Cincinnati Semi-finals Set


Djokovic had to work a bit to get by a charming Raonic. I almost titled this post “I was Raonic” since that seems to confess my error in overlooking the Canadian as much as I generally do. He played a nice brand of tennis yesterday, mixing-in the slice quite well. The FH broke-down, partly because of Djokovic’s pressure, and some of Raonic’s own decision-making as he likes to run-around that BH to hit that more dangerous FH. He netted several in that sequence. Footwork and indecision got to him. Djokovic certainly facilitates this clumsy tennis.

His serve looked devastating much of the match, reaching 140+ on several FS, but not holding serve in the first-set at 5-4 was a bit of a choke; this pattern followed but, again, Novak has a lot to do with that. He has to be able to secure those holds with that kind of serve. Almost unforgivable.

But the rallies were at times quite interesting and overall a good tennis match. Djokovic continues to look off at times and then completely engaged and inspired at other times. He lost his serve in all three sets yesterday against Raonic. That wasn’t expected.

Novak v Cilic should be good. I put this on Cilic. Novak is going to play very well, especially in the big moments. Does Cilic have the guts to rise in those moments: hold serve, secure the BP opportunities he gets, etc. Similar to Raonic in a way, but much more polished. His ROS can be tough, so maybe that Novak serve continues to be challenged.

Cilic, of course, beat him in the Queen’s final. Here I sense Novak too driven to get to this final and perhaps win his golden Masters title. Novak toughs him out in three again, I guess. But Cilic winning wouldn’t be a shocker since he did so recently, he’s got a decent hard court game, won Cincy in 2016 and Novak has looked less than unbeatable.

Federer v Wawrinka was going as I had predicted. Federer was staying back for the most part and had really very little chance of winning this match. Sure he held serve, which he has a tendency to do, but Stan had the leverage in most rallies. Stan is hitting the ball very well. This trend we called after his loss to Nadal in Toronto is spot-on. He will be very dangerous in NYC.

Federer pulled this one out of his hat. In that second set, late, and in the TB he got more on his ground strokes and came to net more often. Looked like the second set TB was his leading 5-2, but Stan almost turned that around and closed this out in two sets.

Watching Federer battle was a great sign for his camp. Not that he doesn’t battle, but he needs to get a bit red under the collar for him to have any hope against these ATP big boys.

He has to play offensive S &V tennis to have much hope in these bigger matches. He can not exchange from the BL with these bigger blokes. He had trouble with Mayer, for God’s sake and Halle and Wimbledon saw this pattern too.

This goes back to my ping pong theory of Federer’s FH. I heard people saying his FH is crap last night. There were more errors than usual, the shank returned, but this has been the pattern of his FH for months now. The ping pong is a weaker, shorter stroke that even when finding his opponent’s BL doesn’t have the same zip that it once did. Compare the pace and weight of that to Stan’s or even Rafa’s or other younger athletes.

This is a perfect example of the debate we were having here a few years ago about Federer. Some feel he’s playing (they argued he was playing in 2015-16) his peak tennis for his career. This is just poppy-cock.

This FH issue, we’re calling it the ping pong, is exhibit A.

One could see the frustration on his face as he could not hit it by Stan. He’ll press and shank. He wants badly to stay back, it seems, and outhit these guys. He may be able to for a point or two, but his 37 year-old body in limiting this firepower. No shit.

Kudos to Goffin. He owns Del Potro. Ha ha.

We have to like the Federer v Djokovic final, no?

We’ll go with that. If Goffin beats Federer again, like he did at the ’17 WTF, retire.


19 thoughts on “Cincinnati Semi-finals Set

  1. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    In WTF 2017 Goffin surprised Fed by playing Fed’s own aggressive game, coming often to the net and doing this faster and better than Fed. Goffin cannot overpower Fed like Stan can, but can overplaying him. Fed has amazing shots selection instinct and incomparable shot variety but Goffin is one of best thinkers on tour. I expect DjokovicGoffin final.
    BTW – Thiem is underway to NYC, so he will probably play USO. No idea about his real fitness now. He says, he feels better and hope … etc. Does not tell me much. We’ll see after first practices.


      1. PRF - Władysław Janowski

        I guess, everyone know now, ho to make Fed BL passive 😉 To convert it into defeat is not the same, but anyone from Top20 is good enough to take the chance. Hard hitting like Thiem’s or fast and smart moving and ball placing like Goffin’s should be enough, even Mayer after anxious first set started to do right things and was close to enforce third set. It’s quite simple. Play Fed long fast shots and he stays on BL. Then let him run left and right a bit and everything Fed still has, is the serve. Not enough for titles.


      2. I agree. I think the faster courts enable him to impose still, but he’s pretty vulnerable against the big hitter who can move him side to side.

        Still, one pattern that has established itself again recently is how well the Big 3 problem solve. They look perhaps beaten, but are able to figure-out a way.

        Their dominance, Fed is still part of that, barely, is staggering. Look at the last two Masters (Toronto, Cincy).

        Stan is our only hope. 😀


  2. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Stan should have defeated Fed. Some easy unforced just in second set’s TB very uncharacteristic for Stan. Either it was arranged or Stan was at the end of his energy. He is still on the come-back and not at his 100%. Fed could have learned the only thing, his level is now no more good enough to get big wins. Then a poor play against Goffin, who served from the start of the match under 100 mph, still Fed not able to break him. Let’s me think about Rotterdam final, where Dimitrov was full flight and then suddenly could not hit any ball well in the final against Fed (I call this arranged, but the right word would be fixed). Now Goffin after some decent matches and Delpo win, serves under 100 mph since the beginning and then retires. I remember a Rafa vs. Stan match (cannot recall where) with Rafa serving since some moment 120 kmh, but did play and fight to the end and close to win the match.
    Well, tennis business needs rather Federer v. Djokovic final, than Djokovic vs. Goffin, eventually Goffin winning. No histo9ry-making. Not, what celebrities having pay a lot for their exclusive seats expect. Not enough of sport, too much of business. If Fed did receive 2 millions appearance fee in Rotterdam (as officially stated by tournament’s director). everything must be made to have him in the final. And we know, why he needed badly to have the title. Sad.


    1. You’re over-playing the conspiracy theory. You’re right that Fed isn’t breaking serve at all, but his serve is effective still. That Stan and David took a dive? You’re off the mark, my friend.


  3. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Maybe I’m, Matt. I don’t think, Fed or any player from the top to be directly involved in such “arrangements”. Bu imagine, you are tournament manager and you know 90% of tickets you can sell only if you have Fed or Rafa on the poster. Maybe Delpo. Fort sure not Djokovic. Conspiracy theories apply rather to politics, not to business. So I prefer to call it arrangement. I mean Fed gets 2 millions of appearance fee. Let’s assume, Goffin gets 100.000. Imagine, you are Goffin and you just got 235.000 for advancing to SF. The main prize is 1.000.000. What’s your chance to defeat both Federer and Djokovic? Now you get offered 500.000 as disappearance fee. Not enough to stop to spoil the party for the rulers of the business? Ah no, of course, every (professional) players has his dignity, honor, whatever and would never tak such dirty money? Maybe you overplay the Olympic spirit of the sport? 😉


  4. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Goffin just adding arguments for my conspiracy theory 😉 Going to play Winston Salem. So it must have really been a serious injury, requiring him to quit in Cincy. Ha, ha, ha …


    1. That is funny. Do you think he tanked the TB?
      I doubt it — then seeing he had quite an uphill battle. What was the count on BP opps for Fed.? I didn’t see the stats.

      But that is a lot of pressure on the server either way.

      I pick Goffin to win WS! ha ha


  5. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    No, Matt, I think, it was arranged since the beginning. I did watch some fragments over the first set from reply to see, how Goffin served. Nothing happened to him during the match. He did serve 80-90 kmh all over the set. This is not normal. My best serves are almost that fast 😉 Fed had 4 break opportunities (just because of this poor serving) but didn’t use a single one. So Goffin needed to help with some stupid errors (like Stan did in TB of second set) in TB and then took medical time-out. They didn’t really made anything to help and he continued serving 80-90 in one of 2 games of the second set. Imagine – you serve 80-90 mph and Fed cannot get control of the rally. Weird.
    Good pick for WS, I guess 😉 I will watch the first match in WS to see, how fast Goffin serves 🙂


    1. I didn’t really watch the Goffin match. The Stan win can be attributed to Fed figuring-out some openings in Stan’s game and the huge psychological edge the older Swiss has over his pupil.

      Stan has NEVER beaten Fed off clay. He beat Fed once at Monte Carlo I’m pretty sure. So that’s not too unusual. Goffin is, despite whatever surge/form, an underdog against Federer. Period. The WTF was an injured Federer — the back never fully recovered from Montreal — or the first sign of the end of Federer. Goffin has not business beating Federer.

      But what you say does sound a bit odd.


  6. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    BTW – your pick is wrong. Goffin pulled out from WS before the tournament started, ruining this way my conspiracy theory and … your pick, ha, ha, ha …


      1. PRF - Władysław Janowski

        Or the opposite. If you was posting some years ago on the old Fed’s website, you would know, how much I like joking/kidding/provoking a.s.o. PRF is my nickname from those times. Because of no moderation there I could change my nick daily, using it as a title for my post, sometimes reverting, for example NAFAFAR, explaining I’m Iranian planning to drive my Harley Davidson over the desert to watch Fed in Istanbul and many were very helpful to recommend the poor Iranian the best route 😉 Take care …


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