So Bautista-Agut turned out to be a much tougher test for the #1 seed than expected. I thought Djokovic did very well to win the opening set 6-3 after RBA came out hitting big from the baseline. I was surprised that he could actually hit the ball that big, especially on the forehand side. But when Djokovic got the break in the second set and had a point(s) for a double break I thought the match was pretty much done and dusted.
But Djokovic failed to break and RBA reeled off five straight games to win the second set 6-4 and take a 1-0 lead in the third set. Djokovic also went down 0-30 in his next service game but crucially held serve to stop the rot. He then broke at 2-2 and that proved to be enough to win the all-important third set 6-4. In the fourth set, Djokovic broke in the opening game and that seemed to be the final straw.
But Bautista Agut was still hitting the ball huge and broke back to level at 2-2. Djokovic was having none of it though as he broke straight away again after a terrific exchange which ended in Djokovic hitting a drop volley winner and pointing to his ear to rile the crowd up. As in the second set, Djokovic had break points at 4-2 and 40-0 and this time he wouldn’t make any mistake as he hit a blistering backhand return winner to break to love.
But RBA was not done yet as he blasted some more big forehands and broke serve to stay in the match. The writing was on the wall though as Djokovic broke in the next game for a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory. Big credit to RBA for playing a very good match and taking the match to Djokovic. He appeared to be in the zone, but Djokovic slowly but surely tightened his grip around his victim like an anaconda until he let out his last breath.
Djokovic was not on his game same as the Seppi match. He should have gotten the double break in the second set and finished RBA off earlier. But all credit to RBA for hitting himself out of that situation with power and consistency. And credit to the world #1 for how he absorbed all that pressure and won despite not being at his best. That is the difference between him and the rest. He has bad days like everyone, but he still wins.
He asks an awful amount of questions to the opponent until they simply don’t have the answers anymore. Not that he is anything like Nadal. Djokovic has the perfect balance of offense and defense in his game. He has a very effective serve, he hits winners from the ground, attacks the net, and varies his game. He also has the best returns and backhand in the business. It is just extraordinarily difficult to beat him.
That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but there is zero room for error. You have to play nothing short of perfect tennis. It was nice to see Djokovic winning many free points off his serve and frequently approaching the net. I think he is trying to be aggressive which is key for him. When he is aggressive it is very difficult to see anyone beat him. This match kind of reminded me of the Anderson fourth round at Wimbledon.
Djokovic was off his game but found a way. He is not like Federer or Sampras who can just serve guys off the court. He has to work hard for his wins and he will drop sets along the way. The important thing is to keep winning and when it is time to peak to play his best tennis. He now plays Lopez who defeated Fognini in straight sets in one of our prediction matches. Djokovic leads the head-to-head 5-0.
- Elsewhere in the Draw
So like I said the Nadal curse struck again because Fognini lost 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-1 to Lopez. Djokovic is still the only player in 2015 who has been able to back up a win over Nadal with a win, mainly because he is the anti-Nadal who has owned him 14-7 since 2011. It was a nice run from Fognini anyway and there can be no doubt now that he is a massive talent. And I hope Djokovic schools Lopez because he played a flat Fognini.
Then Cilic continued his title defense with a four-set win over Chardy. I think his defense ends in the next round against Tsonga though, who straight-setted Paire. Tsonga has looked impressive so far with no sets dropped. I’m sure he will probably drop a set or two against Cilic, but he is my favorite. So I think we are looking at a possible Djokovic vs Tsonga semi-final. But in tennis not even Djokovic winning is certain and anything can happen.
- The Prediction Game
It looks like Amir and Krish are the joint winners of our prediction game who both got the winners right and the number of sets for one of the matches, so 9 points for both. Well done! I will calculate the rankings after my post, but it looks like Amir is into the lead after doing well in our previous prediction game as well if I remember correctly. Of course, the tennis has already started today but the match I am going for starts much later anyway.
I am gonna go for Federer vs Isner which will be the second match in the night session. For me that is at the worst possible time so I’m gonna have to take a pass on that but Federer will probably win in three or four sets and it will just be a serving contest so I’m not too sad about that. For the top half which I think is played tomorrow, I will go for Tsonga vs Cilic. Happy predicting!
The is in your court.