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

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 7:56 am

    Stakhovsky on the U.S. hype of tennis players, which holds true no matter who Stakhovsky is referring to on the ATP.

    Question: It turns out that the Americans, with their own hands, train tennis players for other countries.

    Stakhovsky: It does. Then there is another point. I played with Harrison, I think, in the 2010 US Open, and even then said: the guy has yet a lot to work on, don’t hype him, because that’s how you ‘buried’ many of your juniors, making a star out of them before they’ve become one. The American federation, USTA, earns a fortune, and this results in such a luxurious environment that is, in a sense, even to their detriment. Young players are getting huge media support, but they have not yet reached those heights where it’s indeed justified. On the one hand, I understand why the USTA is doing that – they need American players, so they can market them, to attract viewers to local tournaments, so that they could support their local players. On the other hand, to go too far in this matter is also wrong, and the players themselves, as we can see, don’t benefit from it.

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 8:01 am

    Andreescu…she creates her own competition. I like Federer’s approach these days, he’ll butter up a player to then beat them handily. Federer gets it. He gives a false sense of security to the opponent so they think oh Federer, that’s amazing he thinks that about me. Then they get into the lion’s den of a competitive match and it’s over before they step foot on the court. Also known as “a set up”, “an ambush”, “a trap”.

    Federer…old man (for tennis, just like Connors in his later years with the yellow Estusa racquet) has learned these tricks over time!

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 8:11 am

    Andreescu, Nadal can swap injury notes 😉 Nadal blames his health for not having more slams aka the all time record.

  • catherine · October 31, 2019 at 8:29 am

    Hartt – it’s a possibility that with careful management Bianca will grow out of her injuries, maybe lose a little weight and play the right schedule. She may not win as many tournaments as some players but at least she would be able to continue competing. She just has to accept her body is a bit fragile.

    I don’t find anything objectionable in things Bianca says. As you say – it’s the truth, not nasty. I get sick of the milk and water comments we’re fed in press conferences etc.

  • catherine · October 31, 2019 at 8:32 am

    Barty beat Kvitova SS. I feel Petra is nearing the end of her career now – possibly cut down on her tournaments next year.

  • Hartt · October 31, 2019 at 8:38 am

    Stakhovsky said what many folks here have said about American tennis, but it is interesting to hear it from a player.

    Michael Downy, head of Tennis Canada, was head of the LTA for a while. He felt that the big $ the LTA had was actually a disadvantage, and the federation did not use its money wisely. It sounds like the same thing could be said of the USTA.

  • catherine · October 31, 2019 at 8:46 am

    I didn’t think much of Pliskova’s comment, that ‘she (Bianca) calls the physio every match.’ What’s she supposed to do – ignore pain ? I’m sure she’d rather be healthy. If it’s the miniscus (sp?) in her knee it’s serious and she musn’t try to go on playing.

  • Dan Markowitz · October 31, 2019 at 9:02 am

    Andrew,

    Are you comparing Milos Raonic with Andy Murray? And Murray won a 500 not a Masters or a slam. It still remains to be seen if he can be a contender at a slam. But I will wager with you or anyone else that Raonic does not make another slam semis except for possibly Wimbledon. He did beat Raonic in the Round of 16 at the A), but we all know that Zverev is a different player in slams.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 31, 2019 at 9:23 am

    Stakhovksy’s quote about the USTA is a legendary manifesto and 100% accurate. Thanks for sharing it. Nothing to add. Stakhovsky nailed it 100%. Thanks for sharing it again.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 31, 2019 at 9:28 am

    Future looks not so bright for Raonic and nothing seems to be going his way. Each match and loss be drives closer to journeymanville. But what really matters is what is in Raonic’s own head. Is he accepting it’s all over and he’s a journeyman now? Or does he still hold self belief that his game works and his health will take care of itself and his best days, one last hurrah or two are left? Is he still fighting the mental battle and training with the belief that he can win a major? Or is he going through the motions earning a great living and enjoying the travel and the occasional flash of Raonic brilliance? What is in his head is what matters, not the opinions of some experts, semi experts and screw balls in tennis web site discussion forums.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 31, 2019 at 9:30 am

    Tearing down Orlando and turning it into a non luxury boot camp with primitive conditions and spartan equipment may actually be the better training grounds for American juniors.

  • catherine · October 31, 2019 at 9:33 am

    Bianca has withdrawn from Shenzhen – best decision. She’ll be replaced by Kenin who may find this gluepot of a court to her liking.

  • Jon King · October 31, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Ha Scoop, could not agree more on Orlando. Been there a bunch of times, had to duck the airplanes, and cracked up at the field of cows nearby, but what a monstrosity of excess. The USTA is amazing at using up tons of resources on a handful of players and facilities.

    Before Orlando, in Boca Raton they handpicked 8 boys and 8 girls for a huge amount of attention. Dorms, coaches, trainers, nutritionists, massage, tutors. Just millions spent for a few kids when the money could have helped so many. And none of those 16 ever made money as a pro.

    Ci Ci Bellis is the latest. She is the USTA’s darling and I am rooting for her comeback. But my goodness, the attention and resources she gets in Orlando is off the charts. Its crazy to spend $100s of thousands on one player. And she is the only child of wealthy parents. Spread the money out.

    USTA National Campus is everything wrong with the USTA. Too much money concentrated on crown jewel facilities and handpicked players.

    The USTA just announced that 5000 kids quit playing USTA tournaments in 2018 alone. They surveyed as to why. The main reason is tournaments stink. The kids with aggressive personalities have a huge advantage. Kids from other sports are shocked to find they have to keep the score and argue line calls to enforce rules. So they play a few USTA tournaments and quit. But I watch low to mid level matches from other countries and almost always see an adult monitoring the matches.

    If the USTA stopped supporting a few players and facilities with multi millions and instead had monitors on every court for every match, kids would develop their games and more players and better athletes would play tennis. And in the long run a deeper pool would result in more great American players, without the USTA trying to handpick them.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 31, 2019 at 11:04 am

    Jon, it all starts at the top, and the leadership installed at the USTA is a mess. We have elaborated on that before, so no more. Nuff said. Time to clean house. Right now Jack Sock is the symbol for USTA American tennis failure. Funny how Venus and Serena never had any association with USTA isn’t it?

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 11:16 am

    Raonic in a slam semi elsewhere, sure. I’ll take that, Dan. Winner gets bragging rights for getting an occasional prediction right! Raonic doesn’t make it past round of 16 most times but he’s done it enough, has something to prove given Andreescu.

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 11:23 am

    Why can’t we compare Raonic with Murray? If tennis history is correct they squared off for a Wimbledon final three years ago, so the comparison isn’t far fetched. As to their h2h of course Murray owns Raonic, but comparing comebacks seems reasonable with the exception that Murray coming back from far worse, but also has the champions mettle that Raonic lacks.

    It’s Raonic’s heart, head that holds him back. He is a notch below the big three, but similar players like Cilic have broken through miraculously if only for 1 slam. Raonic might catch lightning in a bottle. He is unlikely to do so, but he might especially if he sees a chance to grab a slam as the big three become more vulnerable at slams to any number of players.

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Sock is a gamer when he wants to be. Just that his backhand was awful and with the fix better but still awful. His serve is still huge. Forehand still clubs it. His movement could use some ballet classes.

    And… underestimated…he has fans!

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 11:34 am

    Paris results:
    Garin d. Chardy (Stefanki tough talk on Garin must have gotten to him, he plays with more hunger no matter the surface)

    Dimitrov d. Thiem easily. Guess Vienna isn’t Paris. Thiem shown the door.

    Tsitsipas d. De Minaur in straight sets. Cold water for De Minaur. Thought he’d see this as a statement match and it was…for Tsitsipas.

    Think Wawa will take out Nadal. Nadal needs to go home and be domestic as a married man! Do some dishes. At least take Mery on vacation.

  • catherine · October 31, 2019 at 11:37 am

    Hate to keep banging the drum, but I must say I’m getting pretty fed up with the constant sniping at Andreescu (latest ubitennis) – going all the way back to Kerber’s sneaky comment. Bianca said she didn’t hear it which I suspect was just tactful. (Kerber herself seems to be fading like the Cheshire Cat – just the plastic smile remaining.)

    Bianca’s arrival should be celebrated and her injuries regretted. Instead we get moaning about her behaviour, and I’m starting to think there’s a fair bit of jealousy and resentment involved, some of it coming from the dressing room and leaked to sycophantic media. Disgraceful. Women’s tennis has a pretty thin layer at the top – absent Osaka and Andreescu Shenzhen hasn’t got a lot to recommend it. Just another WTA event on a slow boring surface featuring some tired players who are mainly there for the money.

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 11:56 am

    Andreescu… c’mon…she loves it. She also walked away with $680,000 or more after withdrawing.

    Andreescu is a drama queen. Not real good at making friends on tour, maybe she and Bouchard have a No Friends on Tour Pact.

    Here’s the other thing – players that can’t beat her (yet, maybe not ever) complain. Her ruthlessness is another level, she has the assassin attitude.

    I wouldn’t talk the way she talks about other players. Players have said worse things for sure. And just because it’s true aka Pliskova will miss, I still don’t think that’s kosher (aka It’s Pliskova, noted choker! Miss Inconsistent! If I can’t beat Pliskova with one hand tied behind my back…).

    Andreescu brings boxing to tennis. She ruffles feathers. She’s young. If she wants to protect the throne, she’ll learn.

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    WTA should rename itself SMI for “so many injuries”. Everyone is retiring in Shenzen. If this is how it is they shouldn’t have the tournament. Just end all WTA events as of mid October. Then everyone gets their vacation aka Exhibitions.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 31, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    de Minaur is still magic, note I did not say he would beat Tsitsipas, Tsitsipas is better right now. Think long term.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 31, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    Catherine, of course they will gang up on Andreescu, like they ganged up on Seles. Osaka is untouchable though, she has privileges. Andreescu will get no special privileges. It’s open season on Andreescu.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 31, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    Andreescu has to learn how one snipe, one unintended insult can wake up a sleeping giant. Andreescu needs to have a three way chat with Mardy Fish and Lloyd Carroll.

    Read about how Lloyd Carroll’s journeyman comment to Fish changed his career from journeyman patsy to top ten titan
    https://www.tennis-prose.com/articles/7265/

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 31, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    How come nobody ever retires during an exhibition?

  • catherine · October 31, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    Andrew -yes, Bencic bt Bertens who retired with a virus. Said Belinda ‘everyone is exhausted and injured’. Maybe the WTA should rethink this tournament. I’ve said before, finish in October.

    Scoop – Why is Osaka untouchable and what are the privileges she has ?

    No reason Bianca needs to make friends on tour – she probably has plenty at home. I thought her comment on Ka was interesting because it showed how she is thinking about her opponents.

    Some of these women seem to be very sensitive – they all go crying to the press ‘it’s not fair’. Yes it is.

  • catherine · October 31, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    Scoop – I assume because exhos are arranged to suit the players’ schedules and there are just two people. No inconvenient draws to get in the way. And if you start retiring you won’t be invited back.

  • catherine · October 31, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    Oh and Andrew – I really don’t think Bianca loves having a torn miniscus or that she’s really bothered about the money. Let’s be sensible.

  • Hartt · October 31, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    I am a bit bewildered by all this interest in Milos. Even as his fan I don’t think there is much to say about him. As long as he has one injury after another, and spends weeks on end off the Tour, his attitude, head, whatever, really doesn’t matter much.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 31, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    Catherine, you will have to figure that one out for yourself. I don’t believe a word of Bencic about everyone being injured and exhausted, not after seeing Nalbandian beat Federer in five sets in that one epic WTF final and seeing Hewitt beat Ferrero in five in that other WTF. Also all the five setters in Davis Cup finals. No, sorry Belinda, I’m not buying a word of it. I think it’s more a matter of most players just not really feeling excited to play these matches at the end of the year, they would rather be on vacation taking a break. It’s like playing a match at 11 am or 1 pm, or playing a match starting at midnight.

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    Federer, Nadal plan schedules ruthlessly. Nadal adds more clay – for all we know it’s way too much clay that ruins Nadal’s knees, rather than too little.

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Please don’t pay me the $680K plus associated bonuses…please I beg you…

  • Hartt · October 31, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    The prize $ at the WTA finals is simply obscene.

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    Hartt, I admire Raonic. He had a promising run in 2011 and after less inspiring years pulled things together under very good teams. I don’t doubt the ability of any player, with exception of Brian Baker (plagued) and a few other choice players, to come back, especially if they have the mentality of a Raonic. His performance since Laver Cup and in Laver Cup was pretty good, just didn’t get benefit of Nadal and Federer in his ear.

    Having watched how Querrey and Isner propelled themselves to career highs after sending a threat from a younger group of US players from Steve Johnson to Tiafoe, I’m convinced that these more significant veterans for now while they are still healthy want big results. They know the game better than the young guys (now).

    Raonic is an intelligent player. It’s harder to be a smarter player on tour. Easier for ball bashers.

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    I worry about injuries, but I’m also bewildered to see three (was it three?) WTA events taking place at once during the down time of this part of the WTA season. And yeah mostly in Asia, and somewhat in Europe. There’s no need for so many tournaments aka so many chances for WTA players to rip another tendon apart.

    Greed. If the tournaments keep throwing money at players, the players keep chasing the money. Only a select number of players go you know what this is ludicrous, I have to plan this carefully

    See for yourself. The big guys retire. WTA players are retiring in the hunger games WTA finals because, well, it isn’t a slam and they already made an obnoxious sum of money, even if you are Bertens.

    Business is too good. Complain all you want, but the huge payout should make them feel better. And it is huge – more than slam champs made not that long ago. Plus sponsor bonuses for rankings. Don’t feel too sorry that this event is collapsing under its own weight

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    Andreescu made a mistake of saying this on a live feed. Now Pliskova knows. I think it’s bad form, but live and learn.

    Agassi book a tell all in this way but he waited to retire before publishing on what he thought of other players and their games. Mostly respectfully.

    Rare to see that. But live and learn. Andreescu will be fine as her game is so strong, but you don’t want to give anyone extra motivation to beat you…they already have enough.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 31, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    Andrew, you forgot when Agassi called Spadea “a journeyman” and promptly later lost to the journeyman. Agassi learned the hard way, zip it.

  • Hartt · October 31, 2019 at 2:34 pm

    Andrew, my heart has been broken too many times when Milos returned from an injury-related time away, and I got my hopes up, only to have them dashed yet again, because he was injured yet again. So I am not getting hopeful unless he does manage to stay injury-free for, say a couple months at a time. For goodness sake, he played 2 matches at the Laver Cup and managed to injure his adductor.

    I know it is possible for him to come back, but he needs to avoid injuries for that to happen, and I have pages of notes on Milos injuries. 🙁

  • Hartt · October 31, 2019 at 2:45 pm

    Shapo just won a terrific match against Zverev, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. Sascha did not play poorly, it was more Denis playing very well. It was a fun match to watch.

    Denis is now No.20 in the live rankings. Grigor could pass him, but he is unlikely to go below No.21. Denis had 25/31 net points, so all those doubles matches are helping. In fact, he and Bopanna have a doubles match today.

    And yes, Scoop, having an experienced player like Youzhny as his coach has made a definite difference.

    Given Denis’ play late this season I think he has a great chance at having a super 2020.

    FAA is No.19 in the live rankings and Milos is No.32. There is a real chance that Milos won’t be seeded for the AO.

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    Scoop, exactly…don’t give the opponent any extra motivation. I didn’t remember the Agassi slight to Spadea, but that works, Spadea was like today’s a great day to play better than I’ve ever played.

    You really want to give your opponent a reason to chase down another ball or serve a few more mph harder, or find a little better angle, or figure a little more out about your game? Especially when you’re already a player everyone is scheming to beat?

    Andreescu will learn from this. It’s a rookie mistake that even long time veterans make. Be charitable and during coaching time even on live TV keep it sanitized.

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    Zverev has sunk back to his sulking days. Another big event and another loss. I’m glad Shapo won, he is a more optimistic player and has begun to learn how to play savage tennis. Knock Zverev back on his feet. Very fine win.

  • catherine · October 31, 2019 at 3:13 pm

    Scoop – I don’t think you can compare women and men as far as stamina goes. Men are stronger overall – they can play a longer season. I’m still saying the WTA main circuit should end mid-October. Players do get tired and prone to injury. Fact of life.

    I don’t understand the economics of tennis – eg why the WTA has so many events in China which can’t possibly make money unless it’s through TV rights. A fantasy world. Some of the European tournaments are old established – Linz, Luxembourg – the Asian ones have just been dumped on top.

    Hartt – yes, the prize money is obscene but obviously someone thinks it’s worth paying out. To me, the Finals are meaningless.

  • catherine · October 31, 2019 at 3:32 pm

    Why are Osaka and Andreescu suddenly wearing glasses in their pcs ? Are they shortsighted ? Do they wear contact lenses on court ?

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 31, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    Catherine, don’t give us that chauvinist nonsense, men and women are equal, anything a man can do so can a woman, Billie Jean King told us this and thus we have equality. Please do not spread your chauvinism here any more or we may have to suspend you again for a half hour 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 31, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    Wearing glasses makes you looks smarter.

  • Hartt · October 31, 2019 at 3:59 pm

    Or, for a player like Sascha, wearing glasses makes him even better looking. His female fans think he looks great in glasses. 🙂

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

    Seconding Catherine’s plan to end the WTA season in mid October or earlier. The rest of the time players can Instagram their Shirley Temples on the beach or play exhibitions for Megabucks like Nadal and Djokovic! Or even find their own GEMS life.

  • catherine · November 1, 2019 at 7:11 am

    Coaching carousel: Bertens dumps Raemon Sluiter after 4 yrs and hires team member and former player Elise Tamaela, following a trend towards female coaches here and there.

    Sluiter sounded a little wistful: ‘ Life on the tour can be tough but I really thought we were in the same boat.’
    Nope. Kiki had jumped ship and was rowing away when Raemon’s back was turned.

    Who are we now waiting for ? Muguruza, Kerber…..

  • Andrew Miller · November 1, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Svitolina has made a believer of me. I like the WTA players of this era with the exception of some classic ball bashing. I will always be a Serena Williams fan, but we’ll all be ok when she breaks whatever records are left and hangs up the racquets. Just like we’re going to be ok after Nadal, Djokovic, Federer, Murray, Wawrinka call it a career and get aspirin and denture sponsorships.

  • Andrew Miller · November 1, 2019 at 9:14 am

    Credit Kenin too. She wasn’t even supposed to be here, but made sure everyone knew she can go toe to toe with better players when she gets the opportunity. Ambition is a big deal on tour.

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