Nitto ATP Finals Sees Dimitrov Crowned

Good match between Goffin and Dimitrov, the Bulgarian coming through finally 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

On these last three matches:

I got to watch finally the Federer v Goffin match (son’s soccer game, what can I say – but of course I could follow on my phone, which, by the way, reveals a lot about a match if you can believe that: length of service game, patterns, like Federer getting to 30-0 on several Goffin serves, but then laying an egg and unable to break, etc.).

I watched the Dimitrov v Sock and saw most of the final earlier today/night.

  1. The Federer v Goffin match was almost predictable and quite unbelievable at the same time.  I really never felt that confident about Federer’s chances, which goes back to me saying the tennis gods would give this title to Nadal (joking, but not really). This, of course, unleashed fanboy in my comments saying I was being “controversial” or whatever. Ha ha. Federer’s ability to get through his group (a tough group) even facing some resistance, suggested he had enough to handle most of these blokes. Throughout RR play, he’d play well, then look pretty shaky, hang-on, put-together some brilliant shots, serve well, come-up with a BoS, yell at his demons, etc. This characterized Federer’s London. As much as I did not see him breadsticking anyone, he looked to have enough left in the tank to get #7. And like most of you, if he did lose, perhaps we thought it would be to a high-flying Dimitrov in the final. But Goffin was plucky and skilled enough to take-down the favorite. His entire game, as I have observed often, is solid throughout, perhaps a tennis player’s player, can work both sides of his stroke, both corners of the court, can come to net, has a decent serve, can slice and play more offensively, etc. . . just no definitive weapon, necessarily, that scares his opponents. He outplayed Federer. That’s for sure. And Federer, on the other hand, looked so out of sorts in this match; which turns-out to be more the case the entire tournament. Watch his footwork, especially with his FH. This is that shot where he looks like he’s rushing it, wristing it, and actually looks almost like he’s sitting down trying to hit this FH. But it comes back to his footwork. He’s not getting up to the ball. And why is that? Well, if we play detective, we see him struggling with whether to be more offensive or more conservative, employ more slice and stay back or more like his Shanghai and Basel campaigns where he was up inside the court, thrashing his opponents with that topper BH and brutal FH. He wasn’t sure in London, and this hesitancy probably did-him-in. We saw this in his play with Zverev early, a pretty consequential match; he smartly played that BH slice a lot because it gives the tall German fits (keeping the ball low, etc.). Perhaps he just didn’t adjust enough to his different opponents and then became increasingly unsure of himself. Look at the camera cuts to his box; Ivan and Severin look like they’ve had some corrupt curry. Not all was quite right in Federer-land all week; at least that’s how I read it from the get-go. Still, I was surprised he wasn’t able to win the decider vs. Goffin. And like we said, bravo, David.
  2. The Sock v Dimitrov match went about according to plan. I thought Sock’s run ended here as that’s how I previewed the match, unlike my pick of Sock over Zverev, more or less. But we also referenced the fragility of Dimitrov. And he did try to give the match away there at the end. Sock showed-up again, despite taking that middle set off, like he did against Zverev; but when the chips were down, Sock hung easily with these more established players. Didn’t surprise me and I hope this turns-out to be a good experience that pays interest for Sock.
  3. Dimitrov’s fragility showed-up today vs. Goffin in the final. If I was having to pick someone in this final, I’d have to go with the Bulgarian, partly because of his form right now (85% of the time) and his easy win over Goffin earlier in the RR. But he had all sorts of trouble here too with closing-out the match and the championship. Credit goes to Goffin for playing such gutsy and quality tennis when he needed to (I believe he saved 5 championship points, several other big BPs as well), but the Bulgarian got shaky again. Sure enough, an error from the Belgian ended this match; still not sure Dimitrov could have closed on his own racquet. The errors did begin to creep-up on the tired Goffin, who played a whale of a tournament — and he has a DC final v France in about a week. . . on clay I suspect. :0

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One thing that really adds to David’s game is something that was talked about in his win over Nadal but you could see Federer struggle with this, as well and it goes back to his fluency on both wings: his opponents have trouble reading where he’s going. Same set-up and movement whether that BH/FH is going CC or DTL. Lovely little nuance that drove Fedal, among others, a little crazy.

So, bravo to all — a surprising final but really solid tennis at times from all 7 players (we’re leaving that little Spanish contingent out of this 😉

Goffin’s run has to be the most compelling story here (sorry, Grigor even though this is the biggest title of your career). Goffin is practically a journeyman, but has had really a brilliant 2017. His play on the European clay was very high quality and after coming-back from his injury at RG, he played well enough (two titles in Asia if I’m correct) to get himself into London, along with representing in Belguim’s inspiring Davis Cup run. Then his London exploits, which include sending packing Nadal and Federer both. I waved the Belgian national flag for a reason (before even the SF): Goffin’s humility and class belong near the top of this sport.

Dimitrov is a bit more complicated, for me. I have referenced 1,000,000 times my Grigor stock purchase at the tail-end of 2016 – he played well there in the fall, which catapulted the one-hander (seemingly) into his run in Australia early 2017. His Brisbane tennis was dynamite, truly.

We know of the epic five-setter in the Melbourne SF v Nadal. But that, I guess, was his early peak. He struggled through the spring, really didn’t have much to show even through WB (Federer toyed with him in the R16 4 2 and 4).

But then he wins Cincinnati vs. a strong Kyrgios. Well, well. On the eve of NYC, the athletic, all-courter has finally decided to revisit that early 2017 hard court form.

In New York, losing in straights to Rublev in R64 pretty much spoiled that delicacy. Sure, Rublev made a nice little run there at the U.S. Open, but Dimitrov should have found that deeper draw, perhaps a date with Nadal. Of course, Dimitrov was part of that grand slam bracket implosion at the 2017 U.S. Open.

Still, Dimitrov was being Dimitrov. Losing in the Stockholm final to Del Potro just another nail in the proverbial coffin.

Yet, here we are (congrats, Dimitrov!). If 2017 has taught us anything, it’s that players rise from the dead. Right?

2018 will be all kinds of interesting on that topic.

2017 Fedal Officially Over and Out

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

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

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

Of course, none of this occurred.

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

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

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

Congrats to David Goffin!

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

450px-Flag_of_Belgium.svg

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

I certainly never said Federer had this match in the bag. 😉

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

Do you see the irony?

A wrap on the two matches later today or tonight.

Some Belgian ale certainly on tap tonight. 🙂

Monte Carlo Wrap: Same Old, Same Old

The title of this post doesn’t necessarily refer to the Nadal win, his 10th MC title and his 29th Masters title (a new-era metric for all of you tennis “historians” out there who unknowingly build wishful thinking logical fallacies to promote their favorite player).

Nadal continuing to play solid tennis is more the story relating to his win, not that he wins MC again, or that he’s at home on clay (again).

2017 Fedal continues to sort things out at the top of the tour right now and with Murray and Djokovic (and Wawrinka) continuing to struggle, the theme of the ATP has to continue to be delightful/shocking/miserable for diverse tennis fans.

b083fe955fd8187e932d5dInstead, the “same old” refers to clay’s inferiority as far as championship tennis is concerned. The tennis, all the way around, was pretty mediocre this past week, but I am guilty of comparing the tennis to hard courts or even grass (the grass seems to have gotten a bit chunkier and soft in the last ten years or so, as well).

Before I get ahead of myself, I do want to applaud Goffin, who played very well, consistent, quick, beautiful hitting from both sides ( and especially from the mental stand-point, how he was able to stay upright and close-out Djokovic, how he had control of the SF until a chair umpire took a giant doo doo on the red clay of the Monte Carlo Country Club). And applause too to Rafa, who did what he was supposed to do (and let me reiterate, in defense of Nadal: he has been playing well all year, so one figures he should consolidate his quality of play on hard courts at the first clay opportunity he has). Again, bravo to both players.

But the clay tennis just didn’t really take-off, in my humble opinion, which is the same-old. It rarely seems to take-off.

The Nadal v Zverev match is a great exhibit of the dramatic change of surface (change of season) on the ATP and the inferior tennis quality fostered on clay. Nadal buried the 20 year-old in long, exhausting rallies of top-spinning risk-free tennis the German just couldn’t withstand; the images of Sascha standing there in complete dejection were almost bizarre. Again, credit to Nadal for mastering this style, but what a substantial shift in court quality from the truer bounce and style that is the hard court. Zverev looked like many players this week, who seemed to wilt in the conditions (not the heat): the call for uninspired ping-pong-like rallies that go to the fittest player with the best top-spin and clay sensibility.

Ramos-Vinolas is a perfect example of this kind of “specialist.” The balls in almost every rally seemed like those practice balls you can buy that are bigger and lighter, which you can smash, but they don’t carry nearly as far. This makes them great for rallying, for practicing bigger baseline groundstrokes that pose much less threat to the hitting partner.

I didn’t watch every match of Monte Carlo, but Nadal and Goffin seemed to play the most inspired tennis; Goffin was seen flattening-out some shots, looking very confident around the court, and Nadal is, of course, fairly apt at harnessing some depth and weight on his clay groundstrokes.

The bit of the Pouille v Ramos-Vionlas match I saw was unwatchable. Pouille tried desperately to play “tennis,” but was met with this soft-top balloon-ball from the Spaniard that rendered almost a different sport. It was painful. The look on the Frenchman through-out the first set sealed the result of that match. Ramos-Vinolas is a decent player, but come-on.

If you’ve been reading the last couple of days, you saw the comment by my esteemed Belgian reader who posted an excerpt of an interview with one-time clay great Thomas Muster (I put a little effort into finding the actual interview online, but to no avail, so we have to take this reader’s word for it. But it makes sense to me).

The comment reads:

“The following interview on Skysports is worth sharing with you’ll I think .
Annabel Croft: Has tennis on clay changed ?
Thomas Muster: It’s the balls that have changed. They are made now (in comparison with back then) of a different kind of rubber, and have also less pressure (inside is a gaz) than they used to have. As a result of this the current balls don’t take off (the ground) as fast as they used to in the past, which gives the defender more time to track the ball down and hit a passingshot. In other words, the attacking player is now getting punished on volleys that used to be winners in the past; and because it is harder to hit winners, the rallies tend to be much longer (too long in his opinion) than they used to be in the past.”

This only fit with much of what I have seen in the past, but seemed especially apparent this week in Monte Carlo. I know the clay is a different surface, that this kind of diversity of surface is good for the sport, but the conditions seem to be “worsening.”

The defense-first tennis is just tiring; one can see it in the more offensive-minded players and from fans, as well. We have discussed the changes in the sport and we will continue to march to this band or warning: the bigger equipment, softer balls, softer surfaces, better “nutrition,” etc., impede sport integrity and history.

Albert Ramos-VinolasThe other point that evidences my title, that this is clay, that this is the same-old, concerns that ghastly call by Cedric Mourier in the 6th game of the first set of Goffin v Nadal. To put this shot into context, we all have to acknowledge that Nadal was putting massive pressure on Goffin in the game, that even before the controversial call at
advantage Goffin, there had been 4-5 deuce and advantages in this intensely tight game at 3-2, Goffin serving for a pretty firm hold on that first set. Nadal was finding his feet after being really dominated in the first 4-5 games. In other words, this was already becoming pretty tight; one had to assume this was going to probably go Nadal’s way, either way.

But the call was buffoonery. Mourier should have been stripped naked and sent shamefully to the shower or the waters of the Riviera. Get the hell out of here with that garbage. The ball sailed long, the call was made by the line judge and not even Nadal raised an eye-brow, looked at it, or glanced at his box.

Goffin was getting situated to return serve. But this Cedric the Entertainer-type comes bumbling out of his chair to confirm. . . what? That the match is fixed? That you fell asleep, Mr. Mourier?

And because it’s clay, there is no Hawk-Eye; the system hasn’t been calibrated for clay. The rationale stands that Hawk-Eye is not needed on clay because of the mark left by the ball. There have been far too many cases where these umpires have missed. The Hawk-Eye TV determined, like everyone else watching the point, that the ball was long, that Goffin had a 4-2 lead in the first set of a SF v Nadal.

Having said that, as I already pointed-out, the match was tightening, Goffin’s upper-hand in the early stages of the first set was weakening and in no way can we determine that this decided the match.

But it reminded us of the claw (flaw of the clay). Believe it.

Of course, the call drew heavy boos from anyone watching and really affected the play of David Goffin, a top-ten player who was making a big run at a Masters 1000. His play has been pretty solid of late. In 2017, he has reached the AO QF, and finals at Sofia and Rotterdam, before a couple of 4R defeats at IW and Miami.

His win over Djokovic was a big break-through for sure.

The win answered my rhetorical question from my previous post about the survival of the Serb. Said survival was in massive doubt from our end. Did I think Goffin had it in him to put the Djoker out of his misery? I did not and I was wrong.

I figured Nadal would do the trick.

Not sure how the Serb processes a loss like this. The obvious point is he is still struggling, in a big way. Remember, even though Goffin, a solid top-ten player on the tour these days, beat him, he has been struggling with all sorts of players from all sorts of rankings. He is going to have to make quicker work of these earlier round “beatable” opponents in order to control and overcome even more dangerous opponents.

Then again, if 2017 Fedal has anything to tell us: it’s that these great players, who have so many past victories to fuel their impending form and motivation, can recover from these apparent dips in quality.

As I have written, however, on several occasions, Djokovic needs to get back to his winning ways sooner than later. Younger talent is rising, and his game, one of endurance, a huge base-line grind, and steel-nerved BPs doesn’t dominate forever.

We suspect he’ll find more fitness in the coming weeks, but one could see the clay grind and three-set standard taking their toll on the Serb.  With regards to the time violation against Goffin in the QF, Djokovic said, “That’s fair from the chair umpire to tell me that I’m taking a little bit too much time. It was just in a very awkward moment to give me a warning. . .It’s just that sometimes there should be maybe a little bit more tolerance and understanding for certain situations like that one, where it was very long point, at 6-5 in the third.”

The chair got this one right, I’m afraid.

Reader Poll!

Just kidding. I prefer the actual discussion of these questions that websites and blogs often offer their readers. Sure polls and surveys are “fun” and interesting and easy, I suspect. rafa-nadal-acapulco_0But let’s hear what you have to say, rather than “see” what button you push. 😀

  1. Who needs an Acapulco win more: Djokovic or Nadal? The Serb’s late entry smells of some kind of (winning) strategy (or concern/desperation). Some might see the Djokovic WC as ominous for that 500’s field, a nice depth of talent, for sure. What say you?
  2. How much is at stake in Acapulco for players such as Raonic, Thiem, Zverev or Goffin? In a few hours, Raonic faces Del Potro down in Delray Beach for that title. How might these early 2017 tilts be critical for his season, or is he set to wallow around the top-8 all year? Thiem too has a shot at a title in Rio, set to play his SF against Ramos. Is this Abierto Mexicano Telcel all about Novak and Rafa, or do these others have a chance to clarify the narrative here – andy-murray-a-dubai-le-26-fevrier-2015.jpgchanging of the guard or status quo?
  3. How badly does Murray need to reestablish his world #1 form in Dubai?
  4. What does Dubai mean to Federer?
  5. Are we, again, giving Wawrinka a pass here, or is the top of the Dubai marquee just that much more interesting?

There you go, readers: do a little poll dancing 😀

I will wrap the weekend especially after the Marseille and Delray Beach champions are crowned. Tsonga took out Kyrgios is three sets in the first Open 13 SF, so we’ll have a bit on that match; the Frenchman waits for the winner of Pouille v Gasquet – another match I look forward to watching.

And then the heavyweight bout: Raonic v Del Potro in Delray Beach. Something tells me Raonic really needs this win, beating the big Argentinian, more than he does the title; would be a nice two-for-one for the Canadian, but no easy task.

Bonus poll question: How much better is the 2017 tour with a healthy and dangerous Juan Del Potro?

February Tournament Play and Early 2017 Contenders

I watched Tsonga get his 2nd set break-of-serve of Goffin up 5-4 in their Rotterdam final, which became a run-away title for Jo-Willy 46 64 61. I was literally thinking, if he loses to Goffin here, it’s over for Jo-Wilfried. That tenth game of the 2nd set was so typical Tsonga. Microcosm of his career. He has the game and set in hand, 40-15, Belgian serving to get the set to a potential TB, maybe a straight-set win, massive achievement for the world #11, a guy who pretty consistently shows-up, but just doesn’t quite have the fire power of the top guys. Game goes to deuce. Tsonga hits a monster FH DTL to find another SP. Then Tsonga hits an inexplicably (characteristic) tired BH into the net. Then another show of brilliance. Then another soft point. He finally wins the game, but it’s just too typical of Tsonga to see this kind of, as I have said many times before, lackadaisical tennis. The 3rd set seems a pretty definitive measure of the contrast of these two tennis talents.

Goffin will continue to show-up and play solid tennis, but really doesn’t earn that distinction as a “contender” on the ATP, and we’re, of course, really talking about the 1000s and majors. None the less, I may be eating these words as back-to-back finals appearances in Sofia and Rotterdam is tremendous work. I am rooting for the Belgian player. I used to have a few Belgian commenters (I see some still read); perhaps they might find some poetic inspiration from the play of Goffin, resident of Monte-Carlo, the tennis capital, apparently.

Tsonga remains a potential threat, or contender, for the 2017 tour. Barely. But we’re always on the look for the underachieving Frenchman to bring some quality to these draws. Good for him to get this Rotterdam title, which had a loaded field.  The mysterious Frenchman . . .

I’m late on this 2017 tournament commentary, but Montpellier, Sofia two weeks ago and Rotterdam, Memphis and Buenos Aires this past week provide some insight that will only become clarified, extended or complicated in the coming weeks as we anticipate the tour touching-down in the desert for the 2017 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, the season’s first Masters 1000.

Dimitrov is still surging though he was beaten in Rotterdam last week by finalist Goffin. Dimitrov took care of business in his hometown of Sofia with what looked like a very emotional bit of tennis for the Bulgarian. A much anticipated SF between Grior and DimitrovBH.jpgDominic Thiem came up empty as the Austrian fell to 24 year-old Nikoloz Basilashvili, from Georgia. Dimitrov is on track for sure. Of course, we had that back in the first weeks of January, our eyes on Baby Fed because of his strong finish to 2016. Indeed, this tennis site strives for no surprises.

In other words, as lovers quarrel over GOAT genitalia, we keep our eyes on the prize.

Dominic Thiem continues to make his case for being a contender. Sure he lost early in Sofia, but he was the #1 seed, and followed that up with a great win in 1R of Rotterdam where he got quite the floater in Sascha Zverev, coming off his win at Montpellier, where he dismantled a bunch of locals on his way to another title (Chardy, Tsonga and Gasquet all took the mat against the young German).

Thiem beat Zverev 36 63 64 in a show of big hitting youngsters showcasing the future. Something to keep an eye on: Thiem figured-out the 6’6″ Zverev had trouble with balls below the net; this became an obvious strategy and advantage. Turned the match around.dominicthiem2017australianopenday2pucnqoemiojl Clearly, Zverev is the next Del Potro. Aside from obvious style differences, the comparison is pretty clean though Zverev needs to develop that huge FH. Good early season match-up of future stars we’ll probably reference again.

Worth noting that Zverev and his older brother won the Montpellier doubles. Great work! What genius turn of events Melbourne was – the rise of Mischa among the highlights.

Dimitrov actually had a tough 1R match against Mischa in Rotterdam before his rematch with Istomin. After those two Melbourne throw-backs, Grigor took it on the chin to Goffin in the following match.

What we see in the relevancy of Sascha is the influence this has on Mischa, so we get a kind of two-for-one. Mischa will hopefully remain a strong threat in the early rounds for the lazy or incomplete player.

So far: Contenders: Tsonga (barely but brilliant Rotterdam win, mate!), Dimitrov, Thiem, Sascha. . .Nishikori?

The loss to Dolgopolov is pretty poor. I didn’t watch much of this tournament at all, but there is not concern here, really. I will say this (listen up, Belgium): Goffin’s play puts him just a few steps to the rear of Nishikori. That’s not looking at the last three years, but three weeks, so admittedly Goffin has to continue, to consolidate.  But I’m growing weary of Kei, perhaps more a Tsonga-type than anything: one magical run to a major final, like Jo-Willy, interestingly enough. His collapse in the WTF, his inability to stay healthy. Guys like Dimitrov have so much more game and variety. That baseline “brilliance” made famous by Djokovic and Nadal is beginning to wear-out, my tennis friends.

How about Cilic, our dear friend, Marin. Good heavens he stinks. First match in Montpellier, as the #1 seed, he loses to 32 year-old Dustin Brown, who’s no slouch, granted, but what the hell. Then Marin travels to Rotterdam, again as the #1 seed, only to get hammered by Tsonga in the QF (Cilic survived a 3-setter 1R vs. Paire and a 3-setter vs. Coric to reach Tsonga). Awful, dreadful stuff from world #7, winner of a single major.

Should we include Cilic in our contender category? No.

Let’s get to the big boys.

Raonic? Not convinced. I love his professionalism, but don’t like the athleticism and his professionalism can actually be seen as a try-hard. He forces the ball too often. He does not have the athleticism of a Del Potro or Sascha Zverev. He’s more Isner than those two.

Del Potro. We get some evidence in Del Ray Beach (Florida) this week. How can his play somehow decline from 2016? We will be rooting hard for the Gentle Giant this year.

Wawrinka always. Can’t wait for him to find a few good matches, maybe a good run at one of the clay Masters as a run-up to Roland Garros. We need Stanimal in Paris all pissed off and fit.

Sir Andy should rebound well. He probably wins Miami and will be a handful/nightmare for many this season.

Roger won Melbourne. We’ll have more to say about his 2017, but I think he’s very dangerous. How is he not very very dangerous at this point? His tennis is not as physical as the rest of the gang. He’s got so much experience it’s nauseating. . .to his detractors. His nadal_netfaultserve is big and he may have found the perfect pitchman who doubles as the janitor, just the guy Roger needs in his corner at this point: Ivan the terrible.

Who wants to play Roger, raise your hand?

Nadal may be just as compelling as Roger, for obvious reasons, but with the FO on the horizon, he has to be readying his game for war. Looks like he liked what he saw in Moya: Toni announcing his “retirement.” Finally. Several parallels in the Fedal 2017 campaigns, no?. Moya makes Rafa another unknown quantity, like Federer. Nadal’s Melbourne tactics were very interesting. Look at his ROS court positioning vs. Raonic. Not sure Milos has much for a surging Rafa anyways, but this seemed to be a huge factor. Out of nowhere.

Another show of hands. Who wants to play Rafa?  😀

This spring should be a blast.

Ahh, and then there’s Slowvak Courtkovic, or N(sl)o(w)le. Tell the fan club sniffing the slow court specialist’s gym shorts to shut it down; they’re making their boyfriend look like a Djoker.

Novak is one of the greats. That’s our position we’ve written about from day 1.

But there has been a bit of change in the narrative as of the last 9 months, which has given birth, if you will, to a bit of Serbian crisis.

And, again, no surprises here. The base-line physicality of defense-first tennis has massive limitations. See: age. And the demise of court homogenization?  I have so much to say about a Sampras/Federer kind of universe vs. an alternatively slow court era.

But back to the Serb.

Not enough has been made about the 2016 Djokollapse. Think of the fan club talking now about his clay prowess as RG nears. Comparing him to Roger, talking of his domination of the Spaniard whose level fell off the face of the earth.

Folks, fan clubbers and tennis aficionados alike: the Djokollapse was a disaster for the guy. History is speeding by and the time is now to get “it” while the getting is good. Roger’s early 2000s is of that model, as is Nadal’s FO domination. Novak’s time is/was now. He novak-djokovic-australian-open-tennis_3406915needs to mount that horse in a hurry and get back to business. He hasn’t done enough to become what the fan club desires so desperately.

Most sensible tennis brains have the top level as Laver/Federer/Sampras/Nadal. Why? Partly because of majors and enough of the eye test to say, yes. I actually put Lendl right up there, as well. Nole is essentially in there because he’s not done. But he has to win big tournaments. 2017 AO was huge. So was 2016 WTF and 2016 USO. The man has to get his act together quick.

The fan club says Novak is back on track. The Mcshow Tennis Blog has doubts in that the very evidence that Djokovic is back is flawed. That poor 2nd set in the Doha final about which we were clear was a sign of lingering trouble, not to mention his 2R dismissal in Melbourne suggest he has to prove the reverse of this pattern is reality and not nostalgia.

Obviously, Novak is a contender; if we’re getting to the business-end of the tennis in these tournaments, he should be right there. His big match mettle is all-time. But he needs to wake-up, smell the coffee and get back to his winning formula.

Fedal is rejuvenated and Murray is on his own last crusade. Not to mention Stan is your worst nightmare. Yeah, I’m talking to you.

Everything tennis looks pretty damn good, you all. Sorry for the delay in discourse.
Know that I’m here, defending the wall. Always.

Bring on March.

Dimitrov’s SF Run at the AO

I’m up, working and waiting on this last quarter final.

Dimitrov into the second SF with a straight set win against the overmatched Belgian, David Goffin. He awaits the winner of Raonic v Nadal.

Dimitrov is, needlesstosay, rolling.

This post seems quite prescient, no (“Djokovic v Dimitrov”)?  Not that Djokovic and Dimitrov ended-up playing in a high-stakes match at the AO – because they certainly did not. Djokovic ducked Dimitrov, remember? 😀

grigordimitrov2017australianopenday2u8fiw81ovvjlThe prescience, rather, is in the point of that article. I complicated Djokovic’s Doha win, trying to remind readers that the three-set win vs Murray was not nearly as impressive or dominant because of the way he let that second set get away. That was trouble, the win camouflaging the Serb’s persistent vulnerability.

On the other hand, I began to hint there of the potential world-beating form that the Bulgarian was consolidating in Brisbane amongst a deep field, having dispatched Raonic and Nishikori himself. I was buying a bit of Bulgarian stock late 2016 and feverishly purchasing having seen his play in Brisbane.

Folks, he’s in the AO SF. And Djokovic is out. That article, written Jan. 8, pretty much details each player’s respective AO fate.

Get your popcorn ready for Raodal. The Canadian needs to be efficient. I will stay-up to watch the first set. Even though that won’t tell us much, given that Nadal will have dressed for an ultra marathon, Raonic should be able to set the tone by then. . .or not.

Rest up, Grigor.