Tennis Prose



Will the ATP Balance of Power Ever Shift?


By Scoop Malinowski

Double Australian Open champion Johan Kriek is puzzled. He can’t understand why the Big Three of men’s tennis are still dominating the sport.

“The changing of the guard has happened on the WTA. Naomi Osaka is the new superstar and a couple of “supporting actors” are pushing past the former champions now. That is great for WTA tennis.  So why is that not happening on the ATP Tour? For the past decade or more we had Roger, Djokovic, Nadal winning just about every major with Murray, Del Potro and Wawrinka “elbowing” forward here and there and a few majors went their way,” noted Kriek.

The balance of power in men’s and women’s tennis is anything but “equality,” the new buzzword in sports.

Kriek continued. “How come there are no wunderkinders anymore on the ATP Tour? Some of them are extremely talented players with amazing technical skills but a total lack of brainpower… need to name names, we know who they are. Hard working workhorses like Kevin Anderson and Kei Nishikori come close and will be a threat at every major but we don’t see 21 year olds on the men’s side starting to dominate the ATP rankings….. I don’t see any one really.”

What’s happening in men’s tennis now is a phenomenon that has never happened before in tennis.

“Are these old geniuses, let’s call them the European musketeers, that good both physically and mentally that even though they have battled from losing rankings, battled injuries, changing situations etc.? But yet here we are with Nadal vs Djokovic back in the finals at the Oz Open yet again Amazing.”

Kriek does not particularly enjoy what is happening, this stagnation of evolution. “I think it is great for them but bad for tennis,” said Kriek. “I am not the only one that thinks this. Sponsors may look at it as ‘we are entering an era of diminishing returns’ ( no pun intended).”

“With the increases in prize money the past decade or so it remains to be seen if sponsors will be pumping dollars as they have been with the three giants of the game…..almost quitting…. in the twilights of their careers. Who will carry the mantle beyond these three giants? Is it possible? It’s an interesting subject.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas is a contender. So is Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz. Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov of Russia could break out soon.

Or will the changing of the guard only happen if Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are arrested for holding a monopoly over the industry?

Just kidding.

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  • Scoop Malinowski · February 1, 2019 at 10:54 am

    Chazz, My guess is Sock will get a WC into New York Open and Delray. One last push in those events, if he fails there he will demote down to Challengers.

  • catherine · February 1, 2019 at 11:31 am

    Connecticut Open moving to Zhengzhou City, China. Why not move the whole tour to China ?

  • Chris Barry · February 1, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    Scoop, yes, maybe that’s what he’ll do. For his sake he has nothing to lose in playing a lot, does he? He has no points to defend and his confidence can’t get lower than it is right now.

    In other news, this Cressy is something:

  • Chazz · February 1, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    Yeah, Scoop, you’re probably right about that. But it seems like a really poor decision because the only way to really get on track is to play out of a slump. Also, he has nothing to lose – no points to defend – and his confidence can’t get any lower than it is.

    In other news, this Cressy guy sure is irritating people. Smyczek is about the last guy you’d expect to say something like this.

  • Dan Markowitz · February 1, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    Geez, great catch Chaz on this dude Creasy though I liked his serve and volleying. This guy looks good and quite the character.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 1, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    Cressy is willing himself to have a pro career. I love it. He’s not deferring to anyone, he’s here for one reason, to succeed. Take no prisoners. This is the attitude he has to take. Play like Gasquet no passion and be nothing, or be another Hewitt and will himself to the top. Go CRESSY. Be the best F the rest. Thanks for sharing that Chris.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 1, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    I have never seen Tim Smyczek so enraged on the court. He’s usually very mild mannered and a gentleman. Smee snapped. TO be honest, I have seen several players snap like that playing me in USTA tournaments. I was not as loud as Cressy but just as fiercely intense. I remember several guys really getting upset and even trying to imitate me to make fun of it. But I would always say to them, Hey the imitation is never as good as the original! Every time someone would get upset at my Cressy like intensity, they would lose. It was the ones who stayed cool and quiet who could handle it. They were of course better tougher players.

  • Jg · February 1, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    I told everyone about Cressy a few weeks ago and have been communicating with Scoop about it, he is my current number 1 player, he has an impeccable serve and volley game, chips and charges on returns, and keeps grunting and screaming even after others tell him
    To shut up, you have to love it. At least he’s doing something different out there, and doing it well, there are very few players left who have that classic serve and volley game, doesn’t hurt he’s 6 7. Isner doesn’t have those skills ( although Isner has the serve).

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 1, 2019 at 8:00 pm

    jg, raise a toast to the best most controversial character to hit the game in YEARS! Cheers! This guy is what we have been waiting for for YEARS. A flashy big talent with an aggressive offensive bold game and the fighting spirit and fire and fury of a young rebel who could care less about what the opponent thinks of his intensity. I LOVE THIS. He’s as in your face as young Hewitt was. Cressy will shake up the sport and rub a lot of people the wrong way and get people talking and complaining. But he doesn’t care a bit. I was shocked to see a cool calm cucumber vet like Smyczek just snap at Cressy’s vocal excesses. But Cressy didn’t budge and kept on being Maxine Cressy. And the best part is he’s winning. Ever since being down 2-4 in the first set to Kozlov in Newport Beach, he’s been on a tear, beating several name players. This guy is a rising force and will be in the top 100 before you know it. He’s not in my top 5 favorites and could soon overtake the top spot if he keeps doing it his way.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 1, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    I dont remember Cressy being noisy vs Kozlov, maybe I had volume off. But I don’t think he was. He’s really amped it up since that match. That match gave him a big confidence boost. So many guys who beat Kozlov really go on a roll after.

  • Jg · February 1, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    Kozlov was such a big name a few years back, he must still be a big win against a lot of players, I mean Cressy didn’t have a junior career like Kozlov, not even close. Cressy must have honed his skills at UCLA . As to the noise perhaps the indoor courts punctuate the noise, maybe it didn’t pick up outdoors on the live steam, I didn’t catch it also but I hope he keeps it up, hope he can get into qualies at the us open .

  • Chazz · February 1, 2019 at 9:32 pm

    It remains to be seen whether that type of game will work against top 100 players. I’m thinking it won’t unless he has an Isner/Opelka type serve. I don’t know, maybe with that height he does. Saw some clips of him at UCLA, the usual Come Ons after every point but nothing like he did against Smyczek. I read that he grew up in France, not sure until what age.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 1, 2019 at 11:12 pm

    Chazz, it will work, it will only get better for Cressy. He’s gaining the confidence and the experience and soon enough he will be wreaking havoc on the ATP. He has the fire of Hewitt and the weaponry of Isner Karlovic. I see big things for Cressy. He will WILL himself to a successful pro career. Smashing Smyczek, Gojo and Uchida, Kozlov is only the tip of the iceberg. This is just the beginning.

  • Wayne Bradford · February 2, 2019 at 3:08 am

    With Sock, two factors are at play. He already rose to No. 8 in the world and London and a Masters title when Nadal, Djokovic, Del Potro and others were injured. So he has already reached the peak of his career.

    No. 2, now the young guns in his own country like Tiafoe and Fritz. Not to mention Zverev, Thiem, Khachanov, Tsitsipas, Coric, etc. So how can Sock reach No. 8 again?

    Then you throw in that his ego is too big now to play Challengers. Sock is a known skirt chaser and needs to be in the big cities so he wouldn’t be caught dead in Cleveland.

    Sock also has career earnings of over $10 million so he will never work again. That’s almost half as much as Ivan Lendl made. So Sock has little incentive to play really.

    Zhengzhou is a city with almost 10 million people while New Haven has about 100,000. The Chinese economy continues to prosper thanks to the communist regime that promotes wealth for the vast majority though of course, not all. It is especially the case after this failed trade war on the behalf of the U.S. simply increased China’s market shares globally. That was pretty stupid by the U.S. but not surprising these days.

    The WTA has to go where the money is so it makes perfect sense.

  • catherine · February 2, 2019 at 7:00 am

    Well, I suppose that makes sense in one way, but this event will be the week after the US Open and also clash with a couple of other tournaments.

    New Haven never seemed to attract big crowds but it was a run-up to the USO and a long running event – 21 years.

    I’d hate to see China grab too much of the circuit – attendances there are very poor generally which is not good for the players or the game and some countries don’t have any decent WTA (or ATP) events at all.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 2, 2019 at 8:08 am

    maybe tennis needs to add a fifth major in China? The Asian major. Then a sixth in South American on clay.

  • catherine · February 2, 2019 at 8:23 am

    Torben Beltz has taught Donna Vekic to hit the same X court angled shot Kerber learned when he was her coach 🙂

  • catherine · February 2, 2019 at 8:27 am

    Enough majors. There are 4 GS. We don’t need any more. Why no tournaments in South Africa ? Too dangerous ?

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 2, 2019 at 8:39 am

    Catherine, everybody loves the majors more than small tournaments like Shenzen or Acapulco. More majors more profits. Tennis is a growing sport, why not add more majors? Majors in S. America and Asia could help grow the sport even more. They could have these new majors be best of 3 sets with the top ten seeds forced to play mixed and doubles.

  • catherine · February 2, 2019 at 9:21 am

    You jest Scoop – forced to play mixed doubles ? The mind boggles.

    And seriously, the calendar year isn’t infinitely expandable – unlike this thread.

    Vekic makes St Petersburg final in SS. Meets Bertens who predictably bt Sabalenka who has some maturing to do.

  • Hartt · February 2, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    The youngsters did it! Eighteen-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime just beat Gombos to win the tie against Slovakia for Canada. He and Shapo played every match, with Denis winning both his singles, including the one today against Klizan. Unfortunately, the Canuck youngsters lost the doubles, which meant they had to win both singles today.

    What an accomplishment for Felix! Their play the last two days has to give both of them confidence for their upcoming tourneys.

  • catherine · February 2, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    Congrats to Canada – I caught some highlights and it all looked pretty exciting.

  • Dan Markowitz · February 2, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    Slovakia?! They play tennis in Slovakia. Beating Gombos is a big thing?! Klizan hasn’t been a top player ever. Felix and Shapo are going to have to do a lot more than this. I’m sorry. This is nice stuff, but hardly mind-blowing. A win over a top 10 player in a big event is what you want to see from these two gents.

  • Hartt · February 2, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    Yes, it was very exciting, especially when it came down to the fifth rubber. Although Felix was a member of the team last fall this was the first tie where he actually played. Both youngsters did so well to keep their nerves under control and play well under so much pressure. In the on-court interview after his singles today, Denis said he wanted to enjoy himself, and that was the message he would give to Felix before the final match – to enjoy the moment.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 2, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    Catherine, we saw how much Federer and Bencic are enjoying mixed, and the fans and media loved it too. Could spark a mixed doubles renaissance or revolution. If Billie Jean takes a stand and forces the top men to play mixed, well they have to do it. Because you have to obey BJK. 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 2, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    This kind of pressure win could spark Felix now. Very important valuable win.

  • Hartt · February 2, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    Dan, Klizan is ranked No. 38 and has been as high as No. 24, so he is not exactly chopped liver. And this match was in Bratislava, with the Slovak fans cheering like crazy for their guys. The handful of Canadian fans did their best, but it was an uphill battle against about 4000 Slovak fans. The tie was also on clay, specifically to favour the home team.

    What was impressive about what the youngsters did was the way they kept their nerve in these crucial matches, with so much on the line. If Canada lost there would be no DC finals, and I wonder if Canada would have been out of the World Group.

    I think Felix will have his breakthrough this season, and am looking forward to seeing him on the main tour.

  • catherine · February 3, 2019 at 1:43 am

    Milos Mecir was a Slovak.

    So is Dominica Cibulkova.

    So they do play tennis in Slovakia 🙂

  • Wayne Bradford · February 3, 2019 at 1:56 am

    Looks like the new and improved Davis Cup works. The players seemed excited as witnessed by a thrilling Japan-China match watched by millions. It is nice to see.

    Grigor Dimitrov not in the draw in Bulgaria ATP event. No doubt Agassi refused to travel there. Going to Bulgaria is beneath him. The fans of ‘Baby Fed’ at home must be crushed. That country could use a boost with all the government turmoil there, another reason why Agassi is skipping no doubt.

  • Hartt · February 3, 2019 at 7:00 am

    This qualifying round was a concession to the players and fans who were upset that the home and away aspect of DC was going to be scrapped. It is better then nothing, but I am still sad that we won’t have any dramatic finals of a team playing in front of its home crowd, unless Spain is one of the last 2 countries standing.

    The young Aussie players, like de Minaur, and the Canadian youngsters, like Shapo and Felix, will never fulfill that dream, because the finals never will be played in Australia or Canada.

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