HRFRT

A New Mcshow Blog Feature: HRFRT

I just wanted to bring to your attention a new feature or page on this blog. You can probably see toward the top of the blog, under the main header and tagline, two pages that exist in addition to the main page where the posts are published. Along with a “What Is Mcshow Blog” page, I have created a page for HRFRT. As you know, I will continue to develop this and prepare for offer, eventually, a more professional version (a revised, developed and enhanced ebook); but I wanted to create a more specific place for these articles to exist on the blog.

This book will become a signature discourse of this blog. At the very least, I am organizing the work, continuing to develop the reader’s experience here at Mcshow Blog.

Thanks for reading and, as always, keep your comments and suggestions coming.

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. 🙂

Djokovic’s Highest Form Ever (DHFE)

The summer is a glorious time of year on the ATP since we get a chance to see the year’s strongest athletes outlast those weakened by the long and arduous season that began in early January (or the ones who’s games just tend to wilt on this most even and rigorous surface). The firm quickness becomes more unforgiving, speed presses the point, each exchange more a test of skill and weaponry than of one’s fluency toward the idiosyncracies of a particular surface; and the air temperature rises along with its seasonal bosom buddy, the humidity. Indeed, the North American summer hard courts offer us a candid look at the tour’s best playing on the surface that showcases the best and exposes the rest, I’m afraid.

I think a good place to start with this DHFE is recalling when we tackled that quasi-related claim that Federer won 2017 AO because Melbourne played significantly faster this year (part of the grand conspiracy) and (get ready, I’m warning you, this is an argument advanced by Djokerfans) Novak doesn’t play as well on such a fast surface? Why would one ever make such a claim about their hero? That’s undermining Super Novak, novak_djokovic4_1359023691_540x540pointing-out a flaw in his game (a big flaw if you ask me). Novak’s 2-5 USO finals record and his inability to win Cincinnati (the one Masters he hasn’t won) speaks to this difficulty on the quicker courts; and making this shortcoming into some kind of strength doesn’t bode well; or arguing that his hard court record overall is the best-of-all-time, where the fanclub refers to him as HC GOAT. These we might suggest are Red herrings, squandered on the breach.

As we turn here to the summer N.A. HC swing, all of this bluster about Novak’s HC greatness takes quite a hit. And if you’re going to argue that he has shown the HFE on a tennis court, personally, I would start my argument with NYC HCs to support such a statement, then probably WB, before any sort of legitimate argument about HFE is made. Looking at the competition would be the other factor, or even the people who are making this claim. Many of these Djoker “representatives” are belligerent, of course, but I even heard mainstream media mouth-pieces get a little carried-away, as well, especially back in 2015-16.

I was fairly frank about Novak’s dominance at the time. I had no problem saying that this was an historical run, and that I didn’t quite see the end of it, with Fedal sailing out to sea, Muzzard typically muzzled, etc., yes, thought the competition was pretty poor (argued that Roger – at 34 – gave some of the Serb’s majors added/needed weight since beyond the Maestro, and perhaps Murray, what was really left?). Never did I step into that pile of HFE, however. Too much evidence to the contrary, especially if you’ve been watching the men battle for decades now and you’re not afraid to watch and re-read the history of this great sport.

Before we go any further, might I bring to everyone’s attention that articles like this  aren’t composed, perhaps, if such vehement (and vitriolic) subjectivity toward our fair sport isn’t strewn all over the place like debris after an ill-advised engagement or wedding has occurred. DHFE is a rival faction against all sensible tennis fans.

And how apropos that we’re here, on the eve of the run toward NYC.

The NYC HC, I would argue, is where the best pure tennis is played. NYC has gobs of evidence of this kind of greatness, more so, I will argue, then the other HC major – AO. Part of this is the AO snub from a few greats (Borg, Connors, McEnroe, et al.). Plus, the USO is simply an older tournament; age, location and history all play into suggesting that the USO determines a more significant title that, by the way, builds a more significant legacy than an arbitrary claim about form. One should play best where the best is played.

Indeed, I am saying that one’s form at the USO should be a big part of any argument for HFE (which is so subjective). Saying the USO is more prestigious than the AO because of its history and speed is not arbitrary.

Why haven’t FO champions, before Nadal, ever sniffed the upper echelon of such arguments (careful with Borg as he never won the USO and went away too early)?

Speed kills. The USO has that relentless call for a highest level of fortitude and execution on the tennis court. Quite a cocktail when you have all that history, those brightest lights, the concrete jungle and the lethal speed and precision of the razor’s edge.

As we undermine this DHFE claim, we have made a bit of a suggestion, then, that the USO (even Roger’s Cup and Cincy) should be a part of any discussion of HFE since this is the surface and the venue where such a boisterous and preposterous claim might find its footing.

Fans have been claiming the DHFE since he began his 2015 run (or even before that most likely) and the 2016 Doha final v Nadal gave them a little added lift. Here’s Nadal’s analysis of Djokovic’s form in that final – the Serb pummeled the Spaniard 6-1 6-2.

Two things: This was a tune-up for Melbourne, a minor tournament in early January, a 250; and Nadal wasn’t exactly playing very well. Do we need to recall Nadal’s 2016 results? He was still shaken from his absolutely dreadful 2015. He shows-up at Doha as Novak is still screaming from his 2015 – two players in completely different career points.

Nadal went-on to lose in 1R at Melbourne. All this to say, don’t use this eye-witness (who probably has more credibility than anyone making such a claim) as evidence for DHFE.

To be fair, the Djoker went-on to win 2016 AO, the Sunshine Double, Madrid and then the FO before the wheels came off and he spun into the Djokollapse.

We actually see here the culmination of the case for DHFE. He wins 2015 AO (Murray), WB (Federer), USO (Federer), 2016 AO (Murray) and 2016 FO (Murray).

The sheer amount of success (Novak Slam) in which he’s pretty much unfazed by his competition anywhere (his majors won by beating the perennial ATP bridesmaid and a 34-35 year-old Federer) concocts the rumor that this is the HFE. Many arguments were made about Djokovic’s 2015 being the greatest season of all-time. His numbers that year were staggering, for sure. Therefore, he played the HFE?

But based on what exactly? His W-L record?  This article shows the greatest seasons ever based on W-L:

1. John McEnroe — 1984 — 82-3 (.965)
2. Jimmy Connors — 1974 — 93-4 (.959)
3. Roger Federer — 2005 — 81-4 (.953)
4. Roger Federer — 2006 — 92-5 (.948)
5. Bjorn Borg — 1979 — 84-6 (.933)
6. Novak Djokovic — 2015 — 82-6 (.932)

If we’re basing the HFE on W-L, then DHFE is a stretch. Remember though: the Djokerfan will levy the level of competition tax on our ears. Djokovic was unbelievable, the argument goes, against top-10, top-5, etc. His case here with W-L becomes more formidable.

So then we’re into the level of competition factor of this equation. Which the Djokerfan doesn’t want any part of, I’m afraid. Spanking a trained Murray and a waning Federer doesn’t crack the whip. Throwing around seeds and top-5 opponents, etc., needs more context since this can be quite misleading.

So, is it the play he manufactured on the court? Along the lines of what Nadal said after Doha, a Nadal who had little leg on which to stand?

Ahhh, the 2015-PF argument (2015 Peak Federer). If we can argue that Federer was at his peak in 2015, with Djokovic handling him fairly easily in two major finals (WB and USO mind you!), and Federer is, by many, considered the GOAT, then by simple logic, if we’re beating the greatest at his peak, we’re the greatest!

Doesn’t that sound absurd, especially the use of that pronoun?

How about some 2005 Federer, folks (this is probably two years before his absolute peak when, in fact, he beat Djokovic in straights in a USO final).

This is Federer v Agassi 2005 USO final we’re going to see. Look at the depth and disaster on Federer’s racquet. This is complete bedlam. Agassi is playing well here, even though he’s at the end. I would say this helps us see my point about this surface showcasing the greatest tennis, the purity and cleanliness of the shot, the athleticism, etc.

Look at Federer’s FH and BH. And listen to some of the commentary. Early in the video, McEnroe (at 1:05) points-out that Agassi has the “greatest ROS in the history of the sport.” I remember explaining this truth to a big Djokerfan who didn’t grasp Agassi’s ROS prowess (which undermines much of this “tennis expert’s” understanding of the sport). And remember: Federer wasn’t exactly hitting Andre off the court since the American great had done years of battle with the GREATEST SERVE IN THE HISTORY OF THE SPORT. As I’ve said a million times, give me Novak on Pete’s serve; granted, Novak is supreme in the ROS department, but don’t overlook the rest of the history of the sport, folks. Andre could hold his own, which he does in this match, a bit.

But Federer is simply unplayable, from both wings, on serve, etc. Watch.

Here’s some of the Djokovic v Nadal 2016 Doha final

Ladies and gentlemen, if one goes to the HFE argument, we need convincing evidence, narrative, numbers, etc. 2016 Doha is not getting it done, a 250 in January against a morbid Nadal.

We’re on the eve of the big run-up to the last major, what some would argue is the grandest of the grand slams. I think it’s fitting to approach any talk of HFE by referring to the USO.

Djokovic can play tennis with the best of them; he has a great case as one of the best players of all time. No question. But the HFE argument is just ignorant, lacks context, evidence and is, like many of these GOAT powwows, another instance where one’s bias has him by his ass.

Some of the esteemed readers of this blog have made some great points in the previous post’s comments. Some of this entails the massively flawed 2015-PF claim. If you look at that 2005 footage, search some 2006-10, you’ll probably see a pretty strong game from Federer that subordinates anything from 2013-16, a time in which the man was reaching his mid thirties, playing a brutal schedule and not really adding much to his game.

You know what I think of the Ljubičić hire, how this breathed confidence and execution back into the Swiss’ game plan, along with a very real sense of revenge (which probably best illustrates this fresh breath, this deliverance of Roger Federer in 2017). He had the injury break and the time to tweak his game for this specific run in 2017.

But, but, but. Go back to the 2005 USO final video above. The reason it’s probably easier to say that Federer has a better case for HFE than does Djokovic revolves around the simple eye-test. Ljubičić has been instrumental, but Federer already had some decent tools to work with.

Federer has so many weapons. His BH in 2005, in that video, is so offensive it’s silly. The confidence and execution there make for an insanely formidable day at the office for his opponent; and it’s more fearsome than the 2017 version. The FH is then THE most deadly weapon in the gamd. He’s CC and DTL at will, deep, his athleticism organizing each shot. His serve is, as we know, a massive weapon.

At 4-2 in the first set he delivers two aces in particular here. One is 112mph down the T; the other is 124 out-wide, both from the ad side, both unreadable from one of the best “readers” the game has ever seen from the ROS.

Of course, he finishes points at the net (almost) as well as anyone. Agassi, like so many of his non-clay opponents of this era, has very little chance. That’s four point-ending weapons.

Federer’s real peak has all of this in full view with a much more youthful, threatening persona that few could deal with.

This DHFE pertains to the masterful baseliner, with a brilliant ROS, great court-movement to buttress his great FH and BH. His serve got better under Becker, but it was never in that Federer class, let alone other greats.

I am going to close and say that if you are going to make this HFE claim, you better include in your calculations the prospects of longevity, of one being able to sustain it since “highest” or “best” is only so if one can sustain such form.

And that will be the final chapter here with Djokovic, with DHFE, Djokollapse (and his legacy in general, something I will deal with in the HRFRT eBook).

His is a form that will be tough to sustain, imho. Watching Nishikori today in D.C., I thought about Djokovic. This is such a physical style of tennis, one that requires a long,  defensive stance.

Finishing points becomes even more critical as a player ages.

How does Djokovic finish points? This will be most telling. Nadal, as we saw throughout clay this year, was very aggressive, the FH ending points before anyone could even figure-out what was happening. And Nadal has a great net game, as we’ve mentioned many times before.

But the argument with Nadal has been longevity, as well. Does he have enough for the HC this summer? We shall see.

We’re bound to carry this conversation on throughout the comments and in several subsequent posts.

As I’ve made quite clear, the tour needs a healthy Djokovic and we wish him the best, deepest and quickest recovery. But his fanatics need to clean-up after themselves with regards to much of this unnecessary and unrealistic zoology (GOAT experiments in particular).

This stream-of-consciousness DHFE discourse ought to have woken me from slumber. Thanks for reading.

Looking forward to talking about some of the tennis tomorrow. D.C. is in full tilt.

Cheers.

In What Direction Do We Go?

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

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

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

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

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

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

In what direction do we go?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Palantír: Chaos, Chaos and Andy and More Chaos

A palantír (sometimes translated as “Seeing Stone” but literally meaning “Farsighted” or “One that Sees from Afar”; cf. English television) is a crystal ball, used for both communication and as a means of seeing events in other parts of the world or in the distant past (Encyclopedia).

You might recognize the reference from J. R. R. Tolkien, as well.

Are you following the transmogrification of the game? If you are not twisted and spun, or spinning-out-of-the-bowl, as we might say, listen-up.

Professional tennis is under siege. Such a series of events could drive any (wo)man crazy, but I assure you: we will survive. The civilized game will chart and lead us toward Big4_38f19160e1fbed1175906d2db43101a3greener pastures where our confusion will subside, though perhaps only temporarily. These are trying and concerning times on the tour; imbalance and epiphany fight for the throne while we can only wait and watch, calmly, and reasonably the struggle to understand the headless leadership whose stewardship repairs a system flawed beyond repair.

I confessed my church attendance following the Roland Garros massacre. Indeed, I sought council for the mess I had yet to fully comprehend.

Meditation and the blog, literature and great match replays have afforded me perspective and rest from the 2017 ATP chaos that we somehow must represent, explain, only to lessen the crazy and the crying. Even the shame.

The Federer loss today to Haas is not, by itself, a calamitous event. But there is commentary and foreshadow in the 2R Stuttgart result. I have plainly submitted that this is very much a result of his decision to skip the entirety of clay. Just a bad move that contradicts the fellowship’s ethos. To be clear, just a dumb move.

Such a decision is quite questionable for three reasons:
1. It’s arrogant. I think clay is inferior and still I wouldn’t skip the entire schedule. He has to respect the venues and crowds and players enough to report and play even a few matches. He’s too good for clay? I have entertained the injury excuse long enough; he did mention his concern for the knee, the unsteady court, etc. But you have to compete even symbolically, remind the boys you’re still there, still in all of that glorious form with grass on the horizon, so actually this or that match doesn’t mean a whole lot, but I’m here to play and keep you guys honest, especially you, Rafa. How’s it going, pal?

Instead, Rafa can go take care of his La Decima, devour the clay and continue to build momentum? no worries?

Maybe he is that confident or indifferent. Who knows.

He could have played cautiously and as if he had nothing to lose. He could’ve developed his game, deepened his familiarity with the tour, stayed in-touch. Nope. Federer is off to train in the clouds with the seraphim and other angels. Very bold move.

When Ljubičić publicized the idea of a reduced clay schedule back in 2016, upon his hiring, I suggest that was in retrospect, certainly an idea to consider, but perhaps something that might have made a difference in your career in the past, Federer. Sitting-out so much tennis at this point is probably not advised. You missed two months of tennis, which is different from practice, as you know; this acknowledgement in your statement recently hinted at perhaps a tiny admission that you’ve been away for too long. As we age, what’s the most important thing we can do physically? Keep moving. Utterly paramount. Playing competitive tennis is “moving” for a player who wants to compete at the highest level.

You had so much form early, so much momentum. Why throw all of that away?

2. It’s inviting too much pressure. Federer: Forget about the clay and the French; I’m pinning all of my hopes and dreams on Wimbledon. You all can have that entire season of competition: I am going to focus all of my training and preparation on this fortnight in July.

That’s crazy.

3. It’s scared. Again, if Federer is injured, rest, take a break from the phenomenal first three months of the season (a major and sunshine double). But the complete abstinence is too drastic, almost telling in a way. Why not play one of the Masters, or one of the smaller events, just to stay fresh, add some points, keep it real. Nope. He wanted nothing to do with the clay. Nothing! He was a clay abolitionist.

This might be the greatest of all examples of the intimidation of Rafa.

At least you’re keeping us guessing, Federer. After the loss today, I argue Federer is anything but a sure bet for Wimbledon. He’s almost 36 years-old. His year is teetering, if you ask me.

Adding to the chaos is Nadal, who you watched destroy the 2017 clay, including his RG La Decima that I have already married and divorced several times on this blog: it was beautiful and disturbing. His form is monstrous, scary, and seemingly as dominant as he’s ever been. Go figure.

2017 Fedal has been just a bizarre development, splitting the first two majors and first four Masters. They’re pretty much #1 and #2 in the world based on 2017 projections – Nadal is currently #2 while Federer currently is #5. They’ve shaken the entire tennis planet.

But just to be clear about the current chaos: Nadal’s freak-mode coming out of Paris is ironically unstable (which is so surreal) and Federer, though dominant before the clay, suddenly has a bit of a concern with only one 500-level tournament to play before The Championships.

Questions abound concerning these two since Nadal’s apprehension of grass has reared it’s head by skipping the London warm-up this week (per “medical” advice), and people wondering if he can transfer his manic clay recipe to grass; and Federer is finally returning “home” like the prodigal son, who seems, naturally, disoriented.

The whereabouts of Djokovic are unbeknownst, especially after Paris. We’ve charted this ad nauseam. What are one’s expectations for the Serb?

Wawrinka might still be partying, trying to postpone his French final hangover. Grass is not his surface, but he did, apparently, hire the celebrated Paul Annacone to consult during the grass campaign. Still, questions and chaos surround Stan the Man.

murray_grin2_976Of the top 5 guys, Murray may be the eye of the storm. This is not a betting site though I have been propositioned by several sports betting entities. Here’s my own advice: bet Murray to emerge throughout the fortnight (still awaiting confirmation from Fedal).

One could say I’m tempting fate here, as many may see Federer, in the end, rising to stake claim to his most cherished prize. Others might see Nadal forcing his way into the business-end of the draw with a suitable grass attack.

However, Murray, who might have escaped real damage in Paris, is perhaps the cleanest, the clearest and safest bet to steady his nerves and game for a defense of his Wimbledon grass.

What’s missing from this discussion and from most “betting” prospects? The younger future. Dimitrov (not exactly green) began 2017 sharp, with a renewed confidence. He’s suffered some tough losses and seems to be in retreat. Thiem and Sascha Zverev continue to blossom, yet both have yet to convince us of their Bo5 credentials. Then there’s Kyrgios and Raonic who seem to have the kind of game for SW19. The sport needs them to rise and ignore these giants banging around and creating such a mess.

This we will continue to follow and analyze: the carnage of the tour, seen quite clearly now in the aftermath of the early HC and Euro clay. Of course, I see this as nothing more or less than HRFRT. That’s more or less what we continue to observe here on this blog concerning these courts throughout the tour, for instance with Fed winning #18 and then Nadal winning #15. You realize how absurd this is, right? The sport is, one could argue, getting so far out-of-reach we’re in the throes of a kind of crisis, a little pandemonium, perhaps.

Bring it on.

More to come, thanks for reading and cheerio.

Federer is From a Different Era

No, I am not getting all starry-eyed on Federer. When I say he is from a different era, I am not making some mystical reference to his celestial origins, as if I think Federer’s game is just “out-of-this-world.” Ha ha.

You all know that I don’t waste the space on fanatical rants or emotional poetries. I have celebrated and berated them all.

What exactly do I mean when I say Federer is from a different era? I mean: Federer is from a different era.

He predates Nadolovic. This observational fact complicates the discussion of the golden era/Big Four even more. What makes 2017 Federer such a phenomenon is the idea that he began in a “different,” earlier era, has played through Fedal, developed a real rivalry with Djokovic and now, at least for a few months it seems, he is playing beyond this era.

Obviously, one has to stop there and remind himself that Djokovic is far from finished. He has had a bit of a burn-out, we suppose, his Young_FedererNadallevel has dropped from that ’15-’16 reign, and injury seems to have hampered his game, as well. We suspect Djokovic to gain confidence and form throughout the clay and make a valiant run in Paris to defend his 2016 title, and accomplish the career grand slam double (win each major twice). Djokovic can re-insert/assert himself back into this discussion very quickly and powerfully with a great clay run here in the next couple of months.

But the fact remains that Federer started dominating tennis, winning majors, etc., well before Nadal and Djokovic were doing much of anything on tour, played throughout this golden era and, as the story goes in 2017, has vanquished his greatest nemesis, which seems to mean he is winning (dominating) beyond the Spanish clay GOAT’s time. The ramifications of this development could be pretty significant. But the story isn’t over.

Just as Djokovic is far from done, Nadal could rise-up even more (his 2017 campaign has been very impressive, as well) and win his 10th FO. The story lines will continue to be written by the athletes battling for these precious championships.

Another thing to recall here is the absolute center-piece of my HRFRT thesis: Federer’s tennis created a context that inspired/facilitated the championship/title frenzy that has defined this golden era. The historical context of players is a critical element in the consideration of legacies and eras. As I have already argued, Sampras obliterated his historical standards. There was nothing left for him to climb, really.

Even his clay omission can be explained in this historical context. The French Open before and during Pete’s era was almost a minor key in the men’s professional tennis theme song. Borg and Lendl are more outliers of that era, winning the French multiple times (Wilander did, as well). This was a tournament generally reserved for the clay court specialists. If one disagrees with that assessment, then tackle the other end of the discussion of majors, which argued that Wimbledon and the U.S. Open were, essentially, the ultimate tennis crucibles, where the greatest champions triumphed. Sampras owned each venue historically.

So, the current version of this historical influence is that 2017 Federer will inspire Nadolovic again.

We’re not saying that Nadal and Djokovic have come and gone. But the recent moves from Federer to return, dramatically, to this championship winning form is fairly remarkable, historically I am arguing.

The clearest illustration of this argument that Federer is from a different era? (other than I just explained it to you 🙂

What were you doing in 2008? Think back for a second. What was happening in men’s professional tennis at that point? You have already thought about the Wimbledon final, where Nadal, on his third try, up-ended Federer to claim his first Wimbledon.

The year is 2008.

Federer already has 13 majors to his name.

Nadal has 5.

And Djokovic has 1.

A lot has happened since then, no doubt.

And this is part of what is so remarkable about 2017 Federer. Historically, this shouldn’t have happened.

But it is happening.

How?

His athleticism and his new coach. I have argued a bit of both and will continue to take this on next.

Cheers!

Federer is Ruining Tennis

I wrote a series of posts last year arguing that Federer’s role in this golden era, in the history of tennis for that matter, has been very consequential.

Introduction. . .Tour Structure and Numbers. . . Federera. . . Roger Created a Monster (or Two).

I left-off needing to deal with the Djokovic effect, his role in this era (again, Roger being the cause of the Serbian serpent of lithe lethality).

federersmoke1My plan now is to figure-out exactly what more I need to write to finish and package this short E-book of sorts. This could be extended into a longer, more traditional book format, as well. Do I want to sell it? Sure. But for now, I am just writing, watching, writing, watching and reading this glorious game.

But what I want to touch-on briefly here are some of the ideas people have about Roger playing his greatest tennis now, at 35.

Let’s say I concede this point and say Roger is playing his greatest tennis at 35.

Ha ha ha.

Okay, I’ve gathered myself. We hear the point being made that players’ careers are being extended into their 30s, that there is a kind of late blooming in the men’s game. Wawrinka, Lopez, Karlovic, et al, are proof positive that this trend is rampant and the arch of a player’s career will extend beyond the “wall” that has been the late 20s and early 30s. Using, then, just a bit of playground logic, this means that other players like Djokovic and Murray (tough to say Nadal’s tennis is on the ascent) could/should/might play dominant tennis in 3 or 4 years? That would still keep them shy of Federer’s 35 going on 36, but I’m willing to play along here. 😀

Djokovic will be vying for #1 in the world, winning a major or two, Masters tournaments, etc., in four years?

Where’s Andy in 3-4 years? Dominant?

First of all, I don’t need to argue here that Federer is NOT playing the best tennis of his career right now, in 2017. Just on the surface that’s ridiculous. But we’ll look at this with more depth in the coming weeks (as I find time to delve in given our week-to-week coverage of ATP fireworks).

No, that argument can be clarified later, and needs to be since bloggers and even guys like Brad Gilbert are under this spell of Federer’s ruination.

Instead, just think about what you’re comparing, making a huge leap to this vague notion that players are peaking later in their careers. Djokovic in 4 years (which only puts him at 34, by the way) is having a similar kind of significance on tour that Federer is now?

Or the likes of Dimitrov, for instance. In 10 years he will be 35. You think Dimitrov might be part of this rampant late-bloom of professional tennis talent?

Folks, this is some seriously flawed reasoning: because Roger is dominant at 35, and players do seem to be playing with more relevance later into their 30s, we can expect this trend to continue and argue, in fact, that father time has massively reconsidered his identity and meaning in life? Ah, that’s a great title for some of this discussion/argument: The Identity Crisis of Father Time (or Mother Time, either way). 😉

The point, of course, is Federer is ruining tennis! I use the exclamation point not to soften that statement with some kind of sarcastic tone, but to emphasize, announce with more force, the point of this phenomenon.

As I think to finish that series of articles (HRFRT), think of what 2016-17 will do to this argument?

Today’s post is a brief reminder, as you begin your weekend, that this 2017 Federer is not as much about the men’s game (as many will have you believe – that today’s nutrition and technology and science will have players peaking into their 30s). No no no. This is about Federer. He is a singular talent.

What bothers me is how his success (because of his talent and love for the sport) wasn’t able to affect other players. Like Sampras. Sampras was burned-out by 31. He’d climbed the Mt. Everest of tennis by then. Federer would have changed that (Federer created monsters). Federer changed the entire narrative and expectations of the sport.

But now we have a possible epidemic on our hands of unrealistic expectations. Thank Federer for that.

We’ll eventually move to a more specific comparative analysis of the younger and older Federer, the athlete.

Happy Friday.