Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Season Is Slowing Down, They Said. Take the Week off Blogging, They Said.

Here are some things that happened this month so far that I haven't had a chance to discuss yet. We're doing it live!


1. Agz Radwanska retiring: I don't want to say I saw it coming, because I didn't. I noticed the decline in the ranking and the marriage and the increasing number of K-tape with each match. And some things are just not fair. It's not fair that she never got to snag at least one Slam. Over her career, Radwanska has flummoxed the best of the WTA stars on the big stage. Serena Williams. Garbine Muguruza. Victoria Azarenka. Caroline Wozniacki. But she never did it at a major. That stinks, but that also suggests that there is one way to measure tennis greatness. That's not true. There hasn't been a player as creative as Radwanska since Martina Hingis. And people are going to fight me here, but she was more creative! She was able to pull her opponents all over the court, varying depth and width with what seemed to be sleight-of-hand. Oh, so you're a power player? She had speed to chase it down and then use your power against you. Counter-puncher? Yeah, well, her too. Until she pulled the trigger and you likely stood there wondering why you just went through that 27-shot rally.
The problem with this style, of course, is that it takes a toll on your body. Relying on guile means you're not relying on one or two weapons to slide you out of trouble. And so, for the sake of all her sore muscles and tendons, I'm relieved for her. But there aren't a lot of others waiting in the wings to entertain us the way Agnieszka Radwanska has for the last decade. I know Ana Sevastova will be one, but with Radwanska's retirement, we have the end of a fun era.

2. Now that Alexander Zverev's acceptance speech from the ATP Finals is finished, we can talk about his performance. I have to say, I didn't really see Alexander Zverev winning this. It seems like the second he announced his premature arrival to the ascendency of tennis

it turned out it wasn't his time.
(Incidentally, do you have any idea how hard it is to find the actual video of this moment on the Internet? Every clip of it has been disabled. Kinda weird.)
I think it goes without saying that Zverev's masterful performances against Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic speaks for themselves. (Mini-rant: Can we have a little class control, crowds whose favorite player loses to a young, insurgent force on the tour? First there's Naomi Osaka, looking miserable after beating Serena, in some part due to a booing crowd. Now we have Zverev explaining how he stopped a point because he was following the rules of tennis, and a clearly uneducated crowd raining down jeers on him. Now, I should note that I posted this video on Facebook and someone couldn't even see why Zverev stopped play. But from where Zverev was hitting, he clearly would have. No need to blame the ballkid either. Let's just ... like not boo people unless they deserve it?) I'd say the thing I noticed most about Zverev was his control. He was willing to rally, especially with Djokovic, which seems dangerous. But he handled it well. I actually think that next year will be his time. But I have to think about that some more.

3. The Davis Cup just ended. Like, forever. You know, as we knew it. Now, when the changes to this tournament were announced this year, folks weren't happy, for a lot of fair reasons. There aren't going to be a lot of stops like the one I made for Fed Cup in Sarasota, so less access for fans. It might limit player availability. (Another mini-rant: This is actually the part of the criticism that cracks me up the most. Players were not generally interested in Davis Cup to begin with! Because if they were, we wouldn't be changing Davis Cup. If Federer, Djokovic and Rafa Nadal were making this part of their schedule, guess who would also be doing that? Yes. Fans. Just saying.) There's the question of who came up with the plan -- a soccer player coming up with a tennis format? (Well, actually, soccer is way more popular than tennis worldwide, so maybe ... yeah?)  But here's one thing that we have known for a long time about Davis Cup. It needed to change. No one cared about it. The fans never knew when it was happening, not even when their country was in it. It seemed like an afterthought. These changes, in brief, make it more of a tournament, and that's as it should have been. You have a dedicated spot on the calendar and sustained fan interest.
So these changes seem promising for the Davis Cup. The same changes have not been introduced for Fed Cup yet. One change that has been announced: The addition of an additional team player (so, five now) and third-set tiebreakers. Got it. So the men's tournament gets a new format that could boost its popularity and the women ... get ushered off the court faster. Sweet!

4. Speaking of Fed Cup, Barbora Strycova is retiring from the event and managed to get it done with a win for her team. I'm not sure if I've said it before, but Strycova is about as bad-ass a doubles player as I've ever seen and I'll miss her when she presumably soon retires altogether. Now, much has been made of Lucie Safarova's retirement, because she was very nice. I will miss Strycova because she was a straight-up bi-yotch on court. I mean who can forget

No comments: