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.
4 thoughts on “Tsitsipas Defeats Djokovic”
190+ is the key for tennis, today and in the future. Last 8 in Toronto. Only Nadal is 190-. Top10 in ATP ranking – Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Thiem. Race to London – Nadal, Federer, Thiem and Fognini.
There is no magic limit of course or you could ask, if 191 cm makes a big difference to 189. 198 cm seems to be optimal for modern racket technology. Some 5 cm more ist still OK but with every cm you are closer to -only-big-serve-tennis. Del Potro, Zverev, Cilic, Anderson – all in Top10.
The magic word is over-the-net window for flat serve. It’s zero for about 170 cm. You are in fact serving up, not down. And never flat. Or you can jump 30cm high or more (but losing body balance and power). Around 180-185 cm you have 15 cm high window over the net to serve flat. But at 185 cm your flat serve not only requires a lot bigger skills and is more risky, but you have less options for the angle, for the bounce after landing. You must rely on topspin or slice serve to reach high first-serve-in rates.
But this window matters a lot on every shot, especially volley. Modern racket technology makes taller players to have a big advantage. They don’t need big skills to hit the ball over the net and still in the court.
We have 2 or 3 different games 185-, 190+, 200+.
Court geometry was designed long ago for substantially lower people. Now we would need a kind of virtual net (I have an article about that on my blog) for handicap. Or we see Mike Thyson boxing with de la Hoya.
With 185 cm (Federer, Rafa, Thiem …) you must have tremendous hitting skills to beat 190+. If you watch – say – Thiem vs. Tsitsipas or Zverev – think about this difference. Shapo losing to Haase? Well, Shapo has not enough experience but he belongs to the best skilled players. Haase is a completely boring defensive player, only bringing most of the balls somehow back. But Haase is 190 cm. Not so much, but still some advantage over 183 cm high Shapo (and first of all over the net). Guys like Diego Schwartzman or Ferrer or even Fognini or must have learned a very specific game skills and styles and never had (or will have) chances to reach Top10 and stay there.
If I’m not wrong, you wrote, Thiem should hit more flat on hard court. Well, he would need some cm more. But of course he can learn to play from or inside the BL.
The sport fucked-up with the role technology plays. Technology has too much affected several sports. The racket and string tech has completely changed the game.
You’re getting into some nice details here. I’m just talking about style mostly. The loopy top-spin has almost ruined the sport, but it’s a skill and players can use this impressively and effectively.
Thiem will always be a sort of BL player, but like Novak let’s say, he can enhance his cause by coming in. But if you’re going to finish from the BL you need to flatten the ball a bit. Variety. You have to have that. Thiem can finish. I am not singling him out.
I’m just not a big fan of the balloon ball.
It seems to me, Novak’s elbow issue is now displaced to the shoulder. I have seen yesterday him manipulating on the right shoulder. Something was bothering him there. After he changed serve technique because of the elbow, he is probably now overstressing the shoulder. Maybe not only for serve but for every shot. If I guess well, Novak will not really come back to the top level. Problems with elbow and shoulder on the hitting arm is quite a big problem. After I have seen him dominate once more in Wimbledon, I thought, the problem is over. Now I think it can even go worse. If you must think all the time to save both your elbow and shoulder, you cannot hit freely. Let’s see, what happens in Cincy and NYC.
I didn’t see that and commentators pointed-out no “stretching” etc. But he does still seem a bit off. Certainly not the dominant 2015 version we witnessed. Like you say, we’ll see what happens.