And Then There Were Two: Tennis After Roger Federer

The 2022 men’s tennis season is upon us and still the Big Three stagger on. Djokovic remains atop the tennis world in the number 1 position and may reach a staggering 7 years as the number 1. Federer and Nadal are right beside him with 20 slam titles and a host of records of their own to tout. The younger generation of players have finally begun to make their presence felt — Thiem and Medvedev have won slams, and Zverev has been on the bring of his own slam title. But Djokovic and Nadal have won 12 of the last 14 slams, and question remains: how much longer can the Big Three stem the tide of time and hold the youngsters at bay?

The 2022 season is off to a bizarre start, with the entire world watching as Djokovic practices in Spain while every other player makes his way to Melbourne for the AO prep tournaments. After weeks of enigmatic silence and speculation that Nole would skip the first slam of the year rather than get vaccinated, it appears that the medical panel have given him a medical exemption that will allow him to play.

It’s hard to know what the reason is — the requirements for a medical exemption are pretty clear, and it is difficult to believe that a top athlete could have qualified for any of those reasons and still be able to play tennis at the highest level — and far easier to believe that the medical panel charged with evaluating exemption applications relented in the face of the pressure of denying the favorite and current world number 1 a chance to compete to defend the title. For me it’s a big black eye for both Djokovic and the AO.

Yeah it’s terrible, can’t imagine any spectator in Aus will be happy with this guy playing tennis unvaccinated all the while covid cases explode.

I have been watching the ATP Cup via Tennis TV — more about which in a moment — and there have been some fine matches along the way.

The very best 3-set match I’ve seen in a while pitted France’s Ugo Humbert vs. Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, and Humbert pulled off the surprise upset, winning 6-7, 7-5, 7-6.

At the other end of the spectrum, Tsitsipas has looked like a guy who has not played tennis for a while, declining to play his first potential singles match and then suffering defeat at the hands of Schwartzman. Greece is 0-2 in the round robin and out of the semis.

At this point it looks as if Spain and Russia will advance. Poland and Argentina are both 2-0 in group D, while all 4 teams in group C are deadlocked at 1-1.

About Tennis TV, they launched a whole new suite of online streaming apps in December, and it has been more or less a disaster. The new app looks like it will eventually be find, but it remains buggy and broken across multiple platforms, and even ATP players have begun to complain about it on social media. I’ve been able to make it work, but not without a lot of swearing along the way.

To be fair, the claim is that the medical panel evaluates exemption requests anonymously, but that’s another thing that is just hard to believe.

He is most definitely going to hear some noise from the crowds.

Both Rafa and Andy are entered in the Melbourne 250 warm-up event. People were hoping for a matchup between the two, but Murray lost in three sets to Facundo Bagnis in the first round, while Nadal is waiting for his second-round match after getting the first round bye.

Yep. There are things going on in the world right now far more important than tennis, and to capitulate to Djokovic’s anti-vax stance is terrible message. I’ll be rooting against him.

For Australia to first grant, then rescind the exemption would be like turning tragedy into farce.

Poland crushes Argentina to end up 3-0 in Group D, and they are into the semifinals against Spain.

I would say that Hurkacz has been huge — he’s 3-0 in singles in the round robin and absolutely rolled over Schwartzman — but his lesser-known teammate Majchrzak is also 3-0.

Tennis Twitter is really insane right now. It’s amazing to watch the Djokovic fans embrace the anti-vaccination cause and to watch anti-vaxers embrace Djokovic all at the same time.

He seems to be getting dunked a fair amount on replies to his post above, but I don’t know what the percentages are.

Well, last word is he’s locked in an immigration room without a phone, waiting to see if he’ll be allowed in the country at all.

It was a massive PR blunder to announce his exemption the way he did. There are other players there with exemptions, but the process is supposed to be anonymous, and he could simply have showed up and refused to answer media questions about how he qualified or whether he was vaccinated or not. By announcing it, he rubbed people’s faces in it, he guaranteed a huge local public backlash, which in turn forces the government to take an interest in the entire thing.

The 2022 tennis season is…exciting?

Never been a fan of his, even less so now. My read this episode is entirely in character for him.

I think he generally gets a bad, undeserved rap, but this is an own goal with time running out.

Goes to show you can be the best in the world at your job and still be utterly clueless.

I do not care for Djokovic. He’s moved from fun to root against, to just making me wish he wasn’t around. I admit I’m assuming the most cynical reasons for everything around his vaccination exemption.

Hah, I responded before catching up on this. Ridiculous.

I’ve been a fan of his tennis because at times he’s played some of the best tennis I’ve ever seen. He also has a good sense of humor, so there’s a lot to like about him. But this anti-vax nonsense has really soured me on him.

Both Nadal and Federer got vaxxed and were public about it to encourage others to vax. Here’s Rafa:

“I understand that there are people who do not want to be vaccinated, but it seems a bit selfish to me,” he said.

“We have suffered a lot.

“We do not know 100 percent the effects of vaccines, but we do have to trust the doctors… we do know the effect of the virus if we are not vaccinated.

That’s someone I can root for.

The latest news seems to be that Australian federal authorities have canceled Djokovic’s visa, and that he is appealing that decision to an Australian court. Apparently he is still at the airport.

Edit: It appears from some sources that they’ve issued a deportation letter.