Before the Dawn, The Collapse

The end of the year is near, hence the dawn of a new calendar that comes with another year of old traditions, the possibility of new ones, new or some of those repeated expectations, hopes and the manifestation of dreams. All of these things and more come when we turn from December to January. In tennis, we anticipate the players getting ready for some smaller tournaments in order for them to find some form before the year’s first major championship.

Before we talk about 2017, new coaching announcements, player health, etc., let’s explore briefly what happened at the end of 2016, especially with regards to the collapse of Djokovic.

Tennis is a very historical game, meaning the past is always ringing in our ears as we watch the battles play-out on the various courts, some of which have seen great tennis matches between historically great players for years and years. You know exactly what I’m talking about, especially since the start of the 21st century (only about 15-16 years ago) and the dawn of an era that has seen, for many, some of the greatest players of all time duke it out across several courts through out several calendars.

novak-djokovic-wineWhat happened at the end of 2016 cost Novak Djokovic historically, if you ask me.

I went over this a bit already, but Djokovic had a lot on the line there at the WTF. Gaining the #1 ranking in Paris by beating Isner in the final was a bit of an interim investiture for Murray. Murray, Djokovic and the rest of the tennis audience new Andy needed to certify the coronation by winning the WTF where Djokovic would be playing and able to defend his own claim at #1.

Here’s actually what I wrote back on November 1, in a post titled “Djokovic’s Run:”

Djokovic is playing to maintain his company with some all-time greats and even attempt to join bigger company in the record books. We’re talking about, for starters, weeks spent at #1, a true greatness metric. He and his fans, at least before his burn-out that included a reassessment of tennis priorities such as winning titles and being #1, had to be eyeing some history as he seemed to be without peer on tour, with a chance to challenge Federer’s total weeks at #1. Currently, Novak is fifth at 223 weeks at #1, behind Conners (268 weeks), Lendl (270), Sampras (286) and Federer (302). Roger’s 237 consecutive weeks at #1 is well ahead of Connors, who’s 2nd at 160. Novak is 4th on that list at 122 weeks with Lendl in 3rd at 157.

What makes this fight to the finish in 2016 very interesting is the record for year’s-end #1, the player who stands at the top of the tour rankings at the conclusion of each season. This is another huge greatness metric. Sampras has 6 year-ends at #1, Roger and Connors are at 5, and Djokovic is with Lendl and McEnroe at 4. So by holding-off Murray here at the end of 2016, Novak will tie Federer and Connors at 5. This has to be on Novak’s mind.

If we’re talking about history, which we often are in tennis, this end of 2016 was pretty costly for the legacy of Djokovic. The numbers are very relevant in this glorious sport of ours. Djokovic has worked his way into the big-time #1 tennis discussion, which included winning another WTF, which would have been his 6th, tying him with Federer for the most of those prestigious year-end championships, as well (while also reclaiming #1 for the year-end #1 ranking).

Folks, there was a lot on the line in London. Those are the facts.

This clarification of London I want to stand alone and a part from all of the coaching and life drama of Djokovic. No one really nows how 2017 will play-out, whether he will miss Becker, whether his marriage is tense and distracting to his game, or whether some guy named Pepe will help or hurt his tennis.

We don’t know what will happen as the Serb marches towards his 30th birthday, needing to regain the edge he’s had over Murray on the court and in the rankings.

But we do know that the losses on the backside of 2016, especially his loss to Murray at the WTF, have been very costly to Djokovic.

Some Djokovic fans and historians/tennis fans that love what Novak has accomplished so far, especially through to the 2016 French Open, want to say that Djokovic vaulted into the GOAT debate. Tough not to consider his accolades, especially what he was able to do at the French back in May, accomplish the Novak Slam where he, upon winning his first FO, was in possession then of all four majors. Truly remarkable. Along with his other tremendous tennis accomplishments, he is in the GOAT debate. I am certainly not going to say he is not.

Be that as it may, the end of 2016 was quite costly. There is no way around that. This GOAT discussion gets murky very quickly given all of these greats’ cases, all of the tremendous runs they went on, the great matches, etc. In the end, the numbers help quantify and qualify. The eye-test, for those of us who have watched a lot of tennis, works too.

But there are very real numbers and subsequent standards that formulate tennis greatness.

Consequently, Novak’s collapse at the end of 2016 could have massive repercussions on his discussion. This just can not be denied. Winning the WTF, regaining #1 and winning his 6th WTF would have been HUUUUUGE. This wasn’t the case and I don’t hear anyone talking about how big of a loss that was.

People prefer to talk about Becker and Pepe and Marián and Jelena. And others are reminding us of the greatness of that Novak Slam, which I agree is a monster achievement.

But. . . what about The Collapse?

Final Thoughts on WTF

There are a few more thoughts on London and 2016. We could talk about 2016 in light of the return of Del Potro, Roger and Rafa’s difficulties, the Stanimal, Pouille, Zverev, et al., and we will! But we’re focusing here on the tour’s top two, the guys that just played that whale of a final in London (not) and have for us, consequently, a pretty enticing 2017, as in What The Fuck is going to happen? The WTF result is resonating right now, so we’ll stay in these parts before venturing again into the future and beyond.

Did you hear Becker’s thoughts on the wane of the Djoker? Here’s what I would say to Becker about all of this: sshhhh. Although I have to admit that I’m not politicking to keep my job as Novak’s coach, the German’s dismissal of Murray is a boomerang, no?  Such ill-advised commentary has to feed the Scot’s desire just a bit, no? Lendl, too. I can only imagine the Lendl-Murray campaign loves this rhetoric and builds on this blind strategy being formulated by Djokerville. Boris seems pretty out-of-touch. Nole misses Roger and Rafa, so he’s not really trying? Hey, Boris, good luck campaigning to keep your job.

The old I’m-losing-because-I-don’t-respect-my-competition excuse is almost a white flag. And even if it is true to a degree (McEnroe losing the Borg rivalry – as the Swede retired in his mid 20’s – probably did enhance the demise of the American), don’t talk about it. You’re just giving Murray and Lendl more reason and desire to change the course this era of men’s tennis.

What I thought about after seeing Novak go 2-0 on Nishikori in that first set of their SF was completely contradicted in the final. I was fooled. I thought Novak had form and was going to be very difficult to beat. Sure, I made the argument that Murray’s strength of character could get to the Serb; but the Serb looked like he’d found his stroke, so we were going to see the logical return of the king.

Novak’s serve in the final was solid early, so what this Murray-win amounted to was what I had hoped would happen: Andy just had to stay in the match. Hold your serve. Stick around for after-dinner drinks, etc.

What happened at the WTF was similar to what transpired at the U.S. Open back in September, if you ask me. Here was Novak’s USO draw: he beat Jerzy Janowicz in four, got a w/o against Jiří Veselý in 2R, a Youzhny retirement in the 3R (up 4-2 in the first), an easy straight-set win over the young Brit Edmund in the 4R 2 1 and 4, and then a retirement from Tsonga in the QF, an absolute shitshow from the easily conquerable Monfils in the SF and a loss to Stan in the F.

I actually thought Djokovic would rise to the occasion and beat Stan, that another run from Stan the Man was out of this world. Djokovic simply wasn’t tested, nor did he probably have any form in the first place (no shit, sherlock). This is an actual reality: karma. People have complained about Rafa’s draws in the past, that he was always gifted an easier route to the final, Djokovic and Federer getting placed in the same half, etc. Well, this just goes to show: you can’t escape the legacy gods. You can’t get gifted a favorable draw time and time again. The USO and the WTF both illustrated how the favorable draw does little, in the end, for the fortunate one. Tennis (and life) don’t work that way. Rafa didn’t benefit from those draws and neither is Novak.

Or Nole just had no form in both tourneys and his soft brackets were coincidental. 😀

Speaking of soft: Nishikori. I’m still blown-away at how shity heKei Nishikori was in that SF. And it threw everyone off. People at the O2 said very few had Murray winning that match. Why? Had to be because Djokovic drowned Kei in the shallow end. That was a leaky diaper in kindergarten. Nishikori chased his balloon into the street and fell through a manhole. 

As I said in regards to the Wimbledon SF and F where Raonic looked so good against Roger and got man-handled against Murray: Murray was so much stronger than the rest of the field. He pushed Milos around the court in that WB final, never felt a threat what-so-ever. There was such a stark difference between Andy and everyone else. That’s at least how it looked.

Very similar case here. Nishikori let us down. Djokovic, however you want to look at it, beat a far inferior player in the SF, which gave people little insight into the final; per usual there is a big gap between the top and the rest of the field. Raonic is the only “field” representative who is making a viable push toward the top. The Nishikori, Monfils and Cilic’s of the world are a step behind (despite Marin’s glorious 2014 shock-the-world).

Aside from this more macro look at the top vs. the field, Nishikori’s play just seemed really bewildering. Play so well vs Murry in the RR and have nothing left? Or was Djokovic just off in the final? That theory doesn’t work. The drop in form (or whatever you want to call it) is on Kei.  And yes the parallel to WB means this: Ranoic, like Djokovic, played a weaker opponent in the SF, only to get drilled by the much stronger Scot in the final.

One of my readers made the comment that Murray might have become Nadal-like with Lendl’s mental toughness clearly strengthening his composure and perhaps his ability to pressure his opponents with consistency rather than offensive brilliance.

You might have noticed an edit here at the end of this post. I mistakenly combined the weakness of the “field” point with the sometimes corrupt ATP draws. Really two different points of discussion. Either way. . .

Happy Thanksgiving.

PS Enjoy the Davis Cup, Cilic v Del Potro showdown.

Now What, Novak?

The WTF final turned-out to be the coronation of Andy Murray. Well done. For me the match was completely psychological, mental, played on character – who’s got it, who’s struggling in that department. Andy wasn’t necessarily brilliant, but he was solid and did not shy from those big moments of the match. Lendl was in the house. Double his pay. On the other hand, Novak looked awful. Listless. Distracted. Forlorn even. The camera would cut to Jelena and Pepe sitting together and this looked very troubling for Novak. He just doesn’t seem right. We’ve all heard rumors, seen Djokovic crumble in matches, coaching change, infidelity, burn-out, blah blah blah.

We call it like we see it: Djokovic is in trouble. That was the case since early summer and we’ve lost count of the examples that illustrate this thesis. He’s almost 30, there’s some kind of crisis of identity, or family, or diet. We do know this: he looks terrible on the court.

And he’s turned to Pepe. Good luck, Novak.

I’ll be back with more. How’s Nishikori doing? Did he give Novak whatever he had? Pepe will figure it out.


The 2016 World Tour Finals Final – Preview

We have the most anticipated, most appropriate final tomorrow to decide not only the World Tour Finals Champion, but the year-end men’s top tennis player in the world for 2016. The match-up is set and this is the first time we’ve had such a consequential WTF final, with a huge championship at stake, and world #1 going to the winner – the weight of year-end, a final event to define 2016 in one match to rule them all.

wtffinalDjokovic has a ton on the line: a sixth WTF championship (to tie Roger), and a fifth year-end #1, also to tie Roger, but for 2nd all-time as Sampras has six year-end #1s. If Djokovic wins, he not only collects those historical accolades, but he reasserts himself as the Don of the ATP. Going into 2017, he will have restored order and again be the sole guy on top that everyone else is chasing.

Murray has a lot on the line, as well. With a win, he’ll grab his first WTF, consolidate his #1  in the world, and psychologically (beyond physically) he’ll have genuinely earned that claim; the doubters can’t really argue that Murray’s ranking is synthetic if Murray beats Djokovic. A win tomorrow will put an exclamation point to this mammoth year-end run where he, essentially, stole #1 from the exploited Djokovic. Indeed, he has to beat Djokovic to strengthen that grip on #1, authenticate the journey and this huge tennis distinction.

But there’s more to consider here in the context of this final: where is each player with his form, and level of energy and mental strength?

When I previewed the WTF, I liked Djokovic, before even the first ball in the first RR was in the air. That’s called tennis common sense. If you listened to Nolefam, there was a lot of concern and insecurity; sure, some of this was warranted. He’s been down. But if any sort of tennis would help such insecurity, it’s the round robin format (I was considering bigger factors than the RR format). He could have actually lost a match, even two matches and still managed to make the final (although from the points perspective, that might not have worked-out for re-claiming #1). The point is: he certainly could have lost a match and survived, gotten his back to the wall even more so, had a chance to rally his troops and find his form even in light of a loss (in fact, Djokovic said during that first round that he thinks the RR is a great format for the Olympics. Ya think?).

But given the stakes (his are very high, much higher than Murray’s), he would find his form was my contention. And he did.

And he got a cream-puff draw (I commented on that). So there you have it.

Djokovic is in perfect shape for this final.

Question: who has the most pressure on him in the final?

Djoker fan club members will probably say Murray, arguing that he’s desperately trying to hold-on to that top spot, trying to maintain this dream-like run, cherish this massive achievement. But that’s ridiculous. Let me give you an objective read on this: ALL of the pressure is on Djokovic. Not only is he an historical great who has had a great 2016 despite his recent drop in form, but he’s rested and has to be as confident as anyone can be. In his last two matches he’s lost five games total. He went 61 62 and then 61 61. Lol.

I almost titled this post “Djokovic or Chokovic?” That’s where we are here. That’s how much pressure is on Novak to win this final and restore order on the ATP and set-up his continued run at the record books. That’s really all this is about at this point. His audience is not London. It’s not all of Nole’s little fanboys and girls who flood message boards or blog about their weirdo obsession with the guy. Nope. His audience is tennis history at this point. His audience, if this makes it easier to understand, is Laver, Federer, Lendl, McEnroe and Pete and Connors, et al. Novak has to win in front of that crowd. Indeed, the stakes are very high for the Serb.

On top of that, he hasn’t played, outside of Raonic who took him to two TB, a soul. I actually got to watch the match today between Novak and Kei. I watched the first two games and turned it off, and only glanced at the score a couple of times on my phone. However, I did tune-in as the American announcers (Annacone, Arias and Brett Haber) were starting to practically make fun of Nishikori as he was flirting with losing a match in which HE NEVER HELD HIS SERVE. He ended-up holding one service game. Totally embarrassing.

I left after the second game, when Djokovic broke, ready to serve 2-0. It was so clear Kei was in-over-his-head. For all his success (few and far between to be honest), this is Nishikori. We all understand he took Andy to three brutal sets, one of the longest 3-setters in ATP history. But that was a match of less consequence than this SF.

That you can go so big in a RR, but lay a fucking egg in a SF is pretty much an indictment of your tennis. He can take anyone to the edge of the cliff. He gave Stan a run in this year’s USO SF. A few points here and there separated those two in NYC. Same in his RR with Andy. But to show-up at a SF and play like that is beyond bad. Novak’s form made the trip to London, but Kei stunk-up the O2 in a way that screams ATP 250.

Andy, of course, played another monster match. Raonic is a real threat, which I have said all along. I did not get to see, but saw highlights. Andy survived.

Let’s cut to the chase. There is really no case to be made that Murray will win tomorrow.

Unless: this does become more psychological and Murray does have just enough tennis gravitas to stay in the match and put enough pressure on Novak. We’re in that 2009 Australian Open final universe where the guy who should win, who has the most energy and is probably the better player, chokes to the guy who is playing on fumes and who does not have the arsenal as that rested favorite.

If Murray loses, what’s the shame in that? His year-end run has been epic; he brought so much interest to the tour, to the tele for these last few tournaments that became steps he was climbing to the top. At the same time, he’s taken advantage of no-Nole. Novak’s loss in Paris was bad, but Murray has been accumulating most of these points without Novak around to prevent him from accumulating these points. If Murray loses, he’s had an amazing run. Even in the WTF, he outlasted these threats and he made the final. He’s hammered, smashed, etc. Any real tennis fan has appreciated this run from Murray.

And we could even argue that Novak’s win tomorrow would be only right, that he’s the true world #1 and despite allowing Murray to overtake him, he’s now back to defend his legacy and more legitimate claim as the true #1. Novak’s history is littered with such greatness. His win tomorrow would seem only fitting given the long narrative of these two.

Making the story truly memorable is that the great Scot got to taste #1. He grabbed it – even though the circumstances were perhaps ideal. If Murray loses the championship tomorrow and his #1 ranking, there is no regret – even though the groups perhaps didn’t help in that Novak got to play Thiem and Goffin (along with one true test) whereas Murray navigated a RR nightmare and then played Novak’s one true test.

Novak has to win tomorrow. There is no other way around this. And he probably will. If I had bet this over a week ago, given my preview pick, I would have done pretty well.

I hope I’m wrong. Perhaps I’ll write about this in my next post, but a Murray win would be a lot more interesting, mainly for 2017. Granted, I do understand the weight of legacy and as I have said, it’s almost only right (just, as in morally) if Novak wins because he is a true tennis giant and the win would perch nicely in his tree of tennis grandeur. I totally understand that.

But for the dramatic end of the story that values plot mystery and character development, a Murray win would be rich.

In fact, that’s the true essence of this final tomorrow, especially in the element of character development. Murray’s only chance is to win this final on character, on, as I said, his tennis gravitas. Physically, I’m afraid he’s outmatched by the ascendant Serb. But given his career as a top-5 journeyman who’s sniffed the heels of three tennis greats for years, who’s battled beyond failure, the 2016 maturation of Andy (as a father and student of the game under the master tutelage of Lendl) presents that bit of hope for the Scot. Keep your composure, Andy, affirm your character, and provide the plot twist that will keep us guessing into 2017 and beyond.

Andy’s character argument. At this point, I’m afraid that’s all he’s got.

WTF SF: Weathering the Storm

Andy weathered the storm early from Stan. Advanced.

We saw this coming a mile away:

Murray v Raonic

Djokovic v Nishikori

The fact that Novak has only played a couple minor talents in getting to his SF seems pretty good for him. This is like the 2016 USO, where he had a Challenger Tour draw. Fly the clown home and fly Goffin in to take his beating. Wow. And that garbage mainstream media, people like and other fanboys suddenly love Novak. Novak has been dangerous from the beginning, but if you’re liking his chances now, after beating a bunch of farm animals (Raonic, granted, is a threat), you’re a tennis illiterate.

Your boy Tignor had Wawrinka today in that final RR match where Andy at 3-3 in the first went all #1 on the Swiss and moved his camp a few wins away from definitive world #1.

Andy has played Cilic (straights), one of the most dangerous guys on the planet given his play this summer and fall; Nishikori (war) the most dangerous outside the top two given his HC game and desire to climb in the rankings; and Stan (straights), the mercurial beast.

Indeed, the great Djoker fanboy and guys like Tignor had Wawrinka today, saying things like Murray could miss the SF if he lost in straights. Feel the pulse of the sport, son.

Can’t wait to see Nishikori v Novak. Will be refreshing to see the Serb play some tennis of consequence against a player of significance. If he comes out and breadsticks the Japanese star, look out. Hopefully Nishikori has something left after today’s final RR against Cilic.

Indeed, this entire draw and schedule have favored the Serb. Didn’t work-out in New York. We’ll see how this “fortune” fairs in London.

Weathering the media shit show storm

Can’t wait to hear what tools like Annacone or Tignor say about the SF, but actually I’ll do my best not to come within earshot of those ducks. That sort of mainstream “media” is garbage and has so little to offer us tennis fans. This inspires me even more to build this blog/site. And sure this connects to the absolute media shit show failure of the US Presidential election (along with every other story they cover). We are surrounded by people only concerned with making money or doing whatever they think makes them sound interesting/relevant. Interesting or advertising-friendly is not enough. Garbage collectors.

Be smart and honest. That’s Word.

WTF SF Outlook

We have a final match still to play in the RR stage of the WTF, but the SF are starting to shape-up and look pretty interesting.

Murray and Djokovic have handled their business in their first two matches. I have seen just a bit of the tennis, catching some of the Murray v Nishikori today and seeing a bit of Djokovic v Thiem on day 1. We don’t need to see much to know how this thing should develop with the Final most likely drawing Murray v Djokovic for WTF champion and world #1. This should go according to plan, those two reaching the final, and it’s anyone’s guess who would win this much anticipated championship, the difficulty in that Murray has had form for weeks and weeks, but Djokovic should have an advantage in h2h he can use along with his historical success at the WTF. murray_novak

Not surprisingly, Monfils has pulled-out, so Djokovic’s final RR match is against David Goffin, a WTF alternate. The Frenchman is a piece of work; he shows a flair for the game, perhaps, but his ATP 250 stock is so out of place in these deeper waters of big boy tennis. He continues to not-shine in these moments where one can dig deep and add much joy and integrity to the sport. I spotted a quote of his where he hoped Murray would win the WTF. I don’t care to confirm this (don’t care). He’s wasting an incredible opportunity (in the USO, at the WTF, etc.) to make more of name for himself, treat the game with respect. Word is he’s dealing with injured ribs sustained in Stockholm. I suspect his elimination from the SF has a bit more to do with this withdrawal than an “injury.”

The other “injured” player also resides in the Lendl group, one Milos Raonic. He withdrew from the Paris final, we recall, with what I’d heard was a torn quad. Yet he seems to be holding his own here in London with a chance to advance to the SF with a win over Thiem in their final RR match. Is Raonic injured? Perhaps someone can catch him and Monfils at the pub, eavesdrop for some injury update.

The Murray v Wawrinka match could be interesting, with Stan playing his usual incredible bulk and the entire tennis world waiting for him, or someone or something to trigger and unleash the monster, the Stanimal. We suspect that Murray, with a much needed day-off after today’s marathon with Kei, will finish Stan and reach his SF 3-0. If that plays-out, Nishikori should claim the group runner-up and advance to the other SF, where he would most likely play Djokovic.

Who wins Raonic v Thiem? We suspect Milos to stave-off injury and advance.

SF – Murray v Raonic

SF – Djokovic v Nishikori

This is how the final four should go down.

From what I’ve seen, Murray does look the strongest of the field. Djokovic riddling Thiem after that first set TB was very impressive, and beating a “healthy” Raonic in two TB was definitely what the Becker ordered, but Murray just looks strong.

I remember watching the 2016 Wimbledon SF of Raonic v Federer, seeing Fed lay another egg in a match you would think he could will his way to a win and another Final at the The Centre Court. Be that as it may, Raonic had a look; the genius of McEnroe was lifting him into the tennis pantheon, consolidating his AO SF where he was outplaying Murray before an “injury” ended that run. This was the next stage of the ascension of Milos.

Murray spanked him in the final and it dawned on me, watching this Murray v Raonic final, that Murray is just stronger than Raonic, and Federer and just about everyone else on tour. Djokovic’s fall in level and energy (and whatever else) has certainly enhanced the Brit’s rise, but Murray completely controlled the points v Raonic in that WB final and I had to admit, despite the much more defensive style of tennis (especially compared to Federer in the SF), he was hitting the ball so much deeper, harder, more consistent, stronger.

Here’s a fact that you might already know, but in this context of the 2016 season, this WTF, the race for #1, and looking ahead to 2017 I find interesting: Murray is a week older than Djokovic. Indeed.

So this speaks to what I said after the USO, where I began to surmise bigger dips for the Djoker: The Serb is younger than Murray in terms of the calendar, but he’s got a lot more wear-and-tear on that body than does Andy.

And he seems a bit more emotional, recently. Hitting a ball into the stands and sparring with the press seems a bit rattled. He showed some of this in the last few months. That’s a bit of worry I think for the Djoker. His composure is critical to his success.

In my WTF preview I said I liked Djokovic to win this and reclaim #1, counting on his back-to-the-wall/depth-of-soul championship fight.

Murray, however, does look strong. His win today v Nishikori was a huge stepping-stone, dropping that first set TB and coming back to win two tight sets in a grueling test of tennis distance. Watching each save set points, grind-out holds, extend rallies. . .really classic stuff. Nishikori is no joke. Big win Murray. Again, Stan could rise-up as he is a win away from a possible SF, but I suspect Murray’s consistency and determined tennis to complete the 3-0 sweep.

Part of my disbelief in Djokovic’s loss of confidence is the way his style should make such a dramatic dip rare (and given Djokovic’s last few years, the dips are rare). But his great return-of-serve and solid baseline game has margins for error. He doesn’t have a OHBH that comes and goes; he plays a solid all-around game. That’s one of the reasons Murray does look so good. You know he’s not going anywhere in these matches. He’s going to play his ass-off, defend #1, on his home turf (practically) and his tennis makes this almost a lock that he’ll do very well. He serves well, defends the hell out of his opponent’s serve, his ball striking is very solid, and he’s running a lot of stuff down, looking like a pretty spry 29. We’ll see if the younger/older 29 can advance, as well, and the two meet in a thing of finals beauty.

Will the real 29 year-old please stand?

That seems to be the nub of this end of the year clash of the titans. 

The 2016 World Tour Finals

I’ve already commented on how lopsided the groups are in this tour finals tournament. Murray opens with Cilic tomorrow, a critical match for Murray if you ask me. Having to play Stan and/or Kei with a loss would be bad news for the Brit.

o2In the end, Murray should get through to the SF. As much as I have no problem recognizing Andy’s incredible accomplishment of chasing-down an idle and off-form Djokovic, I do think it would do him a huge compliment to win the WTF and put a stamp on this ranking. If he loses in the RR stage or in the SF or F, and Djokovic out-points him to re-take world #1, Andy’s short stint at the top would be very very short, and thin if you know what I mean. Andy can do wonders to his legacy by maintaining his #1 ranking through the WTF and to start the 2017 season. This would bode well for his up-coming battles with Djokovic who still has to have a good mental edge over the Brit H2H.

But if Djokovic regains #1 here in November to finish the season at #1, perhaps even beat Murray in the SF or F to decisively settle that score, this, I think, informs big-time 2017. Andy needs all the help he can get. Djokovic’s form and burn-out already pretty much gifted Murray the ascent to #1. Now Murray needs to take advantage of the gift, consolidate the #1-#2 swap with Novak.

I think Djokovic regains #1 at the WTF. If he doesn’t, get him the hell out of here is the way I’d put it. This loss of confidence crap I don’t buy. If he really does lose in the RR stage to that heap of mediocrity (sorry, just exaggerating a bit to make my point) or in SF or F, he’s done. He better get on his knees and pray. That kind of free fall is incredibly soft, weak, etc.

He too needs to take advantage of the gift, that Lendl group of his. I think he does and he wins the tournament, probably in routine fashion over Murray in the final.

Otherwise, the rise of Murray really is on his watch. He can personally put a stop to the Murray merry-go-round, and I suspect he will (unless of course Murray doesn’t even make it out of the McEnroe group. Brutal draw.).  Again, when push comes to shove the great rise-up. Djokovic is more Pete and Roger than he is Rafa. I think. Time and tennis will tell.

Let’s go!