Djokovic Straight Sets Nadal to Set Up Indian Wells Final with Raonic

Since the last time I posted, Djokovic defeated Tsonga 7-6(2), 7-6(2) and Nadal defeated Nishikori 6-4, 6-3 which meant we had the semi-final I hoped for. Tsonga played some unbelievable tennis to take Djokovic to two tiebreaks.

As you can see Djokovic easily won the tiebreaks but Tsonga didn’t make his life easy. In fact, he made it harder than Nadal made Djokovic’s life. Tsonga has a huge forehand and twice on match points in the second set he hit clean winners from that side.

And it wasn’t easy shots. The first one was particularly difficult because there was very little room for error. When Tsonga is on his game he is still by far one of the most dangerous players on tour and I thought Djokovic did a great job of shutting him out in the tiebreaks.

Djokovic has not been at his very best so far in Indian Wells but he is still winning his matches in straight sets against quality opposition. In the other quarterfinal, Nadal defeated an extremely overrated Nishikori.

Nishikori was up 3-1 and 40-15 on Nadal’s serve in the opening set with a very makeable forehand pass to go up a double break and put the first set to bed. But he was tentative and dumped the pass into the net.

Against Nadal you just can’t afford to miss those kinds of opportunities because that is like telling him you don’t want to win. Nadal went on to hold serve and allowed Nishikori only one more game in the set.

Although I thought Nadal did a great job of defeating Nishikori 6-4, 6-3 it just showed me once again how overrated Nishikori is. I mean the guy is #6 in the world but he is just miles behind the top 5.

He has the game but mentally I just don’t rate him and I don’t think he will ever win a slam.

  • Djokovic Improves Head-to-Head with Nadal to 25-23

Well, I thought Nadal had shown some promise again by defeating Nishikori but there was no way in my mind that he was going to beat Djokovic. Nadal now hasn’t won a set against Djokovic in their last seven meetings on hard court.

And the 7-6(5) scoreline in the first set was the first tiebreak in all of those losses. Again, I can’t say that Djokovic was at his very best. Not anything close to his level in Dubai or Australia anyway.

But he is so damn good that even his B game is good enough to beat everyone else in straight sets. Djokovic was not as clinical as he usually is but when it mattered most he won the point again. At 5-4, Nadal had a set point but in his usual clutch way, Djokovic saved it.

Then in the tiebreak, Djokovic should have been up 5-1 at the turn but left the door open for Nadal. At 5-2, he also allowed Nadal back to 5-5 but just as you think Nadal has found a way back Djokovic shut the door right in his face.

It really is quite an enjoyable sight. It must sting Nadal that he had a set point in the first set and ended up losing by a fairly routine scoreline, 7-6(5), 6-2. Nadal has now lost 10 of his last 11 matches against Djokovic.

Nadal will take heart from his performance in Indian Wells though and try to make a serious run on clay again. It will also be interesting to see how he does on the slow courts of Miami where I hear Federer will be back as well.

  • Raonic Comes Through the Bottom Half

When the draw came out the finalist in the bottom half was always going to be decided between Murray, Stan, and Raonic. In the end, Raonic took advantage of quite a favorable draw without having to face either Stan or Murray.

Yesterday he defeated Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 and that was also the first time he dropped a set. So he has been looking pretty good and now we will have the final that I hoped for at the Australian Open this year.

Djokovic leads the head-to-head 5-0 and Raonic has only ever won one set against him so there doesn’t appear to be much hope for Raonic. Djokovic is not a good matchup for Raonic because he relies so heavily on his serve and Djokovic is the best returner of serve in history.

I’m very much looking forward to the contest anyway. It is always fun to see a great server up against a great returner. Raonic has also come a long way and if he wasn’t so plagued by injuries he would probably be top five by now.

He is a dangerous player with his huge serve, big forehand, and pretty clutch mentality. It should be another very enjoyable match!

  • Highlights


Posted in Indian Wells, Masters 1000.

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