Sunday, 25 January 2015

Novak combats the Verdasco serve

Novak Djokovic is the world's number one and champion here 4 times including 2011-2013.  He hasn't been talked up much this year, with  a lot of hype surrounding Federer and the fact that Nadal and Murray are also in that side of the draw, not to mention the Australians Tomic and Kyrgios.

However, through to the third round dropping only 14 games and no sets is pretty sound form and Fernando Verdasco, 2009 semi finalist would need to be serving well and hitting his forehand accurately to outlast the Serbian number one seed.

Set one was all about the serve, and Djokovic performed this part of his game immaculately - he needed to because he could not convert the chances created on the Verdasco delivery.
In the third game, which lasted 16 points, Djokovic had 2 break points and could not do the job.
In both the seventh and ninth games Verdasco won all points from 15-40 to lead 4-3 and 5-4.

All the while, Djokovic was playing quality tennis, his returning something close to his norm and reflexes spot on, taking many shots early to put additional pressure on the response from Verdasco.
Fernando did not wilt at all to his credit and a tie break would decide the opening set.

Two unexpected unforced forehand errors in the early part of the tie break had Djokovic under pressure 2-4 and after Verdasco's ace to stretch the advantage to 5-3 with another serve to come, things appeared grim for the Serb.

A double fault changed everything - Djokovic won his 2 serves to lead 6-5 and while Verdasco could save 3 set points, the number one managed to serve it out 7-6 winning the tie break 10-8.
Hard work but ever so crucial was winning the opening set for Djokovic, more so the effect on Verdasco in losing a close one.  I believe that Novak could have survived the loss of a set, but it would be harder for Fernando to come back.

The second set was never going to be anyone's except Djokovic's.  He served incredibly with an unbelievable first service percentage and winning nearly all points on his serve, first or second.  He hardly made an unforced error, and even served one more ace than Verdasco.

Yet there was only the single break of serve and that was in the second game.  Verdasco played good tennis but could not manufacture a break back for the remainder of the set which went Serbia's way 6-3.

Game five in set three saw the end effectively for the popular Spanish player, who after saving a break point was careless with a forehand then a backhand gifting the break to Djokovic.
The top seed led 3-2 and could hold serve three more times to win the match.  He did so with precision, but had to take Verdasco kicking and screaming across the line.
The match score 7-6 6-3 6-4 suggests a clear cut victory but it belies the intensity and competitive nature of this third round encounter.

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