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

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 1, 2019 at 9:19 am

    Elise Tamaela was coaching a 14 year old Dutch girl at Orange Bowl a year ago, Annouk Kouvermans, now she’s with Bertens. Sluiter just learned the most unstable job in pro sports is as a WTA coach. Bertens probably learned all she could from Sluiter

  • Andrew Miller · November 1, 2019 at 9:22 am

    Bertens has a career year, dumps coach…amazing. I think all this coach dumping is astounding. The players, who are the bosses, say more or less: I had a career year no thanks to you, and no you don’t get a raise or a bonus in fact goodbye. Bertens just pocketed likely half a million USD for this Shenzen trip – appearance fee (guaranteed at US 385,000) plus the loss (winner gets $305,000 to win a round robin so probably around half that, $152,000 ish or so, for the honor of losing).

  • Andrew Miller · November 1, 2019 at 9:26 am

    It’s a business. If a player doesn’t like the coach or want the coach anymore it’s over. This wasn’t even a hey they got me X results Like Scoop said, player, hugely ambitious, says: time to move on.

    I’d love to see if there’s any data on whether players do well with coaching changes and what their results look like.

  • catherine · November 1, 2019 at 9:31 am

    Angie has made the right decision and chosen a bottle of shampoo as her ‘tennis partner’.No hurt feelings if she gives Head & Shoulders the elbow – just maybe a bad hair day.

  • catherine · November 1, 2019 at 9:53 am

    Pliskova took 1st set 6-0 from Halep. Starting the 2nd more even but still – was Ka trying to make a statement ?

  • Hartt · November 1, 2019 at 9:55 am

    Pliskova played great in the first set vs Halep, winning it 6-0. Now she looks more like her regular self, and as Bianca said, is missing. Simona leads 4-2.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 1, 2019 at 10:09 am

    Probably another factor in Bertens firing Sluiter is she paid him enough over four years for all his work, Tamaele didn’t make it as a pro and probably could use the coaching salary from Bertens more. Bertens spreading the wealth. Now we see if Tamaele can take Bertens to an even higher level than Sluiter did. That’s a big IF.

  • Hartt · November 1, 2019 at 10:17 am

    Pliskova showing that Bianca spoke the truth about her missing. Halep got the break in the first game of the decider. Ka just had an easy shot into an open court, there was no way Simona could get to it, even with her speed. But Ka sent it long. Even she looked disgusted.

  • catherine · November 1, 2019 at 11:02 am

    Did Cahill take the day off ?

  • Andrew Miller · November 1, 2019 at 11:05 am

    WTA finals final four. No, I didn’t press this, thought Osaka, Andreescu would battle it out.

    Svitolina. Bencic. Plíšková. Barty.

  • Andrew Miller · November 1, 2019 at 11:09 am

    Pliskova must’ve been out to prove that Andreescu comments fired her up. Rookie mistake, don’t get opponents any additional motivation to win. It’s one thing to play someone already that good. It’s a whole other thing to play that same player who decides to hit a little harder or run for balls a little harder just to show you up.

    Pliskova could take this tournament. If she does she should send a Thank You card to Andreescu.

  • Hartt · November 1, 2019 at 11:17 am

    The third set was more about Simona playing poorly than about Ka playing well. Darren read Simona the riot act during the OCC, basically said she couldn’t keep on playing that badly, whatever the ultimate outcome. He asked her how did she want to define herself as an athlete and a competitor? He was very tough, but Simona did not get out of her funk.

  • catherine · November 1, 2019 at 11:20 am

    I know Scoop will say I’m wrong but I just don’t believe Simona needs Cahill anymore. She didn’t react well to his occ and played as badly as she has all year. What she wants now are a couple more GSs and she’s done. Cahill can’t help her there and W’don showed it didn’t matter.

    Sometimes going back isn’t the best thing – both people have changed.

    I’m not sure Bianca had much to do with it, except for getting out of Pliskova’s way and giving her a shot at Simona who isn’t enjoying the slow surface and made a comment about it to the press. I’m sure Ka heard that too.

  • catherine · November 1, 2019 at 11:22 am

    Hartt – the time’s over for tough love and vague comments about Simona’s definition of herself.

    I’m not sure what it is about Cahill/Halep, but it’s making me very impatient.

  • catherine · November 1, 2019 at 11:59 am

    Simona’s 28 now, she’s a grown woman, not a recalcitrant teenager. Her life is different. 3 years ago this stuff from Cahill worked and now it doesn’t. If I were Simona I’d feel pretty embarrassed knowing everyone watching the match was hearing Darren’s earbashing, some of it quite personal and a little demeaning. No wonder some players prefer occ in their own language.

  • Andrew Miller · November 1, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    Today’s Paris matches A+. I will need to catch the highlights. Shapo vs Monfils, Tsonga vs Nadal. Djokovic tore Tsitsipas apart, and Dimitrov beats Garin for a nice code to his season. He shouls try to win Paris. If Shapo wins Paris that of course would be unreal.

  • Jon King · November 2, 2019 at 12:07 am

    On court coaching is the worst idea in WTA history. Tennis is an individual sport. Juniors do not have coaching, pro men do not have coaching. Just let the players do their things good and bad, figure it out for themselves.

  • Andrew Miller · November 2, 2019 at 12:24 am

    Amazing – Nadal, Djoko, Shapo, Dimitrov. Nadal looked even better in Paris than the US Open, but he knows Tsonga’s game so well. Djoko dispatched Tsitsipas and made him look ordinary. Again so much for the Tsitsipas call in summer for next gen to win slams by beating the big four – Paris shows that even as they decline marginally they have no intention whatsoever of giving even a point to the Tsitsipas generation

    Shapo looked brilliant against Monfils I front of a home crowd. That was a beat down if ever, Monfils wasn’t playing badly. The announcers in the highlights talked about Shapo’s business-like approach in the match and it looked like that. Shapovalov was playing well, mixing it up, showed some clever combos. He still needs to make that backhand more offensive, though it already is.

    Definitely a guy that’s making good on the promise of tennis. And a gentleman like Monfils. Good guys.

    Dimitrov looked excellent. Glad he’s pulled it together with a very decent post US Open. Garin was playing well so, I’m glad Chile again has a strong player. Garin taking indoors seriously is a big deal.

    I’ll put this out there – I don’t even think that Tsitsipas, Zverev are even among best three next gen or marginally older players. They are fine players, hit a good ball technically. Usually that’s fine, that’s the Cilic level, and Cilic won a slam. I think other young players are making better choices, have equally good games, and may ultimately be better

    Now watch them become the best two players of their generation 🙂

  • Hartt · November 2, 2019 at 7:07 am

    As you can imagine, I was thrilled with Shapo’s match, not just that he won, but at how well he played. When Denis is “on” like that, he is pretty well unplayable. He simply did not let Monfils into the match. As Andrew said, Gael did not play badly.

    Denis now is doing what experts and experts and fellow players like Daniel Nestor have been advocating for a couple years – playing with more patience and waiting for the right time to go for the big winner. He has improved his net play, all that doubles with Bopanna is paying dividends.

    Winning Paris would be very tough for Denis. This is a good example of why it is so hard to win big titles, he would have to beat Nadal and probably Novak, and both those guys are playing very well.

    But I think Denis’ success this fall bodes well for next season. He said that winning his first title helped him relax and to play his best tennis. Denis is so much fun to watch when he is playing well that this will help keep things lively next season.

    And of course there is that little matter of Davis Cup. With FAA injured at the moment, and Milos always iffy in terms of injury, Canada’s hopes will rest on Denis.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 2, 2019 at 8:18 am

    If only team Shapovalov dismissed Laurendeau and Steckley earlier and brought in Youzhny about TWO YEARS AGO, where would he be in his development? Youzhny is the missing link.

  • catherine · November 2, 2019 at 8:52 am

    Svitolina bts Bencic in 3 as Belinda retires. What kind of tournament is this ?

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 2, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Is Bencic playing an exo next week?

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

    Oh probably. The rest will be lying on a beach somewhere.

  • catherine · November 2, 2019 at 9:41 am

    4 withdrawals/retirements makes for a terrific event. Out of 8 players.

    Svito whacked the ball- hit 16 aces. Bencic had ‘issues’ in back, knee, foot. Makes Bianca seem a hypochondriac.

    Tournament too late, court too slow, too much money for retiring. WTA fix ? Hahahaha…..

  • Andrew Miller · November 2, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    Shapovalov, Muchova have been fun to watch this indoors season. Glad they are both on tour. Nice, fun games. I root for them. I root for Monfils too, I hope he keeps playing!

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 2, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    There will never be another Monfils.

  • Hartt · November 2, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    Scoop, this is probably the right time for Youzhny to coach Shapo, but he needed a regular coach to develop his game earlier. In any case, Youzhny was still a full-time pro until a year ago, so wasn’t available 2 years ago.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 2, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    Hartt, maybe but there is no doubt Shapovalov’s sudden breakout coincided with his new connection with Youzhny. We can only wonder what would have happened if they connected a year ago and where they would be now? I say top ten or even five.

  • Andrew Miller · November 2, 2019 at 9:17 pm

    Shapo could have also broken his elbow. Can’t predict this stuff.

  • Andrew Miller · November 2, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    Point is his rise since late summer is right on time. He had enough cover so he wasn’t too exposed, flew just under radar with spotlight on Tsitsipas Zverev Tiafoe Fritz Opelka etc De Minaur – and who’s in the final? Shapo. The guy with the most explosiveness, the best shot making, the best game of all these “kids”. With Felix probably believing he belongs there too.

    Seriously, who’s there at the end? Shapo.

    This is right on time. Gets the lucky break with Nadal pulling out. Perfect.

  • Hartt · November 2, 2019 at 9:38 pm

    Obviously I will be rooting for Shapo like crazy. But he does lack one thing – experience in big matches, compared to Novak. This will be Novak’s 50th Masters final and Denis’ first. In fact it is Denis’ 2nd ATP final of any sort.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 2, 2019 at 9:58 pm

    Remember, Djokovic said earlier in the week he think he has a mental edge on Rafa and Federer, this would have been a great opportunity for Rafa to disprove that assertion but he opted to skip town. Remember, Rafa and Djokovic practiced together a week ago in Paris and they played their exo last week in Kazakstan and supposedly split sets.

  • Andrew Miller · November 2, 2019 at 10:31 pm

    Don’t let Djoko win the match in the locker room!!! Players can’t be intimidated. They have to Medvedev it.

  • catherine · November 3, 2019 at 1:05 am

    As Hartt mentioned earlier, the prize money in Shenzhen really is obscene. Both players will walk away with over $4.5 million. I know people in the modern world get paid trillions for doing absolutely nothing but it would be nice in this case to hear a little less boasting from the WTA and maybe see the players make a public donation to some worthy cause.

  • jackson · November 3, 2019 at 1:35 am

    “supposedly split sets”????? The info is out there for anybody who wants to go looking. Rafa won the first set, gave Novak the second, and then won the ten-point tiebreaker. It was almost humorous at times seeing Djokovic muff the short puffballs down the centre that Rafa gave him in the second set.

    Rafa played very aggressively and went to the net many many times and he served and volleyed a lot. Shame Rafa got hurt because I was really looking forward to seeing how he’d play Djoke in a match that counted.

  • catherine · November 3, 2019 at 8:24 am

    Barty wins 6-4 6-3. Big payday for Ash. Shame Svito couldn’t make more of a match. That’s that for the year but a few questions hanging in the air so look forward to summer time in Oz.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 3, 2019 at 8:27 am

    Jackson where did you get the details report of this Rafa vs Djokovic practice match?

  • catherine · November 3, 2019 at 8:42 am

    Barty played very well from the start – used all the weapons in her locker and as she has far more of those than Elina there was no real doubt that she’d win. Shame that the expected opposition, for various reasons, didn’t show up.

  • Hartt · November 3, 2019 at 8:50 am

    I enjoyed seeing Ash make some terrific plays, although she also had some annoying UFEs. But was very happy to see her get the title, as well as the year end No.1 trophy.

  • catherine · November 3, 2019 at 8:53 am

    A bit disgraceful that match reports are making more fuss about the prizemoney Barty won than about the contest itself. Prizemoney only means how many $$$ some company has decided it can write off by chucking them into tennis. It’s not an achievement. Shenzhen gives the largest winners cheque ever and very soon another event will give an even bigger one and so on and so on until players, male and female, will be getting $1 million for losing in the first round. Pitiful values.

  • Hartt · November 3, 2019 at 10:47 am

    It was no surprise that Novak won against Shapo pretty handily. There was a slight difference in experience – it was Novak’s 50th Masters final and Shapo’s first!

    Denis has played pretty well this fall, including winning his first ATP title. He is now No.15 in the rankings, and does not have a huge number of points to defend until Miami, so he shouldn’t have a problem staying in the top 20.

  • Andrew Miller · November 3, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Barty has all the shots, and it’s always enjoyable to see a player who can do so much with a tennis ball.

  • Andrew Miller · November 3, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    Generally when a player loses that badly it’s because a player isn’t as good as the other player. Shapovalov wasn’t able to beat Djokovic because right now it’s a bad matchup and he’s simply worse than Djokovic today. He should be inspired by Medvedev who improved drastically over a four month period.

  • catherine · November 4, 2019 at 1:26 am

    Hosannahs everywhere for Barty (and her prizemoney) – worthy win in Shenzhen and Ashleigh’s a very nice person but I don’t think this tournament showed she’s the best player in the world – Shenzhen was a car crash of an event in many ways and I can’t wait to get back to regular tournaments where half the draw isn’t offering sick notes.

    China doesn’t present the most attractive part of the WTA circuit – empty stadiums, absent and jaded players, a general sense that the WTA has its nose stuck firmly in the trough and, among other things, cares not at all for the very visible discrepancy between the rich lives of its members (some of them) and the dire levels of poverty in surrounding areas of South East Asia.

  • Hartt · November 4, 2019 at 7:27 am

    Of course Shapo needs to improve, and he is the first to acknowledge that. When asked, he has a long list of things he is working on. A big one is a chip ROS, and he has been using that more in recent matches. When he is nervous, or under a lot of pressure, like he was in the Novaak match, he can revert to his old habits, and his ROS was poor in the final.

    But the poor lamb was up against vintage Novak. Even Novak himself said he played exceptionally well in that match. I thing Denis did well to make it a respectable score and, as Novak said, both of them served well in the match.

    Novak, as he so often is, was gracious in his winner’s speech and said that Denis has a fine career, but there will be even better things in the future. And of course Novak is right! 🙂

  • Jon King · November 4, 2019 at 8:01 am

    I agree with catherine on the China thing. Just like with the NBA games there, its hard to watch. The tournament staff look like hostages and the tackiness of the events are cringe worthy.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 4, 2019 at 8:11 am

    Djokovic is in terrifying form right now, just beat Tsitsipas by a blowout and he’s hungry to be no. 1 again. Shap played a good final but he needed to play a perfect final to beat this Djokovic.

  • Andrew Miller · November 4, 2019 at 8:42 am

    Shapovalov playing perfect still loses to Djokovic today. It’s a bad matchup as of today. I hold out hope Shapovalov will pull a Connors Chase Borg to Ends of Earth kind of mission, because that’s what players do when they want to separate from the pack, or lead the pack. Just is.

    Look at Federer after he loses a major final. It’s like someone look away the lollipop. You want to get the lollipop. I have a feeling that Medvedev is similar here in that he wants some of this glory. And I hope Shapovalov has this burning desire for this.

    I think Felix might have it. I don’t know about everyone else out there. It’s the X factor Kinstinct once the whistle blows you execute kind of no mercy way of playing.

    Tennis is a gladiator sport. Shapovalov is going to have to have other players look at the draw, see him in the draw, and feel some fear.

    This is how players felt when they drew Serena Williams in the past and for the most part now with the exception of the WTA fearless like Andreescu. This is what Shapo will need or Felix or anyone.

    Medvedev has developed this, people don’t want to play him. Don’t want to play Kyrgios either because of the circus!!!

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 4, 2019 at 8:51 am

    Nadal might have lost 1 and 2 to Djokovic yesterday too, the way Djokovic is playing now. He has issued beatdowns on Rafa before, Rafa even said the best most perfect tennis he ever saw anybody play against him was by Djokovic.

  • catherine · November 4, 2019 at 8:55 am

    WTA rankings (ATP to be completed): Barty No 1, Muchova and Yastremska on the way up,Kerber about to leave the top 20,Sloane Stephens at 25 with the red arrow, Serena No 10 also on the way down.

    Fed Cup left to play for – France travel to Oz but are likely to return trophyless.

    No word on a new coach for Kiki – this is most likely something she doesn’t want to think about right now.

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