London QF

What a shame that Stan could not play a more leading role in his sequel with the Spaniard.  Who knows what was on Stan’s mind, with the Paris terror, etc.  The surface, conditions and recent beating he put on Nadal gave credence to the idea that Stan would be a win away from the SF and Nadal a loss away from a trip to some mysterious Mediterranean beach for his “off season” program.  We were wrong.  The 2 & 3 was especially bad with game totals maybe coming into play.

The Guardian

Now we have to watch more short top-spin scowls from the muscular top-spinner, scowling around the court.  Nadal will probably beat Murray for his SF ticket.  Stan can still advance, but that deplorable score line will probably come-back to haunt him.

On the other side, Roger looks absolutely splendid.  I watched both matches.  His match v Berdych included great variety from the Swiss that kept Berdych off balance.  Other than the early trouble in the first, Roger showed tremendous form.

Novak looked solid v Nishkori, of course.  I heard some claim that Djokovic’s breadsticking of Kei was more impressive than Roger’s win over Berdych because . . . well, there was no rationale – just fanboy garbage.  In fact, Kei retired in the R16 in Paris, so he’s probably not in his best form at the moment.  Berdych gave Novak a bit of a challenge with two TB in Paris.  In the end, both Roger and Novak looked great in their opening matches.

Today’s tilt was pretty vintage Roger, though Novak looked a bit on the outs.  He was due for a let-down, but Roger might have had a lot to do with that.  Roger’s serve was solid (67% 1st, 75% 1st service points won, 67% 2nd service points won) compared to Novak (72%, 51%, 67%).

The Guardian

One of the best parts of the match concerned some long baseline slug-fests that showed these players’ tennis genius.  Roger was on the better end of a lot of these exchanges.  Good stuff from these two blokes.

And isn’t this how the game works.  Roger getting back at Novak here at the WTF with so much on the line, historically.  The little debate going on about Roger’s ’06 v Novak’s ’15, etc.  Roger showed-up today with a little vintage high-level quality to end the Serb’s streak (didn’t he have about 5 different streaks going?).

This reminded me a bit of that 2011 French SF, with Nole a heavy heavy favorite coming in, but Roger playing just brilliant clay court tennis to register the upset.  Not sure if anyone remembers that. 😉


18 thoughts on “London QF

  1. Utsav

    Well well well…the Nishikori beat down was more impressive, they said. Novak owns Roger, they said. Love the shootout to FO 2011. The stakes aren’t as high though, this being an RR match.

    About that. Over the last couple of years, it’s been pretty clear that Novak has a clear upper hand in best-of-five matches. At the same time, it’s important to note that the H2H is just 7-6 at this point for Djokovic over 2014-15.

    Roger actually has a 6-4 advantage in best-of-three matches. I’d it’s 50-50 in b.o.t.s even now on just about any surface. The major finals have obviously been quite competitive as well. So the argument that Novak owns Roger has very little foundation in fact. I’d say it’s actually the most competitive H2H in a Number 1 vs Number 2 rivalry in at least 10-12 years. So Roger’s doing pretty well despite his advanced age on all non-clay surfaces. Like he said in an interview – “I’m glad I’m still able to hang with him.” He’s as pleasantly surprised as we are.

    Speaking of surfaces, did you notice how SLOW the surface is playing this year? A definite far-cry from the surface in 2010, for example.

    I was actually surprised by the course the match took. Roger actually beat Novak from the baseline in this one. I checked stats and in baseline rallies it was 38-26 Roger. Both players also came to the net only 9 times each. In a sense, it was almost like we were watching a match from 2010 or something. The fact that Roger looked a bit grizzly with matted hair and a stubble kind of added to that effect. Channelling his inner caveman. 😀

    Novak kind of tailed off in the second though, and I think it had a lot to do with the sheer variety of spins and depth of shot that was being thrown at him. The guy couldn’t get a rythm going. He’s normally metronomic, but an irregular beat kinda pushed him off his game last night.

    Like I said, it was fascinating to see Roger play most of it from baseline. My guess is that the court wasn’t very rewarding of all-court, attacking play (slowness), but what do you think?


    1. Ruan is a fool. His bias prevents him from processing this match, most likely. STFUP and enjoy the tennis, fanboy.

      The court is slow, you’re right, so Djokovic had that much more of an advantage. The serve analysis was quite good during the match. They showed his first serve patterns at Cincy vs. London. Totally different surface, totally different approach. Way out wide yesterday vs. hitting through the court. And the baseline fireworks were a throwback, indeed. Roger will be tough so long as his serve stays solid. Getting those easy points, easy holds is critical vs all this defensive tennis.

      And how about Djokovic’s serve? He was really solid in the first set. That was a great first set, just came down to a couple of big points, as usual.

      Just another nod to Roger’s ability to adjust, going on 35 years old. 😀

      The variety he threw at Berdych, same at Djokovic. Annacone was doing the match and called it during the Berdych match: against these power, rhythm players, variety is key.

      But another thing that we’re seeing is Roger’s FH letting him down in big spots.

      Nadal is certainly enjoying this slower court. Higher bounce, ball checking-up. He probably wins the group and gets Novak in the SF.

      Or not. Still a lot of tennis to play.


      1. Utsav

        I checked his blog after eons actually. Have kind of given up on it. Predictably, there’s no post about it yet. When there is one, it’s likely to concur with Novak’s assessment of having “thrown it away.” I’d agree with that, but up to a point. He had few real chances on the Federer serve and Roger’s Mecir-ness on the day denied him the rhythm he needed.

        I’d say Roger was pretty solid, but far, far from his best. As you mentioned, the FH repeatedly let him down. He was waaay better in Cincinnati, but then the surface suited him more as well. Saw him slip a couple of moonballs in there too, especially on the backhand. Fortunately, it’s not a go-to tactic. 😉
        He adapted well and I think he pointed out that he hit his serve really well out wide, especially to the ad court. Certain points were vintage, such as the set-point in the first set. What. A. Pickup.

        Overall though, it wasn’t like he painted a lot of lines or hit winners in all parts of the court.

        As for Nadal, his win against Wawrinka was a surprise, because Stan loves the slow courts too. He gets time to take a big swing at everything and most balls end up in his hitting zone. I’m going with you on the Nastasie group predictions. Neither Stan nor Andy look like they’ve got their minds on the game at the moment. Both need their mojo back. I’d stay Stan is more likely to do it, since Andy has his baby, the DC Final (which is on clay…yikes!) and what not.

        I think what they do typically to slow down the courts is add more silica to the paint job. The slowness is a byproduct of the increased roughness. I think that’s why we’ve seen Roger use drop shots and the BH slice a lot more because the sidespin is more effective too.


    2. Yeah, Novak looked beat in the 2nd set. But tough to call since he does a bit of the rope-a-dope.. No reason to throw a match. Kinda surprised that’s even mentioned by some online lunies.

      The match brings us back to that 1st set is crucial motif. Critical. If Roger wins first set at Wimby or USO, does Novak let-up like yesterday? No. But he did look out of sorts, not very sharp at all in the 2nd.

      This next match from Stan is key. If he can get his mojo back, I see him #2. Andy has every reason to jump ship


      1. Utsav

        Er…Matt? Here’s some non-news to kill some brain cells.


      2. No one in particular, but some in the “community” were actually thinking he might be looking toward the semis and trying to strategize. Or the perhaps somewhat reasonable one of him saving himself, so he takes a dive after the first.

        The Stan Murray bout should be a must see. 🙂


      3. I saw that. Ha. I was reading around the net last night, stupidly. I came across that news and someone who saw the press conference where that was brought to Roger’s attention said Roger basically “shut it down with a massive IDGAF.” Haha.

        Sounds like there is a little tension too in the “I handed him the match” comment.

        Let there be a final between the two. The best in the game.


  2. Incondite

    Hey Matt,

    Great summary! And a prvilege to see Roger playing so well.

    Did you see him almost make a one-handed behind-the-back-hand?

    And yes, I’m sure that many of us remember RG ’11 – truly a great performance. 🙂


    1. Utsav

      I saw that one. 😀

      What a shot it would’ve been. I was streaming and it started buffering right then, so I missed the replay. Saw it later on the highlights though.

      RG 11 had one of the most epic celebrations I’ve ever seen in a tennis match. Do you recall that? 🙂


  3. blackspy

    Nice summary, Matt.

    A bizarre match from Djokovic. Although during the first set he was competitive, in the second set the Serb’s 1rst serve percentage tumbled and along with a few unusual backhand errors erased any doubts about the result from the middle of that set – well, when you see Novak’s opponent winning the long rallies you know he’s in trouble, as you correctly pinpointed (Federer had the net help a couple of times, too). Credit to Federer for forcing his rhythm in the match; made the surface almost look quick. Nevertheless, I have to agree with his statement: Djokovic remains the favorite for the tourney.

    We’ll most probably have a Nadal-Djokovic semi, as it seems, since Murray lost, (as you correctly predicted) and I can’t see Nadal losing to Ferrer or Djokovic to Berdych. Can Nadal get a big victory there if Djokovic is worn out after a great season or he’ll soon face an opponent he doesn’t fear him?


    1. Utsav

      The surface is so slow that it isn’t bad prep for the Davis Cup final for Murray. 😀

      Wondering if that will happen as scheduled though, with the level three alert and manhunt in Ghent.

      Agree with your predictions, but I think Ferrer has the variety to trouble Nadal here. His game is unspectacular – no real weapons – but he does mix it up a little. He’s the James Milner of tennis, if you follow football. 😀


    2. It should play-out Roger 1 Novak 2 / Nadal 1 who in the hell knows 2.

      We should get Roger Novak again in the F but the Spanish spin doctor will probably fuck that up with some kind of MTO-ridden bullshit display. The court does actually suit him pretty well. He has whacked Stan and Dummy but they are potential push-overs as we know.


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