Monday, 14 June 2010

Folie de Grandeur. Men’s Tennis I’m looking at YOU.


No I mean it.

Amelie began coaching Michael Llodra at Queens last week (yes, I know), but she may as well have been cringing over the entire ATP top ten.

Congratulations to Rusty and Querrey for making good in a week when order, reason and good old common sense seemed to fail us.

Actually, I excuse both Rafa and Roger. Their loss last week is not quite the cause for the Requiem Mass some are now undertaking. It certainly doesn’t seem to me to warrant anything more than a half-raised eyebrow.


Nadal got to the quarters, seized up with a hamstring problem against a grass court specialist playing in his own words “the best match of his career”. Hardly surprising given the season he’s just had – perhaps even a blessing in disguise. Besides, it’s a hamstring problem – not the knees – read not a Code Red. Nothing a ten day fishing stint in Majorca can’t fix.

Half Raised Eyebrows.

Federer’s loss to Hewitt, breaking as it does a 15 match winning streak against him and a winning record at Halle that dates back to 2003, is….concerning. It’s also just another instance of his less polished record outside of the Slams. Whether you think that’s because “he doesn’t care” (laughable notion), or is more prone to the unforgiving three-set format, or is simply less attuned to winning these tune-up events, the results speak for themselves. For my part, I defer exercising my right to get more “up in arms” about it for when the same thing starts happening at Slams.

Four other reasons why my arms aren’t up:

1) Federer had his worst clay court season in 6 years, even though in my mind he was playing, during parts of it, better than he was in 2008.

2) For what its worth, I do believe he found his form in Madrid in a final where both he and Nadal moved around like two-bit drunkards, performing at about 70%.


3) The loss in RG? NO ONE beats Sod in that form (see Sod’s first law).

4) Yet, despite all this, he still made the finals of the first grass court event of the season in the same week that no other top ten player even managed a semi.

Eyebrows still only half raised .


Not quite as ready to absolve the rest of the “top ten” from tennis purgatory.

Since Muzz lost at Oz he appears to have joined Djoko in a rut of disillusionment whose only distinguishing feature is it’s ability to produce a string of “nearly-man” results. Just about enough to maintain a ranking but not nearly enough to keep you relevant.

Both of them right now, in fact, seem to occupy a no-man’s land of the top ten: neither threatening the top, nor standing in the way of those that do.

Marin and A-Rod are more perplexing. When Roddick took off the early part of the clay season for what sounds like a second honeymoon with his Misuss, he got, what I thought at the time, was a disproportionate amount of flak for it. Sela, unfortunately for A-Rod, gave what’ll likely be a once-in-a-lifetime performance at Queens that lead to him being termed “Baby Reeshie”.

Not quite sure how that works, but it also means Roddick enters Wimbledon with the least amount of matches he’s likely ever had.

As for Marin I’m pretty sure now that at some point , he’ll come through as “this year’s Delpo” – just don’t be surprised if he takes until next year to realise it. He’s certainly taking the more torrid, torturous route.


At RG, I suspect, he was simply unlucky to run into Sod. Who promptly murdered him. Which might explain his loss here this week – hard to string two wins together if you’re not a shadow but a mere chalk outline of yourself.

(Photos: AFP/Getty)

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