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Djokovic Foils Federer in Bercy Classic

Title Number #100 will have to wait for Roger Federer as Novak Djokovic proved why he's been the best player of 2018 with a 7-6(6), 5-7, 7-6(3) victory in the Rolex Paris Masters semi-finals.

In a high quality three hour and two minute encounter at the AccorHotels Arena, Roger reeled off 54 winners and saved all 12 break points he faced but Djokovic was just too solid the big moments, serving with precision at key stages in the match and running away with the third set tie-break to set up a showdown with Karen Khachanov in tomorrow's final.

Quick Match Recap

Fed Djoker Bercy 18

Djokovic won the toss and elected to serve. The Serb was quickly up 40-15 but a string of nice points saw Roger make deuce twice in the game before Novak held for 1-0.

It'd been seven straight matches that Roger had not been able to serve above 60% and he was immediately under some pressure, slipping down a breakpoint only to save it and level for 1-1.

A hold to 30 put Novak up 2-1 before Roger levelled with a hold to 15. It was a cagey start from both and after a couple of simple enough holds Novak should have broken through at 4-3, holding four break points, one of which Roger saved with a reaction volley off a net cord that somehow went in off the frame 😆 .

However, he failed to do break as Roger held after a 10-minute game and we soon moved into a tie-break to fittingly decide the first set.

Into the breaker and Roger won the first point to snatch the mini-break, but he handed it back almost instantly losing his second service point.

Another mini-break came Roger's way as he moved 4-2 in front but he again relinquished it.  Djokovic then won both service points to lead 5-4 but he Swiss matched him to hold a set point at 6-5.

Roger then had two second serves to return but he missed out on both, playing conservatively as Djokovic won both to lead 7-6 and the Serb was able to take the set 8-6 after a Federer shank on set point.

Into set two and Roger had to save two break points in the opening game. Djokovic then saved a break point of his own and after a high quality first set, the second went into a bit of a lull as both men failed to create too much on the return.

It was Djokovic always looking the more likely though with his solidity from the baseline and in game ten he created a breakpoint to put him virtually in the final. Roger stood firm, erasing it with a big forehand and holding. The Swiss then used that adrenaline to power through his next return game, winning 9 of the last 11 points of set two to break and take the set 7-5.

Like set two, Roger again had to dig in at the start of the third, again saving two break points to hold for 1-0. At 15-30 he began to have opportunities on the return but Djokovic's serve remained precise and he levelled for 1-1.

The pair again exchanged comfortable holds and we didn't see more than one point won on the return again until game nine, which featured two more break points for Djokovic but again Roger held firm to hold for 5-4.

Three routine games later and we had a deciding set tie-break. It was the first one Djokovic had played since Rome in 2016 but he showed no signs of rust, winning 6 points in a row aided by an untimely Federer double fault to lead 6-1 and the Belgrade native converted his third match to take it 7-3.

Match Stats

Roger Federer Novak Djokovic
Aces 17 8
Double Faults 2 0
1st Serve 67% 67%
1st Serve Points Won 74% (69/93) 74% (56/76)
2nd Serve Points Won 54% (25/46) 76% (28/37)
Break Points Saved 100% (12/12) 50% (1/2)
Service Games Played 18 18
1st Serve Return Points Won 26% (20/76) 26% (24/93)
2nd Serve Return Points Won 24% (9/37) 46% (21/46)
Break Points Converted 50% (1/2) 0% (0/12)
Return Games Played 18 18
Winners 54 31
Unforced Errors 52 32
Net Points Won 62% (24/39) 77% (10/13)
Service Points Won 68% (94/139) 74% *84/113)
Return Points Won 26% (29/113) 32% (45/139)
Total Points Won 49% (123/252) 51% (129/252)

Highlights

Thoughts on the Match

Federer Bercy SF 2018

Novak is obviously on a roll. You can feel it. He protects his serve very well. I think I did the same as well. And at the end it came down to a few things here and there.

A great match here and one that highlights how good the Federer & Djokovic match up is when the two play well.

Obviously not the right result for Roger but I think he can walk away from this one with a ton of positives. In Cincinnati, he was soundly beaten by Novak and obviously left knowing he can play better.

In Paris, he can walk away knowing he played a very solid match and had he done one or two things that bit better he'd be in the final. That's not a bad place to be considering he's been in scratchy form over the last few months and playing Paris was somewhat of a last minute decision.

As for where the match was won and lost it really did boil down to a few moments here and there. For me Djokovic was the better player in all three sets as he defended his serve so well, facing just two break points and limiting Roger to very few chances.

He did, however, give him few look-ins, notably in the first set tie-break and those second serve returns at 6-5 and 6-6 were just a bit too tame from Roger. I think the lack of pace caught him out on one of them as it was only 132 km/h but it was so short in the box it really deserved the treatment. Other than that Federer didn't have much to go at, and the half chances were always snuffed out by Djoker who is a mental giant right now after being on such a hot winning streak.

But it was exceptionally close and the reason is that Roger served way better than he has of late and showed a lot of Houdini like skill to save all 12 break points. The other pleasing aspect was that the Swiss also went for his shots when down in the score and seemed to be playing freely for the most part which hopefully continues into London in a weeks time.

So 37 years young, playing back to back tournaments and coming within a whisker of beating the best player in the world right now. Pretty good I say and this was one of my favourite matches of this season, right up with there with Djokovic Nadal from Wimbledon in terms of quality.

As for Novak, what can you say, He's like a wall at the back of the court. Interestingly it's the first time he hasn't converted a break point when he's created double-figure chances in a match but he was just so solid over the three hours, saying in his post-match interview it was one of his best matches he's played against Roger. He never looked unsettled even when Fed's flukey frame volley off a net cord went in he just laughed it off so he's clearly in a good space right now and assuming he's not tired after back to back three setters he heads into tomorrow's final as the overwhelming favourite.

What did you guys think of the match? Let me know in the comments 🙂

Federer vs. Djokovic Paris Masters 2018 Rating

Serving
Returning
Net Play
Winner to Unforced Error Ratio
Break Point Conversion

STILL CLASSERER

Great match from both guys. Djoker rock solid and so tough to beat right now. Fed, his best match in a while and surely has to take positives from stealing the second set and having chances in the third.

User Rating: 4.43 ( 9 votes)

Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer - I'll pretty much try and watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or tweeting about tennis I play regularly myself and use this blog to share my thoughts on Fed and tennis in general.

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121 Comments

  1. Great match today ! I’m very disappointed by the loss but i’m still happy that I was able to assiste to such a battle. It’s been a while since Fed played like this.

  2. Fed has to feel happy with that match overall. Given his serving woes as of late it’s amazing he held 28 straight times against Nishiori and Djokovic. His ground game started to look better in set three, hitting three BH DTL winners. Hopefully he can pick up right where he left off in London and get his ground game going a little more. If he’s in good form I think Nole is the only guy that can beat him.

  3. I have seen only the first set and it was a pleasure, ignoring the outcome.
    Roger is on a very positive trend, getting back to himself after a terrible summer.

    The only thing that stands out to me is Djokovic winning 77% of the points behind his second serve.
    You can’t win a match when you give your opponent to win so many points on his second serve.
    On the other two matches this week I’ve seen Roger get some return winners on second serve, and against Novak he went for a lot of tame backhand slices that gave the Novak the advantage.
    I don’t think he will get better service numbers against Novak, especially when Novak plays like this, so he has to make him pay for second serves. That’s the only way he can win. There’s a good chance these two are to meet in a couple of weeks from now. I hope Roger comes with higher confidence and a more aggressive pattern of play.

  4. OK, then 😘
    Maybe good to have a restful sunday. And anyway never mind as Thiem also left for no training final match anyway.
    I’m sure Fed’s studying and preparing industriously and cleverly the next few days.
    And “with a ton of positives” – thanks Jonathan!

  5. Just seeing classic Roger most of the match was good enough though he lost such a close match where with some more luck he could have won. This one doesn’t hurt like the Wimbledon or US open since the better player won and we can go into 2019 with a reasonable hope for 21 and 100+. Just can’t stop thinking how cool it would have been to win and get 100 tomorrow though 🙁
    Best 3 hours spent in a while watching tennis. What a great sport and incredible desire to win from both pushing each other. Glad to have watched it inspite of the result..

  6. Thanks for the write up Jonathan as always. It was a pleasure to watch, particularly the serve improvement and consistency. There was a near parity between winners/losers for both players. Fed had the momentum in the third set and could have taken this match. As you say, he has many positives to take into London, including a match without being broken and the confidence to hit over and through his BH.

  7. It was a fun match to watch, even if it did not have the result we wanted. It was such a pleasure watching Fed play well, and to have a close, competitive match. It is a reminder of how much fun tennis can be when 2 excellent players are both playing well.

  8. Hey Jonathan,
    Thanks for the prompt post. I think Roger almost willed himself to perform at a much higher level today, and it was great to see his bh look like its ’17 version at times. I still don’t get his conservative slice returns off second serves though. I think he should have pulverized a few more of them. In general, even though Djoker served really well throughout, I thought Roger was reading his serves pretty well, which is something I think he has struggled with in their recent matches. Lovely to see him save all those bps though, and that second set steal was vintage Federer. With this level, clearly he is the only guy right now who can challenge Djoker, and that is a scary, scary thought. I can’t imagine the lull in tennis that will come after the big 3 retire.

  9. I couldn’t watch the match but followed some of the scores on line.Feds serve has obviously improved tremendously
    As he wasn’t broken I think.It was a great match and tie breaks are such a lottery.
    On to London and I hope Nadal doesn’t mess with the draw with a last minute withdrawal.It would be so nice if Fed
    wasn’t in Jokers group for once.

  10. Well, he definitely returned much better than in Cincinnati, so that goal was achieved.
    Better serving. Looking more comfortable on groundstrokes, Agree I would have like to see a little less slicing – he really didn’t want to get into those long rallies with this opponent – but maybe he doesn’t feel he has those aggressive strokes yet. I did wonder if his high winner plus high UE meant he WAS going for it a lot, but some of them didn’t come off.

    Obviously some of them were just shanks 😉

    Doesn’t Novak have some unbelievable court coverage though…

    Glad to see our guy continuing to make progress, & hope this means he’s about worked through whatever’s been messing with him. There were some classic shots from both men in this, as several have said, & that was a pleasure to see.

    1. Seeing how close it was, I can’t help wondering whether the scoreline might have changed enough had Roger had more adequate recovery from his late-nighter last night. Although Djoker had played for what, 2.5 hours? Would the two facts cancel each other out?

      1. Didn’t look like being tired from yesterday. There were moments that looked like continued whatever-it-is-that’s-been-going-on, but also moments that looked like – if this makes any sense – they were helping each other get back closer to their best level. Bringing that out in each other, as they have so many times before.

  11. The biggest positive is that Roger’s serve is working again. Not getting broken in two consecutive matches against returners of the calibre of Novak and Kei is very heartening, especially after his poor serve form lately in Basel.
    The only niggle, to me, is that Roger’s final set/tiebreak/crunch time woes are lingering.

    But then, as Roger himself had said, he hadn’t expected much from this Paris outing, only that match play was more important for him right now than practice. So from that perspective, mission accomplished. Now onward. Thanks for your coverage Jonathan. You always give the most balanced review of any Fed match…loss or win.

  12. There were two interesting stats from the match. Roger hit almost twice as many winners as Djokovic but double the errors, too. He was playing the odds. The other stat was Djokovic was winning two out of three ground-stroke rallies. Once the ball was in play, unless Roger could force an error or make a winner off the first or second ball the point was Djokovic’s. So Roger chipping and slicing the ball into play was absolutely feeding into the Serb’s strength. He simply feasted off Roger’s backhand. That shot is this year a long way from the weapon of 2017. With the weight of Djokovic’s game so much against him it was remarkable that Roger made the match so close (particularly after his patchy Basel form), so it was dismaying to see that it was his nerve that failed him so close to the finish line. He could have achieved one of the upsets of the year. Oh well, he is 37. His game will never be quite what it once was – invincible at his best. He used to be one of the most clutch players I had ever seen – particularly in a tie-break.

    BTW, if Roger today had played the Djokovic from the first half of the year I have little doubt of the outcome – straight sets to Roger. As far as I am concerned, the resurrection of the Serb defies credulity.

  13. In a surrealistic way, I’m as disappointed as after Wimbledon 2015, where Fed clutched the 4. set from 1-5 to win it, and then failed a smash in 5, which decided the match.
    He was so close there too.
    And the USO (or was it AO?) where Roger created a ridiculous number of breakpoints (was it 23 or so?) without converting.
    So annoying many wins by Djoko, confirming his wining streak over the beauty.
    And Djoko’s even not grimacing as much as he did formerly, so mentally stronger too.
    Damn it!
    Hopefully Roger will take the positives recommended by Jon.
    Trying hard to do the same.

  14. Well well muser you never know, beauty still alive and very well, and things can still turn for the even better. Thanks for all the the more than me positive comments, encouraging!

  15. Diwali in Bercy …

    This match was a sublime fight
    A festival of high lights
    Two bright stars in the dark night
    A Diwali grace to watch at

    Roger :  somptuous in his artwork
    Novak : solid as a Serbian oak
    The crowd, in awe watching their work
    Sport at its upmost,  like fireworks

    How blessed were we to live that feast
    This encounter was a total treat
    Pity, in tennis no draws exist

    Thank you, champions !

    1. That was lovely, FB. Diwali fireworks indeed! Only thing is, Diwali is the celebration of good over evil, light over darkness. If Roger had won this, that aspect, too, would have been complete 😊. (No offence to Nole intended…)

      1. As a RF fan I must agree, Sucharita. And even – Creative Beauty vs….welll – solid boredom…(Djoko maybe not very evil except vs ball kids when feeling stressed, or getting on ninth cloud just because of prevailing Roger)

    2. Nice. Diwali doesn’t get much coverage over here. Eid takes all the limelight. Some of the schools even shut for it now in the North of England. How embarrassing.

  16. The level at which these old farts play when they open up the throttle is simply out of reach of everyone else. Are we doomed to be left in a void in a few years? Come one, young fellows, show us something…

  17. Good write up Jonathan, agree with everything you said. I just wish Federer had been braver on the first set tie break and some of the fragility returned in the deciding tie break.

    Whilst he was no doubt gutted I wish Fed could have shown a little more grace at the net with Djokovic too – after a classic match he just about looked at him and headed off.

  18. Somebody (mentioned below) summed up yesterday’s match very well. I copy his/her thoughts here.
    The question was :
    What are your thoughts on the Paris Masters 2018 Semi-Final between Federer and Djokovic?
    Charmane Smith Ladd, Great fan of tennis and player for over 40 years.
    Answered 5h ago

    First thought: Today marked the forty-seventh time the two have played one another. Djokovic leads Federer 25–22 in those matches.

    (Only one other rivalry has been more prolific: Djokovic has played Rafa Nadal a total of 52 times. Djokovic leads Nadal in that rivalry, 27–25.)

    Goosebumps.

    This particular semi-final match today was right up there with all the rest between Djokovic and Federer. It was a great and exciting match! And I also thought: The Djoker is really back to stay!

    It’s great for men’s tennis. Absolutely great. And Novak deserves to return right back to where he once was.

    Today’s match was definitely one that could have easily gone either way.

    The battle was amazing. The athleticism on display was mind-boggling. Neither man was giving up an inch of what might be considered a free-zone to spray winners on their side of the court. The usual winning shots would often be met with equally impressive offensive returns. It was riveting. It was like the Federer-Djokovic rivalry picked up from ten years ago.

    And surely I thought Roger would win because he was serving extremely well. Djokovic never broke Roger’s serve, even though he had 12 opportunities to do it. I’ve never known Novak to have so many attempts at breaking serve and come up empty handed.

    Roger was on fire at the start. Overall, Roger had in excess of 50 winners and was playing flawlessly for most of the match. But that first set tiebreak slipped out of his grasp as Djokovic came up with some tough plays and squeaked out an 8–6 win.

    I really thought Roger wouldn’t let that happen again — especially after he took the second set. It too though, was a very close 7–5 set. Again, Djokovic never broke Roger’s serve. Roger looked eager to get the third set started, as his momentum was encouragingly obvious. I settled in for a riveting third set that would go to my man Roger.

    It was a dog fight in the third set. It was like Old Times. Good Old Times.

    Roger Federer put up a valiant fight. Watching every single moment of the match, I genuinely thought Roger was going to best Novak this time. Yes. I know that Djokovic is playing stellar tennis right now. Yes. I know about his 21-match streak (now 22). But the match was so close… ooooh, I could taste it!

    And besides, this could have been Roger’s 100th title! Ugh! What great revenge this could have been to soften Fed’s loss to Novak at Cincinnati.

    I know, I know. It’s not quite like that. Well, a girl can dream!

    Seriously, when I look at it in hindsight, I still see Roger’s loss as almost a win. If nothing else, it certainly accomplished something quite remarkable at this time:

    Roger Federer, with his spectacular tennis today, showed that he’s still here and ready to play from the top of the food chain. Even though Novak Djokovic is once again #1 in the world, Roger served notice to Novak and to everyone else on the ATP Tour that he’s not going anywhere anytime soon. He’s announcing that there will be tough challenges against Novak’s maintaining residency at the top of men’s professional tennis.

    But wow, what a great match! Djokovic won 7–6 (6), 5–7, 7–6 (3). He bested Federer in a match to remember. It was a most fabulously played, tightly contested semi-final.

    And my last thought is that it sure felt more like a Final to me.

    Congrats to Novak Djokovic. It’s great to have him back and we’re all very happy for him in every respect.

    And to Roger, thank you for a most riveting match today. It was fantastic! Keep on continuing to delight and amaze. Fantabulous you are, sweet GOAT!
    Last, to the Djokovic-Federer Rivalry: More!!!!

    Thanks for asking!
    Hugs !

    1. little more to add😊I couldn’t watch but don’t think I could have handled the stress levels.I think if Roger
      could have won the first tiebreak he might have got the match in straights.When it went to a final set tiebreak I just knew Joker would get it,he is just so clutch in final sets and tiebreaks.Not to take anything
      away from Rogers performance,a few points here and there the result would have been different.
      It would be nice if Roger could get a break for once and not have the Joker in his group for London.
      As for the final I think Khachanov will get a set at least.Djokovic has got to be feeling the effect of that
      terrific tussle,unless he is superhuman,or a machine…Oh wait.

  19. What a great final, tee-hee. I guess Fed wore out Djoker in the semis. I believe Khachanov is the real deal. If it was Fed in the final, would Fed have thrown too much variety at him? Got Karen off balance. Maybe they will meet one day.

    Happy with Fed’s game at the moment. Turned around his serve and seems hungry for London.

    Thanks so much for all your dedication to this site, Jonathan!

  20. Kachanov takes down Djokovic – and in straight sets! Very impressive. He has the formula for success against the Serb; a powerful serve that either gives him free points or gives him the lead in the point, and consistent power on both wings, so that he was constantly able to put Djokovic under pressure in the rallies, and indeed he dominated the rallies. It is that kind of groundstroke game that has largely been lacking this year with Roger.

  21. YEEEEEEEHAAAAWWWW!!!!! I am not a fan of Russians but today I am a fan of Khachanov, nice goin camarade. These early 20’s players might start showing the 30 somethings that they are for real.

  22. This was a most pleasing result.Quite amusing reading Joker fans who were predicting he would win the next ten grand slams falling over themselves to find excuses for him.Flu?In my experience you don’t have it one day and not the next.
    Novaks hanky is the equivalent of Nadals knee bandage.It seems that Khachenov could be a threat next year.It has got to
    happen sometime that the younger players get through.He seems to be very strong-and looks like Thor😊

  23. I have been a fan of Khachanov for a few years now. I first noticed him when he had good results in the Moscow tourney as a 17-year-old junior. He has always had a lot of power. In fact, reining in that power enough to keep the ball in the court has been one of his challenges. This year he has improved dramatically, being more consistent and playing well at the net, to go along with his big serve and powerful groundies.

    Karen turned 22 in May, so in today’s tennis world, he is just beginning. I think he has an excellent chance to win one or more Slams.

    Along with being a terrific tennis player, he is also an impressive young man, very poised and mature. He is finishing a degree at the University of Moscow, plays chess, and reads serious literature. He trained for a few years in Barcelona, so speaks Spanish as well as English and his native Russian. When he told the French fans that he would learn more French, I am sure he will.

    1. Yes he seems mature and well grounded.Still we have had false dawns before 😐lets see what 2019 brings.
      But it is very refreshing to see new winners of masters tournaments.

    2. Seems sympathetic intelligent then. And will for sure come to win a great deal. I watched him some time ago, – looking to me a rather rough power player (not my taste). If he improves it’s very nice, especially if some elegance can be with his game too. (Maybe it is already?)

    3. Karen pushed Novak back with his power and reliability (how’s that for tasting one’s poison?).
      This forced Novak him to reply too deep and make the inevitable errors with balls that sailed long.
      It’s a valid option against a baseline tank, although it’s a “bit” unidimensional.
      Another one is to vary the game, but that’s not within everyone’s reach, IS IT?

  24. I think the overall dominance of the 30 plus is about to end in terms of especially in GS. Sorry JOKO fans I thought he might catch up to Nadal but now I think not. I feel if not in 2019 definitely 2020 will be dominated by 20 plus. So fed fans not to worry the GS is locked solidly in Feds legacy. I still think that the way JOKO plays his body will give in if not in 2019 definitely in 2020.

    1. I’m so much banking on the young guns to protect Fed’s records. Earlier it was Andy and Stan (bless them both!), now its young Karen, Sascha, Shapo, Stephanos, Dominic and Borna. Hopefully, one of them will crack the slam-winning code in 2019. In fact, the more the merrier. 🙂

      1. Your list of 20 somethings is perfect as long as you have Annie”s Greek God in there and now her Russian Thor everything is perfect.

  25. I loved the play of the young Russian he looks so strong so like
    everyone I hope it’s not just a one off. Was very surprised to
    see Djo less than his bendy self, looks like Roger had a lasting
    affect on him (or maybe it was the celebrations)….but for one awful
    moment I thought it was acting!

      1. Indeed, I am getting the brothers mixed up.Still Thor if easier to spell so I shall stick with that😎

  26. What do we think about Djokovic’s H2H edge (not big yet, but one Fed likely will never equal) in terms of Fed’s legacy? Novak has had his number in Roger’s twilight, just like Roger had his when Novak was starting out, but on the biggest stages, Novak has come out on top, and now has all the Masters events (I remember Jonathan said it wasn’t something Fed thinks about, but I wonder if he regrets that MC final against a very beatable Stan, for example; Rome was only in the cards once, though I guess four runner-ups isn’t terrible) and the most prize money of any tennis player (though he’s benefited from the sharp spike in tournament prizes the past 8 or 9 years). How does this reflect on Roger’s accomplishments? I think they’re starting to pale a bit, even despite his big edge in slams and #1 weeks.

    1. The champion in front of you has always got more visible luster than the champion who isn’t. I think that’s all it means. Both of these guys are massive champions, in their own ways, for different reasons. I don’t personally think the accomplishments of one diminish the accomplishments of the other. In fact in a way I think they enhance each other, all three of these guys, these two with Nadal, playing at the same time in history: that each of them is able to establish their own historic numbers, all at the same time, is a testament to how these three have brought out the very best in each other.

    2. Fed is 6 years older.

      Your peak years are very short compared to the rest of your career.

      Therefore Fed has to have a lopsided H2H with all the ATG’s 5-6 years younger by virtue of the length of his career.

      Once Fed turned 28-29 – no matter how much more they play- Novak will always be stronger physically.

      And so it means nothing. In fact , that it’s still this close at Fed’s advanced age just shows how freaking good he is. Novak should be crushing him easily by now if they were really equals in an absolute sense. (Just as a 31 year old Novak should easily beat a 37 year old Novak),

      I think the closeness of their rivalry that shows Peak Fed beats peak Novak 8.

      1. What a difference a day makes, well done Karen and nice Fed found his game and got a rest from a tough final too.
        The Fed SF match gave such emotions and the final made it all seem better somehow but did awaken my feelings of Fed these days seldom gets enough credit for what he still does, so please forgive my defensiveness of this in what follows :-
        Next gen catching fire is well overdue and to be expecting a late bloomer like Djoko with Pete’s 14 Slam total only now , to lead the tour indefinitely is almost against history, even if players are peaking later and remaining longer due to health, fitness and equipment tech advances!

        The ATP needed a hero as Fed is aging and Rafa as usual a largely sporadic clay player and Muzz, Stan et al on r& r but aging too.
        It’s a relief a young gun with a hint of Safin and Thor, personable, skilled and quiet on court has arrived! I think they said his father is Armenian so it’s all quite interesting at this point to see what next.may a charge commence !

        Thinker mentioning “the champ in front of you has the lustre” is so true and pundits have been absolutely running with the Djoker narrative but tbf Novak is now #1 and came back from #20!
        I too don’t understand why more questions aren’t raised about his unreal turnaround as Armstrong suggests, which is now being sold as ” he finally fixed (with minor surgery ) an elbow bone chip & look at him now?”
        He also had a big holiday in his relative prime when surely it was classic burnout! Novak now has little to defend assuring he will get number one indefinitely! Rafa has done this too.
        If you play through as Fed did until 34, you always have something to defend unless you strategically tank. Fed is so competitive even whilst he said Paris was also a practice, once he got a whiff of higher rounds he was into giving a good show! Admirable even if he suffered a loss to his nemesis!
        The Fed consistency on tour seems overlooked and rarely contrasted with his peers gaps! Rafa is the warrior we are lucky to have , Fed is now a demon who slacks off from RG …he’s done it only twice when he could by rights be retired, and of course the first time bc of injury!

        When Holdco says Fed results are looking? ? I think too often we forget what Fed achieved under thirty and that he played without breaks until post prime or even to the normal retirement age of his peers …only ever a seven week gap for his back in 2013 , before his one big post knee gap. & comeback. He consistently got good results even with mono and this bad back and yet he can still go toe to toe with Nole at 37. Nole who on Saturday was probably getting six slams again by 2019 end. Maybe he will but it’s all too easy for the ATP to spin these narratives as we wait and wait for net gen as the lost boys barely failed to show up.

        Another aspect of Fed greatness is his leadership, setting the records they are chasing whilst also having a full life. I’m sure he doesn’t really begrudge Stan got MC when he got a new set of twins soon after . Looking back tho with the Novak Masters excellence we are now questioning why Fed didn’t get that one too ? We also forget Rome he didn’t get was a classic five setter, he jut missed or that he was getting 3 slams a year whilst others were winning Masters !
        It’s actually normal for each generation to try to surpass the one they followed, Fed has more than delivered on that and so far still goating alongside Laver!
        WTF is hopefully successful for Fed too but I wonder if the field is set finally or if more withdrawals will come here too?

        Thanks for the writeups and forum Jonathan always so good!

      2. Your estimation is logical and accurate Alb. Although a 37 year old Fed would maybe have beaten a 31 year old Fed. I agree to use number of an athlete in his late 30’s is unreasonable. If Djoker wins 3 GS at age 35 & 36 then talk to me about greatness.

    3. Djoko’s growing victory numbers vs Fed annoy me a lot too, most matches between those two with Novak as the prevailer have been ridiculously tight – and could have gone either way. And should have, if tennis gods were fair, which is too much to demand of course. – Mostly, when Djoko is fit for fight, or near to that, they benefit him for some reason? Could be Djoko’s extraordinary fighting spirit is something that pleases them more than anything else?

    4. I’m sure that’s a continuous challenge for Fed Camp’s thinking of war strategy. Maybe he’ll up his backhand, which we’ve seen a bit too little of lately maybe because of right hand recovery was still on?(but still we saw somewhat, and brilliant those!) – – Maybe his fighting spirit can be upped a step too? I’m not writing him out of beating Djoko, as Fed has done of Rafa lately. He’s still absolutely no aged weakling (just taking a bit more “vacations” in order to keep up his energy).

    5. Roger and Novak are not playing each other at the same age and at the same stage of their careers. The head-to-head reflects that. Because of Roger’s age it isn’t to his advantage. But there is so much more to the game than individual match-ups – and even records. Roger will always be one of the greats; whether he is, or was, the greatest will continue to be debated, and in a way the verdict on that is unnecessary to his legacy. He is indisputably a great champion, whose name has become synonymous with the sport, and at his best he has demonstrated an unmatched brilliance. He has also been human and shown feet of clay – if you’ll excuse the expression. To me, that is enough.

      I think the difficulty for him now is that as he ages his skills inevitably lose some of their sharpness. It can be hard for a great athlete to accept that. It seems to me that he doesn’t play for the fun of it – his immense competitiveness won’t allow him to do that but rarely (maybe the Laver Cup?) – and he often doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself on court; the game has become more stressful for him. He deals less well with the pressure of the moment. We saw that in the final-set tie-break against Djokovic.

      With Kachanov’s victory over Novak we may have glimpsed the future of the sport. The young Russian is a giant – but fast – with enormous weapons and no significant weakness. At the awards ceremony he dwarfed the current world number one. With his improved ability to handle pressure I am picking he will become a nightmare for the top players.

      1. Agree,we may have witnessed the future of the sport.But the optimum word is may.Paris has
        thrown up odd results before.Remember that Jerzy Jankovic bloke or whatever his name was.
        Who remembers him now?I still think we need to wait and see whilst applauding this young mans strength ,courage and skill.

  27. Well I called Karen to win in 2 so feeling smug. His win over Isner was mentally huge and he kicked on from there.

    Re Fed. He came to Paris for match practice and to refind his game. Mission accomplished. My only criticism is same as Jonathan’s ( great write up btw). Far too tame on those 2 2nd serves. I was absolutely screaming at him to just hit them!
    Novak’s ad serve down the T has become almost Unreadable for Fed. Kudos to Him.
    V solid 2 weeks after all and I feel he will go confident into London.
    Watch Rafa turn up, play one match and wreck the draw!

  28. Some thoughts about the upcoming draw for London:
    -Too bad Roger won’t be with Zverev in the RR. I think he has some shoulder problem and probably won’t go through.
    -Best group for Roger IMO is Nadal**, Cilic, Nishikori.
    -Worst group is Djokovic, Anderson, Thiem*.

    *Thiem>Nishikori because Roger hasn’t played him for a while and he’s looking much better this year on hard courts. He hits big and can be very dangerous if he catches a day. Roger has the measure of Kei by now and it should be easier.
    **Nadal should come not 100% and without too much play time on hard courts plus indoor is not his favourite environment. However, as we know, it’s probable that he will play one match (Theim/Nishikori) and then withdraw. I don’t know who’s the first alternate. Isner? KK? Coric? The latter two are more dangerous IMO.

  29. Watching and analysing the numbers you wrote up the page, I think that unforced errors make the great difference for not to win the match. Serving ok, returning better than in another matches before, more winners than Djoker. The difference, for me is always the unforced errors.
    Let’s wait in London.
    Best regards

  30. Super analysis as always Jonathan. Great comments here, thanks everyone.
    A bit random to say but you know what I appreciate the most – Roger chose tennis for his sport. He is a genius for that.
    (Thank God, not football… 😉 )

  31. Watching the Kachanov match at least proved to me Djokovic is human. He was leaning over, breathing hard, and started playing with slightly more risk, and then the errors came. But what really stood out was Kachonov’s backhand side. He was hitting down the line bombs and sick angles cross court, keeping Djokovic guessing. Sadly Federer will never be able to do that. On grass that’s fine since the slice is deadly (and pretty good on a low bouncing indoor court too). But a single handed backhand is a great offensive shot, but not really so effective as a neutral shot. Either you hit a perfect one (we saw many examples in 2017) or a good biting slice, but that’s about it. Still prefer it anyways.
    The SF match was epic and Federer really impressed me, that might be the best he played since Australia. But damn it Djokovic kept on hitting it to Fed’s backhand the whole match. With Kachanov he wasn’t so sure of himself.
    Good for Kachanov, but it’s an end of year tournament on a fast indoor surface. If they meet in a slam Djokovic would grind him down.
    Remember Kachonov played at an extremely high level vs Nadal in Wimbledon and should have beaten him – he was up with breaks a few times, plus each set was very close tiebreakers or 7-5 scores – but he choked a bit . Maybe this win gives him belief.
    On to London now with renewed optimism. In Basel Fed was getting broken every set, then he doesn’t get broken the whole match vs the best returner probably of all time. Well done.

    1. Agree with a lot of your comments but having watched Joker many times it is certainly not the first time
      he has behaved as if exhausted.I am willing to bet that if he had won the second set,his tiredness would
      miraculously have disappeared.Also not so sure that Djokovic will wear him down in a slam,could be the
      other way round.He is only 22 and looks extremely fit.Time will tell I guess😊

  32. @Katie a very interesting and well balanced post.Yes the resurgence is strange,but so was the whole falling off the cliff
    thing as well.

  33. Apparently Nadal has a loose body in his ankle.I don’t know if something is lost in translation here,as well as the abdominal
    injury.So now Isner is through,what a treat.😎

      1. You would think so Sheila but no doubt these annoying problems will have disappeared come
        clay court season😎

  34. The player most taken in with Djo’s play acting has been Andy Murray,
    the number of times when Murray was playing well Novak started the
    dying man routine. So much so that Murray started to do it sometimes
    he however not such a good actor. And I know we hear time and time
    again about Roger losing in Cincinatti, however didn’t Federer play
    twice in one day, I remember reading Rod Laver saying that it was
    the climate that beat Fed. I must be on my own because I keep
    hearing Djo is back to his best I don’t see it, I know he is winning but
    the opposition isn’t as good, so Karen K was a breath of fresh air.
    is saying Djo is back to his best

    1. I agree,I think that Joker is flattering to deceive.Look at Paris,he plays Sousa(who}then Cilic- out of form but still takes 3 sets to beat him, then Dhumzur ,retires injured ,then Fed,improving from Basle but nowhere near 2017 form,who he only beats in 3 very tight sets and finally beaten in straights.Joker is playing well,but far from unbeatable as Thor has proved.
      Yes I know I got Cilic in the wrong order.
      So this end of year tournament is wide open.😊

    2. I don’t think Djoker is flattering to deceive, he has won 2 slams and beat Nadal in a great match in Wimbledon where Rafa had a breakpoint which was saved with an epic pass.

  35. I just watched the WTF draw on BBC 1
    Fed will be in the 2nd group with Anderson + Thiem × Nishikori.

    Djoko will be in the first group with Isner + Zverev + Cilic

    1. For once not in the same half as Joker.
      For Fed I would say Mr Anderson could be the main threat.
      Joker has the big servers,Isner(who will be fresh)Cilic,who took him to 3 in Paris and Zverev who is useless.
      So all in all for once a good draw for Fed😊

  36. It’s been good to read all your positive comments. We were not happy here as I was sure Fed was going to win the last tie-break then he muffed it, especially with the double fault, very bad. But good that he is finally playing nearer his best again (except for the odd oddities), so playing in Paris did get him back to match-fit. Not sure about all that chipping – Jonathan, was that the right thing to do? as there seemed to be an awful lot of it. It seems to me that he has lost some of his confidence, we don’t get the on-court swagger or the fancy shots, and he seems to have trouble at the end of matches whereas before he was great at finishing off in style. Maybe I’m wrong, I certainly hope so.
    Looking forward with some trepidation to the WTF, but good news that Nadal is out, means Djok is in the other half at the start.

  37. You may all feel happy that Rafa won’t be participating in the top 8. But I am sad that he and and Delpo won’t be there.

      1. Probably because it provides good competition

        After all I don’t think Isner is the most exciting ATP material!

    1. Well, you do want the top 8 in the world, ideally, for the end-of year competition, rather than people who only make it because someone else has pulled out. Agree that Isner really isn’t what you’d hope for there.

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