I've said it on another thread, but I'll say it again. I am delighted for Kei Nishikori. He won in front of his home crowd, got his first title for four years, and bageled revolting Raonic. I make no secret of it, I'm especially delighted with the latter point.
I would agree with whoever it was that said some of Nishikori's play today was like Andy. Some of his returns were dazzling. If he could string that together regularly he would surely threaten the top ten. I don't see him winning slams, I really don't, but he could surely go deep in to them. I'd like that to be honest, because he seems to be a decent, nice guy. Where I do think Kei could threaten, if he can keep up something like that standard he achieved today, is in those 500s, 250s.
I really do think this puts Andy's loss yesterday in perspective. Andy has just won a major. Whatever anyone says, he has won two big, big tournaments back to back, with the Olympics and the USO. It was probably to be expected that at some point he would have some reaction to that. Those of us who have followed the sport for a while have seen players win slams and then not do well in the next tourmanent, before. It happens. I guess in some ways it must be like a shock reaction almost. It would certainly seem that some players over the years have needed time to adjust to being a top player, to being considered up there with the very, very best.
It just seems to me that yesterday, when it came down to it, Andy just didn't have that extra bit of 'something' to go to, that extra thing deep inside all of the champions that usually carries them over the line no matter what. However, I don't think that gives us any reason to panic, and it certainly doesn't give anyone the right to attack him for getting frustrated. The way I look at it now, in the light of this day, is that Andy had match points, after a tussle with Raonic. Sure, he didn't get off to the best start, but he turned it around and made the match very, very competitive. He fought, and he is rightly pleased with that effort. Andy achieving those match points suggests to me that he is now reading Raonic's game. I honestly think we have reason to be hopeful that the next time Andy plays Raonic he will come through. More generally, I think the way Andy is already looking at the positives from this week and looking further ahead, is a great sign. I really do think a corner has been turned in terms of Andy's confidence.
I wonder where some of you have heard that Andy is having cortisone injections before big matches? I know he was quoted as saying he'd done it once, but I haven't heard anything on the subject since before Wimbledon. In terms of the way his back is treated, I think we have to have some trust. Andy must be seeking advice from someone, there must be people he can go to, doctors etc, who would advise him on what he can do. I just don't think Andy would do something long term that could pose a risk to his future. If he is still using the cortisone, maybe it is just to get him to the end of the year, when he can have a bit more time to deal with the problem.
I'm not sure why some persist in the opinion that there is nothing wrong with Andy's back. I beg to differ. I'm not suggesting he is unfit to play, only he and the people around him would know that, and it strikes me that if he wasn't then he wouldn't be playing, but he did look a bit stiff against Wawrinka, and also against Raonic this week. Just because Andy has not gone in to graphic details about what is wrong, it does not automatically follow that there is no problem, or that the problem is in his mind. It's funny, but Andy gets criticised for showing his feelings on court sometimes, but then he keeps details of an ongoing injury to himself and he gets accused of faking. He can't win.
I also think some are way over dismissive of Andy touching various body parts too. He doesn't do it that often, and it is not something he only does in tight situations. I can't remember what match it was, but it could have been against Raonic, I seem to remember at the USO that Andy put his hand to his back when he was actually winning, so I just think to dismiss it as some sort of nervous tick thing is a bit unfair, and just a tiny bit patronising. The fact is that you can't see pain or discomfort, and everyone experiences those differently.
I have to say it, I'd love Andy to get to no.1 in the world. I'm not bothered if it is this year, next year, whenever. That's why, the other week, I wanted some idea of what Andy needs to do performance and points wise, to get there. I think some thought I was saying I want it now and Andy was under pressure to do it. That isn't so, not at all. All I wanted to know is is it possible this year or not. I don't mind either way. Personally I don't want Andy to acheive it for me, I want Andy to do it for himself, because it is something I believe he is capable of.
Given a choice in the matter, I would go for Andy winning another slam over him being no.1, but I can see why he would want to achieve that goal. It has to be the pinnacle in any career, being considered the best in the world at what you do, and having the stats, or points, to back that up. I think Andy is also someone who likes goals, challenges. Winning that first slam was his first goal, but now he has done that he is right to set his sights higher. To reassess his sights in that way shows how motivated he is.