Djokovic Continues to Struggle as the Tennis Season Winds Down

Hi, folks. Sorry for the lack of posts recently. I have been writing exams so it’s been a bit crazy around here. I did, however, follow Shanghai which Murray won and where Djokovic lost 6-4, 6-4 in the semis to Bautista Agut.

Murray also won Beijing where Djokovic withdrew due to injury. That means Murray is currently only 915 points behind Djokovic in the race and he is making a run for the year-end number one because he is playing the ATP 500 event in Vienna next week as well.

The struggle for Djokovic is real and it reminds me a lot of the end of 2011 where he was also burned out and without confidence. In Shanghai Djokovic was already struggling in the quarterfinals against Micha Zverev winning 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3.

So I guess it wasn’t all that surprising that he then lost to Bautista Agut. What was surprising was the scoreline and how poorly he played. There was a distinct lack of confidence and hesitation in the big moments.

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This is, however, not all that surprising given the scope and duration of his dominance. It was always going to catch up with him, especially after winning the French Open. Ideally, he would have taken the year off after that but in tennis that is too complicated.

Actually, skipping slams is going a bit far so ideally he would have rested during the fall season but there are important things to play for like the year-end number one and a sixth World Tour Finals title.

Judging from his current form winning the World Tour Finals will be very difficult but he should still get the year-end number one with decent showings in Paris and London. I don’t know the exact scenario but that will currently be the focus for Djokovic.

I think Murray must basically win or make the final of all three events he is playing and that is going to be hard to do given his titles in Beijing and Shanghai. I think he will lose early in Vienna or Paris but it will be an interesting race between him and Djokovic.

  • Djokovic’s Changed Outlook

As you know Djokovic recently said that he doesn’t want to think about number one or titles and that he wants to get his enjoyment of tennis back. I don’t think that has worked out so well for him in Shanghai because losing is never fun no matter how you look at it.

I understand where he is coming from, though. I have felt the same with this blog. Ever since I embraced Djokovic as Federer’s successor and gave him the credit I thought he deserved some Fedfans became bitter and it is like blogging almost became a competition between me and them.

As a result, I have lost my passion and enjoyment for blogging and have blogged less in recent times. I think that is how Djokovic feels to a certain extent after his dominance. There were so many expectations and hype that he didn’t enjoy the process anymore.

It was all about winning and breaking records and he lost sight of having fun out there. I feel like that with my blogging because I won the ‘competition’ with the Fedfans but lost my enjoyment of blogging along the way.

I just don’t feel the passion and enthusiasm I used to. And I’ve never seen this as a job so if I don’t feel like blogging I won’t. I am currently writing exams though which makes it hard to blog.

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Maybe, like Djokovic, I need some time before I find my enthusiasm for blogging again. I don’t see him recovering his confidence and enjoyment before the end of the year but we will see. Maybe he finds some form in Paris and London.

I also don’t think he is declining like so many critics would like to believe. The burnout is normal. It happened in 2011 too and he came back just fine. I think he will find his mojo in Australia again next year but this has already been another very successful year for him.

Winning the French Open was the main thing. Anything else was going to be a bonus. I think he did well to win Toronto and to make the US Open final. Tying Federer’s six World Tour Finals titles this year will be difficult but ending the year as number one will be the main objective.

It would seem illogical that he won more slams and Masters than Murray and still doesn’t finish number one. Whatever the case may be the indoor season will be interesting to follow with that all-important race to number one!

Who will end the year at the top of the rankings?

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King of Asia Djokovic Wins Record Third Shanghai Masters Title

The dominance is real. For some painfully so. And for us Djokovic fans delightfully so. With his 6-2, 6-4 dismissal of Tsonga today Djokovic sweeps the Asian swing for a third time with titles in Beijing and Shanghai(2012, 2013, 2015) and is now the undisputed king of Asia. It was also his fifth Masters title of the year and he is only the second man to achieve that feat since Nadal in 2013. He also pulls ahead of Federer’s 2006 season in this regard when Federer won four Masters.

And of course, there is still a Masters left in Paris where Djokovic will be the favorite again. The courts have been slowed down a lot there of late which suits him to a T. I can see him winning Paris and London in which case there will be no doubt that this is the greatest tennis season ever played. With this title, Djokovic also set an absolute ranking point record with 16785 ATP points and also a new record lead over the second-ranked player of 8035 points.

Pretty impressive stuff, don’t you think? Today against Tsonga he was at it again with his dominant return game. He allowed Tsonga only 4/25 on second serve points. The pressure he put Tsonga under on his second serve was the key to the match and is the key to his dominance. That and the fact that he wins a very high percentage of points on his own second serve. He is both number one on tour at winning second serve return points(56%) and second serve service points(60%).

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He has a great second serve and pins you back with precision groundstrokes so that he is very hard to break. And then he puts you under immense pressure on your own serve with the best return of serve in history. To me personally, that is a very enjoyable and fresh change up from Federer who was always dominating with his serve and first-strike tennis. The serve botting when he was under pressure became particularly boring.

Djokovic doesn’t just blast opponents off the court with lethal weapons. He dominates in a much more subtle and intelligent way. Lethal weapons don’t affect Djokovic like we saw today against Tsonga because he simply neutralizes them with immense returning, depth of shot, and defense. His volleying was also very impressive again today as he won 12/15 points in the forecourt. He never stands still. He is always tweaking and evolving his game.

So in the end Tsonga could not match the number of games he won against Djokovic in their last meeting in Shanghai as I expected might happen. Djokovic is so dominant that it’s about how many games players can win, not sets or matches. In the end, Tomic is the only player who came close to winning a set against Djokovic so credit to him, even though Djokovic didn’t play his best tennis during that set. With this title, Djokovic also surpasses Federer again in Masters titles won.

He goes to 25 Masters titles with Federer on 24 and Nadal still in the lead at 27. It is, however, just a question of time before Djokovic holds the record on his own.

  • In Conclusion

Well, it was another thoroughly entertaining Masters with a perfect conclusion. I’m sure that is not the case for the hardcore Fedfans and I find it fascinating how they are unable to move on and enjoy this dominance from Djokovic. If it was Federer who was doing what Djokovic was doing now, you’d see the comments come streaming in on my blog. It is like Fedfans became fans of a person or personality instead of a fan of tennis.

They can’t seem to evolve/move on. I don’t have any sympathy for these people because if that is the case then they were never tennis fans to begin with, but fans of a person. I have news for them: that is not what being a tennis fan is about! That’s called celebrity worship. I was a huge Fedfan and I am just loving how Djokovic is currently dominating Fedal. That is what is supposed to happen in a healthy sport. The new must surpass the old.

Djokovic came up in the Fedal era and to his massive credit he did not let it break him. He kept evolving and persisting until he single-handedly destroyed them both. He didn’t wait for Murray or someone else to do his dirty work. He knew the only way to achieve his dreams would be to face his main rivals head-on and in the process he became a monster who could eclipse them both in the GOAT debate. Now that is fun and excitement.

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Djokovic has combined the strengths from Fedal which rubbed off on him during countless bruising encounters and in the process evolved his own version of the perfect game. Surely eventually someone will come along who finds a solution to his game but for now it is impenetrable and indestructible. This is what tennis is about! Wake up! Move on! And if you just don’t like Djokovic(it’s hard to imagine why) then at least appreciate what is is doing.

This inspirational individual who fought his way through great adversity and terrible odds is on his way to make a greatest of all time claim for himself. That US Open title has unleashed him and I don’t think he gets beaten again until the end of the season. He is now on an 18-match winning streak and maybe he will get the longest winning streak this time. He looks unbeatable right now. He’s got two weeks off now and will come back 100% fresh in Paris.

Then he will have another week off before London. I am really looking forward to those two events. There is also Vienna this week where I will keep a close eye on Thiem and Basel next week where you will have Federer, Stan, Nishikori, and Nadal. I think Nadal is close to his best now and a Fedal meeting in Basel, although unlikely, would be very interesting. More Djokerer/Fedal/Djokodal meetings in Paris and London would be very enjoyable too.

London is particularly interesting because you could have Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal in the same group which I would personally love to happen. I hope Djokovic meets Federer and Nadal in Paris and London and crushes them.

  • Highlights

  • Match Stats

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The is in your court.

Djokovic and Tsonga to Meet in Shanghai Championship Match

Today I was privileged to see two superb matches which saw Djokovic and Tsonga advance to the final where they will battle it out for the Shanghai Masters title. The first semi-final between Tsonga and Nadal turned out to be a terrific battle which Tsonga won 6-4, 0-6, 7-5. The second semi-final was a one-sided masterclass from the world number one as he embarrassed Murray 6-1, 6-3. And both matches were equally good to watch.

Tsonga was electric in the first set against Nadal and clearly feels very comfortable on the Decoturf. It compliments his offensive game nicely. In the second set, Tsonga slumped to 0-6 but in the third set he was right back to his devastating offensive best. He finally broke Nadal at 5-5 and in the final game made a fantastic dive volley which helped him to hold serve and win the exciting encounter. When Tsonga plays like this he is a joy to watch.

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He is flamboyant and entertaining. As for Nadal, it was still a very positive week for him where he kept improving after Beijing. He may not be back to his very best yet, but he may have lost to Tsonga in these conditions at his best too. I don’t see this as a setback for Nadal at all. Just more progress. Tsonga is a very powerful player who can beat anyone on a given day, especially on a surface which is a little faster. He hits huge and has a complete game.

As for Djokovic, what more can you say about the guy? You run out of superlatives. When that seems impossible, he gets even better. Today was one of his best matches all year I think. What was particularly impressive was his net game. He was playing like a legit volleyer out there. It was the most comfortable I have ever seen him look at the net. So it seems he keeps evolving into a more and more offensive player which is good for his longevity.

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Murray had no answer. It was a one-man show. Murray did well just to hold onto his last service game which helped to add some respectability to the scoreline, but not much. This was proper revenge for the Montreal final, served cold the way only Djokovic can. He now leads the head-to-head with one of his main rivals 20-9. Seriously, who can stop this guy from dominating in the years to come? He is just on another level than anyone else.

  • Final Preview

As for the final, Djokovic leads the head-to-head with Tsonga 13-6, but most of Tsonga’s wins came before Djokovic hit his prime. Since 2011 Djokovic has won 11/12 matches, with the only loss coming last year in Canada with a surprising scoreline of 6-2, 6-2. Not sure what happened there. Maybe Djokovic was injured. The point is I don’t think there are many people who think Tsonga has a chance. Djokovic looks supremely dominant.

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He is playing maybe the most dominant tennis season in the history of tennis although of course Federer’s 2006 season is at this point still more dominant. He also loves playing in Asia where he is the king. If he wins tomorrow he will win a record third Shanghai title after winning a sixth title in Beijing last week. Since getting over the all-important US Open hurdle he has been released and a clean sweep of the fall season is not out of the question.

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But he still has to beat Tsonga who is a worthy opponent in these conditions. The last time they played in Shanghai Djokovic won 6-2, 7-5. Tsonga would do very well to get seven games again, but it also depends on Djokovic’s form. Usually, he rises to the occasion in finals in which case Tsonga will struggle to win games. But it’s hard to believe Djokovic will play as well as he did against Murray so maybe we will at least see a little more competitive match.

  • Highlights

The Youtube highlights for Shanghai has been poor. The tournament sounds full of shit on Twitter and probably took most of the highlights down. Point of the year between Djokovic and Murray?

  • Match Stats

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The is in your court.