USO Final: Novak v Juan Martin

Djoko and DelPo

I really only saw some of the Djokovic v Nishikori match and this I could have done without, other than we have definitive confirmation that Djokovic is playing flawless tennis. Some of this may be his opponents, but when we factor-in Wimbledon (I start back to that Rome SF where a one-legged Novak scared the crap out of Nadal) and Cincy and his overall composure and closer mentality — just a scary combination from one of the all-time greats.

But he gets a Juan Martin del Potro who appears to be ascendant, flying, rolling and destroying his draw. Nadal was probably a bit short on fuel, but losing that tie-break was probably as good as the guillotine (I followed the match and could sense the bit of drama there at the end of the first through my phone’s digital display — breaking at 4-5 certainly had my prediction looking pretty good for a few minutes at least).

I wrote in my preview that del Potro could come strong and that if he got an early advantage, the wisdom of Nadal might realize this is not going to work, that trying to squeak-out another long 4-5 setter would be setting the table for a pretty rested Novak (that is if Novak did, in fact, routine Nishikori — he did).

Sure some can say Nadal went to the injury card, which is weak. But it doesn’t matter at this point.

We have a lot to say about several things after the tournament — where this leaves Rafa, Roger, Domi, etc.

Rafa again could not defend a non-clay title. He probably should have lost that QF (I certainly felt that way) on Tuesday. Nadal found some tougher competition in his draw and these are the breaks (he certainly makes many matches classics and epics — that’s his style, a bit of a dump out there if you know what I mean. Certainly a fighter.).

The Argentine is indeed feeling his chances to make this count. 2018 has been good to the big man, scoring his first Masters title at IW, making some nice runs in Paris and London.

We have never seen a Novak v Juan Martin major final. The Serb leads 14-4 overall, but the Argentine has a head of steam right now and one of his recent matches with Novak, back in the summer of 2016, was an Olympic Games win for the Tower of Tandil, where he had there too a head of steam. Those kinds of matches, like big Davis Cup ties, like majors, bring-out the best in guys like this.

What I’m saying is we should get quite a match tomorrow. Quite a major final. 😀

Novak looks awfully good right now, but the power players have at times posed some problems for the Serb. He tends to do quite well (against everyone) against those that might prefer to stay at the BL, try to exchange from that position, might not have quite as much on the serve, etc.

Novak looked human against Milos and Marin in Cincy. Kyrgios has a 2-0 advantage against the Serb.

Look: Novak appears virtually unbeatable at this point, but the big (needs to be big and effective) serve and first-strike tennis of Juan Martin could very well prove to be a menace for Djokovic.

Then there’s the intangibles. Juan Martin has to feel pretty fortunate and a bit urgent to be back in a final after near-career ending surgery (multiple times). You think he has a little added sense of purpose on Sunday? Would make a fine year for the scrapbook, for the trophy case back at home (2018 IW and U.S. Open?).

He probably had the same odds in 2009 against Federer. And came into the final after smashing Nadal. And rose to the occasion in spectacular fashion — I have a whole post for that match as one of the most significant matches of the era — seems to have clarified some career trajectories, narratives, etc. More on that later.

The point is Juan Martin can find the form in a major final, in NYC, against a heavily favored Big 3 tour boss.

Conversely, Novak has struggled at the U.S. Open. Isn’t this is eighth final in Flushing Meadows? Wow. That’s pretty dominant. But he only has two titles. We love Stanimal, but Novak has lost two finals to him (one here), and two to Andy Murray (one here) among others. He’s come-up short here (and elsewhere) in the past.

If we’re betting, we like Novak on Sunday. He looks too composed, too good. Moreover, something we are sure to say several times when such insight matters, he can go deep and dark if the circumstances warrant such depth and destruction. Like with Nadal today, del Potro probably needs to get an early advantage and evidence all kinds of service holds, FH winners and BH buoyancy (don’t let that sink his chances).

Speaking of FH winners, I am looking forward to seeing if del Potro can hit some of those through the court against the Djoker on Sunday. The sloth-like conditions of Arthur Ashe are well documented at this point, but the Serb is digging and retrieving EVERYTHING. A Nadal and Djokovic highlight reel of defensive digs would be sorta mesmerizing, sorta not, I guess. I digress.

The Argentine needs to break the Serb’s defensive backbone (at least dent it). Unreal stuff Novak is able to do back there, of course turning such rallies around, as well, giving him the chance to show-off his offense. When is he defense, when is he offense? That’s part of the genius of Novak, the balance of his game. Tough to find any weaknesses.

In the end, we want brilliance and blood, no?

Here’s to a monster and memorable final between these two gentlemen.

Talk to you (a lot) on the other side.

17 thoughts on “USO Final: Novak v Juan Martin

  1. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    No. No blood. No brilliance. Novak routines Delpo in straights.The trick with 2 small white pills and soccer-like latino fans, dominating the stadium, used 2017 against Thiem, will not work against Novak 😉


  2. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    OK. Something in WordPress must have went wrong. WordPress was telling me like I had posted the same text before and rejected. Well, gone is gone 😉


  3. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Good match but not an epic. Djokovic starting the run to more slams, while Federer starts the run to more sponsor deals.
    “Ole ole ole ola” is symbolic for America Dream of a corrupt Argentine. And Delpo’s biggest drive. Not a good one, because his fans have no feeling for tennis. They need heroes like Delpo to feel better as a nation.
    It was not that bad as 2017 on a Grandstand against Thiem, where Delpo fans were not only “oleing” for Delpo, but first of all against Thiem. This was not so easy in the BigApple, where latino fans cannot rule like on smaller arenas. They were trying to disturb Novak frequently and Novak got angry once and showed the public, they should be quite in such moment.
    While there is a rule against “Serena-gates”, it’s a pity, there is no rule to avoid such behavior of the public.
    Ole … + hammering from the height – this is Delpo’s trademark. He misses one of two factors beyond America and hammering only is not enough to have success elsewhere.
    198cm-tennis – no, thank you.


    1. No surprises here. Novak the better player throughout the tournament. Really not even close, ever.

      There was a little sense there in the eighth game of the 2nd and a slim chance at 3-1 in the TB, but Novak shut-down any of that with his usual precision.

      In the end, I was right about del Potro. I didn’t like his athleticism coming-in. He’s too limited in movement, too “stiff” I said. He looked pretty bad bending for some of those CC FHs from Novak, for instance.

      I’ll have a little write-up later.


      1. PRF - Władysław Janowski

        Yeah – that’s why I call Delpo “disgrace” on court (first of all because his movement).


      2. I guess I don’t like the word “disgrace.” I have a lot of respect for Delpo, but I think we’re saying the same thing. What a loss, career-wise.

        That height “advantage” will top-out at 6’4″ I suspect. He, and maybe Cilic because of his major, are exceptions, but that 6’5″ and up is too tall. Especially if they continue to slow the courts.


      3. PRF - Władysław Janowski

        I have this respect for JMP too, Matt. I will look for a better word next time 😉
        Height – that’s why I doubt, Lendl will be able to help Zverev to win slams. Bad proportions between legs and the upperbody. Bad placed che centre of gravity. Not good for Bo5. For such a tall player you can only say – he is moving well given the height 😉


      4. Yes. Yesterday was such a good example of this — Novak so much the better athlete. In fact, think of Nadal v Anderson USO ’17, or Federer v Cilic WB/AO, etc. These tall blokes show some game and dominance, but in the end, the shorter more normal-sized athlete’s can go the distance. Like you said — especially in Bo5.

        Time for Thiem and Coric to rise (Shapo, Felix A-A, etc. too).

        Zverev probably gets a major or two. Probably. Or die trying.


      5. PRF - Władysław Janowski

        185 cm. Who the hell has designed the courts for 185 cm to be optimal height? Right – time for Thiem, Coric (another patient guy, just coming higher), Shapo and Tsitsi need time and I hope, Tsitsi is done with growing :). Have not seen much Felix. He is 191 cm right now but can still grow. Probably not much. Well, for me – if double-hander, must go Novak’s way. We need some new Federers, but Nadals and Djokers too 🙂


      6. The question, a tough one with Novak back and in complete command, is who will break the chain?

        AO, FO, WB, USO again next year? AO and FO are massive Novak/Nadal favorites respectively (Novak may win both if he stays in form), etc. Who emerges?


      7. PRF - Władysław Janowski

        I expect Novak to start a long chain with no rivals at AO, WB and USO. Maybe Nadal or Thiem can take FO. Poor Fedfans – they are still lamenting about Nadal coming close to 20 crowns,


      8. I don’t feel sorry for Fedfans. I feel sorry for Nadal fans. He most likely does not reach 20. That number will be tough to reach, even for Novak. And Nadal is just too clay dependent. Each fan base has their air-tight argument. The beat goes on with the Big 3 circus.

        So long as these mere mortals fail to dethrone a legend, tennis will continue on this triumvirate, which is simply bizarre.


      9. PRF - Władysław Janowski

        And if Thiem starts to dethrone Rafa in Paris and Federer retires … Novak reaches 21 in 2 years and retires after 21. This way Big3 can disappear without being dethroned directly.


      10. PRF - Władysław Janowski

        Sorry, it’s gone before ready 😉
        … and even encouraging Djoker to stop Nadal winning slams, but they miss the real danger and it’s of course Novak. Rafa will have his knee problems coming back and again and his big run may just go to an end. Or he may be reduced for next 1-2 years to try to stop Thiem in Paris. Or Thiem will loose interest in clay and starts to challenge Novak on hard, ha, ha, ha … In many latest interviews Thiem is always talking he is not feeling like clay-specialist. And I see his game to have even more potential on hard and even grass. Interesting seasons to come 🙂


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