Federer v Kudla: I only watched the first set, that fourth game of set two, Federer escaping at 1-2 to keep the match on serve, his break at 5-5 in the second set and his close-out service. The American, as we and everyone else has pointed-out, can play on the grass. So not too surprising with the scoreline.
But Federer certainly had some problems finding that elevated form. This is partly because of his opponent’s form, naturally. Don’t miss the math on this cause & effect. Kudla’s ridiculous FS %, in the first set especially, was around 80%. Add to that the American’s ability to hit a flatter ball, his nice BH DTL, reaching corners pretty consistently; all of this means he wasn’t a fluffy bunny out there. If you’ve been to 4R Wimbledon, along with any other grass success, and you reach a Gerry Weber Open SF to face Roger, you’re carrying a little confidence in your grass game.
That break back in the first when Roger served at 2-0 was large. Kudla has a nice bit of language fluency and Federer, I guess we can say, let him hang around.
Let’s get to the point here. Federer has talked of being a little tired this week, has looked frustrated, has been seen miscalculating . . . but has looked really good, as well.
Again, I think this week is a bit of a result of his Stuttgart title run last week. Last year’s 1R loss to Haas in Stuttgart was . . . (you guessed it) a blessing in disguise. Regardless of what happens tomorrow, he’ll have about eight days off until WB.
He’s out there at this point, sure, getting his rhythm back after about three months off, but one can sense he’d like to have a little easier time, show a little more polish, get to the finish line a little faster and set-up shop in SW19 for his title defense.
He’s going on 37, so if he simply shows-up one match or some tournament and gets shown to the showers we really can’t be that surprised. That time is coming when the sea change really does occur, really drowns a man.
Be that as it may, this “difficulty,” as far as I’m concerned, is a good thing. He’s frustrated, cautioned and concerned, and the boss feels the same (see any of the shots of Ivan during the match? Lol). So as they head to Wimbledon after tomorrow, they will prepare accordingly, taking really nothing for granted, realizing that this may indeed be quite the ordeal winning #9 and #21 while solidifying #1.
It’s that simple.
What makes tomorrow’s final perfect for Federer (again, I think I’ve rationalized how a loss isn’t even the worst set of circumstances) is he has a chance to win Halle #10, you figure this adds to his confidence (I guess), but, perhaps most importantly, he gets a shot at a player with a serious athletic game who has top-of-the-ATP goals and confidence in his bag and his box. Coric, recall the discourse surrounding Indian Wells, will be a good test for world #1.
In other words, Federer’s frustration in Halle — to be clear: the difficulty he’s had — is quite encouraging when preparing for a bigger test, both tomorrow and at Wimbledon.
Note this little segue to the Queen’s Club SFs today: playing the mini-Djokovic will do Federer some good as Djokovic prepares (perhaps) for lift-off, as he faces last year’s Wimbledon finalist in the Fever-Tree Championships final tomorrow, anointing himself, with a win tomorrow, as a serious SW19 contender.
With Djokovic and Cilic taking care of business today, we have a very good final in London.
The Kyrgios v Cilic SF was as tight as expected, with a mini-break in the first set TB as the only difference. No BP between them in that first, pretty solid power grass tennis right there, folks.
And again for those wondering about Nick’s grass chops, some of his skills really shine on this surface. If he could get his head around this sport of his, but that’s just a song on repeat at this point.
Cilic’s serve and first strike tennis is really on display here. He’s all business and made that very clear today against Kyrgios. That’s how you play Kyrgios if you have the game. Stay up-right, keep the pressure on, and don’t give the Aussie an inch to spin his BS.
That confidence, determination and the correlated numbers give, for me, Cilic a bit of an edge tomorrow — as crazy as that sounds.
I’m surprised Djokovic needed all of that tennis to beat Chardy. Sure the Frenchman can serve pretty effectively and get into some of those grass rallies, but I thought, watching the first few games of that match, that Djokovic would break him and just put him in a corner 6-2 6-3, or something to that affect.
Which, for me, means Nole is still finding his consistency and the grass is just a little different. Period.
His frustration during the match can be seen as both a good and bad development. Who doesn’t want to see a player get frustrated when his/her efforts come-up short. Like Federer today. Like anyone.
We’ll see if Novak is really still a bit “off” or if he’s finding that tyrannical form.
His H2H with Cilic is going to give a lot of people reason to think that Novak maybe dodged a bullet getting Marin instead of Nick in the final. I’m not so sure. Djokovic leads the H2H 14-1, with Marin’s only win coming in their most recent meeting at the Paris Masters back in 2016. Djokovic was a wreck at that point. So what does this all mean?
Look at some of their scorelines. Novak has punished the Croat in severe fashion. One outlier concerns their 2014 WB QF where Marin was up 2-1 sets but the Serb triumphed going-away 2 and 2 in the 4th and 5th, on his way to his 2nd WB title.
All this to say, Cilic can certainly handle himself on the grass, and as I said in an earlier post: Novak will have to raise his game another level to win this title. If he overcomes Cilic tomorrow, no shock. Only confirmation of the Serb’s continued manifestation of his “old” championship form 😉
The Serb’s ROS could certainly play into his route to a win; however, the 1-seed’s ROS can’t be overlooked. My only surprise in this contest will be if the Croatian goes away easily.
I like Marin slightly in this one.
And am rooting for Novak’s return at the same time.
That’s how you watch tennis, if you were wondering.