- Murray Wins the Fourth Set
So today the Djoker and Murray was back after play got suspended yesterday at 3-3 in the fourth set. Both players looked confident in their early service games as only one point went against serve in the first four games. Then at 5-5 Murray started winning the long baseline rallies again and got the break after an unforced error from the Djoker. All of s sudden he was taking control of the match, and held serve to square things up at a set all. At this point I thought he would win the match.
I had seen no inclination from the Djoker to change his tactics and to me it seemed like the momentum had permanently swung in the favor of Murray. All he had to do was stay consistent from the baseline and the Djoker would keep making errors without being able to end points due to lack of power and variety. The Djoker was not able to hit through the court like Stan for instance while Murray, on the other hand, was pushing and retrieving like peak Nadal and the Djoker kept making unforced errors.
- Djokovic Changes Gears
At the beginning of the deciding set the Djoker steadied the ship with a service hold, but only just after the game went to deuce. I still thought he was in serious trouble, but almost out of the blue he broke Murray in the next game and held serve to take a 3-0 lead. Murray then held serve and that was the last game he won in the match, as the Djoker breadsticked him. Just like that it was all over. The Djoker has this extraordinary ability to look down and out and then change gears to finish his opponent off.
Almost like he plays within himself all the time in case he needs an extra gear at some point. It’s quite extraordinary and I have never seen anything like it. It’s like he gives the opposition hope and then snatches that hope away right in front of them again. He did it to Roger in Indian Wells this year and Wimbledon last year. He did it to Murray in Miami and Melbourne this year and now he did it again. He basically just began hitting Murray off the court, where up until then he lacked the power to do so.
Not sure if focused enough
At 3-1 and 30-0, he hit a blistering forehand winner after a long rally. He was hitting more winners off the ground and approaching the net more often too. Murray made sure he tested the questionable Djokovic smash, but it held up well. Where was this tennis in the third and fourth sets?! I guess he was just teasing Murray, making him believe he had a chance before crushing his hopes in the fifth set. I’m not complaining. I can’t stand Murray’s relentless retrieving and pushing.
That reminds me way too much of Nadal, and nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing that kind of anti-tennis getting destroyed by an attacking player. That said, I do think Murray did very well to get back into the match. I really thought he figured the Djoker out this time. But now it looks more like the Djoker is beginning to own him. At least it seems he is coming closer, but how many big matches can you lose to a guy before you develop a mental block against him?
- Final Preview
For the first time since 2009 we will have a French Open final that doesn’t include Nadal. What a joy! But besides that we will have a final between two players who play attacking and watchable tennis. It is the final I hoped for, but at the same time I am torn because I want both players to win the title. I want the Djoker to win the title to finally complete the career slam after all the heartbreak he suffered in Paris, none more so than the 2013 semi-final where he had Nadal at his mercy.
Clearly if anyone deserves it then it is him, but on the other hand Stan may never get this opportunity again and I’d love him to win the French too. At least if he does not win the title then he would have already silenced many critics who said the Melbourne run was a fluke. He clearly has the game to beat the very best. It is just a question of stringing enough wins together for a week or two. Consistency is his main problem. There has never been any doubt about his ability since winning the Australian Open.
In Stan, the Djoker faces a very different challenge that he faced against Murray. The big thing today was that he won the fifth set quickly. Ideally he would have wanted to win in four sets, but given how quickly the fifth set went it was more like a nice practice session. I don’t think physically there will be a problem for him. Maybe if it is another long five-setter. His draw was always a monster and if he was gonna win the title it was almost going to take a monumental effort anyway.
I think he is on a mission. He wants to get this career slam behind him once and for all and with his seemingly mystical recovery abilities it is hard to go against him. But he has already lost to Stan in Stanimal mode in Melbourne last year which is even a better surface for him than clay, so it is just as hard to go against Stan too. His offensive abilities are right there at the top when he is in his current mode. This could well be another epic five-setter like in Melbourne.
And if that happens then the Djoker is the one with the physical disadvantage. I really don’t know. This one is very difficult to call. Stan will play his usual attacking game. That is what he knows and it is so good that he doesn’t need to change it. The Djoker, on the other hand, can attack and defend equally well. He will try to absorb Stan’s powerful strokes and when the chance presents itself play attacking tennis of his own. He will try to catch Stan off balance with his lethal returns too.
Stan will not be able to get as many free points off his serve or be able to finish the point as quickly as against other players. The Djoker will return his powerful serve with interest and do the same off the ground with the backhand of doom. It will be one terrific contest between offensive and defensive tennis, but the Djoker does not defend like Murray for instance by retrieving relentlessly. He has unreal control on the return and backhand. Stan can hit a big serve or groundstroke thinking he is about to win the point.
But the ball comes back which completely neutralizes the attacking stroke, or more than that it turns into an attacking stroke that wins the point itself. So if Stan is going to win he will need more patience than usual. He will need to be mentally prepared to hit many balls. But he has done it before so he will know what to expect. It has to be said that the Djoker’s serve, net play, and forehand has probably improved since their meeting in Melbourne so that could make the difference. He also has a great drop shot to surprise Stan and keep him guessing.
It’s should be an absolute cracker!
The is in your court.