Beijing Draw Analysis and Indoor Season Preview

[1] Djokovic vs Qualifier
Qualifier vs [WC] Zhang
Qualifier vs Robredo
Thiem vs [6] Isner
[4] Ferrer vs Bellucci
Qualifier vs Rosol
[WC] Lu vs Mannarino
Troicki vs [5] Raonic

[8] Tsonga vs Haider-Maurer
Sock vs Gabashvili
Pospisil vs Estrella Burgos
[WC] Di Wu vs [3] Nadal
[7] Goffin v Seppi
Fognini vs Klizan
Garcia Lopez vs Karlovic
Cuevas vs [2] Berdych


Hi, folks. So finally it is time for some serious tennis again after a three-week break since the US Open. Not that there hasn’t been any tennis since then. But Beijing and Tokyo are the first ATP level events where any of the big four will be involved again. There will be no big four players involved in Tokyo where Stan will be the top seed and Nishikori the second seed. But in Beijing Djokovic and Nadal will be back.

They are not drawn in the same half which is a bit of a shame as that would have made it more likely for them to meet. Instead, Nadal is in Berdych’s half and he has Tsonga in his quarter. So making the final will be a tough ask for him but not entirely out of the question. I for once wouldn’t mind if he finds some form because I want to see Djokovic beat him a few more times before he retires.

Djokovic’s draw is as friendly as it gets in the first two rounds and then he could play Isner, but I am hoping it is Thiem. The second quarter should be interesting because Ferrer and Raonic both won titles in the last couple of weeks in Kuala Lumpur and St. Petersberg. We had some discussions about Djokovic on my blog as far as what his form will be like for the indoor season. People have been saying since the beginning of the clay court season that he could be burned out.

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#6 coming up?

So I won’t consider that possibility much before I see it. It happened at this point in the season in 2011 where Djokovic had a very similar season to 2015 but back then he had a more defensive game style so I’m not just going to assume the same thing is going to happen. 2011 was Djokovic’s breakthrough season and 2015 had a different feel to it. I think he was better prepared for it this time and is less likely to be burned out.

But the US Open was the big one. He could lose every match from now until the end of the season and he’d still easily be number one and have had a tremendous season. So there is little pressure but still a lot to play for. If he wins Beijing, one Masters, and the World Tour Finals he would have won more Masters than Federer did in 2006 and he could rival Federer for the best tennis season in history. And he could surpass his own 2011 season.

  • This Part of the Season is Exciting

Personally, I am very much looking forward to the indoor season. Some tennis fans seem to write this part of the tennis season off, but I can’t wait to see if Djokovic can add to an already unbelievable season and for the Djokerer rivalry to continue. Fedfans will be desperately hoping that their man could get at least one win over Djokovic in the season that has historically probably been his best.

Especially after yet another slam final loss to the superior Djokovic. And no doubt Federer would have a good shot given the long season Djokovic had. Djokovic already started showing signs of a drop in level in Montreal and Cincy. So it could easily happen in the indoor season again. If that happens Federer better make the best of his good fortune and get a much-needed win over Djokovic.

He keeps losing the important matches to Djokovic like last year when he lost the all-important Wimbledon final which swung the season in Djokovic’s favor. This year it was two slam final losses, so things are getting worse for him. I don’t think he is beating Djokovic in a slam again but for the head-to-head respectability at least he needs to try and get some more wins in smaller events. Some more meetings in Shanghai, Paris, or London will be very interesting anyway.

Djokodal with the Thai prime minister

They can only meet in the finals of the first two or after the group stages of London and that will already be very interesting. It will also be interesting to see how Nadal fares in the indoor season which has not been kind to him historically because he needs to end a dismal season on a high. You can see the schedule of the big four plus Stan and Nishikori for the fall here. Nadal is playing a full schedule and so is Stan and Nishikori.

Djokovic and Federer are playing four events each while Murray cut his schedule for Davis Cup to three events. I think good bets to win Beijing and Basel would be Djokovic and Federer respectively. Shanghai, Paris, and London especially will be the most interesting events. If Djokovic is in top form he will win all these events but if he feels the strain of a long season Federer especially will want to capitalize.

Next year there won’t be many chances when Djokovic comes back refreshed and ready to dominate the tennis world with an iron fist.

  • Djokodal Exhibition in Thailand

You probably know about the exhibition match Djokovic and Nadal played in Bangkok, Thailand a couple of days ago in which Djokovic routined Nadal 6-4, 6-2 as you would expect. From the highlights below you can see Djokovic’s returns looked absolutely lethal and if this exho is anything to go by then Djokovic will dominate the indoor season the way he dominated the rest of 2015. Looking forward!

  • Update

I installed a new plugin which will alert you when someone replies to a comment of yours. I haven’t found one where you can subscribe to the comments yet so if you want to see comments other than the ones in reply to you then you will just have to check in every now and then. I will keep looking for a plugin where you can subscribe to comments because I would like my readers to have that option. I hope you like the new plugin :-)

The is in your court.

Posted in ATP 500, Beijing.


  1. I was genuine impressed by Djokovic’s play in Thailand. I look forward to see Nadal vs Federer. My theory is that Nadal beats Federer even when in bad shape. I would like to see this theory tested.


    Ru-an Reply:

    Same here George. Would love to see Fedal play. As for your theory, the surface would play a role. Surely indoors at least Federer would get it done with Nadal playing as poorly as he is. If he can’t then then that would be very bad news for Federer.


  2. My main hope is to see a close match between Djokovic and Federer in the final of the WTF. Would be a fitting end to the year regardless of who wins, though obviously I would be hoping for Federer to win. Both true champions of the sport and they have played two major finals this year, and although Djokovic has won all the important matches it has been the best rivalry of the year IMO. The interesting thing with Djokovic next year is that his year in 2016 corresponds with Federer’s 2010 season. Can he win multiple slams again or will there be a drop-off like there was with Federer? And I agree with your point about Nadal. If Federer can’t beat him when he is playing like shit (and no offence Ru-an, I watched the highlights of that exhibition, and there were several shots that prime Rafa would not only have got to, but hit for winners or forced errors from Djokovic) and on his best surface there is nothing to be done. The best way to play Rafa right now would be to use his improved serve to prevent getting into rallies and if he is forced into rallying to smash the backhand. That slicing crap he used to try against Rafa just allowed him to drive shot after shot into his backhand until it either broke down or he was pulled so far off court Rafa had an easy winner to the Federer forehand. I would just like to see Federer actually stick to his aggressive tactics against Rafa for a whole match, win or lose. At least then he can claim to have given the new tactics a fair chance. Good work again Ru-an with the analysis. Djokodal seems extremely unlikely with the way Rafa is playing at the moment. I give a 10% chance of a Djokodal final and that might be a little generous.


    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks, Charlie. No offense taken. On that surface, current Djokovic would destroy any version of Nadal.

    ‘The interesting thing with Djokovic next year is that his year in 2016 corresponds with Federer’s 2010 season.’

    Can you explain this? Thanks.


    Jiten Reply:

    ‘The interesting thing with Djokovic next year is that his year in 2016 corresponds with Federer’s 2010 season.’: Federer became 29 that year. Same as what Djoker would be. I think that explains Charlie’s comment. However, in my opinion, form wise, it would be better to compare post 2007 Federer to post 2015 Djokovic.


    Ru-an Reply:

    Not sure why I had to approve your comment before it appeared Jiten. Yes, I think what Charlie said is a little off base. Federer won two slams in 2009 thanks to Nadal’s absence. Djokovic won three slams this year thanks to himself. Djokovic hit his prime in 2011. So when he turned 24 in other words. Federer hit his prime in 2004 when he turned 23.

    In fact, Djokovic’s peak may only be starting now. To compare post-2007 from Federer to post 2015 from Djokovic is senseless in my opinion. Djokovic just had his best year since 2011. How does that tally with Federer’s 2007 season? I don’t think it makes any sense to compare players like that.

    They are so different in so many ways. I think sometimes we go into way too many hypotheticals. Let’s just try to enjoy what is going in right now.


    Charlie Reply:

    Yeah not suggesting a comparison of any kind. Just saying that it will be interesting to see if Djokovic can keep it up. If you look through the history books most players begin to decline (at least in results terms) by the time they reach age 29. There have been some exceptions e.g. Agassi, so it will be interesting is all I am saying. And I agree that on a fast outdoor hardcourt or indoors you would expect Djokovic to win the vast majority of the matches regardless of which version of Nadal you pick. And yes number of matches has something to do with it as well as just age. If anyone knows where you could find stats of total matches for different players at a particular age that would be interesting. Then we could see at what point Federer and Djokovic match up in terms of number of matches played rather than strictly based on age.

    P.S. Let’s hope the plugin works this time (in terms of not sending messages when the box is unticked). :-)


    Ru-an Reply:

    I see. The Agassi comparison is actually a very interesting one. I was a big Agassi fan and he had three ‘phases’ in his career where he won slams. The first one was at Wimbledon 92 similar to Djokovic AO title in 08. Then there was a silence and then he won two more slams in 94/95. Then he dropped all the way to 144 and when he came back he won 5 more slams.

    I think Djokovic could be following a similar path. But not nearly with the slumps of Agassi. I think he entered the third phase of his career since 2014 Wimby while the second one started in 2011. In comparison with Agassi, you could say Djokovic slumped from 2012-2014 FO where he won 2 slams.

    After the success of 2011 it was almost inevitable that Djokovic would slump. He is now much more mature and balanced in all areas of his life being married and with a kid. I can see him keeping the consistency up this time as opposed to 2011 where he wasn’t quite ready. I can easily see three more years of almost complete domination and catching Federer.

    Check this

    The plugin works as you will hopefully see when you get a notification for this comment by email.


    Charlie Reply:

    Yeah the plugin worked, thanks Ruan.


    Ru-an Reply:

    Cool. There is another one where you can subscribe to comments that I am trying to get to work. Would you be interested in that? You are the only one who seems to care or who gives me feedback so I’m asking you. That way you will get notified whenever someone makes a comment on a specific post, not just when someone replies to you. Would you be interested in that?


    Charlie Reply:

    Subscribing to specific comments sounds like a great idea, and I would be inclined to use it for some comments, but if you want a broader spectrum of opinion than just mine, you may want to put a poll up on your next post.

    As far as Djokovic’s prospects go I am inclined to give the following three possible predictions:

    A rapid, most likely irreversible decline, due to injury or otherwise: final number of slams probably 10-12.

    A slow, steady decline in consistency (note: not in playing standard) and increase in competition e.g. Federer: final number of slams probably 13-15.

    Continued dominance for many years until the next generation of greats is fully established: final number of slams probably around 20.

    Overall I think the first scenario is very unlikely, and then it’s an even split between the other two for me. I am more inclined to stick with history and go with the second option, but if Novak has another 3+ slam year next year I would have to re-evaluate that. But the third option is an equally valid idea IMO, Djokovic is dominating his main rivals right now. But usually if there is a decline there will be some warning signs. E.g. if you closely watch Federer’s matches in 2007 compared to 2006 you can see the slightest of declines, particularly away from the slams. It just took until 2008 for it to manifest in the slam events. So if Djokovic has a bad indoor season (which IMO would mean failing to win any of the 3 major events (Shanghai, Paris, WTF) that would lend evidence towards my opinion. But from what happened today with Bolelli that doesn’t seem likely lol. Also still laughing about Nadal losing his serve four times to a qualifier. I just can’t believe how far the guy has fallen. Just before Wimbledon last year he was world number one! First top 15-20 player he meets should destroy him.


    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah, I think I will install the new plugin once it’s been figured out. It’s not working the way it should with my blog like the previous one and someone is trying to figure it out.

    I think your third option is likely. I’m not one to care much about past stats and trends. And players are always evolving and getting better. The age at which players play their best tennis has already increased in recent years. I don’t agree that the indoor season would mean much if Djokovic had a poor one, but it’s not happening anyway.

    He looks in scary form and I think he is winning all the remaining events he is playing. He is already looking better than he did this time in 2011 which is a sign that he is just getting better. On that link I shared with you, he is talking the truth. He is now better than in 2011 and this time there will be no slump again.

    I think he wins 20 slams.


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