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.