Thiem Scores Big Win Over Djokovic at French Open

Congrats to Thiem for defeating Djokovic 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-0 in the French Open quarterfinals today. It’s been a long time coming and I’m very happy for him. He’s probably been the second best clay court player after Nadal this season so he deserves it.

He was the better player on the day. Simple as that. I started hyping Thiem up on this blog before he won his first tournament and it is nice to see how he developed over time. I’m more excited about Zverev’s future now but Thiem will probably win a French Open at some point.

I don’t think it’s happening this year, though. Nadal has been the favorite since the beginning and he still is. Even if Djokovic had won today Nadal would still have been the favorite, but today showed once again how important momentum is.

Thiem has won more during the clay court season than Djokovic and today it paid off. Nadal won the most since Monte Carlo and although Stan can come out of nowhere and play unbelievable tennis I don’t think even him at his best can stop Nadal.

It’s a tougher matchup for Stan than Djokovic is for instance. Nadal’s forehand goes cross-court to Stan’s one-handed backhand and although it is a great shot I’m not sure it can handle the spin and bounce of Nadal’s forehand on clay all that well.

If Nadal defeats Thiem then I hope for a Stan vs Nadal final anyway. I don’t think Murray, who defeated Nishikori 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(7), 6-1 today, would stand much of a chance against Nadal. But you never know, and Murray has done well to pull himself together for the French Open with the lack of momentum coming into the event.

As for Thiem, he trails the head-to-head with Nadal 2-4 and actually has two wins on clay over Nadal so I am just hoping for a competitive match.

Nadal crushed everyone so far and today Busta withdrew after trailing 2-6, 0-2. I was obviously disappointed when my favorite Djokovic lost today but there is plenty of good tennis left. Last year Murray defeated Stan in the semis in four sets.

This year Stan will be looking to turn that result around. Stan has been in blistering form himself in Paris and crushed Cilic 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 today. He hasn’t dropped a set himself but Nadal has dropped way fewer games.

Nadal just looks destined to win La Decima #nojinx 😉

Who will win Nadal vs Thiem?

  • Nadal in 4 (33%, 35 Votes)
  • Thiem in 4 (22%, 23 Votes)
  • Nadal in 3 (20%, 21 Votes)
  • Thiem in 5 (15%, 16 Votes)
  • Nadal in 5 (10%, 11 Votes)
  • Thiem in 3 (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 106

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Who will win Murray vs Wawrinka?

  • Wawrinka in 4 (50%, 47 Votes)
  • Wawrinka in 3 (16%, 15 Votes)
  • Wawrinka in 5 (14%, 13 Votes)
  • Murray in 4 (12%, 11 Votes)
  • Murray in 5 (6%, 6 Votes)
  • Murray in 3 (2%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 94

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Quarterfinals are Set as the French Open Moves Into Its Business End

I’m done with exams in time to blog about the business end of the 2017 French Open which promises to be an exciting few days. For once, Murray and Wawrinka have come to play which adds to the intrigue.

Lendl joined Murray in Paris which must have had a positive effect because he has been playing more like a world number one for once. He defeated Del Potro in straight sets and today he defeated the promising youngster Khachanov 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

He plays Nishikori next who defeated Verdasco 0-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 today. Quite a scoreline. It was a good comeback from Nishikori who will be a real test for Murray. But given the way Murray has been playing, he is probably the favorite.

That could give us a rematch of last year’s semi-final between Stan and Murray because Stan is the favorite over Cilic too. But let’s see what happens in the top half quarterfinals first which will be played on Wednesday.

  • Bottom Half

The bottom half is where the likely 2017 French Open winner will come from because you have Nadal, Djokovic, and Thiem there. Nadal is still the favorite for the title as he has been all clay court season long probably.

But fortunately, Djokovic has done well enough for it not to be a foregone conclusion. He has blown some much-needed life into an otherwise very predictable and boring clay court season by gradually improving with every event he played despite having very little room to work with.

Then he also gained the services of tennis legend Andre Agassi after contacting him after he lost in Monte Carlo to thank him for his support in the media. Agassi came to Paris to work with Djokovic in the first week and had to leave after Djokovic’s third match due to a family trip that had been arranged beforehand.

But I think just the fact that the two got together already means an enormous amount to Djokovic. The problem for Djokovic has been mostly mental as it usually is with a confidence crises and Agassi’s presence and support will do a lot for Djokovic’s mental stability and confidence.

Djokovic plays Thiem tomorrow who he destroyed 6-1, 6-0 in Rome but on that occasion, Thiem had beaten Nadal in the previous round which would have taken a lot out of him while Djokovic was at his devastating best. This time Thiem will be better prepared while Djokovic will not want to peak again.

It is only the quarterfinal stage and Djokovic needs to leave some of his best form for Nadal especially. Fortunately for Djokovic, Thiem is a good matchup for him. More so than Goffin would have been.

He does not have to play at his peak level to still beat Thiem relatively comfortable. He beat Vinolas 7-6(5), 6-1, 6-3 who won the most clay court matches this season so he is in good form. He had that match against Schwartzman that went to five sets but played himself into form in the last couple of sets winning 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.

That was his big test which he passed with flying colors in the end. The court time would have done him good too. But Thiem will be another test. He has probably been the second best clay courter this season behind Nadal and hasn’t dropped a set in Paris this year.

There is a wind of 25 km/h predicted for tomorrow and although Djokovic is not a great wind player I don’t think Thiem is either with his big swings. Djokovic needs to return well and play close to the baseline and Thiem will struggle with his big swings.

But that may be harder in windy conditions. Djokovic and Thiem will play on Lenglen like they did last year in the semi-finals when Djokovic won 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 but that was a masterclass from Djokovic and Thiem is more experienced now. I can see it going to four sets but Djokovic needs to put in a confident performance before facing Nadal too so I don’t think going to five sets will be helpful.

Preferably Djokovic needs to get it done in straight sets but I suppose going to four sets is ok too. All I know is he needs to be at peak level against Nadal and can’t be horsing around in a five setter against someone who he has historically owned. I hope the wind does not get in the way.

As for Nadal, he plays Busta who made his first slam quarterfinal after defeating Raonic 8-6 in the fifth set. Nadal has been untouchable so far and he is yet to show any signs at all of weakness. Busta has close to 0% chance of defeating Nadal but maybe he can at least make a set or two competitive.

 

French Open Draw has Djokovic and Nadal in Same Half for 7th Consecutive Event

The only event where Djokovic and Nadal were not in the same half this season was Doha where Nadal did not play. That is seven consecutive events in the same half which have a probability of 1/128 of happening.

In other words a 0,78% chance. Extremely slim. Freak accidents are possible but when you see that they have also been in the same half of the French Open five consecutive times and 8/10 possible times you start to wonder.

Other than that it is a pretty balanced draw. Murray got Del Potro in the third round but Del Potro’s participation is in doubt due to more injury problems. Alexander Zverev is also in Murray’s quarter who could come through that quarter, given the form of Murray and Nishikori, who lost today to Mischa Zverev in Geneva.

Zverev will play Wawrinka in the final who is finding form again at just the right moment. I can easily see him going on a 2015-like run in Paris again in which case he would make the final at least.

Nadal got Paire in the first round who has zero chance of beating him. Although nothing is certain in tennis it is as certain as it gets that Nadal will make semis. There Djokovic can stop him if he plays like he did against Thiem in Rome.

Djokovic’s draw looks pretty good until the quarterfinals where he could face Thiem or Goffin. Thiem appears to be a good matchup for Djokovic and although Goffin can be tricky Djokovic leads him 5-1 in the head-to-head.

I think Djokovic’s chances looks pretty decent for semis and if he can get there in good form he can take Nadal out. During the clay court season Djokovic improved with every tournament and if he keeps that up he will have his chances of defending his title.

Djokovic surprised everyone by the manner in which he defeated Thiem in Rome and if he keeps improving he will shock everyone by defeating the favorite for the title.

  • Djokovic and Agassi Hits It Off Well in Paris

Something else that is working in Djokovic’s favor I think is his new relationship with Agassi which started in Madrid and Rome already as they discussed Djokovic’s matches over the phone.

Agassi can’t stay the whole tournament but it is great to see him back in Paris and as Djokovic’s coach at that. The two clearly has chemistry and that will already mean a lot to Djokovic. Djokovic has been looking for inspiration and change for some time now and it looks like he just found the ideal answer.

Personally, I couldn’t think of a better fit in terms of game styles, personalities, and career similarities. One doesn’t expect Djokovic to start winning everything all of a sudden but it is not impossible either.

Agassi’s input over the phone may have already helped Djokovic in Madrid in Rome and even having Agassi in Paris just for a few days could provide Djokovic with enough inspiration to defend his title.

Some relationships just hit it off from the beginning and judging from Djokovic’s quote that I posted that is exactly what happened. All of a sudden you almost feel like there is two of you instead of one. Especially when you and the other person have so much in common.

Djokovic and Becker was a great match but they took some time to find each other. I think Djokovic and Agassi is one of those rare relationships where there is no need for finding each other. It just clicks from the beginning.

And again, that is why I wanted Agassi to be his coach when I first heard he was looking for a new coach because I know both players very well and I knew how much they had in common. It is no surprise to me that they feel like they have known each other forever.

In the interview with Agassi I posted, he also says that he thinks Djokovic can be better than he’s been which is hard to believe given the level Djokovic reached but very exciting for Djokovic fans nonetheless.

I don’t doubt Agassi either. He is not the kind of guy who makes statements for hype. He is a very intelligent guy(like Djokovic) and also very serious. I think his input will prove to be absolutely invaluable for Djokovic and as a fan of both I am so excited that I don’t even care about what happens at the French Open.

I just can’t wait for them to make a long-term arrangement and to see what the future holds for their partnership.

Who will win the 2017 French Open?

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