The United States may be the sole superpower but as far as tennis is concerned, we might as well still be Britain’s backwater colony.
We’re out of the Davis Cup, and let’s face it, we Yanks will always be knocked out in the first round as long as we have to play the Brits (by which I mean Andy Murray). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You can say what you want about Andy as a low-rent Hamlet always bemoaning his existential fate, usually in the middle of a match. (Remember the time he was playing Nole at the Aussie Open and got distracted by a feather?) But Andy’s been dandy in Davis Cup, especially against us.
While we do have the No. 1 doubles team in twins Bob and Mike Bryan, they’ll never be enough without marquee singles players. And we’re a long way from John McEnroe and Andre Agassi.
In other Cup news, the long-anticipated matchup between Nole and Borna Coric never materialized, because Serbia had already defeated Croatia 3-0 by Sunday (and would go on to sweep Croatia 5-0). It’s too bad in a way, because everyone was licking his chops for that one – Nole versus the newly minted “Star of Tomorrow” that some in the press are calling Baby Nole. And on that subject both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have taken us (by which I mean me and the rest of the press) to task for the facile comparison – though I’m sure for very different reasons. Nole has praised Borna – who at 18 has already beaten Andy (at the recent Dubai Championship Finals) and Rafa (last October) – and wished him well. Fed, trying to recapture the No. 1 ranking from Nole while Rafa communes on clay, doesn’t need anymore Noles in his life.
“It's far‑fetched, in my opinion,” Fed said after giving Borna a beatdown in Dubai. Then he added tellingly, “I hope he's not going to be the next Novak. Don't do that to him. I believe he plays very differently (from Novak), especially in terms of technique and serve.”
I agree it does no one any good to call him or her the next this or that. It’s lazy journalism. And yet, in the age of the Twitterazi, everyone wants everything tweet-size. Pitch a book, and the agent/publisher will say, “What are your comps?” In other words, which book can you compare yours to? Is it, perhaps, another “Fifty Shades”? Oy.
So no more lazy analogies. Apologies to Borna, who looks to be the real deal; Nole, who’s off to defend his title in Indian Wells, Calif., and to Fed, who’s off to World Tennis Day Tuesday, March 10 at Madison Square Garden to play Grigor Dimitrov, you know, Baby Fed.