Monte Carlo Midweek: Djokovic Still Struggling and Dimitrov Succumbing

The title above pretty much covers the biggest news thus far at the Monte Carlo Masters where we’re into the R16.

I watched the Djokovic match with Simon and the only thing that might undermine my inference (and my title) is if Simon turned-out to be playing an even higher-level of his unusual brand of (awkward) defensive tennis.

Djokovic and Simon looked like a mirror reflection throughout the match. The only thing separating was when Djokovic found a bigger F or BH that proved too much for the underwhelming Frenchman.

The UEs from Djokovic spell concern (still) and the aura of confidence continues to elude the world #2. This has been the same story from the Serb since last early summer. He’s struggling. I don’t know what else to say about that. We talked about his personal life, his coaching change (can we get an update on Pepe?).

I made very clear that if you happen to watch him play (this was glaringly apparent at the US Open), you should see the physical decline, but I suppose this could be injury. People forget how much tennis he’s played, how much big tennis, long matches, grinding from the BL, effectively sacrificing himself for the glory. His is an exciting style when he’s in form and boring (with lower risk more consistent ball striking) or constricting his opponents to death. He’s an Agassi with a little length.

When he’s not in form, lacks confidence, etc., he’s more of a Gilles Simon with a bigger heart and better nerves.

No doubt his nerves got him through that match. Simon served for match in the third. . .

Along with our clarification last summer, mind you, of Djokovic’s physical deterioration, we then moved on our next bit of analysis: 2016 will be remembered as the Djokollapse (did you miss our discussions of Slow Courtjovic ((aka Slovak))?). Ah yes, what fun we have over here at Mcshow Tennis.

In the end, until evidence contradicts our current findings, the struggle continues for Novak.

The clay got the best of Dimitrov. He is a classic clay casualty. The clay reduces his athletic all-court game to a mud fight. This clarifies my continual warning with clay court tennis. Dimitrov fell in Marrakech early, as well.

Zverev_ClayLooking to the next round, we’ll see if Nadal’s three setter vs Edmund is a sign of concern: he gets Zverev next, who has been drowning opponents in the dirt. He smacked a couple of vets off the court (Seppi and F. Lopez) with some bakery items. He continues to show, for me, a real Del Potro-like guile and
sophistication. By the way, Zverev turns 20 tomorrow (4/20), meaning he’s still a very young big guy who can hammer the ball on all surfaces.

Wawrinka v Cuevas could be an interesting watch. If Stan doesn’t destroy, Cuevas will likely triumph in a cloud of dust.

Goffin and Thiem should be a good match, as well. Let’s hope (sorry Belgian readers – especially Wilfried) Thiem gets a shot at a match with Novak in the QF.

We’ll see, as well, how Andy consolidates his tough win over Mueller – an underrated player if you ask me. Andy should find that top SF.

Novak’s next test should be a Thiem QF (followed perhaps by a Nadal SF; but again, he could end-up playing someone with the tennis skill of Donald Trump – only this is clay, so such limitations can be rendered negligible).

Have a good one.

2 thoughts on “Monte Carlo Midweek: Djokovic Still Struggling and Dimitrov Succumbing

  1. wilfried

    I enjoyed reading your post, Matt, and happen to agree with most of what you write, though I’m not entirely on the same wavelength when it comes to tennis on a clay surface.
    Fanboy – the self-declared tennisexpert among bloggers – simply used to be disinterested in the clay court events and he didn’t conceal his feelings about it, mostly because Roger Federer, his former idol, kept losing again and again from a certain Spaniard during that part of the season, and likely also because of himself, when still aspiring to make a living out of tennis, often meeting the same fate (against a lot lesser opponents).
    You lean a bit in the same direction it seems, be it more because of tennis history and the bizarre list of title winners at Roland Garros of whom most couldn’t excell on other surfaces than clay.
    I understand your point of view in this and respect it.
    The problem that I have with clay is its attributes (I have played a lot on it, as is the case for many people living in continental Europe).
    First it’s more the susceptibility to changes in weather conditions that make clay very difficult to play on it, because one needs to adjust to the type of bounces it produces (inclusively the bad ones), and taking the ball on the rise is a bit more risky as well).
    Second particularly when it is humid, playing on it becomes very demanding and the physical attributes outweigh the tennis IQ required to win, reason why in my eyes on clay Dominic Thiem will always be the favorite against David Goffin, no matter the latter’s form.
    Third it is more delicate to attack the net on clay ; Federer once said in that respect (in an interview in Belgium) that you almost don’t need a volley to play on it, which didn’t prohibit him from playing very well on it though. A player’s timing and court position in coming forward has to be perfect, if not it’s kinda suicide.
    I digress. Sorry.
    Djokovic’s level is not yet what it once used to be, that’s clear. I agree. He as well as Nadal looked vulnerable in their first match, but came through unscathed in the end. I hope this event will not turn out to be a make-or-break week for them.
    I didn’t watch Dimitrov’s match. To be honest, I’m surprised that he couldn’t make it to the next round.


  2. The Djokollapse! That’s a great way to describe it. He is, in no way, back to top form. So shaky, in my opinion. It’s almost hard to watch. Anyways…we’ll see what today brings.


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