Jun/19

11

The Only Way To Oust Fed, Rafa, Nole

Boris Becker made headlines this week for chastising every ATP player under age 28 for failing to remove Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal from the top of the sport. “No active player under 28, apart from Thiem, has been in a grand slam final. That is not good. Don’t give me that the others are too good. We should question the quality and the attitude of everybody under 28. It just doesn’t make sense.”

What Becker did not offer was the solution for the right mindset and the attitude which can successfully dethrone this dominant trio of tennis titans.

I think I can help in this regard. Go back to the late 1990s when Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi were the dominant figures in the sport. A certain young player burst on the scene and shook up the sport with his fiery, combative, chip on the shoulder, I-don’t-give-a-f*** mindset.

This player won two major titles and held the world no. 1 ranking for two years. Lleyton Hewitt only stood about five-foot-eleven and weighed under 150 pounds but he had more intensity, ferocity, tenacity and fighting spirit than just about all the under 28 set today combined.

Who could forget seeing Hewitt fist pumping and shouting COME AWWWNNN!!

While most of the players today share a court with Federer, Rafa and Djokovic like it’s a special privilege and honor and part of their demeanor even borders on deference, Hewitt targeted jugulars and had no mercy for anyone, legends included. Hewitt whipped Agassi’s ass the first time he played him at 16 in Adelaide. Hewitt lost 61 76 to Sampras at age 17 in New Haven in 1998 and then almost beat Pete the next year at 18 at Queens semi 46 64 76. Hewitt then blasted Sampras in the US Open final of 2001 by the scoreline of 76 61 61. Hewitt even won the career head to head vs Pete 5-4.

Hewitt didn’t care about deferring to legends, he wanted to evict them all and made no bones about it. A lot of players were annoyed by Hewitt’s ambitious obsession to take out the best. But Hewitt didn’t care, he just kept on going on his warpath of destruction, fist pumping, yelling, roaring like a lion king of the jungle. The Spanish players especially seemed to be rubbed the wrong way by Hewitt’s feisty character but they could not subdue him.

One time Hewitt had Alex Corretja down 60 60 30 at the Australian Open and was pushing for the triple bagel. Another time, Hewitt broke Corretja in the very first game of the match indoors and shouted Come on!!!

Hewitt’s fearless attitude, tennis talent and fighting spirit resulted in immediate success. He won his first title at 16, first major at US Open at 20 and became world no. 1 at 20.

But if Hewitt had the mindset and attitude of Dimitrov, Raonic, Berdych, Kyrgios and Sock, would he have won any majors? It’s highly doubtful. Hewitt was the most animated, intense, feisty, tenacious, vicious, ruthless competitor the sport ever saw. And that, most of all, was the fuel that powered and produced his Hall of Fame successes.

Today, there are no players that have the Tiger eye and snarl like Hewitt. Nobody has that kind of guts and bravado.

It took a lot of courage for Hewitt to compete like he did, he endured a lot of criticism from the media and other players. But he didn’t care. He had a job to do. Hewitt wanted to be the best and went for it.

Today, there is no player like Hewitt. No player has the guts and courage to dare to show the in-your-face intensity to Federer, Rafa or Djokovic. They all play too nice.

It’s possible a player like Hewitt would not be able to thrive today as the media might attack his “toxic masculinity.” Can you see the headlines? How dare this whippersnapper disrespect these three legends! Hewitt’s act belongs in pro wrestling not Center Court Wimbledon!

But Hewitt came along at the right time and made tennis better to watch. Hewitt was a fearless, combative warrior who slayed every dragon of the ATP, on the biggest stages and in the biggest moments.

Today, unfortunately, as Boris Becker has pointed out, nobody under age 28 has half the guts of Lleyton Hewitt. And if someone like Hewitt doesn’t emerge soon, this trio of tyrants could possibly keep on ruling into their forties. Or even fifties?

Never depend on the admiration of others. There is no strength in it. Personal merit cannot be derived from an external source. ~Epictetus

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15 comments

  • Doug Day · June 11, 2019 at 9:03 am

    Aww Scoop. Take the voice of millenials fave Kyrios: “Come on man, you hit a ball over a net..” Now there’s a fighting spirit.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 11, 2019 at 9:18 am

    Kyrgios has the physical part to take down the top three but he doesn’t have the heart on a consistent basis.

  • Hartt · June 11, 2019 at 9:43 am

    Why is Kyrgios even mentioned? He just lost to Berrettini in SS, with Berrettini getting a score of 6-3, 6-4.

    Kyrgios is rapidly becoming irrelevant in men’s tennis. He is ranked No.38 in live rankings. Berrettini, who is a year younger, is now No.29.

    It’s not enough to win the occasional big match. At this rate Nick will be out of the top 50.

  • catherine · June 11, 2019 at 9:46 am

    WTA – how low can you go ? Sabalenka goes out to Destinee Aiveea at t’bosch. All credit to Destinee but Aryna is (still) ranked 10 in the world. I don’t want to be cruel, I used to like Sabalenka, but it looks more and more as if she was just a flash in the pan. Exit Tursunov ? I’m sure he could find a more rewarding gig in WTA or ATP.

    Quite a few players around 20 + promised a lot and haven’t delivered – in that they should be having good results on a consistent basis. Aryna failed in doubles at RG as well.

    There’s no cemented Top 3 in the women’s game at present so plenty of opportunities. Maybe, as Becker says, it’s a question of ‘quality and attitude’. Or do younger players get rewarded too much too soon ?

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 11, 2019 at 9:47 am

    Agree Hartt, Nick has again drifted off to irrelevance after teasing everyone with the title. He’s just not mentally built for the pro tennis tour but he can play incredible tennis sometimes.

  • catherine · June 11, 2019 at 9:52 am

    Sorry – Destinee Aiva. And Aryna served 11 dfs. Which is better than 14 I suppose but not much.

    Re Nick – his girlfriend is going to end up Top 10 as he drops out of top 100 at this rate.

  • catherine · June 11, 2019 at 10:02 am

    Sabalenka 113 dfs in her last 15 matches. From the bits I saw of this match it seems Aryna has forgotten how to play – slow around the court, no anticipation, hesistant shot making. Take a year off. Go back to school. Play football. Anything.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 11, 2019 at 10:11 am

    Whoa, just got a scoop via phone call from an insider about the real reason Osaka dismissed Bajin. Will drop it later.

  • catherine · June 11, 2019 at 11:10 am

    Why wait for later Scoop ? Don’t be a tease. I’m going to Google it anyway. If this ‘insider’ knows why doesn’t everyone ? You’d better check it’s not libellous 🙂

  • Hartt · June 11, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    FAA beat Gulbis in SS, 7-5, 6-3, in Stuttgart. I know winning against Gulbis isn’t a big deal, but this is FAA’s first grass match at the Tour level. The last time he played on grass at all was the junior Wimby tourney in 2016.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 11, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    Catherine, you know there are levels of the secrets in pro tennis. The media is well outside the inner core of the sport. The inside information comes from the insiders who are connected to the players (coaches, hitting partners, friends) which the vast majority of the media are not.

  • catherine · June 11, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    Yes, but some of these insiders relay so-called secrets because they want to be seen as important and having access to the players. I know this because a US photographer was a friend of mine and told me some stories – a few had basis in truth, a few were known anyway and most were simply fiction. There’s a rumour been going around for years about a very famous player and every time I hear it I just laugh.

    If the Naomi story is true, and not actionable, then there’s no reason we shouldn’t all hear it. It’s just news, and getting pretty old now.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 11, 2019 at 12:52 pm

  • Doug Day · June 14, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    Scoop is there a good YouTube match, highlights or recap that you’d recommend on Lawnmower Man?

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 14, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    Double D, I like the comeback vs Federer from two sets in Davis Cup in Australia. The Davis Cup match vs Ferrero in Spain. The Davis Cup match vs Coria on grass in Australia. The WTF match vs Ferrero. The Miami Open QF vs Safin.

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