Sunday, 11 September 2016

Djokovic v Wawrinka blockbuster awaits

Novak Djokovic played in all four Grand Slam tournament finals in 2015 and in three of them his opponent was Swiss.  He defeated Roger Federer at Wimbledon and in New York, but fell to Stan Wawrinka in Paris.

This year he has waited until New York to be challenged in another major final by Switzerland, and Stan will be the man this time.

Novak opened his semi final against Gael Monfils in workmanlike fashion, which was more than sufficient to leave the French 10th seed floundering at 0-5 and 0-30.  The embarrassment of losing a set to love was avoided in the sixth game thanks to three aces and a couple of winning forehands, one of the aces saving a set point.

The momentum of finally registering on the scoreboard flowed into the next game for Monfils when he broke the Djokovic serve.  Strictly that is incorrect - the top seed did it all himself.  At 40-0 with three set points,  Novak capitulated, mostly thanks to a treble of double faults and his lead was trimmed to 5-2.

A second attempt to serve out set one was more successful for Djokovic, but only after two break points were saved through donations of backhand errors from Monfils.
First set to Djokovic, a shakier version at the end than the sharp one who had begun.

Set two was a chance for Djokovic to stamp his authority on proceedings which is a popular phrase to use but an action never literally undertaken.  Gael assisted by at times contributing possibly the most disinterested, uncompetitive displays of tennis I've witnessed at this stage of a major tournament.

The pressure placed on Djokovic towards the end of set one was released, allowing the Serb to hit 10 winners and hardly make a mistake, while breaking the Monfils serve seemingly at will.  Trailing 6-3 6-2, the apparent lack of 100% effort from Monfils during parts of the set was not lost on the crowd, sections of which voiced the disapproval.

As if shamed into action, the tenth seed played a third set which worried the defending champion, enough to turn a 0-2 deficit into a 5-2 lead.  Djokovic even had to save a set point which would have meant losing six straight games.  
Monfils himself overcame 0-40 when serving for the set, and he won back the crowd, and won 6-3.

In highly humid conditions, Monfils wilted first in set four, but at 3-1 Djokovic failed to consolidate the break, a double fault dissolving any advantage.  However, Monfils was pretty much spent, and the final three games of the set went to Djokovic, errors flowing from the French racquet, not forgetting some sublime stuff from Djokovic in readiness for yet another US Open final.
A win to the top seed 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-2.

Kei Nishikori, the tournament's sixth seed, continued his impressive US Open with a first set consisting of quality ground strokes and a first serve percentage sufficient to prevent the powerful game of third seed Stan Wawrinka from taking control.

There was little between the two, and it was just the fifth game, where a double fault from Wawrinka, plus some effective working over by Nishikori of the Swiss backhand, resulted in the only service break for the set.
At 6-4, the money would have been slightly with Nishikori to reach the final.  That perception was confirmed once Kei broke Stan in the opening game of set two, then held for 2-0.

Enter a new Stan Wawrinka.  Hitting plenty of winners, and taking toll of a far less effective Japanese serve, the Swiss number one broke back immediately, and kept the pressure on Nishikori to play catch up, waiting patiently until the twelfth game to pounce again. Serving to stay alive in the set, Kei was the victim of a winning Wawrinka forehand more than once, and coupled with a few of his own mistakes, he surrendered 5-7.  The match was level.

Stan raced to 4-1 in the third but Kei wasn't done with, fighting back for 4-4.  At 4-5, and as in set two, serving to stay in the set, Nishikori saved one break point, but Wawrinka forced a second volleying error and grabbed a 4-6 7-5 6-4 lead.

That was the tipping point, and Stan motored through what would be the final set, winning almost twice as many points as Kei, and breaking the Nishikori serve three times, while dropping his own just once.  The sixth seed only managed one clean winner for the fourth set, but 12 unforced errors assisted him in his demise.

Stan Wawrinka earned a chance to win his third Grand Slam title and first US Open, winning the semi final 4-6 7-5 6-4 6-2. 
His final against Novak Djokovic promises to be a thriller.

No comments:

Post a Comment