Cilic - Nishikori Final at 2014 US Open Shows Rough Road Ahead for Men's Tennis - UBITENNIS
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Cilic – Nishikori Final at 2014 US Open Shows Rough Road Ahead for Men's Tennis

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TENNIS US OPEN – They figured it out a long time ago in Hollywood and just across the river from here on Broadway: You need a star. You become a hit by selling entertainment, not Shakespeare. You become a hit by putting big names on the marquee. The final of the U.S. Open Monday night didn’t have those names. What it had was Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori. Art Spander for bleacherreport.com

 

US Open: All the interviews, results, draws and OoP

They figured it out a long time ago in Hollywood and just across the river from here on Broadway: You need a star. It didn’t really matter if a famous actor could act, only if he was famous.

Whether that was because of what he did on or off the screen was insignificant.

You become a hit by selling entertainment, not Shakespeare. You become a hit by putting big names on the marquee.

The final of the U.S. Open Monday night didn’t have those names. What it had was Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori.

They are talented, dedicated and successful. They aren’t much of an attraction, and they didn’t have much of a match. In only one hour and 54 minutes, Cilic crushed Nishikori 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

Arthur Ashe Stadium was sold out, but there were a good number of unfilled seats, with people choosing not attend when the matchup didn’t meet their standard. After all, this is New York—not Peoria, Illinois.

Sure, the match started at 5:08 p.m. ET. Sure, it was held on a Monday. Sure, the weather was cool and breezy. But you just know if Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic—or, best of all, both—had been playing, the place would have been filled.

The semifinals had the big guys, but the little guys—figuratively speaking, since Cilic is 6’5″—knocked them out. The reaction of some was, “Great.” But not from CBS-TV, which was showing the tournament one last time.

ESPN will cover the tournament starting next year.

We need new faces in tennis or golf, we’re told, but when the faces show up, the public does not—even if, in this case, most of the 24,000 seats at Ashe were sold out in advance.

A barometer for this one was the report in Bloomberg on Monday morning that a dip in secondary prices for tickets, the brokers, the scalpers “could lead to a quiet evening in the seats and among television viewership.”

That’s a kind way of saying, “If you haven’t unloaded your tickets by now, you’re going to take a bath.”

According to SeatGeek (via Newsday’s Neil Best), after Federer and Djokovic were upset in the Saturday semifinals, the price for resale tickets plummeted.

Ever check the covers of People or US Weekly, or the content of Entertainment Tonight or Inside Edition? They don’t attract attention with a story on some studio technician or production assistant. They feed us a diet of Jennifer Lawrence and George Clooney, Beyonce and Jay-Z.

A-listers make us turn the pages or pick up the remotes. Surprise finalists do not.

It’s not the fault of Cilic or Nishikori that they upset the big names. That’s sports. That’s also a possible box-office disaster.

Individual sports are the opposite of team sports, where people pull for the underdog—although they watch the games with top teams, such as Michigan, Alabama and Florida State.

Maybe someday, Cilic, who missed last year’s Open because of a drug suspension, will be as well-known as Rafa Nadal or Federer.

Cilic certainly can move a tennis ball (17 aces against Nishikori), but for the moment, he just doesn’t move the needle.

You want to know why ESPN is always showing Peyton Manning, Tony Romo or LeBron James? Because those players raise the ratings.

In team sports, at least, there’s a feeling of loyalty to the hometown 11 or the old school. It’s different for tennis and golf.

If Cilic or Nishikori were American, maybe more people other than the tennis purists would have taken note. But they’re not American, and that makes it even worse.

Federer has been so good for so long—although he’s 33 and in decline—he’s deservedly celebrated everywhere, transcending borders.

The guy in the stands and the woman in the streets want Federer to win the way they want Nadal and Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to win. They don’t want to ask, “Who’s he?”

Golf’s U.S. Open in June at Pinehurst, North Carolina, had the same trouble as tennis’ U.S. Open in September: A non-American, relative non-entity—Martin Kaymer—took the trophy. Two majors for Kaymer. No excitement about Kaymer.

Cilic, at No. 16, (seeded No. 14) is the lowest-ranked man to win the Open since Pete Sampras, ranked 17th in 2002. However, Cilic and Sampras are about as far apart as Croatia (Cilic’s home country) and California (Sampras’ residence).

Pete not only is a U.S. citizen, he had already won 15 Grand Slams previously.

The Australian Open this year had a surprise champion, Stan Wawrinka. The guy he beat, however, was hardly a surprise (Nadal). Then Nadal, as scripted, won the French, beating Djokovic. The Wimbledon final matched Djokovic against Federer. So far, so good. Glamour, glitz, greatness.

Djokovic is only 27, Nadal is 28 but frequently hurt. Who knows how long Federer can play at a high level?

The days of the Big Four—let’s throw in Andy Murray—may not be over, but they are slipping away. We’re probably headed for more of the new kids, or the kids who are almost new but hardly stars.

This is problematic for men’s tennis, as the U.S. Open showed that interest wanes considerably when the four players who have defined the era exit early.

The last Grand Slam of 2014 had everything it needed, until the final act. Would it be possible to shoot the scene again with another ending?

Article from bleacherreport.com

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‘He Did Everything I did, Only Better’ – Pat Rafter Names The Toughest Rival Of His Career

The two-time grand slam champion opens up about his toughest rivalry as he predicts a bleak outlook for the 2020 tennis season.

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Former world No.1 Pat Rafter has named an American tennis legend as the player who he struggled the most against throughout his professional career.

 

The 47-year-old was a star of Australian tennis during his playing days after achieving a series of milestones. His accolades include becoming the first player from his country in 28 years to reach the top of the ATP rankings in 1999 and becoming the first man to win the Rogers Cup, Cincinnati Masters and US Open within the same year. Rafter is also the last player outside of the Big Three to have won back-to-back US Open titles after triumphing in 1997 and 1998.

Despite his successes, there was one player that caused him difficulty. Rafter played Pete Sampras 16 times on the ATP Tour, but could only win four of those encounters. At one stage he lost to the 14-time grand slam champion eight times in a row.

“The toughest player I played against was definitely Pete Sampras – he did everything I did, only better.” Rafter told Eurosport.
“His record was the best so there’s no doubt about it Sampras the stand-out. I enjoyed playing Andre Agassi the most – I thought we had a really good battle, I really enjoyed playing him.”

The rivalry between the two was tense at times. Highlighted best by their encounter in the 1998 US Open semifinals. Sampras complained of a quadriceps injury following his loss to the Australian. Prompting Rafter to famously say ‘he’s becoming a bit of a crybaby.’ A few months before that comment, he admitted that his relationship with the American wasn’t solid by saying ‘We’re not the best of mates. I wouldn’t go out for a beer with him, put it that way.’

22 years on from the verbal exchange between the two, Rafter now describes it as a thing of the past. Insisting that his rival never took what he said to him ‘personally.’

“I can’t remember the exact words, but we had a run-in in Cincinnati one year – I probably told him to grow up.” He recounted.
“He cracked it when I beat him one time. But that was back in the old days, emotions were running high and don’t take it personally. It’s all good.”

No tennis in 2020

Besides reminiscing about his playing career with Eurosport, Rafter has also predicted a bleak outlook for this year’s tour. All professional tournaments have been suspended until July 13th due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For the first time since 1945 Wimbledon has been cancelled due to the situation.

Many are now speculating as to when it will be possible for the tour to resume. The US Open is still optimistic that they can hold their tournament as scheduled later this summer. Meanwhile, the French Open is set to be played during the later part of September. However, Rafter doubts that either of those tournaments will happen.

“No, I think this (the virus) is going to be around for a long time.” Rafter commented on the chances of the 2020 season resuming. “Until they get a vaccine I can’t see how anyone is going to be playing.’
“Personally, I think it’ll be like the flu and we’ll have to get used to it.”

Potentially one solution for the tournaments would be to host matches without spectators. In order to minimise the risk of the virus spreading. An approach that has already been taken by other sports such as football. However, Wimbledon refused to consider that option this year.

“I think they could. No spectators. Sure. No ball-boys – I’d love to see the players pick up the balls themselves!” he concluded.

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‘Don’t Be Afraid’ – Nick Kyrgios Offers Support To Those Struggling During Covid-19 Pandemic

The bad boy of tennis says he will support those in need by delivering essential supplies.

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Former top 20 player Nick Kyrgios has urged members of the public to reach out to him if they require any help during the covid-19 pandemic in a social media post.

 

The two-time grand slam quarter-finalist has offered to deliver food to those who are struggling during the current crises, which has suspended the ATP and WTA Tours until at least July. It is estimated by economists that more than 500,000 people in Kyrgios’ home country of Australia will lose their jobs due to the outbreak. There have been more than one million cases of the coronavirus worldwide with many countries currently placed in a lockdown in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.

‘If ANYONE is not working/not getting an income and runs out of food, or times are just tough… please don’t go to sleep with an empty stomach,’ Kyrgios wrote on Instagram.
‘Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to send me a private message. I will be more than happy to share whatever I have.
‘Even just for a box of noodles, a loaf of bread or some milk. I will drop it off at your doorstep, no questions asked.’

In Australia there have been 5687 cases of Coronavirus as of Sunday which has resulted in 34 deaths. This is according to figures provided by chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy.

It is not the first time Kyrgios has offered to support those in need. Earlier this year he was an instrumental figure in helping raising money for the Australian bushfire appeal. Donating AUS$200 for every ace produced during the first month of the season and participating in a series of exhibition matches. According to 7 News, Kyrgios raised in the region of AUS$100,000 for the bushfire fund.

Kyrgios is currently ranked 40th in the world and has won six out of his nine matches played earlier this season. At the Australian Open he reached the fourth round before falling in four sets to Rafael Nadal.

 

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Diego Schwartzman On Playing The Big Three And Who He Believes Is The Best

The top-20 player pays tribute to the three tennis legends as he cast his vote in the greatest of all time debate.

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When it comes to taking on the Big Three in tennis, Diego Schwartzman is perhaps one of the best players to provide an insight into how frustrating it can be.

 

The Argentine world No.13 has played a member of the illustrious trio no less than 18 times in his career, but is yet to gain a single victory to his name. Consisting of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the big three have dominated men’s tennis in recent years. Between them, they have won the last 13 grand slams and at least one of them has featured in 58 out of the past 60 major finals. Since February 2004, Andy Murray is the only player outside of the group to have held the No.1 position.

Schwzrtman’s record against the big guns has seen him lose to Nadal nine times as well as succumbing to both Djokovic and Federer on four occasions. Nevertheless, the three-time grand slam quarter-finalist isn’t bitter as he hails their achievements in the sport.

“Against Nadal you always come in hope of giving him a fight on any day and on any surface, but you quickly realize that it is almost impossible to defeat him.” Schwartzman said during an Instagram live chat with journalist Danny Miche.
“Djokovic makes me feel that in the second game of service I no longer have lungs. It’s unbelievable.’
“Federer gives you more air (time), but you don’t seem to know how to play tennis. It’s amazing how he hits the ball.’
“The three are unbelievable, in different ways.”

There is also the ongoing debate as to who should be named the greatest of all time. Each player has their own credentials. Federer currently has the all-time lead for most grand slam titles at 20. Nadal has won more ATP tournaments on the clay than any other player in history. Meanwhile, current world No.1 Djokovic has won more prize money in the sport than any other player – male or female.

Weighing on the debate, Schwartzman has given the edge to Djokovic. Prior to the suspension of the tour due to covid-19, Djokovic started 2020 by winning 18 matches in a row. Claiming titles at the ATP Cup, Australian Open and Dubai Tennis Championships.

“At his best, Djokovic has beaten Rafael Nadal many times on the clay and Roger Federer many times on the grass. So maybe I would say that he is slightly above the other two.” He explained.
“Let’s see if you can reach the records, now it was packed and saw that pace being broken. But Djokovic knows that he has to keep the level, because if he doesn’t win he will win the other two.”

Schwartzman started the year by winning nine out of 14 matches played. His best performance of the season so far took place on home territory when he reached the final of the Cordoba Open before losing to Christian Garin.

The Big Three head-to-head

Djokovic

Nadal

Federer

Djokovic

N/A

29-26

27-23

Nadal

26-29

N/A

24-16

Federer

23-27

16-26

N/A

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