French Open Day 7: Djokovic Finishes Off Del Potro 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2

I felt like making a post about day 7 of the French Open since Djokovic’s win was pretty important in the big scheme of things. First of all he has surpassed Roger’s winning streak of 41, which Fedfans may not be too happy about. But lets be good sports and give credit where it’s due. Djokovic has simply been incredible this year. I don’t mind giving him credit because his game is quite graceful. Not as graceful as Roger of course, but he is not a moonballer like Nadal. Some people is of the opinion that he is a grinder like Nadal, but this is simply not true. He plays both defensive and attacking tennis equally well. He doesn’t put inhumane amounts of spin on the ball either to grind opponents down. He definitely has more dimensions to his game than Nadal. One wonders how his current level compares with Roger’s prime.

Well they played in the final of Montreal in 2007 when both players were at a pretty high level, and Djokovic won 7-6 in the third. This doesn’t mean Djokovic’s peak is better than Roger’s peak, but it does show what promise Djokovic has showed from early on. I happened to see that match and it was a fantastic match. Djokovic’s level is something ridiculous at the moment, but we know how good Roger was in his prime. It’s hard to compare either way. I am simply appreciating what Djokovic is doing at the moment. I don’t want to be so biased as to just keep hoping that Djokovic’s streak ends, instead of appreciating what he is doing. The fact that he is never gonna have the resume that Roger has and that he plays a game that is watchable makes it easier to do so. Lets get back to the match. Djokovic again showed he is the real deal by finishing off Del Potro today in two quick sets.

This delighted me, and not because I am now all of a sudden Djokovic fan. I will always be firstly a Fedfan. I don’t even particularly like Djokovic, but I have already explained why I can appreciate what he is doing. I need him to remain in the draw and keep the pressure on Nadal. I think with this win he has made it clear that he is not going anywhere soon. He remains the favorite for the title. Del Potro played really well, but Djokovic has shown that not even the biggest hitter on tour can bother him. He has it all covered. I feel sorry for Del Potro that he got this draw. If he played Nadal in the third round for instance he would have had a great chance. But we know how lucky Nadal is with his draws. He played the number 227 in the world today, and won easily. Nonetheless, he didn’t impress me, and remains as vulnerable as ever.

He now faces Ljubicic, who took out another seed for Nadal. Either way I don’t think Verdasco had much of a chance. For sure Ljubicic will put up a better fight than Veic did today, but it’s hard to see him beat Nadal. If it was hard court it may have been a different story, but you would expect Nadal to make quarters now. I don’t mind either, because there he will probably face Soderling. That will be a mouthwatering encounter after what happened in 2009. Soderling will definitely have his chances to take out Nadal again, which would devastate Nadal. There is no love lost between the two, and it would be humiliating for Nadal to lose to Soderling again at the French. If Nadal loses before the final that would also allow me to be 100% behind Roger for once. You didn’t think I would support Djokovic if Nadal didn’t make the final, did you?

I hope you know me better than that! My ideal scenario is if Nadal loses before Roger has to play Djokovic in the semi’s. That way I can just support Roger to win the title. But either way it will be very difficult for him to pass Djokovic. It looks very much now like Djokovic will make semis. He plays Gasquet next and then the winner of Montanes and Fognini. It looks a bit harder for Roger though as he would have to get by a very in form Ferrer in the quarters. The big problem for Roger if he faces Djokovic will be his backhand. Also the fact that Djokovic has probably the best returns in the world won’t help. Even if Roger serves amazingly well, Djokovic will probably still get it into play and start working at Roger’s backhand. It is just such a liability these days that it can’t be overlooked, especially when you have someone like Djokovic or Nadal who can expose it.

We will have to see what happens against Ferrer. I think Roger can probably still handle him because Ferrer can’t exploit Roger’s backhand that much. He is too limited himself. So in the bottom half it probably comes down to a Roger/Djokovic semi. I would be very satisfied with a semi for Roger after his clay court season so far and after what happened last year. Anything more than a semi would be a huge(and pleasant) surprise to me. The top half is a little more uncertain. The fact that Djokovic is still in the draw and looking very good will no doubt play on Nadal’s mind. This makes him susceptible for a possible loss against Soderling or Murray. I say Murray because he is the favorite to make semis with his cakewalk draw. Murray actually twisted his ankle pretty badly today, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it bothers him further, given Nadal’s luck in draws.

But I am nonetheless hoping he makes semis to test Nadal if he is still there. OK that is my wrap for the day. This is certainly turning out to be one of the most interesting French Open’s in a long time. A word of thanks to Djokovic for the major role that he played in breaking into Nadal’s head. Who knows, Roger may yet capitalize!


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17 Comments

  1. Couldn’t watch the match but the result speaks for itself. With this convincing win Djokovic improved his invincibility aura and will make it to the semis. I agree with you that Nadal for sure feels the pressure.
    Regarding Federer, I wouldn’t look ahead beyond the next round. We really don’t know which Federer will show up. That’s how things have been in the last 5 month. If Federer lost to Melzer and Gasquet he can lose to Wawrinka and Ferrer. I do hope he’ll make it to the semis.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Right TD. I am being maybe a bit too positive here. Roger could indeed lose to Wawrinka or Ferrer. Guess im judging by his form is this event so far and the fact that this is a slam.

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  2. @Ruan, Roger won 41 consecutive matches, Novak is at number 40. As far as Federer’s backhand it is looking better and I think his errors are less off his backhand than they were at Madrid or Barcelona per game. All I am saying is, is that his errors have dropped a little and his serve is better. It seems that his confidence is higher and he is playing more aggressive. I hope he can continue to improve more little by little and gain more confidence with more wins. I will take one game at a time and try not to think of hypothetical scenarios between Rafa and Novak and Murray and anyone else that might beat Federer. I choose to think positive no matter what the odds point to. Federer is playing good and I am hoping to see some more than just good from him in the upcoming rounds.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Ok, you guys are right. I should think positive no matter what.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Djokovic have won 42 consecutive matches, including 2 last year.

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    Dave Reply:

    Can you include the Davis Cup into consecutive wins? I thought that was outside of ATP tournaments stats.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah i think so. Players get ranking points for DC these days. Either way the streak is recognized as 42.

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  3. Ru-an, if we have to endure some high-profile defeats now, it is a small price to pay for the delight Federer has given us and his incredible successes.

    If my primary goal was to avoid disappointment, I’d switch allegiance to whoever happened to be winning at the moment. Last year I’d be a Nadal fan, this year I’d be a Djokovic fan.

    That way I would always be happy, or more precisely, never be sad. But that would be a crass and mercenary way to live, and ultimately rather empty.

    As a fan I feel obligated to take the bad with the good. And I root for him to go as far as he can, always. I won’t deliberately lower my expectations merely in order to avoid disappointment, or hope for a certain scenario to occur in order that his records be preserved.

    Federer’s legacy is already imperishable; that will become even clearer with time. He will continue to add to it for the next several years. So this is the time to root for him to go as far as he can on every occasion, because he won’t be around forever.

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    BA Reply:

    Very well said, Steve.
    This negative talk is all wrong wrong wrong.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Its debatable whether its negativity or just realism.

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    Babel Reply:

    Agree with every word, Steve. I was going to post something along the same lines. But you’re far more eloquent.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Right Steve. I still appreciate what Djokovic is doing though. I am first of all a tennis fan.

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    Nelson Goodman Reply:

    Ditto Babel – well said Steve. I would only add that Fed is also giving us precisely what many were hoping even with lower expectations: brilliant displays of sui generis tennis in the early rounds thus far. Including today’s win over Wawrinka, where he had twice as many backhand winners as Stan!!

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  4. I will never ever be a fan of Novak nor Rafa! Their style and the way they both play is sooo far from the genius, mastery and elegance of Roger! No comparison whatsoever! I am not sure where both gets their incredible stamina and new found strenght, in the case of Novak! I am afraid when Roger meets Novak as the way Novak plays these days is soooo not human! He was like a monster against Del Potro yesterday! Having said that, win or lose for Roger, RF forever and ever!

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    Nelson Goodman Reply:

    Let’s just hope, Andrew, that team Fed is cooking up a game plan for the Nole match (assuming/hoping Fed gets past a very in-form Ferrer). If anyone get beat this Nole, it’s our Fed. Especially if he varies up the shots.

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  5. Also, 28 straight Slam quarters!! Officially the new record (Connors had 27 straight, but in that run a number of AO’s were skipped).

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    anewor Reply:

    I am delighted that Roger reached the quarters! That is the only thing I wished for lately for him to maintain his record! Beyond the quarters is a bonus for me! Keep it coming Roger!

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