I’m talking about the match, not my posts. Ha ha.
Thiem losing in the second round is not very shocking. His style (strategic approach to the point) perpetuates this difficulty he’s having. He had a tough first round match, which we discussed. Paire is a talent (a petulant asshole, but a talent). But Thiem needing to go five with the Frenchman, pour his soul onto the court to get the win (which is glorious and very fun to watch) is not a good approach.
This Popyrin match result is what you get if you’re Thiem. He might have been able to tough this one out, but I think he even gets it. After the first set, losing by failing to break the Aussie at 5-4 invited the Popyrin break of Thiem at 5-5. The Aussie then served-out the set. Thiem exploding after the tenth game and then once the set concluded (two racket smashes, and quite the extended smash at the end of the set) tells you everything you need to know right now about Thiem. Very frustrating for this tennis talent.
He was done after the first set. You could clearly see this capitulation as the second set got underway. Again, he’s too deep too often. Are there signs of a more aggressive ROS, is he coming to net a bit more? Sure. We can evidence some of that. But that doesn’t rewrite this guy’s tennis DNA. His massive ground-strokes (not just in terms of power, but in wind-up, in the time it takes for him to execute a shot) often push him too deep — he needs time. Hence his affinity for clay.
Yet you and I know he can play other surfaces. But this is more of an exception, a more extraordinary run, peak, whatever you want to call it.
We don’t want to take-away from what the young Aussie can do. Big serve, big ground-strokes, can finish at the net — lovely stuff and maybe we see this guy carry-on here with this sort of form and confidence. But we’re interested in Thiem’s tennis, especially.
And this is quite the disappointment for the Austrian; but this is not surprising.
Djokovic looked good in his straight-set win against Tsonga.
Here’s how this one works: Tsonga has all of that experience and parts of a game that can cause almost anyone trouble. But if you recall our diagnosis of the Novak loss, part of that pattern is the youth of the opponent, which strengthens the resistance to Novak in two ways. First, the Zverev, Khachanov or Kyrgios type is just stronger, better legs and more on the serve or the ground-stroke than a once-dangerous Tsonga who’s long in the tooth at this point and just doesn’t have the same store of energy.
Secondly, these younger players, though reverent to a degree, respectful of a guy like Djokovic and all he has accomplished, haven’t been spanked by the Serb a dozen or more times; therefore, the all-important belief in a match might burn a bit brighter, thus the confidence to go with the stronger and faster game.
Tsonga is 6-16 against the Djoker. Case closed. And early in that match, you could see very little to resist Novak. Tsonga’s errors were telling of where this was going. Not that we were ever unsure, but this parlays quite well with my post on the losses Novak sustained from Zverev and Khachanov. Those, of course, were Bo3, as well. The Serb is a sinister and even more formidable foe in this Bo5.
Zverev looks a little shaky. Having to go five there is Thiem-like. He has to put Chardy down in straights there. Not a good sign for Zverev. It’s simple math. He will have even bigger bills to pay in the next couple of rounds. At this rate, Bolt, the local boy, is going to be tough, most likely, and then he likely gets Raonic, who is no fun at this point.
Milos is very experienced, in Bo5 no less, and his tough win over Stan has to bolster his confidence even more. Having the handsome and strong tennis personality of Ivanišević in his box seems to bode well for Raonic, as well.
Zverev will need some good, efficient tennis to reach that QF.
The likely winner of Zverev/Raonic gets the survivor or Coric/Krajinovic and Pouille/Popyrin. My money is on Coric here, but parity seems to be relatively solid in these kinds of draws.
Hopefully Zverev can change this pattern we’re talking about. Youngsters like Medvdev and Coric (even Shapo) are doing the right thing: straight sets. This efficiency is a must in this nascent and hopeful ascent of one’s career, especially at a major. Seeing Chung go five in the first round and get beat yesterday, like Thiem, is par for that alternative course.
Speaking of Shapo and Medvedev, that’s likely Djokovic’s route to the QF. Potentially tough, especially if Danil is starting to feel it. Very happy that Denis has found some form and success here early.
To be fair, Medvedev has to beat Goffin next. Goffin may very well beat the young Russian. No question. But I like the Medvedev match-up with Novak better, would likely be a better match. Goffin should not, however, be overlooked. The Belgian is one of the tour’s steadier and more competent players.
A potential QF opponent for Novak is Nishikori; if the Japanese 8-seed is in form, he can be (maybe?) a tough opponent. Here’s the problem thus far. He’s played, essentially, ten sets through the first two rounds.
That’s where we’ll wrap this little post. A fortnight of major championship tennis requires form, of course, but efficiency as well. Fucking around in these early rounds in extended and punishing play can absolutely crater a player’s chances later in the tournament when the stakes are higher and the competition stronger.
Maybe we’ll share some thoughts on today’s matches in a bit.
Things are heating-up, folks. Stay-tuned.