Tuesday, September 1, 2015

U.S Open: The Attitude Era?

The U.S Open of tennis is in full swing with action kicking off this past Monday. On the men's side, we've been privy to the usual suspects advancing to round two but on the women's docket there have been a plethora of upsets creating some, to quote a Dixie Chicks classic "Wide Open Spaces". With the likes of Karolina Pliskova and Lucie Safarova already bowing down in the first round, the common thought is that it's safely setting up for  a Serena romp, but there are players left hanging that will surely give Serena a valiant effort in her pursuit for another "Serena Slam". Two names specifically come to mind in the women's game for two ladies who have yet to receive their breakthrough but are on the precipus of accomplishing herculean things in this great game. The feisty Italian, twenty three year old Camila Giorgi is on the verge of doing something special and the bright confines of New York City might very well be where her very first chapter is penned. Giorgi has an extremely powerful forehand and in the few matches I've witnessed of hers, her positioning at net is very technically sound. If she can overcome second round opponent Sabine Lisicki, a very good player in her own right who's endured through a miserable summer, a date in a fourth round may be arranged with Simona Halep, the number two player in the world but who's game is very susceptible to the hard courts. Bold prognostications are nothing out of the ordinary, but I think a trip to the quarterfinals is within reach for Giorgi. The other unconventional name to keep an eye out for on the women's side is the Polish power Magda Linette. Her major championship resume is fairly bare at the moment but despite her diminutive size standing at a whopping 5'7, she possesses a booming first serve that will create a strategical nightmare for second round opponent Agnieszka Radwanska, for no other reason then she may be experiencing a bit of a let down with the dream of facing her sister Urszula a distant dream now. The Radwanska sisters don't handle the power game particularly well which will favour young Magda in this match. A potential third round duel featuring herself and young American Madison Keys would be an absolute treat, something I view as a realistic possibility. Watch out for Linette and Giorgi on the women's side.

On the men's side, I would be amendable to discussing how the draw is shaking out but the primary focus of this article is to enlist my thoughts on the impending "Attitude Era" in men's tennis skyrocketed by the brash personality of Nick Kyrgios. Kyrgios is the "bad boy" of tennis, in a sport that hasn't had a real villain since John McEnroe. Reading comments via twitter over the last few days, the common opinion is that Kyrgios' antics don't put a positive representation on the game of tennis, but to no surprise of anyone my take differs greatly. Kyrgios brings a aspect of a bullish behavior to the game, something that is in stark contrast to bland personalities that the upper echelon of the men's game currently enthrall the public with, whether it's Roger Federer and his politically correct answers, Nadal's broken English, or Djokovic's "I think I'm funny but I'm really not" demeanor, the game of tennis needs a face that can combine premier tennis abilities with a recognizable personality, something the Australian Kyrgios can offer. Kyrgios' name has been seen in a negative light ever since his comments made at the Rogers cup in Montreal. In a match against Stan Wawrinka, Kyrgios was heard muttering that he hooked up with Wawrinka's girlfriend, and that Wawrinka purportedly "bangs" eighteen year old girls. In response to the controversial comments,the ATP tour fined Nick a substantial amount and he was warranted a suspension as well. Now, do I condone the suspension and fine? Absolutely, if for no other reason than that live tennis can be construed as a potential family outing and these kind of derogatory comments have no place in the family setting. But to step away from that angle, his antics are getting tennis talked about through a national spotlight. Personally, I enjoy watching tennis and used to play tennis quasi competitively but over the last few years, the dominance of the big four in the men's game, and I'll include Andy Murray in that group has made tennis predictable and taken some of the enjoyment away from it. It's like what baseball went through in the mid to late nineties. Sure, you can love to hate the Yankees but to see them win every year got boring fast and didn't provide much hope to other American League patriarchs. Watching Kyrgios play brings back a level of intrigue. Every sport has that somebody who's seen in the antagonist role, whether it's Sean Avery in hockey, Dwight Howard in basketball, or John Rocker in baseball, it creates discussion, and what on earth is wrong with that? For some reason in tennis, it's forbidden that anybody breaks the "code", as if to say the state of the tennis athlete is held to a much higher standard then most.  I'm not denying that it would be advisable that Kyrgios tone down some of his banter, but unless the sport is okay consistently stoic Federer's of the world, some further pondering may be needed on how to spice up the courts.

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