Jan/18

17

AO Ebbs and Flows

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By Scoop Malinowski

Each Grand Slam certain players inch closer to fulfilling their dreams and their potentials, while others float away, farther and farther away from being contenders and challengers for the big titles.
Each tournament is a constant ebb and flow.

It’s not yet known what direction Ivo Karlovic, a month away from age 39, is heading. In the second round yesterday, the oldest man in the draw won a marathon 76 67 75 46 12-10 epic vs Yuichi Sugita. Karlovic, who saw his ATP ranking fall more than 50 spots last year, apparently is nowhere near ready to hang up his Head racquets or Mizuno gear.

Neither is Gilles Muller, who endured a wild roller coaster slugfest with Malik Jaziri. Muller was up two sets and deadlocked at 5-5 in the third set breaker but then lost that set and the fourth before finally prevailing 75 64 67 36 62. No. 23 seed Muller, who achieved his career high ranking last year at age 34, is another aging sharpshooter who could conceivably play for at least another two or three years if he remains healthy.

Ryan Harrison, who was on the verge of dropping out of the top 200 two summers ago, has resurrected his career and game with outstanding results. Reaching the finals of Brisbane last week, Harrison has sustained the fine play in Melbourne with wins over Dudi Sela and 31 seed Pablo Cuevas 64 76 64. Passionate, intense, fit and very confident, Harrison is back on track to fulfilling the potential that Mats Wilander predicted for the Louisianian, of reaching the top five in the world.

Andreas Seppi dropped all the way to 87 in the world last year and at 33 now, the Italian veteran who beat Federer in Australia a few years ago, has won two rounds against a pair of lefties, Corentin Moutet and Yoshihito Nishioka.

Daniel Nestor, 45 years old, lost again first round with Jonny Ehrlich 63 76 to Albot and Chung. Nestor has been stuck in a horrid slump since last summer and could be at the end of his Hall of Fame career.

Marcos Baghdatis, once a top ten player, is now ranked 103 in the world and at 32 years of age could be entering the stage of journeyman status. Bagdhatis lost in four sets yesterday to 20-year-old Andrey Rublev.

The biggest shock of the tournament so far has been Luksika Kumkum of Thailand. The 24-year-old ranked 125 in the world shocked Belinda Bencic 61 63 and will play her first ever Grand Slam third round match.

The second biggest surprise so far has been the fifteen year old Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk, who has defeated 25 seed Peng Shuai and Olivia Rogowska to reserve her spot in the third round against pre-tournament favorite Elina Svitolina, age 23. If Kostyuk can manage to upset Svitolina, we could be looking at not only the youngest champion in history but also the possible heir apparent to Serena Williams.

Caro Wozniacki scored one of her best comebacks in her career yesterday, coming back from against 21-year-old Jana Fett 36 62 75. The 27-year-old ranked 3 in the world was down a seemingly impossible 1-5 and 15-40 in the final set yet still found a way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. You have to believe that a win like this could instill that unbeatable feeling inside Wozniacki who is still seeking her first major title.

Kyle Edmund keeps quietly progressing his status and knocking off marquee players. This week, the 23 year old ranked 50 in the world has sent US Open finalist Kevin Anderson and Denis Istomin home early. Could the low-key Brit win a major title?

You can’t count out any player mentioned in this article. Or any others, young or old. The ebbs and flows of pro tennis, like the weather, are sometimes predictable and not predictable.

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125 comments

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 17, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    Well you can count out some players – myself for example!
    Seriously, nice rundown.

    On to more pressing matters, anyone have any thoughts on the ATP players’ meeting? Interesting that Roddick and Judy Murray have voiced support for Novak’s ideas. Apparently Federer opposes this and it was no surprise that the spineless media didn’t ask him about the issue the other night, choosing instead to ask about his pasta commercial.

    We all know making it on the tour is not easy. You look at the prize money in golf. I had never heard of Tony Finau, he’s a PGA Tour golfer who is on the rise, until recently. Finau, 28, will probably do better in coming years but so far, he has played in about 100 PGA events, got into the top-10 16 times and won once. This April, he will play in the Masters for the first time. His earnings over these last three years are about $6 million and $7.5 in his career. His career-high ranking is No. 19.

    Compare that to tennis. Leonardo Mayer of Argentina’s best ranking is No. 21. Mayer, 30, has been on tour full-fledged for the last eight years. He has won two tournaments. His total prize money in his career playing singles AND doubles is $4.7 million.

    Tennis players aren’t stupid but they get paid the least among top athletes and it shows that the federations and tours and minting money off the backs of these players.

  • catherine · January 17, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    Honestly Scoop – we agree Marta is a promising player, but winning the lot ? This year ? I hope not.

    Duke – how many tournaments, outside the GSs, actually make money ? How are players’ earnings calculated ? And can pro tennis be cómpared to golf ? I don’t know. I’d like more information.

    Latest I heard, Novak had backed off a bit from his earlier comments. Doesn’t look good, a many times multimillionaire moaning about money. And this business of a breakaway players’ union – that’s been heard before.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 17, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    Catherine, it would be an ironic happening, for a fifteen year old to win a major just weeks after Hingis retired. The tennis Lords work in mysterious ways :) Like I said, beating Svitolina is a very difficult task but anything is possible. Kostyuk’s confidence is through the roof right now. She’s a scary challenge for any player in the draw.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 17, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    Catherine,

    Keep in mind these tournaments use plenty of volunteers. With sponsorships, etc, they make plenty of money particularly in Europe – which is why so many of them there. To compare sports, NBA pro basketball in the States it is mandated through collective bargaining that the players earn 51 percent of revenue. In tennis, the player purse is about 10 percent of a tournament’s income.

    Lastly, in the business world, it isn’t “moaning about money” as you put it but called so negotiation. As a business owner, I negotiate the salaries of my employees. Your characterization and that of the press is a bit immature. The galling nature of the tennis tour is that many players can’t support themselves; hence exploitation by agents, parents, etc. A better financial system can help solve these issues.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 17, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    The precarious state of money on the ATP tour is another reason why I support U.S. players going to college. The facilities and resources at top programs are far superior to those of the USTA. All without the players having to spend money.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 17, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    If players like Fed and Djokovic are able to earn over a $100 million dollars in career prize earnings and the players are only getting 10% of tournament revenues then someone or some people are earning way way WAY too much money at the expense of the players.

  • Michael in UK · January 17, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    That Karlovic match score and duration is ridiculous! What a legend he is!
    And by the way, why is he often called Dr? Honorary doctorate? No reference to it on his Wikipedia page.

    Re Duke’s comment, the ecomics of tennis are fascinating. Sometimes I wonder what value the sponsors think they are getting, and do they try to measure the return against the cost.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 17, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    MichaelinUK; As far as I know, Karlovic is not an actual doctor just like Dr J and Dr Dunkenstein of basketball fame were not. It’s just a good nickname that kind of fits Ivo, because of his serious, subdued, surgical demeanor. Take away his racquet and Mizuno gear and give him a while apron, stethoscope and scalpel and Ivo could be cast in any Hollywood film as a doctor. IN a way Karlovic is a doctor, methodically probing and searching for the tactical remedy to cure himself from losing :)

  • Michael in UK · January 17, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    Thanks Scoop, basketball references are lost on me, like most Brits, but I love that last sentence about Dr Ivo, thanks for the big laugh there!

  • Andrew Miller · January 17, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    Harrison lets his racquet talk these days. I admire this. It’s great to see him out there playing and playing well.

    I’ve said it before and I think worth repeating. US players are essential for the world game. They bring a special firepower to each match at their best.

    It’s impressive they have done this with fewer tournaments played in USA.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 17, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    :) @ MichaelinUK

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 17, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    Andrew, Do you think Harrison has played himself onto the Davis Cup team for the tie vs Serbia? He’s proficient in singles and also doubles – he won Roland Garros last year with Venus. He’s 6 or 7-1 in singles this year. Johnson, Sock and Isner are all struggling mightily at the moment. If Harrison is left off the team I think it’s a blatant injustice and disrespect of a player who has earned the honor and opportunity.

  • Chazz · January 17, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    Regarding the Dr. Ivo nickname, I always thought it was because it sounds like Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movie.

  • Joe Blow · January 17, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    You can’t compare the money in team sports to an individual sport like, tennis.

    Golf is the example. They rank points for two years, I think. You get exemptions by winning, 2 or 3 years on the main tour, invited to that tournament for lots of years to come. The top 125 money earners stay on the Main tour, lower earners go to the Web.com tour. I guess it’s the same concept as Challengers, but way more money, and they don’t have 7 Web tourneys every week, like Challengers, playing in front of 40 people. Separate European tour as well for the Men, big money there too..

    Top American players keep it going.Tiger Woods was Giant for golf. But even without him, the money is getting bigger. Tennis has a US problem on the men’s side, and the women should give 25% of all their earning to SW( for keeping some interest in the US)and BJK( for playing gender politics perfectly)

    You never hear the Women golfers complain either. They play for less money on shorter golf courses, for smaller crowds. Senior Male golfers play for more money each week than the women. I wonder if pay equality issues are discussed on Golf message boards

  • Joe Blow · January 17, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    On another note, Yonex racquets seem to have become very popular on both tours. Wilson and Head, seem to have dropped representation. Babolat, probably the top, but Yonex is moving on up

  • Andrew Miller · January 17, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    Scoop, to me Harrison is playing well at the right time. The rankings after Australia will put him in contention for the doubles slots. I’d wonder how Isner sees things, as his relationship with Davis Cup recently hasn’t been to his liking and I’m wondering how he sees his year at this point. I’d guess he’s seeing himself with a career similar to Karlovic, but also recognizing he needs the time to recover given he’s often injured.

    That means there should be at least a doubles spot for Harrison.

  • catherine · January 17, 2018 at 9:56 pm

    Duke – I’m not being ‘immature’ – I rather resent that.
    And what’s the press got to do with it it ? I used to be press myself come to that. I know what I’m talking about there.

    As others have pointed out from time to time the economics of tennis is a bit lopsided, you might say. It’s grown up like that. Maybe like showbusiness in some ways.

    Yes, less successful players make less money. That’s always been the case. Maybe the spread should be fairer. But the problem is sponsors are not interested in players who don’t have great success and visibility so the prizemoney will have to come from somewhere else. ATP ? WTA ?

    Some players make far more from endorsements that from prizemoney and that’s not particularly fair either. Simona Halep is holding out for more from adidas than the company is prepared (presumably) to give. The company probably don’t rate her market value as high as say, Kerber’s, who may be the best paid woman tennis player on their books. Nothing Simona can do about it.

    A fairer distrubution of prizemoney should be worked out I’m sure, but I don’t think you’ll see the top players prepared to give up anything off their own bat. Change will have to come fromn the players’ organizations in collaboration with other bodies who run the sport.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 17, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    You used the word “moaning” about prize money, I did not. I don’t think that’s a fair way to characterize what is going on; I think it’s rather naive to speak that way about a billion-dollar industry – which tennis is. We agree to disagree. For me, this topic is about business.

    Jow Blow has it right. The money in golf continues to go up. Look at my example above on the pro golfer most of us have never heard of. These tennis players aren’t stupid; they know these events have to have them to succeed. In truth, the tours need Fed, Djoker, Serena, etc. more than the other way around. That’s part of why Laver Cup was formed and we have this ongoing debate with Davis Cup; nobody is happy with the ITF.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 17, 2018 at 11:30 pm

    Kudla was magnificent today in defeat. I have seen him and always believed he could be a mainstay in the top 50 or 60 like D-Young; don’t know why it doesn’t happen for him. Remember he made the round of 16 at Wimbledon and gave Cilic a match.

    So much for Q-Ball as a contender in the AO.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 17, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    Catherine,

    Maybe you will hate Querrey after you see this comment.

    “My motivation? Prize money,” Querrey said in a recent interview with ESPN.com. “I know it’s kind of blunt, but honestly, I think that is a lot of guys’ motivation. They don’t say that because it doesn’t necessarily sound great. Instead, a lot of people say, ‘I have this passion for the game. That’s my drive.'”

  • catherine · January 18, 2018 at 12:05 am

    Duke –
    Yes,the topic is business, but it’s more than that or nobody would play the game. Money isn’t enough. I don’t care what Querry says. Listen to what other players, past and present, have said.

    It seems to be my language you object to – maybe it’s a cultural difference. Can seem a bit flippant but it’s not unusual in Britain where irony and flippancy are are common in discussion. ‘Moaning’ to me is not neccessarily pejorative. It’s just a manner of speaking.

    No reason to genuflect to something because it’s a billion dollar industry. What about Big Pharma ?

    As you say, we can agree to disagree, but I’m neither immature nor naive. I’ve lived for quite a while. Let’s leave it like that.

  • catherine · January 18, 2018 at 12:14 am

    Back to action:

    Konta’s out, Muguruza’s out, Kerber’s rolling over Vikic.

    Petkovic lost in a bizarre score – 6-4 6-0 6-0. Injury ?

    WTA looks a mess.

  • Dan Markowitz · January 18, 2018 at 1:08 am

    Amazing, I guess Duke was right, the American men players don’t take the Aussie O seriously, or they’re just sub-par. Kudla out after being up two sets to love, Qball out to lower-ranked player, Smyczek abused by Ramos. We’re down to two Americans left in the draw, Harry and Tennys. Wow, even for the American men, perpetual under-achievers, this is shocking.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 18, 2018 at 1:15 am

    Last thing I’ll say: Yes,the topic is business, but it’s more than that or nobody would play the game.

    I’m not talking about the players, though.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 18, 2018 at 1:18 am

    These guys aren’t all sub-par, they’ll be back. I cheated a bit since I followed some stuff on social media that led me to believe what I said. It’s just a bad offseason for these guys; I don’t want to defend Sock who played atrocious tennis but he said his shorter offseason affected him.

    I’ll be shocked if all the guys from the States fare poorly in Miami and Indian Wells; it shouldn’t happen.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 18, 2018 at 1:26 am

    This Novak match is the difference between a champion and someone who is not and I don’t mean to be mean to Gael, who has also had physical issues.

    But these are brutal conditions and Novak is simply handling it and ready for battle. After one set, Gael was toast. Even though he was ahead, it was unimaginable that he would get to the finish line.

    This will send a message to the field that Djoker is here and ready to take back what is truly his. Fed mentioned he would keep an eye on this match. He may have nightmares of the player who gives him fit. This is vintage Djoker not in terms of his play necessarily but his laser-like focus and superior condition.

    I’ll make the Scoop-like proclamation that the tournament may be over unless Kyrgios can stop Djoker.

  • catherine · January 18, 2018 at 2:39 am

    Pliskova, Safarova, Kerber, Keys, all won easily. Keys 6-0 6-1 for US.

    So some order restored.

  • catherine · January 18, 2018 at 2:49 am

    Muguruza’s loss is the worst so far. Her body’s in a bad state and her head seems a bit lost as well.
    She needs a better training regime and a rethink of her whole attitude.
    There’s a dominant player hidden in there somewhere.

    Kerber’s 30th birthday. Gets Sharapova next. As of now I’d say she’s going to the final.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 18, 2018 at 9:02 am

    Yonex made major expansion last year and I was told by a friend of a Yonex employee that Yonex also sponsors many top juniors. Yonex take over of tennis could be nearing. Wilson post Fed and Serena could be in trouble.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 18, 2018 at 9:04 am

    Andrew, Courier maybe needs to shake it up. Harrison and Sandgren as the top two slots and Kudla and McKenzie. Sometimes you gotta roll the dice and say what the … :)

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 18, 2018 at 9:07 am

    Duke, Good find on Q Ball saying that. Q Ball may be speaking for a vast majority of the players with this revelation. An NHL player once said the same thing when I asked his inspiration. But then he quickly chuckled and recanted. But it clearly was the truth. Tennis is show business.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 18, 2018 at 9:09 am

    Kyrgios has Joker’s number having won their last two meetings. And I was told there is a grudge there based on some altercation at a party at a hotel. That will be the match of the tourney if it happens.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 18, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Catherine, Hsieh, a big favorite of mine, played a masterpiece of a match with her variety and unpredictable shots and spins. But Muguruza played dumb. It was like Coach Sumyk did not properly scout Hsieh. Muguruze kept trying to hit Hsieh off the court with power but it was not working. Then at the end on a key point after a long rally Muguruze rolled a heavy top spin forehand that bounced very high to Hsieh’s forehand side and she missed it badly about two feet long. That was the solution right there for Muguruza – to mix it up and use variety to trick Hsieh, not to try to outhit her off the court. Hsieh was superb last night but Muguruza played foolishly and kept giving her the same steady pace she wanted and could handle. But Hsieh was absolutely brilliant last night and it was one of her best wins I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a lot of her matches live and on TV.

  • Chazz · January 18, 2018 at 9:21 am

    I woke up and saw Sandgren crushed Wawrinka and was stunned. Then I remembered what was predicted here (kudos) and also that Stan was injured. And also Tennys chopped off the cheesy man bun/ponytail and it all makes sense now. :-) What a win for him.

    QBall so disappointing. The draw was set up so well for him to at least get to the fourth round.

    Looks like a lot of great 3R matchups. The best one might be Chung and Zverev.

    Good to see Madison Keys playing well.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 18, 2018 at 9:30 am

    Scoop, you have talked to these players so you know what is up. That’s right, it’s show business. These players know what’s up.

    What’s the hotel incident with Kyrgios and Djoker? Any more…

    Anyone else as impressed with Djoker’s performance last night like I was?

    In hindsight, Sandgren winning not too surprising. Amazingly we could have possibly been in position for a Sandgren-Kudla R16 matchup. But like Scoop says, these guys push each other, possible R16s for Sandgren and Harrison will wake up the other players.

    Does Gasquet have any shot v Fed? 5 percent, maybe?

  • jg · January 18, 2018 at 9:41 am

    If Querrey is in it for the $ he surely didn’t play like it, he could have earned that much more winning a winnable match, maybe he’s bad in business. What would he rather be doing?

    Scoop, I just switched to a Yonex as my Volkls were too stiff on the arm after years, I put some lead tape on the Yonex at the 10 and 2 and it’s the best feeling racquet I have ever used ( I got the model Stan and Tiafoe uses but the one with a 100 inch head and lighter so it needed extra weight)

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 18, 2018 at 9:44 am

    All I know is an insider told me they both butted heads at some kind of party at night at a hotel outside by a pool. Not other details were shared. And watching the last matches they played you could see there definitely was an extra level of tension between the two. Gasquet’s chances vs Fed? -0.05. :) If Gasquet wins I will ride a unicycle from Miami to Vancouver.

  • catherine · January 18, 2018 at 9:51 am

    Scoop – yes, it seemed Muguruza was not using her brains at all. She didn’t adjust, seemed aimless. I think she needs Conchita Martinez back. Conchita seemed to know how to get the best out of Garbine at W’don.

    Really high bouncing court. Barty got to grips with Giorgi after the 1st set – sliced away.

    I don’t altogether believe the money-as-motivation thing. Guys say it a lot, as though they’re embarrassed to be heard admitting they actually love competing. Why on earth do they carry on otherwise ?
    Do you think Federer is still counting his earnings ?

    Women tend to answer differently. Kerber said recently: ‘tennis is my passion’. Why doubt her ? She’s got enough money. Same with Serena. Same with Steffi. And Martina. And BJK.

    Yes – tennis is show biz but even in show biz actors etc have different motivations. $$$$ is just one of them.

    Angie squashed Vekic – so Donna and Stan are on the way home. Stan shouldn’t have played IMO.

  • Dan Markowitz · January 18, 2018 at 10:30 am

    I’m shocked even with Wawa’s compromised state of fitness/match play that Sandgren beat the Swiss. But maybe I’ve got to give Tennys more credit. I still see him as a Kendricks like player, yes he’s playing on the Main Tour, but he’s really still in my mind more a Challenger player till he gets more good results against the big boys.

    How did Kudla lose that match last night??!! He was racking the backhand and working Thiem over. I went to bed after he won the second set and I felt he had that match wrapped up.

    I don’t think QBall is coached well. Craig Boynton with SteveJo and QBall had a really bad tournament. How many times do I see QBall too early in the rally on a deep ball to his BH try to ram one down the line on a shot he almost always hits into the net or the alley? Losing to Fuckosics or whatever his name is after he reached the USO semis last year is really bad.

    And of course these guys play for the money. I wasn’t trying to make any money when I was out on the Satellite circuit in 1987 (because I knew I couldn’t) but there were guys with minds filled with delusion who were talking about all the cashola they’d be rolling in when they got to Top 50. The only guy I was ever in a tournament with who did get into the Top 50 was Luke Jensen. Even a guy like Larry Scott, who I roomed with in an event in France because they messed up my ranking thinking I was much higher than I was, probably didn’t make more than $100,000 in prize money.

    I think most juniors at least at my son’s level, Top 15 in the East in the 12’s as an 11 year old, they’re playing to try to get a college scholarship or have their tennis be the reason they get into a better college. They also better be playing because they love it because you’re not even going to get that good unless you love it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 18, 2018 at 10:32 am

    I do wonder how badly Stan was off. He did win his first rounder. Sandgren deserves more credit than to say Stan was way off his best. Stan showed up and gave it his best shot. He may have underestimated Sandgren, as Kyrgios and many others in the last six months have. Muguruza is no. 3 in the world and she knows how to play tennis. But Hsieh outsmarted and outwitted her despite her physical disadvantages. Hsieh may be the pound for pound inch for inch best player in the world, in terms of pure tennis talent and court intelligence/creativity. She is a joy to watch. Watching her play tennis is like watching a matador defeating three raging bulls simultaneously.

  • catherine · January 18, 2018 at 10:55 am

    Muguruza has started the year badly. She’s retired twice with injuries, has hardly any match play and I think, all credit to Hsieh, that at least a couple of other top ten players, maybe more, could have beaten her today.

    I’d be looking for a coaching change this year :)

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 18, 2018 at 11:35 am

    Muguruza could have won it if she played a little differently instead of playing so high risk, trying and hoping those attempted winners would go in. When a player is light on match play, you have to play it safe and careful, more defensive, like she did on that one point and it provoked the rare Hsieh error. Also, the coach Sumyk sits their like a bored zombie, with absolutely no energy or even any evident interest in the match. He looked like he would rather be anywhere else. Conchita needs to get a phone call.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 18, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Dan,

    I watched the entire fifth set of Kudla/Domi and Kudla played very well. He really had his chances but Thiem just upped his game a little bit. There was nothing between him. I agree with you that Sandgren is morw of a Kendrick-level player but I really believe Kudla is better than that.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 18, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Q. Was that limit reached today?
    NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It was right at the limit. You know, I mean, you’re a part of the industry. Our sport has become an industry, like most of the other global sports. It’s more business than a sport. At times I mind that, I don’t like that. As someone that has started to play, still plays this sport, for the sake of playing it, you know, pure passion to be part of it, of course we’re all blessed to have a great financial compensations, great lives. For sure, I’m very grateful for that.

    At the same time what is most important for us is our health and what happens after career, after you’re 30, 35. You know, there are many players that are struggling. They can’t physically walk, run, jog, whatever. I mean, they’re struggling some way or another, health-wise or physiologically, whatever.

    It’s very complex subject to talk about. You have to understand what the player goes through. When I say you’re part of the industry, you’re just adding up events there. There is no indication that we’re going to have any form of discussion for a shorter season or anything like it. We’re just adding events, official events, unofficial events. It feels, from a player’s perspective, that you’re kind of always in a rush. You’re always obliged to play the mandatory events. You obviously have always a big challenge to defend points because it affects everything. You’re always constantly, week after week, being part of that dynamic of our sport, which is at times — at times, it seem as bit too much.

    But it’s our choice, at the same time, whether we want to play or not. So I don’t want to sound ungrateful. In contrary, I’m very grateful. But I also think that there should be some kind of rational conversations about, you know, rules that are maybe imposed or certain things that are concerning players’ well-being.

  • Duke Carnoustie · January 18, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    Here’s Monfils on wanting to give up…

    GAEL MONFILS: Good luck for the guys. Honestly, good luck for the guys.

    I train this winter in Miami. Was pretty hot. I thought I was very good. I’m telling you, I was dying on the court for 40 minutes.

    Good luck to them. I think sometime, yeah, we put our body at risk. Just be smart. If you have to give up, you know, it’s not a shame.

  • Hartt · January 18, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    Re Yonex. Shapo switched to Yonex, I think it was last April. He said that he liked the racquet right away. Considering what he did last summer and how he played at the AO, he’s a great advertisement for the brand.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 18, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    Duke, Kendrick never had the types of wins that Sandgren has had, beating Wawrinka and Kyrgios already and he’s only played about ten ATP main tour level matches. Kudla is definitely underrated and looked like a solid top 30 player vs Thiem. Maybe Goffin’s success last year is sparking all these guys under 6 ft tall to think they can do what Goffin did.

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 18, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    Duke, this was a very interesting press conference by Djokovic. It’s quite a feat that he has managed to never lose to Monfils. I was at that first pro match at US Open, five setter, and Monfils should have won and was winning but Djokovic took two long timeouts in the fifth and faked like he was dying. I literally thought he might have a stroke or heart attack, he was laying on the court at the service line, felled twice after two long physical points. Then he got up and won the match. Surprising that he’s won every match vs La Monf since that first. Wonder if Monfils ever beat Djok in juniors?

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 18, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    How hot was it? I played two tough matches in 95 degree heat last year in June and won both vs two very good players. But these guys are playing much more intense, physical points than we were. I think the ITF has to change the rules when it’s 90 degrees or above. Let the players take longer breaks and drink more fluids. There has to be a bend of the rules to comfort these players.

  • Leif Wellington Haase · January 18, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    The AO match of the day, from a quality standpoint, was clearly Del Potro—Khachanov, who performed at a ridiculously high level given the adverse conditions.

    It may have been a pyrrhic victory for Delpo, given how spent he appeared at the end, but I think this battle of the giants is a preview of the future of tennis.

    The last player under six feet to win a Slam was Hewitt, I believe— and the height (and size) at the top of the game just keeps rising.

    In 1977, the average height of the top 30 players was between 5’9” and 5’10”. By 2017 that average had risen to between 6’2” and 6’3”, and I don’t think the trend is over.

    Sure, lots of jumbo-sized male players won’t pan out, but those that reach the pinnacle will increasingly be both tall and athletically gifted. There will always be Schwarzman’s, Dzumhur’s, and Goffin’s striving mightily, but they are at a huge disadvantage against a string of giants, especially over the course of a Grand Slam.

    Consider a much too-early top 10 list for December 2020 (rigged, to be sure, but not implausible I think):

    Zverev
    Krygios
    Djokovic
    Dmitrov
    Nadal
    Khachanov
    Thiem
    Del Potro
    Auger-Aliassime
    Opelka (grin)

    Others who might substitute (Cilic, Shapovalov, Raonic) are also jumbo-sized, or will be, and the Alias is still growing. That list would average between 6’5” and 6’6” (and could double as a very decent basketball team)

    And a quick shout-out to Tennys Sandgren, a very good player, and good person, who has overcome as much bad luck, injury, and negative thoughts as anyone in the sport. He could write a book about it, and maybe he will. (Or maybe Scoop will, following up on his superbly-timed bio-file.)

    Plenty have players have had openings against injured and subpar champions and haven’t taken advantage: Sandgren lived up to the moment and showed his talent to true advantage.

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