The Big Four All Start 2017 With Wins In Their Respective Events

Ultimate Tennis Blog wishes everyone a happy, healthy, and successful new year full of memorable tennis moments. Yesterday the new tennis season got underway in Doha, Brisbane, and Chennai.

The 2017 tennis season is a new beginning in the sense that Federer and Nadal are back while Djokovic is trying to reassert his dominance which he lost in the second half of 2016.

That attempt almost had a disastrous beginning when Djokovic went down 0-4 to Struff in his opening match in Doha. Struff was blasting winner after winner while Djokovic was hitting short and making one unforced error after the other.

It was a very shaky start to the year, to say the least, but Djokovic recovered very well as he won the first set 7-1 on the tiebreak. After the Becker breakup, I feared the worst but it was nice to see Djokovic find his rhythm as he won the second set 6-3 after getting the second break at 5-3.

Djokovic added Dusan Vemic to his team after he split up with Becker who he knew since childhood and who has been part of his team before. Djokovic is just keeping things very simple at this point and we will see how that works out for him.

  • The Importance of the Australian Open for Djokovic

It won’t take very long to find out either because the Australian Open is a key event for him. He needs to make a statement by winning his most successful slam or else he may struggle to ever overtake Murray again.

So maybe it is a good idea to keep things simple for now because it’s probably not wise to experiment before such an important event. Remember that even when he began working with Becker that they lost the Australian Open in 2014.

So actually I think it is quite wise to stick with Vajda and Vemic at this point. He can always think about adding someone else when things have calmed down a bit. For now, he needs to win the Australian Open which would solve all his problems.

When Djokovic won the French Open last year he was well on his way to chasing down Federer’s 17 slam titles. The fact that he slumped after that was understandable but if he still has hopes of chasing down Federer’s record he needs to snap right out of that slump with an Australian Open title.

At the top of tennis, things can change very quickly as we have seen in the last six of months. That means things can change very quickly back to the way they were before Djokovic’s slump too, but for that, he does need to win in Melbourne.

If that happens then people will assume that the slump was only a temporary thing and that Djokovic is back to dominance, even though he most likely won’t be back to number one right away.

Murray, on the other hand, will have to deal with the pressure of being the top dog for the first time. He is also playing Doha this year and won his first match against Chardy 6-0, 7-6(2) today.

  • The Return of Federer and Nadal

Then you have Federer and Nadal back which is another important factor. Federer is playing at the Hopman Cup where he defeated Evans 6-3, 6-4 in his first match while Nadal is playing in Brisbane where he defeated Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-3 today.

These two will always be a danger to anyone as long as they set foot on a tennis court. With Djokovic’s recent slump they will want to take advantage while Djokovic will look to find inspiration from their return as well.

As you can see there is a whole new dynamic to the top of the men’s game at the start of 2017 and I think it is an intriguing situation. No one is quite sure how things will play out at the Australian Open and it is quite open for a change.

I think many fans are quite anxious as well but this week’s tennis in Doha especially can already tell us quite a bit. Hopefully, we get a Djokovic vs Murray final again in which case it will be interesting to see if Djokovic can put in an improved performance from the World Tour Finals last year!

  • Highlights

Raonic Straight Sets Federer to Win Brisbane Title

Congrats to Raonic for his 8th title today when he defeated Federer 6-4, 6-4. I watched the second set where Raonic took an MTO early on for a back problem. In the following game, he served three or four double faults which gave Federer a break point.

Federer then hit one of many backhand shanks on break point. Raonic looked injured but Federer failed to take advantage. The commentator was also constantly making excuses for Federer, saying he had the flu.

That had me wondering what was wrong with Federer when he destroyed Kamke and Thiem. It’s much more likely that Federer is declining due to Nadal’s recent improvements. That has always been the pattern.

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A serious threat again

But it is still early days. This loss doesn’t mean that Federer will have a worse year than in 2015 but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it does. Federer’s mind seems to be unravelling. He was hitting many of those backhand shanks on important points which are a sign of low confidence for him.

I think Djokovic has a lot to do with this. In the big matches against Federer last year, Djokovic kept winning the big points and after a while that must have taken a toll on Federer.

Federer’s head just doesn’t seem to be in it right now. He was poor against Dimitrov too. And no, I don’t buy the flu nonsense. We will see if he can get things together for Melbourne though. It’s not too late to make a good run there, but off the top of my head, I can already think of four guys who can beat him.

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Federer appeared frustrated and angry out there

I certainly don’t think he is a favorite for the title, but you never know. I just know he has to improve from Brisbane or he is looking at another early exit.

As for his new partnership with Ljubicic, how ironic is it that Ljubicic coached Raonic before he coached Federer? It is not exactly the start the partnership would have wanted but like I said before going from Edberg to Ljubicic was a step backward.

But we will see. Maybe it was just a bad start and they can make up for it in Melbourne.

  • Wawrinka Wins 4th Chennai Title

Congrats to Stanimal who won Chennai again by defeating Coric 6-3, 7-5 in the final. He is probably the second favorite for Melbourne but if Djokovic keeps his form from Doha up no one will touch him.

That is a big if, though. It would be better for Djokovic to just forget about Doha completely and start over in Melbourne as if he has everything to prove. And knowing him that is exactly what he will do.

I thought it was nice how Djokovic didn’t look like his old self until the final and then shocked the tennis world again. As a fan that is good to see but it’s never a good thing to get cocky and assume things.

If Stan plays peak tennis we have seen that he can defeat Djokovic both in Melbourne and Paris so becoming complacent won’t be a good idea.

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Still a serious threat

This week there are events in Sydney and Auckland. I see Thiem plays in Sydney so I will keep an eye on that but I won’t be making any posts. The Australian Open begins next week so I will do a draw post at some point and take it from there.

It’s been a great start to 2016 tennis wise and I look forward to the first slam of the year. I am looking forward to seeing what Djokovic’s form looks like in the early rounds as well as Federer’s.

Will Djokovic steam roll through early rounds? Will Federer’s form improve from Brisbane and the indoor season?

Can’t wait to find out!

  • Highlights

The is in your court.

Federer Completes 1000th Tour Win with 83rd Title in Brisbane!

What a player! What a milestone and what a way to reach it! But this is just the kind of thing you would expect from Mr. PeRFect. With his newly found mental strength he seems almost unbeatable right now and you wouldn’t bet against him to win his 18th slam in Melbourne. He has now won four out of the last seven tournaments he played including Cincinnati, Shanghai, Basel, and Brisbane, and that does not even include the Davis Cup title. So if ever he was ready to win another slam it is now. But of course it doesn’t depend only on him and there is a long way to go before that can be a reality. Today was another solid mental performance after Roger lost the momentum in the second set. Roger was reading the Raonic serve well right off the bat and he got the first break in the third game after forcing a backhand error from Raonic. He held onto his serve and took the opening set 6-4.

He also got the break in the second game of the second set and it looked like it would be another short day at work. Round about this stage I made a humorous tweet saying what a difficult match Roger is having and how much variation Raonic has. And of course right after I made that tweet Raonic broke back. It seems every time I relax Roger does the same thing, which makes me feel like I am dragged into the match more than I’d necessarily like to be. But if it makes you feel any better you are welcome to blame me for Roger lapse in the second set. I tend to get bored pretty easily and it seems to be the case with Roger too, because whenever things get too easy he seems to lose focus. I don’t know if Nadal would lose concentration at that point for instance, but such unrelenting focus would bore me. And apparently the same is true for Roger. Roger did play a pretty poor game at 2-1 so he did deserve to get broken.

Many small successful actions performed consistently…

But as long as the victory is achieved in the end it doesn’t really matter. When you are as talented as Roger it is just very difficult to focus like a robot(or Nadal). Roger is a creative player or an artist and these kind of people can’t necessarily focus for long periods. For them it is about playing and having fun, not adhering to strict and unrelenting discipline. Yes it can drag out things longer than necessary but it is part of the whole process. Who wants to watch a boring grinder anyway who does the same thing over a five hour match and waits for their opponents to get bored and frustrated? Oh wait I know. Nadal fans! Well they are welcome to enjoy their dull moonballer but don’t expect me to do the same. When Roger is winning a match too easily I actually hope sometimes that the other player comes back out of boredom.  And being a former tennis player myself it doesn’t get too hard for me to watch, like it does for many Fedfans.

Like today I went to sleep after the first game of the third set. Not because I was bored but because I didn’t sleep much last night. That first game was a real struggle where Roger saved a break point. Once Roger got through that game I figured he would probably win the match. We see this plot play itself out in tennis matches all the time. The same thing happened in the Wimbledon final last year where Roger changed the momentum of the match in the fourth set and then had some chances to take advantage of that momentum by breaking right away in the deciding set, but once he failed to do so Djokovic took control again. It was the same with the Brisibane final. After Roger weathered the storm in that first game he went on to break again at 5-4 to win the match 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-4. It has to be said that Raonic played well though and I certainly don’t want to make it sound like he didn’t have any hand in taking the match to a deciding set.

…results in outstanding achievement in the long run.

As always he served big but his ground strokes were big too. So in the end it turned out to be a tougher match than I probably expected but yes Roger could have won much more comfortably if he just held serve in the second set. But the win is all that matters and of course with it Roger gets his 1000th tour win and creeps up one title closer to 100 titles with his 83rd tour title. Amazing! What great longevity and success the GOAT already had and with the way he is going you feel like he can do it for another five years probably. No doubt he had his lows too but he seems to be in a good place now with his health, his new coach, and his new racquet. I think he has adjusted his game to the point where it can stand the test of time too as he gets older. I see Stan defended Chennai too which is nice because I’d like him to have a good Australian Open. We know he has the potential to take out big names like Djokovic or Nadal for instance.

In the other tourney that was played this week in Doha Ferrer took the honors by defeating Birdshit in the final. As a proud Birdshit hater that was of course delicious to see. I think at 5-4 in the second set he had his chances to break serve but faltered, and in the next game handed the break to Ferrer with a double fault. The guy’s mental weakness is seriously underrated and he went to 10-15 in finals with this loss. I mean he has the potential in his game to win slams, but mentally he is just woeful and I never see it happening. Anyway I am happy for Ferrer who could possibly cause a big upset in Australia too. He has already beaten Nadal there in 2011. We are now only one weak away from the big one Down Under and I am looking forward to it being in my time zone for a change. It certainly promises to be an interesting one. What a start it’s been to 2015!

Highlights:

Hot shots:

Roger Federer: 1000 Wins – Brisbane International 2015:

Match stats:

Surprisingly good match stats. Out served the serve bot.

By the numbers: Federer’s 1000 match wins