View Full Version : Hockney, Hewitt and A Cold Hard Dose of Perspective
06-08-2006, 12:04 AM
To put things into context I'm nearer the 50 mark than not, and have seen quite a bit of tennis over the years. Earliest memories are of Rosewall and Newcombe, Smith and Laver, my passion for the game fired by Borg and then practising this strange new two handed back hand thing against a wall at home with a $3 racquet from British Home Stores (think Wal-Mart meets Marks & Spencer) and practising his metronomic serve, (three bounces with the racquet held in the shaft, three bounces off the grass in the ready position - and still an under-rated part of his game). McEnroe was a puzzle I later came to relish, since when I've moved my supporting gaze over Edberg, Becker, Sampras and latterly Federer. I like my tennis natural and flowing, graceful and unfettered, single handed and all court ... other than Borg, who mentally I thought was untouchable even as a 10 year old watching him win another Wimbledon, the players I've enjoyed watching fall into that category. I've had mental blocks with Connors, Lendl, Agassi, Courier, Hewitt and recently Nadal. All superb players in their time and their way, but whatever aesthetic button was pushed by some, these guys failed to locate it. Imagine then my reluctance to tune into what promised to be a good match up on paper, Hewitt vs Nadal 3 days ago. An intriguing battle probably but in a style I didn't like. Akin to going to a David Hockney exhibition but only liking Renoir. First set was routine enough and Hewitt's lack of recent competitive play was shown up. I was getting bored and almost switched off. I gave Hewitt one more set to keep me from tidying my sock drawer. He went a break down and then I had the strangest feeling ... I started to enjoy the game. Suddenly this pair were knocking the cover off it, Hewitt hitting the ball cleaner and harder than I'd ever seen. There were no tantrums, Vamos's, c'mooooon's, glaring or posing - just great tennis played by two fierce fierce competitors. I shouldn't have been surprised because we know they are both great fighters on court. But it was the realisation of seeing what made Hewitt #1 in the world at one time and appreciating it for the first time that made me stop and think. Sadly Hewitt's top days are gone I think, but I now see what he brought to the game and how he did what he did. I always knew what it was that he was supposed to have brought but I never "saw" it myself. Perspective let me see what talents he's got, probably now had. Then I got to thinking about Nadal. I won't like his style in time, anymore than I like Hewitt's style still, but he will undoubtedly leave something with the game and make it a richer place in how it is played (I'm talking substance rather than form). I never appreciated that about Hewitt before but do now, just as I do with Lendl and Agassi etc. I will appreciate it about Nadal too at some point, but I think I'll always hang a Renoir on my wall before an Hockney.... Now if I could just figure out how to afford either ....
06-08-2006, 12:28 AM
I dunno, I think Agassi hits the ball cleaner than anyone, Borg included. I'd rather watch him than anyone else.
Hewitt at his best was definitely something to see. You could throw everything you had at him and he'd just redirect it at an angle to make you run.
06-08-2006, 06:58 AM
Interesting post, Jings. I think perhaps you don't follow the pros all that closely as you did in years past. Which is fine. But the Hewitt/Nadal match was never all that interesting on paper. Hewitt has never had any great clay results (correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think he's won a clay title). Furthermore, he hasn't been playing much the last 12 months. He had no preparation coming into the French. He married recently and had a baby, which is to say his focus has not been on tennis. He's in that stage we've seen with many players where they've reached No. 1, won a few majors, and then fell off, a little burned out, a little contented to have achieved what they did. Tennis is a sport for the young. Which brings us to his opponent, the current "king of clay." 58 matches running, world number 2, etc. The clear favorite. Hewitt's best weapons (in his prime, which is over) were his foot speed and tenacity, and Rafa beats him on both counts. Hewitt stood a chance to win a set with a streak of impeccable ball-striking, and that's about what happened.
Anyway, glad you enjoyed this Hockney match. If you're looking for Renoir style tennis, of course, tune in and watch Mr. Federer's semi. (And of course, Wimby.)
I think its disturbing with all those comments about players being
over and going downward. Lets look over some very telling facts
about Hewitt in 2004 and 2005. Lets have a look at the slams,
since results in the slams obviously is a good measure of a players
2004 Australian Open: 4th round (lost to Federer - eventual winner)
2004 French Open: QF (lost to Gaudio - eventual winner)
2004 Wimbledon QF (lost to Federer - eventual winner)
2005 Us Open F (lost to Federer)
2005 Australian Open F (lost to Safin)
2005 French Open (did not compete)
2005 Wimbledon SF (lost to Federer - eventual winner)
2005 US Open SF (lost to Federer - eventual winner)
Im turning to the slams for guidance because its for the
slams Hewitt is best prepared mentally and physically and
they are what matters. As you can see here, Hewitt has lost
to Federer five (5) times in the last 7 slams he has been
playing - always late in the tournament. I think we can agree
that the level of Hewitt during 2004 and 2005 is as good as
in 2001 and 2002 (when he was the year end no 1) - and this
is was Hewitt is telling every journalist in every interview. Yes -
he had a slip in 2003. And this year he has had some problems -
but that has a lot to do with injurys. Injurys which - by the way -
has forced him to withdraw from a lot of the clay court seasons
in 2004 and 2005. This, of course, has affected his ranking. But
as a player - when it matters: in the slams - Hewitt is just as
dangerous as ever. It's just that Federer came along - and Federer
is an even better player than Hewitt as we all know.
06-08-2006, 07:51 AM
Any Hockney fans should rent "A Bigger Splash", now on DVD. It's a mockumentary from 1974 that shows David's process in executing several of best works from the early 70s. Beats watching Hewitt's next match.
06-08-2006, 01:59 PM
what is it with hewitt (fans) and excuses ???
06-08-2006, 04:38 PM
I still watch way too much tennis, and spend too much time here too! It was an interesting match up simply becasue Hewitt had come in with no form and was travelling well on the dirt, slightly against the odds with his ankle and no practise. didn't expect him to win, but I thought he might give nadal a bloody nose. i've said for a long time that hewitt is past his peak, and i still maintain that, but that wasn't the point of the story really. He's gone deep in GSs recently for sure but his dimunitive armoury has been exposed every time in the end. I hope he proves me wrong, be wonderful to have his life in place off court and on.
06-08-2006, 09:47 PM
Unlike Roddick, Hewitt has a very well-rounded game, his backhand is just as good as his forehand, he can volley really well, his first serve is really nice when it comes in, he's got the entire package. That's why he will be dangerous on any fast hard court for as long as he plays. It's wrong to see him as a spiralling down has-been. Phillipousis is a has-been, not Hewitt.
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