Draw Analsysis

U.S. Open Early Observations

I didn’t weigh-in on Federer getting put into that top half, but I suppose I did mention the draw was a joke. Murray’s pull-out highlighted the stupidity of the draw; it was lopsided US Open Tennisand a joke even before Murray’s exit. I think we’re all pretty skeptical of there being some kind of objective draw. I am not part of the big “fix” conspiracy, but we know match-ups are desired for the paying audience. This is a business. People cry about draws all of the time, especially when they feel like their player got a bad one.

Why in the world wouldn’t the U.S. Open want a possible Fedal final? They’ve never played in NYC, the tournament is pretty much all about their fate, their race to #1, their rivalry, etc.

Perhaps the tournament thought: let’s put them in the same half so no one can accuse us of playing favorites, doctoring the draw, etc.

Instead, USO, we’re accusing you of being fucking morons. Yeah, the obscenity is needed here because what they did (the Murray scratch only clarifies – the fuck-up was already made) is a terrible dis-service to the sport.

The SF could be epic, if both make it that far, but this makes no sense, at all.

In most tournaments, the 1 gets the 4 and the 2 gets the 3. Does that make sense? Of course it does. If you are the No. 1 seed, you get to play the lowest of that top four. You earned that. At least that’s how most tournament seedings and draws work.

Either way, the draw sucks.

I have seen a bit of tennis, so let’s jump around and have a look.

Couple of things from our Preview:

“Federer:

R1 American Frances Tiafoe, a 19 year-old we’ve talked about a lot; you know we’re excited about this guy.”

This was not as shocking as everyone wanted to say it was. Tiafoe is for real, played Roger tough in Miami in March, beat a flagging Zverev in Cincinnati and basically has the goods to be a very dangerous player on this tour for years to come.

His athleticism, serve and FH jump-out as game changers. Not sure if it was the back, but Roger let go of several of those CC FH from the American.

As I echoed on twitter, we will forgive Federer from going five with this talent, but getting broken at 5-3, serving for match in the fifth? That was abominable. However, Federer breaks back to take the match 6-4. You got me, Roger. Pretty ugly, but a win is a win. If he serves-out at 5-3, the match is almost exactly 2 hours and 30 min. Not a back breaker if you know what I mean.

Even blowing that and having to break Frances for the win didn’t make this the marathon that a five-setter might sound like. This match was good for Federer though he better tighten-up the serve and everything else. It’s now or never for the Swiss king.

Federer will not have Kyrgios in the 4R; the Aussie lost today, which, again, is not a big surprise. I said this about Kyrgios in my preview: “I am not positive that Kyrgios will be in as good a place as Dimitrov, coming off the Cincinnati final.”

Conversely, Dimitrov cruised through R1, but still has to play well, and take care of business in order to find that QF with the Spaniard.

Preview: “Dimitrov, ladies and gentlemen, is the Cilic of WB 2017. Where Dimitrov lands would have been my biggest interest or concern. Think of the context of such a QF [vs. Grigor+Dimitrov+2016+Open+Day+2+ssHYrGqCPWelNadal] given their 2017 AO SF. Dimitrov should react very favorably to the Cincy win, his first Masters title. Given his experience, his early 2017 HC run and his coach, I would not want much of any of Dimitrov in NYC.”

That win in Cincy was big for the Bulgarian. Glad to see my stethoscope is still working.

As for Nadal, I watched some of his match with that Serbian. What did I say there: “R1 with a Serb. . . who looked dangerous vs Federer in Wimbledon, as they went to a first set TB. Or so I heard. Or not really.” Okay, it was a fairly routine match, but it did actually resemble the Federer match at WB quite a bit. A first set TB and then a one-sided affair.

But here’s my concern with Nadal. First, his tennis is not made for this surface even though the main stadium has apparently been slowed-down this year – a travesty if the rumor (from Brad Gilbert) is true.

He’s not as comfortable and secondly, he doesn’t like the roof. Have a look around to find his comments about the roof and this was apparent if you watched the match as he paused and stalled often on serve and at other times, looking at sections of the seats, looking pretty aggravated.

When the roof is closed, aside from that cleaning-up the tennis, the acoustics apparently drive any crowd noise down onto the court. In other words, it’s loud in there. Nadal was quite bothered by this factor.

As for the tennis, his straight-set victory was only slightly marred by a wayward FH, but we won’t read much into that as it’s the first round.

Lastly, I thought it was pretty funny when a reporter asked Nadal and Federer about facing each other in the SF. Federer, ever the buttoned-up PR machine, said he would love to play Rafa in NYC since it would be great for the sport and they’ve never faced-off at the USO, etc. etc. What did Rafa say? Ha ha. I love the honesty. He said he would rather play someone “easier.” Priceless stuff from Nadal.

So, I think he’s a bit uneasy as he normally is this time of year. I still have my eye on that Berdych R16. We do not get the Tommy Paul R2 match as he faded drastically to the Japanese Taro, losing 26 26 in the 4th and 5th sets. WTF. Nadal looks unchallenged until that Berdych match, if the Czech big-man can take care of his end.

As for Nadal’s potential QF with Dimitrov, obviously there is a lot of tennis to play. And Dimitrov actually has some potential difficulty in his next match vs. the 19 year-old Russian Rublev, and then a potential R16 match with Monfils.

Back to Federer really quick, he now has Youzney, a Spaniard (Verdasco/Lopez) and then whatever comes-out of that Kyrgios section, headed now by Kohlschreiber.

Like I said in my Preview, I thought Nadal had the tougher draw on paper because of his potential match sequence of Berdych, Dimtrov and Federer. Federer had a tough R1, but things have opened-up a bit.

Again, lots of tennis to play.

In the bottom half:

Although Zverev seems to have a half of the draw to himself (many picking him to win the U.S. Open), he’s got trouble including right now, down 2 sets to 1 to Coric, in the 2R. If he can pull himself out of that hole, he gets the winner of Anderson v Gulbis (Anderson serving for a 2-0 sets lead). Zverev has his hands full.

Like I said in my preview and I’ll say again now: if Cilic is healthy, he’s going to be very tough, obviously his history here in NYC playing a role the deeper he goes.

I will say the Pouille v Cilic R16 (if that transpires) could be a big match (remember last year when I called the Nadal v Pouille as the potential match of the tourney? And it was? haha).

I just watched Pouille survive the American 20 y/o Donaldson in five sets. Donaldson went down 0-2 and came back to force the 5th set.

But Pouille is finding his stroke. Some big hitting at the end of that match. I hope Pouille can keep that bracket honest down there and reach and represent in that potential R16 monster against the 2014 champ. Keep your fingers crossed.

The other player I’m keeping an eye on is the young Brit Edmund. He spanked Haase in R1 and now looks to be doing the same vs. Johnson right now, going-up 2 sets to zip.

Everyone tune-in tonight to watch Jo-Willy v Shapovalov. The one-hander seems to love the big stage and he’s on the big stage tonight. Look for Tsonga to put-up an early push to crush the youngster. I like the Canadian to stay in the match and feed off the NYC zoo.

Hope you’re enjoying the tennis.

2017 U.S. Open Draw

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There you have it.

Top Half

Nadal‘s route to the final:

R1 with a Serb. . . who looked dangerous vs Federer in Wimbledon, as they went to a first set TB. Or so I heard. Or not really.

Then my boy Tommy Paul (if he survives and arrives) R2 gets a shot at Rafa with his maturing game – athletic, so can track and return via his American east coast roots of clay (rooting for the American, American tennis actually). Would love to see this match.

Gasquet is Nadal’s reward in 3R if he survives the Serb and American b2b.

Berdych (maybe a lunatic Fognini) in 4R.

Dimitrov in the QF and Federer in the SF.

Federer:

R1 American Frances Tiafoe, a 19 year-old we’ve talked about a lot; you know we’re excited about this guy.

Then a Feli Lopez or Verdasco/Pospisil in R3,

followed-by Querrey or Kyrgios in R16, then a Thiem/Delpo/Agut QF, to be followed by, if history allows such an event to take place, a SF with Nadal (their first meeting ever at the USO).

As usual, so much of any such discussion depends on the form of the players.

All things, including health, being equal, Nadal is more vulnerable. I sure hope Paul tests the No. 1 seed, but really Nadal should get his first big test against Berdych or Fognini, both of which could be tough and/or garbage (pardon the honesty). If Berdych is firing, he could be a handful in NYC. He lost 1R in Cincy to a complicated Delpo, in three sets. Berdych should be that 4R match for Nadal.

Dimitrov, ladies and gentlemen, is the Cilic of WB 2017. Where Dimitrov lands would have been my biggest interest or concern. Think of the context of such a QF given their 2017 AO SF. Dimitrov should react very favorably to the Cincy win, his first Masters title. Given his experience, his early 2017 HC run and his coach, I would not want much of any of Dimitrov in NYC.

In case you’re wondering, that means Nadal’s draw is quite tough. Remember, such a potential threat in the QF puts more weight on the early matches. Nadal needs to get to a QF or SF fresh and raging with confidence. Baby-Fed and Fed b2b will be some serious tennis, for anyone. Again, all of this is dependent upon good health.

Federer’s most difficult situation comes about from a rampant Kyrgios.

But I don’t see the difficulty others seem to be saying about Federer’s draw (other than all of this is difficult!).

A case could perhaps be made for the big serve creating some difficulty. He has the potential of seeing Querrey, Kyrgios, Delpo, and Karlovic; or grinders like Agut or Mannarino. Theses are all potential hazards on HC, but the variety of Federer in Bo5 should be way too much for any of these players.

I am not positive that Kyrgios will be in as good a place as Dimitrov, coming off the Cincinnati final. I could be dead wrong, too. Maybe this is the major where Kyrgios comes-of-age, fulfills that (or more of that) prophecy. I watched Querrey hand it to a hot Kyrgios in Acapulco, so maybe we get that re-match. Kyrgios still has to prove he can weather big-time adversity for two weeks.

I see Federer, if his back is 95-100% good, having a test in this 4R if Kyrgios is manic, but other than that, his ticket to the historical SF should be secure.

Nadal might have, in my estimation, one of the real contenders for this title in his 4R opponent: Dimitrov.

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Bottom Half

Murray‘s 4R match vs. Ferrer or Pouille has some intrigue; Ferrer has been playing well lately, but Murray, if he’s healthy, looks pretty solid in this draw.

The Tsonga/dark horse QF doesn’t pose much threat, either.

We’ll have to wait and see about Murray’s form, but he got a pretty nice draw. Christmas in August we’ll call it.

Zverev, probably a lot of people’s picks here to win it all, has some nice NextGen action with Coric in R2, followed by potential danger in his “hitting partner” Kevin Anderson (they played in D.C. and Montreal) in R3, maybe a Sock or Muller in R4, followed by an Isner/Khachanov/Cilic QF.

We are not sure about Cilic. He could be fighting injury, or he could be healed and rested. He’ll just need to find his HC feet quickly in order to survive that 3R match with Khachanov and the 4R with the likes of Isner.

Is Zverev the favorite from the bottom half? Perhaps, but Bo5 is a big hill to climb for the young German, not to mention the bright lights.

Murray and Cilic have some question marks, so let’s have a look as play gets underway next week.

Health is a big factor here, as it always is, but the subject has even more resonance given this specific draw’s depletion to injury, the 2017 trend with Djokovic, Murray and now Wawrinka front and center (not to mention others missing and Federer’s back). Take this conversation back a year from today and you have Federer and Nadal struggling with injury.

There is a lot of talk surrounding the injury bug.

I will go into this tonight in another post. Some of the changes being suggested to fix this trend are rash and complicated. Mcshow will take-up the challenge, as always.

Conclusion on the draw:

Federer should reach the SF and play either Nadal or Dimitrov (remember our observations of Federer early in Montreal, before he seemed to “find” his form; he looked agitated, pretty poor. We haven’t, then, seen him with any kind of HC form like the one he showed January – March 2017. Between finding that magical form and his back, the more you think about it, the more of a long-shot even Federer seems).

Murray vs. the winner of Zverev v Cilic looks like the other possible scenario.

But things don’t always work-out this way, do they. We’ll continue with this discussion tonight, along with my thoughts on the injury “hysteria.”

Also, have you caught any of the replays of past USO men’s finals being aired on Tennis Channel? You’ve probably scene the matches before, but nice to revisit. They’ve got the last few years on a loop. The 2012 and 2013 USO finals are fairly remarkable, not necessarily in a good way. I will work observation of this tennis into the discussion of injury and other issues of the sport.

Sorry for the delay. Work ramping-up for me, which can be a bit distracting from these other, more interesting conversations. 😀

Rogers Cup 2017 Draw

Good evening/morning/day: I had hoped to post a broad write-up on the tennis I saw from D.C. and Los Cabos. Myriad story-lines and thoughts about players, court speed, Fedal 2017, the US Open, the loss of Stan to add to the plague that’s hit the ATP, etc. But that will have to wait – not going to waste the few notes I scribbled and the links to highlights I bookmarked.

rogers-cup

But the Rogers Cup is already underway, so let’s just make a few quick remarks about this tournament.

At the top is Rafa’s half and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he has a tougher draw than Federer; then again, the matches have to be played, so a draw’s difficulty on paper is often not what it turns-out to be. Nonetheless. . .

Nadal most likely gets Coric in R2, DPo in R16, QF with the likes of Raonic, Goffin or Mannarino, who has been playing well (Rafa should get Raonic though he did flame-out in D.C. to Jack Sock in that QF round in straights). The SF match is against the winner of the quarter from hell. If Rafa survives his quarter, he will get the winner of Sascha/Kyrgios/Khachanov/Anderson/Querrey/Tsonga.  That is a loaded bracket right there.

Naturally, we like Sascha who’s growing before our very eyes, but Kyrgios, I guarantee, will play much more to his early 2017 HC form here. He’s a softie (is there word his girlfriend left, which left his game abysmal the last month?). Tough to keep track of these soft Aussies; but Nick’s game is treacherous when he’s dialed-in/pissed/whatever turns him on. Remember that in both Indian Wells and Miami Kyrgios handled Sascha fairly well (IW was really one-sided). In other words, as well as the Younger is playing, Nick’s game is remarkable when he’s “feeling it.” Unfortunately, that’s a mystery.

Anderson, of course, is playing well, having reached the D.C. final last week, playing some very solid tennis and Querrey doubled-up his Mexican stash (winning Los Cabos to go with this title in Acapulco earlier in the year). Tsonga is probably due for a little run and we know Karen’s game has some depth.

With the news of Murray not playing this week, Nadal has a real shot at claiming the ATP #1 rank, which would be quite an accomplishment for a guy whose game was in the toilet two years ago. But that’s Nadal. I remember thinking in 2012 he was done.  .  .

Roger’s draw looks like this:
R16 (if he makes it) should be Sock or Edmund, QF with Nishikori/Monfils/RBA and SF with the survivor of Theim/Zverev the Elder/Dimitrov. Again, matches can swing a different way, so the match-ups could change, prove more difficult/favorable; we’ll have to see how this plays-out.

Indeed, this really is all about 2017 Fedal at this point. Tough to imagine this when we started the year – though Djokovic was spiraling, Murray was exhausted from his 2016 run, and Stan we never can tell anyways when he’ll make his presence felt. So, sure surprising, but the plot points for this had been planted as early as late last year. Of course, Cilic is missing from the Montreal draw, as well.

Federer has never won this title in Montreal, though he’s been contradicting all kinds of trends this year. I just don’t see much in his draw that could really trouble him; Dimitrov has not found that form from January, and the likes of Theim and Nishikori don’t appear to have the HC balls to overcome Federer. So unless he really has some kind of allergic reaction to the tennis of Uniprix Stadium, he should reach the final.

Nadal must have all kinds of motivation to bring his A game. I believe I read where if he makes the SF he claims the top spot of the sport, but correct me if I’m wrong. Still, if Raonic is finding some HC form, he could be tough as could the winner of that quarter of death (Sascha, Kyrgios, et al.).

Let me know what you think.

I’ll get that other post off tomorrow, looking back at last week’s tennis, for instance the play of Tommy Paul (I brought this to your attention after his win v Pouille and he made a bit of noise beyond that – hope you caught some of his play) and a few other thoughts – there was a lot of good tennis discussion just from the D.C. play.

Certainly another theme to track right now is the play and somewhat encouraging rise of the youngsters. Can they continue to make way (Kokkinakis, Kyrgios, the Americans, of course Zverev, et al.)?

The time is now, especially with a depleted veteran troop this week in Montreal.

PS
Happy Birthday, Roger Federer
36 on 8/8/17

2017 Wimbledon Draw

1200px-Wimbledon.svg

Morning chore: finding a good visual bracket one doesn’t have to scroll to death, click on different quarters, etc., one where the interested can sit back and get a pretty good look.

Here you go: Wikipedia (CLICK). This has a nice lay-out, includes the seeds and even has some other tidbits, such as the clarification that the only players who can claim ATP #1 in the world as a result of this tournament are Murray, Nadal, Wawrinka and Djokovic.

Start with the top half:

Murray

Murray has a decent draw early as the 1 seed, though his 3R match with a Jiří Veselý, who made Wimbledon 4R last year, or a 34 year-old Dmitry Tursunov, who made the WB 4R in ’05 and ’06 could provide an early test; more or less, the defending champ’s draw looks harmless until the fourth round where he could see a Pouille or Nick Kyrgios. Upsets to Pouille or Kyrgios would only make this top section that much more of a cinch for Murray to find some early tournament confidence, which he needs if he wants to contend late in this tournament.

Pouille won Stuttgart a couple of weeks ago, so he should be in decent form. Nick is a wild card, but let’s recall his form earlier this year on HC. If he can reach that 3R match with Pouille, we have an early tournament treat to whet our appetite.

So, Murray v Pouille/Kyrgios is that 4R match.

The other half of that quarter goes like this:

Wawrinka

Stan has an early test in the young Russian Medvedev who is currently down a set and a break to Djokovic in the Eastbourne SF, and then might see Tommy Haas in the 2R. Stan should have his wits about him, but we’re never quite sure. Similar to Nadal, Stan needs to survive those early matches, get to the second week’s confidence with some momentum. Stan’s 3R match sees a potential of K. Anderson, who’s grass skills can be dangerous, if he’s in form, which is a question.

In the top of that section, the names Tsonga and Querrey stand-out amongst the talent. Those two should meet in the 3R with the winner playing Wawrinka in that important 4R match to set-up the first QF.

Nadal

I’m going to say Nadal has the toughest draw of the top 4 seeds. Here’s why: as long as he survives his opener, he should see American Young who’s been playing a lot on grass recently, then a Russian in the 3R and if it’s Khachanov, this will be a test for Nadal unless he’s still chewing and spitting all walks of ATP talent like he was in Paris.

If Nadal is still breathing, his 4R match will be against either big serving Muller or Karlovic. Seemingly not the most brutal draw, but the likes of Khachanov and Muller, if those two reach Nadal, could make for some decent drama.

Cilic

The difficulty is in the other half of that quarter: Nadal gets Cilic. We talked about the Cilic factor earlier and despite losing in that Queen’s Club final to Lopez, in a brilliant tennis match, Cilic looks very dangerous, especially with the coaching he’s getting from Bjorkman. Although the FH could be Cilic’s undoing, he could be continuing to rise.

If he’s upset early, by the likes of a Kohlshreiber, or Mayer (those are Marin’s first two opponents so long as Mayer survives his 1R), he should get out of that draw, potentially facing Nishikori in that 4R.

A Cilic v Nadal QF is everything a tennis fan could want. If Nadal emerges from all of this, he could be very dangerous.

The bottom half beginning with

Raonic

The problem with last year’s finalist is he just hasn’t been playing very well recently. Can he play into form here? Sure. He had a first round dismissal at Queen’s Club by Kokkinakis, but then again everyone lost in the first round in that tune-up (Wawrinka, Raonic, and Murray). Still, Raonic doesn’t seem to intimidate like he did in last year’s form that had many believing he was finally fulfilling whatever hype surrounded the gangly Canadian lost boy.

He gets some early Russian love from perhaps Youzhny and the young Rublev or the Australian Thompson who beat Murray in their Queen’s Club opener. So, Raonic could be tested before he even gets to the 4R match with Sascha Zverev, whom everyone sees making a potential run here. Zverev gets the Federer killer Donskoy in 1R, maybe American future Tiafoe in 2R, but Zverev should make that 4R match. Does Raonic hold-up his end?

Federer

Federer has Dolgopolov in 1R, but after that should see broad daylight until his match with the winner of the Tomic v Zverev the elder 1R affair. The Federer v Tomic/Zverev 3R should precede the Federer v Isner/Dimitrov 4R match. Dimitrov might be on some radars, but I just haven’t seen that same form and confidence we saw in the early HC season. We’ve recounted some of his big losses here; he’s had a couple of doozies, like the IW loss to Sock in 3R where he had MP. He’s a dangerous all-courter and if he rises, Federer’s road does narrow a bit, but I could easily see an Isner v Federer 4R match-up.

We likely have Federer v Zverev QF in the works here, which has to favor the Maestro. . .

Thiem

The Austrian’s brilliance is still sipping wine along the Seine, I’m afraid. We would love to beliem in Thiem on this surface at this major, but we may have to wait a year or so for his game to mature to that versatility. He certainly has a beatable draw to the 4R, but that seems pretty wide-open.

Below, Berdych faces-off with Chardy in a tough 1R match, but then that part of the draw sees most likely Gasquet emerging to play the survivor of team Thiem.

Djokovic

Lastly, the Serb’s draw. He looks to have a decent look at making the SF, with a potential match with Federer.

Novak is into the Eastbourne final to face the winner of Monfils v Gasquet. He will likely see both Gasquet and Monfils at The Championships, potentially Monfils in 4R and Gasquet in the QF. That’s a pretty easy draw all things considered.

People will point to a 3R match between Djokovic and Del Potro, but the Argentine has to survive Kokkinakis in the 1R. Another Novak v Juan match would please the tennis palette for sure, but Novak, I suspect, will finally see some form and confidence return; mainly because he, literally, has nothing to lose.

One caveat is Novak could see Feli Lopez in that 4R, which we know could be quite a test for the 2 seed. Lopez, however, had his career high at Queen’s Club and might be in line for a dip.

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To summarize:

Quarter finals

  1. Murray/Pouille/Kyrgios v Wawrinka/Tsonga/Querrey
  2. Nadal v Cilic
  3. Federer v Zverev
  4. Djokovic v Berdych/Gasquet/Thiem

Potential detours exist but this seems the general make-up of this draw. Djokovic has a cake-walk if he’s actually finding some form. I mean, it’s almost a laugher.

A Federer v Djokovic SF is all there. This is where I will revisit the cosmos of balance, karma and ethos. Djokovic will be, if he’s still alive and playing well, ripe for a return to form. His collapse has been historic, as we’ve made plainly clear. But there is balance in the universe, something you and I know quite well.

Up top, the Murray quarter seems a bit wide-open because we’re not sure about Murray and he has some real danger in his first section. The Wawrinka section is equally as vague. A Murray v Wawrinka QF could be an interesting encore to their RG SF classic.

Perhaps the most anticipated return, other than Novak’s from his deep hibernation, is Nadal’s return to grass after an unbelievable display at Roland Garros. As I argued vehemently, his form should transfer. The basics of tennis athleticism and surface homogenization make anything but a deep run from the Spaniard very troubling.

And he gets Cilic. The winner of Cilic v Nadal, if that manifests, could very well be the finalist from the top.

Federer has to continue to find that consistency and close-out mentality. Tip-toeing through the tulips will not beat an ascendent Serb who could find all kinds of motivation to return to No. 1 and ruin the Federer parade.

Very very interesting, my friends.

Miami Looking Like Indian Wells #Fedkyrinka

The boys that played well in IW are more or less still doing damage in Miami. Just at a glance you have Federer, Wawrinka, Kyrgios, and Sock looking good along with others like Zverev and Nishikori. But that top four are definitely not missing a beat.

I’m pretty sure I mentioned in my last post the legitimate hype around Frances Tiafoe. He played Federer in the 2R and did not disappoint. He is 19 years-old. Athletic and wants to win. First set was worth watching.

He’s the Americans’ most promising future talent right now (Sock is the current go-to).

I lobbed a little prediction at the end of my last post, saying Wawrinka looks to secure in Miami his 2nd Masters title, first on the hard courts. If you look at the IW final, you’ll see not a huge separation between Federer and Wawrinka. Then again, there is.

But Stan looks good, setting-up that big FH. The FH is definitely his biggest weapon right now. He’s playing solid tennis and the later he gets, the tougher he’ll be. Think of how that 1-seed must feel. Pressure for sure, but anyone with a brain wants to represent that distinction. The Murray and Djokovic-less bracket has to put a little extra step in a top 5 game.

He has Zverev next and then most likely Kyrgios in the QF to try and find Federer in the other half of the top SF. If Stan can put both of these big hitting youngsters to rest, look-out. Definitely some must see tennis for Stan coming up.

StanSmartHowever, Federer continues to routine everything on the other side of the net. Granted, the IW final was a tight match, but he never looked really vulnerable. One has to recognize that if that first set in IW goes to TB, and Stan wins a big point, boom, trouble.  However, Federer just continues to out DEFEND, hit, serve, BH, i.e., diversify everyone. He is in absolute attack mode in just about every point. This is really the same kind of offensive-minded Federer we should be used to. Remember SABR? Federer has been looking to re-establish the attacking style of tennis each year because that’s what has always characterized his tennis.

Federer is so much trouble right now for anyone he’s played. He has a tough match today vs. Agut, but the surging Federer (in 2017?) should reach the SF, the winner today getting Berdych in that QF.

And Del Potro is still a #30-something level player right now.

Here’s a quick history of the Del Potro hysteria: He played pretty well last year (2016), with a few glimmers of form, but his Olympics success and Argentina’s Davis Cup triumph were the two biggest highlights. Just having him back on tour gets everyone, even me, pretty stoked for some tennis from this gentle giant.

The Olympic win over Djokovic in early tournament action freaked people out because they saw the Argentine as becoming a monster. But Djokovic was falling. No question.

Beyond that, there was some Del Potro excitement from Acapulco and then a little over-reaction to a draw that involved him and Djokovic again in Indian Wells. People read way too much into the Djokovic matches in Mexico and California. We talked about that a lot over here. Del Potro is a limited player right now, one-handed.

I said in my last post that Roger having not much trouble is very likely the outcome. Federer routined JD. More splendid tennis from Federer, hitting the ball ALL OVER the court. He’s all-court on both sides of the net. Tracking stuff down, and hitting it between your legs. Good luck with beating that kind of fluent genius. Really a pleasure to see Federer playing this well at this point in his career. So glad I got to see him live: the 2017 Federer is what this part of the legend is called.

I like a Sock v Nadal match very much if Nadal can beat Mahut today. Nadal will have his hands full as the American continues to play well. Sock is 15-3 on the season with two titles, one of which was to Federer in IW SF where he made a respectable showing. American tennis fans should be watching this part of Jack’s year/career; he’s trying to make a move with consistent play at a 1000 level tournaments helping make the case. Sock is developing some fitness, too, so the Nadal match could be interesting.

In closing, I particularly want to see the Wawrinka v Kyrgios QF happen only because of the potential fire-works there 😉 That would be a great match-up to anticipate (build Mcshow Tennis readership).

And we would be another step closer to perhaps the Kyrgios v Federer we’ve been anticipating.

The winner comes out of that top half. No one wants anything to do with Fedkyrinka!

I’ll be getting shirts with that hashtag. Start it now all of you social media heathens:

#Fedkyrinka #McshowTennisBlog

😀

Update: Stan looked positive, taking the first set from Zverev, but then went away, 2 and 1. Zverev won his first title in St. Petersburg last summer over Wawrinka in the final. This today is a bad loss. He had a miserable draw, having to beat Zverev, Kyrgios (most likely) and then Federer just to get to the final. But he’s got the seeding and the form right now; he should have at least stayed in the third set. Enjoy the breadstick, Stan.

Federer needed two TBs to beat the ever-present RBA. The grinding Spanish tradition carries-on. Good match, Federer had to work, and the shot-making was stellar.

I have written favorable words about almost every player (even Nadal). I am quick to congratulate and quick to wax poetic about a game in high-flying form. I am quick to call-out, as well, as you know.

If you are not enjoying Federer’s run, at 35 1/2 years-old, I call you to the floor to articulate your case; you know: test your tennis IQ. He’s continuing, as I have said, to ruin tennis.

Wawrinka is testing all of our intelligence and patience. In the end, he had a nice little early hard court season. With his one Masters title coming on clay (Monte Carlo) and one of his three majors (RG), let’s see if he can earn a little interest on this decent AO/IW/MI run over the next several weeks, leading to Paris (SF/SF/R16 – two SFs losses to RF).

So, he laid an egg today in Miami, but applause for Stan the Man from Mchshow Tennis.

Last on This Draw Hysteria

In the end, no one knows for sure what goes into a draw other than presumed tradition and objectivity with some minor manipulation, as I have seen mentioned. When you start throwing around words like “fixed,” or “rigged” you sound like a fanboy. That’s just the way it is. This is very much a matter of perspective. People are always looking after their guy, which is a source for these kinds of discussions in the first place.

Here’s five bottom quarters from IW ’14, ’15, ’16 and ’17 and Miami ’16:

2 31 24 16 9 21 25 6 (IW ’14 – #6 Del Potro withdrew from the tournament; James Ward got a LL spot in that bracket)

2 30 33 15 9 21 27 7 (IW ’15)

2 32 24 13 12 17 29 6 (IW ’16)

2 31 18 15 9 24 26 5 (IW ’17)

2 26 23 16 9 17 27 6 (Miami ’16)

Nothing at all alarming about this year’s “quarter of death.” Everyone (meaning the popular media and their herd) is freaked-out about the names, perhaps, but as far as seeds go, the IW 2017 draw is pretty much business as usual. When the star commentators even sound some alarm, this, again, is in reaction to the names in-front of those numbers.

Kyrgios and Zverev are still unproven, unequivocally, despite what you want to think; Del Potro is trying to play himself back into the rankings; Federer is coming off an injury plagued year (he was #17 in Melbourne); and Nadal is the 2017 version of Rafa.

If you analyze several of these kinds of draws, I’m sure you can find this or that oddity or exception, for instance the #31 seed of Del Potro doesn’t seem very appropriate (but that coincides with his ATP ranking). Blame Del Potro.

That “insight” from CB3’s graphs is also flawed. Read Wilfried’s comment on my last post and think about the whole discussion and how difficult such an analysis is – to be definitive about this massive indiscretion or conspiracy. I pointed-out to CB3 how in Federer’s case, being #1 for so long will definitely affect the seeds he faces in a tournament. Not to mention he’s 6 years older than Novak.

And then you have, as Wilfried points-out, the fact that certain players with the same rank in different years add difficulty to this kind of comparative analysis.

From Wilfried himself: “Remember my comment about the ranking points of players ranked top 10, top 9 etc a few weeks ago ? I didn’t say it explicitly on that occasion, but a knowledgeable reader would or could have concluded it from my comment: the ranking points that go with a certain ATP ranking, are themselves distributed according to a distribution which fits into the normal distribution, if we observe the behavior of those ranking points over a certain period of time. This implies that one player ranked nr. 10 in the ATP Emirates rankings is not necessarily comparable with another player ranked nr. 10. Or would you treat Roger Federer, currently ranked number 10 with 3,305 pts, on equal terms with Nicolas Almagro, ranked nr. 10 from July 25th 2011 till august 8th 2011 with only 2,165 points?”

Playing a #10 player in 2011 might be a completely different reality compared to playing one in 2017. Obviously. Failing to recognize this, or the age difference between Federer and the rest of that group, or that Federer spent over 300 weeks at #1 . . . this whole conversation is rendered lost, hopeless.

This is an interesting article – Wimbledon: Novak vs Mayer in R1; Andy, Roger, Rafa all in bottom half  – in light of this IW controversy, regarding the 2013 Wimbledon draw: 

From the article:

Novak’s potential rivals in the later stages of the tournament:

Third round: Jeremy Chardy (FRA, 28), Ryan Harrison (USA)
Fourth round: Tommy Haas (GER, 13), Gilles Simon (FRA, 19)
Quarter-finals: Tomas Berdych (CZE, 7), Richard Gasquet (FRA, 9)
Semi-finals: David Ferrer (ESP, 4), Juan M. del Potro (ARG, 8), Grigor Dimitrov (BUL, 29)
Finals: Andy Murray (GBR, 2), Roger Federer (SUI, 3), Rafael Nadal (ESP, 5)

Folks, if you look for something, you’ll find it.

Looking forward to the 2nd round where we can start to see some good matches.

Cheers.

2017 Dubai and Acapulco Takeaways

I did not get my post up fast enough prior to the Federer loss, but my brain and responsibility to the blog both wanted to articulate the importance of Murray winning this tournament; having the loss of Federer at hand, such a post would sound like meaningless rationalization. Should’ve tweeted it. 😀

Much of the tennis discourse recently has almost forgotten Andy, as his more famous tennis kin tend to outshine him, even in his more recent manifestation as world #1, in all his royal splendor. Slovak, Rafa, and BEL18VE have all been making more news (good and bad), seemingly, to the chagrin perhaps of Fandys.

Murray needed Dubai and he got it. He is still (would’ve been even with a loss) world #1, so we need him to act his ranking; with big tennis coming-up (IW starting next week), Andy needs to be in full swing, confidence back, ready to keep claiming this time and space. Bravo, Muzzard. The top of the sport needs his respectable consistency and quasi-dominant attitude. Again, the buzzards are circling Muzzard (Rafa is nearing his Acapulco title which is played tonight against American Querrey, who is playing some very good tennis, by the way). Roger is coming-off Melbourne mastery and Djokovic is going to come hard, as his tennis invincibility has been pillaged by enemy forces (and age, family life, i.e., who knows).

But what is the ultimate take away from these two 500s that hosted some fairly deep draws?

Other than the fact that we are seeing some positive tennis from the Big 4, which certainly complicates the tennis a bit (the days are gone of Nole having a staggering 8000 point distance between himself at No. 1 and the No.2 player), there is more threatening tennis from players around the draw that will add even more complication. There’s more parity. That’s where we are. Period.

Granted, some discussion boards and fangirl blogs will say that drugs are involved, that the way to explain this change of tour texture is in the illegal use of PEDs (the only thing dopey here are the people talking like this). Without proof, and seeing that the people saying these things either have an online identity of something like “NolesBrother” or are of the fangirl-type who tries regularly to refute the murray_dubaienemies of his “favorite player” by talking about drugs or fixed draws, court speeds, etc., we have to simply watch the matches and determine more reality-based conclusions. Such buffoonery is amateur-hour.

Take Roger, for instance. He lost to a 26 year-old Russian who a few years ago (2013) was as high as #65 in the world and has 9 challenger titles to his name. The ATP article that clarified some of this player’s background went-on to say that Youzhny and Marat Safin both have shown interest and influence on this player. Rather than pointing to any suspicion of the Russian (a country buried in recent drug charges and rumors), I’d point to the player’s playing career and the bit of tennis I saw him play in Dubai. Even in that first set, as I said in a recent comment on this blog, he was hitting the ball very well, sharp and offensive, and running down all kinds of Federer offense; breaking Roger at 1-5 in the first set was significant, for sure. Evgeny Donskoy can play. That is a reality, folks.

Having said that, let’s also clarify that Roger massively choked. No need to go into this, but having SEVERAL OPPORTUNITIES to finish the Russian and NOT FINISHING has to be a tremendous plate of crap that the Express must consume. But this is tennis and, like in life, shit happens (and sometimes one has to eat shit). The Maestro will survive and we have another player to keep an eye-on. Next.

Djokovic’s play, again, according to “NolesShowerBuddy” on the discussion board over at FantaticTennis dot com, or the fangirl, is the result of other players taking drugs and/or rigged draws.

But let’s just look at the facts: he is losing a lot of tennis matches. Go back to Wimbledon (where he was beaten by a Sam Querrey who even this week is killing the fuzzy green ball – and his opponents). Then the Olympics. He struggled on tour from that point on, losing his #1 ranking, which he had clear of #2 by like 3 million points, losing the WTF and then losing in Melbourne in the 2nd round. Even his Doha title prior to Melbourne was sketchy, as we pointed-out, since he had the match in straights, serving for the title, but was broken and had to finish in a tough third set – to his main rival at this point. Not good.

And now he loses in the QF to Kyrgios, a player with all kinds of talent (and immaturity). What is the big surprise here? Kyrgios can beat, really, anyone on tour. We know this. His serve is scary, he has an all-court game (something even Slovak must envy) and he likes to nick-kyrgios-acapulcocreate havoc. Kyrgios lost in the SF to Querrey, as we know, but he’s a little more established in 2017. He should be around to scare a few more players in various draws. This is, unless you’re someone who lives and dies on his or her favorite player’s wins and losses, good for the sport.

We’re seeing parity on the tour, partly in the resurfacing of Fedal, but also in the maturation of youth (Thiem, Kyrgios, Pouille, et al.) and partly in the sense that the top isn’t as inaccessible. Do the math.

I have seen the struggles of Djokovic for months now, so I am not surprised at all of what we’re seeing. Nor should you be. His R16 win over Del Potro was anything but dominant. Del Potro had played a long three setter the night before against one of his fans, American Frances Tiafoe, who played inspired, whose game is very athletic and secure in its future relevance and threat. There was brilliant ball striking and competitive rallies in that match. Del Potro, without the BH he will need to go deep in tougher, deeper draws, almost beat Slovak. The syrupy Serb should’ve taken-down Juan in more routine fashion, but that’s not the kind of tennis Slovak is playing. Get used to it. Perhaps this is just a valley of form for the world #2. Perhaps we will see him scale the heights of the sport again soon. But right now, as they say in Acapulco, “nada por tu, El Slovako.”

I do think his short presser is a good sign. Maybe he is really done with this sub-prime Nole. Let’s see what happens. Maybe he’ll take a little trip to Russia.

Andy is in good shape. He’s literally been below the radar. The Kohlschreiber match appears to be just a genius set of circumstances for Murray and nice to see he had little trouble with the rest of the bunch, really. Interesting that he makes H2H pot pies out of both Pouille (4-0) and Kyrgios (5-0), for what it’s worth. Obviously, the Kyrgios H2H is more interesting since everyone’s excited about the Aussie’s success against Fedalovic.

Nadal is indeed playing well. I watched the beginning of the Nadal v Cilic match at the conclusion of the Querrey v Kyrgios match last night. As even the announcers pointed-out, Marin looked terrible with his timing, bouncing the ball 12-15 times before a serve, footwork a mess. What the hell. I’ve been terribly critical of the guy, calling that 2014 USO one of the worst developments in the sport’s history (though I did show some concession after Cincy this year); this guy is a complete mess. He got to the SF with the aid of a  W/O so there is very little positivity for that guy to take with him to IW. For sure Cilic has had a miserable 2017. Welcome to the terror-dome, buddy.

Back to Nadal. Looking pretty good even though we just discounted massively his win over the Croatian. None the less, he’s building confidence.

Did anyone else see the Kyrgios v Querrey? Sam is playing good tennis. His ball-striking, aside from his world-class serve – is very impressive. He lost his serve in that first set, but then pretty much put it on Kyrgios, pretty dismissive. Early in the second he smashed a ball into the stands, got booed, got a warning and then proceeded to breadstick the Aussie and out class him in the third, as well. His FH, BH and, of course, his serve provide quite the arsenal. I give the nod to Nadal because he’s brimming with confidence, but Sam – SO LONG AS HE DOESN’T TANK BECAUSE HE’S PLAYING NADAL – should be very tough. The proof is in the pudding – go ask Kyrgios how that tastes.

And Kyrgios’ loss has to be awfully bitter. Beating Slovak is an achievement, but lacking the subsequent title damages that badge of courage. As much as we want to say Nick is on his way to the top, there are still a lot of signs that he’s ready to tank at any “low” moment. Even last night there was evidence that Querrey neutered the youngster, who pretty much went away at that point.

Sam Querrey: the face of American tennis right now. We’ll take whatever we can get, unfortunately. Either way, I hope the Acapulco final is worth the wait.

In a comment on this blog before the AO, I said to a commenter something along the lines of we need upsets. We got those in buckets in Melbourne and this past week has been a continuation of this theme.

However: let’s go ahead and acknowledge that much of this mayhem may actually be the maturity of certain players, the rise of tour talent, coupled with the softening of a few top players.

Don’t let people like world #1 Fangirl or the commenter aka “Slovaksstepsister” skew your view. All is well in the land of tennis. Don’t you ever forget that.

querrey-nadal-rtr-759Edit: Clearly Sam’s form, at least according to Nadal, is as good as I advertised in this post. Wow. For a gangly west coast bloke out of California with a mammoth serve, not bad at all. Keep-up the good work, face-of-American-tennis Querrey.