Tennis Elbow: Important lessons from Asia

October 14, 2013 · Print This Article

Welcome to Tennis Elbow, a new column that will look back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon recaps the 2013 Shanghai Rolex Masters.

The end of the U.S. Open feels a little like the end of the tennis season, though that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s because it’s the last Grand Slam of the season and, with apologies to the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, there’s no bigger tournament than the four major ones.

Still, now that the Tour went on an Asian swing in the latter half of this month, it seems like there are still things to learn if you happened to have been watching.

Chief among them is the fact that Asia looks to be Novak Djokovic country. The Djoker captured the 2013 China Open and 2013 Shanghai Rolex Masters in back-to-back weeks, having somehow put behind him a disappointing turn of events against Rafael Nadal in the final at Flushing Meadows. And as it turns out, while the Spaniard may have took his World No. 1 ranking, he couldn’t take his fight.

One of the things that I loved most about Djokovic’s invincible run in 2011 was that he wore the timeless Sergio Tacchini brand (i.e. I even bought myself the shirt). The Serb is confident in who he is and isn’t afraid to show it on the tennis courts, and this choice of sponsor said exactly that. But he has since moved on to Uniqlo, and this choice may be even better for the 26-year-old. Uniqlo is a Chinese retail giant, and it’s telling that the best player of the previous three seasons is with it. Djokovic’s gift, apparently, is to pay the Asian community with the gift of winning, as he’s been dominant this season in Asia.

I wrote that this 2013 season was going to become the marquee Nadal season. And 2013 even sticking to the script of the last timeless season that the tennis community has known. Just like Djokovic in 2011, Nadal is experiencing a little post-New York blues. It’s now two losses in five matches—nothing alarming, but not up to par with his 2013 standards. If Nadal is done with this season, there’s really no shame.

The player who beat Nadal for his latest loss is Juan Martin Del Potro. The Argentine, though he hasn’t reached the promised land since his 2009 U.S. Open title, continues to prove that he may be the most destructive force on Tour. If nothing else, he’s definitely the most likely to make the top group of Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray a four-headed monster.

Because Roger Federer is fading, yes, and fast. King Roger is now 32 years old and showing every last bit of it. He broke up with his coach (read: consultant) Paul Annacone this past week, after having lost in the third round in Shanghai. He’s played with a Wilson prototype as a tennis racquet for a few months in 2013, a curious decision. One might have expected the Swiss to keep risks to a minimum as his career winds down, but choosing the prototype was the opposite. It couldn’t have paid off big dividends, but instead it seems like it might have cost him dearly.

The last thing that this has shown is that everyone has forgotten about Murray. Sure, he won the 2013 Wimbledon on home soil, but what has he done for us lately? He’s had an injured back that has forced him to retire from the season-ending Barclays finals. We’ve forgotten about Andy Murray, but it’s not because we’re in the lull of the tennis season. It’s just Andy Murray.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG

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2 Responses to “Tennis Elbow: Important lessons from Asia”

  1. Australian Tennis Podcast on October 14th, 2013 5:07 pm

    I’ve always felt like it’s a misnomer to argue that the tennis season post-US Open is inconsequential or that it has the image of being inconsequential. Particularly at the Masters level. The brunt of the Masters event pre-US Open have an undercard or tune-up vibe about them. Post US Open, the remaining Masters are the primary events on the calendar. And with the exception of perhaps Nadal, history suggests that this stage of the season is intensively contested by all the marquee players.

  2. Charles Gascon on October 15th, 2013 9:57 am

    Thanks for your comment! I do agree with you somewhat, and maybe I should have clarified. Living in North America like I am, that’s how it feels like the tennis season ends with Flushing Meadows. (It’s telling about the world we live in that it’s the case, I guess.)
    Here in Canada, media coverage is simply not up to par for tennis, not with the NFL getting underway, the NHL season getting launched and baseball winding down to the playoffs. Tennis lags way, way, WAY behind.

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