Oct/19

29

The Little Guys In Paris

How many times have we heard how important height and size are to succeed in or eve make it to the professional ranks in tennis? Khachanov, Cilic, Hurkacz, Jarry, etc. – all well over six foot-tall – these are the tennis machine prototypes that one day will rule tennis.

But the little guys didn’t get that memo. If one takes a close look, there is no shortage of under six footers in the Paris Rolex Masters 48 man draw.

Damir Dzumhur, Yoshihito Nishioka, Pablo Cuevas, Radu Albot, Richard Berankis, Alex deMinaur, Casper Ruud, Adrian Mannarino, Corentin Moutet, Dusan Lajovic, Diego Schwartzman, David Goffin, Roberto Bautista Agut, Fabio Fognini, Stan Wawrinka are all six feet tall or under (deMinaur, Ruud, Wawrinka, Agut stand at an even six feet).

That’s fifteen players in Paris who are six feet or under, twelve are under six feet tall. Nishioka is the shortest player in Paris, he’s 5-7.

The conclusion is that maybe the importance emphasized on height and size and wingspan is a faulty theory. Smaller guy tennis, staying closer to the ground, quick bursts of anticipation and superior footwork, and more compact strokes are immeasurably undervalued assets.

Rod Laver is five foot eight. Lleyton Hewitt is 5-11. John McEnroe is 5-11. Andre Agassi is 5-11. Marcelo Rios was 5-10.

Don’t rule out the possibility of a man less than six feet tall ever achieving the ATP world no. 1 ranking ever again.

Or from winning the Paris Rolex Masters title this week.

161 comments

  • Hartt · October 29, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    It is one of the fun things about tennis, that such a wide variety of players can be successful.

  • Andrew Miller · October 29, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    The height thing. So funny. A wrestler in high school, who was small, was convinced only wrestling was fair because of weight classes. He said tennis favors size etc. I love that Diego Schwarzmanm makes a mockery of that erroreous assumption. No super huge player like Isner has slam or dominates tennis, nor do the guys that are 6-3 etc.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 29, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    You can’t measure the size of the fight in the dog by the size of the dog. Diminutive competitors have always found a way to thrive in the jungle of giants – Muggsy Bogues, Spud Webb, Jose Altuve, Mike Tyson (just 5-10), Olivier Rochus, Felisimo Ampong (4-11 top 100 tennis pro), Halep, Amanda Coetzer, Dwight Braxton (5-7 light heavyweight world cham), Doug Flutie, Martin St. Louis (hockey). Tennis is no exception.

  • Hartt · October 29, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    The shorter players do have to expend a lot of energy because they aren’t getting a lot of free points on their serves. However, they have an advantage when it comes to speed around the court. But it looks like there is an ideal height for a top tennis player. I don’t think it is an accident that the Big 3 are either 6’1″ (Fed and Rafa) or 6’2″ (Novak).

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 29, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    Andrew, tell your high school buddy to stick to wrestling. )

  • Andrew Miller · October 29, 2019 at 10:11 pm

    Yeah, he was an outstanding wrestler. I think he said it to justify why he only concentrated on 1-2 sports. Sometimes when a person does one sport intensely they have to justify it, because they are giving up a lot of other sports.

  • Andrew Miller · October 30, 2019 at 1:13 am

    Chardy played some great ball in taking out Medvedev. Chardy has always had the talent. Chardy and DY were in the same junior draws.

    Struff too with Khachanov. Still doubtful on both of these power players even given Khachanov very very good year as a top ten player. Don’t think Struff can maintain that tennis.

    Dimitrov a winner, his opponent Umbert? was like Nadal without the skill!

  • catherine · October 30, 2019 at 6:16 am

  • catherine · October 30, 2019 at 7:14 am

    Interesting note – Dr Sheryll Calder, currently working with the England World Cup rugby team as a vision coach, maintains that spending too long on mobile devices, particularly on match days, ‘hinders athletic performance’, because, as I understand it, your eyes become unaccustomed to the kind of vision skills you need for top performance. Don’t see why this shouldn’t apply to tennis where competitors certainly spend a great deal of time on ‘mobile devices’.

    Ref -Article in today’s Guardian sport online (mainly on rugby).

  • Hartt · October 30, 2019 at 7:14 am

    So Fed can be away from his family for the exhibitions in South America, because it seems unlikely his family will travel with him, but has to be with them in January?

    This means he won’t have any real matches before the AO.

  • catherine · October 30, 2019 at 8:40 am

    No Cahill magic today – Svitolina bts Halep SS.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 30, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Funny how family concerns don’t factor into the exo tour of south america with zverev.

  • Andrew Miller · October 30, 2019 at 9:13 am

    Raonic nearly gets Thiem. That’s the Raonic we are used to seeing. He’s not done whatsoever. Credit Thiem for pulling out the win barely, glad Raonic sees himself differently than may who write this beast off. He’s Canada’s second best player behind Bianca Andreescu.

    So far Shapo acquitting himself well against Fognini. Will it be enough against the magician?

  • Andrew Miller · October 30, 2019 at 9:18 am

    Nadal’s post-wedding exhibition in Kazakhstan was a beaut too. I’m glad Nadal and Djokovic care so much about the next generation of Kazakhstan players so much for this once in a lifetime exhibition (cough cough cough). I’m sure that they enjoyed the hospitality (cough) and the high stakes (cough).

    It’s always nice to see top players with their priorities straight (cough).

  • Hartt · October 30, 2019 at 9:41 am

    For a while this morning I had 3 Canadian players on at the same time, with mixed results.

    Milos did play well, just not well enough to beat Dominic.

    Bianca with yet another injury, knee this time, and she had to retire from her match with Pliskova.

    Shapo had a good win over Fognini. It was good to see Youzhny there with Denis. This is the right time for Denis to have a former top pro as his coach.

  • catherine · October 30, 2019 at 9:47 am

    Andreescu retires v Pliskova after losing 1st set 3-6. Why did her team let her play ? Difficult situation. Best thing is for her to go back home and get mental and physical things sorted in the weeks before AO.

    I can think of several athletes who have ruined their careers because they would not take advice about handling injuries. Just hope Bianca doesn’t fall into that category.

  • Jon King · October 30, 2019 at 9:56 am

    Stinks to see Bianca injured. But that is why we will likely never see another female player be dominant long term. The sport is too grueling, the fields too deep these days. Once the sisters and Pova retire, I doubt we ever have another active WTA player with more than 4 career Grand Slams ever again.

  • Hartt · October 30, 2019 at 10:00 am

    Catherine, I agree that Bianca should not keep pushing in this scenario. I remember when Nishioka kept playing after doing in his knee, and his team begged him to stop. He needed a very long recovery time to get back on the tour.

  • Hartt · October 30, 2019 at 10:02 am

    Of the top Canadian players only Shapo hasn’t had a lot of problems with injuries. I wonder if his body type helps in that regard. He is 6’1″ and 165 lbs, so fairly light.

  • catherine · October 30, 2019 at 10:15 am

    Jon – I agree and I also think the different surfaces have something to do with it. There’s also more travel and a great many more sideshows that the top players have to get involved in. Just much busier and draining now and that goes for the men too.

    We’ll probably see more top ranked players designing schedules which mean they focus on the big events and outside that play as few tournaments as possible. More like the old days.

    As far as Shenzhen goes, both the main drawcards are out through injury and that can’t please the organisers. I’m not a great fan of Svitolina’s game but from what I saw and read she outplayed Halep and produced some clever tactics at key moments. Bettles seems the right coach for her.

  • catherine · October 30, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Hartt – yes, Shapo does seem to have a good body shape – he’s not too tall, doesn’t seem to have weight problems and moves very well. Bianca, on the other hand, could be a double for Raonic in being injury prone. As I mentioned once before, there’s something about her build which seems to make her liable to get injured but I’m not exactly an expert and have no idea if that’s true or not.

    I wonder if she practises too much?

  • catherine · October 30, 2019 at 10:30 am

    Bianca hurt her knee stretching to return a wide serve. Maybe she needs another trainer ? Or just learn to leave impossible shots.

  • Hartt · October 30, 2019 at 10:51 am

    Catherine, on another site we were wondering if Bianca should lose a bit of weight. I think they could use the off season to work on strengthening her core, and also the muscles around her knees. She changed trainers after the USO, so hopefully they are happy with the current one. She has a full-time physio now, so that should help.

    You made a good point about Bianca injuring her knee when she stretched for a very tough shot. She is so competitive and so aggressive in her play that it is probably difficult for her to leave those shots, but it sounds like she would be wise to do just that, if it helps her avoid injury.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 30, 2019 at 10:57 am

    Andreescu is learning it was very hard to get to the top, now it’s even harder to stay there. Like Wilander said, “If tennis is not life and death you won’t stay at the top.”

  • Hartt · October 30, 2019 at 11:07 am

    Several posters on Reddit talked about how they had bought the very expensive tickets for the GB vs Switzerland ATP Cup match purely to see Fed. Roger should have not have committed to play it if there was a good chance he would withdraw.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 30, 2019 at 11:11 am

    Federer artfully pinned the blame on his team and his family but fans paying big money for this trip will not be satisfied with this flimsy explanation. Federer has not cancelled the S American exo tour, which is going to be a lot more exhausting than ATP Cup. This is a potentially bad move by Federer and some of his fans will feel suckered. Fans of Federer will lose some trust over this. Federer has an incredibly loyal and dedicated fan base and this is no way to treat them.

  • Hartt · October 30, 2019 at 11:26 am

    I agree, Scoop. This is a very disappointing move by Fed.

  • Andrew Miller · October 30, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Maybe because Halep, Pliskova beat up on her? It’s a sign of the WTA tour’s health that top players beat and send Andreescu home. She was 8-0 against WTA top ten and they studied up – Osaka, Halep, Pliskova.

    I love when Nadal says if only he were healthy during all of his slam finals he would have a ton more and be the GOAT. It’s a funny sentiment: Nadal’s game is notoriously punishing and it’s like clockwork – he’ll win enormous events and have a huge year and will then be off tour for months. That’s his game, he goes two hundred percent and runs his body to the limit plus. And inevitably lose a few here and there.

    Is it worth it? Sure is, look at his all to records. But the whole oh well they were injured. Injury is part of the game and players obviously can’t and won’t stop chasing the money. If you limit the # of tournaments they will play exhibitions and maybe pull a hamstring there.

    These players are human. If they pull out of tournaments their opponent isn’t going home sobbing. They’ll feel bad momentarily and then get back to the practice court. One player’s misfortune is another player’s meal ticket.

  • Andrew Miller · October 30, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    I don’t blame Federer. He just won last week and it’s an opportunity for another player to win Paris Masters. His opponents don’t feel bad that he’s no longer in their draw. It’s a payday for them and they should write Federer a thank you note for the bonus of winning a round of prize money and ATP points without breaking a sweat.

  • Andrew Miller · October 30, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    Scoop was right re other WTA players and the mark on Andreescu. This comes with the territory – when you turn the tour upside down don’t expect other players just take it. Andreescu forced them to get better and the coaches to strategize better. So they did!

    Said for a while Andreescu would have an X on her and that X showed up when Osaka played her. And it’s stayed there. Halep decided she’d rather die on court than lose her first match to Andreescu.

    Andreescu should consider it a tip of hat to her, her opponents fear her so much they prepare for their matches.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 30, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    Andrew, the disappointment is not Federer pulling out of Paris this week, that is understandable, but he also pulled out of ATP Cup in January today, after many Fed fans already made travel plans to fly to Australia to see Federer playing the new ATP Cup. Meanwhile the week long exo tour in S America is still ON.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 30, 2019 at 12:39 pm

    Andreescu’s biggest gaffe was saying she forgot how to lose. That was borderline insulting to her peers and no doubt gave every other WTA player extra incentive to remind her how it feels to lose. Evander Holyfield said he never said anything to insult or disrespect any opponent, “because I didn’t want to give them any extra incentive.”

  • Hartt · October 30, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    Andrew, the issue wasn’t Fed pulling out of Paris, but out of the ATP Cup. With no top player (because Stan had not entered) Switzerland won’t even be in the tournament. Fans had bought tickets for the group that Fed was in purely because he was playing. They were guaranteed matches with Fed in that format, whereas they are taking their chances in a regular tourney. They wondered about getting refunds, but how likely is that?

  • Andrew Miller · October 30, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    All players lose matches. It’s tennis! Even Medvedev, who forgot how to lose, get his hat habded to him by Chardy (always liked Chardy, he has a nice game!).

  • Andrew Miller · October 30, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    Poor fans…(not!). That’s the risk – if you’re flying overseas to do so and it’s a few months out, cancel your plans, it isn’t as if it’s taking place tomorrow!!!

    The ATP etc shouldn’t have scheduled so many cups. Federer is always going to make decisions on what works for him. So will Nadal (see Kazakhstan Exo post marital bliss). So will Djokovic. If you really want these events to fly do what some tournaments and events do and get players who will be loyal in the future.

    I’m sure the WTA finals is upset about Osaka. But trust me she’s well, good, holding down the fort with a $680,000 payday for under a week’s worth of work in Shenzen. Don’t she’d too many tears 😉

    Hope some tournament somewhere does this, supports up and coming players. They remember it and often not always return to those events out of good feelings etc.

  • Andrew Miller · October 30, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    As for these exos, I’ve seen a few and they are generally worthless. Laver Cup was fun as a non tournament and always liked Hopman Cup, but once you do so many they ruin the tour. Wasn’t one cup before the French Open and that’s why guys like F Gonzalez would turn in such awful performances because the event was televised in South America, so they’d win that event and be totally spent for French Open? Something like that.

    Players are motivated by all sorts of things

    Personally I don’t like the exhibitions, they are like freak shows. You’ll see better tennis at your local futures or challenger event.

  • Andrew Miller · October 30, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    Cahill is a very fine, excellent coach. This to Halep on Svitolina: “She’s living off your errors and most of your errors are coming off panic shots.”

    No better description of the Svitolina game. She is a grinder with phenomenal consistency. She will backboard her way past her peers, then get beat by only a few players.

    And from the Scoop book of magic: she pumps herself up on court. She has the emotion thing down.

  • Hartt · October 30, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    As far as I can tell, Milos got through two matches in a row without getting injured. And his match with Dominic went something like 2 hours, 38 minutes.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 30, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    There is not a better pro coach now that Cahill. No one has his credentials and successes. Hewitt, Agassi, Halep.

  • Hartt · October 30, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    Add to those players the fact that Cahill worked with the Adidas program and did things like get Cirstea to the final of the Rogers Cup several years ago, when she lost to Serena.

  • catherine · October 30, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    Gossip – according to tennis tonic Jack Sock is still with Katie Boulter, British player who hasn’t done much on court since she suffered a back injury. Sock got together with Katie a couple of years ago but I’ve read accounts of Jack with various other ladies recently so what is the truth ? He’s now unranked I believe so has plenty of time for romance.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 30, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    Wrong on Sock, he’s now with a NASCAR model Laura Little.

  • catherine · October 30, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    Well, tennis tonic is misinformed and I expect there will be red faces there shortly.

  • catherine · October 30, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    Quote from Andreescu after Bruneau told her to retire v Pliskova: ‘ I don’t want to stop. If it was against Simona then OK, but Pliskova misses’.

  • Andrew Miller · October 30, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    Catherine, Andreescu is something! These quotes are going to rev up competitors. That should get back to the Pliskova camp, maybe Ka. Pliskova will even wake up. For her to hear about that from Andreescu says a lot to the Andreescu competitiveness, but so rarely is this expressed so bluntly by players.

    If I were Pliskova I’d run on that and go for an Oz title. She should be offended and use it to improve.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 30, 2019 at 10:46 pm

    Andreescu may be the biggest trash talker in tennis today, “I forgot what it’s like to lose” and this latest pot shot at Pliskova’s inconsistency. You gotta love Andreescu’s sophisticated trash talking. Wish more would do it.

  • catherine · October 31, 2019 at 1:50 am

    I don’t see anything wrong with the stuff Bianca comes out with – in fact I like it. Better than the butter-won’t-melt-in-my-mouth insincerity around a lot of players who seem terrified of the WTA. And what Bianca says is true. She rates Simona higher than Ka and who wouldn’t,seriously ?

    She’s young, headstrong, but basically a nice person I’d guess. Who hasn’t done and said foolish things when they were 19 ? Being injured so much is putting her and those around her under a lot of strain. I just hope everything settles down in time. And Bianca goes on telling it like it is.

  • Dan Markowitz · October 31, 2019 at 4:21 am

    Andreescu getting injured so much at 19 is very alarming. She’s had shoulder issues and now knee. This does not bode well for her unless she can really get fit for next year.

    Raonic is done. It doesn’t matter what a big hitter like he does on the indoor circuit. Look at Sock a couple of years ago in Paris and London. Raonic has been hurt so much and his movement is suspect, he has zero chance of again reaching a slam semis. He’s had a nice career, one slam finals and two slam semis, but two of those semis showings were on grass.

    Milos is turning 29 in December. If he were to get to another slam semis it would be impressive.

    What’s the story on Sock? Loses in Charlottsville to Bangoura, retiring after losing first set 6-3. He might just have lost his competitive fervor. Pretty amazing that Sock and Harry, both 27 seemingly in their peak of their careers, are now ranked respectively, nos. 253 and 313. No one would’ve scripted that when they were 21.

  • Hartt · October 31, 2019 at 6:55 am

    Dan, the big thing about Sock is not that he he is ranked No.253, but that he is about to have no ranking at all. It seems unimaginable that he could fall so dramatically, from winning Paris and making the ATP finals two years ago to basically disappearing. People who have seen him play say he is out of shape, so it is hard to have much sympathy for him.

    As far as Bianca goes, the injury problem is even more serious. She has had back problems this year as well as shoulder and knee injuries. Earlier in her career she also missed a lot of time from injuries. I wonder if Catherine is right, that her body type is one cause. She also hits with a lot of power, and perhaps that is a factor. In any case, it is frustrating that injuries are having such an impact on an exciting young player.

    What she said about Pliskova wasn’t diplomatic, but it was true. I doubt if anyone will disagree, even Ka if she is being honest. But Bianca isn’t making friends with some of her comments.

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 7:45 am

    Raonic showed he is done by getting QF at Australian and beating then and still overrated Alex Zverev to do so. I’m shocked with his big serve, big game, and proven competitiveness and mental toughness that he keeps coming back from injury. Who does he think he is, a former Wimbledon finalist?

    I’m glad everyone here has perfected the art of writing premature obituaries for top players. This worked really well when reporters did the same for Andy Murray, from every sports publication of note. They look so….

    Someone should have taken a Vegas bet on whether Murray would come back and win a tournament after the retirement he never announced. You’d have won a tidy sum.

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