In Part I, yesterday, we had the bottom half of the draw get us to Djokovic vs. Federer.
We should be thrilled with this match-up, but we know Federer is somehow, with his groin, not at all 100%. Watching a bit of this match (unwatchable early on when he looked simply terrible, which I’d seen earlier in the tournament, so I thought this was just Federer coming undone finally at AO 2020 at 38 1/2) and even seeing him try to explain the injury in his press conference leaves most people pretty clueless about his actual health.
I lean toward the discussion is irrelevant (he may even withdraw, who knows) because Novak is too good, too strong right now for an aging (and injured?) Federer in a Bo5 format.
Again, look back at my coverage and I say he’s been almost awful throughout; he’s had a good draw and these lesser opponents have actually gone above and beyond to ensure that Federer advances. Millman had him where he wanted him, Fucsovics thought Christmas is in January, not December, and showered the Swiss with awful tennis after that first set, and Sandgren, my goodness. How about that ball girl almost taking-out the Tennessean. Bizarre. But he should have closed-out the six-time champ, no doubt.
So one’s take-away here is that Federer somehow survives, by the sheer majesty of his greatness, his ability to find ways to overcome the injury, the seven MPs, etc.
I put a lot of this on the Sandgren’s of the tour. Off the top of my head, Thiem falls in this discussion and so does Medvedev. Remember when Thiem had Nadal in his sights at the 2018 USO, in the quarter-finals? Same with Medvedev against Nadal at the 2019 USO final. The same happens to Federer and Djokovic, too. These guys have that legendary form, confidence, guile, etc., to somehow survive matches they probably have no business surviving. This is partly how they continue to thrive. Federer at 38 in the quarter-finals of a major, down two sets to one, facing seven MPs?
These non-Big 3 opponents simply shrink at the prospect of beating these greats, I guess. It’s unreal. They have no belief in the end. You and I know that the Big 3 fanboys and fangirls actually think that they contribute to these miraculous recoveries, escapes, etc. Their belief makes the difference. These snatching-victory-from-the-jaws-of-defeat exhibits embolden these fanatics. And deepen the divide between the field and these legends. I guess.
Conversely, this Federer injury bug seems pretty prevalent, as well. Even in 2017, when he dominated, he pulled-up lame, apparently, in the WTF — or that was a massive missed opportunity with only Goffin and Dimitrov in his way.
What happened against Millman in NYC 2018, or Del Potro NYC 2017, or WB 2018 against Anderson? Is he injured or just struggling to find his strength or his will?
Age has probably a lot to do with this. I suppose.
I can’t imagine Federer even sniffing a set against the Serbian in this SF. He might even withdraw, as I said.
As for these epic challenges to the Big 3, we already brought-up the USO 2018 QF between Nadal and Thiem. They meet again, in another major quarter-final.
I said I like Thiem here to upset, but we absolutely have to include in our calculations this foreboding variable of Big 3 destiny, resilience, and myth.
I will say that Thiem’s court position probably plays a huge factor. Nadal will accumulate easy points at the net, punishing the Austrian if Domi hangs around deep in that endzone.
Wawrinka should be thinking of one simple approach here tonight: get this match deep into a fourth or fifth set. This approach worked marvelously against Medvedev. If Zverev has his serve in tact, he might be tough and victorious. I watched him coming to net in some highlights against Rublev. He played this kind of confident, attacking tennis when he beat Federer and Djokovic to win the 2018 WTF.
Still, trouble for the German if this goes deep into the night with Stanimal. There have been clear signs that The Man is in Melbourne. Looking forward to this match, for sure.
Both should be good. We like the one-handers, for sure, for a variety of reasons.
As you know.
Enjoy the tennis!