An interesting match. Novak never really seemed under much pressure, the TB underscoring this observation. His opponent was attacking, he got down a set, but he was able to play some really nice tennis in that TB to even things up.
But the Greek kept coming. This is a very interesting development though probably not too much changes here with regards to New York.
I said this a few posts ago about Djokovic’s match against LL Basic:
Djokovic looked untroubled but not very clean v the lucky loser Basic. Basic can actually hit the ball to both sides of the court, move pretty well, etc. But Novak looked less than inspired. This is typical Novak, certainly a player that rises to the occasion, i.e., the bigger match against the bigger opponent. Odd seeing Chung pull-out late, but Novak was advancing either way. More on this vulnerable tennis from Novak especially if it continues.
There were some spots in the Basic match as well as this match today vs. Stefanos the Great 🙂
These spots refer to the off-balance swing and clumsy footwork of the early 2018 Novak. A pretty routine BH DTL goes wide by a ball or two, a FH into the bottom of the net with a follow-through that’s way out of balance, falling practically. I didn’t watch the Polansky match, but both the Basic and Tsitsipas matches involved those little sketches of that quite fallible Novak.
I would note that when I really liked Novak v Rafa in WB, that was so much based on the larger narrative, not necessarily on the form. Nole had that look in his eyes. This was a game-changing match. I remember some fans saying that Novak saved tennis that day (these were Novak and Roger fans). Was it some kind of divine intervention? Not sure I’ll go there, but I had all the confidence I needed to say Novak would win that match, a match that, for me, transcended the tournament.
Of course, Novak was very much on form, playing with some incredible poise and clutch. The tennis matched this fortitude and class. He hasn’t looked nearly as inspired this week, including today.
On the other hand, my goodness, the Greek looks terribly composed, holding serve like a veteran ace and flattening-out that FH DTL or ripping a top-spin CC FH that’s unplayable. Of course the greatest shot in the sport, the OHBH — this guy’s version has bushels of talent. There was a missed BH DTL in the TB that would have put that score close to square, but it went long, just a little loose. In the third set clincher he hit a beauty that became almost a dagger, seemed to tell everyone (especially Novak) that he’s ascendant, that he’s arrived.
The one-hander has to have that DTL shot working against a beast like Novak. Stan was unplayable with that shot working in Roland Garros v Novak. You know exactly what I am talking about. Federer 2.0 has included a monster BH DTL. When I watch Thiem, I scream DTL! That adds quite the ingredient to these players’ arsenals; critical for that one-hander.
Speaking of the BH DTL and Federer, Stefanos is playing just some brilliant attacking tennis. He’s inside the BL often v Novak today, dictating. His change of direction with this court position is exactly what beats-up a Serb who’s showing less than top form.
Tsitsipas’ game plan was spot-on.
And another bit of insight from an earlier post:
Tsitsipas has the game, has the passion. Annacone talking about a cab ride with Stefanos and his father/coach during last week’s tennis furthers some optimism. Annacone tapped into the Greek’s desire to bring tennis glory to his country. Annacone made good reference to another player with Greek blood, one Pete Sampras. Paul pointed-out how Pete never worried about his serve (let’s say rarely if at all). Pete’s game plan for just about every match was finding a little opening to break his opponent’s serve, because that meant, pretty much, the match was over. He was that confident in his serve.
Tsitsipas wasn’t broken today by Novak. He faced, I’m pretty sure, only two BPs. That’s a direct reaction to that conversation with Annacone last week. He beat-up Novak’s ROS today! He got a break in both the first and third sets and served them out. That’s professional tennis, ladies and gents.
Tsitsipas was just warming-up in D.C. where he made the SF. We liked him as a dark horse there. He’s made us proud, while proving us wrong this week.
A bit of the tennis:
I saw in the third set where Stefanos had 20 FH winners to Novak’s 10.
Djokovic in the first set (on serve) serving 2-3, 0-30, Stefanos goes deep to the Novak FH and follows it in: pressure: triple break.
Novak erases the first two, but hits FH long — Tsitsipas now serves 4-2.
In the first point of the next game, to consolidate the break, Tsitsipas attacks the net but misses the BH volley — but that’s not the point: the Greek is crashing the net, showing little nerves, playing smart, high percentage attacking tennis. We love it.
A lot more tennis still to come today.
Dimitrov took Frances out in a three-setter. We’ll have more on that and the rest later-on.