Federer and Lopez Claim Titles in Halle and Queens

Last week two 35-year olds won the ATP 500 titles in Halle and Queens and showed once again that the age for men to play their best tennis is getting older and older. Federer easily disposed of A. Zverev 6-3, 6-1 to win his 9th Halle title while Lopez defeated Cilic 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(8) to win his 6th career title.

Lopez also made the final of Stuttgart the previous week so he is on a strong run and has one of the best grass court games around. With his big serve and very solid volleys, he will be someone to watch out for at Wimbledon. Federer lost his first match in Stuttgart and then same as he did after losing to Donskoy in Dubai he won the next tournament he played.

This was Federer’s 92nd overall title and 4th title of the year. The way he disposed of Zverev in the final was particularly impressive. I think he wanted to send a little message after losing to Zverev in the Halle semis last year. Zverev had no chance at all and Federer was superb.

After watching Nadal dominate clay with his endless baseline grinding it was refreshing to see Federer play a masterclass of offensive tennis. Federer is the overwhelming favorite to win Wimbledon. Even if he lost to Zverev he would have been the favorite but now he looks especially lethal.

Peak Djokovic is the only player who can stop this Federer from winning an 8th Wimbledon title and Djokovic is pretty far from that right now. Speaking of Djokovic, he is playing in Eastbourne this week to get some matches and Agassi will also be with him at Wimbledon for as long as Djokovic needs him.

You can never write any of the big three off. Like we saw with Federer and Nadal this year they can come back to their best when you least expect it. That said, I don’t have any expectations for Djokovic. It’s now a similar situation as with Nadal at the French Open. The only guy with a legitimate shot at beating Federer would be peak Djokovic but it is a far safer bet to go with the guy who has been winning the most this year.

Federer almost won Wimbledon last year when he was struggling badly. This year he is in far better shape so he must be the overwhelming favorite. Federer has always owned Murray in big matches and Federer has turned his head-to-head around with Nadal. Nadal has also not been past the fourth round at Wimbledon since 2011.

Tomorrow Djokovic plays his first match in Eastbourne against Pospisil. His draw in Eastbourne looks pretty decent but he will already be tested in his first match. There is no telling what will happen in his current form. But he is still in the top 5 and in the run to pass Federer for consecutive weeks in the top 5 so it would help if he can win some matches.

It doesn’t look like Djokovic is currently in any danger of leaving the top 5 but a deep run at Wimbledon will help him and for that, a decent week in Eastbourne will help too. Federer was in the top 5 for 548 weeks before he fell out and Djokovic is currently in 3rd place at 525 weeks.

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What Will It Take for Djokovic to be ‘Back’?

So Djokovic has been struggling to reach his formerΒ level of dominance ever since losing to Querrey at Wimbledon last year, who by the way defeatedΒ Obnoxious Nick 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 in the semis of Acapulco.

As usual, Kyrgios can’t follow through when he defeats a top player. Same as he did when he defeated Nadal and Federer. I guess he didn’t feel like winning. Querrey mustn’t be ‘good’ enoughΒ to deserve Kyrgios’ best effort.

To get back to Djokovic, I was wondering what it would take for people to feel like he is ‘back’, and what that means exactly. I mean it’s highly unlikely that he will return to his dominance of 2015.

That was insane dominance which had to end sooner rather than later. And once you lose a couple of matches and lose that edge it can be tricky to get it back. Tennis is a confidence game and winning is a habit.

We have seen Federer and Nadal having the same problems many times and finding confidence again. No player can dominate indefinitely. A tennis career is a series of ups and downs, of peaks and valleys.

I think Djokovic’s graph has already been sloping upwards since the World Tour Finals last year. The Australian Open loss was a surprise to me caused mainly by the change of surface and also by an opponent who was in the zone.

But whatever the circumstances losing is never good for confidence. So in a way, Djokovic had to reset in Acapulco where he got a difficult draw. He did well in the first two rounds but then ran into an unplayable Kyrgios.

So he is struggling to string wins together. I think Djokovic will be back to a great extent when he wins a masters event or a slam. Winning Doha against Murray in the final was a boost but he needs something bigger than a 250.

I think Acapulco was a step in the right direction and heΒ must win either Indian Wells or Miami. He is not in the form of previous years so it will be tough to do the double again but if he can win one of those it will go a long way toward restoring his confidence.

Then there are three more masters coming up during the clay court season before the next slam. If he can pick up one or two more masters there he could be the favorite for the French Open. It’s all about stringing wins together and gettingΒ back into the winning habit.

Djokovic has forgotten how to win but the good news for his fans is that he is motivated and driven again. Playing Acapulco was a sign of it. And so was the way he competed in Acapulco. Patience is needed when a player is lacking confidence.

You can’t expect everything to fall into place immediately but you need to keep grinding away. And Djokovic is aware of that. Who knows when he will be back and what that even means. For me, he will officially back when he wins a slam and returns to number one.

Even if that doesn’t happen he already has an incredible legacy in the sport. But I don’t think he is anywhere close to being done.Β He is too ambitious and driven for that. And I don’t think he is far from coming good now.

Djokovic loves the conditions in Indians Wells and maybe even more so Miami. The slower conditions suitΒ his athleticism and defensive skills. The same goes for the clay courts of Europe. So I am hopeful that Djokovic will regain at least some of his former dominance in the next few months.

If he wins the French Open he would be officially back for me because that would give him the double career slam and put him back in the hunt for number one as Murray has loads of points to defend after that.

  • Murray Wins Dubai, Nadal One Step Closer to Acapulco Title

Congrats to Murray for winning his first Dubai title and bouncing back in the best way after what happened in Melbourne. Today he defeated Verdasco 6-3, 6-2 who was out of his depth in a 500 final.

You have to say that Murray’s draw was pretty weak, though. Especially after the loss of Federer. As opposed to Djokovic it was a cakewalk draw and I’m sure Djokovic would have won the Dubai title with the same draw.

But Djokovic did beat Del Potro who Murray lost his last match to. Then in the other Acapulco semi-final, Nadal defeated Cilic 6-1, 6-2. That is a surprising scoreline. Either Nadal played very well or Cilic was dismal.

Things are looking promising for Nadal because he is easily the favorite against Querrey. The Acapulco title would be another big boost for him after the final in Melbourne.

It just goes to show you that even as much as Nadal has struggled in recent times he can still come back to play good tennis.Β All the more reason why Djokovic can come back and dominate again.

There are plenty of people writing Djokovic off because there is nothing that they’d like to see more than him being done winning slams and beating their favorites. That is sheer desperation and there is no logical reason to take it seriously.

It is only a question of time…

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Djokovic Loses to Obnoxious Brat Kyrgios in Acapulco

After Federer lost to Donskoy Wednesday Djokovic followed him in Acapulco yesterday when he lost 7-6(9), 7-5 to Kygios. I thought Djokovic played great except for the final game where he wilted under the pressure and dropped serve to love.

Up until that point, there was nothing in this very high-quality match. Kyrgios has now won his first match against Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic. Ever since I saw him play against Nadal at Wimbledon I knew he was a special talent.

I actually like his game a lot. The problem is his attitude stinksΒ so much that he is impossible to like. He is the most obnoxious jerk you can possibly imagine. By far the most unlikeable tennis player I have ever come across.

And I’m not saying this because he beat my favorite player. I have disliked him for some time now.Β Who would ever forget the incident where totally disrespected Stan, one of the nicest guys on tour?

Obnoxious little brats don’t get no love

He constantlyΒ shows a terrible attitude during matches and tanks when things don’t go his way on the day. He also claims not to love the sport and prefers basketball to tennis. Why waste your time, Nick?

It’s not likeΒ we will miss your inspirational attitude and fighting spirit. I’ve never enjoyed watching players waste their talent but Kyrgios is currently taking my dislike for it to a whole new level. At least there was something to like about players like Safin, Nalbandian, and Rios.

They had charisma at least. Kyrgios is just a jerk. But a jerk who is unplayable whenΒ things work out for him. He served 25 aces and even the best returner in the sport was unable to make an impression on his serve.

Djokovic did well just to keep it as close as he did but in the end, the pressure told as he made a string of unforced errors to drop serve and exit the tournament.

  • How Does This Loss Affect Djokovic’s Progress?

As far as I’m concerned this loss means diddly squat. The only thing I am interested in from a fan’s perspective is Djokovic’s attitude and that is spot on. What I saw this week from Djokovic was what I hoped for.

He looks dialed in and hungry which is what I expected and hoped for after what happened in Melbourne. I was particularly delighted with his 20-second presser after the loss to Kyrgios.

You can see how pissed off he is which is great news for Djokovic fans because it shows how much he cares. The angrier Djokovic gets the more he cares and the more he cares the harder he becomes to stop.

Real men respect each other

It was clear to me in Acapulco that Djokovic was driven and hungry. The win against Del Potro proved that where he came from a set and a break down in the third against another very dangerous player.

If he lost that match I would have been concerned. But now I’m very hopeful. The loss to Kyrgios will make him even more determined and driven judging from the quick presser. The more he loses the more determined he gets so even when he loses he wins.

I have no doubt that he will come good again. It’s just a matter of time now. He got another tough draw but Indian Wells is next, where his draw can only improve and where he holds a record five titles. So I’m optimistic.

  • The Remainder of Acapulco and Dubai

The Dubai final will be decided between Murray and Verdasco after wins over Pouille and Haase respectively today. Murray is the heavy favorite there and if he wins it will be the ideal way for him to recover after what happened in Melbourne.

Then in Acapulco, the semis still have to be played between Nadal vs Cilic and Kyrgios vs Querrey. It will be interesting to see whether Kyrgios continues his good form and capitalizes on his win over Djokovic by winning the tournament.

Nadal vs Cilic will be intriguing as well because it will be the first serious test for Nadal after Melbourne. He has done well so far but he needs to win Acapulco now that his nemesis Djokovic is out.

  • Highlights