As expected, Djokovic and Nadal made it to the final of Doha but not without some trouble in the case of Nadal who went to three sets twice.
Djokovic hasn’t been at his best either needing a tiebreak in the second set today against Berdych and being 3-5 down in the second set against Mayer yesterday. As usual, though, Djokovic raised his game when it mattered most.
Djokovic was on the verge of losing his first set since the Paris semis last year when he trailed Mayer by 3-5 in the second set but reeled off four straight games to win 6-3, 7-5. It has to be said he had help from Mayer as well.
Today against Berdych in the second set tiebreak, however, he just raised his game to win the breaker 7-3 and the match 6-3, 7-6(3). But like I said, Djokovic has not looked like his old self so far in 2016.
As a fan, I’m not worried because as I said before this is the first tournament of the year and an ATP 250 at that. It’s a good event for Djokovic to get back into things after getting away from tennis for the first time in a year.
That said, I think tomorrow against Nadal we can expect to see a sharper and more motivated Djokovic than we have seen so far this week. The rivalry is now tied at 23-23 and Djokovic has the opportunity to take the lead for the first time.
After all this time, I don’t think that is something he wants to miss out on. Djokovic is 8-1 in their last nine meetings so you don’t expect him to lose. And aside from that he’d want to start the season in the best way possible by winning his first title in Doha.
He has looked better than Nadal this week, but you never know. Djokovic has just looked very much in control of the rivalry and, of course, spanked Nadal 3 and 3 in London.
It will be interesting to see what Nadal does tomorrow to try and change things around. But personally, I don’t see what he can do other than hope Djokovic plays poorly. He doesn’t have enough options to trouble Djokovic.
Not that anyone has these days, but it’s like Djokovic has completely figured Nadal out and the only way Nadal can beat him is if he plays very poorly. We will see. It should be fun.
- Thiem Upsets Cilic in Brisbane
I was happy to hear that Thiem continued his good start to 2016 by upsetting Cilic 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 in Brisbane and making the semis. He will now play Federer who defeated Dimitrov 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-4 in a low-quality match.
I don’t mean to sound overly critical of Federer but losing a set to Dimitrov is not a promising sign. It’s astonishing how weak Dimitrov is in the mental department. After choking badly when serving for the second set at 5-4, it was only thanks to a very untimely double fault from Federer in the tiebreak that Dimitrov managed to win a set.
I don’t think Federer will be very happy at all that he allowed Dimitrov to win the second set and although it’s still early days, this could well be a sign that Federer’s form is slipping.
That’s what usually happens when Nadal’s form rises so I won’t be all that surprised if Federer loses to Thiem or in the final. In the other semis, it is Tomic vs Raonic so Federer will face two more tough opponents if he wants to win the event.
Thiem certainly won’t be a pushover. As mentally as erratic as he can be he is still an awful lot better than Dimitrov in that department. I am looking forward to seeing how Thiem fares anyway.
If Federer doesn’t get his act together Thiem has a great shot of causing the big upset. He has nothing to lose so he will just go out there and swing freely and he does have some damaging weapons.
Finally, Stan is still on route to a fourth title in Chennai after straight setting Garcia-Lopez. He will play his buddy Paire next while the other semi-final will be between promising youngster Coric and Bedene.
Ps. I should also mention that Djokovic has now gone a year without losing before the final of any event, which is a pretty special record in itself. One wonders how long he can keep that up.
The is in your court.