Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I am excited for Roger-Andy


The tennis world is abuzz this morning due to the loss of Novak Djokovic to Stanislas Wawrinka last night and I can understand why. Most everyone considered Novak the prohibitive favorite to win another Australian Open and the loss ensures that either Stanny or Tomas Berdych will make a career-defining final (while also having the collective personality of pocket lint). That is all well and good but I can't focus on the upset because all of my attention is set for tonight and Andy Murray-Roger Federer. As an unabashed Federer supporter, this feels like a true opportunity in the wee hours of tonight, as Roger could potentially announce a return to top form and wake up the rather dormant tennis world.

Look, to the average sports fan, only four tennis players matter. Federer, Nadal, Murray and Djokovic are all that get any attention and even Novak is not nearly as marketable as he is talented. Most tennis fans have been concerned for the better part of two years that Roger was slowly slipping so far out of that group in terms of competitiveness that the notion of including him as a marketable star was becoming painful and more out of habit that worth. But tonight can change all of that. Roger has been in his best form in 18 months in Melbourne and his win over Tsonga in the Round of 16 was better than any match he played in 2013. A win tonight can be an announcement to the world that there is still a "Big Four" in tennis and one that might be more competitive all-around this season than in any in recent memory.

I know I am getting ahead of myself. The conventional wisdom should be that Murray will do what he did last year, win a close, competitive match in which he was clearly the superior player but Federer has moments of glory. But conventional wisdom would still have Serena and Novak playing and Dmitrov would not be on the tips of anyone's tongues in Australia at this point besides Maria Sharapova. In this case, I think conventional wisdom will be wrong and we could be set up for a classic.

Roger in an upset, followed by a loss to eventual champion Rafa Nadal in the semifinals....a result that would be good for tennis, while also announcing that 2014 will be a year to remember.