Montreal Final: Federer v Zverev

Even if Nadal had survived Shapovalov and then beaten Mannarino, his hypothetical SF v Zverev could have been a loss, as well. Zverev is into his 6th final in 2017. Along with Federer and Nadal, the class of NextGen has clearly been one of the year’s brightest lights in these darkened days of the end of this golden age. For a year and a half he’s carried the torch for this future of tennis atp-montreal-zverev-edges-shapovalov-to-set-the-final-clash-with-federerwe keep talking about now. The Shapovalovs of the world are great theatre (and writing material), but the  future of tennis, right now, is Sascha and everyone else. For us to truly Beliem in Thiem, for instance, the Austrian needs to find his HC and grass feet (especially HC). Sascha won his first Masters title on clay (beating Djokovic in the final) and he continues to find the business-end of the draw in almost every tournament he plays.

Overcoming the Canadian teen, to be fair, was no easy task. That match was tight and the second set, highlighted by the TB drama was tremendous championship tennis. Tense, guys surviving MP and SP, rallies that you rewind to watch again because of the shot-making, the beauty and power of the game on full display. I might watch the second set (especially the TB) again before I hit “delete.”

The diagnosis most of us gave Shapovalov earlier still stands: a tennis that’s raw and a little reckless. But put yourself in his coach’s shoes: isn’t this what you want in your young charge at this point? Despite these shortcomings, he’s getting by some tough opponents, finding the experience people need to improve, and fine-tuning his game.

maxresdefaultAnd if you’re only looking at the stats, at the almost 50 UE, and only recalling those crucial rallies where he clearly overcooked the FH way wide, then you’re missing the meaning of this story. His ability to hang-around, save a MP or two, reach a SP in that TB, what would have been huge momentum shift, almost surviving to a third and final set. . . there was a ton of brilliance in that match still from the tennis of Denis.

A hearty standing ovation on the kid’s run here in Montreal. And like I said on Twitter, I think his game will translate well to Bo5. Let’s hope he finds the main draw in NYC, which sounds like a reach. I hear his ranking will keep him out of the qualifying tourney, so he probably needs a WC.

And I’m sure many want to see how he does with a more neutral crowd. Clearly the Canadian 18 year-old was advantaged in the hustle-and-bustle of Montreal. Indeed, lots to look forward to from this youngster. At the very least, his play, along with the likes of Tommy Paul’s play in D.C, and Kokkinakis’ in Los Cabos signal to the rest of this aspiring class of NextGen stars that the time is now. Get your games in order and take some swings at this elderly ATP!

We’ll see how Zverev fairs against one of these elders today.

Federer looked good against Haase yesterday, his form improving upon each successive round.

This is Sampras-Djokovic-like, almost stumbling through the draw, yet getting more dialed-in as the stakes rise, the opponents’ levels rise. Haase didn’t play poorly, but Federer is just finding his feet and controlling his shot more effectively. The players have mentioned that the conditions, among different elements, are causing the ball to fly, making the ball a bit difficult to control. Federer, in one interview, mentioned he was finding it the case where he needed to almost target the ball at the top of the net, or just below, for it to find his opponent’s half of the court.

Like any tournament, surface or era (extend this to different equipment, as well), players have to adjust. Those who adjust the best are the best. Sorry to oversimplify here. But again, this brings me back to fans saying that the 2017 Melbourne courts were too fast for Djokovic – don’t say that out-loud.

Federer had to bag his S&V at WB for years as the courts slowed and chunked-up the tennis. He didn’t necessarily complain: he has eight of those. Adjust to the conditions.

That’s what Fed has done in Montreal.

He should beat Zverev today.

Talk to you on the otherside.

6 comments

  1. Federer got completely outmuscled out there, the ball was fast and bouncing hard, and Federer was not able to prepare any lethal shots. The GrandMaster didn’t have a chance to get into any groove. Good for Alexander the Great #NEXTGEN for showing that he has the tools to dominate on hardcourt.

  2. Love your new look, Matt! Neat. Professional. Yes, Matt; Fed should beat Zverev, (I really respect your predictions/analyses) except he was compromised – tweaked his back at 2-1 in second set. It was SO obvious. He couldn’t bend to serve, stood up to receive serve and walked funny/gingerly from side to side. He didn’t even bother to play any ball that was not
    within his reach. And NONE of the commentators (ie the channel that I was watching) picked that up! Just a small eg of how lacking tennis commentaries/expert opinions are in tennis land! All the more reason we need your kind of news reporting, Matt! Not taking anything away from Zverev. He was taking it to Fed. But, like you, I just think that Fed is the King of adjustment and just has too much variety; eventhough he was outplayed in first set. I mean, with a hampered back, not playing any defence and still can make it 6-4 in second set. If he wasn’t compromised, I’m not too sure we would not have witnessed another Master showing an Apprentice how to play tennis, ha! Maybe not quite. But you know what I mean. In fact, I believe his back was already not 100 percent in the early rounds (I thought he was rather stiff in his service motion and actually saw him touch his back in an earlier match) and it crescendoed at the final. If you look, (I don’t have the figures) he was just not serving well the whole tourney. First serve is very low and lots of double faults. Very UnFedlike. In other words, I’m saying your prediction, Matt, would most probably have come true if Fed had been healthy! 😉

    Anyway, NextGen, headed by Zverev has finally arrived. I hope it is more permanent this time. We had a few close calls! Hope they are better at managing their bodies. Just wish that Nick could get his act together. What a mighty waste. I’m not only worried about his behaviour. I’m equally worried about his injuries. Perpetually injured! Like glass Kei! He needs a better trainer/physio; not just a good coach. Zverev is successful so early so fast because he has a solid team in place. It’s a prerequisite if you wanna succeed on tour these days. You’d think that these youngsters should know by now! Like all of you here, I am quite taken by Denis the Menace! Love his panache and youthful exuberance which is appealing rather than off-putting; as can happen with some players (anyone finds Zverev’s “compulsory fistpump at every point” attractive?!😉) Give him few more years and I can’t wait to see the potential flourish. Ive just realise that a leftie shbh is such a sight/delight to behold! Also, what do you guys think of Mannarino?! Not NextGen or outstanding player and lives in shadows of his more accomplished countrymen but I began to notice this Frenchman recently. Walks and moves almost like a lady😀 looks so deceivingly weak, but what flair and easy power! So relaxed and effortless in his execution and his movements. I enjoy watching him. What do you think of him, Matt?

    1. I’ve noted Mannarino’s results in a post – a solid year for the, as you say, womanly man. Good description, the “easy power.” HC were beating him up a bit, too.

      The fist pump after every point is a thing with that guy. The obsession with one’s box is a more recent (and annoying) trend.

      Thanks, TB.

  3. After winning streak records of a great many varieties, Federer losing should not come as a big surprise. Statistical aberrations usually correct themselves, at least to an extent. Anything else being equal, I would regard the loss as a good thing for Federer’s USO chances. The problem is…anything else don’t seem to be equal.

    Federer seemed to have picked up an injury, or at least one of the old problems (his back) just came back. At 3-3 second set, the serving motion, the movement…they seemed to be off. 1st serve at 154kmh tells something here. To be sure of anything, we’ll have to see how/if he plays Cincy.

    As for the result, I would think if Federer had been fit perhaps Zverev would have still won. Federer was quite a bit behind Zverev in match sharpness. Zverev was riding high on confidence and his HC form right now.

    1. I agree. If he’s injured, he’s done. An in form Fed (IW/MI) would have been a much better contest. Not sure, therefore, how good Zvererv was, but the numbers on his serve and his overall movement and FH BH power looked impressive.

What say you?