Djokovic v Murray

I watched a bit of the Djokovic Thiem match today and thought two things. Novak looks to have refined his form, looking solid in all aspects of the game – his depth, pace and angles aligning with the GOAT gods. Very poised is the Serb, applauding good points from the apprentice, mastering drop shots from behind the BL, and simply spraying lazers all over the canvas.

Secondly, Thiem looks solid, very promising though today had to have been terribly humbling. I want to say he needs to shorten his mechanics a bit. He has the classic SHBH, but perhaps has too a long stroke on the ball; despite that, when he finds his range he’s certainly poised and can finish the point emphatically, authoritatively. But his length. Watching him play the SHBH with such athleticism (like most of the SHBH practitioners/artists), I thought about the next stage of game development as a guy who can hit his BH either SH or TH – a genuine hybrid. Why not?

Thiem’s style, as appealing as it is aesthetically, seems flawed in today’s game.


For the final, Murray has to absolutely peak. I don’t see it happening in the Final as it might have happened in the Semi-Final. Murray was exceptional vs Wawrinka today – which I discussed a bit in my SF reflection post. Murray’s delivery from the BL was that tremendous 21st century tennis, blending great defense with efficient offense.

Here’s Murray’s problem: he and Djokovic have similar games, but Novak is just that much better technically and mentally. I suspect Murray might be able to hang physically, but the technique and mental fortitude of the Serb should carry the win. That’s Djokovic’s hand. His BH is that much more lethal, his movement more fluent, his timing more precise. He’s on a different level.

Murray needs a solar eclipse to knock off the Djoker.

In the end, Novak cleans-up in 3 or 4 sets. 

PS I have to respect the irony of me calling on serendipity throughout the tournament – of an unusual event that might transform the championship, men’s tennis in general – yet here I am, calling for a dud, for Djokovic to complete the Serb-slam, the career GS, his 12th major in routine fashion.

Everyone cheer for Murray to make the match. Cheer louder.



As most of you know, I couldn’t care less about the women’s final. What a shit show is the WTA. Yikes.

3 thoughts on “Djokovic v Murray

  1. Caligula

    Yeah no matter how disappointing the current ATP-line-up may be (Djokovic virtually uncontested for the most part) it can’t be any worse than the absolute abomination that is modern era WTA, it’s like watching someone play the ping pong video game, that is the amount of technical proves these top female tennis player’s possess, but I digress. Tomorrow will be a game changing day, no matter what the outcome, as you say on paper Novak leads the head2head, has made a fool out of Andy at the AO 4 time now, but… This is clay, and Andy’s newfound strength on this surface might not play well into Djokovic’s hand. I am hoping the Scott can bring some needed balance to the tour, I will be cheering.


    1. I really hope it’s a great match, the outcome undecided through the first few sets. Murray looks good.

      But we’ve seen Novak rise to the occasion so often in these finals.

      My hope is Murray shows maturity and conviction. I just want to see a classic.


  2. blackspy

    Nice articles as usual Matt. I have seen some of Murray and Wawrinka matches earlier on and after I was sure (end of first set) that the Wawrinka movement was not deliberately slow because of the weaker opposition I switched back to the other semi. Simply you can’t win a big defender with this footwork and medium (for Stanislas level) shot accuracy.

    You were right to mention that we might be asking a lot from Thiem; he is still developing I guess. But he should mature well; I can see defiance and industriousness in him that other talented players don’t have. Referring to his OHBH he should find a second reliable hit with it, one with less topspin to enable him to keep opponents guessing and improve his court position. During his match with Djokovic he was way behind the BL; although he runs a lot and fast he must find a way to finish weak opponents less laboriously (saving strength) and profit from his OHBH. Using angles or slice more effectively is an idea; although I have mentioned a year ago that the hybrid backhand may be the future I doubt he can make such a change at this point of his career.

    Djokovic may have had a crowed schedule but received a gift draw and he was favored by the organisers in a couple of matches (left to finish his RBA match in twilight while others were suspended, suspended Berdych match when his opponent was raising his level). In the Thiem clash he employed his usual strategy: he defended very well against spins and left Thiem to find an attacking solution. He is in fine form and the obvious favorite for the final.

    We need Murray (or someone else for that matter, generally speaking) to challenge Djokovic and to make a match of the final. In my view that will be decided by two factors: serve&nerve. Murray needs his improved serve to keep Djokovic honest in his returns and let him get anxious about the win. I like his defense (he uses slice pretty well on clay), his loopy forehand is not a weakness on clay and he has the power to keep his opponents back. In contrast to common belief, I think heavy conditions help him-recent meetings (after his surgery in 2013) indicate so.

    But I concur with your prediction; Djokovic shouldn’t feel any nerves against Murray and complete his GS collection this time.

    PS: WTA? Serena is in decline potentially loosing to anyone when they can move more than her (not very rare) and be stable with their shots (rare and disappointing). I’m still waiting for a player with a more complete arsenal to take the reigns of the WTA whose total unpredictability is unbecoming for me.


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