It's been a while. Still with the personal stuff, but that doesn't mean I haven't been watching tennis. I have thoughts. Here they are:
Frances Tiafoe: I come from a long line of West Indians who believe that working hard would lead to great success. Because of this, there is this steady line of progression through my family line as far as I can trace it. My grandfather would leave his country of origin to come work citrus fields in Florida, paying steadily for the entry of each of his children, then his wife. His children came, saw, got a job and showed their children how to make something of nothing. It really is the ultimate Houdini trick. When you grow up seeing each generation pushing for the coming crop and it's your turn, what do you do? You go above and beyond. Someone's got to set the bar for whoever is next. So when I read about Frances Tiafoe beating Kevin Anderson, then advancing into the quarterfinals of a Slam and making comments like this: "It means the world. I worked my ass off, man. I told my parents 10 years ago I was going to be a pro and change their life and my life," well, you get it. It makes sense. All he saw growing up was pushing boundaries. Why not keep pushing boundaries?
Serena v. Pliskova: It really is an insult to make excuses for Serena at this point. So let's not do it. If she sprained her ankle and never tried to get it checked, that's a decision she made. The foot fault call was important, and perhaps unwise and incorrect, but let's not forget she was up 5-1. When you are leading like that, you can create as many opportunities than you need. One foot fault does not make a match. Having said all of that, I was stunned watching the second half of the third set play itself out. Serena had hit the gas towards the end of the second set and all the way up to 5-1, so it was crazy! Even at the end, there was no one clear reason for the plot twist, well, besides Serena having an injury.
Federer losing to Tsitsipas: I haven't written about Stephanos Tsitsipas before. I will rectify this now. He's pretty good. I haven't seen what happened against Nadal yet, but in his match against Roger Federer, he showed a maturity that suggests to me that he will win a Slam, and probably before Alexander Zverev. One thing I personally look for when I see up-and-comers playing straight legends is how they react to victory. Usually, if they're all excited they hit an ace, or won one set, it doesn't bode well. But Tsitsipas kept his head down against Federer for the most part. He's almost ready.
People Coming Out of Nowhere: Danielle Collins had a nice stretch of success last summer, then went away. As I write, she's playing Petra Kvitova in the semifinals. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has been flirting with success for a long time now. Beats Sloane Stephens and Kiki Bertens and makes the quarters. Amanda Anisimova taking out a title favorite in Aryna Sabalenka. My point is to make your draw with your gut, not your brain. Also that we are in for a heckuva ride this year, and the newbies are at the wheel.
Rafael Nadal: and his sexy ass hopefully will win the Australian Open, glistering in sweat.