Djokovic Takes Wild Card in Acapulco 500

Some good news here for Djokovic- and tennis fans in general although I’m not so sure it is good news for Nadal fans. Nadal will play in Acapulco too and has lost his last 15 sets against Djokovic, including the 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 beatdown at his favorite French Open.

I thought the break until Indian Wells will do Djokovic well but obviously, he feels he doesn’t need it. It sure makes things more interesting for next week!

Next week there is the Dubai 500 event as well where Murray and Federer will make their first appearances since Melbourne. Dubai and Acapulco will both be strong events. Here are the top eight seeds:

Acapulco Dubai
 Djokovic  Murray
 Raonic  Wawrinka
 Nadal  Federer
 Cilic  Monfils
 Thiem  Berdych
 Goffin  Pouille
 Zverev  Muller
 Isner  Troicki

Acapulco is definitely the stronger event with the addition of Djokovic and I see Del Potro will also be there. Djokovic and Murray will both be eager to reestablish themselves after what happened in Melbourne while Federer and Nadal will want to continue their winning ways.

Can Federer win an eighth Dubai title or will the world number one win his first one? Or will the defending champ Wawrinka defend his title? For me, Acapulco is the more interesting event because it has more depth and I’d love to see what happens if Djokovic and Nadal meet each other now.

A win over Nadal may be just what Djokovic needs to get his groove back. What do you think? Is this a positive move by Djokovic? Are you excited about next week?

Who will win Acapulco?

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Who will win Dubai?

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Who Is the Better Clay Courter, Djokovic or Federer?

The answer to this question is not a no-brainer which means that Djokovic fans will say the answer is Djokovic while Federer fans will say the opposite. That is just how the minds of fans work. It’s an annoying little thing in tennis called bias.

Everyone who is a fan of any particular player has it. I have it too, but unlike most fans, I admit that I am biased. And once you admit to bias you can’t really be biased because bias is in many ways a form of denial.

That said if you think I am not qualified to make this post because I am a Djokovic fan you are welcome to stop reading here. Or you can continue reading because I am a tennis expert and know what I am talking about.

  • The Numbers
Clay Court Resume Djokovic Federer
French Open Titles 1 1
French Open Finals 3 4
Masters 1000 Titles 8 6
ATP 500 Titles
ATP 250 Titles 4 4
Clay Court Titles 13 11
Head-to-Head 4 4
Head-to-Head vs Nadal 7-15(47%) 2-13(15%)

As you can see the numbers are very close with Federer having the added French Open final but Djokovic has more Masters titles, more overall titles, and a significantly better head-to-head record against Nadal.

Djokovic also made four French Open semi-finals as opposed to Federer’s two, that 2013 semi-final being the most memorable one where he was a break up in the fifth against Nadal while Federer has never been able to stretch Nadal to five sets on clay.

Djokovic also destroyed Nadal 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 in the 2015 French Open quarters, something Federer couldn’t do if Nadal was on one leg. I added the head-to-head record with Nadal because as the clay GOAT he is the ultimate test on clay.

I don’t think there is any doubt that the numbers are in Djokovic’s favor. Federer only has the one more French Open final but he is six years older than Djokovic and has won only an ATP 250 on clay in the last three years.

Djokovic, on the other hand, will keep adding to his clay court resume in the coming years. I have already predicted that he will win at least one more French Open title but if he doesn’t he should easily make at least one more final there and win some more Masters titles.

  • Why the Numbers Favor Djokovic

The reason the numbers favor Djokovic and will favor him even more in the future is because he is better on clay! Simple, right? And the reason he is better is because he is a better athlete, has a better baseline game, and is mentally stronger than Federer.

It’s not rocket science. No doubt Federer is a tremendous clay courter himself who achieved a lot on the surface but in comparison to the other surfaces his clay court resume is quite poor. His defensive skills aren’t anything close to Djokovic or Nadal’s which is critical for success on clay.

His one-handed backhand is not suited for the protracted baseline rallies of clay court tennis either. Finally, he is not a warrior like Djokovic and Nadal. He won’t fight to the death for the lack of a better description.

You may get away with that on faster surfaces but not on clay. If says a lot about Federer’s immense talent that he fared as well as he did on clay. But the reason that he fared so much worse on clay than other surfaces is because clay is the ultimate test of a player’s will, physical fitness, and mental strength.

Not that Federer is poor in those areas by any means. He just isn’t quite up to Djokovic and Nadal’s level. Djokovic and Nadal have immense mental and physical reserves. They will practically die out there like we saw in the 2012 Australian Open final.

And that is something I respect a lot.

  • Djokovic vs Federer on Other Surfaces

I think it is fairly certain that Djokovic will go down as the greater clay court player while Federer will go down as the better grass court player. The tiebreaker will be hard courts.

You can add indoors as a surface but these days indoor tennis is played pretty much entirely on hard courts and Djokovic and Federer have similar indoor records anyway.

With the recent Australian Open title, Federer pulled ahead of Djokovic in hard court slams 10-8. That was big for Federer because Djokovic was well on his way to surpassing Federer on hard. Now it won’t be as easy.

I can see Djokovic winning two more hard court slams. Maybe even three. But two would probably be enough for him to surpass Federer given all his US Open finals and Masters titles, provided Federer wins no more hard court slams and Djokovic wins another World Tour Finals.

It’s going to be close anyway and these two are going to be very close in the GOAT debate at the end of the day. Clearly, Djokovic favors slower surfaces while Federer favors faster surfaces. The fact that Federer won the Australian Open just made things very interesting.

It was Federer’s response to Djokovic’s assault on his GOAT status. This will serve as huge motivation for Djokovic to respond by winning the French Open because it would be the perfect response.

Not only would it confirm beyond any shadow of a doubt that Djokovic is the superior clay court player but it would give Djokovic the double career slam, something that would set him further apart from Federer after achieving the personal slam.

The next few months is going to be an extremely interesting time in tennis…

Prediction: Djokovic Will Win the Double Career Slam

I don’t usually make many predictions because tennis is too unpredictable and I am a bit superstitious but this prediction is not that Djokovic will win the French Open this year. Just that he will win it again at some point.

With the Australian Open hype having settled down a bit and Fedfans getting their fairytale ending it is time to get back to reality and look ahead to the future. Currently, things have quieted down a bit in tennis with none of the big four back in action since Melbourne.

Since the first major of the year, Dimitrov has continued his good form with a title in Sofia while Alex Zverev continued to show why he is the most promising young talent on tour right now with his second title in Montpellier.

  • Why I Like Djokovic’s Chances in Paris Again This Year

I’ll let you in on a little secret. When I was a Federer fan I could never see where his 18th slam title would come from but since I became a Djokovic fan I felt it was almost inevitable that he would win another slam.

The only reason that he wasn’t winning #18 was because of how well Djokovic was playing. I knew Federer was still playing at an incredibly high level and that all the talk of decline from his fans was just sour grapes that he kept losing to Djokovic.

Of course, since Federer won the Australian Open his fans have no problem admitting that he is still playing brilliantly, that he is the GOAT, etc. After all, he defeated his eternal nemesis Nadal in the final. And that after being a break down in the fifth set.

Although I felt during 2015 and 2016 that Federer was bound to win another slam, I thought his chances took a serious hit when he pulled out of the 2016 season after Wimbledon. I thought that might have been the final nail in the coffin for his chances.

But then he gets thrown a lifeline in Australia with the speeding up of the courts and miraculously wins #18 after a 6-month break at the age of 35. You could attribute it to luck but that would show ignorance or bias.

Federer has knocked long and hard at the door for an 18th slam title and he never stopped believing. Not even after having to take a 6-month break from the sport. The slowing down of conditions on tour in the last few years didn’t suit Federer but he kept believing and trying.

So you just gotta tip your hat and congratulate him. Since Djokovic won the personal slam I was expecting some kind of response from Federer and although I didn’t expect it to happen at the Australian Open I think it is good for tennis.

Djokovic was already on his way back after his slump with his performances in London and Doha and the fact that Federer won #18 at his best slam will motivate Djokovic a lot I think. What happened in Melbourne was against the run of play.

It wasn’t supposed to happen. Djokovic was supposed to win the title and return to dominance of the tennis world. But then the organizers decided to change the court speed which threw a spanner in the works.

Since Melbourne Djokovic has opted not to play in Dubai which means his first tournament back is only in March in Indian Wells. I think that is probably a good decision. He needs to save himself and focus on winning majors now.

Historically, Indian Wells and Miami has been some of his best hunting grounds where he has won 5 and 6 titles respectively. That is a good place to come back and start gaining some winning momentum for a very important clay court season.

  • What Would a Second French Open Title Mean For Djokovic?

With Federer winning the Australian Open the hype was high as usual and many people have proclaimed him the undisputed GOAT. No doubt winning his 18th slam at 35 is highly impressive but it’s not as simple as that.

Federer still trails his two biggest rivals in the head-to-head and the win against Nadal didn’t do much to offset his 12-23 head-to-head with Nadal or his 3-9 head-to-head in slams and 1-3 head-to-head in Melbourne with Nadal.

Federer has also fallen behind 22-23 with Djokovic in recent times and 6-9 in slams including 1-3 in slam finals. No doubt Federer has a tremendous game and resume but it is not perfect. His backhand and mental strength are less than perfect and so is his tennis on slow courts.

Compared to other surfaces his results on clay have been relatively poor. He won five or more titles at all the slams except for the French Open where he won only one title. And that was when he didn’t have to face Nadal.

This is where Djokovic has a golden opportunity to carve out an even more unique legacy for himself. It is already very unique in that he won the personal slam, the most Masters titles, won the highest percentage of Masters titles, have a winning record against all of the big four members and had the most dominant season in history in 2015.

If he wins the double career slam he would become the first player in history to do so on three different surfaces. Djokovic already has a more complete game and a higher peak level than Federer.

If he wins a double career slam it would just emphasize that fact. The amateur view is that grand slam titles are the only measure of tennis greatness. As an expert, I can tell you that is simply not true.

Balance in a tennis resume is more important than impressive numbers. Federer has some impressive numbers but he also has some serious flaws in his resume. I’m not saying Djokovic will surpass Federer, but I believe he has the potential to do so.

But he does need to win more slams and it would help an awful lot if he starts by winning the double career slam at the French Open this year. Faster surfaces may be making a comeback on tour but clay will always remain a slow surface.

So I feel like Djokovic needs to take advantage of that. Not that Djokovic has anything to prove on fast surfaces. He’s won multiple Wimbledon and US Open titles and he isn’t vulnerable on any surface the way Nadal is on fast courts or Federer on slow courts.

He is the most complete of the big four but I feel like he should prove that with another French Open title. He is too good on clay to have won only one French Open.

  • Who Is the French Open Favorite?

The Australian Open not only saw the return of Federer but also the return of Nadal. Nadal missed out big time because he would have won the double career slam and would have been very close to if not ahead of Federer in the GOAT debate.

But he will still take a lot of positives from Australia and is already called the favorite by many to win a 10th French Open this year. I don’t mind him being called the favorite but that doesn’t mean he is the favorite.

Nadal hasn’t won a set against Djokovic in their last seven meetings, including the 2015 French Open quarterfinal where Djokovic won 7-5, 6-3, 6-1. If Djokovic does well in Indian Wells and Miami and goes on a hot run during the clay court season he is going to be hard to stop in Paris this year.

After the Australian Open failure, I expect Djokovic to be highly motivated and the courts only slow down from here on which favors him. There will be plenty of obstacles along the way like the newly inspired Federer and Nadal, Murray, Wawrinka, and the younger players like Dimitrov, Raonic, Nishikori, Zverev, and Thiem.

And let’s not forget that Del Potro makes his return in Delray Beach. There is an interesting time ahead now and I don’t know who the French Open favorite is but I do know that Djokovic will be highly motivated which will make him awfully hard to stop.

But even if he doesn’t win it this year I think he will win a second French Open title at some point which would be another massive and unique achievement that could propel him ahead of Federer in the GOAT debate.

Ps. Come to think of it, I am happy Federer won in Melbourne and not Nadal even though I said I hope for the opposite before the final. Nadal winning the double career slam would have been a bit tragic given his one-dimensional game. Failing to do so gave Djokovic a very unique opportunity.