Friday, 25 January 2013

Ferrer far off the best of Djokovic

Perennial Grand Slam tournament second week contributor David Ferrer, according to Novak Djokovic, would have the the world number one battling for a long time to prevail in the semi final between the two.

Maybe they were the right words to say, and the true thoughts of Novak were more confident, but I don't suspect such confidence extended to him performing at a standard to which we were privileged to witness on a balmy Melbourne Thursday night.

Almost immediately,  the Ferrer ability to gather up tennis balls like few others in order to maintain the life of rallies was put to an extreme test with Djokovic at his most inventive, accurate and ruthless certainly for this year and possibly for any match played at this level this deep in the draw.

The Serb serve was totally on point, with Ferrer unable to make a statistical dent in its effectiveness, whereas the Spanish equivalent was hardly that, easily picked off for outright winners off both wings.
Ferrer could reach several Djokovic ground strokes but when Novak introduced subtle spin or slice to the mix, just merely reaching the ball became insufficient and errors began piling up in the Spanish column.

Djokovic does not approach the net often but when he does he usually has a good motive, and the times tonight were for point winning, as were most of his movements of leg and racquet.

The score book will show that Ferrer lost serve twice in the first set - it won't show the way in which Novak Djokovic dominated the match, manoeuvring his opponent around the court as if manipulating a marionette.  It won't show how debilitating it was for David Ferrer to have his best efforts made to look almost inept as he shot little arrows into the oncoming full scale artillery.

At 2-2 paper barely covered the yawning gap before a couple of forehands ripped it asunder and all hell broke loose.

6-2 the first set raced by, and for the crowd an ace was the set winning shot.   Yet the respect in which David Ferrer is held allows for the idea, fanciful though it sometimes may be, of a comeback in any match where he is still on court and moving, regardless of current scoreline.    

So in a best of five set match Djokovic needed to continue his wizardry (for us) and heartache (for Ferrer) a while longer.  He did just this.

In Set 2 the dominance of the Djokovic serve continued unabated, again placing immense pressure on Ferrer when he was asked to hold his.  His second serve, too often required, was pulverised by the best returner arguably since Agassi. 

Ferrer could not keep rallies alive at his command, Djokovic deciding to end them in a variety of ways, increasing his ventures to the net to gather successes, as if he hadn't been successful everywhere else.

As if by design, and to be blunt the delivery of tonight's total package from Novak was akin to rolling out the latest iPad app, another two breaks of the Ferrer serve were the score book's stark record of the divide between the players.

The 6-2 margin was repeated and now five sets would be the necessary distance for the match to run if Ferrer were to win through to the final.  Of course that would happen only if Novak Djokovic were replaced at this point with an exponent of the game with merely human capabilities.

Set three and Djokovic improved if anything, assisted it must be said by a naturally despondent Ferrer.  The Spanish forth seed's errant backhand gifted the first game to Djokovic and with that service break the party could begin.

Holding serve was so much a certainty for Novak tonight that it could have been avoided and just placed as a game in the Serb column.  However he did as he was told and won for 2-0 before we had what I believe was the OMG game of the night featuring the OMG shot of the night.

Ferrer had forced Djokovic wide on the deuce side out of court on the first point of the Spaniard's second service game, when Novak played an astonishing forehand that was always out of court while in the air and only decided to come into play as it landed, becoming a down the line winner to behold.
Not content to leave it there, the top seed gave his backhand a chance in the spotlight - once with a slashing winner to set up break point and again to break the Ferrer serve.

This was the peak of a glorious exhibition of tennis from Novak Djokovic and if he takes this sort of form with him to Sunday then his opposition will need something special to overcome the two time defending champion.

6-2 6-2 6-1 the final scoreline

For Ferrer, these things happen on occasion, and he would know that when an opponent is on fire you can only sit back, hope for a miracle and if it doesn't come just admire.  Next time for David hopefully the roles could be reversed.

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