With the time difference and not having my priorities straight, I did not see much of the first round yesterday, of the men’s bottom half of the draw beginning their journeys.
I saw the end of the Federer vs Johnson match and the Swiss 6-time champ looked pretty smooth in his movement, variety, etc. One could take note of his defense, perhaps a little extra attention paid to this part of his game in the off-season. Certainly good, for his sake, to make quick work of the American.
Federer has a seemingly lighter draw to the QF, yet his next couple of matches will certainly have potential challenge. He likely gets the Serb Krajinovic, who has some solid tour experience, currently ranked #41, followed by likely winner of the match between the young Pol Hurkacz and the young Frenchman Humbert. Hurkacz was a semi-finalist in Auckland last week and Humbert won Auckland, beating Shapovalov and Isner in the process. So, Federer does have a seemingly decent route to the QF, but these youngsters, organizing a desperate theme of this tour, this season, look to get closer and closer to toppling the old guard. Finally.
Speaking of Shapovalov, he’s out. This is unfortunate as he was playing well in the ATP Cup, seemed to have his game tightened-up a bit with the help of Youzhny, who still has a spot in the Canadian’s box. Dimitrov advanced, hoping to meet Federer in the R16 and Berrettini advanced in straight sets, possibly Federer’s QF opponent.
Of course, a lot of tennis to be played before we get any of these potential match-ups.
Djokovic advanced, beating Struff in four. Sure enough, some of the headlines reflected Novak’s “test,” or difficulty in this first round match. Don’t listen to this nonsense.
Two things are at work here. First, the German is a solid player. He had some nice results in 2019 on different surfaces. Go look at his run on the Euro clay in 2019. Just a couple of results to make this point: 57 57 loss to Nadal in the Barcelona SF, after beating Tsitsipas in R16; a loss to Djokovic in Roland Garros R16; and a loss to Berrettini in the Stuttgart SF, where the Italian, if you recall, started to really show his teeth.
Struff is a big hitting bloke with some decent form now and again. From our tournament preview: “Struff, his first round opponent, is not a pushover, but Novak gets through that and I don’t see anyone in that bottom half of his quarter with a shot against the 2-seed.”
I’m afraid this is clearly the case. Novak looks unencumbered en route to the QF where Tsitsipas or RBA might be waiting.
Secondly, Djokovic often begins tournaments with “not his best stuff.” We are well aware of how he often finishes.
Onto Day 2.
Nadal and Wawrinka both start their matches at 6:30pm PST today. 😀