Djokovic Last Man Standing in Paris, but Will It Cost Him?

As expected Djokovic prevailed in the final against Ferrer to win his third straight title since the US Open where he suffered another crushing loss to Nadal. It’s been an impressive run and he probably goes to London as the favorite. Of course we as Fedfans hope and know that Roger can’t be counted out. The fact that Roger did not win the titles in Basel or Paris is really immaterial at this point. What matters is that he improved with every win and steadily his confidence has been on the rise, to the point where it is peaking just in time for London. If he snatches the Masters Cup he wins the one that really matters and ends a difficult year on a high. Long way to go though. His first match is of course tomorrow when he plays Djokovic in consecutive matches after playing against him in Paris for the first time this year.

The importance of this match can’t be underestimated. Should Roger win it he gets off to a winning start, and immediately the pressure to pass the group stage decreases. After losing his last two matches with Djokovic the head-to-head is 16-14 in his favor, and opening the gap to three wins is certainly a lot more comfortable than if Djokovic closes it to one. Not to mention what it would do for his confidence to beat Djokovic who is unbeaten post US Open. It would once again prove that his confidence is still increasing, and all of a sudden he becomes the favorite for the title. I am tempted to go as far as saying he must win tomorrow if he wants to win the title. Losing two consecutive matches to Djokovic right now can’t do his confidence much good. But I concede that if Roger loses it is not the end of the road.

Head-to-heads for group B

Things just become considerably more complicated. Suddenly his remaining group matches are must win matches. I think Gasquet will lose all his matches. He is definitely the weakest link of the top 8. I think Del Potro will beat him tomorrow and if Roger wins tomorrow, the second qualifier from the group will be decided between the winner of Djokovic and Del Potro. If Djokovic wins tomorrow the second qualifier will probably come from the winner of Roger and Del Potro. At least Roger has beaten Del Potro in Paris and would have a good chance of doing so again. The problem if Roger qualifies second in his group is that he will probably get Nadal in the semis, which again is not the end of the world. It just makes things harder. He will play three matches in three days, and if he loses to Djokovic the emotional toll of the group stage will be higher as opposed to him beating Djokovic.

So although it’s not a fact, I think he must beat Djokovic in the first match to win the title. I really think the start is gonna be all important this time folks. And I do believe Roger has a very good chance of beating Djokovic tomorrow. He saw what he needed to see in Paris. He lost but he was all over Djokovic in the 1st set. He knows the match will be on his racquet. He lost because his game fell off in the 2nd and 3rd sets, not because Djokovic overwhelmed him. It will be a question of bringing his best game tomorrow and maintaining it. The extra day’s rest as opposed to Djokovic’s match in the Paris final may be what swings this in his favor. So Djokovic got the Paris title when Roger could have won it. Let him have it. It may well end up costing him the Masters Cup title. He beat Ferrer 7-5, 7-5 in two pretty grueling sets.

Roger’s hitting partner yesterday was Radek ‘Sexy’ Stepanek

Ferrer served for both sets at 5-4. It was disappointing how he choked on both occasions and could not take Djokovic to three sets at least, but at least he fights hard and both sets were mentally and physically draining. It may just have done the trick to give Roger the edge because he will be the fresher one this time. Djokovic will have only today to recover while Roger will be ready to rumble. We will see how it goes. The serve will be key as usual and Roger will need to maintain a high first serve percentage as well as point winning percentage behind first and second serves throughout. He must dominate and not get into many extended base line rallies. That will expose his weaker backhand side. To dominate he will need to serve well, hit his forehand well, volley well, and use variation. There is no doubt in my mind he has the ability to win this.

 

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24 Comments

  1. Hi Ruan ! Thanks for another well written post.
    I can hardly wait for the rematch with Djokovich.
    I remember the time (2009, 2010) when I “prayed” for a draw giving RF a match with Djokovich instead of Rafa. I was almost sure that RF will win. Maybe this time will happen again.

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  2. Hey Ru-an, nice article. I think Roger will win this. I totally agree with you except on two little points:
    1) I don’t think Novak will be tired or less fresh than Roger. Novak is a skinny little Superman who seems not to need more than a day of rest.
    2) Roger knows now what to expect of Novak and how to beat him on certain points, but…. so does Novak. He knows Roger will keep the points short and will not want to rally long.
    So, I think Roger will win, but I would not underestimate Novak. He seems to play his best tennis against players not named Rafa or Andy…

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Right. No guarantees Roger will win this. He could easily lose again. Just because I said he can doesn’t mean he will.

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  3. I think we may not expect Roger to win against all odds and against what the organizers of the WTF-event apparently prefer to happen, which is in my view a projected final between the two bests performers of the 2013 season, R. Nadal and N. Djokovic, and Nadal winning the event for the first time.

    Because – seemingly – before the start of this WTF-event they ensured to
    1° make the surface play slower and the ball bounce higher than what it used to be in the past;
    2° put R. Nadal in a very easy group to give him the needed rest;
    3° put Roger and Novak in the more difficult group.
    Roger may have the abilities to win, but will face conditions that really favor the game of his main rivals.
    Given the impact of the above mentioned factors, I expect Nadal to win the WTF this year.

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    Alex Reply:

    I think the balls are bouncing at a good height and they are faster than paris. It will suit Roger nicely. And don’t think ferrer can’t beat Nadal again either.

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    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Wilfried and Alex, I don’t know how, but Rafa will NOT win WTF 2013 !!!
    Trust me, he is good, but not that good.
    Anyone of them (except Gasquet and Berdych) can take him out.
    Definitely a “not so good” Roger…

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    Wilfried Reply:

    Hi Katyani,
    Like you I hope very much that Roger will win this event, but I’m afraid he won’t.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I won’t be so sure about that Wilfried. He may not pass the group stage either. We just don’t know.

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    steve Reply:

    My fingers are crossed, Wilfried. I just hope he makes it to the semifinals, that would be an amazing result considering the year he’s had. Winning the title would be a dream but that’s way too far off right now.

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    Wilfried Reply:

    You could be right, Alex, but I’m not so sure about it.
    I read following observation written on another forum made by a guy who seems to know what he is talking about.
    “Honestly, indoor courts have never bounced this high before. I will eventually have the reasons why on my site, but for now I will just say that last year and this year were the highest bounce ever seen on indoor courts at both Paris and London.
    London is a little lower and slower – but still, this is very hard for Fed. IF they played on old school Carpet, djoko nadal wouldn’t stand a chance against him. If they played on cold mud (Davis Cup in Holland) Fed would wipe out Nadal/Djoko with his mad skills.
    But Medium courts are now the norm. The clay has sped up, the hard and grass have slowed down. On Medium courts outdoors it’s about rallying from the baseline with heavy power and pure physicality.
    Indoors it’s about the Return of Serve.
    Nadal loses on that one – thus the bad indoor record. The two best returners are now in the final here. Case in pt.
    Fed played near perfect for a Set (in Paris). He really had no business being close to Novak in these conditions. Just as Novak would have no business being close to Fed with a lighter ball and lower bouncing court.”
    Have also a look at his website (http://www.tenniscrier.com) to make your own judgment, and pay close attention to the real height of the bounces when Nadal will be playing in London.

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  4. Nadal says it’s unfair that the atp finals is played indoors. well boo hoooooooooooo.

    http://www.espn.co.uk/tennis/sport/story/254473.html

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Then it’s unfair that the French Open is played on clay too.

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    Katyani Reply:

    Which these things he always says… why can’t people figure out that he is a fake and not humble and only out for himself??? Why can’t people see through this?? Roger is not like this, thinks about all the other players too and he gets more critizime than Rafa…. Why??

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  5. Roger is losing and I’m feeling crappy, no way to hit a winner against an amazing retriever like Djokovic even at indoors though the court is not so fast, but the crowd was amazing. However, Roger falling into this video-game like show and not going for his regular aggressive shots often, they are playing tentative with great amount of topspin where Roger’s single handed bh isn’t just good enough, Djokovic can easily draw short balls from there, it’s just as simple as that. I was watching Roger playing Agassi US Open 2005 and level of players in relentless baseline bashing is certainly increased. To win a GS against them, Roger certainly needs bigger racquet next year, though I’m not so interested except maybe Wimbledon and US Open series. footnote: A great level of baseline play from Roger maintaining which he will defeat both Delpo and Gasquet but I’d certainly prefer any 2005 matches.

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  6. Tough opening match for Federer, playing the hottest player on tour as he’s trying to get used to the court and feel his way into the tournament. No rhythm on serve, so had to play too many rallies, used up too much energy just to level it, and then had nothing left for the decider. A common pattern whenever he loses the first set to Djokovic.

    It was a bit of wishful thinking to hope Djokovic would be tired after Paris. He very much wants to defend this title and end the year #1, and he’s clearly taken whatever “special measures” he needs to ensure he stays strong.

    Federer will take some positives from this loss: he fought like a lion just to send the match into the third set. Being broken twice after being a break up and having a set point erased must have been extremely disappointing but he responded by playing a fantastic breaker. It just took too much out of him to do it and then his level fell off, and Djokovic was too solid in the third. Having won that second set might make the difference between qualifying for the semis or going home on Saturday, so it’s important that he did get it. I think it will be a very close race between Federer and Del Potro to see who comes out second in the group.

    This is only the first match, and given that it was against the defending champ, who’s unbeaten since USO, I wouldn’t be too depressed that he lost another close one. If he can up his game he could make it to the semis and then anything could happen from there.

    C’mon Roger!

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    rahan Reply:

    Allez Roger !!!

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  7. I am as disappointed as all other Fedfans but I am not surprised that Djokovic won the close match since he is so desperate to retain the year end ranking of No 1. Of course he is not going to get it since for that to happen Nadal should loose to both Wawrinka and Berdych and Djokovic should win all the matches. Nadal is as desperate not to miss the chance of finishing the third year-end No 1 and he is gifted the easiest of draws from the bunch of 8 players. Nadal may even grab the trophy he is missing so far since Federer does not look capable to halt his quest this time a la 2010 and should Djokovic’s attempt to retain year-end No 1 fail before the final I do not think he will be able to beat Nadal either. However, should Delpotro reach the final and play Nadal he may be able to pull an upset.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    ‘should Djokovic’s attempt to retain year-end No 1 fail before the final I do not think he will be able to beat Nadal either.’

    This sounds to me like you are saying the same thing twice?

    Anyway I doubt Nadal had a chance of winning this. Even though he destroyed Ferrer his match stats was terrible. Djokovic was playing an awful lot better against Fed and at this point I don’t see why you think Nadal can beat Djokovic.

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    mridul1 Reply:

    What I meant to say is that if Djokovic misses on year-end No 1 there may be less motivation for him and he may not be able to push too much. But I may be wrong or may be Djokovic may be even more motivated to defeat the No 1 player to deny him the only trophy he is still missing.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes that sounds more legit. There is no doubt he wants to win the MC, whether he gets #1 or not. He has won 3 straight titles and no doubt he wants London more than any of them. Since Nadal took #1 in Beijing Djokovic has dominated and he will want to keep doing that to show who is the real #1, even if the rankings doesn’t reflect it.

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  8. Roger did well to push Djokovic to 3 sets but he is not looking yet like a player who could win the championships. Compared to a somewhat sub-par Djokovic Roger often looked at the very edge of his game. The Serb was able to find the extra gear, as he does. That used to be what Roger would do. But now he misses too many regulation shots (not to mention the double faults gifting the break of serve), firing forehands well out of court, mishitting volleys and getting overpowered on the backhand. I don’t see a repeat of 2010. But we should at least see a win over Gasquet in the next match.

    I watched the Nadal-Ferrer match. I don’t think the “little bull” could have played much worse in his first round-robin encounter against his more illustrious countryman. After Ferrer’s straight-sets victory last week over Nadal in Paris I could even suspect this latest match had been fixed it was so one-sided, so as to enhance Nadal’s chances of winning the championship and retaining his no.1 ranking. All for the good of Spain.

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  9. Just saw Wawrinka lose yet another set against Nadal, showing once again that only Djokovic and Del Potro have the balls and the game to beat the Spaniard on the big occasion. Stan has incredible shots but often plays the important points badly. His butchered volley on set point, when he was in a winning position in the point, was such an example. The Spaniard meanwhile looks likely to get to the finals without playing anywhere near his best tennis, save one or two spectacular dope-fuelled retrievals, like his ridiculous backhand lob at 5-5 in the tie-break.

    I may not get to see Roger play Gasquet but hopefully Fed will get the win and sharpen up areas of his game that weren’t quite there against Djokovic.

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  10. I am not a highly knowledgeable fan, but I think that the match between WOWrinka and Nadal explains perfectly why you cannot love Rafa style:

    defence defence , defence and pray for the mistake of your opponent.

    The truth is out there:

    TOTAL POINTS WON:
    Nadal 80
    STAN 83

    BREAK POINTS
    Nadal 5
    STAN 7

    WINNERS
    NADAL 14 (from 80 points) – SOO SAD !!!
    STAN 30 (from 83 points)

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