Wawrinka and Nadal will face each other in the 2017 French Open final after they defeated Murray 6-7(6), 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-1 and Thiem 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 respectively. The Wawrinka vs Murray match was the match of the tournament while the second semi-final was generally a disappointment.
Congrats to Stan for turning last year’s semi-final loss to Murray around but it was by no means easy. Stan served for the first set and was a break up in the third but he gradually gained the upper hand and the fourth set tiebreak was the key.
Murray had the opportunity to close it out there but once Stan won it it was one-way traffic. I was glad he didn’t get the bagel because that would have been unfitting after such a great match.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 9, 2017
It was Stan’s raw power against Murray’s incredible defense. In the end, Stan’s brutal power hitting proved to be one too much for Murray but credit to Murray for pulling himself together in Paris after a dismal 2017 so far. It must have been the Lendl effect because Murray was playing at the level that got him to number one for once.
As for the second quarterfinal, I actually predicted Nadal would win in straight sets when Djokovic was busy losing to Thiem. That’s why I said in my last post I was just hoping for Thiem to make it competitive.
And he hardly did. I mean people were complaining about Djokovic’s performance against Thiem but he won more games than Thiem did. In Rome, Thiem played out of his mind while Nadal felt the effects of a long clay court season.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 9, 2017
Today I was quite certain that Thiem’s backhand would not be stable and consistent enough to withstand the barrage from Nadal’s spinning and high-bouncing crosscourt forehand and that is exactly what happened.
This is essentially the tactic that Nadal has used over the years to completely dominate clay. It’s boring and predictable but it is effective. The only player whose backhand he can’t break down on clay is Djokovic which is why Djokovic has the best clay court record of anyone against Nadal.
I knew Thiem wouldn’t overcome the problem in a million years and I’m 99% sure Stan won’t either.
- Final Preview
When Stan won Geneva after a dismal clay court season I said I could easily see him making the French Open final. But that is where I stopped. I knew Nadal was likely to be in the final as well and I didn’t think Stan could beat him even if he was at his best.
Stan is unbelievably hard to stop when he goes into his current mode which is why he has never lost a final. Nadal, on the other hand, has never lost a French Open final. And I don’t see how that is going to change on Sunday.
If you think about it, Stan was barely able to beat Murray. What are his chances of beating Nadal? I’m not trying to make things boring and predictable for my readers but I have said since the beginning Djokovic is the only one who can defeat Nadal.
And that would still have been a toss-up if Djokovic was at his best. Nadal looked destined to win La Decima ever since the clay court season started. Djokovic was the only guy who I hoped could stop him but as it turned out Djokovic hadn’t won enough the entire year.
To have been able to stop Nadal, Djokovic needed to be in peak form and he wasn’t anywhere close to that. I’m sure you want to hear me say that Stan has a real shot at winning this but I don’t see it.
He is not facing another Murray. He is facing someone with similar defensive skills but who is left-handed and who has a spinning and high-bouncing crosscourt forehand. Stan is essentially a better version of Thiem.
Games lost by Nadal before final at French Open:
— Carl Bialik (@CarlBialik) June 9, 2017
He hits harder and flatter and he has a better backhand, but not good enough. It’s one of the best backhands on tour when Stan is playing well but Djokovic’s backhand is still better and more stable.
Stan was recently asked if he could have anyone’s backhand who would it be and he said, Djokovic. That tells you all you need to know. Even the best one-handed backhand is not as good and as stable as the best two-handed backhand.
There is a reason Stan trails Nadal 3-15 in the head-to-head. He has one clay court win over Nadal in Rome 2015 when Nadal was struggling. His most telling win over Nadal was the 2014 Australian Open final. So we know Stan can beat Nadal in a big match but clay is another story.
The bounce is higher and more inconsistent. It is very difficult to take Nadal’s kicking topspin forehand early on clay. Not only does that ball kick up viciously off the court but the bounce is inconsistent as well. A nightmare for a one-hander. Stan’s backhand is a great offensive shot but against Nadal on clay, you probably need something a little more stable.
I can see Stan making it a competitive match and winning a set but that is as far as it goes. This is Nadal’s year. He has been utterly untouchable throughout this French Open and he is winning La Decima on Sunday. I’d love to be proven wrong but I don’t see it happening.
Who will win the 2017 French Open final?
- Nadal in 3 (39%, 35 Votes)
- Nadal in 4 (26%, 23 Votes)
- Wawrinka in 4 (16%, 14 Votes)
- Wawrinka in 5 (14%, 13 Votes)
- Wawrinka in 3 (3%, 3 Votes)
- Nadal in 5 (2%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 90
- Djokovic Falls Out of Top 3 for First Time Since 2009
On a side note, Djokovic fell out of the top 3 in the rankings with Stan’s win today for the first time since 2009. That is 8 years in the top 3. Amazing consistency at the highest level of the sport.
It has also been quite a dramatic fall for Djokovic who a year ago had the biggest lead in the history of the ATP rankings over the number two player. But the slump is still not as bad as Nadal’s who fell to #10 in 2015 or Federer’s who fell to #17 last year.
Time spent *uninterruptedly* ranked top 3
Federer:8 years 3 months
Djokovic: 7 years 8 months
Nadal:4 years 8 months
Murray:2 years 2months
— Yolita🐊 (@Yolitatennis) June 9, 2017
Of course, the mainstream media and obsessed fans who were badly hurting when Djokovic was destroying everyone in his path from 2015-2016 are now writing Djokovic off but the truth is their own favorites have been in much deeper slumps.
They are praying that they have seen the last of their worst nightmare but unfortunately for them, Agassi slumped to #141 in the rankings and won five grand slams afterward, and now he is coaching Djokovic.
I don’t think there is any doubt that Djokovic will be back and if Agassi is right then he will be better than ever. A scary thought indeed for the mainstream media and Fedal crowd…