Five takeaways from the Round-Robin Stage

So the group play at the World Tour Finals is finally over and we know our semi-finalists.  It’s the BIG…. four? No that’s wrong.  That group was dissolved a little while ago.  But the four semi-finalists are big, make no mistake.  There’s a total of 43 grand slam titles in that line up.  It doesn’t get any bigger than that people.  But let’s look back at the major  takeaways from the round robin play, as we look ahead to today’s semi-final blockbusters.

Nadal is Back
Yes I know it may be too early to tell, but then again, it may not. This fall season has been the most consistent for Nadal since maybe his career started. He hasn’t won a title yet, but he’s made a lot of finals and he’s a stellar 3 – 0 at the World Tour Finals, with the loss of a single set. This includes a ruthless drubbing of Davis Cup glory hopeful, Andy Murray. This brings me to my second takeaway.

Murray was never here
Andy Murray, he of the on-court haircut, generated quite a buzz prior to the WTF by alluding to the possibility of skipping the tournament, in preparation for the Davis Cup final against France. I personally, do not think he was ever in this tournament, at least not mentally. Murray’s had a very consistent season. In fact, it might be his best season in terms of consistency and that is further proven by his ranking. However he still has not mustered the kind of stellar week in week out performance his more legendary peers have. Last year, Roger Federer made it to the finals of this tournament, and still went on to win the DC… bad back and all. Murray could take a cue from that for next time. Best of luck to him though.

Djokovic is mortal
You gasped? I know. I couldn’t believe it too when I found out. Truth is, with the way the Serb has been playing this season, it’s hard to fault anyone who thinks this guy is an alien or a super advanced human at least. He’s barely blinked this season and put together some stupefying unbeaten stretches in the process. However, Federer, again proved to the tennis world that Djokovic is beatable and he can drop a level or by all accounts be made to, by not being given any rhythm. If there is a weakness to Djokovic’s game, it is not in his game. He has virtually no technical short falls whatsoever. However, he has an affinity towards rhythm, maybe even more so than Nadal. Take this away, and you have a fighting chance. You can’t outhit or out-rally Novak anymore, but you can outfox him on some occasions. Good for tennis.

Federer may be peaking too early again
If there’s one phrase to describe Roger’s performances at most major tournaments over the past three years, this would be it. He starts strong, he rips through the field, gets to the final eight, four or two and mysteriously stumbles. I observed his play against Novak here. It was simply brilliant. It was similar to what he produced against Murray at Wimbledon this year. That match, for me, was the best display of complete grass court tennis, ever. But there was no higher gear to kick into so he simmered down and Novak was waiting. The round robin format may give him a break though. He got to play Nishikori in the next round (a meaningless match to him). Though he exerted himself, with a day’s rest he should be able to ramp it up again for the semis and the final (if he makes it that far). Again this is all theory. Wawrinka can ramp it up too and has.

The future’s still not ready
Take Berdych and put him in the lost generation category. Nishikori, at 26, is not far behind. To put it mildly, the “future” of men’s tennis is flailing at this point. Nishikori was actually the youngest player at this year’s WTF and he didn’t make it past the RR stage. That’s saying something. In fact, Nishikori is currently the youngest player in the top 10. That’s saying A LOT. Rewind to 2003 and this wasn’t the case. So it’s either these legendary players today, are just too good or the up and comers who should take over, are just not good enough to. It could be a combination of both. Whatever the case may be, it would be interesting to discuss and see just why the young ones aren’t making it up the ladder the way you’d expect them to.

That’s all for now guys! Thanks for reading!


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