OK, Nachiket, got the OK to do the preview, so here it is. I could probably pick Novak to win 4 or 5 of these, but went with a couple surprises. A lot will change before most of them play out, but kind of fun to project right now anyway....
Yes, I would love to do another Masters 1000 and I'll throw your support into the mix to do this about a week before IW--which is BR's ideal timing. Don't worry, I'll keep scheming to do retro articles when possible. I enjoy stars of the past as much as the present...
Nachiket, always good to here from you. Regarding last year's Masters 1000 article...well, I would be open to doing something like that again--it would probably be just before Indian Wells. It will also depend on what our tennis team needs, so I can keep pitching ideas, but it usually has to be right timing for them. Glad they've let me do some retro or historical articles on occasion, but again, the timing and perceived interest level must be approved.
Thanks Nachiket. I did respond to your comment, but it disappeared! They're taking their time aren't they?
Got a reply on ideas going forward: They would rather use this the next time wind does affect a big match (like USO 12 semi/final), so that it would be more relevant to link to the moment. It would likely be a column to compare to other moments when certain stars were clearly able to take advantage of the wind--Agassi, Nadal, Murray etc...In the past we used to have a lot of random list ideas, but we are making a more concerted effort to link these kinds of ideas as they unfold. But it's on the idea spreadsheet waiting for the right time.
Yes, I'll submit the idea and see if the team accepts it. It's an interesting idea because there are those memorable matches where a player can really take advantage of his opponent with cleaner ball-striking. There are players who definitely get affected by the wind. I thought that the wind from semis to final at USO 2012 was something that helped Murray and hurt Novak.
Andy really did look great in the first set and fought hard in the third. He pushed Rafa, but you are correct in assessing that he seemed to wear down in the last few games. The good news for Rafa was finding more of that snarling edge and bigger shots at times, once he was backed into a corner. It's another good step for him, but once again does not look like the old clay-court dominator we've seen for years....Was only able to catch some of Novak-Ferrer--Novak is getting work he needs but he's not all the way back either. As long as that wrist is healed, strengthened even, he has a great shot at the FO this year. We'll see.
The windy conditions idea is very interesting. Our assignment team is going to be prioritizing FO coverage coming up, but eventually, and during some of the slower times--late July for example--could be a great time to blow through (no pun intended) this topic.
I don't see Murray as being a clone of Djokovic. It's easy for people to say during h2h matches because Murray is good at tracking down shots and keeping the rally going. Djokovic does not play as aggressively against Murray as he does against Nadal, so takes less risks and then it can turn into a match with more of Murray's tempo. But Djokovic's power and angles are better, and his footwork on clay is superior. Murray is not only more inept with sliding into shots, but he doesn't generate his own power or pace as well. It's a little like Lleyton Hewitt who was more effective on grass and hard courts because he could counter-punch rather than generate his own pace. Djokovic is able to dictate much better on clay and call his shots. Right now, there is a world of difference in the way they are playing but maybe Murray will have a resurgence after the clay-court season.
Sorry for the delay... but I've been busy. I reviewed the tennis matches and it's safe to say, Novak is a cold blooded killer again, Stan W cooled off after AO, Sharapova will NEVER beat Serena Williams ( and she's not even playing her best tennis ) and Roger Federer is playing consistent tennis again. Well, you know ( QF/semis/finals ). The clay season will be about one thing and one thing only, Nadal/Djokovic. I'm on the record. If Nadal doesn't beat Novak at one of the three masters tournaments, he will get his ass whipped at the FO ( no more confidence, just like 2011 ).