I did a post last night on my Ipad, which then decided to not connect to the net, so it wouldn't send, so I'll try to remember what points I was going to make.
I'm not sure what the point is of showing how many matches various players have played this year. The first thing I thought when I saw the figures was hang on, Andy couldn't play Madrid because of his back injury. What was he supposed to do, turn up and play on that ridiculous blue clay and risk going over and hurting himself even more? I think not. He isn't stupid.
Some of the others on the list will have played more Davis Cup than Andy this year. The whys and wherefore's of Andy playing Davis Cup are entirely another issue for another thread. However, my own take on it is that Andy's singles career has to take priority. With the best will in the world Great Britain won't be winning the Davis Cup any time soon, and I'm not sure Andy should be expected to prop up the team all the time, however much he enjoys playing for his country.
The other thing to say is that Ferrer and Tipsarevic would both play in tournaments where Andy wouldn't automatically be expected to play. What is he supposed to do, turn up to some God forsaken place to play in a tournament he could win with his eyes closed and his hands behind his back just on principle? Part of being a pro is managing your schedule right, and Andy doesn't do too badly on that score.
The thing that would make those match stats more relevant is win/loss ratio. Andy hasn't lost that many matches this year to people outside the top 3. I know there has been the odd freaky loss, but not that many. Equally, in all the talk about the number of titles Andy has notched up (or not) this year, no one has mentioned the two other finals Andy reached, one in Miami I think, losing to Djokovic, the other in Dubai, where he beat Djokovic in straights in the semi's before losing to Federer in the final. My point is, fine, talk about the doom and gloom aspects, but mention all the positives as well, and there are plenty. Had Andy won those two other finals he would (obviously) now have had four titles this year, and no one would be tearing their hair out.
As I said, there has been the odd freaky loss. The clay season wasn't great this year, but the quarters at Roland Garros wasn't bad. The clay is arguably not Andy's best surface anyway, and I think you have to ask whether last year was an out of the ordinary good year for him on the red stuff. I wouldn't know. However, Andy did also have the back problem. The clay isn't an easy surface when you are not right, and during that part of the year it was clear Andy wasn't right, and I don't care what anyone says to the contrary.
I can't remember where it was (one of you would know) but didn't Andy get to the quarters of one of the Masters tournaments after only playing one round? He had a bye for the first round, which the top 8 do, and he played the second round, winning. His third round opponent pulled out - my instinct tells me it was Raonic or Berdych, I just can't remember - leaving Andy to play the quarters on the basis of one match. It was interesting to hear the split opinion of the commentators. Some said it would have given Andy a break, others said that once you are in a tournament playing is better than practice for keeping momentum. Anyway, Andy lost.
I think it all comes down to Andy's game though. I think you do have to remember that Lendl and Andy have seemed to be taking his game apart this year and working on key areas, which Philip brilliantly explained much better than I could. However, what I do know is that Andy has gone from basically a defensive player, to a player who is brilliant in defence, but will also now attack and take matches to opponents. However, I'm sure that change hasn't come easily. We all know that for a while Andy played cat and mouse with 'easier' opponents, but tried to bring his more aggressive game out for the top three. Now he is consistently more aggressive against all of his opponents, and that way of playing now looks right on him. The thing is though, his game is undoubtedly still a work in progress. He will undoubtedly have off days even now. The trick is to have those off days at the right time. Cincy was the right time. The USO would clearly be the wrong time, not that I anticipate that happening.
I'm not going to reinvent the wheel again, but the implication that Andy isn't or shouldn't be tired is ridiculous. I can't put it any plainer than that without being rude. It isn't just the playing either. It is all the emotional energy. Andy got to his first final at Wimbledon this year in his home country, a country that is desperate beyond words for its first major winner in over 75 years. The pressure of that must have been immense. Everyone wanted a bit of Andy, everyone had an opinion. The man himself probably just wanted to play well and win. Well, he did play well, but he lost. We all know how tough that loss was. I know I wasn't the only one who cried right along with him in early July. However, very quickly Andy had to pull himself together and get ready for the Olympics, and he did. Out he came, back to Wimbledon within three weeks of losing that final. Over the next 9 days that man played doubles, mixed doubles and singles, and played, I have to say it, some of the very best tennis I have ever seen him play, but just as importantly, he put his heart and soul in to it. Andrew Castle was (for once) quite right during the singles final when he described Andy as a man possessed as soon as he put on that GB shirt. He went out there to win, and he did.
When athletes from other disciplines were having a well earned rest what was Andy doing? Oh yes, interviews and media stuff his sport requires under its rules. He had no time to savour or enjoy his win, no time to get his head around the fact that for the first time he had done what certain people said he could not do, arguing that he wasn't tough enough. He had beaten two of the top three to win a big title, because make no mistake about it, it might not have decent ranking points, but that Olympic title is HUGE. Then, when everyone else was enduring....er, I mean enjoying, the closing ceremony, Andy was gearing up to go to Toronto and then Cincy. He arrived in Toronto looking almost asleep on his feet, but still clearly working on adrenalin and elation, but won a round before pulling out - wisely. He got to Cincy and pasted Querrey before clearly hitting a wall against Chardy, who was clearly doing a Rosol - they should adopt that as a new tennis term for a weird win, a Rosol
The thing is, Andy arguably could have dug deep and turned the match with Chardy around, maybe. He did try. However, really, what would be the point? The ranking points, some would say. Well fine, but Andy has bigger fish to fry than a Masters at this point. Isn't it better for him to keep something back, especially this busy year, for the last major of the year? A strong showing at the USO will give him some points. Then, when the USO is over, he can focus his energies on recouping any points he might still need.
Now, again with the ifs and buts. If Ferrer does this, if Andy doesn't do that, blah, blah, blah. Well, what if Ferrer has peaked this year? Sure, he has done well so far, very well, but what if that is it now? Also, what has he done in the majors in comparison to Andy? What if, and I say it cautiously, Andy wins the USO and then goes on a good run in the rest of the year? What if he again goes on a good run in Asia? What if he comes over completely silly and wins the WTF? Don't get me wrong, it's fine to look at the worst scene scenarios for Andy, but what about those others nearest to him? Ferrer could be done. Tsonga is a bit up and down. Berdych is away with the faries. As well as the suggestion/possibility (I don't see it happening, but there we are) of Andy going down a bit, he could also move up to three in the world, maybe, just maybe mind, even higher by year end. We will see. All I know is that whatever happens there is no point in going to pieces over any of it yet. I have total confidence that Andy will do whatever he needs to do to get the results he wants.