Thursday, 13 November 2008

Is It Too Cosy At The Top?

I've been focusing so much on Murray and
Federer these last few days that I failed to mention anything regarding some of the other players I was backing.

Unfortunately one them is already out - with injury in fact. It hasn't been an absolute nightmare for Andy
Roddick this year with wins over all of the top three, but not a great one either - the low point being that 2nd round exit at Wimbledon. I was hoping he'd pull out the stops and come up with something special to round off the year, but it wasn't to be.

But how about
Davydenko today!? I didn't doubt for a minute that he could beat Del Potro, but didn't expect it to be that one sided either - the sheer brutality of Del Potro's dismissal today must have taken many by surprise, not least Del Potro himself: what a rude awakening to the reality of the top ten! But should we really be that surprised?

Potro's had a great season but has only recently entered the top 10. Davydenko's been there since June 05. This year marks the first time he hasn't got to at least the quarter finals of a Slam since 2004. Oh and he also won Miami, wiping out Roddick and Nadal in the process. This guy's clearly not ready to leave the party quite yet...

The good news is that
Djokovic, if not quite returning to form, is beginning to show signs of belief again. He's not always been my favourite player - just what was with those Aussie Open chest pumps anyway? But I was then, and continue to be a HUGE fan of his game.

And ever since his recent slippage in form which began with that defeat to
Safin at Wimbledon, he's begun to appear more personable, introspective even - dare I say it: more mature?
So in a strange way - and I never thought I'd find myself saying this - I've begun missing his intensity on court! He seems to bring something unique to the top of the game, both in his playing style and in how he conducts himself.

In 1964, Mohammad Ali, in an effort at goading Sonny Liston (whom Ali would call a 'big ugly bear') into agreeing to fight him, parked a large hired green bus on Liston's front lawn, and seated inside taunted him through a bullhorn calling him a 'coward' and a 'bum'. The closest tennis has had to anything vaguely resembling that to my knowledge, is the McEnroe-
Lendl rivalry, whose pre-match 'warm ups' would often consist of heavily struck overhead smashes being directed at one another. I'm not advocating a return to anything like that, but don't you sometimes miss aspects of that era?

I've loved the
Federer-Nadal rivalry, and appreciated the quality resulting from their unyielding determination, but don't you sometimes find things to be a little too respectful between them - a little too nicey-nicey? I'm not casting Djokovic as the Knave in all of this, but I welcome what he brings to the table.

Novak should hire a bus too...

Del Potro image by hA.Lai.lai under licence

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