- Nishikori Upsets Murray in Quarterfinals
Before I get to the semis and final let me take you all the way back to the bottom half quarterfinals which took place since my last post. There was a big upset when Nishikori defeated the favorite for the title of many people Murray 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5.
People who read this blog will know that Murray was never my favorite for the title. I thought he had a shot but he had a tough road from the quarterfinals onward. And he couldn’t even get over the first of three hurdles.
It was another amazing match in this action-packed US Open where the mini Djoker(as I like to call Nishikori) came back from a set and a break down and a seemingly hopeless situation to pull out the win 7-5 in the decider.
At 1-1 and 30-40* on Nishikori’s serve in the fourth set, there was also an incident where the PA system made a loud noise and the point had to be replayed. Nishikori ended up winning the replayed point and held serve.
The incident seemed to affect Murray though as he didn’t win another game in the set. To make matters worse for Murray, Nishikori got the break at the start of the decider as well and took a 2-0 lead.
Murray broke right back but Nishikori broke again with a beautiful backhand winner up the line. 3-2. He then also consolidated on serve and at 4-2 you thought that would be good enough to get the job done.
But no, Nishikori dropped serve at 4-3 from 40-0 up. A disaster! Nishikori was a game away from going out at 4-5 but held serve confidently to love and then broke Murray for a third time in the set with an amazing stretch volley.
Amazing drama. This time, Nishikori made no mistake as he held serve to 15 for the win. I was really happy for him because he kept believing and played positive tennis which paid off in the end.
As for Murray, another disappointing loss from him where he became too defensive and allowed things in the environment to affect him negatively. I guess he doesn’t have what it takes because at the first tournament where Djokovic features again he loses in the quarterfinals.
This loss also meant that Djokovic will hang on to the number one ranking for the foreseeable future.
- Del Potro’s Run Ends in the Quarterfinals
This match was again at an unwatchable hour for me but I did wake up to catch the last set which contained a nice moment when the crowd started cheering loudly for Del P0tro when he was down 2-5 in the fourth set and Wawrinka was serving for the match.
The crowd started cheering the ‘Deeeeeeeelpooooooo‘ chant loudly which brought tears to Del Potro’s eyes. It was a touching moment after everything Del Potro had been through with his injuries and one which he very much appreciated.
here’s that amazing del potro moment pic.twitter.com/GV8T4pU2LA
— Becca Laurie, PI (@imbeccable) September 8, 2016
He spoke of how much it meant to him after the match and that he didn’t care about the score in the end. It meant so much to him that he didn’t even care about the result. He just thought it was amazing to be back in the US Open quarterfinals and playing in that atmosphere again after almost quitting the sport.
I’m sad that he couldn’t go further but it was nice to see that moment and that the crowd showed their deep appreciation for him. It is also good to see that he is still healthy and this was another very positive tournament for him.
- Djokovic Survives Bizarre Encounter with Monfils
So yesterday was the men’s semis and finally Djokovic got to play another full match. And what a strange match it was. Djokovic was running away with it at 5-0 in the first set and served for the set at 5-1.
That’s where it all began. Monfils went into tank mode where he returned serve like he had already thrown in the towel which seemed to affect Djokovic because he played a dismal and nervous game to drop serve.
Monfils held serve and at 5-3 Djokovic went down 15-40 on his serve again. All of a sudden disaster was looming for Djokovic. Monfils was doing nothing whatsoever just pushing every ball back but it messed so much with Djokovic’s mind that he almost dropped serve again.
Had he done so it could have been an entirely different match but the champion that he is he got his act together and held serve to win the first set. Djokovic saving the two break points there was pretty much the key moment of the match.
After that Monfils was always going to struggle but the match was still far from over. Djokovic won the second set 6-2 with a double break after which Monfils limped to his chair. You feared another retirement was coming.
— We Are Tennis France (@WeAreTennisFR) September 9, 2016
For those who are still doubting my ‘theory’, it was clear once again that playing against Djokovic is a tremendous burden for opponents because Monfils was basically tanking and looked on the verge of retiring like the others.
At the start of the third set when Djokovic was breaking Monfils again the New York crowd started booing Monfils which finally seemed to wake him up. Djokovic held serve to take a 2-0 lead but Monfils broke back at 1-2 to level at 2-2.
The crowd responded to Monfils and he broke again in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. Then with Monfils serving for the set at 5-3 he went 0-40 down but saved all three break points and he was back in the match.
It was still nervous moments for Djokovic because in this bizarre match anything was possible. It was also very hot and humid and both players were sweating profusely out there. Monfils was also continuing his mind games by constantly leaning with his hands on his knees to look exhausted.
Djokovic stared down a dangerous break point in the opening game of the fourth set and at 2-1 he set up two break points with a tremendous forehand angled passing shot. He went on to break serve but Monfils broke right back in the next game. 3-2.
Important Djokovic GIF pic.twitter.com/dKybsS3R38
— Dr Cork Gaines (@CorkGaines) September 9, 2016
It was mental and physical torture for Djokovic out there but, as usual, he showed great mental strength as he broke again in the next game to take a 4-2 lead and consolidated for 5-2. Finally, he broke Monfils to love with a forehand return winner to win 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.
It was a tiring match to watch and play I’m sure but Djokovic will still be fresh after his lack of court time and I’m glad he got tested properly before the final. It was certainly a test mentally and physically because of the heat and because of Monfils’ gamesmanship.
Monfils was a disgrace in the first couple of sets but he redeemed himself to a certain extent by winning the third set. He has also faced a lot of criticism and probably rightfully so. But that is French players for you and now you know why I don’t have much faith in them.
- Wawrinka Overcomes Nishikori
Fortunately, the men’s semi-finals were at more humane hours due to the absence of women’s matches and I was able to catch most of the Wawrinka/Nishikori match. Nishikori started well by winning the first set 6-4 and had several chances in the second set to put Stan away but failed to take advantage as Stan edged it 7-5.
I always felt the second set was a key set and that whoever wins it would go on to win the match. Stan was starting to win the longer baseline rallies and gaining the upper hand from the baseline with his power but if Nishikori could edge the second set you figured it would be too far for Stan to come back.
But as it worked out Nishikori couldn’t finish Stan off and pulled away after the second set winning 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2. It reminded of the 2015 French Open final where Djokovic won the first set against Stan but after that Stan started gaining the upper hand from the baseline and pulled away to win in four sets.
- Final Preview
So we are down to the final match of the 2016 US Open and what a match it promises to be. It is not the Djokovic vs Del Potro final I hoped for but it is still a great matchup and better than your usual Djokovic vs Murray slam finals.
Nishikori would have been an easier opponent for Djokovic but even as a fan, I don’t expect Djokovic to have it all his own way. I know the hardcore fans want that but I am different. I don’t mind a challenge.
The payoff is bigger if Djokovic wins and the critics have less reason to complain about Djokovic’s draw. I like to look at positives. The payoff would be bigger because Stan defeated Djokovic in the 2015 French Open final which was a bitter loss to take.
There Djokovic had no rest day between the semis and the final and had a brutal draw on top of that. This year at the French there were similar scheduling problems due to rain but Djokovic took matters into his own hands and won the all-important French Open title which gave him the career and personal slam.
So first of all, as a fan that was the big one this year. That title propelled Djokovic into the GOAT debate and set him up to make a run at Federer’s slam record. I’ve already said that everything after that is a bonus this year.
Of course, I want him to win the title but if he doesn’t it won’t be the end of the world especially since Murray is already gone. Murray was the one threatening Djokovic’s position as the world number one.
The interesting thing is that if Stan wins the title he equals Murray at three slam titles and joins Murray as Djokovic’s two main rivals. That said, I still like my man’s chances. He is much more rested than at the 2015 French Open and this is a different surface.
Stan seems to be more effective on the slower surfaces of clay and Plexicushion but he may also be ready to win a slam on a faster surface now. All I know is that last year against Federer in the semis he was pretty poor.
Or you could say Federer was just that good(Fed fans don’t like this one). There is also a third option of saying Stan bent over to Federer like he has done so often in the past. Either way when Stan finds his rhythm from the baseline he is a very difficult man to stop.
Federer didn’t give him room to breathe last year but Djokovic is a baseliner who doesn’t have the offensive capabilities of Federer. He will have to find another way. But certainly, he needs to be offensive and not allow Stan to boss him from the baseline.
Fortunately, Djokovic has improved a lot as an offensive player of late and I have noticed how often he has come to the net during this US Open. I think being offensive will be the key for him again against Stan.
Variation will be another key. He mustn’t just hang back on the baseline like he did in Paris and allow Stan to hit winner after winner. He should use drop shots, slices, and net approaches to change things up.
He must make Stan run instead of allowing Stan to make him run. I know that Djokovic just can’t wait to get revenge for the French Open loss and that he will be extremely motivated to win this.
He has already defeated Stan twice in smaller events since the French Open loss but that loss will still be fresh in his mind and he leads the head-to-head 19-4. Yes, Stan is dangerous but Djokovic is better and I still favor him.
If he doesn’t win I won’t be too disappointed because this has already been another amazing year for Djokovic where he made three of the four slam finals and now has a chance to complete a third three slam titles year to equal Federer in that department.