Del Potro’s Amazing Olympic Games Run Ends in Final

Greetings. I hope everyone enjoyed the tennis at the Olympics which concluded yesterday. I wasn’t very optimistic about the Olympics myself but, in the end, it turned out to be an enjoyable experience.

And that was mainly due to Del Potro’s run but also Nishikori’s run who I became a fan of recently. As a Djokovic fan, I was somewhat disappointed at his loss to Del Potro but since I don’t care much about the Olympics it didn’t bother me much.

And I was happy for Del Potro anyway who has been having awful luck with his left wrist. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy either. It is difficult not to like the guy and on top of that he plays offensive tennis.

His forehand is a monster as tennis fans know. For me, it is the biggest forehand tennis has ever seen although Gonzalez will have something to say about that. But for sheer pace and power, I think Del Potro edges it.

When he really gets hold of a forehand the point is over. The opponent doesn’t even have to attempt a reply. Del Potro’s amazing run at the Olympics came to an end yesterday when he lost 5-7, 6-4, 2-6, 5-7 to Murray in the gold medal match.

And that after he defeated Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(5) in a classic encounter the day before. On top of that, he played the second semi-final after Murray easily defeated Nishikori 6-1, 6-4 earlier on  Saturday.

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In the end, Del Potro’s draw was brutal but he still did incredibly well in the final. I didn’t think he would have anything left and expected him to lose cheaply to Murray like Federer did in the 2012 Olympics final after another marathon with Del Potro in the semis.

But I thought he did incredibly well and came very close to pushing the match to five sets when he served for the fourth set at 5-4. It was a shame that we didn’t have a dramatic fifth set but, in the end, you have to give credit to Murray.

He made it incredibly difficult for Del Potro with his athleticism, defense, and refusal to miss. Murray has no doubt been a different player since Lendl joined his team again and he is now a serious threat to Djokovic.

As for Del Potro, I hope he stays healthy now. I was really happy for him after he defeated Nadal which was the big one for him. And he achieved everything without a proper topspin backhand still.

He is hitting over more backhands now which is good to see but he is still careful with his left wrist and slicing many backhands. He really is an extremely talented player as he showed when he defeated Federer and Nadal to win the US Open.

He was close to quitting tennis recently due to his extremely frustrating injury so I couldn’t be happier for him with his silver medal. A truly amazing achievement under the circumstances!

  • Nishikori Wins Bronze Over Nadal

As I said, I have become a fan of Nishikori of late whereas before I always wrote him off as a bit of a choker. I now appreciate him more and enjoy his temperament. He seems kind of nonchalant but it’s not like he tanks or anything.

He is also similar to Djokovic in the way he plays. He has a great two-handed backhand and returns serve very well too. He is also a great athlete and moves well. His serve is a weakness though and so is the fact that he is injury prone.

But I like watching him because of his temperament and he is also quite an attacking player. The way in which he defeated Nadal in the bronze medal playoff match was quite impressive even though he totally lost it in the second set after being 5-2 up.

The way he uses his backhand against Nadal to neutralize Nadal’s forehand reminds me a lot of Djokovic but he also has a big forehand. I think of him as the mini-Djoker. I also like how he was in Nadal’s face.

I didn’t watch the whole match but from the highlights, there were at least two instances where he went straight into Nadal’s body when Nadal was at the net. He also took an 11-minute bathroom break which is what Nadal always does to unnerve his opponents.

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If only Federer did more of that he wouldn’t have such a shocking head-to-head record against Nadal but Federer is too ‘cultured’ to do that. It was great to see Nishikori giving Nadal his own medicine and it made me like him even more.

That is how you beat Nadal. Not by praising and respecting him. Nadal is a fake who acts like an innocent little angel but anyone who isn’t naive can see right through it and knows that he is a thug and a bully.

If you show him respect and admiration you are playing right into his hands and digging your own grave which is exactly what Federer did. Fortunately, Djokovic didn’t fall for it and was as much in Nadal’s face as Nadal was in his face, which is why he owns Nadal 12-1 in their last 13 meetings and leads him 26-23 in the head-to-head.

Anyway, I found it quite amusing that Nishikori took an 11-minute toilet break and that Nadal looked ticked off at the handshake. As if Nadal hasn’t done the same thing to unnerve his opponents a million time before.

I also found it quite amusing how Nadal didn’t win a medal in singles after his fans acted like the Olympics was the Mecca of tennis again. At least Nadal won gold in doubles. Maybe he should become a double specialist now because it really looks like he is done winning anything big in singles.

  • How Much Does the Olympics Title Mean?

I have never rated the Olympics very highly but I will admit it has become more important in recent years. Half of the top ten were absent which doesn’t even put the event on Masters level competition wise but the fact that it is played only every four years makes it unique.

There was a Davis Cup-like atmosphere as well which was a nice changeup. The matches were good especially from the semi-finals onward. This is, of course, Murray’s second singles gold which makes him the most successful Olympian of the big four.

Djokovic and Federer still have no Olympic gold in singles while Djokovic has is the only big four member with no Olympic gold at all. That said, I don’t think that makes him any less of a player. Same for Federer.

It is a nice thing to have but I don’t view it as the fifth slam of anything. That is a bit silly in my opinion. First of all, the history and competition of the event are not nearly at the level of slams.

It is not even at the level of Masters. If there is a fifth slam it is without a doubt the World Tour Finals. There at least you have the top eight players in the world and it is also played every year like the slams.

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But like I said the fact that the Olympics are played only every four years does make it unique and many of the top players do care a lot about winning it. You only need to look at Djokovic’s reaction after he lost to realize that.

But again, that is more a patriotism thing while tennis is an individual sport. For some players, it is important to win a medal for their country while for others it is less important as evidenced by several top players electing to skip the event.

One thing I will say is that the event is certainly not the fifth slam just because Nadal or Murray has won it. Murray has won by far the least slams of the big four while Nadal has never won a World Tour Finals title.

So there is plenty of incentive for their fanbases to claim that the Olympics is a huge deal. It is not. It is not even on Masters level competition wise. More like ATP 750 level if there was something like that.

Finally, let me just say congrats to Murray on his gold medal before anyone thinks I’m trying to downplay what he achieved. I’m not. He played great tennis since Wimbledon and like I already stated he is now a serious threat to Djokovic.

  • Looking Ahead

This week is Cincy, of course, and you can view the draw here. Murray will play for a second consecutive week which I don’t know if it’s a good idea but he did get plenty of rest after Wimbledon.

He is the top seed after Djokovic’s withdrawal while Stan is the second seed. Nadal is also there and it will be interesting to see how he fares. He did play some of the best tennis I have seen from him in a while in Rio.

He plays Cuevas in his first match who defeated Querrey today so that will already be a test. I’m happy to see Nishikori is also playing and so is Raonic who is one of the favorites with Nishikori.

As far as Djokovic is concerned, people are already talking about a slump, decline, etc as they usually do but for now, there is no reason to believe in any of that. And personally, I don’t mind at all that he is having some down time.

Even I, as a fan, started getting bored of his dominance. It was good to see someone new like Del Potro make a big move and also appreciating someone new like Nishikori who has been around for a long time.

The longer Djokovic is out the more I will be able to appreciate him again when he comes back anyway. I’m glad he is not playing Cincy and taking some more time to recover. He has played an awful lot since the beginning of 2015 and his body needs the rest.

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I don’t think it is a problem for his preparation for the US Open either. He won Toronto which is already better than he did last year. Of course, there is a lot of hype around Murray again but this time for once I feel like it is justified.

He is a different player with Lendl as his coach and the US Open will be very interesting. Djokovic has gone through a period now where he won just about everything in sight but from here on it may get harder.

Not that it wasn’t hard already. He just made it look easy. Federer was still as tough a rival as any. Murray was there too, but he made even fewer inroads into the fortress-like game of Djokovic than Federer did.

But he is no doubt a better player with Lendl and can potentially make life difficult for Djokovic. There is no guarantee that he will because I don’t think he is better than Federer but he has a very different game and provides a different challenge for Djokovic.

He is now racking up quite an impressive year for himself and if he wins the US Open there could be a change at the top. At the same time, Djokovic will want to reestablish his dominance at the US Open and shut down the Murray hype.

Fun times ahead!

Who will win Cincinnati?

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Posted in Olympics.

2 Comments

  1. Great to see Delpo, one of my favourites back out there playing his best. Hope he will stay healthy and produce more classics with Djokovic, Nadal and Federer like he did especially in the 2013 season!

    I posted this comment below on MensTennisForums that covers my stance on tennis in the Olympics and the values of winning a medal, hope you would take the time to read it and see if you agree.

    The Olympics are meant to glorify the events of athletics (track and field), aquatics, gymnastics etc. Winning a gold medal is the pinnacle of those respective sports whilst in tennis, the pinnacle is to win Grand Slams.

    There’s a good reason why some people hold the opinion that tennis shouldn’t even be in the Olympics. Tennis already has enough media attention and global attraction every year. We are lucky to have four Grand Slams that always make front page headlines of newspapers and social media every year. I can make the same argument for golf. The ‘Olympic’ athletes (mostly amateurs) don’t get any attention close to tennis normally if we are not in an Olympic Games year. They have the Commonwealth Games, the World Championships etc, but its still not much awareness compared to Grand Slams each year. Thats why these track/field, swimming events are the icons of the Olympics. It’s their turn in the spotlight. What are Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt most recognised for? Their astounding gold medal achievements in the multiple Olympic Games. What are Federer, Nadal and Djokovic most recognised for? Their incredible amount of Grand Slams won.

    Sure, the Olympic Games mean a lot to most tennis players. That’s only because it’s an amazing feeling emotionally to play for your country and the atmosphere that surrounds the Games. Patriotism is very much alive and encouraged in such a historical event. Who wouldn’t want to be praised as a hero in your country and share a piece of gold alongside other national heroes (like if you were an American player, you wouldn’t pass on an opportunity to be alongside Michael Phelps in your homecoming parade clutching a gold medal).

    But when people talk about how winning a medal in tennis adds to the impressiveness of a player’s resumé, you’re the biggest joke in the forum. The event itself has a 64 player field compared to a 128 player field in slams. There aren’t best of 5 set matches until the final. Essentially, it holds the format of pre-2007 Master 1000 tournaments. I can’t believe how some people refer to it as the ‘5th slam’.

    Continuing on, it happens once every four years and you have to have some degree of luck in terms of avoiding injuries and dips in form. It’s unlikely you can be in your absolute prime for a solid four years without experiencing a change in form. What if the Olympics occurred a year after, so instead of 2004-2008-2012-2016, its turns out to be 2005-2009-2013… those gold medals may have only been between Federer and Nadal. See how much the factor of luck influences being successful in the Games? Wawrinka and Federer lost their chances of competing this year (Federer most likely will never play in another one), don’t forget Nadal skipped the London Olympics and Djokovic was hampered by his wrist this year. Murray took advantage (not taking credit away) for being healthy at the right place and the right time and successfully capitalised on his big opportunities. Look at previous winners like Massu and Rosset. These two players didn’t win much other than their gold medals. I believe Massu’s best Grand Slam result is the 4th round achieved only once. Really reinforces that the factor of luck is heavily involved in a successful Olympics if two previous winners haven’t even reached a Grand Slam final.

    I hope some people finally understand that winning a medal isn’t significant, in terms of critiquing greatness and impressiveness. However that doesn’t mean a medal carries absolutely no value at all, the winning emotions, shared glory and pride with your nation is always special.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Good post, Conal. I agree!

    [Reply]

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