It’s been a few days since the craziest and zaniest Grand Slam came to a close on Sunday, so with it still fresh, here are some quick thoughts.
1. IT’S HARD
Novak Djokovic knew it and then lived it.
After his dismissal from Tokyo and his early troubles in New York, all the warning signs were there for Djokovic coming up short in New York. 33 years ago, without the media crush life must have been easier for Steffi Graf. But in this day and age where every moment is scrutinized, ever second recorded, replayed and shared a thousand times on social media and other platforms, it must be impossible to detach from the Calendar Grand Slam chase.
“Relief,” is what Djokovic said after the loss.
It certainly weighed him down, down to the point where I felt like on Sunday he was finally crushed under the pressure of it all.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have never experienced it. Serena Williams six yesterday had the same happen.
Nothing was working for Djokovic. Nothing. And then in the third on the 5-4 changeover you saw the release. The relief.
2. MEDVEDEV MARKS A NEW BEGINNING
For Daniil Medvedev, now that he’s over the hump and still just 25, I expect multiple more Grand Slam titles to follow.
He’s not going to reach Big 3 heights — he just does not excel on clay and grass — but he’ll be a factor on hard courts for many years.
And even though Djokovic was far from his best, Medvedev took care of business, he won (not Djokovic lost) and he’s not done winning. This is just the start.
3. TENNIS HAS A NEW STAR
The player no one saw coming this quickly was Emma Raducanu. She, not Djokovic, ended up making history becoming the first qualifier — woman or man — to reach a Grand Slam final and then go one step further and win it.
It’s an achievement we will likely never see in our lifetime again. And she did it without losing a set.
Just think about that.
Her poise and determination were incredible for someone only 18. Contrast that with her panic attack at Wimbledon, and that’s quite the turnaround.
Regardless of where she goes from here, with her age, looks and the country she calls home, she’s an instant mega-star.
Let’s see how she deals with the pressure next summer.
4. WHERE DOES THE WTA GO FROM HERE?
All I can say is expect more of the unexpected.
Raducanu’s win should light a fire under Coco Gauff who could get one of her own big trophies next year. Leylah Fernandez seems too slight to win one on her own, she’ll need help, but her and Raducanu will still be factors, though it’s hard to see either coming up with another deep run in the next few years.
I do think we’ll see more new faces because the current crop, as we watched in New York, just aren’t mentally good enough in the pressure moments.
Ash Barty will win a few more, Naomi Osaka might also if she decides to drop the celebrity gig, but the Svitolinas, Sabalenkas, Pliskovas and Sakkaris seem destined to come up empty.
I think Bianca Andreescu — if she can stay fit — Iga Swiatek, Elena Rybakina and perhaps Barbora Krejcikova could do some damage in the coming years.
And there will be some new women we’ve never heard of emerge. Another Raducanu or two are out there.
With no dominant player, the tour is ripe for the taking and will stay that way for another 18-24 months.
5. WHAT ABOUT NOVAK?
After laying it all out there for nine months, I can’t imagine Djokovic is too keen on picking up a racquet anytime soon. Heck, he might not even play the rest of the year, and I wouldn’t blame him. He’s got to be fried.
But I think he comes in refreshed for Australia and I see a couple more Slams in his future before the young guys completely takeover.
He gave it his all in the chase for the Golden Slam and the Calendar Slam, now he’ll focus on 21.
6. AND RAFA, ROGER AND SERENA?
Rafael Nadal will be back. And he might win another — and final — French Open next year. But I have a feeling next year could be it.
We are hoping Roger Federer can return. I could see a farewell at Wimbledon next year, sooner if the knee isn’t cooperating.
Serena Williams, who turns 40 later this month, might try to play the US Open next year, or just fade off into being a full celebrity mega-mom.
Regardless, all three have made their mark and have nothing left to prove.
And for us fans, it’s a loss, but that said, did we really miss them last week?
7. ARE THERE NEW ATP STARS?
The WTA have 2 new bonified stars (Emma Raducanu and Lelyah Fernandez), but are there some new guys on the ATP who might figure for Slams in the future?
Holger Rune has been spoken about for a while. Jannik Sinner is a known quantity. But this summer we saw Americans Jenson Brooksby and Brandon Nakashima have big summers.
Brooksby is especially intriguing. With his awkward and annoying game, he’ll be fun to watch.
I also think Reilly Opelka will take the servebot baton from John Isner. He’ll be a nightmare for a long time.
Sebastian Korda will be in the Top 10 like Casper Ruud is this week. But Carlos Alcaraz showcased his game with his incredible win over Stefanos Tsitsipas.
And these “kids” will mesh with the already established under-26 stars. It’s a good group who will have their day sooner rather than later wit the Big 3 on their last legs.
8. THOSE DAMN POTTY BREAKS!
The biggest problem tennis faces right now is the surge in toilet breaks the last few years. And it’s getting worse.
Five years ago, it was rare for a player to leave the court. Now it’s a surprise when he/she doesn’t.
Making it worse, some are even bending the “rules” spending 10+ minutes off the court, be it back in the locker room or in the air conditioning or who knows, texting with the coaching team.
Now, the younger generation are watching this and think they can do it too, and they will. It’s a bad habit.
So hopefully during the upcoming off season, the tours and the Slams come together and nip this in the bud, or butt.
9. THE CROWDS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
It can’t be disputed, without the crowd I don’t think we see the same results we saw these past two weeks.
I don’t think either teen makes even the women’s semifinals. Alcaraz doesn’t beat Tsitsipas and maybe without the crowd, Djokovic has an easier road to the final — the crowd doesn’t lift his opponents like Rune and Brooksby.
The impact from the crowd was never more apparent. Let the roars continue…
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what’s a mega-mom? genuinely curious.
September 15th, 2021 at 12:41 pm