Australian Open Day 9: Djokovic and Federer Book Semi-Final Spots | Ultimate Tennis Blog

There were no upsets on Day 9 of the 2016 Australian Open as Djokovic and Federer both advanced in straight sets and in doing so set up the 45th meeting between the two.

It was the match I was hoping for and the match most tennis fans would have hoped for if they know what a good matchup in tennis is.


These two have played some classic matches throughout the years including that 2014 Wimbledon final which in my opinion was the greatest match of all time and not the overrated 2008 Wimbledon final.

Hopefully, on Day 11 we will see another classic between the two but you can always bet on good tennis between the two and I can’t ask for more than that. If it’s a classic that’s just a bonus.

  • Federer Impresses Against Berdych

It’s about time I give Federer his dues, wouldn’t you say? I think he was impressive in his 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-4 defeat of Berdych and his level is still where it was last year. He just doesn’t seem to decline much at all with time and that amazes me.

After a mediocre fall season by his standards and with Nadal rising during that time I thought that is the pattern we would see continue in 2016 but Nadal has slumped again while it seems Federer just needed some time to process the tough losses to Djokovic and is now right back to his best again.

So first of all, I just want to say I was wrong there and I think as long as Nadal keeps struggling, which could be indefinitely it is likely that Federer will keep competing for the big titles with Djokovic.

As for the match, Berdych got the break early on to take a 3-2 lead but did not consolidate which was pretty much the key to the match as far as I’m concerned. If he held serve there he would be in a great position to make a match of it but he choked and that was that.

You don’t show weakness to Federer like that and Federer proceeded to take the first set on a tiebreak where he produced some terrific tennis. Not that Berdych played poorly or anything. He played some terrific tennis himself at times.


But he is just not competitive with Federer in the mental department. As soon as Federer won that first set I knew it was over and I stopped watching, coming back at the end of the third set. I knew Berdych would mentally quit after losing the first set.

But he really showed Federer his lack of self-belief when he failed to consolidate at 3-2 and he appeared shaky throughout the first set. The main aspect of his game where I picked that up was his poor first serve percentage.

I think he was 49% first serves for the first set. He just kept missing first serves and that is not gonna get it done against Federer. Federer, on the other hand, had terrific match stats which is a testament to his high level of tennis throughout the match.

So after Goffin rolled over in straight sets Federer proved to me that he is the real deal here and a serious threat for the title.

  • Djokovic Struggles Against Nishikori

Djokovic defeated Nishikori 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 but something felt off from the beginning. It was an improvement from the Simon match but that doesn’t say much as far as the tennis aspect goes. I mean tennis wise Djokovic was dismal against Simon.

So at least in that sense Djokovic improved but he was still far from his best. I mean you are not going to complain when Djokovic defeats a player of Nishikori’s caliber by that scoreline but there is something to be said about Nishikori’s caliber as well.

I have never rated him in the context of ‘cutting edge men’s tennis’ which this blog is about. He just seems out of place against the very best. I mean his tennis was horrendous against Djokovic. I know he has that one US Open victory over Djokovic but I missed that and my guess is Djokovic was playing very poorly.

Yesterday he was just missing sitters all over the place and completely unable to take advantage of Djokovic’s lack of form. Even when he got the breaks in the third set he failed to consolidate on both occasions.

His serve has always been a weakness and it was mediocre again yesterday. Don’t get me wrong. Nishikori is a top 10 player which in the big picture is amazing and the fact that Djokovic beat him straights despite not being at his best tells its own story.


But in the context of the moment and the form of the opposition he really failed. I don’t rate him and there is something about his body language that says ‘I don’t belong’. But that’s just me. Others may feel different.

About Djokovic less-than-perfect form, I think it is still carry-over from the Simon match. Simon badly destroyed the Djoker’s confidence and it wasn’t just gonna come back the very next match.

His rhythm seemed to improve as the match progressed though so if I was a Fedfan I wouldn’t hold out too much hope of another performance like this in the semis. Like I said, it’s pretty impressive that Djokovic could lose only nine games against Nishikori without being at his best.

That in itself will fill him with confidence. But I won’t preview Djokerer 45.0 today. I will leave that for tomorrow.

  • Day 10 Preview

The bottom half quarterfinal matches are up next which involves Raonic vs Monfils and Murray vs Ferrer. The bottom half has been a bit of a disappointment this year with the early exit of Nadal and now Wawrinka as well.

Not that Raonic’s ascent is such a bad thing. It’s good when new players come through. Personally, I just don’t find his game and personality particularly entertaining although he is, at least, adding new dimensions to his game.

Monfils actually leads the head-to-head with Raonic 2-0 which will help him going into the match but Raonic is the favorite I think. Monfils is extremely talented but mentally poor and I just think that is where Raonic will defeat him.


Then Murray plays Ferrer who he leads 12-6 in the head-to-head, having won their one meeting in Melbourne in four tight sets. Ferrer is always tough to put away but you figure Murray will prevail in the end.

I hope Murray and Raonic win anyway because Raonic’s huge serve and attacking game against Murray’s return and counter-punching game will be quite fascinating and the head-to-head is tied up at 3-3.

Well, that’s it for me for now and I will be back tomorrow with a summary of Day 10 and a preview of the much anticipated Djokerer semi-final.

Till then!


Ps. If anyone is having trouble registering for my blog and commenting be sure to check your email spam filter for the confirmation email. I see a lot of people registering but no comments so who knows what’s going on. There has been the odd comment though so maybe people just like to register but not comment?

  • Highlights

The is in your court.

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Posted in Australian Open, Grand Slams.


  1. Hi Ru-an, I’m a long time reader first time commenter. First off thanks for your blogs. Although I don’t always agree with you, (I usually do) your insight is always interesting. I am a FedFan, and, being from Canada, a Raonic fan. That being said I agree with your comments on how his tennis/personality is not all that interesting. I do think he will win over Monfils as he has way more desire and mental stamina. He really really wants to win and Monfils really really doesn’t seem to care. It will be an awesome entertaining match no doubt. Feds is having a fantastic tourney and showing us (you included) that he is not ready to pack it in. He seems to be, for the first time in a long time, healthy and injury free. Djokovic is a phenomenal tennis player and although I haven’t warmed to him personally, (there is something about ripping his shirt off and screaming after matches that doesn’t appeal to the polite Canadian crowd), I truly think he is an incredible athlete and will most likely win the title. I am not ruling Fed or Raonic out though!


    Ru-an Reply:
    Hi DaniGirl, thanks for the follow. That’s good that you don’t always agree with me. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think Federer was always quite healthy and injury free aside from 2013. His problems were more mental/Nadal. He has done a great job of changing/evolving his game and it doesn’t hurt that he is talented beyond belief. It is extraordinary how he doesn’t seem to decline much at all. But yeah I do think that Nadal’s decline is helping his cause.


  2. I think you downplay the effect contracting mono had on Federer. This, I believe, was 2008, and I think the effects lingered a long time. That coupled with the on/off back issue really played a huge factor in why he hasn’t won more majors since 2008. I’m not ignoring the fact Rafa and Novak definitely played huge roles, but I think Federer has played more big matches at less than 100% healthy than we think. He certainly seems healthy now so let’s see what he can do against Novak tonight. Can’t wait!


    Ru-an Reply:
    Well it’s all subjective really since we just don’t know the facts. But like you said, Nole and Nadal played huge roles which we can’t ignore if we are objective. Federer had his shot at redemption in the 2009 AO final and he blew it.


    Bjorn Eirik Reply:
    There could be some truth in that. Though every player goes through something over the course of a career. It’s all part of the game. Nadal has had his knee problems, Djokovic gluten-allergy, Murray back problems, and so on. There are probably other things that we don’t know about either. The smartest players keep their cards close their chest when it comes to things like that. After all, why telegraph to your opponents that you’re a wounded animal ready to be finished off? I think Federer overall has done well to stay as healthy as he has over the course of such a long career, the fact that he is still playing at his level is testament to this. :-)


    Ru-an Reply:
    Right, BE. Federer had very few injuries compared to some other players. Look how much time Nadal spent recovering from injuries.


  3. Looking forward to the semis, though I’m very careful with my expectations for Federer. Djokovic is the plexicushion goat and Fed will have to come up with something extraordinary to stand a chance. I’d say Novak is a bigger favourite here than he was at Wimbledon and US Open last year, so there is no point for Fedfans to get carried away only to feel crushed if Nole wins.

    Raonic has impressed me so far, so you made a good call when you suggested he could be a factor here. At the moment he seems to be the only one of the younger generation to have what it takes to make it to the top. Quiet the opposite of Nishikori who had a very disappointing performance against Djokovic. Though I’m not really surprised this happened. I think the Simon match messed with Nishikori’s head, he probably felt that he had a great opportunity and got into a defensive mindset. Well, at least now we have two well-rested contestants for the semi-final on this side of the draw, so hopefully it will be a quality match.


    Ru-an Reply:
    Thanks, BE. You never know, Federer could have a FO 2011-like performance. The rivalry has always been close and how many times can he keep losing to Djokovic? You’d think eventually he has to get a win in a slam again.


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