Khachanov’s Win


You and I both know that the GOAT bullshit is simply non-stop.  The Big 3 dominance has this thing on a constant boil.

I think a lot of these “arguments” or “perspectives” are more or less the equivalent of hot air from the rear-end of Russsian bot-like trolls, stirring the broverbial pot.

This here is some numero uno bullshit:

That guy supposedly knows tennis. Who thinks that about Novak? That’s something a fangirl would say, looking for sympathy or getting ready to lash-out at some unsuspecting tennis fan who doesn’t share her disturbing idolization of the Serb.

My only critique of Djokovic has been his serve and his tendency to stay back and run around. The serve has been quite good since his return; again, I think this has been the key to his amazing second half of 2018. Hard to believe he won two majors this year. Really unreal, that he got that good AND that the rest of the tour just sat there and watched.

His serve. Great stuff.

The Paris-Bercy final echoed some of my past commentary with respect to his other shortcoming: his side-to-side predisposition.

Karen is, as we know, a big guy who has all kinds of power to his game. Yet what I saw from him that seemed the tell-tale quality in this match was his defense, his ability to track everything that Novak threw his way. Yeah, his defense.

Maybe Djokovic was with the flu, and his tough three-hour match with Federer the day before probably slowed him, as well. But the fact that he could not finish points, enabling the Russian to keep the points alive and then use that solid BH and awkward yet punishing FH to run the Serb into the ground seemed a bit of that sense I’ve had of the Serb before. When he’s hitting all manner of shots at his opponents’ feet, holding his serve and breaking theirs like clock-work, he’s almost unstoppable. But the desire to stay back and out run and out hit his opponent is not for me a very sustainable future.

Especially as guys like Khachanov are coming.

I’ve written about him recently.

What I saw in Khachanov back in Toronto (and well-before that in my meditations on the youth-movement which has teased us to death).

The Cilic v Nadal was so typical Cilic and Nadal it would be tough to write that script any more perfect. No way Nadal should have even stayed with him in that match. But sure enough, Rafa finds a little crack and squeezes his muscly game in there, tortures you before you jump off a bridge. Cilic imploded against Nadal like so many have before. Not a shock, at all. More a shame.

Nadal with his bulky hard court slippers and blunt staff will look to secure his 33rd Masters here this weekend.

Same rule applies with Khachanov as the one we used with Cilic. Karen can over-power Nadal, but he has to stay focused long enough, maintain a supremely high level and this seems tough to fathom given the experience factor. But I wouldn’t say his chances are any less than Cilic though the odds makers would disagree with me. Here’s where they’re wrong: Karen doesn’t have (yet) that charming personal characteristic that Marin has fashioned into an art: the brain fart. Cilic always gets tight in those big spots. He’s a splendid tennis player (he should have straight-setted Rafa yesterday). But he gets tight, makes terrible decisions, etc.

Do we know that about Khachanov? No we don’t. Hence their chances of beating Nadal are about the same.

This could be a 2 and 2 Nadal win and we wouldn’t blink. Here’s to the Russian making a match of it.

Look for Nadal to force Karen into too many errors. This could, again, be 2 and 2 — it’s Nadal against a toddler (though the toddler does have precocious power, and he is in a Masters SF, after all).

That’s actually what happened in Toronto, as Nadal pretty much pushed the ball well enough to give his entire competition enough opportunities to flounder.

But Khachanov has been coming. I remember a tournament earlier in the year, Goffin was playing the Russian, might have been Montpellier. I thought, having seen Khachanov play, Goffin might not be able to stay with this guy. Khachanov doesn’t just hit the ball hard; he competes hard. But Goffin simply out-classed him. Khachanov couldn’t control enough of that artillery.

I see the biggest difference in his win in Paris being a more developed defense to along with the typical development and maturity.

And this reminded me of how I used to say Novak might not age as well as, say, Federer. Novak can get into a lot of that side-to-side, which is a lot more taxing than north-to-south.

But good on the Russian, in the end. A very nice little bright spot as we start to close the book on 2018 and turn to 2019.

As for London, I like the look of the groups. Assuming that Federer and Novak advance, the other advancing member of each group seems like a tough call.

In Federer’s group, Nishikori is playing well, but the real battle seems to be between Thiem and Anderson — has Anderson played himself out, over-played? If not, he’s had a ton of success to lift him in these kinds of matches. On this surface, he should fare quite well. I would like to see Thiem come through, but Anderson, if he still has form, might be a tough out.

In Novak’s group, that’s another interesting “other three.” Zverev can certainly play, especially in the Bo3, big serve and big ground strokes keeping him in a lot of matches. Cilic has been a pretty consistent guy though he just seems destined to come-up short. And then the big guy, Johnny Isner. When he’s doing his thing, he can be flat unplayable.

With word that Federer didn’t expect much in Paris, wanting to peak in London, he seems poised so long as he’s got enough energy and flexibility (and first serve %) to negotiate the court and find that winning way.

We’ll see, now, won’t we.

Keeping our eye on Milan, as well. Tsitsipas’ last trip to that junior theater. 😉

With all of those odd rules.

Crazy kids.

8 thoughts on “Khachanov’s Win

  1. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Somehow Novak let Khachanov be aggressive. This added a lot to his Nadal-like defense and made him unbreakable but able to break. Novak’s flu or something? I think – yes. Another kind of “Parisian flu” (visiting Paris every year at the Bercy time) was Thiem. Happy with two steps ahead and sealing the London spot, he missed motivation to go for a crown. The London crown (or at least SF, because Thiems goals are always modest) was more appealing. So Thiem did the same. Let Karen be aggressive and not finding ways to break him. Rather breaking himself.
    I like Karen. I don’t like his tennis. Your pic is again symbolic. Raw power tennis. And opponents giving him time for a deep backswing. Still his average shot speed oin the Novak match was lower than Novaks A bit weird, no?


    1. I saw those numbers. That’s part of why I don’t think it was really Karen overpowering Novak on ground strokes. Novak was harder from both wings.

      This was Karen chasing everything down. An odd look. It was Novak playing a younger bigger Novak.

      I sure home Thiem can get to the SF. Looking forward to that. Did I see that Fed is facing Kei first? So this first match is big for Dom. Take-out the S.African.


  2. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Yeah – Old ill Novak playing younger, bigger healthy Novak 😉
    Yes, Thiem plays Anderson on Sunday 2.00 pm. Hope. Thiem is prepared well and ready to continue his indoor run 2018. Also Thiem has won both matches vs. Anderson this year (Madrid, New York) and Anderson looks a bit tired at the season’s end. Kei also looks tired, so I guess Fed+Thiem advance 🙂 Thanks God, no Isner-lottery in Thiem’s group. Anderson is tall but still a tennis player. not serving machine.It’s a pity for the other group (I hoped, Isner would reject to come as alternate, but malicious Rafa chose another arrangement, hahaha. I wpould not say hahaha, if Isner was in the other group.
    On a side note – Karen and his game look like pure power. But Karen is relatively slow. This maybe inborn – more red than white fibers in muscles and you are ox, not a gazelle.


    1. So Bodo has Fed finishing second, playing the #1 from Djokovic’s group. Doesn’t 1 play 2 in the SF?

      Tough call. My gut says Fed over achieves here — he’s on career fumes. I want a Fed v Thiem final. For obvious reasons. But money has Djokovic winning it playing, probably, another two-handed goof-ball.


  3. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    Yes, 1 plays 2 in SF. So we need Fed to win the group and both win semis. Not impossible. Both Fed and Thiem should be fresh and hungry. But the format makes everything possible. You can advance to SF winning just one match (like Munar did in Milan to advance to SF together with Tsitsipas. Hope, Tsitsi can win this thing with ease. In terms of achievements he is no more NextGen, lust like Zverev since 2 or 3 years.


    1. Would be quite the statement we’re all looking for with a Thiem/Fed and Tsitsipas triumph. Multi-dimensional tennis dominates multi end-of-year championships.


  4. PRF - Władysław Janowski

    First done – including headphones, which cost him index finger “injury”, requiring medical aid, hahaha … and probably some financial penalty, i guess.
    I have watched a part of the match and while I don’t like de Minaur’s game, Tsitsipas looked against him like very old and slow steam locomotive. I start to dislike a bit Tsitsipas’ habits. Starts to play a superstar and something like too much adrenaline (peds?)
    The towel rack “invention” worked fine in Milan. But I can recall, some players (for instance Cuevas) always used a chair or something at the back of the court and did not allow ballkids to touch it (whatever the reason). Rafa will need two racks – what a cost for tournament management 😉


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