Today Nadal continued his return to form with probably his best win of the year in a 6-2, 6-1 destruction of Stan. I made sure to watch this one because I was expecting a competitive match, but Stan was a disappointment. As soon as Nadal got the first break to take a 4-2 lead he collapsed. He showed very little fight which seems to be a hallmark of Swiss players. They certainly don’t seem to cope well when they are not in control and dominating proceedings.
Both Stan and Federer have tremendous offenses but when players like Djokovic and Nadal make their lives difficult they are not always up for the fight. Stan just basically tanked when he saw that Nadal was back to his relentless best. It was unfortunate for the tournament and the spectators. But credit to Nadal for not giving Stan any hope to get back into the match after he gained the advantage. He seems to be back to his best now.
Personally, I don’t mind that at all. Tennis needs a change at the top after the Djokerer rivalry has reached a kind of plateau for the time being. I’d still love to see at least one Djokerer meeting during the fall but with Nadal back in the fray it just makes things that much more interesting. Nadal now plays Tsonga who had a hard-fought 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-4 victory over Anderson. Anderson was serving at 6-4 in the first set tie-break but failed to kill and that cost him the match.
So after praising him yesterday for his mental progress he regressed back to his old ways but still a good week for him where he justified his top ten status that he received at the beginning of the week. Nadal leads the head-to-head with Tsonga 8-3 and they haven’t met for more than two years. Tsonga loves the court speed in Shanghai with his offensive game, but I think Nadal will win again. He’s got the momentum now and looks very determined and confident.
- The Top Half
In the top half of the draw, Tomic was the first guy since the beginning of Beijing who took more than three games in a set off Djokovic, as Djokovic won 7-6(6), 6-1. I watched and Tomic was just rampant in the first set. Djokovic was not quite at his best, but his mental strength got him through the tie-break after which Tomic ran out of gas. Murray then destroyed Berdych 6-1, 6-3 to set up Djokoray 29.0. Djokovic currently leads the head-to-head 19-9 having lost the last meeting in the Montreal final.
So I guess a little revenge will be on order for Djokovic here. The last time they met in Shanghai was in the 2012 final where Djokovic won a thrilling encounter 5-7, 7-6(11), 6-3 after saving five championship points. It would be nice to see something similar, but I’ll take any victory for Djokovic. Murray has done well this week to stretch his lead in the race over Federer to more than 1000 points so I think he has done his job. Anything else will be more like a bonus for him.
Djokovic in his current form should certainly be the favorite. There is no doubt in my mind that the confidence he has showed since Beijing was because of the US Open final. Before the US Open, I started talking about how important that tournament was for him to win and especially with what he had to deal with in the final that win made him feel invincible. Contrary to burning him out, it energized him and he is still on track for chalking up the greatest tennis season in history.
- The Djokovic Mental Strength
The is in your court.