Thiem Wins First ATP 500 Title in Acapulco

Hi, folks. It’s been a while since my last post because I’ve been preoccupied with the US presidential race of late, and the last couple of weeks have been a bit disappointing as far as the big four goes.

But as usual, there is always something interesting going on on the ATP Tour. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you may remember I made a post called The Future of Tennis Has Arrived: Dominic Thiem at the beginning of last year.

Since then he won three titles on clay last year, Buenos Aires on clay two weeks ago, and now he made another big breakthrough this week by winning his first ATP 500 title in Acapulco, and on hard court at that.

I would have been satisfied if his first ATP 500 came on clay but this is great because it means he will be a force to be reckoned with on all surfaces, not just clay. I said before he had the variation to be good on all surfaces but he still needed to prove it.

His 6-2, 6-2 destruction of Querrey in the semis was especially impressive, although I couldn’t watch that. I did, however, tune in for the final early this morning to watch him defeat Tomic 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-3.

Tomic is another relative youngster who has been improving a lot of late so that was another big win for Thiem. I’m really excited about this player. He is almost for sure a future French Open champion but I’d like to see him do well on all surfaces.

And judging from this week that will be the case. His backhand is a gift from God and his ground game is big, but he has great skills at the net and touch as well. His serve and movement are good too.

It is unlikely that he is a future Wimbledon champ and he will probably struggle indoors but it doesn’t matter. He is still exciting and good to watch. And he looks like a good kid who is mentally strong.

  • Dubai Disappoints

I guess Dubai was cursed this year because not only did Federer withdraw but Djokovic retired in his quarterfinal match with Lopez with an eye infection after losing the first set 3-6.

It’s a shame because he had a chance to tie Lendl for most consecutive finals at 18 but shit happens. And maybe it’s bad karma for the  Dubai crowd because they booed Djokovic off the court.

Since 2011 and especially since 2015 Djokovic has been the epitome of professionalism and I don’t think there is any need for that kind of behavior from the crowd.

Especially since Djokovic is already underappreciated by the tennis establishment in general. Too many people have been brainwashed into believing that Federer and Nadal are the only players who deserve appreciation but they will wake up once Djokovic surpasses both of them.

It’s a shame that this had to happen to Djokovic who had been struggling with the eye infection since he got to Dubai. He did look awfully good in his first two matches however which he both won 6-1, 6-2.

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With the amount of winning Djokovic had been doing something like this is inevitably going to happen at some point I guess. But it could have happened at a much worse time for him. It was still only an ATP 500 event.

In the end, Stan was the one who took advantage of the Djoker’s absence as he defeated Baghdatis 6-4, 7-6(13) in the final. I watched the tiebreak and it was pretty low-quality tennis.

Kyrgios also retired in the semis against Stan after trailing 4-6, 0-3 and got booed off the court as well. I was expecting much from that match because Kyrgios had beaten Berdych for a second consecutive week in the quarters.

So yeah, Dubai was pretty much a flop this year. But maybe not the worst thing for the fans who are tired of Djokovic winning every tournament he enters.

  • Federer Withdraws from Indian Wells

Federer ended up withdrawing from Indian Wells as well as he is still in rehabilitation for his knee which I thought was the sensible thing to do. It will be much better to return on clay courts which will be more forgiving on his knees.

There is no need to rush. He will still have the entire clay court season and the grass court season to get ready for Wimbledon which his season is pretty much built around.

I’m sure Djokovic is looking forward to get back to winning titles in Indian Wells too and if he does win the title he will have the record there with five titles. He is currently tied with Federer at four.

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Looks like Federer has been enjoying himself 😍 Mirka 😆

Djokovic will also have a shot a tying Agassi for the most titles in Miami at six and he is the only guy so far to do three Indian Wells/Miami doubles. It would be surprising if he doesn’t do it again.

Whatever happens, that’s always a fun stretch in the calendar but this coming weekend it is first Davis Cup where I hear Djokovic will be taking part.

My next post will probably be after the Indian Wells draw comes out so don’t expect much.

The is in your court.

Thiem Wins Buenos Aires After Defeating Nadal in the Semis

Just a quick recap from me about what happened this week in tennis. The only big four member in action this week was Nadal who was back on South-American clay after his first round exit in Melbourne.

And it doesn’t look like that loss did his confidence much good. He made it to the semi-finals but then ran into Thiem who I have been hyping up a fair amount since around the beginning of last year.

Thiem had one of the best wins of his career when he defeated Nadal 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(4) even though Nadal only looked like a shadow of the player he was. Just loads of uncharacteristic unforced errors and lacking his usual clutch tennis.

It looked like Nadal was on his way back during the fall last year but the loss against Verdasco set him back again. You could say he was unlucky with the draw to run into a red hot Verdasco who can beat anyone on a given day, but that’s just the brutal reality of men’s tennis.

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And let’s not act like Nadal’s decline was not a long time coming either. As an early bloomer(he won his first French Open only days after his 19th birthday) with the most brutal game style in the history of tennis, it is astonishing that he lasted as long as he did.

The clay court season is still ahead where Nadal will do everything in his power to regain confidence but he is not beating Djokovic at the French again. He really looks done winning slams, which is great after all the GOAT hype.

He is the clay GOAT. No more, no less. No player who was as reliant on clay as Nadal was can ever be the overall GOAT. And that’s the end of that.

To get back to Thiem, it was still a big win for him over Nadal and the important thing is that he went on to win the title today against Almagro, 7-6(2), 3-6, 7-6(4). Almagro is not known for his mental strength, but winning two consecutive matches in third set breakers shows good mental fortitude from Thiem nonetheless.

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I’ve asked question about his mental fortitude but he is still young and as long as he keeps improving in that area it is fine. This was his fourth title after winning three titles in a breakthrough year in 2015.

All four titles have come on clay and they are all ATP 250 level. I can see him being a future Thomas Muster who happened to be from the same country as him and dominated on clay. He is a solid bet for a future French Open champion.

Hopefully, he can do more than dominate clay, though, because I think he has the game to do so and he is great to watch with that classic one-handed backhand. He is also pretty complete with a big forehand, big serve, good movement, and net skills.

His biggest drawback is his big swings off the ground and perhaps his return game. But with some hard work I’m sure he can stand closer to the baseline and take the ball on the rise on faster surfaces.

  • Fritz Shows Promise in Memphis

Hard as it may be to believe, it seems the US finally has a male tennis player to genuinely get excited about again. The last time that happened was back in the early 2000’s with the rise of Roddick, and yet Roddick never came close to scaling the heights of his predecessors Sampras, Agassi, and Courier.

It has been a long, dry spell for American tennis but they may finally have a big champion on the horizon again. 18-year old Taylor Fritz just lost 6-4, 6-4 in the final of Memphis to Nishikori but he showed plenty of promise in making the final.

He’s got a big serve, he looks very solid off the ground, and mentally he looks stable too. As we know tennis has become a baseline game and having a solid two-handed backhand is a big asset. And Fritz does have that.

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It’s early days but he looks like an exciting player and I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for him. And congrats to Nishikori for winning a fourth consecutive Memphis title. Of current players I think only the big three has been able to do that.

  • Federer – Halle, Wimbledon, US Open
  • Nadal – Monte Carlo, Barcelona, French Open
  • Djokovic – Beijing, World Tour Finals

Finally, in Rotterdam this week where Federer withdrew due to knee surgery, the top seed Gasquet withdrew as well before a golden opportunity to win his frist ATP 500 event. The player who took advantage was Martin Klizan who defeated Monfils 6-7(1), 6-3, 6-1 in the final.

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Monfils also had his first opportunity to win his first title above ATP 250 level but these French players just don’t have much mental fortitude. I always thought Klizan has a pretty nice lefty game. He was really blasting that forehand for winners this week.

He seems a little unstable mentally but still a great week for him and his first ATP 500 title after having won three ATP 250 events.

This coming week is the events in Rio de Janeiro, Delray Beach, and Marseille. Nadal will be in Rio again while Stan will be back in Marseille. So as always plenty going on on the ATP Tour and I will keep you up to date as usual.

See you later!

The is in your court.

Djokovic Not Stressed Over Winning the French Open

“Whether or not I win the French Open, it’s not going to change, significantly, the way I look at my career,” Djokovic said in this video interview produced by Head, his racquet sponsor.

“Of course, it will be nice if I get to win it at least once before I stop playing tennis. But I’m not going to stress myself too much about it.”

“I’m just going to enjoy the second part of the season,” Djokovic said. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to stay in form and be in good shape for the French Open.”

Waddup tennis fans. I am going to look quite far ahead with this post but I think it’s pretty relevant topic nonetheless. The French Open is one of the big events in the tennis calendar and this year’s tournament is going to carry a little extra significance since Djokovic has a shot at completing the Djoker slam there.

Neither Federer nor Nadal has won four slams in a row and soon we will find out if the Djoker can get it done. My opinion is he can but, of course, that remains to be seen. He has been in this position before in 2012 but couldn’t get it done.

There are some pretty significant differences between now and then, however:

  1. Djokovic is now even more dominant than he was back in 2011-12. He was more dominant in 2015 than in 2011 and he has been making some serious statements in 2016 already.
  2. Djokovic got married in 2014 and had a child in the same year. He is more stable and secure as a person than in 2012.
  3. Djokovic made the first step towards winning the French Open by pummeling Nadal last year in Paris. In 2012, he had not yet overcome that mental barrier which means it won’t put extra pressure on him this year. He now knows he can defeat Nadal at the French, even if he makes a comeback to form this year.
  4. Djokovic won the US Open last year which was a semi-cursed slam for him and that may help him to overcome the curse of Roland Garros.

Of course, these points are by no means a guarantee that Djokovic will finally win the French Open in 2016, but I think it shows that things are significantly different than it was in 2012. It has to be kept in mind that there is a reason why players don’t win four slams in a row every day.

There is a big psychological barrier to overcome. Winning the French Open is a big enough psychological barrier for Djokovic to overcome as it is. I mean he must feel cursed by now after all the stuff that happened there.

Add to that the psychological barrier of being the first guy since Laver to win four slams in a row and you have a pretty formidable psychological barrier to overcome. That said if anyone can do it it is Djokovic.

He is in a league of his own right now and have several more gears in reserve if needed. I think Djokovic has the type of game that should win several French Open titles. Not just one. If he wins it this year I think he can go on to win several more.

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He is a formidable clay court player. The only player who has beaten Nadal at the French Open as well as in several other big clay court finals. His ground game is such that he can be one of the all-time greats on clay.

He probably is already, but his resume does lack at least one French Open title. And now that I have built it all up, let me just get back to what Djokovic said in the video below. One needs to see these things in the proper perspective.

Yes, it means a lot to the fans and to me as well but nowadays he is a married man with a kid and if he doesn’t win the French Open his personal life won’t be affected.

And maybe more than anything, that is the kind of perspective which is going to serve him well when the pressure is at its peak.

 

The is in your court.