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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The is in your court.