Last Two Semi-finals

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I will not be watching tonight’s matches.

I hope Pouille can hang with Raonic (and this appears to be the case in the first set; the Frenchman was down a break early but now they’re in a first set TB!).

Update: Pouille takes the first set. I lied — I’m going to watch a bit here. As I said in my Coric v Pouille preview, I like the Frenchman’s game. A bit surprised he was able to turn that first set around. Well done. A lot more tennis in this one.

Novak should beat Nishikori, obviously, but I’m pretty concerned about his health. I saw his press conference following Medvedev, where he said his stiffness was nothing too serious, but the body language during that match was ominous. Playing 40+ shot rallies against that tall, young flat baller wasn’t what the doctor ordered. At least that was the look of things late in the match. Novak took that awkward fall early in the match.

He was clearly bothered.

If he’s compromised physically, he might not get out of this SF, especially if Kei is somehow recovering and has what appears to be a really solid base of early-season fitness. Tough to see Novak not getting through here, however. Nishikori has played a lot of very tough Bo5 tennis already and doesn’t match-up too well with the Serb.

Still, Novak’s physical health is a big question mark.

Nadal, on the other hand, looks absolutely rampant. He’s played a very soft draw and his approach in this tournament, along the lines of my post a few days ago, has been to make very quick work of these matches, given all of the health concerns he’s had over the years, especially last year.

That camp clearly designed an approach to have Rafa serve bigger and work to punch-out his opponent with either the standard 1-2 combo or thereabouts. His match v Tiafoe was one-sided bully-ball, sure pretty Rafa-like. But very un-Rafa-like in that he’s finishing these matches in ~2 hours, which speaks to his cup cake draw, but also more of a Federer-like game plan.

Rafa is smashing his ground-strokes. His serve does look improved. He is fresh and hasn’t even been tested.

I’m not sure Tsitsipas stands a chance. In a post-match interview with Courier, the Greek said, essentially, that his goal for this season was to reach a grand slam SF. Great.

The only way to beat Nadal is to pummel him into the back of the court with serve and big, consistent groundies and watch his technique disintegrate.

I hope Tsitsipas has enough to even make it a match.

That’s one of the problems, folks: that Nadal v Tiafoe match was awful — a terrible tennis match. This is a dirt-baller’s fantasy — but credit to Nadal and his camp for going with the KISS game plan (Keep it Short, Stupid).

Nadal and I are on the same page. 😀

If Novak is healthy enough to beat Nishikori later tonight (I’m being overly cautious here), he then has to beat Raonic, most likely, who will be quite the penultimate obstacle. Nadal will most likely be waiting with all kinds of Djokodal demons to exercise if we get that final.

Things are playing-out perfectly for the Spaniard. I can already see a Nadal AO/FO double.

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Let’s hope Novak is feeling 100%, fine-tuning his final-four chops later tonight.

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