Final thoughts on the Doha final: there appears to be traction with the following claim: Djokovic is playing the best tennis that’s ever been played by a human on earth. Yes, some of the “commentary” we’ve all seen sounds similarly grandiose and, really, pretty ridiculous. Djokovic is #1 in the world, playing brilliantly dominant tennis. That’s all we really know. One of the biggest problems I have with such a claim is not about Djokovic, but about the guy who gave everyone this proverbial pill, or cup of Kool-Aid to swallow. Nadal is the arbiter of such discourse at this point?
Let’s review: Nadal goes three with Busto, beats Haase R16 (not the German who reached #2 in 2002, but the Dutchman Haase), then beats Kuznetsov in three in QF, Marchenko in SF, only to get destroyed by world #1 1 and 2 in the F. If you read this blog, you know I have very little faith that Nadal is on his way back. It’s not there. Not sure what else to say. If you aren’t reading the video “text” in front of you very well, then you’re missing the point. You’re creating a different world. Esteemed tennis points-of-view see Nadal getting to #2 by the end of the year. How is that going to happen exactly? His road to the Doha final was so unimpressive; fortunately for him, he didn’t have to play his little pal, David, for 2.5 hours along the way. Mayer and Berdych must be playing really high quality as they pushed the Serb to 7-5 and 7-6 respectively.
Look, Nadal getting absolutely laughed off the court in the final (pretty embarrassing for a guy with his resume) and then saying that he was beaten by the greatest tennis player to ever set foot on earth is hyperbole, scapegoating, etc. You got trounced, pal. Go talk to Toni about it. Nadal in this form making that claim after a 250 final in January? Watch the tennis, folks. Djokovic is brilliant right now. We got it. He beat Nadal. Most players aren’t going 1 and 2 against Nole because they have at least some semblance of a serve. Bad loss, Nadal. That’s it. And deflecting the attention away from you onto Nole is a good little move on your part, but I am not falling for the distraction. You, Rafa, got absolutely smashed.
I watched the first set including TB of Djokovic v Federer 2015 Cincy final last night just for shits and giggles. Pretty much some of the best tennis you’ll see, too. There are a lot of examples of great tennis, and I suppose we’re all open to our own interpretations. But Nadal’s interpretation, after getting embarrassed in a final, is not very objective, imho. That’s my advice to you if you fell for that BS.
Speaking of that Cincy final, Djokovic serving 1-3 in the TB, second serve that was clocked at about 108, upon which Federer came-in with his little SABR, to take the point and move to 4-1 and go on to take the set was pretty stunning stuff. Some of Djokovic’s passing shots, lobs in that first set to stymie the ultra-aggressive Federer were simply unreal. The tennis of that 1000 final I’ll take over a Nadal v Djokovic 250 final in January 2016 and there are other examples too we could examine.
Raonic beats Federer in Brisbane final. I got a chance to watch a bit of this match. My take-away is Federer looks awful. I watched some of the Dimitrov match and thought Federer played some key points but Dimitrov handed him much of that match. I did not see him beat Thiem, but it sounded convincing against a rising star. Yet the final was really not very impressive from Federer or Raonic. Both first served in the 50s (%). Raonic just overwhelmed Federer in much of the rallies. Raonic is a big hitter. I am not that surprised in this result, nor should you be. I have seen Roger play Milos several times. Milos always has that advantage on serve, but rarely gets those crucial points to beat Roger. Look at their H2H results. Always tight matches. Milos is a solid top 10 player.
I saw them play last year live at Indian Wells. We were all hoping for a Nadal victory over Milos in QF to set-up a Nole/Murray Fed/Rafa final four. But Raonic went three v Nadal and really abused the Spaniard, in the end. Milos was playing well then. His ground strokes can be over-powering to go along with that serve. He’s a talented player. He had Nadal pinned 15 feet behind the baseline throughout their match. Federer put on a clinic in the SF, winning 7-5 6-4 though it appeared more convincing than that. Even Milos playing well simply could not deal with Roger’s shot-making. Otherwise, as you can see, very tight. For me, Milos is too tall to ever really be that consistent. Having said that, he got to #4 in the world last spring. He is a handful for anyone. Despite not playing that well himself yesterday, he overcame a droopy Fed. Simple as that. Roger’s errors were in abundance. Did not look good for the Swiss #3 in the world.
Furthermore, you think Milos had any extra motivation with Ljubicic in Federer’s box? This is as real as Nadal trying to deflect criticism of his game by talking about Djokovic’s greatness. You have to read this stuff, folks. Milos was very motivated, and playing well on top of that. I am happy for the Canadian. Roger better get well, find his form, etc. Big boy tennis in about a week.
Congrats to Stan on his title. He seems definitely a guy who can trouble Novak in Melbourne. We’ll see. Not much to say beyond that. Stan has to prove himself, I’m afraid. Pretty unpredictable.
Kyrgios and Gavrilova winning the Hopman Cup for Australia is good news for the 20 year-old Kyrgios. He went 4-0 in singles matches against good players. Kyrgios and Tomic should be difficult matches for most at the AO. Hopefully they can keep their wits about them and let their tennis do the talking.
Lastly, in my criticism of Nadal, I said earlier that this 2 of 3 format has been his most vulnerable tennis. We all know what a beast he is in best-of-five. In Bo5, as we all know, the tennis can actually take a “back seat” to the fitness, stamina and mental fortitude of a player. This is why he’s been so tough. I still think he’s past even that point in his career, where the tennis is such that his running and grunting can not overcome his achilles heel (his serve/shot depth/etc).
Either way, let’s try not to give players these free passes; some tennis commentary sounds like marketing. What do you see happening on the court? That’s all we care about, right?
Looking forward to the AO draw (I guess there is some off-court business that matters, after all 😉 I’m sure the tennis establishment has, believe it or not, a Nadal v Djokovic final in mind. Why? I have no idea. Nadal is a shell of his former self, yet the tennis world simply yearns for his uncomfortable energy to grace the late rounds at every tournament he plays.
I can think of several players I’d rather see than 2016 Nadal. I guess we’re just reading different “texts,” on different pages so to speak.