Later for London?
I’m sat here watching Gael Monfils struggling against Dominic Thiem in their second matches at the ATP World Tour Finals.
Dom won the first set against Novak Djokovic, but lost the next two comfortably. Gael was easily beaten by an efficient Milos Raonic. This is a must win match for both men and, as I write this (6-3, 0-1 (30-30)), it’s the Austrian who looks more likely.
Gael just doesn’t look like he’s fully fit (although he has just broken Thiem …), like Andy Murray didn’t last night, and, although I didn’t see it, Stan Wawrinka in the earlier match.
Raonic came into this tournament carrying a knock, and Marin Cilic wasn’t 100% either. And this isn’t a new thing. Every year players pull out or don’t play at their best due to fatigue and niggly injuries. Held with just a weeks break from the last masters of the year in Paris, maybe the organisers need to look at a rescheduling.
Firstly, this is meant to be the year-ending tournament, however, the Davis Cup final is yet to be played. Last year, Andy didn’t really turn up at the O2, his thoughts very much on winning the Davis Cup. Are we seeing something similar from Marin Cilic this year? The big Croat looked unbelievably flat last night, there’s no question that in his usual guise he would have punished Murray for an incredibly weak set.
The Davis Cup scenario also makes it very difficult to calculate who will end as year-end number one this year. Andy will lose points following this tournament. While it can’t happen this year, in theory the world number one could win the tour finals, beating the world number two in the final, and yet not finish the year atop of the rankings.
But all of that is just a minor point used to back up my bigger one about fatigue.
We all want to see the top eight players playing at their best. We don’t want to see a load of tired professionals, struggling to move their legs for one final week.
Give them an extra week, play the Davis Cup final first.
The players will be happier with the extra rest, the spectators will be more willing to pay money to see closer matches. We want to see long rallies, heart-stopping moments, breathtaking winners. We don’t want to see unforced error after unforced error.
Someone in the village I live in described Wawrinka as amateur yesterday. That may well be true. But if it is, it’s only because the scheduling surrounding this wonderful tournament is amateur.