Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Novak in three over Nishikori

Novak Djokovic is the world's best male tennis player and because of one match there are some who are raising doubts about him.  Dangerous to do that.  His loss to Nishikori in the 2014 US Ooen semis has been raised as a reason for concern, but that was then and the 2015 year has occurred since.  Djokovic was near invincible and made the final every time he played bar the first tournament of the year.  Nishikori struggled to repeat his 2014 year.

So take a breath and analyse this match based on the respective assets of both players, and not what happened with Gilles Simon.  That is history. 

Still, this quarter final should be exciting. The two players have similar game styles and the rallies will create great shot making.  It may require more than three sets but I believe that Djokovic should prevail as he is the better player and knows how to win regularly at this stage of big tournaments.

Djokovic served first and an ace to begin.  A backhand winner down the line 15-15.  15-30 with a forehand wide by Djokovic.  Body serve was too good and 30-30.  Djokovic held for 1-0. Backhand winner and drop shot from Nishikori and 40-0.  1-1.

Splendid serving from Djokovic including two serve groundstroke combinations 2-1.  30-15 with ace included from Nishikori. 40-30 with a good serve.  A netted Nishikori forehand and deuce. He held for 2-2.  Backhand error from Djokovic and 0-15. Service winner for 30-15.  A serve forcing error and a forehand winner helped Djokovic to 3-2.

Forehand winner from Japan 15-0. 40-30 after poor drop shot.  Deuce after forehand wide.  Break point after netting a forehand.  Double fault and the break for Djokovic after Nishikori led 40-0.  4-2 the top seed.

30-0 and an ace for 40-0.  Forehand winner and Djokovic led 5-2. Great backhand at the net by Nishikori for 15-0. Forehand volley winner and 40-0.  Held to love and 5-3 Djokovic.  Double fault from Djokovic 0-15. Backhand netted 0-30. Second serve ace for 30-30. Set point with the Nishikori error. Another long shot from Japan and the set to Djokovic 6-3.

A big miss from Djokovic and 15-0 Nishikori in game one of set two. 15-30 after two Japanese mistakes. Break points now.  A forehand wide from Nishikori and the early break for Djokovic who led 1-0.  Double fault by Djokovic and 15-15. 30-30 and a chance for Nishikori.  A backhand crosscourt winner by Nishikori and break point.  Nishikori missed wide and deuce.  Another miss even wider and game point for Djokovic.  Good angles by Nishikori and forcing the long shot by Djokovic for deuce.  The next game point was saved with a Japanese forehand pass.  A bad miss wide by Djokovic and break point.  A great serve saved that one.  Game point arrived again and a forehand winner by Djokovic took him to 2-0.

0-15 with a Nishikori forehand long.  Another one long and 0-30.  A third even longer and three break points.  One saved via a Djokovic mistake. An ace saved a second. The third vanished with a clever volley.  An ace for game point.  Nishikori escaped and held serve but trailed 1-2.

15-30 with a forehand return winner from Nishikori.  40-30 with errors from Japan.  
Djokovic held for 3-1.  0-15 with Nishikori netting a forehand.  15-30 following a forehand error from Djokovic.  A backhand pass set up break points for Djokovic and he only needed one.  The top seed led 4-1 with a double break.

Service winner by Djokovic for 15-0.  Ace for 40-0. Love game and 5-1 Djokovic.  Nishikori missing just about everything now.  Two great serves helped him to 30-15.  A drop shot won a point set up with his ground strokes.  He held for 2-5 but Djokovic would serve for the set.

Djokovic 15-0 forcing an error with his forehand.  Nishikori's forehand winner and a Djokovic mistake made it 15-30.  30-30 after a backhand long from Nishikori.  A forehand winner from Nishikori created a break point.  A big second serve and forehand saved it.  A second break chance arrived and Nishikori returned a second serve long.  The third break chance disappeared with a first serve and follow up play.  Set point finally came.  A big serve won the day.

Djokovic won set two 6-2 and led two sets to love.  Nishikori went from the court for medical treatment.

The commentators had been shamelessly barracking hard for Nishikori all match, as they had for Federer all tournament.  They had talked Djokovic down any chance they could.  I cannot understand why they won't give him credit for his achievements both on and off the court with the same passion they do with Federer. It is easy to warm to Novak; some just don't wish to.
Set three and 30-40 with another Nishikori unforced error.  Saved by a Djokovic mistake.  The serve was held and Nishikori led 1-0. 15-15 with a netted shot from Djokovic.  15-30 after a poor drop shot from the top seed.  Break point after Nishikori forced a Djokovic forehand long.  A big serve saved him.  A second break point arrived.  This one was converted and Nishikori led 2-0.

15-30 with Nishikori hitting long.  Two break back points with a netted shot from the seventh seed.  Nishikori found the net yet again and Djokovic had broken back straight away.  2-1 Nishikori.

Djokovic again in strife at 0-40, a Nishikori winner converting the first of the break points and leading 3-1. Djokovic won the first two points of the next Nishikori serve, and then the third with a shot long.  Another Japanese shot long saw the serve broken and Nishikori led 3-2.  Three successive breaks of serve and four out of five this set.

A Djokovic ace for 15-0.  A wild return and 30-0.  A ripped forehand return from Nishikori and 30-15. A Djokovic controlled rally was entertaining and ended with him winning it plus the game to level at 3-3. 

A good serve from Nishikori set up an easy winner for 15-0.  40-15 with attacking play and a forehand winner.  Djokovic clawed back to deuce after the longest rally of the match.  A magic forehand on the line from Djokovic set up break point, saved by an ace.  Another fine serve enabled a pass behind Djokovic.  Then an amazing backhand pass by Djokovic brought it back to deuce,  Break point once more after a Japanese error. Another mistake from Nishikori saw Djokovic lead 4-3 with serve to come.

15-15 following a winner from Nishikori.  Another great forehand from Djokovic had him at 30-15.  Two game points thanks to a Nishikori error wide.  Djokovic led 5-3 and just a game away from the semis.

Nishikori double faulted and faced 30-30.  Showing great poise he put an overhead away then won the game, forcing Djokovic to serve for the set and match at 5-4.

A solid first serve set up the first point and 30-0 came with a smooth down the line shot.  Three match points arrived.  One was saved with a wide Djokovic backhand.  A second saved when the top seed found the net.  A brilliant backhand won the match.

Novak Djokovic won 6-3 6-2 6-4 and Roger Federer would have the opponent he feared most in the semi finals.

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