Djokovic’s Bad Back Sends Argentina to Spain for December Davis Cup Final
by Sean Randall | September 18th, 2011, 2:34 pm
  • 42 Comments

Novak Djokovic’s body is starting to break down. Playing in a critical fourth rubber today against Argentina, Djokovic was forced to retire down a set and a break to Juan Martin Del Potro.

On a game point that would give Del Potro a 3-0 lead in the second set, Djokovic fell in pain after hitting a forehand. A teary-looking Serb retired minutes later as trainers applied ice to a back injury Djokovic said he first felt at the start of the US Open.

“The injury I carried since the US Open actually,” Djokovic said. “And I felt it at the start of the tournament and then elevated throughout the tournament, match-to-match. I felt quite sharp pain in the finals, luckily for me I managed to hold on and survive that fourth set and win the tournament.

“I was aware of my condition and I came here quite late and I wasn’t able to get ready. Definitely wasn’t physically ready.”

“I had the support of my team, I had the support of my national captain and they all felt that I could go out on the court with maybe 50-60% and play better than Viktor at this moment,” he said. “But it wasn’t the case.”

“I feel very disappointed to end the tie in this way, I tried although I was only 60 percent fit and I got into the match knowing there was a risk of aggravating the injury which I first felt at the U.S. Open,” Djokovic said.

Credit to Del Potro and Argentina, but it was a big blow to Serbia not having a 100% Djokovic.

“I am not saying I would have won if I had been 100 percent fit because Del Potro played at a very high level today and never in my professional career did I struggle with my return of serve as I did today,” Djokovic said. “The important thing now is to determine the extent of my injury and how long it will take me to recover, I was able to battle through the pain in the U.S. Open final but not today.”

So Novak had the injury during the US Open, but still managed to beat Nadal in that incredible final. Crazy. I know Djokovic really wants to do well for his country but after the season he’s had he really needs to take some time off and heal. With the way the tennis calender is set up, there’s little time to nurse injuries and get right, and before you know it’s the Australian Open.

And is 60% Djokovic really better than 100% Troicki?

As for the Davis Cup, Serbia’s setback still gives us a decent finale as Spain will host Argentina in December.

Unlike Djokovic, Nadal showed no signs of fatigue and in fact maybe displayed some anger as he ripped both Richard Gasquet and today JW Tsonga to put Spain back in the final, likely on clay but maybe grass??

Off the court, feeding off his US Open rant, Rafa has remained vocal on his dissatisfaction on the way pro tennis does business. With Djokovic’s injury and the rigorous schedules, I’m sure we’ll be hearing much more on this subject this fall.

And in Australia, Stan Wawrinka and Switzerland will have a full 24 hours to sleep on one service game. That’s because the deciding 5th rubber between Wawrinka and Hewitt was stopped because of darkness with Stan serving 5-3 in the fifth set. What a time to stop.


Also Check Out:
Nadal Leads Spain In Search Of Fifth Davis Cup Title This Weekend
Federer v Nadal in 1st Rd of 2010 Davis Cup
Spain, Stepanek-led Czech Republic Advance to 2009 Davis Cup Final
Nadal Leads Spain Against U.S. in Davis Cup; Del Potro, Argentina Host Russia
Nalbandian, Argentina Close in on First Davis Cup Title; Roddick Hires a Coach

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42 Comments for Djokovic’s Bad Back Sends Argentina to Spain for December Davis Cup Final

alison hodge Says:

congrats to argentina and delpo on reaching the davis cup final,im so looking forward to a delpo rafa clash,so sorry for nole i wonder if such a fabulous run is now begining to takes its tole on his body,he needs the rest hes in danger of burn out otherwise,i have to say ive seen this coming for a while,its horrible to see i know,although i think it could be a blessing in disguise.


scineram Says:

In the final the Argentine will have to focus on winning the doubles and the singles whenever Rafa is not playing. They must not count on him losing. Would be sweet and epic revenge for 2008.


Humble Rafa Says:

scineram,

I will sit in the stands during matches I don’t play. Just the look of me, makes some players faint. Just saying. It has happenned to me before.

When I bageled my good friend Gasquet, I checked Tsonga’s face. He was in tears.


Kimmi Says:

lal humble rafa – that is probably why you manage to bagel tsonga too. ha ha


Kimmi Says:

if any player has an injury, this is the perfect time to have it. All the major tournaments are finished. who would care if he doesnt play the Asian swing? take a month off, get well..come back close to a tournament or two before WTF!


jane Says:

^ I agree Kimmi. I hope he skips the Asian swing, although mat4 pointed out some potential reasons why he may not on the other thread.

Congrats again to Argentina and Spain.

Also, kudos to Canada!! Pospisl won a 5 hour 5 set match to put Canada in the World group for the first time since 2004 (!) and only the second time ever!!! With Pospisl, Nestor, Raonic and Dancevic this team has some decent potential!! SO HAPPY for them! :))

Congrats to Muzza, who helped his team through once again, but I worry about him too; he says he is “dead on his feet” so tired.

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/tennis/3821465/Andy-Murray-whacked-after-Davis-Cup-win.html

Indeed, congrats to all the winners; I hope these guys have a chance now to REST!


Kimmi Says:

thanks for that jane. did not know canada are thru. WOOT! since 2004 too. Hope raonic can start to play again and kick some butt..happy for them too.

yap, guys needs some rest. too bad swiss and Australia are extended to 4th day. what a close match the last rubber is. feel bad for the loser. Hoping the the swiss win, just because!!!


Miki Says:

Sean: “And is 60% Djokovic really better than 100% Troicki?”

I never really understood how performance of a player can be measured like that (although players themselves do that, like Novak today), it’s very hard to tell what is someones 60% or 100%, but I would say that Novak even not fully fit is just better than Troicki. Not game wise, but the mental side and the experience would make up for that. And plus, Troicki may be 100% physically, but he is playing very bad lately. I don’t think he would stand a chance against Delpo. But still, Novak went too far with this, it would have been be better if Troicki played the match and lost it, plus Novak wouldn’t risk making the injury even worse. It’s partly because the public here in Serbia expects him to play and to carry on the whole team. It’s an honor, but also a heavy burden for him.


Kimmi Says:

ha ha it is funny, only one game was played today. congrats to swiss team, wawrinka just won. first time they beat australia in davis cup.

wawrinka the hero!!!


CW Says:

I’m just disappointed that nobody on Serbia’s team stepped up. Let me qualify that…this is a dedicated team who loves their country with so much passion that it spills over television airwaves. I’m not doubting anyone’s dedication on that team WHATSOEVER. What I’m angry about is the fact that they knew that Novak couldn’t play (at least not without causing even further damage to his body).

Granted, I’m happy that Spain won’t have to face Serbia in Belgrade for the obvious reason that, yes I am a Rafa fan and it’s obvious that he’s in no mental state to face Novak in any kind of final. However, I would have NEVER wished upon Novak the kind of pain that it’s obvious he was in from the first ball. With as much love as I have for Rafa, there’s a large part of my heart dedicated to Novak as well. He’s a good kid with a kind heart and big game.

Point blank, someone should have just said, “Novak, listen. We had a tough first day but we won doubles and we’re still in this. Viktor will try again against Delpo and we’re going to fight to take our country all the way. Your health is what’s most important here, so just rest.” But, that’s not what happened and to see Novak limp off in tears was actually heartbreaking for me.

Anyway, I’m sorry about my rant. I just think today was a sad day for tennis. I’m probably alone in this, but that’s how I feel. I want to take nothing away from Argentina who, from the first day, was just too strong for Serbia this time around. Congratulations to Argentina for a great tie, despite how it ended.

CW


Dan Martin Says:

I am a bit tired of all of this is the best drop shot ever best year ever best _____ ever talk, but 2 of 3 losses coming as retirements does not sound like the greatest year ever. Ask again in November December. If Nole wins the YEC sure best ever. Still, Connors 74, Borg 78, Mac 84, Lendl 86, Wilander 88, Sampras 97, Fed 04-07, Nadal 10 were all great years to just say yep this is the best year ever in mid-December seems rash.


Michael Says:

Honestly, I think Djokovic should not have played this match thereby aggravating his injury. The Serbia squad should have reposed confidence in the abilities of Troicki to manage an upset. But, they took an absurd decision to field an unfit Djokovic and paid the price. Having said that, if a fully fit Nadal is not even able to outlast an unfit Djokovic at the US Open final, then it is bad omen for the Spanish Matador. Imagine the kind of damage a fully fit Djokovic would unleash on Nadal ??


jane Says:

Nice post CW.


CW Says:

@ Michael.

Make no mistake. While Novak felt niggles, he was definitely fit enough until the business end of that third set. Rafa gave up pretty much all of his strength to win that set and had nothing left to give. Novak, while suffering noticeably at the tail end of the third set had enough in his body to pull through that fourth set quickly while Rafa had absolutely nothing left because he put every ounce into just winning the one. Rafa’s problems are ALL mental against Novak, because the truth is confidence over an opponent and adrenaline at the sight of that finish line can make you pull through even when you feel twinges of pain.

Rafa didn’t have a chance in the final, that’s completely true and something that he’ll openly attest to. Novak was just better on the day and Rafa knew going in that he didn’t know how to beat Novak, something that he admitted openly when asked about his strategy during every press conference during the second week and in his on court interview after beating Murray in the semi. Not so much a bad omen. More like something everybody saw from the beginning of the tournament. Now he just has to figure it out. Lest we forget, we’ve seen a fully fit Novak dominate Rafa in five finals (the sixth, as you said, Novak started to feel niggles in his back, so I wouldn’t call that fully fit), so there’s nothing to imagine.

As with every player, it’s something that he has to figure out mentally and tactically. Something else he has to improve on.

Anyway, sorry about this response. This article is about Novak and the atrocity that was the decision to allow him to play (I say “allow” because he’ll argue that it was his choice and he knew his condition. In which case I’d argue someone should’ve slapped him silly and told him to sit his keister down until he felt better). I wish with all my heart Novak has a speedy recovery, because as we’ve seen with top contenders in the past (Delpo, Nalbandian, Tsonga, Monfils, and more recently, Roanic), something small can turn into something major and knock you out of contention indefinitely, or at least long enough to crack the confidence you worked so hard to build up.


CW Says:

Oh! And thanks, Jane. :)


Cindy Brady Says:

what is the maximum number of retirements in one year? It might become the greatest year in terms of retirements.

what a horrendous call from the serbian team. this is beyond stupidity. someone should slap whichever idiot insisted on playing novak against delpotro. they made such @$$es out of themselves.


Cindy Brady Says:

a salute to rafa. what a great warrior this guy is. he makes me wish i was from spain. what a team man.

win/lose but please dont quit on your country.


fedexx Says:

feel’s bad for nole..& hope he ll recover soon…but i thnk he ll not dominate & resume his form like roger did for 3’4 year’s…roger never retired in his whole career on the court..it would be a wonder if he continue dis form in d next year..becuase whatever he did in dis year is allmost impossible to reapeat…


Michael Says:

CW, For sure, a fighter like Nadal will discover a way to handle Djokovic. That is in the future if it happens. But at the moment, it is advantage Djokovic who is creating all sorts of problems for Nadal and his style of game. The reason of Nadal being tired for the defeat. It sounds a wee bit strange. Is it the same Nadal who played over five hours against Verdasco, to come out the next day and play against Federer and win that match in five sets. Such was the stamina of Nadal which was much talked about and it is now tough to imagine that he is getting tired after playing just three sets.

I completely agree with your last para. Djokovic should be very careful with his body. He is not a fully fit player like Federer and such kind of misadventurism will land him in deep trouble. I think he badly needs rest for his body to rebuild himself.


alison hodge Says:

i agree with cindy what were serbia thinking of,but what was nole thinking of,i also along with a large majority of working people suffer with back pain,and the only thing you can do when it does happen is rest,unfortunatly sometimes the slightest thing can trigger it,these men and woman put there bodies through so much i suppose its inevitable that at some point they are bound to get injured,goes with the teritory,roger rarely gets injured except for the odd niggle here or there,due to such an effortless style of play,and to his credit has never retired or pulled out of a tournament,he is the exception to the rule.


BT Says:

I went to the AUS-SUI double match on the Saturday. It was a great match to see live. I thought Australia had it in the bag but it wasn’t to be. Brave fight from Hewitt but Wawrinka just too solid even with the supposed injury. Not bad for Tomic to take a set off Federer (took one off Djokovic recently too).


vox777 Says:

CW great posting, Michael too.
I’m from Serbia and you can only imagine how I felt and still feel about their decision to let Nole play. No doubt Nole wanted to play, but someone should have stopped him. Saw Jelenas face before the match and during the whole match. More frightened expression on her face than on Federers match balls. She knew what he was going trough, but she probably couldn’t have stopped him. But coaches? His family? Us, his fans? Why did he feel that he has to do it for his fans? He didn’t play a match for Davis cup team this year because he was too tired, and it was totally OK, and he was in their box always, giving full support. Why now? Why injured? He wasn’t happy going on the court. Felt obliged? Why did he have to act all samurai? Why? Because he felt that there is no one other who could do it instead of him. Sense of duty and honor. Worried how Troicki would have felt if he had lost decisive match for team (Troicki is very, very emotional). Whatever the reason, this is why I’m so sorry Nikola Pilic wasn’t there as council-ere. Everybody loves so much Nole that no one could say NO to him. He is no super human. Pilic would have stopped him, his authority over Nole still exists and Nole would have listened to him, his sensei. Niki Pilic, come back please!
Hope he will recover soon and play till the end of the year as he started it, because this year deserves it!


Michael Says:

Vox777, I understand your frustration at Djokovic being compelled to play which he should not have done. Neverthless let us hope he recovers well and begins from where he left off. I am sure Djokovic with his powerful will and determination will bounce back with flying colours. Sure, that is what the Tennis World needs now. The trio of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have made Tennis more interesting than it ever was.


scineram Says:

Obradovic is such a joke as a captain. He just should have told Victor to go out and play.

Also, Stan The Man The Hero!


CW Says:

@ Michael

Granted, ’09 Nadal who won a five setter against Verdasco only to win a five setter against Federer didn’t show up on last Monday’s final. At that point he was running un sheer piss nad vinegar because he wanted that trophy and was just playing like a man with nothing really to lose (swinging freely, you know?) However, neither Fed nor (especially) Verdasco a) was as fit as Novak is this year (in terms of what he can do on court, not saying in terms of actual “strength”) and b) had a mental edge over Rafa. Nadal had won every single match against Verdasco to that point (and remains undefeated against his compatriot, 12-0) and had been beating Fed on a very regular basis at that point. He was ready to win that final. He was not ready to win that final against Novak. His mindset said as much before he even hit the court. Plus, I don’t think I’ve actually seen him play as hard as he did for the two hours (give or take) it took to squeeze out that third set –he was actually applying more brute force than anything whilst still trying to create angles…something that he actually doesn’t do as frequently as one would think.

All that being said, Rafa has acknowledged that he neither believes he will nor intends to play tennis into his 30s. He’s very aware of the toll it takes on his body, but his instinct his to play until he just can’t play anymore. Now, Rafa loves the game, but he just loves life in general and if it gets to the point where he can’t play (when tbe body and the mind just go on strike), he won’t embarass himself. Despite what people may say, this year was no embarassment by any means. There were a few bumps in the road, which is to be expected in any sport (namely the first round loss in Montreal and the quarterfinals mishap at the Aussie); however, he’s had a stellar year for the most part, only losing in finals and only losing to one person in those finals, a person whom EVERYBODY was losing to no matter what kind of advantage they had (case in point, Fed leading 5-3 in the deciding set with two match points on this racket).

Right now he’s just going to have to puzzle himself out of this rivalry that he and Novak have created. I’m interested to see how he’ll improve next year. Every year he comes with something new in his tennis vocabulary. Now, he needs to figure out how to get his serve back…he’s said it, commentators have said it. Everyone knows he needs to get that serve that he had to win the US Open last year. Seeing as he’s not a natural server, it’s not too terribly surprising that after the adrenaline died down his serve was pegged back one or two MPHs; however, it just can’t break down the way it did against Novak. Novak defends so well (and at the moment, so much better than Rafa) that he needs to have confidence. This lack of confidence has made his serve incredibly predictable (playing a righty? Slice out wide to the righty’s backhand). The problem is Novak’s backhand very rarely breaks down. If he wants to meddle with it, he has to do what everyone else has been doing to him…test his forehand to expose a weak angle in the backhand.

Anyway, there I go again going on and on off topic. What I actually wonder is how much of Novak’s confidence is a bit shaken. I think that’ll mostly depend on how quickly he recovers. If he’s back in it by the WTF, it’s crunch time for the rest of the field. If he’s still feeling those pains, he may be hesitant to go for anything too major. An injury changes your whole perspective on how to play the game because it’s so physical and because he relies so much on his movement and the torque his backhand creates when he’s changing direction. Like I said, I hope he recovers quickly. Besides, if they don’t have new challenges, none of the top players improve. For the sake of keeping the sport interesting, I want to see how Rafa figures this one out.

By the way, thanks for being civil Michael, Jane. On tennis blogs such as this one (and obviously the Bleacher Report and such truck) it’s hard to find people who can carry on intelligeble and civil conversations about a sport (albeit an emotional sport that creates maniacs out of us all, but a sport nonetheless). It’s been fun chatting it up :)


Contemperory Says:

This loss is Djokovic’s 3rd loss of the year. He now stands at 64-3 overall. McEnroe’s record was what,82-3?


WTF Says:

I was wondering when all the tennis would eventually catch up to his body. He seemed invincible in every sense of the word, going from someone who gets tired easily to an energizer bunny almost overnight.

I’ll still stand by my expectation that he will defend most of his titles next year. There are fewer and fewer people by the day that look capable of beating him.

Cindy Brady, weren’t you very ANTI-Rafa at some point? You frequently talked about his obvious doping. What changed?


Cindy Brady Says:

WTF:

I am an equal opportunity hater :)

raf deserved kicks then and kudos now. i am not one of those suckers who is blind to a player’s shortcomings because i am obsessed with them.

kicks and kudos as they are due.


Michael Says:

CW, very nice post !! You can never discount a Great player like Nadal. But as you said there should be serious introspection from his Team’s perspective as to how to handle Novak. What is evident is Rafa lacks the mental edge to tackle Novak. Even this year, his record is phenomenal and cannot be understated. It is against Djokovic, he seems rather ordinary and his shots seem to lack the bite. As you said, he must put more force behind his first serves. But it is easier said than done. Moreover, Rafa is not young and he is aging. He has also to keep in mind as to whether his shoulder will withstand the pressure of hitting hard. More than power, it is placement that counts in serve. If you saw the fourth set of US Open, when Djokovic was serving at half speed and only was concerned about placement, his serve was doing rather well and Nadal was finding it extremely difficult to put pressure on his returns. Even this year it is still not finished and there are some major tournaments to be played especially the WTF. It would be interesting to watch the trio competing for honours.


CW Says:

Too right you are, Michael. It seems to me that last year he actually seemed to understand the power of placement, started realising WHY his lefty slice was so effective. When your confidence is shaken, the first thing to go is that serve. I think once he goes back to understanding the core mechanics of his serve, he’ll be able to better adjust to disrupt Novak’s rhythm. I think more than anything else he also needs to beat Novak…just once. It’s like your first Major title: after the first one, the second one is easy…HaHa.

I also think that the fourth set was indicative of someone with no confidence. Though he was fighting like a dog the third set, the difference between that set and the other three was his court placement. He was playing the most aggressive he’d played the entire tournament (you could also see his aggressiveness when he played Davis Cup this week-end. EXCEPTIONAL court placement and taking away time from his opponents. While anger works against most players, Rafa manages to harness it pretty well. Get him so p*ssed he starts speaking Mallorquin, you may, in fact, not be able to play the rest of the match…HaHa). In that fourth set particularly, he was standing soooo far back behind the baseline. That set should’ve been his (or he at least should’ve made more of an impression in that set than he did) if he had stood in on the baseline and forced Novak to play for it. I contend that if Rafa took it to a fifth, he defended his title.

But if ifs and maybes were nuts and candies we’d all have a happy Christmas…HaHa. In the end, though, I think he said it best. He actually did play better against Novak in this final than he did in all the finals starting in Madrid. He’s slowing trying to figure it out on court. Whether or not he’ll be able to put it all together to make this a more intriguing matchup, we’ll have to see. Team Nadal’s got some work to do.

MAN this is going to be an exciting 2012!!! Add Delpo and this new crop of American talent coming up (Donald Young, Jack Sock, when he gets his act together Ryan Harrison), this could possibly be the most interesting season coming up. What do you think?


Michael Says:

Yeah for sure CW !! It is going to be an exciting Tennis season ahead. There are some promising players on the horizon and apart from the players you have mentioned, I feel that it would be Bernard Tomic who would be posing a severe competition to the top Three in due course of time. But with the way, this trio is dominating Tennis at the moment, it seems there is little competition as the top four are reaching the semi-final stage in majors with stunning regularity. Therefore, the new crop of players have a lot to do to catch up with the top four in my opinion. Coming to Rafa, as you said, he would be requiring badly just one win against Djokovic to bolster his sagging confidence. I would say the turning point was in Indian Wells finals which was so close it could have gone either way. But Djokovic prevailed in the end in a tie break due to double fault by Nadal. That was the starting point in my opinion for Nadal’s sagging confidence and the trend continued which Nadal is now finding it extremely difficult to shake it off. Nadal as we know will come out with full vigour, concentration and will to reverse this trend for sure. But it depends on Djokovic too and if he keeps up his level of play like he is doing now, it is going to be tough for Nadal.


vox777 Says:

Michael, CW: I hope there will be some changes in scheduling of tournaments in 2012. This guys are not machines. Nadal broke down some time ago, now Nole too, Del Po gets broken down frequently and he is what? 22?. It’s not good for the sport. And also if they can manage to play less matches we will have more quality and players will be able to play well in their 30s (as in football or volleyball for example). Del Potro looked very good in Belgrade especially on the serve. If he can keep up hitting lines with 80+% from first serve, making even Nole difficult to return, then he could pose major treat for everybody. But his form haven’t been consistent so far, and we will see if he can live up to expectations of his fans. For Nole and Nadal, I expect to raise their level even further: Nole to serve even better, to improve his fit even more and to go more for the lines in order to play shorter points, for the Nadal to improve first serve.


Michael Says:

Vox777, Regarding re-scheduling tournaments in 2012, honestly I feel that it is up to the players in the way they plan their schedule for the year. Federer is the perfect example of planned scheduling and worthy of emulation by other players. Nobody is forcing the players to play each and every tournament. It is their prerogative to select and play. Ofcourse there should be drastic changes in the Davis cup format and they must be aligned in a way they do not clash with major tournaments during a year. But apart from that, it all boils down to player selection of the right tournaments to play.


grendel Says:

The reference to Federer indicates that it is not quite the case that it’s all up to the players. It is true that Federer plans his schedule meticulously – but he is also fortunate in having the perfect build and, even more important, the perfect game to maintain physical health over an extended period.

You might want to say: so what? Nature distributes her gifts unevenly, what’s new? That is true enough if you are looking at the game purely from the point of view of the players. But what about the spectators – us? Personally, I want del Potro and Djokovic to be absolutely fit so we can see the very best of them on the most important occasions. I am sufficiently mean-spirited not to wish the same for Nadal quite so wholeheartedly – but of course, the same logic applies to him.

Sport is a two way interaction – and the spectators are as crucial as the players. You can’t have one without the other. And the spectators, surely, want their top gladiators to be in top shape. I think vox777 is right in principle, although in practice, I wonder. Some players seem almost designed to break down, however favourable the circumstances.


jane Says:

Then there are the players not right at the top who have to play more for financial reasons, so schedule planning and/or changes may not affect them. But injury still could, and that is a catch 22. Play more, risk injury; play less, get paid less.

I too think genetics are involved. Some players are more or less prone to injury.


CW Says:

Everything that’s been said has been true for the most part. The only thing I can say is that there are a mandatory amount of tournies that the top 30 have to play: all majors, obviously. 9 of the 10 Masters, since they don’t consider Monte Carlo mandatory anymore (I don’t know why when it’s just as much a Masters Sheild as the others…but that’s okay), and they have to play somewhere between four and five lower level tournaments (I believe). Just something I’m mentioning…it’s not really a point for debate or something to prove a point. Just a little tidbit :)

I think that as regards Federer, he’s held in such high esteem that if he decided to shirk on tournaments they may not have that much of a problem with it, but that more or less has to do with, as most have pointed out, his style of play, which everyone knows is more “graceful”. Someone on another blog tried to argue that Nadal should just change his style of play (more as a means to comment on his insistence that there be some sort of compromise drawn between the ITF and the players), but everyone knows that something you’ve done since you were a kid, something that’s just ingrained in your personality and your DNA (essentially) is impossible to get rid of just for the sake of people a) liking you more and b) not hearing you air your concerns about the schedule.

True, there’s a variety of tournaments so that all the players get a fair shake at a decent pay day, but the top players do have to seem to bend more to the will of the powers that be than to their own biological limits in order to pacify everyone. It’s a slippery slope and Rafa said it best: The fans are a big part of the show, but so are the players. His point is that without the players there are no fans, therefore there’s no revenue. Somebody’s got to see that a “season” that starts on 1 January and ends 5 December is asking a bit much of any human being.

WHAT SAY YE, OH FANS OF TENNIS?!


jane Says:

All good points CW. Maybe the long and short of it is that they should lower the mandated events players *have to* enter. Make it 7 Masters tournaments or something? And do something about the Davis Cup schedule, particularly if they want top guys to keep playing: The ties seem to follow almost immediately after slams, like after USO and Wimbledon this year.


jane Says:

^ *lessen, not lower.


Lou Says:

Delpo will be the next Djokovic- I vote he will win majority GS next year: http://bit.ly/owcb66


vox777 Says:

I really like this debate :). So anyone thinks that less matches could produce much higher quality of tennis? And CW you are right about the season. I don’t know when do they find time to work on their fitness and technique? During Christmas and New Year? Or during summer holidays? Sometimes it seems to me that tennis is more brutal than American football (NFL) :DDD


CW Says:

Wow, haven’t been back for a few days. Thought people had lost interest…HaHa.

Let’s see, Jane:
I don’t see why not. If they WTA made it so simple for the women, why not the ITF for the men? I mean, the women get a full month off and I’m pretty sure they’re not required to actually play at as many tournaments. Though I’m not going on record on the latter statement, seeing as I know substantially less about the women’s tour than I do the men’s. Perhaps fewer mandated tournies would be a blessing, but I still don’t understand why there’s a huge problem shaving a few more weeks off the calendar? I mean, I know they ceded another week (how generous :/), but really, a year of tournies is pushing it. From a pundit and fan perspective, I hear a lot of “dance monkey dance”. It seems most people think that tennis players (all athletes, really) are just pampered babies that need to deal with it. Because, hell, they’re getting more money than most will see in a lifetime, they should stop complaining and do what we ask of them because at least they’re getting paid. But, of course, I find that just bitter grapes from people who get upset when someone else is doing what they love in life and getting good return in the process. But, anyway, I’m just going off on all hinges now. Bottom line, Novak’s injury could’ve been avoided. It’s almost expected that the top three (Novak, Rafa, and Federer…ever notice how Murray’s always the “sometimes Y” part of the top four?) are going to go deep into any tournament they enter. The mere fact that they’re expected to play at that level (from themselves, organisors, and fans) and still do it week in and week out sort of boggles my mind.

Lou:
As far as Delpo being the “next Djokovic”, I wouldn’t say that. As far as I’m concerned, Delpo’s been a threat since 09. Injury notwithstanding, he would’ve made Djoko’s 2011 almost non-existent if Novak found he had to shred his way through Rafa, Roger, AND Juan Martin. At the very least, Novak’s mental revelation may have come a bit later on down the road…perhaps much in the way of Mardy Fish. It’s already been proven that Delpo’s got the game and the heart to tear through any opponent. Now his confidence is in the same position as Novak’s last year. It just needs to build itself back up. Either way, there’s going to be a squabble in the ranks over those Majors in 2012. We’ll see who comes back next “season” more fired up. All of them (I’d say Rafa, Novak, Fed, Delpo, Murray, and maybe Soderling) are chomping at the bit to prove a point to somebody.

Vox:
I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with the level of tennis. Especially as it regards those who are sure to be at the WTF (Novak, Rafa, Murray, Fed, Ferrer, Fish, Tsonga, and either Sod, Almagro, or Delpo…those are my projections anyway), their level of play has never really wavered. If you’re going by Rafa’s results, let’s just break it down: he’s been in maybe three fewer finals than Novak and when he’s reached a final he’s either won it or lost to Novak. He has a Major under his belt this year. Has beaten Murray in three consecutive semi-finals on three different surfaces. Has outlasted Fed in all the Majors beating at least three top 10 players along the way. His level hasn’t dropped at all as far as I can see. Neither has anyone’s level at the top 10 end of things. But, as far as longevity is concerned, these players aren’t Fed, who has a more “sophisticated”, I suppose, style of play that doesn’t actually do his body as irreparable damage as the others. A schedule that’s more conducive to the needs of about 75% of the tour (those within the top 300 will attest that they play much harder than players did 15 years ago) just makes more sense. Many of the top players do have a specific time (injuries notwithstanding) that they take off to recharge. Rafa focuses much of his attention to the first six months of the tour (from Australia to Wimbledon) and the last three or four months of the tour (from the US Open to the WTF and Davis Cup) therefore usually takes about five weeks afterwards. Federer crops up mainly for Masters Shields and Majors and therefore has breaks ranging from two to three weeks throughout the entire year. Novak has played fewer tournaments than you’d think (he’s just so happened to go deep and/or win all those he’s been in this year). In terms of the top two, they’ve also had injuries they’ve had to nurse at some point –of course, practicing isn’t a priority at those times. So, following Davis Cup is pretty much when rest/practice occurs beyond training for upcoming tournaments throughout the year. The new tennis calendar always starts 1 Jan (Mubadala Exhibition tournament that kicks off the season in which most of the top 10 participate: this year’s roster boasted Berdych, Soderling, Tsonga, Federer, and Nadal). And, don’t get it twisted, MOST European sports are more brutal than American football. In terms of hierarchy its: Aussie rules football, Rugby, regular football (or soccer) and tennis (simply because of its solitary nature and the mere mental wear it takes during the year. It’s the chess of sports…and chess drives people crazy in the end. Just look at Bobby Fischer).

Whew…that was a lot. I’m sorry for taking up so much space. :)

Side note: who thinks that women should play a five set final? It’s happened before (I think, and please someone correct me if I’m wrong, it was a match including Billie Jean King). I think it would be an interesting dynamic. Much like when they used to have five set finals at the Masters Shields on the men’s side. Could be fun…

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Rankings
ATP - Nov 24 WTA - Nov 24
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Roger Federer2 Maria Sharapova
3 Rafael Nadal3 Simona Halep
4 Stan Wawrinka4 Petra Kvitova
5 Kei Nishikori5 Ana Ivanovic
6 Andy Murray6 Agnieszka Radwanska
7 Tomas Berdych7 Eugenie Bouchard
8 Milos Raonic8 Caroline Wozniacki
9 Marin Cilic9 Angelique Kerber
10 David Ferrer10 Dominika Cibulkova
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