Monday, 17 August 2009

Montreal and Cincy Sign Out...

You'd think the five week post-Wimby interlude would have left me fired up with the anticipation of being able to witness 'real' Fedalistic tennis again; instead I've been having what I call 'anti-withdrawal' symptoms: where the long spell out has almost fostered a type of lethargy and allowed indifference to set in.

Still unsure of whether it's the poorly defined and generally very fuzzy state of Federer's post '15' agenda, or the lack of any real sense of expectation from Nadal until well into the US Open, that's at the bottom of it.

Whatever it is, I'm a little concerned. For not even
a mini-breakthrough from my favourite whipping boy Tsonga, or an event winning return to form for everyone's favourite Dramedy-Queen Jelena Jankovic, or even an unprecedented top-eight quarter final showing in Montreal was sufficient to reignite my interest that's currently burning with about as much intensity as my rusty old secondary school bunsen burner.

Perhaps the spaced-out sensation I'm getting as Amelie Mauresmo and Francesca Schiavone take to court in their opener at Toronto is an appropriate indicator of where my tennis barometer is right now.

And just why is it, they have chosen to play 'tubular bells' as the ladies warm up? Seems strangely appropriate too. In a sensory-displaced apathetic kind of way.

Apologies for the distinctly ATP feel, it's just I haven't watched much womens tennis in the last week.

Andy Murray: The 'real' number two

With the way in which he won Montreal, Murray has almost accomplished what Serena did at Wimbledon, in terms of being the hands-down best performer of the event, and playing that way from beginning to end. The fact that Federer and Nadal only partially showed up is irrelevant. My feeling is he'd have closed it out against them too.

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Not that that's going to stop people from talking about how meaningful his breakup of their four and a half year duopoly of the top two spots is.

Or making endless allusions to the fact that he's a Slamless number two.

It's clearly on a different plane from whats going on in the WTA though. For one thing Murray's been beating up on the top four with an alarming regularity from Wimbledon last year. The one meaningful win that Safina scored against Serena came at the start of her rise to the top at Berlin last year. She's suffered several equally meaningful and altogether more traumatic losses to both Sisters since then.

But I'm not at all convinced Murray's rise is the 'sea of change' some are making it out to be either. It's certainly not the dawn of a new age that Nadal's securing of the number two spot was four years ago.

It's closer in nature, I'd say, to a transitional adjustment (made possible by the setback Nadal
has suffered): the formation of a small tributary rather than a wholesale sea of change.

As groundbreaking an achievement as this is
for British Tennis, we'll get a rather more accurate impression of his top two standing with Rafa's return to form and condition, and with Federer's gradual return to a more domestically-attuned sense of normality.

'The rankings don't lie', but until then, I'll continue to think of Rafa as the 'real' #2, if I may

Juan Martin del Potro: Not yet a Bigwig

Going into the final I really thought del Potro was going to win his first Masters Shield. In fact,
I was rather hoping he'd win.

(Photo: AP)

He's been 'fabulous-five' for rather too long, except there's still a slight problem with that characterisation: Admittance to Tennis-Bigwig Society in my opinion, requires that the following conditions be fulfilled:

-- Regular wins over all other bigwigs. It's what Djoko started doing back in 07 with increasing regularity. So has Murray.

-- Claiming of a Masters Shield. Djoko began to interest me back in 06. But it wasn't until his first big showing at a Masters final at Indian Wells in 07, that I really began to take notice. A one sided dismantling by Rafa soon put paid to that. But it was to be a thrashing he put right straight away at Miami the next month, with his first win over Rafa and the claiming of his first Masters Title. Wins over Federer followed soon after.

-- Regular showings in the second week at Slam events. This has been a relatively disappointing season for Djoko. Last year he won one and made the semis of two others. Since the US Open last year, Juan has performed rather well in this category.

My problem with Juan's somewhat pseudo-bigwig status, is that his record over the top three, though rapidly improving, is still in need of some work - particularly against Federer, whose game Juan's matches up with rather too well.
He also needs to win himself one of those Masters Shieldy Things.

Until he does so, I'll not broach the subject again. That might seem a little harsh, especially after putting in a performance I thought was second only to the man who won the entire event.
His performance prior to the last set of the final that is; during which he could barely walk from one point to the next. He'd do well too it seems, to attend to those significantly less polished standards of fitness.

Suddenly Murray's trauma-inducing training regime seem a little less zany.

Jelena Jankovic: Return of the Dramedian, I think, I hope

I don't care if it was all a little rough around the edges. Her performance against Dementieva in particular, if you can bring yourself to forget the almost inebriated happenings of the second set, was impressive and sets her in good stead ahead of the Open. And a far cry from anything we've seen since the end of last year.

(Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

My only slight concern is I seem to remember a similar mini-peaking earlier this year, quickly obfuscated by a very predictable return to oblivion. The same oblivion she spends a lot of time in adding her two cents to the rankings debate. And bitching about Roger.

Dinara Safina: Not With or Without Zeljko.

(Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Well if she can't even win a final
with Zeljko's involvement, she's really in trouble.

Novak Djokovic: Existentially Complete. Almost.

I know he's only a mere semi finalist, but I need to get this off my chest.

Am I the only one that doesn't think Djoko is undergoing an existential crisis of some kind?

He's not the player he was last year, but the way in which the media have begun at times to speak of him, you'd almost think that retirement represents a plausible choice. Or a career in Serbian politics. Hey, there's an idea.

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