Dear Andy and Novak:
Hope those elbows are healing. Pretty amazing that the same year you two turn 30 - a week apart from another -- you’ve each got the same injury.
Missed you guys in Miami this year. Considering that the two of you have collectively won the title there eight times, it’s no doubt upsetting to miss out on so many ranking points.
It’s tricky now to get a read on what’s going on with each of you. Andy, you played the daylights out of the tour last year to reach that number one ranking. Was it worth it? Do you feel you’ll be able to bring your best to the majors this year? Maybe it will be best for you to see the spring clay season as a time to restore your health and confidence - and then make a big push to defend your Wimbledon title.
And Novak, it’s quite a head-scratcher to watch you lose your aura of dominance. All the way through last year’s win at Roland Garros, you patrolled the court and dictated play so brilliantly. But these many losses you’ve had have revealed an odd form of passivity.
But we must confess that with you two gone, we’re all pretty excited to be watching Roger and Rafa in the mix once again.
See, here’s the thing: A tennis instructor showing a young player how the game to be played would point to you two - superb technique, footwork, stroke production and sound shot selection. Andy and Novak, you two at heart are very much how the game is played these days: forceful defense, a playing style based primarily on consistency and attrition, with occasional shot-making thrown in when necessary. Call it an amped-up version of Chris Evert’s playing style.
But Roger and Rafa are quite different, be it Roger’s improved offense - particularly his backhand - or Rafa’s off-the-charts intensity. There they are, the ballerina and the matador, inspiring millions who likely don’t know Lendl from lentils.
Here’s hoping all four of you will be in the same draw soon.
In the meantime, best for a good recovery.