Congrats to Stan the man on a well-deserved first US Open title. He was too good for Djokovic on the day and showed that the 2015 French Open final was no fluke. This is his third slam title and he only needs Wimbledon now to complete the career slam.
Quite an interesting development after Murray looked to be the one who is making a move. All of a sudden Stan has equaled him on slam titles and is now closer to the career slam than him. Not exactly the best moment for Murray fans but a very good one for Wawrinka fans.
You gotta hand it to Stan. The guy defeated Del Potro, Nishikori, and Djokovic consecutively all in four sets to win the title and all these guys were playing great tennis. When he is on his game he is simply unplayable.
Admittedly, that doesn’t seem to happen very often but he may be getting more consistent over time. I wouldn’t put winning Wimbledon beyond him either. He has now made the adjustment to faster surfaces and Wimbledon may be the next step.
- The Match
So like I said, Stan was simply too good on the day and clearly the best player at this US Open. And his tennis in the final was devastating. Djokovic didn’t play badly aside from a poor first serve percentage(51%) and break point conversion rate(3/17).
I saw from the beginning that he was missing too many first serves. Against Stan, where Djokovic was winning fewer of the points the longer the rallies became it was important for him to make a lot of first serves.
Stan has too much power for Djokovic from the baseline and Djokovic needed to shorten the points and not allow Stan to settle into a rhythm from the baseline. Djokovic could have approached the net more too where he was 24/31.
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) September 11, 2016
I thought he did great by winning the first set 7-1 on the breaker after losing the early break in the set but Stan hit back quickly to win the second set. In the third set, Djokovic did well to come back from a break again but then serving at 5-6 was the game where he lost the match.
He needed to at least force the tiebreak there but he lost the game from 30-15 up. But again, Stan hit a winner that painted the line on the next point as he had done on so many other points. There is only so much you can do against hitting like that.
I kept thinking it can’t go on and waited for him to have one lapse but it never happened. He just kept pounding winner after winner with pinpoint accuracy and power. Just nothing you can do which is why as a Djokovic fan I don’t even feel bad about this loss.
This is the third time Stan has gone on a run like this in a slam and when he does no one can stop him, not even Djokovic. You just have to tip your hat and say too good. Djokovic didn’t quit after the third set though which was admirable.
He had to take two medical timeouts with a bleeding toe but kept battling to the bitter end. He left it all out there on the court and there were no regrets afterward. As a fan you can’t ask for more and if you do you are very hard to please.
Djokovic took the loss very well as always. There were no entitlement issues and he was gracious in defeat. Djokovic has a huge heart which is why I am such a big fan. He doesn’t feel sorry for himself or regret because that is impossible to do if you give it your all.
- How Does This Outcome Affect Djokovic’s Year?
Like I said in my preview post, I wasn’t going to be too bothered if Djokovic doesn’t win the title. Djokovic himself said at the prizegiving ceremony that he was doubting whether he would play the US Open a few days before the event and that if someone told him he’d make the final he would have taken it any day.
The big one this year was always going to be the French Open. After chalking up the best season in tennis history in 2015 there was still a big gap in his resume that stuck out like a sore thumb and that was, of course, the French Open.
It was a cursed slam for him so to put that to bed this year was a huge deal for him which helped him to enter the GOAT debate. It was also a big bonus that he won the personal slam, something which hasn’t received enough attention in the mainstream media.
People were talking about the calendar slam for Djokovic this year and although I’m usually very reluctant to buy into such talk I actually thought for a while that was possible for him. But in hindsight, I should have known better.
It’s easy to become overly excited. No one had won four consecutive slams since Laver in 1969 so for Djokovic to have achieved that was already an astonishing achievement. In doing so he set himself apart from the two modern greats Federer and Nadal.
He was under immense pressure to win the French Open and he did so in clinical fashion despite more rain and scheduling issues. It’s easy to become greedy as a fan but that should have been enough for the year while anything else would be a bonus.
Moreover, with all the tennis Djokovic had played since the beginning of 2015, it was starting to take its toll on his body. Even after losing early at Wimbledon and the Olympics and not playing Cincinnati, he still was in doubt for the US Open.
I think he may have had more injury problems during the US Open that we were not aware of. He served a lot of double faults during the tournament and his first serve percentage was low in the final.
He already had shoulder problems at Wimbledon I think and I don’t think it has properly recovered yet. Then there was the wrist before the US Open as well. Taking all of this into account, you have to be happy with a US Open final.
Stan was too good on the day but Djokovic clearly is not completely recovered from the beating his body took over the last 21 months or so. But especially with the quarterfinal exit of Murray, this was another great result for Djokovic.
His body will get more time to recover now so that it will be ready for the indoor season where he is usually very good and where he can end another amazing year on a high.
- How Does This Outcome Affect the Men’s Game?
The fact that Stan won the title is another interesting development in the men’s game. Is there now a big five instead of a big four? Is there only a big three with the decline of Federer and Nadal? Or is there still only one man at the top named Djokovic?
I think it is probably a combination of all of these. Clearly, Federer and Nadal have declined while Murray and Stan have stepped up their games this year. The current situation is as follows:
- Tier 1: Djokovic
- Tier 2: Murray and Stan
- Tier 3: Federer and Nadal
You could argue that Nishikori is currently playing better tennis than Federer or Nadal but the first two tiers are clear I think. The proponents of the ‘weak era’ also need to come up with a new angle with Stan and Murray making big moves this year.
Then you have dangerous players like Nishikori and Del Potro and youngsters like Thiem and Pouille coming up, as well as the old guard Federer and Nadal who has won 31 slams between them and who you can’t completely write off for winning another slam either.
There is plenty of depth in the men’s game. Stan is also showing that peaking and winning slams post 30 is becoming more and more of a reality. Djokovic will take inspiration from that because he is not 30 yet which gives him several more years to win slams.
Another three slam title year would have been nice but the personal slam was better. I think things are nicely poised at the top of the men’s game now. You have Djokovic still as the top dog but with Stan and Murray as serious rivals.
If he is going to beat Federer’s slam record he needs to win an average of two slams per year over the next three years. It is certainly doable but the future of tennis is very unpredictable so who knows.
Certainly, Stan and Murray can win more slams in the coming years and so can Nishikori, Del Potro(if he stays healthy), Raonic, Thiem(at the French), and perhaps even a young guy like Pouille.
Interesting times ahead.