This was an historical match as the 2017 tennis continues to chart the catastrophic Djokollapse. Yes, we have been charting said collapse since the summer of 2016. Yes, there have been signs of recovery; and yes the future looks pretty dim for Novak as the tennis continues to lack championship quality and consistency.
Like I said after the 2016 U.S. Open, where does he go from here?
Many of you know the foresight of this blog, some of which must be attributed to his majesty (one of many brilliant readers/commenters over here at Mcshow Tennis), the comic genius who goes by Caligula. Read his first comment on my QF preview. Sure the tone might distract you, sound somewhat hyperbolic, sarcastic, etc.; but you’d be wrong, even before the match not to take him seriously, which is true genius – coating the insight (and supplementary disgust) in a more palatable humor. Bravo.
We have been seizing the opportunities to identify trouble in Djokovic despite his slow improvement throughout the clay season, which had continued seemingly at Roland Garros. Be that as it may, Caligula’s reference to a “revenge” from the Austrian speaks to the depth of his read on the Serb (which I have written about at length as well); Novak’s antics have continued to evidence trouble in Djokoland with a real sense that his ship is capsized and there’s a tale of karmic and cosmic storm to explain Novak’s tennis miscarriage.
The match seemed very much destined for revenge. I woke from my nap at 3:30am here on the U.S. west coast to catch the match at 4-4 in the first. I missed the early theatrics of the first set, which I will watch later, but I watched the duration with eyes-wide-open.
See the point at 4-4, 15-30, Thiem serving. Novak wins the point to purchase two break-points which we know would have amounted to set points. He let’s go a defiant roar reminiscent of his Rome SF antics that were accurately described as “every opportunity to inflate his declining ego against a young player who looked petrified and yet was polite not to point out the blatant frivolous indulgence that Chokovic (see Rome finale) was harnessing at his expense.” Again, well said, my lord.
Thiem reversed those breakpoints, held serve and the two players moved to settle this critical set in a TB. The TB saw Djokovic get tighter and less committed to this match and sport. He looks like half the man of 2016. What does that tell us? Either he is having massive marital problems or he was on some kind of performance enhancing drug. Some will say his win at the French last year, fulfilling a life-long goal, along with the Novak slam left him without much desire to continue on, as if he’d conquered the sport, ala his fangirls and boys’ favorite flavor ice cream. What a difference a year makes.
He is a mess. Throughout the Djokollapse, I have tried to bring people’s attention to the crisis of this tennis great, throughout several posts. Going into the 2017 season, I essentially argued: Djokovic better win the AO because the road gets more narrow, and the titles more difficult partly because of the real No. 1 seed: father time.
I will just make a quick reference here to some of my preview, which played-out to perfection. Most agree, other than Caligula, that the Serb was a relative favorite. There’s too much on the line, he has too much at stake (along with his familiarity of Thiem) not to see him as a guy massively motivated to face Nadal and defend his French Open crown.
But there was this caveat, along with my “Beliem in Thiem” t-shirts that are on order for the faithful and fashion-conscious readers of Mcshow Tennis:
“But if Thiem can continue to murder the ball from the baseline, with his added dimension of more DTL, Djokovic could be in for a long brutal match. Look at the highlights of Thiem’s Zeballos match, for instance. I am sure that his camp worked on more DTL from both wings. The inside-out FH, and the more unpredictable direction of the shot, along with his big serve and decent mobility all add-up to a player on the rise in this sport.
I beliem in Thiem, but he needs a bit of that Chokovic to show-up, become angry and errant to advance to a date with Nadal in the SF.”
Thiem was a bit reckless in this match, errors coming from some of those huge ground strokes, some of which were too much, too soon. But his change in strategy to set-up closer to the baseline, keep that more offensive court position as much as he could, and implement more down-the-line BH and FH assaults kept Djokovic totally off-balance, on the run and more and more desperate.
This Austrian’s offensive game is fearless and violent. By adding more DTL, he became almost unplayable.
And the Djoker’s errors started adding-up. I believe he had close to 35 UE.
Add to that Thiem’s big serve, the big kicking serve to the ad court, or the 130+ up the T, and his mobility – he embarrassed Djokovic at the net – and you have a very unfriendly and maybe unplayable opponent in Thiem.
I don’t think Nadal wants to play Thiem at all – Mary was right, perhaps, in her back-and-forth with McEnroe a few days ago. But one has to still favor Nadal. Like in this QF match with Djokovic, Thiem has to prove he can knock-off (on this stage) these tennis giants.
In other words, how much do you beliem in Thiem?
What this match today tells about Thiem is he does make adjustments. But we should have known this from the last month of clay. In Barcelona, Nadal pretty much dismissed Thiem 64 61. A few weeks later in Madrid, the difference was less, Nadal prevailing 76(8) 64. Only a week after that the Austrian overcame his clay master, winning their Rome QF 64 63.
We all remember the Djokovic v Thiem Rome SF. It was embarrassing for Thiem because of his annihilation 16 06 (and embarrassing for Novak because of the way he mishandled that lopsided scoreline – underscored by his retreat in the final against Zverev). Thiem made adjustments following Rome and this Roland Garros QF goes down in history as another big step forward for the 23 year-old Austrian; and another part of this bizarre decline of the Serb.
I will have much more. . .