The Rearview Mirror: The ATP in 2016

by Savannah

According to the tennis press we should all be celebrating the ascension of Andrew Barron Murray to the number one ranking in mens tennis. After all he’s been part of the “Big Four” for years now. Finally the tennis media has someone they can rally behind and promote as the best of the current crop and hope that fans will keep flocking to see mens tennis.

The thing is during the WTF’s there were Tweets sent out that there were still tickets available for purchase. In London. With the British Number one playing to secure his spot at the top. And no matter the celebration and positive press afterwards that has to be troubling for the people who run men’s tennis.

It also has to be worrying that the year end top ten are not players who will have the fans rushing to the tennis courts.

The Top 10 of 2016

1. Andy Murray (GBR) – First Brit and 17th different year-end No. 1 continues 13 years of Big 4 dominance at the top of Emirates ATP Rankings
2. Novak Djokovic (SRB) – Finishes in Top 2 for sixth straight year and in Top 3 for 10th consecutive year
3. Milos Raonic (CAN) – Made biggest jump to No. 3 from previous year (14) since Djokovic in 2007 (16 to 3)
4. Stan Wawrinka (SUI) – Finishes No. 4 for third straight year and in Top 10 for fourth season in a row
5. Kei Nishikori (JPN) – Second Top 5 finish in three years and third straight year in Top 10
6. Marin Cilic (CRO) – Second Top 10 finish in three years and best Croat year-end ranking since Ljubicic (5) in 2006
7. Gael Monfils (FRA) – First time finish in Top 10 and ninth Frenchman in year-end Top 10
8. Dominic Thiem (AUT) – The 23 year old is youngest in Top 10 and first Austrian in year-end Top 10 since Muster (9) in 1997
9. Rafael Nadal (ESP) – Top 10 for 12th year in a row and one of six players with 12-more Top 10 finishes
10. Tomas Berdych (CZE) – Seventh consecutive finish in the Top 10

To be honest Raonic as the #3 player in the world only shows how weak men’s tennis has become. His ranking shows that it’s possible to play yourself into a top ranking just like they do in the WTA. The women are still criticized for utilizing that tactic to get to the top. When the men do it no one says a word.

The ATP, unlike the WTA, is working to develop interest in it’s up and coming players. They’re staging a Next Generation tournament, the “Next Gen ATP Finals” to be held after the WTF in 2017 in Milan and feature the top eight under 21 players. To quote from the release the event will be hold at the Fiera Milano stadium from 7-11 November, 2017, and will remain in Milan for a five-year period, through 2021. The top 7 in the race plus one wild card will make up the field.

There’s no sense saying anything more about a process that will start in January. It’s an interesting way to create interest in future players and it has the potential to do exactly what the ATP wants this event to do. It’s a good move for a tour that is looking at a drop in the level of tennis played by its members.

And we’ll be able to see men’s tennis. For a few weeks, outside of the Slams, it’ll be the only tennis fans can see. That will be enough time for fans to pick an up and comer to follow.

Once again the ATP shows why it’s the better managed of the two tours.

The Best of 2016

The other odd thing about 2016 was that the best tennis was not played in top tournaments. Instead you had to watch the Olympics, Fed Cup and Davis Cup to see great tennis. That has to be worrying to both tours and gets back to what I said about the current ATP top ten, and what can be said about the WTA top ten as well. Marin Cilic vs Juan Martin del Potro was the best mens match I saw in 2016. That it happened at the DC Final only adds to the cachet the match had. And debunks another issue tennis media has been pushing – that the DC Final should be held at a neutral site. That means that instead of the heated atmosphere in Zagreb where plenty of Argentine fans made their way to the stadium causing an atmosphere rarely seen in tennis these days.

Monica Puig defeating Angelique Kerber at the Olympics Final was the best women’s match of the year. There was also Barbora Strycova’s performance at Fed Cup, the second year in a row she’s played above her rank.

Kerber took advantage of Serena Williams playing injured for most of the year to take over the top ranking.  I have to say that the WTA was unseemly in its rush to crown Kerber and act as if Williams was a rapidly fading memory while promoting a doper’s return as if it’s something to be proud of.  While the WTA turned over its official site to a doper and her publicity team it couldn’t find the time to work out television rights for 2017 and on.

Priorities. It’s why the ATP will always see itself as superior to the WTA

End Notes

At the end of December I’ll post who my must watch players will be for 2017. This year I chose Taylor Fritz and Naomi Osaka. I’ll talk about them and the year they had at that time.

©2016 SavannahsWorld. All Rights Reserved.

Bored Now

by Savannah

Andy Murray will face Novak Djokovic for what the ATP is billing as it’s Battle Royale, the match to determine who will close out the year as its top ranked player as the recently crowned #1 Murray will face #2 Djokovic. There was supposed to be some tennis played by both men on the way to this final. Sadly only one man had to play tennis. He also played two matches that went over three hours in a matter of days while the other player , because his group played first in the Round Robin phase of the tournament, got a full day of rest.

I know, I know. It’s all luck of the draw. I guess it’s also luck of the draw that Djokovic didn’t face one player who had the remotest chance of beating him. When Gaël Monfils had to withdraw due to a lingering injury he faced another player, David Goffin, who has never beaten him either.  While his practice sessions were taking place Andy Murray had to face players who made him have to play top level tennis in order to beat them. One mental slip and Murray could’ve lost his group. Instead the ATP got the match up it wanted. Except that one player could be running on fumes.

Some expected Nishikori Kei to put up a fight in his semifinal vs Djokovic. Instead he went ass up and managed to win only two games in a match that lasted a bit over an hour. He didn’t even bother to take a shower, uh, potty break to slow things down.

It should be mentioned that Murray’s run to the top didn’t see him face top ten players. Whatever. Both players should get equal rest before they play the final. Otherwise it looks as if there’s some kind of favoritism going on.  But that is not something that would happen in the ATP right?

Anyway there should be some good NFL games on tomorrow.

 

© 2016 Savannah’s World All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

The 2016 ATP WTF: WTF?!

by Savannah

When you obsessively follow a sport you’re exposed to all kinds of wacky theories about it. When I first discovered tennis fan boards back in the day it was the ESPN board that took up most of my time. To say that board was the best and the worst of what a tennis fan board could be is putting it mildly. When it became unbearable many of the people who really wanted to discuss tennis went elsewhere. I not only went elsewhere I started this blog so that I could laugh at some of the insanity so called fans were spouting about their faves, and those who weren’t their faves.

One of the things I took a lot of grief for was saying that the draws for tennis events weren’t random. You wouldn’t believe, or maybe you would believe, the grief I got. I was stupid. Some kind of nut. Of course the draws were random.
You don’t hear that so much now do you?

For example, how is it that Andy Murray has yet to face a top ten player on his way to taking over the top ranking? Odd isn’t it? The same thing used to happen to someone named Roger Federer up until he reached the quarter finals of a tournament. With Murray it continues right up to the final. I don’t have to prove anything. If you feel that’s not true prove me wrong.

Then there’s the case of the draw for this years ATP WTF in London. Anyone who knows the slightest bit about tennis, and many who know more, were shocked at how things are set up. I say set up because there is no way both sections are competitive. Just to remind you let’s look at the two groups.

McEnroe Group

Andy Murray
Stan Wawrinka
Nishikori Kei
Marin Cilic

Lendl Group

Novak Djokovic
Milos Raonic
Gaël Monfils
Dominic Thiem

As an aside some made fun of the names of the groups in the WTA YEC. When I saw the names of the groups here I rolled my eyes so hard my eye sockets still hurt. Really? Red and Blue. Blue and White. Suckers vs Saps. Anything but what they’ve done.

But back to the composition of the groups.

The now ATP #2 has never, ever lost a match to anyone in his group. Not Raonic (7-0), Monfils (13-0). Thiem (3-0). So that group is competitive right? Some tried to spin it saying he’s got a winning record against the men in the ATP #1’s group too. Please. To make the #2’s group even more absurd Raonic is said to have a muscle tear and it’s possible that he’ll withdraw. That would allow alternate Tomas Berdych to become part of that group. Yeah. That head to head is 25 – 2.

If you think this isn’t a set up for the now #2 I’m sure you know by now that he plays Sunday. That means he gets an extra day off when the elimination tournament begins. Some are saying that the ATP really wants to set up a horse race between #1 and #2. Yeah, that’s why #1 may not make it out of his group.

I don’t know who’s got what on who but this is the most absurd draw (grouping) I’ve ever seen. One man gets a romp while the other is going to have to fight his way out of the ring.

This year the ATP year end tournament truly deserves to be called WTF.

End Note

I’m very glad that Andy Murray is giving full credit to his coach, Jamie Delgado, for seeing him through to the top of the heap. It’s kind of a raised middle finger to those who insisted he needed Ivan Lendl to be kept in check and achieve greatness. There has been some mewling about where Lendl has been but I haven’t seen anyone ask the question that needs to be asked. Instead they’re falling over themselves to say he’ll be in London. So what? He did none of the heavy lifting, got all the credit from US and British tennis writers and comms, then ghosted when it was time to work hard again. Delgado was an afterthought to these people.

Congratulations to Mr. Murray and his (real) team.

©Savannahs World 2016 All Rights Reserved