perhaps move your writing toward story; try to make sense of your calamity by offering a new way to digest the match, the context, the patterns; feel free to include some inference where you identify patterns or context that people perhaps haven’t considered. Try to earn an A for effort, at least.

If you’re just Tweeting or texting or you have a silly fanblog, by all means, knock-yourself-out. Admittedly, such naiveté and foolishness can evolve; but until then, remember that you sound like a party to a playground quarrel. It’s cute, annoying but hopefully leads to a teachable moment (I can go on and on, and will, later).

Revenge

Juxtaposing the all-white adorned and adored Swiss tennis star and the royal box and general class of the Championships is a darkness that fuels this 2017 Federer.

When Federer made his rounds today with his trophy, connecting personally with his fans, though still from a distance, but more intimately with the celebrity contingent inside the club facility where all had gathered to pay their respects to this real gentleman of the game, he had an extended visit with Edberg. They spoke, Stefan whispered something to Roger, and Federer even let the Swede great hold the Cup.

This only reminded me of an insight that you know I attribute much in my understanding of 2017 Federer (2016 was half-baked, so to speak, with injury and an extended leave).

Federer, I have no doubt, is benefitting tremendously from the influence of Ivan Ljubičić. I honestly wasn’t quite aware of Roger’s and Ivan’s friendship, that such a trusting and serious relationship could develop from their acquaintance. Ljubičić, I knew from the moment I read the news, could (possibly) give Federer what he so desperately needed: a winning nadal-federer-mailbag-leadugly mentality, a kind of nastiness. I knew that’s what he needed, what he lacked. What Connors and Johnny Mac, Pete and even Andre and Jim had – a bit of that “F U” mentality, some more than others. Those, of course, are my American forefathers that I grew up watching. Lendl and Becker were schooled in the nasty. We know Lleyton Hewitt had “attitude,” and, though Roger had a temper as a youngster, he grew into a more refined on-court demeanor though he could definitely show emotion. Of course, Nadal and Djokovic brought that very tough, relentless grind that contrasted the gentlemanliness of Federer. We probably attribute most of their success against Federer to this darker side that they’ve used to almost bully the beauty and brilliance of the Fed Express.

Obviously, Roger has done just fine in his career (the results speak for themselves), but the point here is that his hire of Ljubičić was a kind of recognition, perhaps, of this dearth of necessary darkness.

Am I overriding this a bit? Probably.

But underneath this lovable (hatable) refinement of Roger Federer, there’s a kind of tour de revenge that’s happening, that speaks to this dominance of 2017. Five players come to mind upon which Roger has enacted a spell of revenge.

Nadal has seen his fair share. What happened in Melbourne and on the Sunshine Double speaks to nothing but a stroke of revenge (Federer has seen more than his own fair share of cruelty and death at the hands of the Spaniard) though you might want to include that he was simply playing brilliant offensive/defensive tennis. That was career/legacy altering stuff on those early hard courts. What’s happened at Wimbledon is almost additional salt on the Melbourne/Cali/Florida wounds. Federer took a pass from possibly getting anymore trouble from the clay rampant Spaniard (notably upon advice from his tall Croatian mastermind coach); the revenge tour resumed on European grass.

In Miami, Kyrgios got his taste of Federenge or Revederer 😀
The Aussie had beaten Federer in Madrid back in 2015, of course is your basic malcontent into which any one of us elders might want to slap some sense.

That Miami SF was a brilliant match, heated, chippy. Federer served it up on the surging Kyrgios: Revenge.

Next was another one of our tour’s future: Sascha Zverev. The 2017 Halle final was a blow-out: 1 and 3. Zverev beat Roger in last year’s Halle SF in three sets, as a 19 year-old. This year’s Halle meeting was a beating with meaning. Pre-Wimbledon. Future is tomorrow; 2017 Federer is now.

Raonic got his dose in this year’s WB SF, as a result of his win over Federer in last year’s WB SF. Raonic did not play poorly in this year’s SF, mind you. None the less, that was straights, a definitive pressure cooker from the 35 year-old.

Lastly, Cilic got his today; GRANTED, the blister, you might say, undermines this pattern of revenge on this example. On the contrary, there’s too much evidence to ignore. Even sans blister, Marin, unfortunately, wasn’t quite in that 2014 USO form. The struggle he had with Muller (as we said) wasn’t the best look, nor was the relative struggle he had with Sam Querrey, who, let’s be fair, should have been ripe for a more convincing victory.

Federer is on a mission, folks.

One of my readers/commenters caught the prediction I made on Twitter a day or two before the match. Sure, Cilic seemed primed for a big move here (I made this case, I think, pretty well); but the magic and revenge are strong with the Swiss giant in this time and place.

Don’t let the silky smile and fashion icon handsomeness fool you, folks. Federer is blood-thirsty. He seeks revenge and has no one more to thank than the man, the myth (in his own right), Ivan Ljubičić.

I have a lot more to say, as I’m sure you do, as well.
Sorry – a bit punchy at the moment. Stay-tuned, be well, and get ready for hard courts!

😀

Wimbledon Men’s Final Storylines

 

wimbledon-2017-all-you-need-to-know-136418573681803901-170607080331

There are several.

Brainstorming these kinds of elements (adding to the overall perspective of the match) can help one see either a strategy or a theme that may help clarify the outcome – which is often coincidence. But there could be irony, logic, tragedy and beauty (emotion) that all come into play in such an event, especially one that involves humans contesting a tennis match, one-on-one, mano y mano, the stakes so incredibly high (or not that high really, considering it’s just a tennis match and there are so many other things we can and should worry about in our world and our lives).

Start with the Federer legacy, his drive to reach numbers that may be more important to his legion of fans than to him (probably not). Numbers on the line: #8, #19, and then the year-end numbers that would coincide with reaching #1, year-end #1, WTF title count, etc. (Sampras has said that the year-end #1 was one of the most important achievements of his storied career – he ended the year #1 a record six times).

How about the 2017 storyline that continues and is part of the numbers. But the resurrection itself has a story, the continuation of 2017 Fedal, how these two have cemented their legacies together even more because of their incredible success this year, dominating the tour at the Masters and the Majors. Unreal really.

So, to be clear, 2017 Federer is a big storyline.

I would remind everyone, regardless of the outcome of tomorrow, how Federer’s run here, this fortnight, also extends his historical consistency, his insanely persistent high-level of tennis into his mid-30s. When all is said and done, this kind of relevance (and dominance) at this age could be the real deal-breaker when one enters that discussion of greats. He’ll be 36 in about a month. How well will Nadal be playing in five years, Djokovic in six years? Exactly.

What about Cilic? He’s won a major already and has made the WB QF, I believe, four consecutive years. That’s a trend. At the USO, there was virtually no warning before 2014 when he stormed the tournament and turned-away everyone, including Federer in the SF. At least at WB he’s made some steady progress and seems ready to take that next step.

Speaking of the USO, there is the similarity here that people are seeing between this match-up and the 2009 match-up in the USO final between Federer and Del Potro. Federer has another youthful 6’6″ power broker with whom the three-seed has to negotiate, somehow, a profitable outcome. Federer was up 2-1 sets in that affair before the quiet giant stuck-around and outlasted a much younger Federer.

I think this youth (Cilic isn’t exactly “young” but he’s playing an almost 36 year-old, so he’s “young”) vs. age is a critical story-line. This plays-out in sports all the time, as Father Time is undefeated. Venus Williams’ run ended today in this exact way.

Federer has been dominant in 2017, but he hasn’t had to play an in-form Djokovic, his victory in Melbourne came, in the end, against a Nadal who is not young. His victory over a monster Kyrgios in Miami may have been some of the most impressive tennis we saw from the Maestro this year. He turned-away a youngster.

But here again he has to play a guy who is younger, stronger and may be playing better (we have to wait for tomorrow’s match to determine this last comparison).

Federer will have to outsmart Cilic as much as out hit him. He will need to out-clutch the Croatian as much as out-serve him (Cilic has twice as many aces as Federer in this tournament: 130 to 64).

Indeed, the youth vs. old age theme is a biggie in my book. Federer has to do a lot to overcome that in my estimation.

As for the tennis statistical arguments and themes, help me out here with some of your own research. Federer has been better than Cilic in the UE department (~12 to ~23 a match — though WB apparently is pretty conservative with these numbers). Federer, we know, has to continue to be much cleaner than his opponent. If we get that FH abandonment or his vaunted (improved) BH goes awry, we have the 2014-15 Federer who just doesn’t have the goods in the end, in the final, against a younger, stronger player (Novak, Cilic, et al.).

I think a very interesting trend could be one that Federer might have broken or bucked. Go watch the 2014 and 2015 WB semi-final matches in which Federer routined Raonic and Murray, respectively; of course, he came-up short in the final with what people might describe as less ascendant form. Even though this year’s SF vs. Berdych was in straights, I think many of us agree Federer’s tennis seemed a bit “off” his more dominant 2017 form. So, is this the case where he’s saved his best for last, kept his game in a lower gear vs. Berdych early-on in order to save some of that higher gear for the final?

This will be an interesting one to watch, for sure.

There are probably several others that add to our perspective and understanding of this match. Chime-in. While there’s still time.

Cheers!

WB Eve of the Men’s Semi-finals

Roger I think covered it all here.

He’s been reading my blog. Sam is dangerous, so is Cilic and Berdych. I brought all of this to light in my QF preview and elsewhere. Also, Roger points-out, good luck to Novak and Andy getting healthy. In my Rant, I clarified how important player health is to the health of the tour, as well – the health of all players.

My preview underscored the questions surrounding Novak and Andy; they were favorites for most people because not much was made of the injuries. Novak, in an interview after his retirement, said the elbow has been bothering him for a year and a half. And he was seeking treatment, aggressively, from his and the ATP’s physio since the beginning of the tournament. Not sure if this violates the tour’s version of HIPPA, or some other privacy clause for locker-room competitive banter, but that information should have “leaked.” Novak looked unconvincing throughout his soft draw but I sill thought he would rise – just like I thought he would rebound at the French. I keep waiting for this guy to come around; and, at the same time, I keep charting the Djokollapse, which is an unreal decline of a great player; this is beyond a slump.

But if I’d been better aware of the extent of his injury, he’d have been written-off July 3.

Again, I think Roger did well to shed some light on what’s left at this tournament in the video; it’s pretty simple at his point.

Cilic v Querrey

Cilic is dangerous (this we’ve been on since Netherlands and Queen’s). Querrey, though that was an upset (Murray’s injury report was perhaps too quiet, as well), is also dangerous. The big serve of both makes them formidable and they have good feet on grass, can pummel ground strokes, etc. Cilic’s resume may seem bigger (it is, no doubt, given his Cincy and USO titles), but Querrey’s recent exploits can’t be overlooked. He beat Novak at WB last year and this year he beat a surging Nadal and rampant Kyrgios in February (along with the hometown boy here on CC).

The Kyrgios match was especially interesting because the Aussie had just straight-setted Novak, was playing dominant/confident tennis, but the American took care of business. I watched this live and everything from the American, including the body language back-and-forth with the antic-ridden Aussie was impressive. The Yankee then beat Nadal in the final in straight-sets. Sure this is February 2017 we’re talking about, and Acapulco; but that’s some firepower he handled pretty decisively.

Either way, good on Querrey for getting the job done against Andy, in emphatic bakery goods, 1 and 1 in-front of the home-crowd on Centre Court to advance to the WB SF. Pretty much a break-through match despite all of the big matches I’ve been referring to here in my case for Querrey. He’s in a semi-final match at the Championships.

Cilic is rolling. I might add that the 5-setter against Muller after Muller played a week-end holiday long R16 match against you-know-who probably isn’t ideal for the Croatian. You lean Marin here, based-on his potential form (he’s shown that kind of high level before on this stage), where the big serve and quick-strike tennis could dictate terms to Sam. But if Sam can find his feet, put pressure on Cilic’s serve, find rallies, we could be in to a long match, a kind of coin flip match. Sam can certainly go five. Can he get it to five?

That’s the real theme here: the read is a Cilic v Federer final, but some surprise and unexpected has taken a seat at our table, causing a bit of a scene.

PS Keep our eye on the Cilic FH that has been known to let him down.

Federer v Berdych

Federer should win this match. If Berdych wins, it’s an upset. What makes Berdych a little more, for me, than just a big hitter who has beaten Federer before is that match in March, in a Miami QF, where the Czech veteran held MP in the third set TB. That was 2017 Federer and Berdych played him even.

The run here has been solid, but Novak did retire due to injury; perhaps the most Tomas can say is that he’s rested and ready to give an old friend more than just an exhibition? Not sure if it’s the presence of Ivanišević, or Berdych’s maturity, but this career top-ten player with loads of game does seem just a bit more purposeful, has more character, etc.

Raonic and Berdych probably present similar kinds of obstacles for Roger: both big serves, and can put balls past the Swiss from the BL. Raonic, of course, does a little more at the net.

Looking back at the Raonic v Federer QF:

1st set: Federer 94% of first serve won, was 1/2 on BP, 14-2 (winner v UE) and hit more aces than Raonic (5 to 2). Raonic won 71 % of his second serve, which seemed pretty high, was 11-4 winner/UE and was 0/0 on BP.

Federer able to convert on that BP, a little more solid on serve, but the set pretty clean; Raonic did not play poorly.

2nd set: Federer breaks game 1. Big move here. More urgency, variety, passing shots that leave Raonic just shaking head.  Second break at 4-2 and serves out the set at love.
Federer 92% FS won and 2/4 on BP. Again, very clean in the winner v UE department – Federer just playing good Federer tennis.

Raonic down to 13% second serve won (huge drop from the first set). Again. 0/0 BP opportunities.

3rd set was a held-service convention though Raonic did see a BP in the 8th game. Raonic, again, looked good. Go watch his 2014 SF match with Federer a WB. He has built himself a nice little WB resume and could one day raise this trophy.

In the 3rd set TB, Raonic off to a 3-0 start, but Federer comes roaring back, taking the next five points. He closes the Canadian out at 7-4.

To make a long story short, how many BP opportunities will Berdych get tomorrow Reader/commenter Incondite stole my thunder by brining-up the lack of ROS in Berdych (or Cilic/Querrey).

All four of these SFinalists have big serves, but who can put pressure on another’s serve? Who has the best ROS? Federer does.

Without a ROS, the chances to break become minimized. If Federer serves well tomorrow (in that 90% FS winning range), Berdych will have trouble finding cracks to weaken a surging Federer. Federer’s ROS, even against the huge Raonic delivery, proved effective enough to wear down the 6’5″ 26 year-old.

That just seems to be the crux here: serve and ROS. If Federer continues this form, in fact even improves some, he’ll be tough to beat.

I have enjoyed reading the comments. Thank you! Some one (I think “Jason Bourne” – wow, international spy intrigue at Mcshow Tennis) brought-up the point of Federer succeeding in a draw that’s been opened-up like this, with Murray/Djokovic/Nadal out. One such was that 2009 US Open – where he was up 2 sets to 1, seeking his 6th straight USO title. Did not happen.

Not sure if from this same commenter, but another point: at this age, has Federer left enough on the plate to raise his game for a SF and/or Final? To answer this, I would say his Lajovic and Zverev matches were solid though not necessarily balletic. He seems to have raised his level vs. Dimitrov (who did fade at the sound of another loss) and Raonic.

But all good points. Indeed, Federer has much work to do and Berdych, I suspect (and even hope) gives Federer and the viewing audience more reason to scoot to the edge of our seats and live or die on some dramatic major SF tennis.

Sorry for the late post, folks.

Enjoy the tennis and talk to you all tomorrow!