My countryman and a player I used to play with, Kevin Anderson, broke into the top 10 for the first time at the beginning of the week and that at age 29. Yes, players are peaking at later and later ages and Djokovic most likely entered his peak this year. I was very impressed with Kevin at the US Open when he defeated Murray. Actually I am overall impressed with him with how he overcame his mental flaws.
He always got extremely tight in pressure situations and I wasn’t sure if he would ever shake that choker label, but it seems he has matured mentally. Afer a disappointing first-round loss last week in Tokyo he has backed up his to 10 status this week with straight-set wins over Haas, Fognini, and today the 6th seed Nishikori in two tie-breaks. There was no luck involved in making the top 10 for Kevin.
He achieved this impressive feat by sheer hard work and persistence. I have criticized him a fair amount in the past for his mental weakness so I just want to be consistent and congratulate him for never giving up until he exorcised his demons. I always thought he had a big enough game to do serious damage, but the question remained the mental side. For a tall guy, he moves quite well too and is not an out-and-out serve bot.
He now plays Tsonga who defeated Federer’s eliminator Ramos-Vinolas 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-4. And that gives him a great chance to make semis. Tsonga is not a push-over by any means, but Kevin’s draw is about as good as he could have hoped for. And making semis sure would go a long way toward cementing his place in the top 10 and it would also bump him up to #9 in the race with an outside chance of still making the World Tour Finals.
- Elsewhere in the Draw
Today was business as usual for the world number one as he destroyed Lopez 6-2, 6-3 in 71 minutes. Nice revenge for the US Open, where Lopez took a set off him. Djokovic is so good that he doesn’t take revenge for matches lost but for sets dropped. Since Beijing, he has not only not lost a set, but no one has been able to win more than three games in a set against him. Lopez was only the second guy since Ferrer who could achieve that feat.
Despite Lopez getting destroyed it was a very enjoyable match to watch judging from the highlights and according to my reader George. Just extraordinary returning, baseline consistency, and surgical shotmaking from the Djoker. Next up for the Serb is Tomic who defeated Gasquet in three close sets. Tomic is another guy who has made great strides this year but his head-to-head with Djokovic is 0-4 and the question is whether he will be the first guy who can take more than 3 games in a set against Djokovic since the beginning of last week.
Then Murray had an impressive win over Isner who looked to be on fire and won the first set before Murray prevailed 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4. This also means he stretches his lead in the race over Federer to about 1000 points. It hasn’t been the best of times for Federer as he watched Murray open up a lead over him in the rankings and Nadal improving with every match. Those are two things that can have a big effect on his near future in tennis.
Murray now plays Berdych who he is 6-6 in the head-to-head with so who knows maybe his run comes to an end now, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Then Nadal continued his return to form with a 6-3, 7-6(3) win over Raonic. He is really starting to look the part again and his match with Stan tomorrow will be the match of the day. Stan scored a hard-fought 7-5, 6-7(7), 6-4 victory over Cilic.
Stan has become more consistent of late which bodes well for his future. Another player who is peaking in his thirties. He seems to be much better at grinding out tough wins these days. Nadal will be a different kettle of fish, though. I am actually slightly leaning towards Nadal here, but it’s tough to call. I just think the faster courts doesn’t suit Stan as much as slower courts and Nadal could take advantage of that.
Can’t wait for another cracking day of tennis!
The is in your court.