Sunday, December 04, 2005

Men's Tennis Re/Preview

It wasn't an exceptionally interesting year on or off the court in men's tennis. Roger Federer dominated--again. I predict similar things from him next year--maybe a few more of the top ten men will have flashes of brilliance, like Safin at the 2005 Australian or Nalbandian at the year-end Master's, and knock out a win or two. But no one will beat Federer's record which is a product of his superhuman consistency. This prediction could all fall apart however if Federer actually gets a full-time coach. Off the court, well no one really cares about Federer's off the court life. But just in case there are some passionate Federer fans out there...I think something will happen on the long-time girlfriend front; perhaps a pregnancy or a proposal.
Probably the most interesting thing that will happen this year is Andre Agassi's retirement. And if it doesn't actually happen his deteriorating performances (not that there's anything wrong with that) will certainly be the story of the year. Come on, Andre. The sooner you retire, the sooner you will be eligible for the Hall of Fame where it will be Steffi's turn to give a super shmaltzy speech about her undying love and devotion. The Newport organizers start salivating at the thought of jacking up ticket prices for the event.
As for Slam performances, Federer will win two out of the four. I am not going out on a limb here to say that a clay-court specialist will win the French. I think it wil be an Argentinian--but not Nalbandian who I think will take the US Open. Roddick will once again this year be Federer's bridesmaid and people will start to utter the term "one-slam wonder" after having thought it last year. [That wasn't just me, right?]
Once again the US Davis Cup team will disappoint anyone who actually still cares about Davis Cup.
And finally, the big Wimbledon betting pool this year will not lay odds on who will win but rather how many times per match Lleyton Hewitt will say "COME ON!!" and the likelihood that Marat Safin will moon the royal box.


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your review, Ken. It is sad how little people in this country care about Davis Cup anymore. When I was growing up, I seem to remember DC ties getting some decent pub, even here in IA--like 1/4-1/2 page stories on the DMReg, WITH pictures! I'm thinking mid 80s-early 90s. Now you're lucky to see a blurb in the "Sports Briefs" section. Maybe some of that has to do with the USA's lack of success, but I think in large part it's due to a lack of interest in tennis. Of course, in other countries this competition is still a HUGE deal--details of everything related to the Argentine Davis Cup team (spats between players, strategy on who to pair for doubles, playing surface, etc.) appear on the front page of the country's newspapers (at least online).

As for next year, I'm hoping a big story will be the continued comeback (and beyond) of James Blake. I don't know if he will ever truly be able to challenge for a major title (US Open would be his best shot), but I'd love to see it.

As for Agassi and his deteriorating performances (assuming you meant they have already begun), how do you explain his appearance in the final of the Open in Sept??? Sure, he's not a consistent threat in every tourney he plays in nowadays, but anyone who can get to the final of a major has proven the ability to still hang around. As he focuses only on majors now, doesn't care about making $ on tour, rankings, etc, I think he would have a shot (a small one) at taking either the Australian or US Open. He would probably have to catch a break in not playing Federer (as would almost anybody else). He should also skip the French--it's a lost cause with so many specialists.

ken said...

Thanks for your comments, anon. Frankly I was never into the Davis Cup--especially when any version of a McEnroe is involved. I think you are right about it being a completely different scene in some European countries and South America. And I find it fascinating how that throws of US players.
Re: Andre--frankly, I am over him. I did the pre-teen crush on him when I was young, hated him when he became too into his rebel phase, and have come slightly back around for his comeback--but mostly that's because of Steffi, who is now the focus of my not so pre-teen anymore crush.
I just think Andre is toeing the line between going out on top with much admiration and respect and going out with respect but lots of pity. Sampras was pretty close to pity when he left--his final US Open salvaged that somewhat but imagine what his following year would have been like if he hadn't won it??

Anonymous said...

Is the Fed Cup played every year? I think the Davis Cup could benefit (publicity-wise) from being played every 2nd or 3rd year.

Speaking of pre-teen crushes, what ever happened Jennifer Capriotti? She seems to have dropped off the face of the Earth.

ken said...

Last I heard Capriati had a shoulder injury and had surgery. I have not found anything about her recuperation or whether she will be back for 2006. Even if she does come back I think she would be hard pressed to make it past the quarters of a major.