TENNIS US OPEN – Most of the players in today’s game don’t have anything to fall back on when their groundstrokes aren’t producing positive results. They don’t have the luxury of an efficient alternative. They don’t have a proficient net game. By James Beck
Most of the players in today’s game don’t have anything to fall back on when their groundstrokes aren’t producing positive results.
They don’t have the luxury of an efficient alternative. They don’t have a proficient net game.
Roger Federer is an aberration in today’s game. He has an excellent net game that most of the time these late days in his legendary career produce positive results.
But when a big hitter and server such as Marin Cilic is “on”, there is no answer, even for a player of Federer’s skills. Cilic simply hits the ball too big for Federer to get to the net. At least, that was the way things went in Saturday’s semifinals when Cilic posted a dominant straight-set victory over Federer.
Saturday Was An Anomaly
Federer does have the alternative of going to the net. Saturday was just an anomaly. The old Cilic would never have rolled past Federer with such ease.
Most players are stuck on the baseline. When confronted with another talented baseliner, their only alternative is to hit bigger and bigger . . . and to go for more lines. That’s a perfect recipe for sporadicity.
The situation can get bleaker and bleaker for a baseliner on those days. Balls fly off the court at an alarming rate.
And even worse, fans become disenchanted with the match and head for the refreshment stands — a more predictable alternative.
That’s the dilemma that the tennis hierarchy is currently facing in a day when some players are near giant-size and rackets may be too potent.
Tennis Wouldn’t Consider Reducing Court Size?
Reducing the court size slightly might help, giving volleyers less space to cover at the net. Or taking the lines out of play, taking that target away from the big hitters.
I know this is wild thinking. Tennis would never change the size of the courts. Right?
If more Stefan Edbergs or Pete Samprases don’t come along soon, the men’s game may be headed out of control.
Thankfully, Federer and Edberg have teamed up to keep the hope alive for a return to viable net solutions.
Don’t Forget Becker Is Djokovic’s Coach
If only coach Boris Becker, one of tennis’ most reckless net-rushers ever (right up there with Pat Rafter), can get through to Novak Djokovic. With his quickness and big serve, Djokovic would be a natural serve-and-volleyer in the second part of his career.
After Saturday’s drilling by Kei Nishikori, Novak might be more receptive to such thinking.
As a result of what happened Saturday in Arthur Ashe Stadium, it will be extremely interesting to see what happens when the players show up in Australia in January.
Will the game change? That’s almost a certainty with the new wave of Grand Slam champions — Stan Wawrinka and either Nishikori or Cilic.
Federer Beat-Down Sends Out Alarms
Federer is growing older, and even though he may be playing the best tennis of his career, the beat-down by Cilic is sure to send out some alarms for the game.
There shouldn’t be as much concern for Djokovic’s camp. The Serbian wonder may just have been a victim of the heat Saturday, even more so than being victimized by Nishikori’s quickness, serving game and harnessed power from the baseline.
And Rafa Nadal should be back in January at the site of where his back injury against Wawrinka may have changed the course of Grand Slam title history.
James Beck is the long-time tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper. He can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com
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Grigor Dimitrov – ‘Tennis Is A Microscopic Thing In The World Right Now’
The world No.19 speaks out about how he is coping during the tour suspension.
Former grand slam semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov has become the latest player to urge the governing bodies of tennis to make a united decision regarding when play will resume again.
The ATP and WTA Tours are currently suspended until June due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although it is likely that the suspension will be extended further with rumours that Wimbledon will be cancelled for the first time since the second world war later this week. Dimitrov’s last tournament was at the Acapulco Open in Mexico, where he reached the semi-finals before losing in straight sets to eventual champion Rafael Nadal.
“Tennis is a microscopic thing in the world right now. The ATP supervisors I’ve talked to in recent days have a variety of theories, but for the time being, we can really only guess if we’re being honest.” Tenniskafe quoted Dimitrov as saying during an interview with bTV.
“The tournaments are cancelled, but we have a big luxury in tennis – there is always next week. Yes, it is very difficult right now, you have seen the Olympics cancelled. The only thing that is at the forefront is to go through this situation we are in, and then start rebuilding. “
The world No.19 is currently residing in California during the lockdown. Describing the situation where he is as ‘more casual’ compared to other parts of the world. California is where the Indian Wells tennis tournament was set to take place earlier this month before it was cancelled.
“In my opinion all federations and players, no matter what rank they are, must come together and make a general decision. Because it’s really not easy at the moment to talk to everyone about points, tournaments, competitions … But now other things are really more important – to be safe, to be healthy and to go through this thing.” He said.
During the suspension, the 28-year-old is keeping himself busy in other ways. Recently he has signed up for an online course with Harvard Business School. Becoming the latest of a series of players to do so. He also manages to keep in touch with his fellow rivals on the tour thanks to the world of social media.
“One of the first players I wrote to was Fabio (Fognini) because he was in Italy. Everyone is on Instagram, we know everyone what they do every minute.”
When the restrictions related to the pandemic comes to an end, Dimitrov has vowed to return back to Europe as he outlines the first thing he would do.
“I just want to go back to Europe. Whether it will be in Bulgaria or in Monaco – I do not know. I certainly want to go home, gather all my relatives and just spend time together. I’ve been in the US for over a month now. As things currently look, there will certainly be another two months. Hopefully it will be faster, but I just want to go home and be with my loved ones.” He concluded.
In the fight against Covid-19 in his home country, Dimitrov has made a donation to a hospital in Haskovo. The city where he was born.
Dimitrov has started the 2020 season with a win-loss record of 7-5. Besides his run to the semifinals in Acapulco, he also reached the second round at the Australian Open and Rotterdam. He has been ranked as high as third in the world.
Tennis Could Be Suspended For ‘A Long Time,’ Warns Millman
The top 50 player isn’t expecting to play on the tour anytime soon.
Australian player John Millman has indicated that he believes the current suspension of the ATP Tour is all but certain to be extended in the coming weeks.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, both the ATP and WTA Tour have been suspended until at least June 8th. Although those in change of both of those governing bodies have previously admitted they are uncertain as to when play will resume. ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi has said that ‘it is unknown at this time’ as to when men’s tournaments will resume. Meanwhile, Steve Simon has echoed a similar view during an interview with The Tennis Channel.
Speaking about the current situation, world No.43 Millman said the sport is in a difficult situation due to its global reach with both tournaments and players based around the world. For example the Australian started his season by playing four tournaments in four different countries across three continents within five weeks.
“We’re going to have to be pretty unified in terms of our recovery process before the tour can resume,” Millman told The Age.
“Maybe the tournament location has got the COVID-19 situation under wraps and then manage to contain it, but if someone’s flying in from South America, say, and their country hasn’t got a hold of it, then the tournament can’t (go ahead).
“You can’t have the tournament going when only certain players can get there. I think that’s
where the problems lie.”
The 30-year-old didn’t speculate as to when he and his rivals will be returning to the court, but believes it could be a while. During the coming week the fate of Wimbledon will be decided at an emergency meeting. The All England Club is pondering the motion of cancelling this year’s tournament. A move that has never been taken during peacetime. Wimbledon has been scrapped a total of 10 times during the first and second world wars.
“It’s almost like we have to have a vaccine or the virus has to run its course before there’ll be any let-up there.” Millman commented.
Besides trying to maintain fitness, many players like Millman are in a difficult situation financially due to a lack of income. He has managed to earn $290,705 on the tour this year before the suspension. This is the 44th highest total on the men’s tour. In total, 131 players have surpassed the $100,000 mark. Although the earnings don’t take into account travel costs, coaching, accommodation and so on.
“I just can’t see us playing tennis for a long time and now it’s a matter of trying to stay (the) fight, trying to scrape by a little bit while not much is coming in,” he said.
“You’re used to a bit of money coming in and obviously that’s not the case anymore. Yeah, it’s tough. It’s just not easy. You try and make do.
“But I don’t want to be a sob story, that’s for sure, because I know Australians are doing it a lot tougher than me.”
Millman reached the third round of the Australian Open earlier this year before losing to Roger Federer in a five-set thriller.
Jamie Murray Speaks Out On Wimbledon Dilemma
The two-time mixed doubles champion shares his thoughts about the current situation and the problems that could arise.
Former world No.1 doubles player Jamie Murray says he is unsure how much longer Wimbledon can be delayed this season ahead of a crucial meeting on its future next week.
The All England Club is set to hold an emergency meeting to make a final decision as to what to do with this year’s tournament. Including the possibility of cancelling the event for the first time since 1945. The tennis calendar has been brought to a standstill due to the covid-19 pandemic. There have been more than 500,000 cases of Coronavirus worldwide, according to John Hopkins University.
Speaking about Wimbledon’s potential decision during an interview with BBC Scotland’s The Nine, Murray admits that organisers face a difficult decision. Saying it would pose as a big challenge for them to reschedule the event. Both the ATP and WTA are currently reviewing their calendars with the French Open now taking place a week after the US Open.
“I don’t know how long they could push it back,” said Murray.
“They’re desperate to have their event on, it’s still over three months away and a lot can change in that time,” he added.
Murray has featured in the doubles main draw at Wimbledon every year since his debut back in 2006. He has won the Mixed doubles trophy twice in 2007 (with Jelena Jankovic) and 2017 (with Martina Hingis). The 34-year-old currently has a doubles ranking of 34th.
“For them, optics don’t necessarily look great, I guess, if there’s sporting events all over the world getting cancelled and they’re trying to crack on with things.” He commented on the scheduling difficulties.
“There’s a lot of other stakeholders, a lot of other tournaments to consider. Even things like daylight for the tournament. Once the tournament gets put back, there’s less and less daylight. When you play at Wimbledon normally, you can play until 10 at night.”
The UK is currently in a lockdown with members of the public only allowed to leave their houses for specific reasons. Furthermore, 1.5 million people have been advised to self-isolate for 12 weeks. The government is hopeful that they can flatten the spread of the disease within this period, which is extremely close to the Wimbledon start date.
According to AFP News, any decision to scrap this year’s tournament is likely to have a massive financial impact. Between 2017-2018 Wimbledon made an estimated pre-tax profit of $52 million with over 90% of that invested back into British tennis. Furthermore, the BBC could also suffer a big blow. It is reported that the broadcaster pays in the region of $72 million for the TV rights.
It is unclear as to what day the decision will be made next week. Since its creation in 1877, Wimbledon has been cancelled a total of 10 times before. All of which happened during the first world war (1915-1918) and second (1940-1945). The event has never been delayed or scrapped during peacetime.
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