At some point in the last few weeks, I ended up on a rather ferocious tennis message thread with my friends Howard and Brian. Most of the people I know in my life, even those I play tennis with, are, at most, casual tennis fans, so it is quite striking to be on a geeky tennis thread where David Wheaton, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Gabby Sabatini just get mentioned unironically and for no particular reason.
Normally I'm willing to cede that the tennis player with the most titles is the GOAT. For Sampras (who played in an era with arguably the most parity), Federer, and Nadal I could stomach that argument.
As much as I respect Djokovic's game and determination, I just can't do it, though.
In Roger's and Nadal's primes, he largely could not get past them. Most of his winning against them came as Roger aged, and Nadal met an earlier physical decline. To me, he's just collecting (mostly) empty titles at this point. He's unquestionably one of the 5 greatest male tennis players of all time, but you can't convince me that he'd win like this against either of those two in their primes, and that's the difference (for me, at least).
The Coco Gauff match was awesome. Sabalenka looked like she was going to blow her away. Just wish that with the equal pay (50 years!) the women actually put in equal work as the men so it could have been a 4 or 5 setter. I guess they're too delicate.
I loved this years US open so much the 2 weeks seemed to be none stop action I loved all of the long sets and big matches my only regret (and it’s not even that big of one) is that we didn’t see a USA women’s final I love watching Madison play but Sabelanka played any amazing Semi that I couldn’t believe I she actually won. Totally worth staying up until midnight to watch.
One way to think about what extraordinary heights Djokovic has achieved is to remember that for a long while, until Sampras broke it, Roy Emerson's record of 12 majors was the magic number to aim for. Djoker has doubled that. Imagine if Barry Bonds had hit 1,500 home runs in his career.
I just watched bits and pieces of the US Open this year.
But one set I saw in its entirety was Medvedev’s second set 6-1 win against Alcaraz. The tennis that Medvedev played was as good as any I’ve seen. His serving was magnificent-it was rare when Alcaraz could even return a serve. Seemed his service games lasted about 43 seconds. His ground strokes were great too, and he made a few incredible shots that seemed to stun Alcaraz . I don’t think Alcaraz played poorly, just that Medvedev was so magnificent. Playing that way I think he would have beaten anybody in that set. Afterward he acknowledged that he played at an 11 level on a 10 point scale. The second set was way higher in my opinion.
the moment when Novak unveiled the shirt and talked of Kobe made me tear up- wow, what a US Open!!! Big Congrats to Coco for winning at age 19 (Serena first won US Open on 11 Sept, 1999 at age 17, the first of her 23 Slam victories!)
Medvedev played such a brilliantly attack against Alcarez his defensive approach against Djokovic was surprising. And after losing badly in the 1st set I was extremely puzzled. But the second set was as even and as brutal a contest as you can have in tennis.
Djokovic simply wouldn't lose. I think that is how you become an all-time great. The ability to stay alive and force your opponent to beat you separates the greatest champions from the almost greats. At Wimbledon, Alcarez wore Djokovic down and kept him down. On Sunday, Medvedev pressed Djokovic as hard as he has been all year, but Medveded couldn't strike the set winning shot.
While I still think Federer at his best is the greatest tennis player I’ve ever seen — i.e. if I knew Federer was going to play his absolute best vs. Novak’s best I’d take Federer (except on clay, where I’d still take Nadal over Djokovic on those terms) — I think the greatest of all time is basically settled at this point, for whatever it’s worth.
I think it would be difficult to even put together an argument for anyone but Novak now beyond resorting to nebulous stuff like I said above.
What dumbfounds me the most...at the beginning of '21, Novak's sitting on 17 GS. And with history in the balance, rips off 7 GS in 10 starts between ages 34 and 36.
For a guy who has alternated between maximally and minimally charismatic in his career (probably to his on-court benefit) - winning #24 in the States, and then breaking out that Kobe shirt...he does have an ability to capture a moment.
For the first time ever, I was rooting for Medvedev. I don't know why. He seemed to be a more sympathetic character to me, rather than a heel like he had seemed previously.
As amazing as his 24 majors is the fact that Djokovic has played in 72 majors and reached the finals in 36. Simply incredible.
As for the women's match, this has got to be an incredibly disappointing loss for Sabalenka. The tournament was there for the taking. She had the chance to win a major without playing Swiatek, Rybankana, Vondrousova (who was injured anyhow), Jabeur (who was under the weather) and Pegula, all of whom went out relatively early. This is not to downplay the skills and effort of Gauff and, before her, Madison Keys. But I think Sabalenka will look back on this tournament as a tremendous missed opportunity. As for Gauff, the 19 year old played smarter and more under control tennis. Her terrific court coverage and defense frustrated Sabalenka, who appeared to have no Plan B to fall back on beyond hitting it as hard as she could and hoping to put it past Coco.
Who didn’t believe in Coco? Random Twitter trolls? Since she burst on the scene has anyone been more hyped as the next great American tennis player than Coco Gauff. Even more, has she not been hyped as the next great all-time champion?
She’s been so poised and has said the right thing her whole career, so I can let it pass, but if there are haters, they’ve been lurking in anonymity, because I’ve never seen the press and broadcasters board the bandwagon so quickly as they did for her.
ESPN has been a huge supporter for 4 years and while I don’t consume a ton of media, the tennis media I’ve seen has been positive.