1. Novak lost a meaningful match and therefore a meaningful tournament. Tough to criticize Djokovic at this point, but we here at Mcshow Blog look at the big picture and the WTF (ATP Finals) number is a factor. Bottom-line: he remains tied with Pistol Pete, down one to everyone’s favorite Federer.
He has his year-end #1 sealed (another important metric) and he had an amazing 2018 despite the start of the year which involved a continuation of his 2017 bizarro form. In the end, however, 2018 will be remembered for his incredible turn-around, clinching his fourth Wimbledon title and going-on to dominate the North American hard courts. Getting his first Cincinnati title and completing the Masters sweep (the only player to do so of the Big 3 though this is a Big 3 accomplishment, certainly — not an all-time record that relates to the full history of the men’s game) is incredible, along with following that up with a much needed 3rd U.S. Open title. The man dominated the season after starting-out like an intoxicated rat.
But losing today has to sting. When you’re Novak Djokovic, you’re playing for history, whether you want to or not; he’s competing in that company. I said the same thing in 2016: missed opportunity. Federer blew the same kind of opportunity in last year’s year-end ATP Finals.
2. As far as how the match played-out, the stats will speak to the Novak serve, which has been superb all year. I wrote about it back in July and throughout the summer (reminded you all of this in yesterday’s post). His second serve, I believe, was underwhelming.
But I thought the Zverev serve and volley was pretty consequential. He’s always had that in his game, he could come to net and surprise us with some delicacy. But his approach to net was an issue for Novak. Novak’s approach seemed not as effective.
Zverev was just consistently good, from everywhere. The serve remained very solid. Hitting FS at 140+ is a serious weapon. And his rallies were simply solid, patient. That two-hander kept him in rallies, perhaps ahead in those exchanges that often ended when he’d follow a big ground-stroke to net to end the point.
Good stuff from the German. #2 take-away, so you’re following, is that Novak’s serve broke-down (was broken down) and Sascha was simply more impressive, especially that serve and volley.
Wlady has some explaining to do.
3. Lendl is legit. When Lendl’s in your camp, helping construct a winning program, a winning form, you’re in good hands.
Congrats, Sascha. I did not see you doing this. Too bad for Novak. Seems like a missed opportunity.