Well, it was another dramatic day of tennis in Cincinnati in which Djokovic and Federer prevailed to meet for the 41st time in the head-to-head which is currently tied up at 20-20. It is also the third time they will meet in the Cincy final with Federer having won the first two. Here is how it played out today.
- Djokovic Makes Another Great Escape
How does he keep doing it? After coming out flat and playing a pretty average first set Djokovic soon found himself down 4-6. He then did the hard work to break at 4-3 and served for the second set at 5-3, but got broken right back. They headed into a tie-break in which Djokovic went a mini-break down right away. He got the mini-break back but at 4-4 he dropped his serve again and now he was in desperate trouble with a rabid Dog serving at 5-4.
But like the saying goes, when the going gets tough the tough gets going. Djokovic got the mini-break right back and at 5-5 a brutal rally ensued which Djokovic finally won after an unforced error from The Dog. Then serving at 6-5 another long rally ensued which Djokovic finally won with a crosscourt forehand winner to clinch the crucial second set. The dude is just incredibly clutch and never surrenders.
After Djokovic squared things up it was always likely that he would run away with the third set which he did 6-2. Like I said in my last post The Dog is a talented player who can beat anyone on a given day so it wasn’t all that surprising that he pushed Djokovic to his very limits. But it also has to be said that Djokovic looked sluggish from the start and only did what he needed to get the win.
And it’s not surprising that he looked uninspired coming out of the blocks given all the tennis he played of late and this year. People were already saying after he did the Indian Wells/Miami double that he was burned out, but he just keeps digging deep and finding another gear. It’s inspiring stuff. And unlike Murray he is able to consistently come up with the goods when the going gets tough.
- Murray Fails Once More Against Federer
Unlike Djokovic, Murray was not able to come up with the goods in the second set tie-break as he lost 6-4, 7-6(6) to Federer. This is now his fifth consecutive loss to Federer and you would have thought after the Wimbledon humiliation that perhaps he would show a bit more urgency. But since the start he was on his own case again, berating himself and scolding his camp. He also wasn’t nearly offensive enough.
Just no belief. Only right at the end in the breaker did he make a couple of fist pumps but by then it was too late. And now you know why Djokovic has won nine slams and Murray two. It’s all in the self-belief and positive body language, which Murray has very little of. He has all the talent in the world but he is just way too negative out there and way too often he resorts to pushing instead of taking the initiative.
Not to take anything away from Federer, but by now we know exactly what to expect from him in Cincy and so should Murray. Murray was sitting at the changeover after losing the first set telling himself: ‘So FLAT, so FLAT!’ just to make sure his opponent and the rest of the world knows it. How exactly is that going to help him win the match? Well, it didn’t. He lost and he deserved to.
- Final Preview
Now then. It’s time for Djokerer 41.0 and are we going to see a repeat of what happened at Wimbledon this year from the semis onward? It’s doubtful. I think this will prove to be one too many for the Djoker. He did fantastically well to even make the final but at the cost of another brutal encounter that drained his last little bit of energy. I don’t see how he will have anything left in the tank for the final.
It’s ok. Federer can have this one anyway. He didn’t play Montreal like Djokovic and all his opponents aside from Murray rolled over cheaply in Cincy. Look, even at 34 he will still have plenty left in the tank. And besides, Djokovic won in Indian Wells, Rome, and Wimbledon. It would probably be better for the Djoker to get schooled quickly in straight sets so that he has something left for New York.
I can already hear some of you saying that I said the same thing before the Wimby final and that I am trying to jinx. But this is clearly a very different situation. Here’s why:
- Federer won both their previous meetings in the Cincy final in straight sets, and that includes two bakery products.
- It is best of three which isn’t a physical disadvantage for Federer at his age.
- On top of that Federer skipped Montreal and is fresh as a daisy while Djokovic has had a brutal two weeks which included four brutal three-set matches.
- The surface may be even more favorable to Federer than at Wimbledon. My reasoning behind that being that Djokovic has never won the Cincy title while he’s won three Wimby titles.
- Federer won the finals in Shanghai last year and Dubai this year which are similar surfaces to Cincy. Over the best of three on fast surfaces he has had the better of Djokovic.
So close but yet so far…
I think those are more than enough reasons for Federer to be the favorite for the final. Clearly it is a very different situation than Wimby was. Obviously Djokovic badly wants this title to complete the career Masters and do something neither Federer nor Nadal could do, but I think it will prove to be one too many. It’s going to be a tough loss because it will be the third time he loses to Federer in the Cincy final.
But like I said it wouldn’t hurt too much knowing that he won the important matches in Indian Wells, Rome, and especially Wimbledon. You can’t win them all. You just have to accept that everyone has their limits. Federer has played very well this year and the Wimby final loss must have hurt. He probably deserves to win something bigger than an ATP 500. And of course if he does he will be the second seed for the US Open.
Should be another interesting match!
The is in your court.