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.

2017 Barcelona Open: Otra Décima

On a court bearing his name, Rafa cinched his 10th Barcelona title, matching last week’s la decima down in Monte Carlo. He beat Dominic Thiem 6-4 6-1 in the final.

The trend continues: 2017 Fedal. Although Federer had the spotlight early and for good reason, winning the year’s first major and first two Masters, Rafa has been virtually right next to him all along: don’t forget that. Nadal played Federer in two of the three finals. Tennis - Barcelona Open FinalNaturally, on the clay Rafa has found his true comfort zone and the confidence and clay dominance are becoming magnificent, which I’d say captures the mental, nasty and efficient tennis of his dirty highness.

We have much clay still to play, much story-line to read and drama to digest, but Nadal is looking pretty strong heading into the next two Masters (Madrid and Rome) and Roland Garros in late May, early June. Like I said earlier, if I were in his camp, I’d call for an early exit at perhaps Madrid and then bring the armada back to Rome heading into war in Paris.

He’s pillaging the clay season and given his appetite for dominance (with his cousin Roger already sitting quite comfortably on his Swiss mountaintop), he will most likely want to press on, continue to damage the field’s hopes, remind one and all of the kind of clay court carnage for which he is best known.

That’s a lot of physical tennis heading into a major (Bo5). Then again, we seem to be reaching that point of no return for the rest of the field: someone ( I think it was Gimmelstob) said again recently: the toughest thing to do in tennis is beat Nadal on clay Bo5. Rafa is absolutely cruising right now. Everyone knows this. If you don’t, you must be an hysterical Fankovic (they are reaching new heights of misery); more on that in a second.

Let’s first give a nice steady applause to the young Dominic Thiem. He’s got a nice game, the style of which makes those of us who know and appreciate style fairly impressed.

But now the Austrian is dead.

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Though quite short, his was a brilliant ATP stint, if you ask me.

Seriously though: he hung around for those first nine games, played the Spaniard tough, even had game point to go 5-5 in that critical first set. Then el destino (la decima), a wise (tennis) old predator fowl drew its ominous shadow across the clay, an usually cool Barcelona breeze ruffling the patrons’ whispers before the young Austrian was predictably sacrificed.

In almost ceremonious generosity, the youngster was given a breadstick to snack-on in the afterlife. Godspeed, Dominic. Rest-up and bring your bracket wrecking havoc to another clay tournament soon. I saw his championship edge in R1. Of all the youngsters, I enjoy watching him the most at this point. The OHBH, the fury from both wings, his precociousness on display more often than not. Nadal just wasn’t going to have it.

Here’s where we stand with Madrid beginning in a week: Nadal has complete control of the draw on clay. Murray did not fare well in either MC or Barcelona. Though beating Ramos-Vinolas in a tough three-setter in Barcelona (a match that saw him escape death a couple of times, holding serve at 0-40 4-4 in the second set, etc.) seemed to suggest a breakthrough, he was handled pretty easily by Thiem in the SF, only an odd drop in form from the Austrian prevented a routine Thiem victory.

Murray continues to struggle.  There is no way to deny this. Lendl is missing from the box, the Scot is berating the box, looking like the awkward Andy: bridesmaid by birth. He’s ringing again of that less-than-championship quality and character. Add to that my insistence that people not forget that his run last year, despite the incredible consistency and success, was minus Federer (injury), Nadal (injury) and Djokovic (Djokollapse), and you have a less than legitimate contender for RG (and maybe beyond).

Indeed, the Murray campaign is sputtering.

The same applies to Djokovic, I’m afraid. I have documented this quite well. My theory goes all the way back to the fourth and deciding set at Roland Garros 2016, where Novak eventually closed Murray out. But that was almost tough to watch. Novak, we might surmise in retrospect, was starting to collapse.

Scroll to about 02:35:00 where he completes a second break of Murray to go up in the 4th set 5-2, serving for championship and Novak Slam. We can give the guy a break – a lot of pressure had built to this point. But he barely hangs on here. Immediately, following this match, we now know, he’s in a free fall as far as tennis form is concerned.

You and I know how the Fankovic tribe speaks of the hostile crowds that Novak is subjected to (this boggles my mind since most of these clowns are European, internationals of some distinction and fan rowdiness and even hooliganism is a kind of staple at many such sporting affairs): this crowd was massively pro-Djokovic.

Great Mary Carillo line: “He was similing at the 5-2 changeover, but he wasn’t smiling at this 5-4 changeover.”

Some very safe tennis here from Novak. Look at him work the crowd, especially at 40-15, double championship point. Can you imagine if Nadal or Federer did that? Ha ha. The Fangirls would implode. Djokovic doubles on first CP. Then deuce. Then he pulls it off on third CP. Novak Slam. Indeed an historical achievement. But Murray ran out of gas.

The Djkollapse had begun.

Fast forward to now: both Murray and Djokovic are hurting. The question I ask you is are we at a point of no return yet with Nadal on the clay? He did look a little vulnerable here and there, even against that young South Korean “nextgen star,” Hyeon Chung.

That is the question. I like Federer rested in Paris right now more than I do the #1 and #2 players who are reeling and have been reeling for quite some time.

What a remarkable year, with Fedal resurfacing with a vengeance against this lower tier.

My last post insinuated Murray and Djokovic are taking a beating. Indeed, that is the case on the court.

What’s happening off the court with respect to this downfall? You might have caught wind of the Djokofanclub raising hell with respect to their idol.

Our friend CindyBlack3 is back at it with her “Nole Stats.” Her latest has the Serb statistically verified as the best all-around player (most success on all surfaces, in a kind of pound-for-pound subjectively bullshitter high pitched squeal). This is simply awkward. Not a good look, CB3.

I posted her last “homework” assignment (her audience far and wide love, as do most farm animals, stats) in a post about the peanut gallery at Indian Wells when this throng of flare-ups hissed about the Serb’s draw.

As I said in a recent comment, timing is everything: these folks are seemingly trying to 2015 Australian Open - Day 14write the Serb’s obituary, meaning the timing of this advertisement of Djokovic’s career accomplishments as their sugar daddy is struggling to find his racquet in 2017 is just bizarre and boney (we like meat on our bones at Mcshow Tennis). It’s a bad look.

“Novak is the greatest!” Meanwhile, David Goffin is handing your guy a pink slip.

Oh, and CindyBlack3 and the gang’s arguments, supposedly supported statistically? Novak is the greatest HC player of all time? I’ll take Lendl over Novak in a Bo5 format (I might also take McEnroe, Pete, Federer and Conners for that matter – the common denominator here is Flushing Meadows, folks).

Let’s just say that Slovak Slowcourtovic and HC GOAT don’t really work. If you think the USO is anything but the HC Taj Mahal, relinquish your tennis fan credentials immediately. One can not be 2-5 at the USO business-end of the draw and make such a claim. Of course, Novak isn’t making this claim.

It’s your favorite fangirl blogger and this CindyBlack3 who lead the charge, but there are others just as rabid, just as nonsensical, wailing away about this historical greatness.

Think of the irony, again the timing: Federer and Nadal are making big tournament runs here in 2017 that raise this bar to which these fans refer – and they’re trying to talk about their guy’s greatness. This kind of logic is similar to saying the courts were too fast in Melbourne. Shut-up! I can make a better case for Novak than you can. Let me do the talking.

Of course, CindyBlack3 blocked me on Twitter because I questioned her methods, refused her bouquet of bullshit.

Give her hell, folks!

Sorry to bring-up this garbage, but as the Eye of Sauron here in southern California, writing an international tennis blog, I have an obligation to bring to your attention this debris that might distract, or clutter your view of the glorious competitions. You understand.

We actually root for Novak to return, and Murray as well. This would only be good for the sport. These “fans” don’t understand that kind of logic

Fedal 2017. . .Reader Poll: is this trend good for the sport?

😀

Monte Carlo QF – The Survival of the Serb

Following the Djokollapse of 2016, we discerned even after a win over Murray in the 2017 Doha final that Novak still had much work to do to convince any of us actual tennis detectives that he was out of trouble. The Djokofans rejoiced, sending him on his merry way to Melbourne for his annual AO crown. He collapsed in the 2R in AO (to an “unplayable” Istomin), only to become a victim of rigged draws where he was again thrown into the “ring” with other “unplayable” talents. Folks, the fanboy/girl BS out there is truly embarrassing.

I am finally hearing as of today that these fanboys and girls understand that Novak is not in form. It’s been about a year, we’ll call it 10 mdjokovic-monte-carlo-2017-tuesday-previewonths since the foundations started giving way. That’s a long time for people to realize that their idol’s hair is out of place.

Djokovic looked pretty bad again today. There are flashes of the Nole we have known, but then this new reality returns. I have written several accounts of this new reality, which is really not that new at all.

He’s going to get a break on the clay, as his game will stay on the BL; he has to out hit and retrieve everyone else. His serve and any semblance of a net presence are diminished; of course, the clay only enhances this part of his tennis reality. He has been pretty shaky in his first two matches.

I suppose Thiem or Goffin represent about the same kind of resistance, but my thought is Goffin is more thoroughly “trained” to die in such a match. The brash tennis of Thiem I thought might present a bit more of a contest. I don’t think Goffin has the heart to take the Djoker out.

But Nadal awaits that winner (unless pigs fly Schwartzman to the promised land) in the SF. Did you see Rafa perhaps set Zverev back a few years. Yep, he turned 20 today (yesterday) yet Nadal might have set the German back a few years tennis-wise. Wow. Sascha will have to shake that off and move on.  1 and 1 at the hands of a confident and malevolent Rafa is a scene out of a horror show. He looks very good around the court.

The guy is such a clay natural. That top spin is just a beautiful thing on this surface. He can get away with the shorter ball a bit, too, only because he can still retrieve with the best of them.

Indeed, this is a hungry Nadal. The writing appears to be on the wall. Do we get a Djokovic v Nadal SF? That would be good. That might be just what Novak needs.

No need to go into Stan or Andy at this point. Stan is the most enigmatic tennis player in the history of the world. I had a feeling, I mentioned so in my last post, Cuevas could advance there. All we do know about Wawrinka is you don’t want him in a major final. Other than that, he’s just a pink Yonex outfit running around the country club.

Murray is a mess. Again.

Let’s get these men to the SF: Cilic v Cuevas to play the winner of Djokovic v Nadal.

All that is left in Monte Carlo: the survival of the Serb.

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.

__________________________________________________________

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.

Indian Wells. . . and the Peanut Gallery

We will continue our discussion of the IW draw, try to add to the excitement everyone is feeling about the year’s first Masters.

But first let’s take-out the garbage.

I love it.

I will pound this blog with ATP insight until the cows come home, out-write and out-think my wealthier tennis punditry in straights; be that as it may, when some of these hooligans from the peanut gallery come sauntering-in from their chic wine bar or hookah lounge haze, like buskers playing their poverty cards, driving their Jaguars or whatever the fuck they wear, playing their bullshit blues about their hero: (fuck off) I have to speak-up.

The peanut gallery has taken the 2017 Indian Wells draw announcement as another opportunity to build their case for Djokovic, the unlucky slow-court specialist who’s been fed to the lions, impaled, starved, frozen, etc.

Let me remind this readership (and any “visitors”) of my unchallenged respect for Nole; read my blog, search “Novak Djokovic,” i.e., stick around so you don’t get confused as I just want to shed some of my own light on this test of tennis intelligence.

To be fair, this isn’t as much about intelligence as it is about argument, specifically logos, which involves the speaker/writer’s confederacy of documentation built to persuade, or what is often merely (unfortunately) the fanatically (fantasized) statistical argument that one purports to complete what could be a fraudulent transaction. 😀

I was hoping to begin tonight’s post along these lines: No one outside of Federer, Nadal or Djokovic has won Indian Wells since 2004. Before you come roaring back to say someone other than the Big 3 won the title in 2010, you’ve already been mouse-trapped since Federer and Ljubicic, now, are ONE (If you don’t believe me, read and “watch” this post).

Instead, I have to sit on the wall and defend the kingdom. I guarantee that Djokovic would not (and I repeat “would not”) condone the garbage his fanboys and girls are doing on this eve of IW, a place the Serb has almost called a Masters home. The shit congregations do in the name of their idol. Wow.

So, dig this: I was getting ready for work today, reading and marking-up this and that text when I saw a tweet come across the wire from someone named CindyBlack3. She had some tennis stats, immediately spoke to sympathy for the Serb; so I checked it out. Here are her two graphs:

Djoker_fangraph

Djoker_fangraph2

Sure, you might have seen them on Twitter, or elsewhere, such as your favorite little fangirl’s blog who is spinning like a Tasmanian devil right about now.

You can see in the bottom left of the image this individual’s name. I glanced at the graphs, whiffed that quintessential fangirl perfumey scent and began asking a couple of questions:

Perhaps you can pick-up a bit more of the conversation, which I had to abandon, unfortunately; a guy’s gotta work.

But there you have it. The graph I mean. Seems pretty much an indictment of Federer. And another baptism of Djokovic as the true messiah, the one we’re failing to recognize, who has been shielded from our eyes by the blasphemy of Fedal.

This is not a joke, but it sure seems like a joke.

We know this narrative quite well. And I actually subscribe a bit to its thesis. The peanut gallery says Novak is the unlucky one. They call the draws “suspicious,” even “rigged” against their idol.

I say, indeed he is unlucky: he came to prominence during the time of Fedal.

Of course, here’s the lunacy. They don’t think Fedal is a legitimate source of greatness. Listen to their arguments. Look at their statistical arguments. It’s bananas.

The peanut gallery says he hasn’t been appreciated, that we’ve taken his greatness for granted.

I have actually followed his career fairly well. You probably have, as well. He’s been marvelous. No question. But so have the other two.

What are you saying, CindyBlack3 and the rest of that horde? That Novak is better than Nadal and Federer? Are you just coming after Federer? Is it the GOAT you’re trying to kill, stuff and put on your wall? What exactly is your point?

That the sport is a grand conspiracy to elevate Federer above everyone else?

The graphs above must have involved a little (meaning a lot) of research, I suspect. I certainly thank CindyBlack3 for the work. I would have to spend quite a bit of time checking all of that data to really have a definitive grasp on the accuracy.

Folks, you can spin evidence. Seemingly objective metrics like statistics have all sorts of hidden agendas. CindyBlack3 is dabbling in what we’re calling here in the States a bit of sabermetrics, which is an analytics movement in baseball, derived from the “the search for objective knowledge about baseball” (sabr.org). This is the use of statistics taken to the extreme. There are quite respected critics of this movement, namely “old schoolers” who discount this over-commitment to numbers. These more traditional “analysts” are both old and out-of-touch and quite insightful in their use of the eye-test, crap-detectors and experience. Numbers lie, CindyBlack3.

For starters, look at the Djokovic numbers above. The conclusion is he played more better players than the rest of the Big 4 (“more better” is grammatically correct, I’ll have you know). The numbers tell that story.

The other story? He had to play Federer and Nadal a lot. His draw often had those two who were often seeded higher than he was. You want to bring in the rest of the top-10 and 20 and talk about quality of opponent, etc., etc.? That’s the game being played by this part of the peanut gallery. But that’s less telling than you think it is.

How many times was Djokovic a #3 seed having to play either the #1 or #2 or both? He was unlucky in that he grew-up in a rough neighborhood. He played a #10 and Federer played a #16? Big fucking deal.

I suppose I’ll hear you out on the window that Roger had between Sampras/Agassi and Nadal (then Novak), which he took advantage of big time. But Roger had plenty of success during Fedal and has even won two majors since 2012. Oh, and don’t forget, CindyBlack3 and Fangirl S.A.: Federer is six years older than your boy. You might have overlooked that bit, no? That fuzzys up the numbers a bit there, CB3, et al.

That S.A. bloke threw his favorite little French Open “smear” at the world again today, as well:

Novak_Frenchy

Let me say just a few things about this non-sense. What is the point here? That Novak would have faired better had he been on opposite sides of the draw from Nadal more often?

Folks, I am not a statistician (you probably figured that out). But is there a difference between playing Nadal in a SF and a F? If you’re going to bring-up this concern of having or not having the “luck” in Paris to somehow avoid Nadal for a match or two and say that this is a significant issue, I am going to call you a fire-breathing fangirl carrying a basket of bullshit.

How did Roger benefit from his “favorable” draw (and do comment and tell me if I’m missing something)? He lost to Rafa in RG many many times. Not sure if the draw mattered.

2005 (SF), 2006 (F), 2007 (F), 2008 (F), 2011 (F).

Novak, it’s argued, got screwed in his French Open draws. Look at the graph above. It’s gibberish if you ask me, but I wanted to evidence the BS that the peanut gallery is lobbing into our Indian Wells pre-party.

Novak is 1-6 vs. Nadal at Rolland Garros. Again, please tell me if I’m missing something here, but what is the point of the “facts and numbers”and “Remarks”? That Novak was subjected to a rigged draw where he found himself in a more vulnerable position at the French Open?

Djokovic lost to Nadal at the FO in 2006 (QF – Novak retired down 0-2 sets), 2007 (SF – straights), 2008 (SF – straights), 2012 (F – in 4), 2013 (SF – in 5) and 2014 (F – in 4). So the issue is that 4 of the losses were in a non-final match? What’s the point here, that Novak’s losses are in matches with less significance? Is the argument that he would have been more successful if those non-final matches were finals? WTF.

And as I said before, outside, really, the top-3 (maybe 4), the field was pretty much a bunch of sacrificial lambs. The % of top-5 and top-10 opponents just doesn’t quite move my chain.

Novak did finally beat Rafa in a 2015 QF match, one we all remember. When Rafa was pretty much a mess and a half.

One last point with regards to Rafa and Roger landing in different halves. The Swiss and Spaniard were #1 and #2 (at the French at least) 2006-10 (five years). In 2011, when they were #2 and #3, Roger landed in Novak’s half and beat the Serb in the SF. Is that part of the “law suit”? 2006 thru 2010 was pretty much Fedal, so for Novak to make much noise at all, he had to, indeed, beat some really good players. Nadal and Federer, alternatively, were on top, playing lower seeds by the dozen.

The hysteria surrounding the 2017 IW draw is just the latest “scandal.” The peanut gallery looks for these opportunities to “vent,” or whatever you want to call it.

Here’s an article I found that happens to be ALL IN on the Djokovic peanut gallery. And we all now this man’s work. Talk about over-dosing on the calculator. 😀

The first article (Oct. 2016) ends like this:

Overall there is nothing wrong with Novak Djokovic. Many can make out what they want of his form but he’ll be back; it’s not as if he’s totally terrible with early round losses consistently. Murray might be having great results right now but what will happen when he actually has to play the top guys to win big events? Who knows. Regardless of Murray defending his Olympic Gold (an incredible accomplishment mind you), to say Murray’s year is even comparable to Djokovic’s perhaps isn’t true; one has two Majors while the other doesn’t–that’s the bottom line given Majors are the pinnacle of tennis. The Brit’s consistency this year might well be better than the Serbian’s, but what does that matter when Djokovic is still the one with the better more impressive wins? Not much I’ll tell you that. If Murray does get to become World #1 soon then congratulations to him and his fans, but regardless of anything Djokovic would have still had the better year.

Special thanks to Cindy Black for the Djokovic Murray comparison stats.

There’s our pal, Cindy. 

On a serious note, these veiled attempts to undermine great players, to manufacture dominance via some kind of biased sabermetrics and conspiracy theory are bad for the culture. In passing, this morning, I encountered the mob and lobbed a resistance.

I encourage you to do the same, in your own unique way.

Now let’s start looking forward to some Masters tournament tennis!

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.