I’m pretty sure no one expected the events that transpired yesterday at Flushing Meadows. Both Djokovic and Federer were playing at their absolute peaks with Djokovic destroying Cilic 6-0, 6-1, 6-2 and Federer destroying Wawrinka 6-4, 6-3, 6-1. Pretty ridiculous stuff. These two are now light years ahead of the field and will meet in their fourth grand slam final and third grand slam final since last’s year’s Wimbledon final.
- Djokovic Annihilates Cilic
This was an absolute rape. Poor Cilic probably woke up this morning wondering what hit him yesterday. As was the case against Lopez, Djokovic started out pretty much in the zone. But he was arguably even better against Cilic and bageled him. And since he did the same thing against Lopez but got involved in a very competitive match I was reluctant to get too excited. This could easily still have turned into a close match at that point.
But this time Djokovic looked in no mood to drop his level again like he did in the second set against RBA and Lopez. Cilic held serve in the second game of the second set to win his first game of the match. But soon the Djoker was at it again as he reeled off five straight games to breadstick Cilic in the second set. This was becoming a serious humiliation for Cilic. And at this point I was more certain that this would be a one-sided match.
But you never know what can happen. Cilic got broken again at the start of the third set but broke back after a small lapse in concentration from Djokovic. And you can hardly blame him. When you are destroying a guy like this it’s tough to stay focused. It was 2-2 and at this point it was still possible to see Cilic make some kind of comeback. But Djokovic found his focus again in the next game and reeled off the last four games for an utter humiliating victory.
I don’t know the stats, but that was for sure one of the most one-sided US Open semi-finals in history. In the on-court interview after the match, Djokovic immediately took the spotlight off himself by saying that Cilic was injured, but he had the same problem against Tsonga and he won in five sets. Djokovic was just being classy as usual, but there is no doubt he was playing unreal tennis and utterly destroyed Cilic.
In my last post, I was speculating as to whether Djokovic would try no to peak in the semis but in hindsight he needed a dominant performance after the matches against RBA and Lopez. And it couldn’t have been more dominant. He is peaking again at the right time and goes into the final with maximum confidence.
- Federer Matches Djokovic by Destroying Wawrinka
I think most people were probably expecting a more competitive match in the second semi-final. And I mean before the start of either match. Obviously after what Djokovic did to Cilic it was going to be a more competitive match, but I don’t think anyone expected it to be as routine as it was for Federer. The tone for the match was set in the third game where Federer used the feared SABR to unnerve Stan and break serve.
That completely rattled Stan and he never recovered. It was the Stan of old who had an inferiority complex against Federer all match long. Because Federer pulled the SABR on him he completely lost the plot on his first serve and ended with a first serve percentage of 49%. That’s not gonna get the job done against Federer. His brain seemed to shut down at that point too because he did nothing to adjust.
Instead of slowing down his first serve to up his first serve percentage and give Federer less of a chance to get into his service games, he kept taking big cuts on his first serve and missed most of them. This allowed Federer to put immense pressure on his serve and finally breadstick him in the third set. No doubt Federer played incredibly well, but Stan also allowed him to by playing brainless tennis.
It was disappointing to see after Stan has improved so much of late. You’d think by now he’d be able to steady himself even after getting rattled, but he never recovered. I guess he just isn’t a very smart player. Basically when he goes into Stanimal mode he just pummels opponents off the court with huge groundstrokes, but this is a different surface and a different opponent. All credit to Federer also for making the SABR work for him again.
It also flopped a good few times, but the one that he pulled off in the third game to break Stan was enough to totally get into Stan’s head. He never recovered. I was thinking he just needed to slow things down a bit. Just try to up that first serve percentage and get into a few more rallies. But he just stubbornly kept blasting away. Yes, thinking is very important in tennis. It really doesn’t matter how well you hit the ball.
At some point, you will come up against someone who pulls a number on you and then you must be prepared and be able to adjust. But like I said, all credit to Federer for playing another tremendous match and I can now see him win the tournament even more so than before. It was another very convincing performance and like Djokovic he goes into the final with maximum confidence.
- Djokerer 42.0: Final Preview
So once more we are down to the two best players in the world which should be another blockbuster final. And let me just remind people to enjoy it. I know that is hard for fanatics who only cares about their player winning and not about seeing good tennis, but to the more balanced fans I just want to remind you(and me) that we should enjoy the match for what it is and not be so attached to the outcome that we don’t appreciate the great tennis on display.
It’s going to be a great match whoever wins. That’s what is so great about this rivalry. It’s a great matchup and the outcome is never quite certain. After I watched the tennis yesterday I had a similar feeling to what I had before the Wimbledon final. It seemed to me that there was no way Djokovic would stop this Federer. But I think after what happened at Wimbledon it would be cowardly of me to predict something similar.
After I thought about it and talked about it with my readers I realized there are reasons to believe that Djokovic could win this. Let me make it clear that I want Djokovic to win and that I am not the weakling kind of fan who doesn’t believe in their player. At Wimbledon I really thought Federer would win and Djokovic almost made it look easy. So there is a reason to believe Djokovic could do it again.
There are an awful lot that can be said in the preview of this match, but I want to keep it as short as possible. There are a few key things to look at:
- Djokovic’s offense – Djokovic’s offense will be one of the keys in this match because he simply cannot allow Federer to dominate him the way he dominated Stan. Djokovic’s offense has improved a lot lately and that will be crucial if he is to win this match. He must rip the serve and groundstrokes and keep Federer under as much pressure as possible especially on his own service games.
- The SABR – This tactic from Federer could play another big role in this match. It did against Stan and he will no doubt try to use it to do a number on Djokovic again like he did in Cincy. At least Djokovic will know what to expect this time and I’m sure him and Becker have discussed at length how to deal with it. If Federer does manage to pull it off the way he did against Stan then Djokovic must remember to stay calm and not allow it to affect him for the whole match the way it did Stan. He must center himself again.
- Federer’s serve – Federer’s serve, in particular, will play a big role as well. Djokovic is a great returner and Federer won’t be able to breeze through service games the way he did against Stan. For Federer to win he must make a high percentage of first serves and try to get through his service games quickly. If Djokovic starts making inroads into his service games and holds his own serve easily Federer will be under a lot of pressure.
- Djokovic’s returns – This is an extension of the previous point. If Djokovic returns well which you can bet he will he can make things difficult for Federer. Federer will serve-and-volley regularly as well and if Djokovic keeps those returns at his shoelaces it will make life difficult for Federer. Djokovic can turn defense into offense in no time and this is very true for the return of serve as well. If he returns well he can neutralize Federer’s most potent weapon.
Those are more or less the keys to the match for me but, of course, there is plenty more to say. The first set will be key. I think Federer must win it to have a chance. He probably has to win the second set as well. Fortunately for him, that is possible. He has been playing that well. But if Djokovic starts out blasting winners left and right then Federer will be dire trouble. He absolutely must make a strong start.
And again, fortunately for him the court speed makes that possible. I have read and seen hawkeye say the court speed is similar to Melbourne, but I don’t buy that. This is Decoturf not Plexicushion and is definitely faster. It is the same surface as Shanghai where Federer straight-setted Djokovic last year. If it was Plexicushion Federer might as well not have showed up but Decoturf is actually quite suitable to his game.
If we look at past US Open meetings between the two Federer won the first three against Djokovic 1.0 and lost the last two in 2010 and 2011 against Djokovic 1.0 and 2.0. It is difficult to interpret those results because you could say Djokovic had the edge of late, but even 2.0 in 2011 were match points down against Federer. And the fact that Nadal was waiting in the final could have played a role as well.
At least those last two matches shows that Djokovic does not get completely dominated by Federer on Decoturf, but I still think it suits Federer’s game slightly better. There is a reason Federer has won five US Opens and Djokovic only one. Djokovic prefers the courts on the slow side, but it has to be said his offense improved a lot recently. His serve is a bigger weapon, he is spanking the forehand harder, and he is looking to come into the net.
Those things came in handy when he defeated Federer at Wimbledon this year, and if he is to defeat Federer again tomorrow he must use his newly acquired offense to the max. There can be no holding back. Another key in this matchup is the depth and accuracy of Djokovic’s groundstrokes. On these courts, Federer’s offense is absolutely brutal but at least that can be neutralized to some extent by Djokovic depth of shot.
If he can force Federer to go for more and more so that he misses it will make things very difficult for Federer too. But that won’t be enough. He has to strike himself whenever the opportunity presents itself. Especially right at the start of the match. He must make his intentions crystal clear from the get-go that he believes in his own offense and that he is not just gonna wait for Federer to miss because it won’t happen.
I think Federer will be hard to stop from winning #18 here but if anyone can do it it is Djokovic. He is the only guy who can get into Federer’s head and make him doubt himself. All it will take is a moment of hesitation from Federer and Djokovic will be all over him. It’s like Ivanisevic said, he is like a shark. When he smells blood he will be all over you in a flash and tear you to shreds. I am prepared for either result anyway.
I know Federer can easily win and if he does I will congratulate him as the best player of the day the same as Djokovic will. Fortunately, I am not a Fedfanatic who needs Federer to win #18 to be able to move on with my life. I never expected Djokovic to win the Wimbledon final this year so that is already more than enough for me. Unlike Fedfanatics, I realize how special 9 slam titles already is and I’m not filled with greed like them.
I will be disappointed if Djokovic loses but the next day I will move on. Let me just say one more thing and that is the match time. It will start during the day at 4 pm which for me, favors Djokovic because I think Federer is at his best at night. There is also rain forecast which again would favor Djokovic as it would slow down conditions. I am just hoping for a good match. It should be another cracker.
- The Prediction Game
Nakul, Darrell, Denis, and Tyler all collected 12 points from the last round and therefore won. Nakul was the only one who predicted Djokovic would win in straight sets and actually came close to a perfect prediction with a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 prediction. He is also easily in the lead. Unfortunately, he predicted a four-set win for Federer which means he missed out on winning the round outright.
I’m a bit surprised no one else predicted Djokovic in straight sets while several people predicted Federer in straight sets. I think for sure Nakul’s prediction was the most realistic because Wawrinka was by far the more difficult opponent. Congrats to all of you anyway and get those predictions in for the final. Charlie already took the initiative and predicted a 6-7(4) 7-5 6-2 6-7(8) 6-4 victory for Djokovic!
Quite an interesting one and not out of the question. Very similar to the Wimbledon 2014 scoreline and what a classic that would be. Let’s hope it is.
The is in your court.