All things considered, we have the best match-ups possible for this 2020 French Open final four.
Tsitsipas is the best player in that 2nd quarter. We were clear and correct on the Medvedev meteor, which burned up just about this time last year after his run ended (miserably I have to add) in NYC in the U.S. Open final.
2020 has been anything but normal, but Medvedev, no doubt, has come back to earth, which would fall right in line with my thinking post 2019 USO.
He lost to Novak in the ATP Cup SF back in January 2020, then went out in the Aussie R16 to Stan, R32 to Pospisil in Rotterdam, and QF to Simon in Marseille.
Then after the Covid break: lost QF to RBA in Cincy, reached the SF at the USO, beaten by Thiem in straights, R32 in Hamburg to Humbert and, finally, lost first round to Fucsovics here in Paris.
Only part of what I said in that post-2019 U.S. Open final:
“Medvedev needed, for his sake and the sport’s sake, to win that match.
God forbid that he ends-up like the rest of them, in a line of bridesmaids waiting for a kiss with a triumphant Djokodal.
I saw a tweet after Sunday’s final from a popular tennis commentator calling Medvedev a legend. Are you kidding me? Everyone’s a winner? Get the fuck out of here.
He may NEVER win a major. Am I saying he won’t, guaranteeing he won’t?
No. Don’t be stupid.
But these losses are costly, on both ends. The numbers are ridiculous, on both ends.
Nadal leads Medvedev on title count 19-0.“
That last line is both startling and beside the point. No one, obviously, is going to compare Medvedev (or Thiem, or Tsitsipas, et al) to Nadal, Djokovic or Federer. This sport (all together now . . .) has been ruined on the account of these three behemoths (really only one is the guilty culprit, right?). 😉
But the point here is that Tsitsipas, 5th seed here at the French, top player in the 2nd quarter, poses the best challenge to Djokovic in that top half. You couldn’t have asked for a better SF.
I called (from the heart) his win over Rublev and though I didn’t see much of the match (it was over so fast), the tables really did turn for the Greek, that monkey on his back of which I spoke, choking to Coric in NYC, then to Rublev in Hamburg, got turned inside-out.
Rublev was the one serving for the set at 5-4, was broken, and proceeded to go away.
My two thoughts on this, beyond the fact that Tsitsipas really did need and got a huge mental make-over after battling the yips that he picked-up in New York:
First, Rublev clearly still needs a bigger game to handle the deeper waters at a major final four. He’s QF material, been to two QFs at the U.S. Open (’17 and ’20). But a SF is a different level, as we know.
Tsitsipas has been to an Aussie SF (2019) and he won the WTF (2019), which is almost as big as a major. He’s been to two (at least) Masters finals, losing 2019 Madrid to Djokovic — he beat Nadal in that Madrid SF. And he lost to Nadal at the 2018 Cincy final.
Tsitsipas has been playing big boy tennis for a few years, obviously. How about that R16 win over Roger at 2019 AO? He beat Roger in the 2019 WTF SF, as well.
Secondly, one could see the wheels come-off Rublev. Part of this collapse is tied to the previous point (doesn’t have the depth of talent or experience), but he practically folded. You could see he knew what I knew: you don’t quite have the goods here, old boy. But more to this second point, this manic run of his had come to an end — another (smaller) Russian meteor burning out.
In the other quarter, we got our Djokovic win, but there is a little concern surrounding his health, seemingly. That same arm issue looks to still exist, affecting all sorts of things, such as his ball toss and BH.
He found enough comfort to get through PCB in four, but what a tight and tense match. This could as much be about PCB as about Novak. This Spaniard has been hitting the ball so well. What I saw against Altmaier, worked against the Serb. His groundies were a huge threat and coming-up with the break there in the first and holding his serve to get that first set impressed everyone.
After the match, Carreno Busta was critical of the MTO Novak took when he was down in this match. You’ve probably seen the media. PCB called-out Djokovic, said the Serb has been doing this for years. Whatever.
Too much on the other side of that conversation to take PCB too seriously.
The big take-away from this match is Novak’s health. He will need to be 92.6% healthy to win this tournament. Trust me on this. We did the math.
Nadal vs Schwartzman hopefully lives-up to the hype (work with me). To be fair, I thought their match would go this morning PST, Thursday. Giving the extra day for Rafa and Diego is a beautiful thing. Novak and Stefanos don’t have that extra rest, but we all live with these rules.
But Diego getting that extra day could be interesting. Let’s face the facts: Nadal at the French just doesn’t lose: sets. He seems to lose a set about every other year. Can the Argentine win a set? Can he win two?
Holy shit, we’re blasphemous!
This is the match-up. Thiem looked like he was still hungover from his NYC post-title hootenanny. Diego has the Rome win over Rafa, as well.
This is what we wanted. Whether this match lives up to its (diminutive) hype, we hope. 😉
We’re in major final four territory folks, so maybe we get another post later today — or maybe we just wait this out (and get caught-up on work!).
Big Friday on the horizon. Rest-up, gents: bring your A games.