Well, for those of us who have been watching the round robin portion of the singles tournament, there have been a lot more bagels and breadsticks than we anticipated or, in all honesty, wanted. But, after a topsy-turvy year, the four semifinalists advancing to Saturday’s semifinals are excellent ambassadors for the year that’s been. Needless to say, we’re hoping the matches prove to be much more competitive than the thrashings that took place in the round robin portion of the tournament. We’ve had enough breadsticks and bagels to last us a while.
Tag Archives: Novak Djokovic
If you blinked, you may have missed the first round matches in the ATP’s World Tour Finals in London. While the run-up to London had an exciting race to find out who would qualify, the first two days have reflected the general tale of the ATP these days: predictable wins for the top players. While not competitive, per se, the matches certainly were illustrative of the ATP’s 2014 storylines.
The crowds at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center have thinned out, from the masses that rushed in at the end of August. Today, two very familiar names left the grounds, not to return until next year: Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.
Expected to reach the final, as they or Rafael Nadal had for every single Grand Slam tournament since the 2005 Australian Open, Federer and Djokovic ran into two younger players who were able to break the stranglehold of the Big Three on the big prizes of the sport. A lot has been made of the fact that this is the first time that none of the Big Three will contend for a Grand Slam title in nearly a decade, and rightly so. In January 2005, Rafael Nadal had not won a single French Open title, Novak Djokovic had not made it past the third round of a major, and Roger Federer had only won four of his 17 Grand Slam titles.
In reality, at the time of the 2005 Australian Open, the Big Three were more like that talented Swiss guy with the weird hairdo who’s played well for a year or two, a promising Spanish teenager who had beaten Federer and Roddick once, and that funny Serbian kid. How times have changed.
With one 2010 decision, LeBron James chose the certainty of winning championships, but lost the love of his hometown fans and the respect of many others who follow the NBA. The decision he made on Friday, however, reveals that, having won his rings, LeBron now wants to be loved.
Cynics may note that, even with every advantage in place, King James ended up losing half of the finals he was in while in Miami. They may add that, as he approaches 30, his chance of winning as many championships as Jordan, Magic or Russell were rapidly dwindling, and that this return of the prodigal son was a deft way of lowering expectations and changing the metrics by which his career and legacy would be measured.
But, aside from the decreased presence of Andy Murray and Serena Williams courtside in Miami, what does The Second Decision have to do with tennis? It’s true that top tennis players these days don’t have to deal with teams, free agency, or deciding where to take their talents. However, they are not immune to the basic human desire that Lebron showed the world on Friday: they want to be loved.
Even in defeat, Roger Federer roars back.
Aside from a few shanked balls at 4-5 in the fifth set during Sunday’s final, Roger Federer is right where he wants to be. True, the disappointment of failing to win the Wimbledon title was subtly etched on his face as he held his runner-up trophy and waved to his daughters. And, a stuffy nose at his runner up press conference betrayed a possible post-match cry. But, after the match, Federer, ever the realist, noted:
“I already have seven. It’s not like I need another one.”
Skeptics may point to this as a sign of Federer’s lack of grace in defeat, though his full statements demonstrated his respect for his opponent and the quality of the match. But, make no mistake, in the midst of answering the expected questions regarding the loss, his ability to win another Slam, and his future, Federer made his message clear: I don’t need your pity. I didn’t need this title to solidify my place in tennis history. And I’m not going anywhere.
In a sport that famously lacks an offseason, today is one of the few days in the year where the tennis world stops to take its collective breath. Like many of us, who are now tethered to work wherever we go, today’s tennis players spend much of the rest of the year training, playing matches, and traveling. Today, however, the players still in the Wimbledon draw will be forced to take a small break from the grind, and to reflect on the first week of the tournament – and the first half of 2014, while looking forward to their second week matches and their goals for the rest of the year.
Wimbledon is the perfect time and place for this forced break. Unlike the other majors, where players are housed in hotels, Wimbledon presents players with an opportunity to rent homes in the village, perfect for group dinners (Rafa’s pasta with prawns has been well documented on the Internet), Wii competitions, and a relaxed “home” atmosphere that is a rare luxury on the tour. In addition, the middle Sunday falls at the halfway point of the calendar year, and between the grueling clay and hard court seasons, where the majority of titles and points are won and lost.
Whether it’s Serena-Sloane or McEnroe-Connors, tennis feuds have always gotten a lot of attention – maybe too much. While some players like Maria Sharapova take a strictly business approach, and don’t look to make friends on the tennis tour, like the rest of us, many others enjoy friendships with their co-workers. So, let’s count down our favorite friendships on the ATP and WTA tours these days.