Kyrgios Breaks Djokovic’s 19-Match Winning Streak in Indian Wells

The record 19-match winning streak had to end eventually. It’s just a shame it didn’t happen against someone likable. Like Del Potro. Then again, beating Del Potro in consecutive events was important for Djokovic.

A lot is being made of Djokovic losing in consecutive events to Kyrgios but no one seemed to notice that Del Potro, another great player, lost even earlier than Djokovic in consecutive events, against Djokovic.

It’s all about what you focus on. The media will focus on the losses to Kyrgios but Djokovic will focus on defeating Del Potro consecutively and doing so more convincingly the second time around.

He can go to Miami with plenty of confidence where he holds the record with Agassi of 6 titles. And surely this time he will get a better draw. Or else we will know for sure they rig the draws. With a good result in Miami, he can go into the clay court season on a high and start dominating again on a slow surface.

As for the match against Kyrgios, I needed some time to digest it. Djokovic dropped serve in the opening game and hit a couple of reverse backhands in the next game which I have never seen from him.

The whole first set he appeared disinterested and when he lost it 6-4 he smashed his racquet. That seemed to release some tension and he started playing better but it took his best clutch tennis just to force a tiebreak which he lost 7-3.

At first, I couldn’t figure out what happened but I never bought the explanation that he just didn’t care. Djokovic is too driven and intelligent for that. I think he was trying to get into Kyrgios’ head but Kyrgios was unplayable again.

His serving was off the charts again serving 14 aces and second serve aces or unreturnable second serves. Djokovic didn’t see a single break point and even from the baseline, Kyrgios was winning the longer exchanges.

It reminded me of Sampras who often served second serve aces when in trouble. But Kyrgios was never even in trouble on his serve. And that against the best returner of serve in history. Kyrgios is tall at 1.93 m which gives him an advantage on the serve but he is not so tall that it hampers his movement.

His movement and defense were very good. I don’t know how you beat that unless you have a similar serve which of course Federer has so the matchup suits him better. You can’t return what you can’t reach. Whether you are the greatest returner in history makes no difference.

Kyrgios is clearly not a good matchup for Djokovic in a sport of matchups. This is why they slowed down the courts after the ‘boring nineties’ or else the returner has zero chance. They sped up the courts in Melbourne a lot this year and I hope that doesn’t become a trend.

If you have guys pounding down ace after ace it gives them not only an unfair advantage, but it is also awfully boring for the spectators. Believe me, I know. I watched tennis in the nineties. That is why I switched from being a Sampras fan to being an Agassi fan.

  • Federer Three-Peats Against Nadal

Finally, there seems to be life in this rivalry again. That hasn’t been the case since 2009 probably. Federer defeated Nadal with ease 6-2, 6-3 for s third straight time. He finally seems to have found the solution.

One would have thought that the slower Indian Wells courts would favor Nadal but, of course, Federer has defeated Nadal at Indian Wells before. On that occasion, the score was 6-3, 6-4. The key this time again was Federer’s backhand which he is hitting earlier and cleaner.

The rivalry is still heavily in Nadal’s favor and it seems that Nadal has declined before Federer even though there is a five-year difference in age but at least there is life in the rivalry again which is good for tennis.

Against Nadal, Federer played as well as ever and as I have said a million times before he has declined very little if at all. The competition has caught up so he is not as dominant as he once was but he is playing as well as ever. If not better than ever.

Fedfans deny this because they don’t like the idea that Federer at his best could lose so much to Djokovic but the fact is Djokovic’s level in 2015-2016 was the highest level of tennis ever played which is why it was the most dominant run in history in which he won the personal slam.

But I’m sure now that Federer has won another slam and defeated his nemesis three consecutive times for the first time Fedfans won’t have any problem to admit that he is still playing at an incredibly high level.

Federer plays Kyrgios in a couple of hours and I expect him to win that and the tournament now. His serve will help him not to get broken the way Djokovic did and the same goes for when they enter the tiebreak.

The one time they met which was on clay in Madrid they went to three tiebreaks which is not surprising. It is just a serving contest which is kinda boring but at least the tiebreaks are interesting.

I guess the match can go either way but my gut feeling says Federer wins. Kyrgios lost to Querrey after he beat Djokovic in Acapulco. I don’t think he has ever beaten two top quality players in succession.

It is possible that he won’t be interested at all and just tanks like he so often does.

  • Highlights

Posted in Indian Wells, Masters 1000.

23 Comments

  1. It’s pretty clear that Federer has massively declined.

    Watch any video from 2004-2007 and you can see how much faster he moved then and how much more explosive his forehand was compared to now. Back then his defence was incredible, if you stretched him out wide to his forehand he would be there and cleanly hit the forehand back with interest. Now (and in the last numbers of years) he is much slower moving to his right, resulting in many more ‘squash shots’. His backhand was also better then. It’s just that Nadal is so slow now.

    The decline shouldn’t really surprise us – players usually are at their best in their 20s. Federer is 35 now and there is a reason he’s the oldest ever to win a grand slam, with the exception of Ken Rosewall back in the 70s.

    The reason he is still able to make finals, semi-finals on a regular basis is simply that his prime was so great that even a decline from that is still a decent player. And secondly the field is diabolical – we are in 2017 and yet to see a player born in the 90s winning a slam.

    There is also a results based proof that he has declined. From 2004-2007 he went 315-24 which is a 93% win rate. Since then he has gone 536 – 111 – which is an 83% win rate – still great but nowhere near as good as before.

    There is a theory that Nadal/Djokovic/Murray improving caused that drop and not Federer declining.

    If this is true we would expect Federer’s results against the rest of the field to stay the same (arguably improve since the field strength is awful with now).

    So without Nadal Djokovic Murray from 2004-2007, Federer is 305-14 – 96% win rate against the remaining field. From 2008 onwards this changes to 500-64 – an 89% win rate.
    This is further proof of his decline.

    I have attached some links to prime fed to remind all of the level he used to play that he can no longer reach.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6wcPHgONtFI

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yZsdoK2DTRM

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    ‘From 2004-2007 he went 315-24 which is a 93% win rate. Since then he has gone 536 – 111 – which is an 83% win rate’

    That’s because the field from 2004-2007 was diabolical. Infinitely worse than it is now.

    ‘So without Nadal Djokovic Murray from 2004-2007, Federer is 305-14 – 96% win rate against the remaining field. From 2008 onwards this changes to 500-64 – an 89% win rate.
    This is further proof of his decline.’

    Again, that is because the field is stronger now. You are only proving my previous point that the field is improved. 19-year old Djokovic defeated Federer in his so-called prime in the 2007 Canada masters final. Then did so again at the start of 2008 at the AO. It is no coincidence that Federer stopped dominating after 2007. Decent opposition in the form of Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray arrived. Hell, even Murray led the h2h with Federer 6-2 at one point.

    You claim that Federer was at his peak from 2004-2007 when the field was a joke but when Djokovic dominated even more in 2015-2016 the field was ‘diabolical’. Not only did Djokovic face a better field than Federer from 2004-2007 but he played higher ranked opponents as well.

    No matter how you spin it, Djokovic’s peak level beats Federer’s peak level so it’s no surprise he leads him 3-1 in slam finals, 9-6 in slams, and 23-21 overall. He is a more complete player with better mental strength. Deal with it.

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  2. You said “Against Nadal, Federer played as well as ever and as I have said a million times before he has declined very little if at all. The competition has caught up so he is not as dominant as he once was but he is playing as well as ever. If not better than ever.”

    Curious to know what you think of Nadal’s form in the past 3 years or so. The competition caught up with him too, I suppose, after Rosol, Stan , Kyrgios et al showed the rest of them that he is beatable ?

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Nadal has declined for sure. Given his extremely taxing game style that is only to be expected. He also doesn’t have the ability like Federer to adapt his game. Too one-dimensional.

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  3. I actually like Nick a lot. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are these typical main stream sportsmen trying to please everybody. I hate main stream, sorry …

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Djokovic is a typical mainstream sportsman trying to please everybody? =)) Now I’ve really heard it all. What you think of as outside mainstream is just an obnoxious brat. But I would agree that Federer and Nadal are typical mainstream sportsman trying to please everyone.

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  4. I don’t think Nick is a brat. To me he seems like a pretty sensitive guy who is just too young and scared to show his light. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have foundations, say the usual political correct sentences, Djokovic also talks about healthy nutrition and that everything happens for a reason all the time. Now he and Fed also do this boyband stuff… In common sense that is main stream. But if you see it different, no problem. Nice blog btw.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks, and yes we see it very differently which is fine I agree.

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  5. 1. I agree with you Ru-an, Roger hasn’t declined as much as people think. In fact, I believe that his highest level now is better than before. The only thing that 04-07 Fed has over the 15-17 Fed is consistency. The lack of the consistency causes him to dip more during matches. But besides that and maybe a half step of speed nothing else. I can’t name one shot that he does worse now than before. If you know one then please share.
    2. Novak’s losses are hard to judge fairly. He had his racket taken out of his hands twice. There was nothing he could have done. A clear test will be Miami and the clay court season. If he loses at Miami and has a poor clay court season then big changes in his camp are needed.
    3. Lastly, I do believe Roger has turned this rivalry around in terms of tactics. Nadal needs to change his tactics the next time they play. I honestly don’t know what he can change besides going for more on his shots. He doesn’t have the athleticism anymore to run all over the court. But whatever he decides I have some advice for him, Don’t wait 13 years.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Nice to hear your thoughts as usual Sttyre. I think Federer figuring out Nadal has a lot to do with Nadal’s decline while Federer is still playing close to or better than peak level. Federer’s loss of step has been made up for by a better serve and the reason he doesn’t perform as consistently as 04-07 is because the field is stronger.

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    Sttyre Reply:

    I forgot to mention this in the comment.
    1. I don’t understand why people can’t admit that 2015-16 and 2011 Djokovic is best overall player we have seen so far. The proof is in the statistics. This is coming from a Federer fan. As a tennis fan it would be terrible if Roger’s level from 04-07 was the best ever because that means tennis as a sport stood still in level. Roger’s level was a stepping stone for Nadal to surpass. And Nadal’s level was a stepping stone for Novak to surpass. And I’m most certain that one day even Novak’s level will be passed. It’s the nature of sport.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    It’s just this Federer cult thing which unbalanced tennis fans are a part of. For them, Federer is perfect in every way. A divine being. I’m sure Djokovic’s level will be surpassed too eventually but it may take a while to be as dominant as he was from 2015-16 that included the most dominant season ever and the personal slam. Someone will have to win the calendar slam to surpass it and that may just be impossible.

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    TennisLiger Reply:

    2015-2016 Djokovic got manhandled by Wawrinka at the French open and US Open. How can that happen if he was at the highest level ever?

    Secondly, you say the field is much stronger now. If that’s the case why are we still yet to have a grand slam winner born in the 90s and we are in 2017? Field is actually awful.

    Thirdly to win the French it wasn’t exactly the hardest draw. Beating Thiem in semis and Murray in finals is not really an indicator that his level had to be anything special.

    You only say that Federer is at his peak because it suits your argument re Djokovic.

    It’s totally unrealistic to expect a 35 year old to be at his peak. Prime fed 2004-7 was just so good that even a significant decline means he’s still good enough to get to the top in the current weak field.

    Lastly the Nadal that Federer had to contend with from 2005-7 was far greater than the pathetic Nadal that Djokovic had to face from 2015 onwards.

    That Nadal lost to Verdasco at Australian, Brown at Wimbledon, berdych at Australian, Fognini at US open 2015 and Pouille at 2016 US Open.

    [Reply]

    Eren Reply:

    One thing is for sure. Djokovic has a 3-4 record in Slam finals because they only played two Slam finals at the FO. Hell, if Djokovic had to go through Nadal in a FO final in 2006-2008, he would have been destroyed/beaten in straight sets by Nadal.

    They did play twice during that period, I think 2006 and 2008 (not sure though). If that would have been a final, then LOL if anyone thinks Djokovic would have won against Nadal.

    Prime Nadal on clay in 4 FO finals against Djokovic, would be a 4-0 H2H in favour of Nadal for sure. Even a lesser Nadal and a way better Djokovic battled in 2012 and 2014. Both 4 setters and 2-0 to Nadal.

    Even the most delusional Djokovic fan would have nothing to argue against.

    But still, Djokovic does a WAY better job than Federer at beating Nadal on clay. That still stands.

    The closest FO final I have ever seen when Nadal was at the opposite side of the net, was the FO 2011 final. That could have gone either way as every set was very close. All the other eight finals were vintage Nadal, eventually.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    The 2011 FO final was never in doubt. Just like any other FO meeting between Federer and Nadal. Djokovic, on the other hand, would have defeated Nadal that year had Federer not played the best match of his entire 2011 season in the semis.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    ‘One thing is for sure. Djokovic has a 3-4 record in Slam finals because they only played two Slam finals at the FO.’

    I just had to say something about this statement as well – it’s total nonsense. The only reason Djokovic doesn’t own Nadal in slams as well is exactly because they met so many times at the FO. More than Federer and Nadal did even. But at least he eventually crushed him like a bug in straight sets, something Federer couldn’t do if Nadal was in a wheelchair.

    [Reply]

    Eren Reply:

    “The only reason Djokovic doesn’t own Nadal in slams as well is exactly because they met so many times at the FO. More than Federer and Nadal did even.”

    I am talking about Slam FINALS. Nadal and Federer met 4 times whereas Djokovic and Nadal only met twice in FO finals.

    “Djokovic, on the other hand, would have defeated Nadal that year had Federer not played the best match of his entire 2011 season in the semis.”

    Maybe, maybe not. Who knows? My statement about Djokovic losing in a FO final between 2005-2008 has some credibility as Djokovic actually lost in lesser stages against Nadal at the FO in those years.

    “But at least he eventually crushed him like a bug in straight sets, something Federer couldn’t do if Nadal was in a wheelchair.”

    First of all, Djokovic won against a pathetic Nadal in a QF on his seventh attempt. Second, Federer never faced a pathetic Nadal in a QF at the FO. Federer has to face a Nadal in a wheelchair at the FO to see what happens.

    Anyway, if there is someone who can actually defeat Nadal in a FO final, it’s Djokovic. I just don’t think their QF meeting is very representative of Nadal’s skills on clay. Just like the 2006 meeting between the two holds zero weight if you want to predict how Djokovic is going to perform against Nadal at the FO nowadays.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Ok 😃

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I can come up with a counter-argument against everything you said but frankly, I don’t have the time nor the inclination. Believe what you have to. You will anyway.

    [Reply]

    TennisLiger Reply:

    Hi Sttyre,

    ‘I can’t name one shot that he does worse now than before. If you know one then please share.’

    Forehand was a lethal weapon is his prime and merely very good now. You alluded to his movement declining and that is huge. Totally changes the level of any player when their movement drops.

    If you are indeed a Federer fan please watch highlights of Rome 2006 French open finals on YouTube. The first set should be enough. Let me know what you think after that. Thanks.

    [Reply]

    Sttyre Reply:

    Hi TennisLiger,

    I went and watched those matches and I can conclude that roger’s forehand looked great. The Pro Staff 6.1 90 BLX was literally an extension of his right arm. But do you really think his forehand is worse now? In my first comment I mentioned Roger’s lack of consistency during matches. I believe that this explains the forehand. Roger can still hit the forehand like he use to, just not as consistently. Another reason could be the different style he plays now. Roger now plays with a more attacking style. Consequently, the margins are smaller.

    P.S. I also want to respond to your previous comment. Here are my thoughts in order.
    1. Between 04-07 Roger lost a total of 24 matches. Being the best doesn’t make you invincible. Same for Novak.
    2. Roger’s last year of dominating the slams was 2009. That year he was 27-28 years old. Novak was also 27-28 when he dominated in 2015-2016. This means that technically 2017 is the first year where someone new is suppose to win. (This topic has been blown out of proportion because of the same people winning so many slams).
    3, I never diminish a player for winning. Unless cheating was involved.
    4. I hate it when people call an era weak. That diminishes the accomplishments achieved by the players. It is an excuse for why a player is winning the vast majority of tournaments.
    5. I believe level now is better than before. If you believe otherwise then that is your opinion and I’ll respect that.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I couldn’t have said it any better myself, Sttyre. I hate it when ppl call an era weak too. I find it laughable and arrogant that Fedfans would call the current era weak when the 2004-07 era was even weaker. I would never use the words ‘weak era’ under normal conditions but Fedfans are just begging for it.

    And the reason they diminish Djokovic’s era and his accomplishments is because of their insecurity. It couldn’t be more obvious. They know Djokovic achieved things Federer couldn’t and it eats them up inside. Sad!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

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