There is something different about Novak Djokovic; something we have probably been noticing for months but have failed to acknowledge. Djokovic is no longer the young, spoiled superstar. Somewhere along the road he transformed himself and his game to championship caliber. Those championship qualities were very evident on Tuesday at Flushing Meadows.
Gone is the sulking. Gone are the little aches and pains that go with life on the tour. Gone are the temper tantrums that made the Serb hard to like. The Novak Djokovic that stands before us today is a real tennis player and a very real threat to topple second seeded Roger Federer and top seeded Rafa Nadal in the finals.
Djokovic’s mastery was very apparent on Tuesday when he downed Gael Monfils who was so busy playing against the wind that he forgot about the quarterfinal match. Djokovic’s 7-6(2), 6-1, 6-2 thrashing of Monfils showed the improved maturity of the Serb and revealed a player able to focus at the job at hand. The first set was compelling but sloppy. Novak began to capitalize on errors provided by Monfils and the strong wind.
Once Djokovic grabbed the first set tiebreaker, Monfils’ erratic play became more and more evident. The French star and former Wozniacki squeeze let the conditions take over his game.
Djokovic capitalized by striking lower risk shots and allowing Monfils to self destruct. The winner had 38 outright winners, while Monfils only mustered 17. The win against the Frenchman was Djokovic’s fifth in as many attempts.
The stage is now set for the much anticipated Federer-Djokovic semifinal match. Lifetime, Roger holds a commanding 10-5 record against the Serb. This will be their fourth U.S. Open match in the past four years and Djokovic fully expects to reverse the trend.
However, the Federer he will see may not be the same player as in the past. Since Federer disposed of Djokovic in the semifinals in Toronto, he has advanced his new offensive strategy quite a bit. This Roger Federer has all the skills of the pre-Toronto Federer along with some new strategies implemented by the highly regarded tennis consultant Paul Anacone.
On Tuesday, Federer showed all his skill and basically conducted a clinic on how to play in the wind. Fifth seed, Robin Soderling was not himself in the 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 straight set loss. Soderling’s big serve and powerful gorundstrokes were missing in action as Robin struggled with the ball toss on serve and with the spin from Federer’s ground game. Soderling only had two aces while the winner fired 18 aces.
Federer did a remarkable job of adjusting to the wind as he landed 64% of his first serves and won 50 of those 58 points. After missing several break point opportunities in the first two sets, the Swede appeared ready to push for a fourth set when he jumped to a 5-3 lead. Federer was not finished. The Swiss broke twice in a four game sweep that ended the night as well as Soderling’s chances for a grand Slam in 2010.
Leave a comment
You must be logged in to post a comment.