Federer Wins Indian Wells, Djokovic Withdraws From Miami

Congrats to Federer on equalling Djokovic on 5 Indian Wells titles after defeating Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5 in the final yesterday. This was his second big title of the year which is a bit of a scandal for Murray and Djokovic.

Then again, the speeding up of the courts in Melbourne was a huge break for Federer and it didn’t hurt that Kyrgios took out Djokovic in Indian Wells and subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

But one should give credit where it’s due, unlike Fedfans who didn’t want to give credit to Djokovic for defeating Federer time after time from 2014-2016. Even they are now willing to admit that Federer is still playing at a very high level.

So again, well done to Federer whose ability to take the ball early and play fast takes Stan out of his comfort zone. Stan made some time for himself by standing way back on Federer’s second serve but Federer just countered it by serve-and-volleying on his second serve as a surprise.

Stan is now 0-15 against Federer on hard courts which tells you how much he struggles with this matchup. Stan likes to have time to take big cuts at the ball but Federer is constantly rushing him and he just can’t find any rhythm.

It should be no surprise then that Stan’s only three wins over Federer came on clay.

  • Djokovic Pulls Out of Miami

Murray pulled out of Miami earlier due to an elbow injury and now Djokovic has followed him with the same problem. For Djokovic, it is an old problem that has been plaguing him since last year.

In hindsight coming back in Acapulco was a mistake but it was positive in the sense that it shows how much he cares. Too much in fact. Sometimes you can be too eager to come back. I have already said last year that ideally Djokovic should have taken off the rest of the season after completing the personal slam at the French Open.

The best ever run in the history of tennis from 2015-2016 had clearly taken a huge physical toll on him. Of course, he had to go for the calendar slam but I think after losing at Wimbledon it would have been a good time to call it a season.

Now his body still hasn’t recovered properly and as a result, he is missing one of his best events where he was almost certain to string several wins together if not win the tournament. It’s a bitter pill to swallow for him but sometimes that is what is needed to learn.

He should probably skip Monte Carlo now too. Or maybe he is skipping Miami so he can be back in Monte Carlo. We will see but clearly, he can’t afford to rush things. The clay court season is now becoming even more important after the fiasco in Indian Wells and Miami.

If he does well in Madrid and Rome he can still be a threat in Paris, but the first priority now should just be to stay healthy. Federer is threatening to dominate at the age of 35 and the only guy who is capable of stopping him is Djokovic.

Murray is not good enough and Nadal has declined too much. Federer is probably the favorite to win Wimbledon this year and if Djokovic wants to stop him he has to start getting his act together.

  • Highlights

Kyrgios Breaks Djokovic’s 19-Match Winning Streak in Indian Wells

The record 19-match winning streak had to end eventually. It’s just a shame it didn’t happen against someone likable. Like Del Potro. Then again, beating Del Potro in consecutive events was important for Djokovic.

A lot is being made of Djokovic losing in consecutive events to Kyrgios but no one seemed to notice that Del Potro, another great player, lost even earlier than Djokovic in consecutive events, against Djokovic.

It’s all about what you focus on. The media will focus on the losses to Kyrgios but Djokovic will focus on defeating Del Potro consecutively and doing so more convincingly the second time around.

He can go to Miami with plenty of confidence where he holds the record with Agassi of 6 titles. And surely this time he will get a better draw. Or else we will know for sure they rig the draws. With a good result in Miami, he can go into the clay court season on a high and start dominating again on a slow surface.

As for the match against Kyrgios, I needed some time to digest it. Djokovic dropped serve in the opening game and hit a couple of reverse backhands in the next game which I have never seen from him.

The whole first set he appeared disinterested and when he lost it 6-4 he smashed his racquet. That seemed to release some tension and he started playing better but it took his best clutch tennis just to force a tiebreak which he lost 7-3.

At first, I couldn’t figure out what happened but I never bought the explanation that he just didn’t care. Djokovic is too driven and intelligent for that. I think he was trying to get into Kyrgios’ head but Kyrgios was unplayable again.

His serving was off the charts again serving 14 aces and second serve aces or unreturnable second serves. Djokovic didn’t see a single break point and even from the baseline, Kyrgios was winning the longer exchanges.

It reminded me of Sampras who often served second serve aces when in trouble. But Kyrgios was never even in trouble on his serve. And that against the best returner of serve in history. Kyrgios is tall at 1.93 m which gives him an advantage on the serve but he is not so tall that it hampers his movement.

His movement and defense were very good. I don’t know how you beat that unless you have a similar serve which of course Federer has so the matchup suits him better. You can’t return what you can’t reach. Whether you are the greatest returner in history makes no difference.

Kyrgios is clearly not a good matchup for Djokovic in a sport of matchups. This is why they slowed down the courts after the ‘boring nineties’ or else the returner has zero chance. They sped up the courts in Melbourne a lot this year and I hope that doesn’t become a trend.

If you have guys pounding down ace after ace it gives them not only an unfair advantage, but it is also awfully boring for the spectators. Believe me, I know. I watched tennis in the nineties. That is why I switched from being a Sampras fan to being an Agassi fan.

  • Federer Three-Peats Against Nadal

Finally, there seems to be life in this rivalry again. That hasn’t been the case since 2009 probably. Federer defeated Nadal with ease 6-2, 6-3 for s third straight time. He finally seems to have found the solution.

One would have thought that the slower Indian Wells courts would favor Nadal but, of course, Federer has defeated Nadal at Indian Wells before. On that occasion, the score was 6-3, 6-4. The key this time again was Federer’s backhand which he is hitting earlier and cleaner.

The rivalry is still heavily in Nadal’s favor and it seems that Nadal has declined before Federer even though there is a five-year difference in age but at least there is life in the rivalry again which is good for tennis.

Against Nadal, Federer played as well as ever and as I have said a million times before he has declined very little if at all. The competition has caught up so he is not as dominant as he once was but he is playing as well as ever. If not better than ever.

Fedfans deny this because they don’t like the idea that Federer at his best could lose so much to Djokovic but the fact is Djokovic’s level in 2015-2016 was the highest level of tennis ever played which is why it was the most dominant run in history in which he won the personal slam.

But I’m sure now that Federer has won another slam and defeated his nemesis three consecutive times for the first time Fedfans won’t have any problem to admit that he is still playing at an incredibly high level.

Federer plays Kyrgios in a couple of hours and I expect him to win that and the tournament now. His serve will help him not to get broken the way Djokovic did and the same goes for when they enter the tiebreak.

The one time they met which was on clay in Madrid they went to three tiebreaks which is not surprising. It is just a serving contest which is kinda boring but at least the tiebreaks are interesting.

I guess the match can go either way but my gut feeling says Federer wins. Kyrgios lost to Querrey after he beat Djokovic in Acapulco. I don’t think he has ever beaten two top quality players in succession.

It is possible that he won’t be interested at all and just tanks like he so often does.

  • Highlights

Djokovic vs Kyrgios Rematch Is On In Indian Wells

So far in Indian Wells, things have gone as expected in the ‘quarter of death’ with Djokovic, Federer, Nadal, and Kyrgios all making the fourth round. Murray who had the easiest draw of them all, however, lost his first match against Pospisil.

Yesterday there were two big matches in the stacked quarter between Kyrgios vs Zverev and Djokovic vs Del Potro which Kyrgios won 6-3, 6-4 while Djokovic won 7-5, 4-6, 6-1.

They both played incredibly well and the result of the rematch is impossible to predict. Djokovic played better than he did in Acapulco but so did Kyrgios. Kyrgios was basically toying with Zverev putting his unlimited talent on full display and getting the double break to win the opening set.

One shot he hit through his legs surprised Zverev to such an extent that Zverev missed a sitter volley into the open court. That point pretty much summed up the match. Kyrgios was making Zverev look like an amateur.

The guy truly has unlimited talent. The only thing standing between him and multiple slams is his mind. I have gained some respect for him since his last meeting with Djokovic after he called Djokovic ‘the most complete player I have ever played‘.

After he defeated Djokovic in Acapulco I wasn’t happy at all with his disrespectful attitude but his comment made up for that to some extent. He may be showing some signs of maturing which would also explain why his tennis is doing better.

He lost to Querrey in Acapulco but this week he started out in devastating form again. As for Djokovic, he is not exactly playing poorly himself. I just caught the rerun of the deciding set and that was the same level as 2015-2016.

Since London last year Djokovic has been close to his best and a lot has been made of the losses since then because of the high standards Djokovic set in the 2015-2016 period. But in truth, he’s been close to his best in that period.

He just got a couple of tough draws and played against players who were playing out of their minds. The margins are also very small at this level. It’s just a question of time before he strings a few wins together and gets back into the winning habit. And that could happen in Indian Wells.

But even if he loses to Kyrgios again he already made more progress this week. I think Del Potro played better than he did in Acapulco because of the way he served. He missed very few first serves in the opening set but Djokovic managed to come from a break down and win it.

He looked very hungry and played as aggressively as he could. Not only was he aggressive from the baseline but he often approached the net and I am sure the doubles win with Troicki over the number one seeds Mahut and Herbert helped him in his match against Del Potro.

The deciding set was special and told me that Djokovic is still very close to his best. The main thing is that his drive and hunger is back in which case it is just a question of time for the results to follow.

It may not happen against Kyrgios because I think Kyrgios has stepped up his game from Acapulco as well but even if Djokovic loses he is still on the right track. That said, Djokovic will be as motivated as he can be to turn around the result from Acapulco.

He certainly does not want to lose consecutive matches to Kyrgios. And if he wins he will face one of his favorite opponents in Federer or Nadal. I think if he beats Kyrgios he becomes the favorite for the tournament so it would be a big win for him.

  • Federer and Nadal Rematch Also On

We are in for a treat today as the Federer vs Nadal rematch after the Australian Open is happening as well. I think some Fedfans are trying to marginalize this rematch saying that the Australian Open is all that mattered.

I’m not sure I agree with that because that match hardly proved anything as far as the rivalry goes. Nadal still leads the rivalry 23-12 overall, 9-3 at slams, and 3-1 in Melbourne. Federer has never beaten Nadal three consecutive times and if he wins today there will be more reason to believe that he is making progress in the rivalry.

Or else it will just be the resumption of the head-to-head dominance from Nadal. Neither player has been particularly impressive since Melbourne either so there is quite a bit on the line here.

Who will win Djokovic vs Kyrgios?

  • Kyrgios (65%, 45 Votes)
  • Djokovic (35%, 24 Votes)

Total Voters: 69

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Who will win Federer vs Nadal?

  • Federer (75%, 55 Votes)
  • Nadal (25%, 18 Votes)

Total Voters: 73

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  • Highlights