US Open: Balance Of Power Shifting?

This has been a dream US Open for tennis fans, a perfect mixture of tennis entertainment featuring homage to the all time greats, electrifying displays by teen talent, success by some talented bad boys and the sudden emergence of some familiar faces who paid there dues but have no Grand Slam success to show for it.

Last night was the shocker of all shocks, as Grigor Dimitrov dismissed one of the chief tormentors of his disappointing career, Roger Federer in five sets. Somehow Dimitrov summoned the best performance of his career, escaping a two set to one deficit to vanquish Federer with superior play. Just a month ago Dimitrov was losing in Atlanta to sub journeyman Kevin King.

Daniil Medvedev gave another tennis lesson yesterday, showing three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka a display of tennis that has befuddled just about everyone in the ATP this year. Wawrinka had blitzed world no. 1 Novak Djokovic in the round of 16 but he had no answers for Medvedev’s mastery. The Russian marvel will meet Dimitrov in the semifinals on Friday.

Another veteran familiar face is also knocking on the door of capturing his first major. Gael Monfils has streaked through the draw and only Matteo Berrettini stands between him and a semi date with the Rafa Nadal-Diego Schwartzman winner (Nadal leads head to head 7-0, Monfils and Berrettini have not played).

Serena Williams devastated poor Qiang Wang 60 61 for a semi date with Elina Svitolina. Two more womens quarterfinals will be decided today, Bencic vs Vekic and Andreescu vs Mertens.

Nadal has looked in peak form this tournament but if he falters, we will see the most unexpected winner of a major since perhaps Thomas Johansson won Australia in 2002 or unseeded Gustavo Kuerten winning Roland Garros in 1997.

If Nadal can’t finish the job in Flushing Meadows, one of either Dimitrov, Berrettini, Monfils or Schwartzman will win the US Open.

If any of those players wins the title, just imagine all the other players who will receive a new sudden jolt of self belief and “Well if he can do it, so can I.”

And nothing would spark a shift in the balance of power of the ATP then a shocking upset victory on Sunday.

But of course, one rather formidable man stands in the way. And the muscular Spanish leftander will surely do everything in his power to keep the dreamers in their dungeons of Grand Slam failure.

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  • Scoop Malinowski · September 4, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    Is it possible Federer faked the injury last night? In a desperate attempt to ice Dimitrov who was playing out of his mind. We saw Wozniacki do it in her AO final win. We saw Rafa do it to Petzschner at Wimbledon down two sets to one. We saw it countless times and it works. Is it possible the great Roger Federer faked the injury last night when he was losing and losing control of the match and Dimitrov was fighting back with a fury? If it’s not possible please explain why.

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

    Does Dimitrov’s sudden resurgence WITHOUT Agassi or Stepanek present, prove they failed miserably to spark Dimitrov with their tutelage and advice and him standing on his own and without their support is the key to this success?

  • catherine · September 4, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    Scoop – you’ve got faking injuries on the brain. It’s possible, even probable, that Federer’s back is giving him trouble at 38 years old and in a tough match he’s going to feel it. Anyway Dimitrov won so fake or no fake, it didn’t work.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 4, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    Ok Catherine, thanks for clarifying that Federer would never and will never fake any kind of injury when he’s losing to try to turn the match around by freezing the opponent and halting his momentum. I will never again question the authenticity of a player’s injury when they begin to lose a match. All injuries are 100% real and no pro player would ever dare to fake anything. Pro tennis is 100% honest, there is no such thing as deception or gamesmanship. When John McEnroe said, “It’s been scientifically proven everything hurts a little more when you’re losing” he was lying. 🙂

  • catherine · September 4, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    I’m not saying no one ever fakes any injury – of course they do. I just think in this case Federer did have a back problem, he’s had it for a while, and Dimitrov was too good for him.

  • Leif Wellington Haase · September 4, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    I do think this tournament, in retrospect, will mark the beginning of the end for the “Big Three,” and possibly a swifter end than anyone might now envision. I think what we will see is an interregnum in men’s tennis similar to that at the turn of the century, after the end of the Sampras era and before Federer reestablished his dominance.

    Like most individual sports, and indeed quasi-individual sports like basketball and baseball, there are distinct and consecutive eras of dominance, generally marked by a turning point when the new champion crushes the previous one or slays a pretender. The US Open has been the scene of many such turning points (think Borg-McEnroe, or Sampras-Wilander).

    So to summarize modern men’s tennis history”

    1950s– Age of Gonzalez
    1960s– Age of Laver
    early 1970s– Age of Connors
    late 1970s– Age of Borg
    early 1980s– Age of McEnroe
    late 1980s– Age of Lendl
    1990s– Age of Sampras
    2000s– Age of Federer
    2010– Age of Djokovic
    (Nadal– historic wildcard, and possible GOAT)

    We are due for another cycle of tennis history, conveniently positioned for a new decade. There are as many as ten players who could come out on top (FAA being the best chance, but certainly not a sure bet) and Djokovic and Nadal will continue to contend on their best surfaces but I expect we’ll finally have a medley of slam winners, for two or three years, before one of the current group of teen to mid-20 players come to the fore. So long as tennis continues to play best of five Grand Slams the pattern of dominance will persist, since the pattern of small differences over time yielding consistent results will hold, while a shift to 2 out of 3 or more radical changes will yield more random results.

    Women’s tennis of course used to exhibit even less variability during the Court-King-Evert-Navratilova-Graf-Seles succession, but madman Guenter Parche shortened the Seles reign and Serena Williams took over earlier and stayed longer than would have been expected. I’ve been wondering for years whether Serena is really that good or the WTA field is that bad, and inconsistent, and the answer is yes. (Sorry)

    Scoop thinks that things are rarely what they seem. I think that things are almost always what they seem, except, of course, for retiring politicians wanting to spend more time with their families. Injuries in sports, even if magnified, tend to be real, and even if undisclosed tend to be obvious. Incompetence is usually a better explanation than conspiracy, the latter expressing a hope, in reverse, that the ship actually has a captain. To be sure, there is plenty of gamesmanship in every sport, and disarray that contributes to losing, but it tends to fall in the direction that things are already leaning.

  • Michael In the UK · September 4, 2019 at 4:35 pm

    Hi friends,

    This is relevant to the Medvedev/Kyrgios villain post recently.
    Marina Hyde is a brilliant and very funny (IMO) writer covering politics, media, and sport (usually football /soccer) at the UK newspaper the Guardian.
    I hope you enjoy this terrific piece.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 4, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    No back problem vs Goffin.

  • Hartt · September 4, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    The WTA site has an interesting interview with Bianca’s coach, Sylvain Bruneau.

    He talks about her competitive spirit, her variety of shots, her adaptability during a match, her preparation before a match, etc.

    “When she plays opponents who have won Grand Slams or are former No.1 in the world or high seeds and stuff like that, she really felt challenged by it,” he said. “She always looked at it as an opportunity, she was never sort of on her heels from it.

    “That goes with her DNA as a person, or as a player. She’s just wired this way.”

  • Andrew Miller · September 4, 2019 at 8:07 pm

    Best match? Berretini d. Monfils, 7-6 in fifth. Must have been the best match of the tournament. I thought it had the potential with two magicians out there!

  • Hartt · September 4, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    Monfils vs Shapo, which also went 5 sets, was terrific as well. Both players made so many great shots, so many entertaining points.

  • Harold · September 4, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    Maybe he faked the injury, maybe he didn’t. When do you think he started faking, when he touched his back walking back to the baseline? After the 4 th set. You only seem to mind gamesmanship when Federer is involved, otherwise you love it.

    These guys have seen every possible gamesmanship from the Juniors on, you think Dimitrov was shocked?

    Federer actually tapped Dimitrov ‘s chair on the way back, sheepishly, was that part of the fake out? Never saw another player do that..

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 4, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    Harold, why do you interpret that I am annoyed or offended by Federer possibly faking the injury. Merely suggesting what nobody else will dare to suggest. Federer may be the most clever and sophisticated injury faker of them all. Andreescu locked in at 1-1 in the third with Mertens but I just have no doubt Bibi will wrap this up. She finds a way.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 4, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    Hartt, translation of Bruneau’s words: “Bibi fears nothing or no one, she will go toe to toe with anyone, Serena included. This girl is absolutely fearless.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 4, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    Leif: “Things are not what they seem. Rare is the mind that can discern what is carefully concealed within.” – Phaedrus

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 4, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    Michael, nice article, focusing on the bad boy rebel theme that is a factoring element of this Open. And hopefully a new trend that is hatching.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 4, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    Andreescu breaks for 5-3. Knew it. She will serve it out. This girl is a machine. No fear. Natural born champion.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 4, 2019 at 9:31 pm

    Automatic Andreescu. Holds at 15 to advance to her first major semi. First of MANY.

  • Hartt · September 4, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    Catherine, Bianca’s pup, Coco, did watch the match. She had a great vantage point from Bianca’s mother’s lap. The wee dog is incredibly cute.

    I was worried about the match, especially when Mertens got off to such a strong start. But Bianca is one of those players who simply finds a way to win.

    I have no idea who will win the Bianca vs Belinda match, but it should be entertaining, with 2 good players who aren’t shy about showing how they feel on the court.

  • Jeff · September 4, 2019 at 10:19 pm

    I think it’s possible Federer faked and he’s not the only one.

    Coric clearly faked his injury because he hated his coach so much. That’s why he refused to play Dimitrov and fired his coach. It’s the only explanation.

    Kyrgios faked an injury to pull out of doubles. Also, in case you missed it, he made fun of Djokovic threatening that fan saying he wouldn’t be scared. Between you and me, I wouldn’t be scared of Kyrgios in a fight one bit. But Djokovic is a Serb and they can be crazy.

    His buddy Kokkanakis faked an injury so not to get beat down by Nadal. We know Kokkanakis often fakes injuries being pals with Nick.

    Gilles Simon faked an injury versus Rublev. He is too savvy a veteran to pull out.

    So there are many instances in the Open of this happening. Did Roger? I wish some brave reporter had asked him so we could learn the truth once and for all.

  • Jeff · September 4, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    One more note – the defending champion Jack Sock has been knocked out of the US Open by the British Skupski and Murray. Sock is out in a stunning surprise and will not defend his crown.

  • Hartt · September 4, 2019 at 10:29 pm

    Some more of what Sylvain Bruneau had to say in the WTA article about Bianca.

    “And from a tactical side, Bruneau added, it’s a different challenge altogether. With an adaptable player who employs an all-court style of tennis, there are seemingly endless possibilities when preparing a strategy. And Andreescu, who in the past has talked about studying her upcoming opponents’ matches, has also proved quick to adapt her own game plan in tough matches.

    “It makes it fun in matches because you feel like your game plan can be very elaborate – like there is multi-angles that you can put into the match,” Bruneau explained. “You actually feel like you can go in her game and really pick things that can be really helpful. Because she’s basically, yeah, very able to adapt.

    “She likes to change it up and do different things and use the entire court and different angles and spins. She likes to see how her opponents are going to handle some of the shots she makes.”

  • Jeff · September 4, 2019 at 11:31 pm

    Bianca seems to have too much ‘tude to lose this now. We know that Serena faked an injury to avoid losing to her already. I think Serena may subconsciously tank against Svitolina so as not to lose another final and to a rising star like Andreescu. Especizlly knowing Bianca isn’t intimidated in the slightest.

    What is nice about Bianca is there is substance as well as a sideshow since she is quite obviously a legit contender for the throne. As opposed to a clown like Kyrgios who is 90 percent sideshow and 10 percent substance. He could learn some from Bianca.

    No doubt, she is a great champion in the making. One wonders how the Coco Gauff camp feels knowing they have a monster to contend with in Andreescu.

  • catherine · September 5, 2019 at 1:24 am

    Hartt -re interview with Bianca’s coach – similar to Tursunov’s interview when Sabalenka was flying high – and we know what happened next.

    Don’t seriously think Bianca will follow the same route but I wish the WTA wouldn’t jump the gun so often – tempting fate.

    Bianca’s real coach is Coco Andreescu.

  • Andrew Miller · September 5, 2019 at 10:14 am

    Let’s compare Gauff with Andreescu…especially before the fifteen year old has earned the comparison.

    Let’s not. Let’s wait until the kid has some results to speak of.

  • Andrew Miller · September 5, 2019 at 10:21 am

    Federer definitely faked it. I mean we should just swallow every whale of a rumor. Why not? Why not make stuff up?

    I mean I’ll just go ahead and do that. Here, Gauff is the best player in the world because she’s fifteen.

    More where that came from.

    Kosakowski should be top five. Because he has a great backhand and anyone that disagrees is wrong

    Mandy Minella should be top ten because she’s beautiful. Opponents should lose playing against Helen of Troy.

    Connors would have won fifty slams if he were playing today. In fact if he nupes it, he’ll win the US Open with one hand tied behind his back.

    Hope you all enjoyed this. I completely discourage indulging reckless speculation.

    I’m sure Federer is ailing, and I’m sure Dimitrov forced him to feel awful, just as Agassi and Baghdatis put each other in the hospital in 2006 after their epic yet awful match at the US Open.

    Dimitrov earned it and Federer also got hurt. This is sports and both things happen.

  • Andrew Miller · September 5, 2019 at 10:22 am

    Biana will have an IG and go all Bouch on us. She’ll go from top five to top one thousand and five.

  • Andrew Miller · September 5, 2019 at 10:25 am

    No such thing as a natural born champion. She is winning it on her racquet and some excellent work done at an early age. Her game is lethal by design. She’s mentally up for it now. We’ll see how it goes.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 5, 2019 at 10:25 am

    In Federer’s press conference after the match he revealed that Dimitrov played better this time compared to all the other times, he mixed up his shots and speeds and Roger said he never felt comfortable out there because of the new way Dimitrov was playing. In that answer, there was no mention of the (supposed) back injury.

    Q. What made him so difficult tonight, particularly against your serve?

    ROGER FEDERER: Well, I thought he was tough off the baseline. He mixed up well, which gave me all sorts of problems with the rhythm. Could never really feel comfortable off the baseline. That’s something in the past I’ve always been able to dominate, I’d say. That was not the case tonight. He did a good job there.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 5, 2019 at 10:28 am

    Dimitrov’s view of the match…

    Q. When he wins the first set, gets ahead, it’s so hard to come back and beat him. How do you stay in there, stay confident?

    GRIGOR DIMITROV: As I said, I knew what to do. I knew what to do. Also I know why I lost the first set. That doesn’t rattle me as much. Especially when I sat down on the changeover, I was definitely pissed because I had a few opportunities here and there. I wasn’t able to capitalize on that. I think I raised my bar a little bit of my movement. I kept him in the points quite a lot. Just kind of make him, I felt, a little uncomfortable. Start coming in, using a few dropshots. I clearly had to change up something in order to see where he’s at. Yeah, I think the percentage of the first serve went up, as well. That helps a lot against him. The decision making of my shots was really good. I’m really, really happy with that one today.

  • Andrew Miller · September 5, 2019 at 10:32 am

    Federer doesn’t fake these things. These guys go down swinging. Djokovic spared himself because he didn’t want to risk further injury – he said I will congratulate the winner, who won fair and square, and I am also hurt.

    Not sure why this blog has gone all conspiratorial.

    Hey the big four colluded to make opponents feel they could win…until Nadal showed them to dream on…and it was all planned. I have the evidence here on this well I don’t have the evidence but isn’t it odd they all either didn’t play this tournament or all fell except Nadal by the quarters………

    Sheesh. Can we not do this? Please. If you really want to go full speculative on everything make TP a betting site and we’ll see how well all this comes out.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 5, 2019 at 10:32 am

    Andrew, what I mean by Natural Born Champion, is she has gotten to the top echelon in tennis and she is naturally comfortable there and even thrives in the situation, plays her best tennis when the stakes are highest. She is completely comfortable on the court and off it. No interview question, no shot from any top opponent, nothing is bothering her. She’s loving every minute of it. She is in uncharted new territory as a young player and she’s not choking or cracking under the pressure. Like many young phenoms do the first time they get to a major QF or SF. Or in there first final in their home country against the GOAT Serena. It’s very unusual and special how well Andreescu is handling this US Open experience. She’s loving every moment. Reminds me of young Seles, young Rafa…natural born champions.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 5, 2019 at 10:36 am

    Citing injury to rationalize a loss happens a lot in tennis. Henin vs Mauresmo. Rafa vs Wawrinka, Petszchner. Wally Masur quote: “Tennis players, and I guess this goes for a lot of sportsmen…they cocoon themselves with excuses, lies, fabrications to protect their ego…”

  • catherine · September 5, 2019 at 10:42 am

    Andrew – Coco Andreescu is Bianca’s dog. Thoughyt there might be some confusion there.

  • Andrew Miller · September 5, 2019 at 10:43 am

    Federer did look slightly worse. More stuff. But he didn’t lose because he was injured. He lost because Dimitrov won.

    Federer said this too. So let’s not go all crazy. Dimitrov played beautifully. When he made De Minaur look young and clueless, that was a sign Dimitrov wants a good tournament.

    Dimitrov literally sent De Minaur back to the minors.

  • Andrew Miller · September 5, 2019 at 10:44 am

    Sorry about the Coco Confusion and my outburst.

  • Andrew Miller · September 5, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Scoop, if Bianca wins she gets the slam champ stamp and is a shoe in for Hall of Fame. If she never does a thing in the sport ever again that’s all that’s needed.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 5, 2019 at 11:08 am

    Maybe Federer is 38 and losing that fraction of reflexes and timing and bounce back after long physical points. Dimitrov may have wanted it more too.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 5, 2019 at 11:10 am

    Coco the dog is the new star Coco of the Open. Coco Gauff has competition now.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 5, 2019 at 11:11 am

    Chang and Sabatini only won one major and got in the Hall of Fame. But if Andreescu wins this Open, I’m 100% sure she will win more, many more. She moves too well, hits too hard, too many weapons. I see her becoming a great champion with her best glories ahead.

  • Hartt · September 5, 2019 at 11:51 am

    On Match Point Canada they gave the stats for all of Bianca’s matches this year, including Fed Cup and the 125K Newport Beach tourney that she won. Her overall win-loss record is 45-4. Simply amazing.

  • catherine · September 5, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Even if Bianca doesn’t win this year, and there’s a chance she won’t, I think it will be a loss to inspire her.She doesn’t strike me as a girl who’s going to get a swollen head and carry on about being the GOAT. I believe her when she says she’s grateful for every win she has. Her history of injuries has left a mark on her – she’s humble and she knows life as an athlete can be unexpectedly cut short.

  • Hartt · September 5, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    In a way, I think it is good that Bianca was a bit older when she had her breakthrough. And she has faced some tough situations in addition to the injuries.

    I remember a few years ago, when she would have been around Gauff’s age, she won all her Fed Cup matches in zonal play in Mexico, where they play one match on top of another against a variety of countries. Pretty much on her own she got Canada back into the main Fed Cup group.

    Then in a Fed Cup match in Canada last year, when she had to fill in for Abanda at the very last minute, so had no preparation she ended up cramping so badly she left the court in tears in a wheelchair. She wasn’t able to play singles the next day, but she did manage doubles, and she and Dabrowski defeated an excellent doubles team to secure the tie for Canada.

    Bianca Andreescu is one tough young woman.

  • Andrew Miller · September 5, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    The big three guys want more majors. The price of wanting more majors after more than twenty years on tour and more than fifteen slams is injury. No one prepares for the next season as well as these three characters. Federer’s had an excellent year for anyone not named Federer and a better year than last year.

    I’m not a huge club Fed fan, but he’s amazing. I’m sure if he gets his training he’ll be back for more. As long as he’s not sick of it and can make the semifinals or better at Wimbeldon he’ll be back.

  • Andrew Miller · September 5, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    I’ve lost count with 3 Coco’s. I always think first of Coco V.

  • catherine · September 5, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    Andrew – Gauff’s real name is Corri (sp ?) – don’t know why or when she emerged as Coco. Like you I first think of Coco V but my favourite Coco is the pup.

  • Hartt · September 5, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    Apparently Coco Gauff got her nickname because there was confusion with her father Corey and her name, Cori. She prefers Coco, so I guess that is how she will be known.

    If I am careful I remember to spell the original “CoCo,” so that differentiates the two.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 5, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    Coco The dog is having the last laugh, And the last Coco standing.



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