Fanboy

Essay on Social Media (Kinda)

Is that title effective SEO? I somewhat come-clean with my parenthetical disclosure. Yeah, I have a sentence or two about potential ills of said industry/tools, but I take aim here, again, at some of the participants/tools who use these global conversational mechanisms.

And good Thursday to you! A lot on tap today/night in Los Cabos and Washington D.C. (sorry to ignore the Austrian clay – but do comment on that if you’d like, for we are all ears tennis).

We’re yet to see the first ball in either HC venue today, so what a perfect opportunity to address some of that off-court crap that often interests us.

I just got done reminding my kid again how social media (especially of the snapchat kind of crap) are garbage. The kids (old man rhetoric pulling into the driveway) are obsessed with this online world; that I might be guilty of throwing shade at the entire population might amount to some ethnocentric swerve and if so, I apologize. Maybe this is more of an American culture issue, but it’s an issue.

I also understand that two things can be true: social media are potentially distracting and destructive, but can and do provide us with numerous advantages. A blog, after all, is part of this technological and social landscape. I assume you understand my concern as a parent or any sensible individual with concern for humanity, the planet, etc.

And so: there is my set-up (context) for what bit of social media I stumbled across today, via tennis writer Jon Wertheim and his world according to Twitter.

Here’s a fairly harmless tweet simply announcing his discussion on SI.com about a few things tennis and otherwise. His “column” is set-up in a kind of mailbag format, so he’s responding to readers, responding to their comments, answering their questions.

I will touch-on some of the actual points of discussion in a moment, but first we’re talking about the garbage truck that is (potentially) social media (in this case Twitter), where everyone has a voice and therefore a “meaningful” criticism or argument. Again, I understand the inherent democratic ethos of social media, much of this as part of a very convincing case for the proliferation of these social platforms to challenge authority, etc.

But you know where we’re going here: Tennis Fanland, where all the cute fanboys and fangirls get to scream their bloody heads off for the sake of their infallible tennis heroes! Weeeeeeeee!

You can click on that Wertheim tweet above and see the ensuing discussion, but let me help you out and post this next tweet from JW where he admits that he’s committing a cardinal sin by even acknowledging these fangirls/social media “trolls.”

You can follow that trail to see the misery of the Djokerfan in all her/their wild interpretation of anything that doesn’t don the Serb in lovely robe, jeweled crown and magnificent staff.

In other words, folks, as you’ve seen me (one who tries to maintain some balance and order over my and others’ ATP perspectives) get pulled into this fanclub bullshit: here’s a mainstream “nice guy” getting mugged on social media. For what?

I suppose the fangirls take issue with Wertheim suggesting that Djokovic’s troubles traverse beyond the bruised elbow. Thought on this? Do you think JW stepped in it here? Anyone who spends a bit of time on this consideration, acknowledges Djokollapse, etc., should probably come to a similar kind of harmless and concerned view of his recent decline.

I think the fangirls are insufferable and actually undermine their hero, who’s future, to JW’s point, is a bit uncertain – though, to JW’s point, Federer and Nadal’s break from the tour does show that such a hiatus is not necessarily “career suicide.” The SI writer/Tennis Channel voice seemed really to give more hope to Novak’s prognosis, but the paparazzi appear to be waiting on each and every potential syllable of disrespect.

I shouldn’t complain too much, to be fair: I get more material than I know what to do with from these vacuous trolls.
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To some of the actual points of discussion from Wertheim’s column, I have a few points to consider.

Actually, another trigger for the Djokerfan embedded in Jon’s response about Novak’s break is the comparison to Federer. Don’t you think this kind of association has to just boil that fan’s blood? We’re just guessing here, but I suspect this might have been the most “damaging” part of that response. Federer ruined the possibility of any unforeseen epic comeback following a big injury break (even though Nadal, actually, has made almost a career of such moves). I feel the pain of the Djokerfan here. RFRT, indeed.

Moving-on, how about this next question from a Wertheim reader:

Couldn’t you still make the argument that Pete Sampras is GOAT? Why? Simply because shouldn’t the number of Grand Slam titles be compared relatively to the players’ peers rather than across generations. Sampras won 14 titles, Agassi the next on that list won eight. Sampras won a whopping 75% more titles. Shouldn’t that tell you that it was more difficult to win Grand Slam titles in that era? Shouldn’t we also take into account that the game has changed (Technology, training, court speed etc.) since the 90s and made it possible to have far more consistent results? 
Rahul, Brooklyn

This is HRFRT. Rahul, here, is onto something, but he needs me to take the argument from where he says: “Agassi the next on that list won eight.” Not only that, Rahul: Borg’s and Laver’s 11, and Emerson’s 12 had been eclipsed, which seemed perhaps insurmountable when you consider all of the greats of the 80s and 90’s who came-up well short. The best analysis here drives a deeper wedge into the bigger narrative, the historical context that surrounds theses players: who came before them, what motivates them, etc.

The point here concerns historical expectation. Sampras climbed tennis Everest and the stretch of history he dominated seemed truly remarkable. But it wasn’t as much, in the end, given what was just around the corner.

I can’t wait to finish that book. 😀

Wertheim responds well to the way Rahul worded his inquiry. The flaw is in comparing the player (Sampras or Federer) to his contemporaries. Sampras and Federer, a point I will certainly clarify in my piece, are the real trailblazers given the historical sequence of events, the timeline, if you will. Federer responded more to Sampras (I will explain and complicate that) and Nadal and Djokovic have responded to Federer. Given where we are now numbers-wise, someone certainly needs to explain HRFRT. You dig?

I will add that JW’s point about Serena is absurd. Sorry, Jon. Swing and a miss.

Here’s this question from another reader:

Just in the last few days, Rublev won a 250 event at age 19, Opelka blew at least six match points. Tiafoe, Fritz stumbling. Players changing coaches…

there is nobody I can find writing about this. Where do you get info online about this stuff? Any discussion sites, blogs you’d suggest? Could you write on emerging Americans, how they vary in balancing tournament scheduling/practice, long-term vs. short-term goals, and what their projected ceilings are (expected best ranking by expert consensus)? Also: What is the effect of having young kids on performance? (Murray, Djokovic, Fritz—injuries don’t heal if you don’t sleep/are carrying babies.)
Andy F.

Andy, come to Mcshow Blog! I will continue to cover the youngsters, as I have, and not just the Americans. I have tried to maintain a somewhat steady eye on that class as it’s health and success are paramount to the future of this sport.

But Andy F. reminds me that I need to do more.

One of the reasons I want to generate any revenue from this blog is so I can establish more and more access to the game, to actual tournament play, players, etc. Nothing motivates me (other than the act of writing and conversing with readers, which are both very inspiring) more than the chance to attend more live (bigger) tennis tournaments!

Have pen and paper, will travel. 😀

Finally, one error from yesterday’s post, in setting-up anticipation for the Fritz v Kokkinakis match today in Los Cabos, was that I called this a R16 encounter. This is a QF match, my friend. Big moment, imho, for the American. Between the two, the Aussie is in a better place with his game, having some success to speak of in 2017. Mainly, he and Jordan Thompson’s doubles title in Brisbane was a big surprise (and accomplishment), but his win over Raonic in straights at Queen’s even bigger and more relevant here.

Enjoy the tennis and Join the Conversation (yeah, I mean comment after reading and follow the blog via email – see top right on blog). Seriously. 🙂

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 QF Preview and A Rant

Quarter Finals

1. Murray (3 set R16) v Querrey (5 set R16)

My numerology is fantastic! Everyone who played a three-set R16 match raise your hand. You are going to win your QF match and advance to the SF! Congratulations! This is a conspiracy and we’ve let this one go a little too far. You are all part of a grand chain of events beyond your control. If your R16 match went 5 sets, sorry. Better luck next time!

Actually my Rant is below, but I’m really feeling it right now. Sorry. Thought that pattern nonetheless is pretty funny and does probably work to determine the SF match-ups. Ha ha.

Murray should advance here and wear-and-tear will be a part of that. Plus, Murray has more leverage across the board, starting with he’s a better tennis player. But the intangibles are speaking-up, as well. He’s the defending champ at his home major. Lendl is in the house. Murray looks untroubled so far and we know he’s been getting good reps. That RG SF wasn’t all for nought. What’s not to like about Murray?

Of course, Querrey isn’t just an empty pint. Querrey made the QF last year after beating Novak (the supposed beginning of Djokollapse) and lost to Raonic. He can play grass and his big serve makes him relevant (as it does Muller and Raonic and even Berdych). Andy’s ROS will partly neutralize the American’s big weapon, but stranger things have happened. And what’s the status on injuries? I have heard Andy is injured. Novak looked injured today, yet the talking heads around SW19, who have better access than we do, don’t seem to be talking much about any of this. This could be Andy in 3 or 4, but if gets into the land of TB, the contest could get tight, go either way; and Murray, we know, is still chasing that lion. But you have to favor Murray here.

2. Cilic (3) v Muller (5)

These two played a tight SF at Queen’s Club that Marin won 63 57 64. Muller may be rested and feeling really confident from that win over Nadal, so we could be in for another tight match. I have been big on Cilic and I think he over-powers the lefty; at the cilic-wimbledon-2017-wednesdaysame time, the big serve can neutralize a dangerous opponent, too. Can Muller tap into a big day on serve and keep things going for another round? Probably better to surmise that Gilles is pretty taxed, and Marin will continue to march towards another final-four showdown (remember, he was up 2-0 sets on Roger in last year’s WB QF. He had MP at Queen’s two weeks ago in the final. This is a guy with major championship range and he’s probably pretty motivated). Jonas Bjorkman doesn’t hurt either. We like Cilic here but an energized and stoic Muller would be gift for us fans, again (that Nadal match is still ringing in our ears).

3. Fededer (3) v Raonic (5)

Federer is rolling, and Raonic has had a less than good year on tour; but we better understand that Milos will not be an easy match for Federer. Of course, last year’s SF plays into that. But even more so: his run here at these Championships. A win like that in the R16, against a young hot-shot who’s been playing better and more (consistently), has to bring Raonic out of his slump a bit. And the serve is just enormous. We think back to the role a big serve can play on these lawns, even the slower manifestations of the grass. The Zverev match is a big win for the Canadian.

But, the taxman did collect, Raonic needing five big sets (though he breadsticked Sascha in the fifth) to compile the victory. That was a tough battle, so some fatigue would be expected and Federer has been pretty light on his feet, flowing, seems ready for this revenge match.

A reader asked about my commentary last year where I called Roger out a bit for failing to close-out Raonic. I have not re-read my post on that SF, but like most matches, there are a few big moments in the exchange that will determine the big shifts in score and momentum (clutch). I remember that being the case with that match, that Federer, whether it was injury, the Ljubičić-project still in its infancy, who knows, but Federer couldn’t handle the big Raonic at that point. Raonic had a better year in 2016, had McEnroe in his box during the fortnight, etc. He was a better player then.

And Federer has that clear re-interpretation of tennis at the business-end. 2017 Federer, understatement of the era, has been remarkably more efficient, lethal. Before, all of that lethality would dull in those critical breaths of huge games and points. He’s closing now; the BH being a good tangible example of this new approach; but the intangibles seem as palpable, as well. Federer’s variety, sorcery, and talent are now polished with that more efficient gamesmanship, match management, etc. You know what I mean.

Federer should win this (on the 5 v 3 numerology) but also on the arch of their careers (ironically); Federer is looking to continue an historical year, playing well. Raonic seems to be struggling just a bit and might have expended a bit too much getting to the QF.

Lastly, on this match; that serve and ROS equation. If Federer can serve well here, then the Canadian has to have a mammoth day on serve. Federer’s ROS is much better and will, most likely, get a look at some BP – of course, he has to cash-in, unlike Nadal yesterday. But if Federer is serving like he did against Grigor, how does Raonic pressure Federer?

4. Djokovic (3) v Berdych (5)

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

I wrote that sentence yesterday, so another prediction fulfilled! I know, I’m being pretty silly, but the match (I watched bit toward the end) looked off. Novak had a MTO and seemed to be wincing through out his service games. That did not look good. I saw highlights of the first set and Novak looked solid, running Mannarino side-to-side at will; Novak looked to be hitting the ball well. 

But he looked off closing-out the match, unhappy, uncomfortable. After the match, Gilbert and Goodall didn’t say much about the injury. Is he injured? Was that an inappropriate MTO? I’m referring to my back-in-forth with Wilfried in last night’s comments. Novak looked legitimately uncomfortable in that right shoulder/elbow/etc.

As for Berdych, he can play grass and he’s a big boy with a big game. He does struggle playing these top guys; he is 2-25 against Novak overall. But, he’s also 1-1 at WB against the Serb, the win coming in the 2010 QF.

We’ll see. I still don’t know the status of Novak. I’ve been anticipating his return for a few months now. He didn’t really prove too much at Eastbourne, his draw here has been a joke (again, Mannarino looked completely over-matched out there. Looked like a bad ticket to watch Wimbledon), and now he looks to be battling injury with another match tomorrow against a big hitter?

You got me on this one.

Berdych has been playing well this year; I keep going back to the QF at Miami where he played 2017 Federer to a stand-still. He’s under the direction of Ivanišević. But he just played 5 v Thiem and he’s 2-25 against the Djoker. I’m not calling upset though this would not surprise me; would validate this mystery form and health that the shitty draws perpetuate. Instead, I’m calling BS on the Serb – if he’s healthy, and he probably is, he routines the big, tired Czech underachiever (you hear that, Tomás? Prove me wrong, big guy).

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

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

Don’t be fooled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Rant

Folks, you and I read and watch a lot of tennis. The fact that you’re reading this right now makes me very happy, by the way – might even add a little motivation in the morning to get out of bed 😀

I grew-up listening to many of our great tennis narrators add so much layer and depth to matches, tournaments, championships, and their players. I’m getting side-tracked here; this is not a recollection of some of the sport’s great voices – that would be a fun post to write for sure.

This is about some of the garbage out there that I want to say a few quick words about. Indeed, some of the less qualified “voices” in our super-charged social media environment decorate this glorious tennis landscape like wads of senselessness that I guess at least provide some of us fuel for discourse. But you know of what I speak.

Let me paraphrase the sentiment that I have been torpedoing for awhile here lately. It’s pretty much the Djokerfan. Separate this discussion from the discussion about tennis and their hero. He’s an all-timer, one of the very best ever and watching him struggle to get out of this collapse is a little disturbing; I can go into that more later, but let’s just say that the world isn’t quite right when a 30 year-old Novak Djokovic is struggling. As I’ve been saying, get your shit together, bud. Shit or get off the pot. What is this? Seems very personal, emotional.

Of course, Andy last year and now Fedal have moved to fill the void; so it’s not like we’re abstinent from genius competitive professional men’s tennis. In other words, the sport we love is better when people are healthy and playing their best. All players.

Do you hear that, Djokerfans? Your pissing and moaning about the conspiracy against your player is a bad look, a really bad look. You believe Novak has been singled-out because he’s a threat to Fedal, the sport in general, whatever.  You believe others (a vague “they”) perpetrate an historical crime (perpetuated) against Djokovic. If that’s the case, and it is, then the spirit of your complaint implies you would prefer to see bad fortune brought upon others. If you believe there is ill-will toward your player, then you naturally (we all assume this if you’re too dumb to realize this) invite ill-will on your opponents.

You recall my exposé on CindyBlack3 (look her up on Twitter) and that fog horn of fanatical garbage. She blocked me finally when I asked her how her argument that Novak is the greatest HC player of all time jives with Roger’s and Pete’s 5 USO majors, or Lendl’s eight straight USO finals. That’s the land of hard courts, folks, where the men separate themselves from the pretenders. Federer has as many of those titles as Novak, Nadal and Andy have combined. Get your saber metrics toilet paper out of the building. She and her cohorts have all kinds of statistics that argue the corruption of draws designed to undermine Novak, historically.

The Djoker conspiracy around 2017 Wimbledon has finally landed, as of yesterday (tough to bring too much attention to the draw in which their player has played a bunch of top-50 players). I touched-on this extra-terrestrial encounter yesterday, as the alien ship landed only because there was nothing acutely, of note, for them to sink their teeth into until that Muller v Nadal match.

Because Djokarino played today, the scheduling of a Djokovic match is now under protest; the calendar was altered, moved to today because the court it was scheduled to play on yesterday, Court 1, happened to be occupied by one of the great matches of recent memory.

One popular strain of the conspiratorial virus reads along these lines: “They” (whoever the fuck that is) want a Federer-Murray final. They’ll go on to say crap like Federer’s scheduling has never been subject to so much “bad luck.”

The Fan will look past the pure manner of scheduling and the coincidence that Nadal and Muller would play a ~5 hour classic. Are Muller and Nadal in on the conspiracy, too?

Or is it that you want to play on Centre Court? Part of this complaint might be that because the Nadal/Muller went so long, Agassi and Djoker were upset that the last R16 match wasn’t moved to Centre Court on the fly. They were upset, apparently. But can’t you all see how/why that seems a little more complicated than you’d all like it to be? A lot of pieces, quickly, and confusedly, have to move. Sorry to break it to you, but the entire planet doesn’t just revolve around Djokovic. But isn’t that ironic, because you think the tennis planet revolves around Federer (and Nadal?). Actually, clarify that for me; is Nadal part of the bad guys? Is it Djokovic v Federer or Djokovic v Fedal? I haven’t heard if Nadal was upset that he was on Court 1 for the R16. Perhaps we should look into that…

If you’re bummed that Djokovic wasn’t originally scheduled for Centre Court, what’s your point? That your player is being de-valued, you’re insecure that he’s not “liked” or as popular as other players? That sounds ridiculous. But is it possible that there is some truth to that? Would such a sentiment be totally unfounded?

If you can’t possibly see the rationale for Murray playing on Centre Court and/or Roger Federer playing on Centre Court (from a fan’s point-of-view, the role of marketing, the pulse of business enterprise, the growth of the tournament and the sport, not to mention the quality of the match – your draw stinks, Novak), I can only encourage you to keep reading my blog, because I believe that will help.

What about your draw?

If you think the tournament really wanted Federer v Murray, why wouldn’t they just switch Federer’s draw with Djokovic’s? Your QF opponent has a 2-25 record against you. You played a guy today in the R16 that looked way out of his league and the guy he beat in R3 is best known for tanking matches. You get the most favorable draw in the tournament, yet you think we’re all coming for you?

Did you see the move that I made in that last sentence? I changed the pronoun from “they’re” to “we’re.”

Your irrationality does see it as the world is after you. And people like me will come after you because your hysteria taints an ordinarily decent event (Is the sport totally void of corruption? No. But we can certainly utilize our crap-detectors to determine what and when something is really worth some kind of investigative discussion).

The only thing, of course, that will cure this disease is for Novak to start winning; then again, we know humanity well enough to gauge that even that won’t curb the conspiracy enthusiasm. 😉

Carry-on.

The War to End All Wars: Djokovic v 2017 Fedal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miami Final, Fedal and 2017 Federer

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

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

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

Here’s what entails some of that madness:

The courts are faster!

Istomin was unplayable!

Andy is burned-out!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to the Fed Express.

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

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

His 2017 BH is 3mph faster on average.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fedal XXXVII – Miami Final 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the tennis, folks.

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

Cheers.

Indian Wells 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A classic from your favorite fanatic:

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

Ha ha ha.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading, folks.