Here we all so wonderfully are at the first post-Oz event of the year that actually amounts to something. I expect electricity, I expect sociopathic levels of belief (and denial), I expect the feeding frenzy that results when those, like myself, with the predictive capacity of mucus, indulge in a little quantum-bracketology of their own. I also expect some very poor trash-talk between Nole and Fed.
Maybe I’m just half a wavelength behind everyone, but it doesn’t quite feel like that just yet.
What it actually feels like is a benign form of stasis in which all the best stories are yet to develop, or haven’t yet acquired the momentum necessary to elicit the type of considered tennis reaction that goes beyond sticking bubble gum in your detractors’ hair, or breaking wind and running away– not that either of those isn’t an entirely sensible way of settling tennis disputes.
I’ve got some strong feelings on why I don’t think winning here would strongly benefit all but a handful of the top players. Woz, for example, is darned either way: Win, and face all those malignant, ‘Slamless’, ranking-related questions again. Lose, and any pretensions she might entertain of being mentioned in the same breath as Clijsters evaporate into thin air.
Muzz occupies a similar role – winning would certainly go a long way to snapping him out of his (now traditional) post-Oz runners-up stupor; and yet he owns 6 of these things already. The lack of that other more crucial “thing” is what’s causing the psychosis.
What would a win really do for Kim or for Fed’s legacy (other than, in his case, dispelling that grim and quite inexplicable fog of “dysfunktion” that’s loomed over him both here and at Miami for the last 4 years)?
Can Rafa really care all that much knowing he can safely look forward to claiming 4, if not 5, out of the 5 clay court events he’ll likely enter this year?
Wish all of them well, but here’s what will really light my fire:
1) Bepa: The best WTA performer right now (and playing as well as she’s ever likely to ) – that single title she’s won at this level (at this venue in fact) is beginning to smack more and more of underperformance.
3) Sveta: see above comments about Bepa’s “underperformance” and then multiply by 50.
4) Delpo: Two consecutive semis and an entirely commendable mickey-mouse title. A Masters title makes the comeback official. Somewhat ludicrously, it would be his first.
5) Any one of a gang of bright (and entirely ruthless) young things like Dolgo, Milos, Petra or even Kanepi to bring about a bloody coup – a killing spree that results in the partial reconfiguration of the rankings and ownership of the tour’s main titles.
I’m entirely serious. I’m not normally one for “next big things”, but it seems to me we’ve faffed around with Grigor and Ernie for long enough – conditions seem ripe as they’ve ever been for something a little different.
And because, they’re worth it. All of them.