Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon completes a fun little hypothetical exercise.
In these bleak times of isolation and absolutely no tennis played, we have little choice but to let our imagination run free and give in to the hypotheticals.
Would Novak Djokovic still be unbeaten if tennis hadn’t stopped last month? Might Rafael Nadal be on its way to sweeping everything on clay court? What other, new stupid nonsense BS might Nick Kyrgios have treated us to in the meantime? How blessed by the Gods is Roger Federer to have taken four months off to nurse an injury right at the onset of a world pandemic? (Oops, that last one isn’t exactly hypothetical lol.)
All important questions to varying degrees in the sense that they take us away from our daily routine of not doing a lot of things and transport us to an alternate reality where things are still happening.
This is precisely what the below tweet from Tennis TV accomplishes when they ask their fans what their dream team would look like.
Choosing one player per category, who makes your team? pic.twitter.com/gY5ZeHSDY8
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) March 30, 2020
If you would play this game with us for just a minute, let’s run through our all-important choices in this fully hypothetical exercise in order to create the ultimate dream team of the #TennisElbow column.
Big 3 – Novak Djokovic
We’re picking our choice for the current best men’s player of all time and we’re not even blinking twice. In all likelihood, Novak Djokovic will finish his career as the man with the most Grand Slam titles in history, with the most prize money won and with the most weeks spent at No. 1 in the world. He also has a firm grasp on everything central that unfolds on the ATP, not to mention a winning head-to-head record against both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer here.
But mostly we’re picking Djokovic because this exercise asks us to create our dream team. Our dream wouldn’t be complete without our favourite player ever.
Young Guns: Daniil Medvedev
The thing about this category is that, like, Dominic Thiem is a full two years older than the other three listed? You might look at our choice and think that we’re underrating Thiem’s candidacy, his 16 career titles, 3 Grand Slam finals and No. 3 ranking spot.
But we feel like Medvedev should be the clear choice. Not only has the 24-year-old managed to grab seven career titles, he’s also made one Grand Slam final (and did just about everything but capture the title once there) at last year’s US Open.
Giving him the edge, above all, is the Russian’s dominance over the latter half of the 2019 season, when Medvedev reached six straight tournament finals, including three Masters event to go along with his US Open nod. Right or wrong, we just don’t see Thiem going on such a run.
Legends: Bjorn Borg
Justice for Bjorn Borg, please. The Swede was perhaps the first “best player ever” in men’s tennis—or at the very least, its first ever true superstar. Borg turned pro in 1973 and, starting the year after that, proceeded to pretty much rule men’s tennis like his own kingdom. Not only was Borg ranked No. 1 in the world from 1977 through 1980, he also was the first in the sport to grab over $1 million in prize money in a single season and also the first to capture 11 Grand Slam titles. By no means the lone star in the sport, he was certainly among those most responsible for making tennis that much more popular in the 1970s. (That’s what tends to happen when you grab six Roland-Garros titles and another five at Wimbledon.)
And my god, such glorious hair!
Trick shotters: Gael Monfils
Look, this is both not complicated but also heartbreaking. We absolutely keep renewing our membership on the Nick Kyrgios’s hype train, but it’s been nothing but an easy ride; the fact that the Kyrgios experience is such a relentless and thankless is probably half the fun. On any day, the Australian can trounce any other player on tour…or he can lose an easy matchup, like, 6-1, 6-0.
But since this category calls for us to pick one player known for his trick-shot ability specifically, Gael Monfils is the only possible choice; the man’s prowess is unequaled. He’s also, you know, himself quite the accomplished singles player.
Grand Slam Champions: Stanislas Wawrinka
Is this our hottest of takes here? All of our lives we’ve been told that this current era of men’s tennis was the golden age built around the career and presence of a big four: the three names you think of, alongside the name of Andy Murray.
But looking at the underlying numbers of Murray’s career, he stands much closer to fellow competitors inside this group of Grand Slam champions than he does of Djokovic, Federer or Nadal.
Meanwhile, Stanislas Wawrinka was for a time in the middle of the last decade perhaps the most destructive force in men’s tennis. We’re also trying to be proactive here: adding Wawrinka to our team would guarantee us that he wouldn’t foil Djokovic’s plans, as he has done no fewer than three times at the three Grand Slam events he won.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG