Nadal v Kyrgios

Sure this has appeal.

Obi-Wan Kenobi against the evil empire.

The Kyrgios v Zverev SF today was pretty predictable. Kyrgios is just a better, more experienced player. The serve alone gives him all kinds of access to The Force.

He’s the rebellion’s only hope.

Federer (I mean the Emperor) has gotten the better of the 22 year-old as of late (Miami and that Laver Cup final that brought tears to the apprentice).

Let’s see how Darth Rafa holds-up.

If my Star Wars analogy isn’t quite working, don’t care.
Just trying to create a little interest in this almost meaninglessness.

Did you catch the Zverev v Rublev match. Zverev vs his mini me. That analogy works pretty well, actually. Dimitrov going away 1-6 in the third. Ha ha ha. I lost a lot of money
on that early 2017 Grigor stock. I bought before Brisbane based off of coaching and late 2016 match data. The guy surged in 2017 and then shit his shorts. What a mess. I’m being redundant.

To be clear, however, a Kyrgios win tomorrow would be bold, significant.
Because, again, he’s our only hope.

Yeah, you guessed it: Yoda Novak is.

61843836

Western & Southern Open QF Setting

Incidentally, the last R16 match is still undecided, Nadal v Ramos-Vinolas.

Kyrgios-Cincinnati-700x450

But Kyrgios just closed-out Karlovic, so the winner of the Spanish duel will get the volatile (and injured) Aussie in that QF, which actually gets played later today; yesterday’s rain delay gives Kyrgios and his QF opponent quite a Friday workload. This could prove pretty taxing for Kyrgios, who is still battling injury.

Nonetheless, if Nadal survives this current match, most of us want to see Nadal v Kyrgios. That winner will get the Thiem v Ferrer QF.

Down below, the Isner v Donaldson winner will square-off against the Dimitrov v Sugita winner.

Isner out-maneuvered Tiafoe yesterday, unsurprisingly, 76 75. This is the Isner scoreline; the better players end-up on the good side of that score, but a guy like Tiafoe is a step or two away from that. Still, this shows how close is the 19 year-old. I watched a bit of this match and he threatened John on a few service games, but just couldn’t quite muster the break.

Keep your eye on this guy. We’ve been fortunate to see some glimmer of form from the youth these last couple of weeks. Paul, Shapovalov, Tiafoe, Donaldson (into the W&S QF obviously and continuing to outpace his entire class), Kyrgios et al. Unfortunate that Khachanov couldn’t close the deal after bageling Sugita in that first set TB.

Hopefully, next week will give USO competitors a chance to find as much health as they can for the brutal test the following week in NYC.

Who are the favorites in this year’s final major?

Is this question dependent upon the health of Federer’s back? What if Roger can find enough form, even with a slight twinge in the back? What if he is ruled 100% healthy? Is he the automatic favorite? Or is Nadal, the new world #1, the favorite at the USO?

If we take the field here, everybody else, this could be an interesting discussion. With the vacancies provided by Murray, Djokovic and Wawrinka, especially, isn’t this Fedal against the field?

Three times in the last thirteen years has a player outside Federer/Nadal/Djokovic/Murray won the USO. Isn’t this year likely another one of those?

With Nadal going toward a first-set TB against his countryman as we speak, and his general struggles on the non-european clay; there certainly shouldn’t be that great of case for Nadal in NYC. Then again, he and the Bo5 do like to party, which should be taken into account.

All this to say, tough to say Roger or Rafa are a lock to win the final major of the year.

So, who looks good?

Federer isn’t getting any younger and Nadal standing about fifteen feet behind the BL on 1st and 2nd serves are not a good look from our 2017 forefathers.

______________________________________________________

With regards to yesterday’s “Mailbag” post: no, actually there isn’t a mailbag feature on this blog.

This does bring-up some of what I am probably going to introduce, in order to give me a bit more of a schedule and readers a bit more anticipation and expectation. Two features I suspect will make solid contributions to this blog are: 1) one historical post a week, about any interesting topic/match/player/argument regarding the past, the history of the sport. Of course, I feature a bit of this perspective anyway, but a more focused article that takes us back to a specific story will be a great option.

2) Reader inspired discussion. This is not quite a mailbag feature, but instead anything from suggestions about certain arguments/topics that can be discussed to guest posts.

In summary, one historical piece per-week and one reader inspired discussion per-week. Content. We want more content.

Lastly, I lashed-out at my hypothetical critic yesterday when I brought-up Sampras’ six year-end No. 1s (that ran him into the turf – probably along the lines with what the Novak Slam might have done to Djokovic). No need for me to get so hypercritical about the hypothetical. And my invented word was very uninspired. Weak stuff on my end.

Back to the point here: who’s taking their HC form to NYC for a legit run at that championship which has been left fairly exposed by the vaunted old-guard?

And what do you think of those features for this blog? More history and more reader contribution?

PS
Nadal survived the first set TB and is working to hold his serve in the 2nd, down 0-1.

Next up there: Kyrgios.

Miami QF

Yesterday saw Kei Nishikori play-out what an injured wrist looks like. That’s what determined is zero FH, resorting early and often to chippy drop-shots and just getting out-hit. Fognini had very little difficulty with Kei. Fabio hasn’t had the toughest draw, but federer-miami-2017-mondaybageling D. Young was a bit of an eye-opener. The American has played well the last couple of weeks. Either way, Fabio v Nadal could be interesting if Fabio has that disruptive spirit going. In the last couple of years, I’ve seen him give Nadal fits on clay and hard court (we all recall USO 2015).

Today’s QFs is the big league. Stan didn’t make it into this round because the tennis is too big. Sorry, Stanimal. The Kyrgios v Zverev is round 2 of what they started in IW. Nick dismissed him in IW. Let’s see what the young German can put together here. If Nick dismisses again, remember that separation for future “big” encounters. We really need Sascha to step-up.

Federer should beat Berdych, especially in this form. We’ll leave it at that.

As much as I liked Nadal’s tennis yesterday (I thought Sock would show more fight), he has quite an opponent coming-out of that top half.

The odds are probably Federer survives 53.3% the top (nod to B.Gilbert), but the winner of Kyrgios/Zverev seems quite the candidate. Let’s hope all four men today are playing high level tennis. We shouldn’t be disappointed.

Carry-on!

Update: Federer needed (I think) a little luck to escape the ominous Berdych. The Czech was out-hitting Federer from the second set on. He even had a courageous 120 mph second serve on Federer’s first MP in the third set. In other words, the influence of Goran is quite positive. In the first set, the conclusion looked foregone, Federer cruising. But you will have to go see for yourself (on replay) how Berdych began to strike the ball. With his serve working well and a BH down-the-line that Federer had no answer for, this match was tipping toward Tomas in a big way. 

Federer saved 2-3 MP in the TB, and was able to convert his chance, with Berdych serving 6-7, when the big Czech bloke double-faulted. I felt bad for Berdych. He played well. I’m not so sure Roger’s form dipped. It’s just that it takes a player to play at a very high level to really take Federer. A big hitter like a Berdych or Kyrgios might be that type. 

I’ll have to tape the second QF, but be sure to watch this match, folks. 

Miami madness!

Miami Looking Like Indian Wells #Fedkyrinka

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#Fedkyrinka #McshowTennisBlog

😀

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Up Next: IW Quarter Finals

Well, another quick post because that’s all I have time for. I leave tomorrow night for Indian Wells Semi Final action on Saturday. Not what I had in mind when I purchased the tickets.  I have the potential of seeing:

Pablo Carreno Busta v Dominic Thiem

and

Jack Sock v Nick Kyrgios

:0

That would be less than stellar in my opinion, but know that either way – I will be soaking-up the So Cal rays, hydrating and enjoying the lovely Indian Wells tennis facilities with great Masters 1000 passion!

Quick commentary on the R16 yesterday:

Federer completely outclassed Nadal. Go re-read my discussions of that H2H about which people (who don’t understand tennis) have gotten themselves sloppy wet. Roger’s tennis is so full of variety, depth, net-play, quickness, offense, defense and a great service game. This has pretty much always been the case, but we’ve wondered from time-to-time about his mental strength.

Closing-out Nadal like that was pretty impressive. Go look at the depth of Roger’s shots. That’s where Kyrgios will have trouble. The depth of Roger’s GS is a huge threat, along with the now best BH in the game (sorry, Stan), great ROS and that same silky movement.

Yes, the BH continues to shine in these high-stakes matches. I thought Federer was brilliant in his first match at IW vs. Robert, but thought he’d come back to earth a bit vs. his nemesis.

I was at IW in 2012 when Federer routined Nadal, so I have seen this show before. But this is different, here in 2017. Federer looks fresh, newly “commissioned” to take-care-of-business that a lot of us presume could be the Ivan factor. Ljubičić beat Nadal in the IW 2010 SF, so, again, think of the conversation in the Federer box surrounding this match. Ivan has been an absolute stroke of genius, imho. Which is how we’re describing Roger’s match and form at this point: genius. Again, look at the depth of his groundstrokes. He was painting Nadal’s sneakers with his paintball gun, brought to you by Wilson.

Likewise, Kyrgios outclassed Novak. I’m going to keep coming back to this: the baseline game is limited and lacks creativity, which means it’s not as interesting to watch as the iw-wed1-kyrgios2players simply have to out-hit each other. I watched Kyrgios get disinterested during some rallies, which is part of his demeanor, perhaps, but the rallies are just big BH/FH exchanges that can go on for hours. The other element of Djokovic’s game that has to come up in these discussions is his  serve. He is having to work so hard on both ends. Although he does have the best return game in the business, still, which I love to watch – his serve doesn’t scare many people.

Kyrgios, on the other hand, like Federer, has a deadly serve.  Quick points, easy holds. Intimidating.

This is just an extension of my last post about the Djokovic v Del Potro. Novak’s game is not dominant right now. He’s still looking for that extra step. But the baseline game of his and his more pedestrian serve have to ring of some concern. He’s not getting any younger. Kyrgios coming to net, playing more creatively and athletically is just a more complete display of tennis.

This discussion of style can be applied to the Wawrinka v Nishioka match. Go watch Nishioka. He is a young Nadal, running EVERYTHING down and falling in love with the top-spin. Some of those rallies in that R16 match got really tired, Stan resorting to a balloon ball approach, to limit his errors and try to avoid the upset. The young Japanese star was just staying in rallies, outlasting his opponent in most cases. He’s beaten some decent players of late, but Stan (the other great BH) showed true grit and big boy tennis down the stretch to hammer the youngster into oblivion. This match is good for Stan’s game, I believe. He was forced to reach down and find those huge FHs and BHs to reach the big QF match with Thiem. I get to see one of these two, which is a very solid outcome.

Great to see Stan find his heavy ball and punish another helpless victim (though it took a while to break the defensive mastery of the young Nadal apprentice).

Gotta go, but there’s more to come, folks. Enjoy the 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.