At Indian Wells, it is hard to come up with moments which clearly point to a revival or renewal for a specific tennis player heading into 2022. This is such a weird tournament, placed in an unusual spot on the calendar, that it is hard to derive a lot of big-picture meanings from the competition in the Southern California desert.
Does it mean a lot for 2022 that top women’s players have been picked off left and right? I don’t think so. Does it mean a lot for the 2022 Australian Open that Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez lost early in the tournament? I don’t think so.
We’re all grasping in the dark and reaching for big-picture claims to make, but this tournament just isn’t feeding that need. We don’t have to make a long-term statement about the 2022 tennis season based on what is happening this fortnight in the Desert Southwest. We don’t have to come up with a take just for the sake of having a take. We can withhold our urge to say something which probably won’t sound very smart in a few months.
Wednesday, however, something very interesting happened in Indian Wells: Daniil Medvedev, the clear favorite on the men’s side, lost.
Who took him out? Not Stefanos Tsitsipas or Alexander Zverev. Not Hubert Hurkacz (who beat Club Med at Wimbledon). Grigor Dimitrov did the trick, after being a set and 1-4 down.
No, I’m not going to say a Dimitrov resurgence in 2022 is likely. I’m not going to pretend that Dimitrov is now a frontline contender at the Australian Open in January. We don’t have to get carried away here.
What we CAN say, however, is that at age 30, Dimitrov — four years younger than Novak Djokovic — might have a spot in the next two to three years when he takes the court with considerable physical fitness (one of his best virtues as a pro) and might be able to sustain the racquet skills and other gifts he possesses. Djokovic might lose elsewhere in the draw, and with the ATP Tour stumbling around (Tsitsipas trying to find his way, Zverev playing the kind of match he played against Felix Auger-Aliassime at Wimbledon, Andrey Rublev crashing out of the draw just as he did in Indian Wells), who knows?
Could a coda exist, changing the tone and tenor of a Grigorian chant which has been sad for so long, but might find a way to attain the ultimate happy ending?
It’s a fascinating question to ponder after Wednesday’s events in Indian Wells.
It’s a question to carry with us into the upcoming tennis offseason.