The Majors are over yet the trophies just keep coming (check Nole’s out, above!). But this late season, autumnal period is traditionally the time when the players tie up loose ends instead of scaling great heights. Of course, Rafa and Nole are so lofty these days, even their post-Major stuff has been pretty superb. Rafa rightfully took the number one ranking in Beijing, yet Nole showed he wasn’t going to let things slide with his win over his Spanish rival in the finals. Djokovic backed up his performance and his chances for regaining the top spot before season’s end with an impressive three set victory over Del Potro at the Shanghai Masters this weekend. So, the No. 1 and No. 2 men in the world are still dancing together this fall, keeping things interesting for the World Tour Finals. Yes, for these two guys, the number one ranking qualifies as a loose end to wrap up.
But what about the lowly number seven, Roger Federer, who continued to torture us with a three sets loss to Gael Monfils in the third round this week? This is a man who loves his tailoring, and a dangling thread is usually snipped as soon as it’s noticed. Apparently his late season wardrobe malfunction is Paul Annacone, who RF announced was leaving the team on Saturday. Okay, he put it quite nicely:
After a terrific 3 ½ years working together, Paul and I have decided to move on to the next chapter in our professional lives. When we started together we had a vision of a 3 year plan to win another Grand Slam title and get back to the number #1 ranking. Along with many other goals and great memories, these 2 main goals were achieved. After numerous conversations culminating at the end of our most recent training block, we felt like this was the best time and path for both of us. Paul remains a dear friend, and we both look forward to continuing our friendship. I want to thank Paul for his help and the value he has added to me and my team.
Snip, snip, I say. Or should I move on metaphorically and say “write, write”? What will this next chapter hold, exactly?
We all saw this coming, right? The news that Mirka was showing up at the practice courts with more frequency during the US Open got many of us wondering. Roger still has Mirka, who helped see him through a successful “coachless” period and he still has his fr-oach (friend/coach) Severin Luthi on hand. But will there be a new character joining them in Roger’s box? I sure hope so, because that will show a certain level of commitment to improvement that goes beyond Roger’s new love of Twitter and #hashtagwitticisms.
So who? Who could it possibly be? Roger’s had his share of high profile coaches, it’s hard to imagine who could be a better fit than Annacone, who had Sampras’s back late in his career, after all. Try Darren Cahill again? Or maybe Larry Stefanki, former coach of buddies Tim Henman and Andy Roddick? Speaking of Tim and Andy, I am a bit obsessed with the idea of Roger mining his own generation of recently retired players for coaching assistance. How about Coach Henman? Or Coach Roddick – he may have some ideas about “beating Djokovic.” Or what about Ivan Ljubicic, who has already been helping Raonic and Berdych? What are your top names?
I’m also thinking about:
Andy Murray and his back, and his comeback from the back. The “minor procedure” he had on a disc in his back this fall has sidelined him through the World Tour Finals. He’s scheduled to play an exhibition in the Caribbean at the end of November. Andy looks relatively pain free, or at least well drugged, in this hospital photo, but I imagine the WTF organizers are still grimacing as they face the possibility that the O2 arena will be missing homeboy hero Murray and possibly the rankings-deficient Roger Federer this year. Tickets still available!
The future Mrs. Djokovic. We all love Jelena, or at least the beatific images of her that we see on our television screens. When Novak announced their engagement via Twitter after the US Open, it felt right, like a similar announcement from longtime friends. “Finally!” we could all say, “What have you been waiting for?” And then we could all giggle at how dorky they are:
Pierre is going to be ring bearer, mark my words!
Freaky Fry’s future BFF, Micaela Bryan, of Twitter fame:
And finally – Istanbul is coming up! I love this venue and the Turkish fans, which have brought a soccer fan style fanaticism and energy to the year end WTA Championships. Even without the star power of Sharapova, who withdrew with a shoulder injury, we still have the refreshed Vika/Serena rivalry to look forward to and now this weekend’s Linz champion, Angelique Kerber, is confirmed in the mix.