What is DHFE?
Look it up.
Many have to have thought (perhaps wildly erroneously) that Novak took the Sunshine Double off (early exits at both tournaments) only to prepare for his clay campaign, as the hunt for Nadal continues (ala the AO final) and clay mastery has to be an unquenchable thirst for the Serbian since many argue he’s the second best clay courter of all-time, he’s got Nadal’s number on clay, he wants another Novak Slam, perhaps even a Calendar Slam, etc.
But he’s just not in form. He looked bad against Philipp, better against a very unimpressive clay foe in Fritz and now he’s out against Medvedev, a good player for sure, but we’re talking about Novak Djokovic here, winner of the last three majors.
He looked bad today. No real depth (confidence) on his ground strokes, wide and long all match-long, serve is still shaky, garbage drop-shots and so forth. How about when he did come to net and had trouble volleying, along with his below average over-head smash that came calling.
Maybe he’s the opposite of homesick. Maybe he’s too close to home, suffered a flat tire on his bike, perhaps, commuting to the match.
Instead of Novak somehow “resting” for Roland Garros and his continued assault on the record books, we seem to have a guy that’s dipping again, from the insanely high level of tennis he was playing from last July through (with a few bumps in the road at the end of ’18) to January in Melbourne.
He looks in a funk again. This is SOP for Novak Djokovic, actually.
There is still A LOT of tennis to play and I suspect he gets his shit together by Rome or so, but here we are with the Djoker, again.
Which is to say that the DHFE argument (it’s merely a memo at this point) really is quite the fanboy myth. It’s unsustainable. Does that undermine the claim completely? This will be much clearer in about five years, but let me look ahead and back for you: Novak certainly has some of the greatest stretches of tennis we’ve seen on the tour, ever, but the consistent inconsistency has to make people (even his biggest fans) wonder.
He’s still #1, still the winner of the last three majors, still on track to challenge for his 2nd FO, a 2nd Novak Slam and his 16th major.
But this is pretty poor Masters form in 2019. You have to suspect many of the boys will be getting sharper as this year’s clay continues to gather dirt and roll into Paris. The competition will get more and more fierce.
Meanwhile, Rafa continues to show he’s, indeed, 32-almost-33 years-old as he’s having a bit of tussle with Pella, an Mcshow favorite, by the way. Naming my next dog, Guido.
Fognini vs Coric should be entertaining. Nadal could have his hands full with one of those guys (Fognini), but wow, don’t look at that top-half of the draw. Diminishes some of the beauty of this gorgeous sea-side ATP spectacle.
We’ll survive. Carry-on and happy Friday!