Congrats to Djokovic on winning a record 30th Masters title in Toronto today after defeating Nishikori 6-3, 7-5 in the final. He now leads Nadal by two titles who is in second place for all-time Masters titles.
I didn’t blog this week because I wasn’t enthusiastic enough about Toronto with the absence of three of the big four. But as usual, I followed the tennis and watched all Djokovic’s matches as well as some others.
Djokovic didn’t drop a set throughout the week so you have to say another amazing week for him. The closest he came to dropping a set was against Berdych in the quarterfinals when he trailed 3-6 in the first set tiebreak.
Berdych served a double-fault on the first point and on the second Djokovic made one of those amazing returns which forced the error from Berdych. Djokovic won five points in a row to win the tiebreak 8-6.
Berdych had already served a double fault at the start of the tiebreak and it’s very difficult to win a tiebreak against Djokovic serving two double faults. That has to go down as another choke from Berdych but Djokovic was lethal on the second set point.
Before the semi-finals, Djokovic was in his usual survival mode where he was not at his best but did enough to win in straight sets. Then in the semi-finals against Monfils, he was serving poorly to go down a break at 1-2 in the first set but quickly recovered to win the first set 6-3 and then the second set 6-2.
As usual, he changed gears for the semis and today he changed gears again for the final in a much improved serving performance. He served at 76% first serves as opposed to 65% against Monfils and 4 aces to 0 double faults as opposed to 1 ace and 5 double faults against Monfils.
So the serve was the main difference but, of course, Nishikori is better than Monfils hence the closer scoreline. Djokovic was 6-3 and a break up in the second at 2-1 at which point I was starting to lose interest in the match.
But fortunately, Nishikori raised his level and broke back soon to level at 3-3. That at least made things a bit more interesting but I still thought Djokovic would win in straight sets, which he did.
So Djokovic is right back to domination after his loss at Wimbledon and he goes to the Rio Olympics as the favorite. At the moment I’m just a bit bored with it all like Fedfans have probably been for months if not years.
Federer’s withdrawal from the season is a shame because his rivalry with Djokovic was the best one in tennis. At least Murray will be back at the Olympics but his rivalry with Djokovic isn’t nearly as interesting as the Federer and Djokovic one.
To get back to today’s match, it should now be clear that Djokovic was not himself in Rome this year when he defeated Nishikori 7-6 in the third but it was nonetheless another good week for Nishikori.
Yesterday he defeated Stan 7-6(6), 6-1 after Stan checked out after losing the first set. That is a bad attitude from Stan and why he is not a big four member. He doesn’t have the fighting qualities of the big four.
With this title Djokovic stretches his lead in the race to 1815 points over Murray again but apparently it is even more than that due to Davis Cup. Either way, Djokovic is right back to a dominating lead in the rankings after Murray closed in on him at Wimbledon.
With this title, Djokovic also won his 50th hard court title surpassing Connors who had 49 hard court titles and is now second behind Federer who has 60 hard court titles. It looks like Djokovic will eventually win more hard court titles and hard court slams than Federer to become the all-time greatest on hard court.
He needs at least one more slam on hard court and 10 more overall so there is still some distance to go, though. The Olympics will be the next hard court event and it is a pretty big one which Federer could never win.
So winning that will not hurt Djokovic’s GOATness on hardcourt and neither will another World Tour Finals title to tie Federer at 6. It would be fitting if Djokovic ends up being the hard court GOAT, Federer the grass court GOAT, and Nadal the clay court GOAT.
This coming Thursday, the Olympics begin and I see Cincinnati starts right after that which will make it challenging for Djokovic to finally complete the career Masters. I don’t know when he will play his first match in Rio but at least he gets a few days off now.
He had plenty of rest recently and can probably win Rio and Cincy after winning Toronto. But yeah it will take some doing. Some good tennis ahead now!