The Fab Four

9 09 2011





As the Men’s Singles U.S. Open moves one step closer to the finals, tennis could not be more enjoyable than it is right now.

The top four seeds in the tournament have all advanced and will face each other in the semifinals tomorrow. 16-time Grand Slam Champion Roger Federer will match up against #1 ranked Novak Djokovic, while Grand Slam-less Andy Murray is matched up against the powerful Rafael Nadal. Could you ask for a better group of tennis players at this point in time?

These men have completely dominated the tennis world the past half-decade, and the U.S. Open gives no sign this trend will be letting up any time soon. All four of these players started off the tournament with their struggles, but as the tournament has progressed, they have honed their play and are now in prime form for the semifinals. I have no doubt we’ll see two competitive and high-energy games tomorrow.

In American society, team sports have a tendency to draw more followers than individual sports such as tennis; it’s much easier to relate to a city or a team rather than to a single person. Because of this, it’s nice to see these four men provide a spark for the sport. Not only are they excellent tennis players, but they also know how to graciously handle themselves on and off the court (I couldn’t see any of them having a fit about a small puddle of water on the ground), setting a great example for how an elite, pro athlete should act.

Consistency goes right alongside their dominance. If you are checking into a Grand Slam tournament at any point in the year, you can bet there’s a good possibility that you will see these four guys in the semifinals, unless there was an upset right before. Furthermore, including this upcoming championship, two of these four men have been in 15 of the past 24 Grand Slam championships. That’s consistency. This is a prevalent statistic, too, since they have all had a Grand Slam appearance in each of the past two years.

Rooting for the underdog is a popular thing to do during sporting events. I’ll even admit that cheering for the Grizzlies and Seahawks this past year was quite invigorating. But when there are two teams – or players – commanding their respective sport, that match-up is even more desirable than a Cinderella team being involved. Ali vs. Tyson. Celtics vs. Lakers. Texas vs. USC. These battles were dramatic and riveting, drawing in viewers from all across the country. This concept is certainly true in tennis. Having two unfamiliar, foreign players in the finals is not very compelling (just look at the past eight Grand Slam women’s finals). Whenever these steady four are on the court, we want to see them play. We want to see this top tennis talent face each other. We want to see them grind out a 5-set match. It’s exciting for the players, the announcers, and the fans.

Based on what I have seen the past two weeks, I envision a 9th Federer-Nadal finals. Nadal is staying behind the baseline as usual and allowing his power to carry him through this tournament, including his most recent straight-sets dominating win against Roddick. Murray, on the other hand, has played very well in New York but has never played well against Nadal. Nadal has a 12-4 head-to-head advantage over Murray. Furthermore, only two of Murray’s four wins came in a Grand Slam tournament, and in one of those, Nadal had to drop out due to injury. Even though Djokovic has won the past two matches against Federer, I like Fed’s current play over Djokovic’s. Federer has won four of five – including the last two – matches in straight sets, and other than that single 4-set game, hasn’t given up more than four games in any set. He is playing his controlled and technical game and hitting all the correct angles. In contrast, Djokovic almost lost his first set to Dolgopolov (and also looked very frustrated throughout the set), being pushed to a 16-14 tie-breaker. Also, he didn’t have to finish two of his matches since Niland and most recently Tipsarevic retired. If Federer gets a jump on Djokovic early and shakes his confidence, I expect Federer to come out with the W, setting up yet again, Roger and Rafa face to face.

Ignite the Site!




One response

10 09 2011

Great work on this piece! And love the pic!

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