Nitto ATP Finals Day 3: Federev v Zvererer and A Sock Star is Born


First set seems like less a chess match and more of a show of intimidation. I like the tennis actually, the players showing-off the breadth of their skills: aces, two wing weaponry, serve & volley, swinging volleys, trying to assert their dominance simultaneously. Watch the game at 5-5. Tense stuff, tight. Don’t just look at the tennis quality in a vacuum, people: this is Federer v Zverev, ATP Finals and we all know this is essentially the final, the sequel played in a few days.

I really need to keep this short.

I’m hearing people say the tennis was error-prone, less than magnifique, but I say it had the tension of a heavy-weight bout with some big-time tennis.

First set is, we’ll call it, pretty even; but I thought Federer looked better. Nonetheless, to the TB they go, and though Federer gets off to a miserable start, Zverev blinked (barely). Federer even saves a set point at 5-6 and triumphs at 8-6.

You should know the story, at this point. Federer breaks game one in the second set, looking to close this deal in straights. But he’s broken twice, subsequently and loses the set 5-7. He comes hard in the third at 1-1, breaks and runs-away, leaving the uber-talented German with a breakstick.

Again, one can whine all they want about the errors, etc., but this was very high-stake tennis. Federer’s box looked nauseous. The court looked tense (Federer showing all kinds of agitation, especially in that second set), warm, and thickly merchandised with class; this IS the class of the tournament unless Dimitrov or Sock want in on this.

Federer’s FS continues to be a point of discussion here. The weapon abandoned him a bit at the end of that first set, especially the TB there when they alternated some massive points, even SPs. But the slice-BH seemed to curve to the rescue for world #2.

By the way. . .That double-handed BH hasn’t just, stylistically, taken a dump on the more classic BH; it often prevents guys from developing a slice, which only means that the argument I’ve subtly championed all along (that the more classic, traditional tennis is superior) needs, of course, more time and energy from me to drive this home.

To be clear: the slice, a brilliant, often overlooked shot, brought-up today in the Fed v Sascha match, is another resounding reason to stay classy.

I only caught the end of the Sock v Cilic match. Sock is doing some things on the court right about now. Look at the scorelines from Paris-Bercy. He has several big wins of which he drops the first set and roars back in Sock fashion. This roaring style is only getting more refined.

I only saw the tail end when the match could have gone either way. Sock came up huge. The BH played an enormous part here. And some of that retrieving foot speed continues to impress all kinds of critics and players alike.

Bravo to Sock and Federer.

Zverev v Sock is going to be must see, folks.

I like Sock in this but I’m an American so don’t you dare listen to anything I have to say. . . on anything!

Ha ha.

Stay tuned!

6 comments

  1. On this surface Dimitrov can create a lot of trouble for Zverev if they meet in the semis.

    For Federer should be straightforward to reach the final. Expect a vintage performance against Cilic without the pressure.

    Don’t really see the improvement in Sock. He is there simply because the level dropped so much. Granted he won a Masters, but in the same way Robredo did in Hamburg after Federer and Nadal withdrew due to their grueling Rome Final in 2006.

    1. Sure, this surface plays best to guys like Dimitrov and Federer. So Dimitrov will be dangerous, but his mental strength is a huge issue. Beating Zverev in a SF would be an upset.

      Tomorrow’s Cilic Federer is practically meaningless but for SF seeding and some ATP points – Cilic should roll over.

      Disagree about Sock. I have watched him play for years. Granted, Paris was much more wide-open, but it’s well-documented that he’s matured and simply playing deeper into draws. Despite the field being way down this year (Zverev is #3 in the world, for instance), getting to London is still a big achievement.

      And Sock played Federer tough, making things a lot easier for the Swiss by chunking some key shots, and some costly DFs. Still a relatively tight match.

      Beating Cilic was a big win. That’s Sock playing up and Marin was motivated, for sure.

      Sock is already a world class doubles player; but is making progress here and this surface does not necessarily benefit him, who’s game is more similar to Nadal’s.

      The Zverev match is big. Zverev is the favorite, but it would not surprise me if this surging Sock gives him all kinds of trouble.

      1. Sascha Zverev looks like he needs a top coach to work on his forehand. Until he fixes that wing, he will forever tremble on the borders of ‘real deal’ territory.

      2. He’s 20. He’ll be fine. The guy won a clay and hard court masters and can play on the grass. I’m more skeptical of his height.

        Here we are picking on players in the Becker group. The Sampras group is a joke. I said at the outset, Nadal had the far easier group. Dimitrov just beat Goffin 0 and 2. Joke city.

  2. Yes, he should be able to work it out. Height could be a factor, yes. How many 6’4”+ players have won majors in the past 10 years? Del Potro and Cilic I guess. Safin before them in 2005, and I guess Goran in 2001? You’re right.

    Nadal’s draw was always a joke. He had the enigma, Dimitrov + burnouts. Never thought I’d be saying this, but the tour needs the Serb back fast. Federer can only do so much at 36. BTW I wonder what the ‘weak era’ nuts think of this era. This is WAY worse than 2003-05.

  3. Agree on Dimitrov, but today he was scary good. When he plays like that it’s a thing if beauty.

    Zverev is very consistent and doesn’t lose many matches he shouldn’t..we’ll see how he deals with Sock

What say you?