Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon reviews the little breather we’ve just collectively enjoyed.
Did you enjoy the past few days in the tennis world?
Here’s the part where you’ll wonder what we’re referring to, that seemingly not a whole bunch unfolded in tennis last week. We’ll counter with a simple “Exactly,” that this is precisely the point we’re trying to make: not a whole lot happened in tennis over the past week or so and it’s felt, like, great?
Mind you, we are not saying that we’ve had enough of the sport: not now, not ever, and especially not in 2020 when our season was halted for damn near half of its duration. No, we are glad to have tennis back in our lives.
It’s just that, you know, sometimes we’re less glad of it? Yeah, let’s go with that.
Ever since the powers that be decided to forego most/all common sense in August and to go ahead with their plan to host tennis events once again in the middle of a damn pandemic that’s killed well over a million people around the world, the sport has managed to fit its hard court and clay court seasons as well as two Grand Slam events in the span of barely six weeks.
This has all added up to a whirlwind of activity and a condensed schedule for a sport that’s always made the two things its very own raison d’être to begin with. If this is the place where you tell us what an old man we’ve become, then so be it because it was all a little bit overwhelming.
To think that it’s been merely six+ weeks that Novak Djokovic pelted a ball to the throat of a US Open lines judge is wild because it feels like this happened all of 182 weeks ago.
But such is the life in the year of COVID-19.
In light of this, we thought it would be fun to look at all that’s unfolded since the return of tennis in our lives and make a few conclusions on all that we have learned.
Rafael Nadal’s utter dominance at Roland-Garros
Though he may be a weary 34 years old, Rafael Nadal remains ridiculously good on his favourite surface and proved that the Coupe des Mousquetaires will remain his to lose for the foreseeable future. Whether it’s cold or warm outside, whether the balls are the good kind or not, in the end it’s the Spaniard who will leave Court Philippe Chatrier victorious.
The future of women’s tennis is already here
We’ve harped on this point during our daily French Open previews, but it’s easy to forget while you’re waiting on Serena Williams to finally capture her 24th career major title: half of the players ranked in the top 20, including four from the top 10, are 25 years old or younger.
That list does include Roland-Garros winner Iga Swiatek, currently ranked No. 17 and quite possibly on her way to the very top of the rankings.
Women’s tennis is alive and well and we’re damn glad of it.
More flexibility due to new rankings method
One of the direct and concrete consequences of this pandemic has been the sport’s decision to revamp and overhaul its rankings system in order to minimize the effects of the virus on its competitors. Gone are the typical rankings that reflect the action over the previous 52 weeks; for now, the rankings basically reflect a period of two years.
As a result, players have gained flexibility in creating their schedule, something that Djokovic took advantage of a few days ago when he decided to skip the Paris Masters in order to focus on little, old Erste Bank Open in Vienna. Why would he do that? So he can gain more points and secure his grip on the World No. 1.
We still don’t know what the PTPA is for?
Remember the Professional Tennis Players’ Association that Djokovic suddenly created and unveiled in the US Open while all eyes were on him and his fellow competitors. What exactly and concretely is it for? If someone knows, please let us know.
It’s fun to be a Canadian tennis fan…but only to a point
By all measures, Canadian tennis has never, ever been this successful: our players get seeded at Grand Slam events, which was a distinction that used to be reserved for the doubles draws, and plenty of times manage to make deep runs at said majors.
But for all their prowesses, the likes of Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime are not quite at the top of their sport and still suffer heartbreak more than we wish for when they make the quarterfinals or better at big events.
There’s only one conclusion: we need Bianca Andreescu back.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG