Closing Observations on the 2015 French Open

  • Wawrinka’s Unbelievable Run

Hi, folks. There were too many things to say in one post after the French Open final so I decided to make another post. Thanks for taking part in the discussion. It was interesting as usual. One thing that came out about my last post was that people thought I didn’t give enough credit to Stan. So I will say again that he is a very deserved winner and was too good on the day. He played unbelievable tennis throughout the same way he did in Melbourne last year and I am delighted that he won another slam.

It cemented the fact that his first slam was not a fluke. When you beat the Djoker and Nadal to win a slam it is hard to call it a fluke anyway, but winning the French and beating the Djoker in the final just underscored the fact that he is unbelievably talented and basically unbeatable when he is on his game. That one-handed backhand remains an extraordinary shot, but his serve and forehand are amazing shots too. He is just physically a very strong individual who plays on his terms when he is on his game.

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But he is complete as a player too. He has very decent volleys, touch, and movement. I like players who dominate and bully their opponents with raw power. I can definitely say that Stan is one of my favorite players. I like his personality a lot too. He is a very understated individual. For years, he was in Roger’s shadow and kind of just accepted it. But I’m really glad he stepped out of Roger’s shadow and came into his own. He did this by defeating Roger in straight sets.

But also by winning a second slam. He is now a great player in his own right, a player who can compete for slam titles and who no one can take lightly. He has won two slams since last year while it’s been just about three years now since Roger won his last slam. So he is actually the most successful Swiss player at present. I thought he was terrific in the closing ceremony as well. The way he came back to console the Djoker after their embrace at the net, and the way he gave the Djoker a standing ovation with the crowd.

He was totally humble and sincere in the victory. He knew how much this meant to the Djoker and showed compassion. It annoyed me how he kept smashing winner after winner when the Djoker was throwing everything at him, so I wasn’t appreciating the shotmaking as much I as I would under different circumstances, but you just gotta say too good and applaud. The whole thing had a satisfactory end anyway and I don’t regret any of it.

  • Djokovic’s ‘Missed Opportunity’

I say ‘missed opportunity’ because that’s not how I see this loss for the Djoker. That’s maybe what the press or the public thinks but if you are being realistic then you would say he never stood much of a chance when the draw came out. Of course, when he makes it all the way to the final you think he can do it. But only when it is all said and done can you really look at the whole thing in proper perspective. I don’t think it is a missed opportunity at all. He did something he could never do before which was to defeat Nadal.

People forget quickly and they always want more. But if you look at it in the proper perspective thein 2014n you see that he did better than ever before. He made progress. Of course, the loss was a big disappointment. But it wasn’t like 2013 where he had Nadal at his mercy and then choked badly. Those are the losses that really hurt, and the subsequent losses in the Wimbledon and US Open finals were evidence for me that he had difficulty overcoming that loss. Maybe even the losses in Melbourne and Wimbledon in 2014 was part of that.

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He went through a bad patch where he lost four slam finals. But then he turned it around and won two more slams. I wasn’t even sure if he would ever win another slam. I think he has great powers of recovery and comes back from adversity very well. And knowing him this loss won’t stick. It would make no sense whatsoever for him to regret this loss, and I think his crying afterward was all he needed to be over this loss. Just think about it. He defeated Nadal which was a massive burden.

The scoreline suggested that it was an easy victory, but I assure you it was not. Mentally it took a toll on the Djoker. Especially the first set where he choked away a 4-0 lead. He had to exorcise all those past demons and that alone took a huge effort. Then he comes up against a transformed clay courter in Murray who hasn’t lost a match on clay all season. Murray takes him to five sets after play was suspended on Friday. This means he gets no rest day, after already having played the second semi.

Then on top of that he faces the Stanimal in the final who has been smashing everyone off the court, including one of the favorites Federer in straight sets. I don’t think anyone in the history of the sport could have won the title from that position. How can you have regrets about that? You’d have to be extremely hard on yourself. The Djoker fought heroically in the final, but there was no stopping this beast. He kept pounding ridiculous winners from ridiculous positions. It was just too good.

  • In Conclusion

Was the Djoker mentally tired in the final? It is likely. Would he have won against Stan with a better draw? Possibly, but like I said Stan in this mode is basically unbeatable. I’m not sure how the Djoker could have done much better anyway. He plays both great defense and offense, but he doesn’t quite have the offensive strength of Stan. There is only so much you can do against that kind of hitting. The only alternative may have been to play the same kind of tennis, and the Djoker is not capable of it.

So yeah, I don’t see anything to regret here and I don’t see how this result changes much. The Djoker is still the best player in the world at present and will have a great shot at Wimbledon and the US Open. And he still has time to complete the career slam. I hope he gets it, but nothing is guaranteed in tennis. He also goes to 8-8 in slam finals which isn’t a great record but having won 8 slams is a great record. He is already one of the all-time greats and has plenty of time left to win more slams.

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The career slam does help an awful lot because it puts you in another bracket, so I hope he can get it in the next few years. He is definitely a good enough clay courter to get it, but he hasn’t been very lucky over the years at the French. This year again it was the brutal draw. Maybe it is not his destiny to win it, but you better believe he will keep trying. He made a big step this year by defeating the clay monster. For that I am already eternally grateful to him and owe him my undying support.

And knowing him he will see what happened as a victory too. You can’t win every match you play. He almost does it but at some point you are just going to lose to a player who is in the zone. It even happened to Roger in his peak years when he lost to Safin at the 2005 Australian Open, as well as to Nadal every time they met at the French. At least the Djoker did something Roger could never do. The Djoker is no doubt one of the favorites at Wimbledon and I kind of hope he wins it.

It would be great to see Roger win a record 8th Wimby too though. We will see. A reader made me aware today of the fact that Nadal is playing the grass court event in Stuttgart this week. He would have played Rosol actually which would have been nice, but Rosol lost to Baghdatis. It’s gonna be interesting to see what happens next with Nadal anyway. I don’t think he can get a top 8 seed at Wimbledon which means he can play Roger or Djokovic in the fourth round for instance.

The intrigue never stops!

  • Highlights

  • Pressers

The is in your court.

Posted in French Open, Grand Slams, Uncategorized.

26 Comments

  1. Stuttgart took advantage of the extra week in the Grass court season and changed its date and surface and it is now a grass ATP 250. He has a difficult draw considering his current level of play, so we will see.

    Djokovic is going to have more opportunities to win RG, he already cleaned the way by ending Nadal streak, especially in the way he did it. Being a Fed fan, I think that it would be fair that Djokovic would win RG, since he become very dominant in clay and won every other relevant tournament in the surface, but this year it is undeniable that Stan was the better player of the two and totally deserved it.

    For Wimbledon I hope that Roger finally wins a GS again and becomes the sole recordist with 8 titles, it would be very fair, but he is going to need a nice draw like he got at RG (probably without having to face the Stanimal though).

    Let’s see if he can bag Halle to give him the confidence he needs!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hello, FedExpress. I’d be very interested to see how Nadal fares in Stuttgart. I think Cilic has a good shot at making the final there.

    Yes, Djokovic deserves to win the FO more than anyone. I’d prefer seeing him winning the career slam over Federer winning an 8th Wimby actually.

    Federer is gonna need a good draw at Wimby to win it. I don’t think he wants Nadal in his 4th round or QF for instance. Nadal is so unpredictable that he could even be a threat at Wimbledon for the title.

    [Reply]

    FedExpress Reply:

    Your absolutely right about Nadal, he is capable of winning out of the blue and for sure Federer would like him to be on the Djokovic side of the draw. However, he is also capable of losing in the first rounds and leave a hole in the draw, which could prove to be decisive for a clean path to the title.

    About Djokovic, I disagree a bit about your view of the final. I don’t think he was trowing the kitchen sink to Stan, who used very often his slice to recover some time and breath in points. His slice bounced high enough in clay to be attacked and it wasn’t, and he tends to block the opponent’s serve a lot with it, which was something that Djokovic or someone in his camp should have noticed and drafted a strategy to serve and volley a bit more in order to take advantage of that and try to keep points short, don’t give rhythm to Stan and preserve Djokovic fitness. In the later part of the game he tried to do this, but on second serve to Stan’s backhand, which is suicidal.

    So, Stan played very well, undoubtedly, but Djokovic was not agressive enough and did not try to diversify his game enough in order to survive the Stanimal powerful baseline game.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Good observations. I thought he was guilty of that against Murray in the 3rd and 4th sets too, but then in the 5th he stepped it up again. Maybe he was mentally too tired to step it up against Stan in the 4th again. But yeah, it’s not the worst idea to change things up when the guy is pounding you off the court. But again, there is no guarantee it would have worked. Stan in that mode is very hard to tame. And with how hard he hits the ball the net is not where you want to be all the time. But you can change it up with drop shots too. And like you said be more aggressive, although I didn’t really notice he was not aggressive enough. But I believe you.

    [Reply]

    FedExpress Reply:

    You are right about the drop shots, and he did try that.

    But that is the kind of shot that has to be done with precision (with a low bounce or some sidespin in order to make it hard to return) and considering the position of the opponent on the court (preferably when he is very far behind the baseline).

    He did this successfully in the beginning of the match (I think that point when Stan hits the net with his racket and gets booed was a failed return to a dropshot, though I’m not sure), but as the game progressed he started to do them more often and losing efficacy. In fact, he got broken (in the 4th set I think) with a Stan’s winner return of a poor dropshot (a similar moment happened in the Fed-Monfils match). This probably was a tremendous boost for Stan, because it shows that Djokovic was somewhat “desperate” to avoid the baseline rallies and was tiring. That could be a sign of the mental fatigue you speak on your post after that grueling Murray match and the slaying of Nadal.

    But I agree, when Stan is in that mode it is very hard to deploy any game plan that can make it stop, even more if you are not with full fitness.
    But that is exactly why Roger is my favorite player and Stan comes right after, when they are playing like this the match is in their racket.

    [Reply]

    Jiten Reply:

    Exactly my thoughts. Djoker did not try to diversify his game. He was waiting for Stan to mentally crack and start to do mistakes, which of course didn’t happen. If you look carefully at those shots and positions of the players in the third set (hope I am correct) at 3-2, 30-0 and fourth set 4-4, ad Stan (both of these shots were posted in the comments section by Ru-an in his last post), they are almost identical. On both occasions, Stan had down the line backhand winners while Djoker was venturing towards the net. This proves the fact that Djoker was still expecting to draw some mistake from the racket of Stan by venturing into the net. With some other players, probably it would have been fine. But against Stan on that day in that mood and mode, nobody could have done any better than Novak. I am leaning more towards the destiny theory for Djoker, the French open curse just does not seem to be going away for him. But all one can do is to try one’s best.

    [Reply]

  2. Like you, Ru-an, my appreciation (alright love) of Fed got me writing about tennis for a decade, first in emails between ’04 and ’08 and then in a weekly (alright almost daily) blog for Intennis.com until late ’13. As he was twilighting a bit, I’d burned out on covering the top 4 and the tours, feeling I didn’t have anything more I had to say, and am glad now just to read some posts by you and others.
    For me, you are on target with your evaluations of matches and situations, very balanced. I love Joker, have seen him up close many times on and off court (around Indian Wells, which I’ve attended every year since ’06), both for who he is on the court and off. I can relate to his mental approach to the game more than any of the others, his little smile when he his opponent has taken an opportunity from him at a big point with a brilliant shot, and his determination to answer a crisis in the score with a calculated risk and the willingness to live with the outcome.
    Stan, too, is the real deal as a player and late blooming champion. I don’t think he’ll maintain the consistency to go deep in every major the way the other top 3 have, but he’ll be a perennial factor and threat in every draw, someone you don’t want in your bracket.
    Which brings me to Rafa, and a few others.
    Rafa has had his worst 12 months in a decade, but he is not going away. Actually, he has made slow progress in the last 12 months, and playing this week in Stuttgart shows that he is doubling down to seek the match wins and the confidence he needs now to live up to his reputation as a guy you never want in your bracket, no matter the surface (and grass is his 2nd best surface when he’s had some matches on it.
    I disagree that his problem has anything to do with losing a half step. I thought his movement in Paris was superb. It was his forehand that was off. It shows up most now when he plays Joker or Murray, who are the strongest defenders from the BH corner and force Rafa to go to his inside-out and inside-in FH to win points. He’s not gotten that shot back since Paris a year ago. Maybe the problem started with an injury (I don’t recall what happened to him after Wimby last year because he’s so often had some problem or another, and i can’t believe any of them are what we are told they are – or that solutions have been limited strictly to the legally available ones). But the shanks he’s been hitting speak to me of a crisis in confidence, similar to the ones Roger committed when he was getting beaten by Rafa after the Wimby ’08 loss. The FH winners that used to just seem to make themselves, rolling off the racket with ease – they don’t happen when confidence is shaken.
    Where I see Rafa making progress is in the quality of the opponents he’s losing to. After getting dusted by D Brown at Halle and blitzed by Kyrgios at Wimby, he had a series of losses to more low ranked guys (Klizan, Coric, Berrer) and Lopez who he normally beat, his vulnerability emboldened other shooters like Fognini (twice), Verdasco, Berdych and Raonic – the kind of guys that Soderling proved could overcome Rafa even on clay. But these losses have started coming later in tournies, and the recent losses against Murray and Joker happened when those two were playing at the height of their powers in late rounds.
    More than anything, he needs a title he can feel a good about after a year with only one in an event which he might have won in his sleep (Buenos Aires). If he gets at least one and feels he’s progressing by Wimby, he’s a real threat for anyone and he’s going to hit someone a round or two before they want to see him. He’ll be the underdog, a role he loves. It was nly a year ago he was he underdog going in to Indian Wells…
    Putting all this aside, I hope you decide to put more of your thought into other players who are up and coming. Everyone’s got their opinions about the top guys but most have little or no first-hand knowledge of those emerging beneath the top 20. Not Jack Sock (now # 31), who I’ve seen often enough to conclude that his singles future is limited (he’ll get no further than Isner ever got).
    Kyrgios, Coric are going to be the stars of the next wave. It may not happen this year, but it wouldn’t surprise me at Wimby, and I would guess no seed will be happy to see them in their bracket. Coric might still be pushed around by huge server on a good day, but he’s improving fast and has the competitive temperament and game style of Joker written all over him.
    For Wimby, we haven’t seen the last Tsonga or Janowicz, although the latter has struggled with injuries and his head and Tsonga may go on an extended holiday after one good event. Monfils has nibbled at reality more than usual lately, though his fold against Fed in Paris was a joke and he’s very capable of reverting to clownish behavior at any time.
    The Cilic machine is about ready to gear up again, and it was fearsome when it did. Please report on how he does in Stuttgart. A win there over Rafa in a final would suggest his temperatures rising.

    Anyway, you’ve plenty to look at it – keep it up.

    Thanks.

    Rick D.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks, Rick. It’s kinda sad to think that these guys you follow could well be doping. I just read an article about it again today and apparently the infamous doctor Fuentes explicitly stated that 20% of his clientele were tennis players. If one of them is doing then everyone is probably but still. The idea doesn’t exactly motivate you to follow or write about the sport.

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    There is no way Roger could be doping. The prime candidates for doping would be Nadal, Murray and Djokovic in that order. Though I personally don’t believe Djokovic or Murray are doping.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I would say in the order of Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Fed. I don’t think Murray is doping. But it’s all speculation anyway. We just don’t know and that’s the frustrating part.

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    Well if are talking among the big 4 then that is the order If we are talking overall, then guys like Ferrer and Monfils will become prime candidates as well. And even others like Robredo, Cilic and plenty of other Spanish players. Fed won’t even be in the top 20 suspects.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    It’s still speculation. We just don’t know.

    [Reply]

    emy Reply:

    Monfils? if so then, what a waste… As it hasn’t had any positive effect yet. Well, he does play lights out games, sometimes matches, but doping? smh

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah, I don’t see why he mentioned Monfils either. Monfils is black and has athletic genes. He is too much of a clown to dope anyway. He doesn’t care about winning he cares about entertaining. I doubt he would dope to entertain.

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    Yeah just look at how ripped he is and how he can keep scampering all around and produce amazing pace from way back. In fact as far as I know only Nadal and Monfils are that ripped.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I guess you missed my comment AJ. He is black. The best athletes have been black. Look at all the track athletes, basketball players, boxers, etc. They are naturally ripped like that.

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    No that’s not the point. Even though he may be ripped because of his genes it is very difficult to play a sport like tennis being that ripped. The movement and flexibility required are very different than that for a track and field athlete. But I agree he seems to be too much of a clown to go to the pains of doping.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    If Djokovic started doping in 2011 to even the playing field with Nadal then he still did the tennis world and especially Fedfans a huge favor, as Nadal would otherwise now be the GOAT. So they should only be grateful.

    [Reply]

    emy Reply:

    And maybe Nadal started doping (IF) to even the field and stop Fed from sweeping the opposition aside from AO to the end of year tourney. Who knows? who are we to say who dopes and who doesn’t in the absence of evidence? Maybe we should just enjoy tennis and not speculate and accuse so much.

    [Reply]

  3. One thing everyone seems to have missed is that Nadal can’t play a top 4 guy in the 4th round. Since is sure to be in the seedings 9-12, he gets a seed from 5-8 in the 4th round. Thats how the draw works in Wimbledon.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Ok, I’ll take your word for it AJ. His draw certainly won’t help his chances that’s for sure.

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    Yup right now it looks very likely that Nadal will be the 11th seed so Federer is safe till the 4th round at least. But personally I think if Federer faces Nadal in the quarters it could be like London 2011 because Federer will really want to inflict more pain on Nadal now since he seems to be in the worst patch of his career.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah, I hope they play at Wimbledon. Never mind who wins. Just for the sheer intrigue of it.

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    I think Federer will win but it will take its toll like it did for Djokovic in the French. If Federer gets a draw like he got in French I think he will take full advantage of it and reach the finals at least. I mean I actually hope Federer gets Nishikori in the quarters and Stan in the semis. Let Nadal be in Murray’s quarter and let them both be in Djokovic’s half :D

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I doubt he is getting that lucky again. He will get Murray or Nadal this time I’m sure, or both. Maybe Nadal QF, Murray SF, and Djokovic F.

    [Reply]

  4. I don’t think Nishi or Berdych will want Rafa in their bracket – ugh.

    Attacking Stan’s serve on grass will be a completely different matter, as the ball will stay lower and Stan will have less time to prepare even for a chip. Second serve is the only timeyou’re guaranteed to get a short ball and your opponent can’t yet b 3 yards behind the line if you take it early and make him move laterally with your approach. As for anyone doing this on clay, we’ll have to wait until next year.

    Rafa is one of the best at moving forward. Look for him to be trying to do a lot of damage at the net.

    [Reply]

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