Its days like this, that go down in tennis history. Tennis Porn as I call it. A match-up that is so mouthwatering my heart rate rises to over 130 BPM on more than 5 occasions and my apple watch has to remind me to stand up and relax my heart rate. Lasting 3 Hrs 3 min, an unbelievable match that saw Djokovic ultimately prevail over Federer 7-6(6) 5-7 7-6(3). Perhaps for Federer fans, who saw the 37-year old dig so deep, defend at will from corner to corner, save all 12 break points he faced, and go toe-to-toe with his great rival with literally nothing separating the two legends, they will be bitterly disappointed with the end result. I must admit that while Federer played at a very high level for the most part, Djokovic is playing better than he ever has having gone through adversity the past two years. For Federer given the form he was in prior to this match, it is very impressive how he was able to make this affair so competitive, making it easily the best match he has played since the Australian Open in my opinion. Federer did an excellent job on his serve under pressure, and used his slice backhand/ variety to great effect, forcing the Serb to hit up into the court and get under the ball, extracting errors. He also served impeccably until the third set tiebreak, and was clutch on all break points and first serve deliveries,. Meanwhile, Djokovic did these things exceptionally well today to come out on top:
1.) Attacks Federer’s wide Forehand and wins the long baseline rallies forehand to forehand. Federer although has a great attacking forehand, it lets him down when he is pushed out-wide, due to the depth and angle Djokovic hits it with. It is such a heavy ball with lots of spin and causes Federer to reach and make errors.
2.) Serve/return combo – He has such a great second serve, which doesn’t allow Federer to get a clean hit, and thus Federer is more comfortable chipping it in play, since he is hesitant to attack off of even weaker serves because of Djoker’s pace absorption and great defense to offense abilities. He won an astonishing 76% of second serve points, more than his first serve 74%. That is such a good number, so astonishingly good. Federer won 74% on the first serve, but 54% on the second serve, which is albeit a decent number as well. These numbers let him hold serve easier and constantly apply pressure to the Federer service games, creating more chances.
Overall this match was decided by one or two points in the first set. When Federer had a set point at 5-6 in the first set tiebreak, he plays a slightly passive point resulting in an ill-timed backhand cross-court, and then at 6-6 – Federer misses an easy return, choosing to slice it off the backhand instead of attacking it, because that is safer, but he was beaten by the lack of pace on the serve which was only a 132 KMP second serve right in his strike zone.
There was also a crucial uncharacteristic forehand miss and double fault in the third set tiebreak after 3 hours of play, but ultimately in this match up when Djokovic wins the first set he is 18-1 vs Federer. Federer- when he wins the first set, he is 21-7. So the winner of the first set, almost always comes through in these clashes. It was a contest of sheer brilliance from both, but ultimately Novak was just a tad stronger. Lets not forget, that Federer also won last week in Basel, playing scratchy tennis but fighting through the matches and winning his 99th career title. He was so close to a win today, but for a man who is 37 years old, and went up against a player who is 6 years younger and in his prime and nearly won. It shows us that Federer still is at the very top and is still a force to be reckoned with, especially if it is indoors or on a fast hard court.
Novak Djokovic faces young Russian Karen Khachanov in the Finals tomorrow!
Congrats to Novak Djokovic who is World NO.1 after an astonishing comeback. Just six months ago, he couldn’t get a ball in the court and had a surgery on his elbow in February, rushing his comeback in Indian Wells and Miami, losing to Taro Daniel and Benoit Paire, the two worst matches I have ever seen him play. He slowly starts building but disappoints with dismal results going 6-6 in the first 12 matches of the season, dropping down to 22 in the world. He gets his coach Marian Vajda back along with 2 of his other team members and starts peaking by the end of the clay court season. He reaches the finals of Queens, wins Wimbledon Outlasting Rafael Nadal(Match of the year) in 5 Hrs 20 min, goes on to win Cincinnati (achieving Golden Masters), and Wins 3rd Us Open title dominating the field. He later goes to Shanghai Masters and doesn’t drop a set and more impressively his serve all week. Now hands down the Best Player in the world and basically a lock for Year end Number One. In May, he was out of the top 20. Truly Remarkable Achievement!
He also incredibly leads Roger Federer 25-22 in their H2H, making him the ultimate challenge to beat, along with a 27-25 H2H vs Rafael Nadal. So long story short, we are witnessing tennis of the highest order and are privileged to see 3 of the greatest players of all time, and the top 3 in the rankings face off every-time. Anytime, these 3 legends play each other, put down everything you are doing, and watch history unfold!
For your viewing pleasure, here are the full highlights of this classic :
Incredible hot shot from Federer at 3-4 break point in the first set
Incredible hot shot from Djokovic in the ninth game of set 3
Those stand out to me, along with the rest of the match ;))