US Open Day 2 + 3: Big Four All Advance

  • Day 2

Hello, tennis fans. I don’t have as much time for posting as before so I will probably only make a post every second day during this slam. But don’t worry I will keep you updated on everything that’s happened. Tuesday Federer and Murray was in action and both advanced safely to the second round. Federer destroyed Mayer 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 while Murray needed four sets to get by tricky first round opponent Kyrgios, 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1.

I watched Federer’s match and he was quite impressive. Mayer almost looked like he tanked which was disappointing to see but nonetheless Federer looked in good shape. He was even taking the return of serve on the rise again a few times. Sometimes it was successful and sometimes not, but it was nice to see he didn’t just give it up after Cincy. Whether it will really pay off on these courts is yet to be seen, though.

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Will Kyrgios grow up and become a serious tennis player?

I think it’s good as a surprise tactic, but I also think the players have seen it now and the best baseliners should be able to pass him. It already looked less effective against Mayer than in Cincy. But like I said Federer looked good and I expect him to go deep. As for Murray, Kyrgios was obviously a tricky first round opponent and dropping a set was about expected. Kyrgios, on the other hand, is just too crazy.

He’s got serious game, but it seems I overestimated his mental side. The guy is seriously immature and needs to grow up fast or he will just be another wasted talent. Elsewhere on Tuesday Berdych and Stan had straight-set wins and so did Thiem.

  • Day 3

Now to yesterday when Djokovic and Nadal were back in action and both won in straight sets, but the confidence level of the two couldn’t have been more different. I couldn’t watch Djokovic because the WTA held proceedings up as usual, but I caught the highlights on Youtube and Djokovic put in another very solid performance, defeating Haider-Maurer 6-4, 6-1, 6-2. He has looked very solid so far but, of course, there is a long way to go.

I like Haider-Maurer’s game anyway and I think he was a good test for Djokovic. He has a big serve and strong baseline game, but Djokovic seemed to have adapted to it at 4-4 in the first set after which he dominated. Djokovic now plays Seppi and if he wins he plays the winner of Bautista-Agut and Goffin, so his draw looks pretty comfortable until the quarterfinals. There he could play Nadal but from yesterday’s evidence I don’t think Nadal is making it.

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‘Back’?

Nadal defeated Schwartzman 7-6(5), 6-3, 7-5 and Schwarzman choked in every set. He was 5-2 in the tie-break, 2-0 in the second, and 4-2 in the third. Nadal was atrocious in the first set tie-break, strewing errors all over the place, but Schwartzman didn’t want it. I think Nadal will lose to Fognini now or to Raonic. But with his luck Fognini will probably tank and Raonic will withdraw with his back problem which he struggled with again in his four-set win over Verdasco.

Not that I’d mind. I’d love to see him play Djokovic. Then as far as upsets go Dimitrov lost in five sets to Kukushkin. Dimitrov losing, not unlike Nadal, can hardly be called an upset anymore. As far as the second quarter goes the most likely to make the semis is probably Tsonga who’s looked good so far. So we could have a Djokovic vs Tsonga semi-final in the top half. As far as tomorrow goes Federer will be back in action against Darcis and Murray against Mannarino.

Let’s see if Federer can keep his dominance up and whether Murray can win in straight sets this time. Thiem will also be in action against Istomin which is another match I will keeping an eye on.

  • The Prediction Game

So far not many people have joined the game but let’s see what happens as the tournament progresses. The last round was won by Nakul and dvorak1841 who both got the winners and number of sets correct. Neither got the order of the sets correct for the Murray vs Kyrgios match though so each of them gathers 15 points. Good job. Since I will be making a post only every second day, I will choose two prediction matches for each round.

For the second round of the bottom half, I’m gonna go with Tomic vs Hewitt, who is playing his final US Open. We have already seen Fish playing his final match against Lopez where he started cramping and lost 6-3 in the fifth set. It was a tough end for Fish, but a good one given all his troubles of late and I congratulate him on a good career. Will Hewitt go out in similar circumstances?

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Nadal looked like he won the US Open :))

It could be another dramatic match and works well for a prediction match. Tomic is the 24th seed, but you can’t count Hewitt out who will always fight until the bitter end. Then for the third round of the top half you may have guessed that I would go for Nadal vs Fognini. Nadal’s form is still very questionable in my opinion and he could lose against anyone. It took a lot of choking from Schwartzman for him to make the second round.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Fognini beats him again. But I guess Nadal is the favorite. Let’s see who is willing to take the risk. Fognini leads the head-to-head 2-1 this year after Nadal won the last meeting in Hamburg.

(I will update the rankings soon).

  • Highlights

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZMVm2MB4_c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWWdCBpxuyM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nsd5w-VX3h0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5e3o-z4c0AM

  • The Djoker

Ever the entertainer it was refreshing to see the Djoker getting crazy and doing something the boring PR bots would never risk. Respect!

The is in your court.

Posted in Grand Slams, US Open.

29 Comments

  1. I saw some tennis highlights of Kyrgios that I missed, as I saw only the more tense 2nd and 3rd sets. He is, indeed, a mess. I don’t see him finding enough calm to dominate the tour. Maybe a major in a few years. Looks like parenting or mental illness, something deeper than just a little attitude problem. Roger had a little temper/attitude that he was able to control. Kyrgios looks like he’ll walk away from the sport at any minute.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Right, Matt. The problem is that he doesn’t love the sport, by his own admission. Federer was a nutcase too, but he loved the sport dearly. And he didn’t have that nasty streak of Kyrgios. I don’t see how he will change his attitude if he doesn’t love the sport. Maybe he will be like Safin and win a couple of majors on talent alone but I don’t ever see him fulfilling his vast potential.

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  2. Federer was as solid as he could be given Mayer was not playing amazing or anything – he and Novak are still the best at ruthlessly finishing off matches like this.
    Nadal was crap – Diego’s lack of height and serve basically cost him a straight-set win, the rest of his game was decent.

    Cannot believe what I’m seeing now though – Murray down 2 sets to 0 in Round 2! The last time Andy exited before the 3rd round at a Slam was at the 2008 AO (lost to Tsonga).

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Good comment. Yeah, looks like Federer’s draw could be opening up. Even if Murray wins now he is expending a lot of energy.

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    Krish Reply:

    Yes Ru-an, this is why I embrace your perspectives on draws – nothing is set in stone, is it? And given how tough the conditions are (very humid and heavy, apparently), this will take even more out of Murray than normal.

    The other thing I’ve noticed is the number of retirements throughout this tournament so far. On the men’s side:
    Andujar, Stepanek, Dolgopolov, Monfils, Lu, F Mayer, Gulbis, Sock, Istomin, Baghdatis, Nedovyesov and Kokkinakis.

    On the women’s side: Diatchenko, Erakovic

    That’s 14 in total, surely one of the worst of all time. Presumably inadequate conditioning is the main factor.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Right, Krish nothing set in stone. I saw a stat on Twitter saying this year’s USO had the most withdrawals in the first round ever. I guess it’s really hot out there. But still strange to me. If you look at some of the guys who withdrew they are not exactly known for their physical fitness. Guys like Sock, Istomin, F Mayer, Dolgopolov, Stepanek etc.

    There may be more, but that tells me it is their own fault and that they should get in better shape. You don’t see Djokovic, Murray, and Thiem withdrawing, do you? So you are absolutely right that inadequate conditioning is the main factor. Physical conditioning is the basis of any pro tennis players’ game and to neglect it is criminal.

    Sock you only have to look at him to see he is not in shape.

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    Krish Reply:

    Precisely – now look at Murray, the physical beast that he is, he’s calmly raced through sets 3 and 4 to set up a decider and still looks in good shape. Best thing for guys like Jack Sock is to start training in extreme conditions like the top players – maybe set up camp in Dubai, Miami or somewhere particularly humid.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah amazing how Murray just came back and took it away from Mannarino. He is definitely a physical beast. Training in Dubai or Miami is the best because it is very hot in both. Sock has a long way to go.

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    Charlie Reply:

    Yeah if you don’t get used to playing in difficult conditions in practice how much more difficult will it be against a live opponent in an ATP Tour match? You would think that all pros would take the effort to try and practice in all conditions.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Right. Bottom line is you must be fit as hell. You should never lose a match because of physical conditioning or lack thereof. That is one thing you control, whereas talent, for instance, is something you are pretty much born with. Physical conditioning is primary.

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    Charlie Reply:

    Nadal gone now after being two sets to love up and a break up in the third and fourth sets, whilst conceding four breaks of serve in the decider. Unbelievable.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I went to bed at 2-0. Ecstatic when I woke up this morning to see Fog won 3-2. Unreal.

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  3. Not often you see Nadal losing after being up 2 sets and a break in the 3rd set – full credit to Fognini, he was fantastic last night and punished the junkballs that were dished up!

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    jason Reply:

    You can replace ‘not often’ with ‘never’. :-)

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    Krish Reply:

    In fact only twice in his career now – not the best sign for him and you could see the sadness in his face as he left the stadium :-h

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Fog = legend!

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    Krish Reply:

    This game right here = legend!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zV5_9Kq7D20

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Incredible Krish. I missed the last three sets because it was already 5 am here. What a damn shame.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks, Krish I’ve watched this several times already. Fantastic.

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  4. Wow! Nadal ousted by Fognini after leading 2 sets to none. So finally it’s all catching up to him. All the current top players: Djokovic, Federer, Murray, always came up with some kind of re-invention of their previous respective slumps. Djokovic by now has probably undergone 2-3 major re inventions. Federer? Maybe 4 or 5.

    The thing with Nadal is that his game likely does not provide much space for re invention. Its fundamentals have always been on physicality & relentless retrieving — assets that depreciate most quickly with age, wear & tear. The only way Nadal can re invent himself is to make those assets come back. And this has more to do with “medical inventions” rather than game reinvention. Without that, he likely will quickly descend outside the top 10, or God forbid, even 20s. But we can never know…some kind of “medical invention” might just be around the corner and it may charge his game up again.

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  5. Wow, I saw the match from the end of the 2nd set. Fognini was already down a break in the 3rd . But he played ultra aggressive – it was awesome to see. 70 winners versus about 50+ UEs. If you didn’t see it watch the highlights, there were some amazing down the line forehands to Nadal’s forehand side which he always leaves open. Fognini also hit some huge backhands. Yes Nadal was hitting the ball 4m over the net sometimes and Fognini did miss a few of those sitters . I hate it when Nadal does that . But Fognini managed to punish enough of them.

    Basically he played like Dolgopolov does with crazy angles and sudden injection of pace, but over 3 sets. Nadal was a metre behind the baseline as usual.

    The final set was frustrating but fun – I think there were 7 breaks of serve. Nobody could hold. Fognini kept on breaking but giving it back. Once he was up 40-0 on his serve but still Nadal broke back. But the final game he finally held serve .

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks for the summary Bharata. I just watched the highlights and it was a treat. Just immense hitting from the Fog off both sides like you said. Nadal’s disgusting and relentless pushing and retrieving exposed once more, and this time by a 5’10” guy. Just delicious.

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  6. So why can’t Fognini play like that on a regular basis? It looks like he has the talent but just lacks professionalism and, maybe, desire.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    That’s just the kind of player he is Andrew. An enigma and an entertainer.

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  7. Ahh, I missed out on Fognini’s fightback. Went to bed after the first two sets. Fognini had some moments of brilliance but I thought he was too erratic to have a chance to turn the match around, I thought. Always liked Fognini, so I’m very pleased I was wrong.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Same here! I gave up after two sets and went to bed. Where do you live?

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  8. Mostly agree with Jason’s excellent assessment. Nadal’s “mental strength” depends largely on his physical attributes. If he’s absolutely sure he can pummel the ball with heavy spin and run down every shot from his opponent for hours and hours, then of course he’s confident of winning. If not, then he’s uncertain and hesitant, and is forced to go for risky shots.

    Seemed like against Fognini his shots just didn’t have that extra bit of power, even though he ran like crazy and hit tons of moonballs. Fognini was able to go for his shots and eventually break through.

    Federer’s so versatile that his game will not drop off dramatically with age (especially now that he’s playing with a new racket). He can compensate for loss of footspeed by developing new shots (like the super-risky charging service return) and with different tactics. By contrast, Nadal’s game depends so heavily on his physical attributes that even just a tiny dip in speed and power leads to a sharp decline in form.

    The big reason we didn’t see such losses before is because Nadal always took time off to recharge, preserving his precious H2H (doing so in 2009, 2012, and again in 2014) and avoiding losses when he wasn’t in peak form.

    This year, he failed to win RG, which means he can’t take time off since it would cause him to drop even further in the rankings. That would mean he’d have to play the top players early in tournaments, making it much harder to win.

    But if he had played instead of taking time off in 2009, 2012, and 2014, we’d have seen more of these losses, and they wouldn’t seem so bizarre.

    Like Jason, I suspect Nadal will find some magic potion to fuel yet another miraculous comeback. Since his mentality is almost purely a function of his physical condition, his confidence will come back if his strength and speed come back. So he’s far from done, IMO.

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  9. Good stuff, Jason. I watched the match live. One of the all-time matches I’ve seen, but of course the players involved heightened my interest :-) The Nadal enigma. His inability to truly defend his majors (other than FO), the injuries, the huge massive peaks and valleys. . . A comeback from this horrendous tennis should be seen as completely incredible, meaning unbelievable, meaning not to be trusted.

    Another good point is his inability to earn/defend points. He’s going to plummet in the rankings, which will give him all kinds of hardship.

    He won this thing 2 years ago and now his game is garbage, at 29? Not surprising, but still pretty remarkable.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Hey Matt, just saw that you also got 9 points. Sorry, but I did say ‘at a quick glance’! Well done :-bd

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