ATP Cup Day 10 Final Notes

Finals are often the least impressive days of tournaments and so it was on the final day of the ATP Cup.

The highlight, for many singles fans, was a single set played between Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal. There was much hype for this match, but those who knew that Djokovic had won their last 8 hard court matches, and had not dropped a set, had little expectation.

When Djokovic won the first set 6-2, another routine win for the Serbian seemed incoming. Nadal mixed up his routine, though, going for some serve and volley plays. He even got three break points at 3-2, but the Serbian won five points in a row to put that break bid to rest.

While Nadal was successful in taking Djokovic to a tiebreak, saving break points at 5-5, what he did not do successfully enough throughout the match was move inside the court for both returns and rallies, and that is what he will need to change if he is going to have any chance of doing better than a tiebreak set versus Djokovic on hard. Nadal needs his forehand down the line to work versus Djokovic and taking the ball feet beyond the baseline does not allow him to play that shot aggressively.

On hard courts, with Nadal and Djokovic, the ATP have a tough situation. Hard courts are the most played on courts on the tour, but if every time Nadal and Djokovic meet on them, the tour’s big One Vs Two matches on that surface is not really a rivalry but more a mismatch.

The ATP Cup format meant it did not matter too much in deciding the outcome of the tie. Djokovic’s win leveled the tie at 1-1 after Bautista-Agut’s straight sets defeat of Dusan Lajovic. And while the doubles tie did not deliver a thrilling finale, the Serbian win was a crowd pleaser. The Sydney crowd were overwhelmingly in favor of the Serbs, to such degrees Djokovic said he had never played with such support.

Grade: C-. Most tournaments don’t get it right come finals day. So much luck is involved in producing a fitting end to an event. The ATP Cup did get at least a competitive set of hard court tennis out of Nadal and Djokovic and the atmosphere could be felt through the TV screen. Still, the final was underwhelming.

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ATP Cup Day 9 Notes

Novak Djokovic has not had the best of times versus the tour’s Next Gen the last few years with losses to Khachanov in Paris-Bercy ’18, Sascha Zverev at Rome ’17 and WTF ’18, Tsitsipas at Canada ’18, and to Daniil Medvedev at Monte Carlo and Cincy ’19.

Against Medvedev at the ATP Cup, Djokovic looked like he was going to put the pretenders in their place, winning it 6-1. The Russian got an early break in set 2 for 3-1, but Djokovic broke back.

The match then took on the mood of a real contest, the rallies long, both players biding their time, waiting for just the right ball to do something with.

That closely contested nearly 80 minute long second set came to a head when, serving at 5-6, a Djokovic double fault gifted Medvedev with a break point. Medvedev took it, picking up a Djokovic volley and hitting it for a backhand winner.

In the third, a rally to draw admiration from even the most seasoned of tennis watchers earned Djokovic a break for 3-2.

Serving at 5-4, Medvedev had his chance to really make this match one of those all time classics, holding break points, the first at 30-40 after drawing Djokovic in with a drop shot and then passing him. Djokovic saved it, standing inside the baseline and dictating play to force an error on the run.

An error from Djokovic moving inside the court and netting the ball gave Medvedev his second break point. This time Djokovic saved it at the net, the two trading exchanges up there before the world No.2 got the better of his rival. A failed attempt at a drop shot from the Russian and Djokovic had match point. Medvedev saved it with a back hand down the line winner.

Djokovic went on to save another break point with aggressive play and an ace earned him his second match point. Djokovic stayed aggressive and won it with a forehand down the line forcing an error.

Serbia, thanks to Djokovic’s win and Dusan Lajovic’s measured and focused win over Karen Khachanov will face Spain in the final.

Rafa Nadal needed an opening down a set versus Alex de Minaur and involved in a tight second. de Minaur was not giving him anything, hitting the ball flat and making the match all about him.

The Nadal opening came with de Minaur serving to stay in the second set at 5-6, 30-30. de Minaur stayed back in a long rally when he was mid court and in control only to be pushed back by the Nadal forehand which dictated the rally and forced an error. On set point, the Nadal forehand once again came into its own and he had the second set.

Nadal rode this second wind taking the third set 6-1.

With Roberto Bautista Agut dismissing Nick Kyrgios, Spain were through to the final.

The ATP Cup cannot brag too much about bringing us Nadal and Djokovic the week before the AO. Doha did this already back in 2016, not that it was anything special, the Serbian dropping just three games.

The ATP Cup has delivered, however, a final which not only pits the world No.1 and 2, Nadal and Djokovic, against one another, but also serves up, for singles fans, Bautista Agut versus Lajovic, which will be a great match to watch.

Nadal versus Djokovic may not be such a pleasure. Nadal has not won a set off Djokovic in 8 hard court meetings. It’s always worth watching their matches just in case we do get a match, but the chances are this match could be one of the more forgettable of this ATP Cup, which is not as insulting as it sounds considering the great quality contests we’ve had this last 9 days, two of which we saw this semi-final day.

Grade: B+. Had the de Minaur Nadal third set been a contest, this could have gotten an A.

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ATP Cup Day 8 Notes

To keep Belgium in the quarters, after the Spaniards won the first match, David Goffin had to beat world No.1 Rafa Nadal. It was a tall order- Nadal led the head to head 4-1. If there was a glimmer of hope, those four defeats had all come on Clay, and Goffin’s sole win had come on hard court, albeit indoors (WTF RR ’17).

Goffin did not shy away from the challenge. He played an aggressive match to defeat Nadal 6-4, 7-6 (3) in 2 hours 23 minutes.

Goffin broke for 3-2 in set 1 as Nadal double faulted. You never quite know what you will get from Goffin mentality wise, and perhaps having his team around him and the atmosphere of the nearly packed out stadium is what stirred him on to put dropping his serve in the very next game and a loss of 13 straight points to go 0-40 down at 3-4 behind him and win three consecutive games to take the first set 6-4 in one hour. Later, Goffin put his win down to his Dimitrov victory and the confidence it gave him, but the team spirit of this ATP Cup seems to be injecting a lot of players with some real grit, and they need it playing in the Australian Summer.

In brutal conditions, both men drenched in sweat, the two got into an equally severe second set lasting nearly 90 minutes and decided on a final set tiebreak. Goffin got an early lead for 2-0 and had two break points leading 4-2, but Nadal was Nadal, fought back, and then broke back for 4-4 with some powerful forehand hitting.

In the final set tiebreak, Nadal hit two errors for Goffin to go up 3-1. 2-5 down, Nadal double faulted. On his second match point, Goffin served it out with an ace for a confidence boosting win.

The beauty of the team format is that, with Spain winning the deciding doubles, fans will still get to see Nadal in action tomorrow, and up against no less a player than Alex de Minaur. Quite how beautiful that prospect will be for Nadal is questionable. The Spaniard has barely had an off season after his Roland Garros win-Wimbledon Semis-Montreal win-US Open win- Laver Cup participation-Paris-Bercy Semis- WTF three setters vs Medvedev and Tsitsipas-Davis Cup win-Mubudaba exho and now cross country ATP Cup play. He could still have two matches in Sydney with a possible one in the final versus Djokovic.

Denis Shapovalov was in a similar position as Goffin tie wise in Canada’s clash with Serbia, the Canadian tasked with defeating Novak Djokovic to level the tie at 1-1 after Dusan Lajovic defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Shapovalov broke with a drop shot on his third break point at 4-4, coming back from 0-40 down. The Canadian then served out for the set and took it 6-4.

Djokovic came back to take the second set 6-1 and the match into a decider.

Shapovalov took a medical time out on the changeover before the third. But he was not perturbed by the speed the second set slipped by him or his physical niggles and both he and Djokovic got involved in a seriously competitive and high quality third set.

Djokovic broke for 5-4, but the Serbian, who did not have one of his better serving days, could not serve it out. Shapovalov was firing off the backhand and coming to the net to hit volley winners to earn break point and a careless Djokovic forehand down the line error tied the set at 5-5.

A loose forehand gave Djokovic a break point in the next game, but the backhand of Shapovalov saved him, not in the way you would expect it, though. After one sublime backhand after another, the Canadian hit a half volley on the backhand, a short ball which Djokovic, in position and ready to got for it, hit into the net. Shapovalov won the next two points, closing the game with an ace, for 6-5.

Djokovic served out to love to take the match to a deciding set tiebreak. A long forehand from a charging Shapovalov gave Djokovic the minibreak. Djokovic consolidated winning a superb rally and then hitting a service winner for 3-0. A double fault and Djokovic had another mini break as Shapovalov complained about the crowd. The Canadian did not give up, staying aggressive and moving in, but he hit a volley into the net and he was 0-5.

A double fault from Djokovic finally got the Canadian on the score board in that tiebreak, but a backhand long after yet another blistering rally, and Djokovic had five match points.

He needed four of them- on the fourth, Djokovic forcing an error from his rival.

The tournament has been great preparation for Shapovalov. He’s beaten Stefanos Tsitsipas and Sasha Zverev and tussled with de Minaur and Djokovic.

Grade A: An inspiring upset and a high quality match with a third set tiebreak means two As in a row from me for the ATP Cup.

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ATP Cup Day 7 Notes QF GB Vs Aus

Watching Alex de Minaur lose is just as inspiring as watching him win; just as he wins fighting, he goes down so, too.

After coming back from 2-4 in the third set versus Dan Evans, at 5-6, de Minaur saved four match points. The first one was a magnificent passing shot. The second a forehand winner down the line worthy of your most aggressive baseliner. The third, a one two punch, a second serve out wide and then knocking away the short ball for a winner. The fourth, an ace out wide. If he was going down, he would go down swinging. De Minaur always looks like he knows exactly what he is going it and he can do many different things and looks impressive doing them all.

The two played one of those tiebreaks: winner after winner; near winners bettered by actual ones; line painting or misses by the merest of margins. Evans prevailed, one winner after the other from 2-2- a service winner, a backhand down the line winner, a classic lure them in to the net and then pass them winner, a backhand volley winner all topped off with a service winner to take the tiebreak 7-2.

Dan Evans has had an excellent ATP Cup. The talented all courter still has time to fulfill his potential- a top 20 player, at least, even one who could live on the edge of the top 10- and seems to have used this tournament as a statement of intention. With his slice, depth of shot on the forehand and careful placement, lobs, careful approach shots and sound volleys, he has a classic but rare game not many players are equipped to deal with.

Evans’ victory was not enough to get Britain through. Nick Kyrgios soundly beat Cameron Norrie and Kyrgios and de Minaur edged Murray and Salisbury 18-16 in the final set breaker.

In the semis, Australia will face Russia.

In the Russia Vs Argentina tie, Khachanov withstood a second set fightback from Guido Pella while Daniil Medvedev had to deal with the ever ready for a fight Diego Schwartzman.

The Russian won an entertaining and well contested match in three sets, and from a match with these two you would expect nothing less.

Things got fiery, too, with the two men arguing at the end of set 1 and Medvedev being given a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct when he would not stop arguing with Schwartzman and his team despite the umpire getting down off his chair to intervene, and then a point penalty after Medvedev hit the umpire’s chair with his racket after being broken at 3-3 in set 2 and then taking up the early code violation with the umpire.

Medvedev will rise back to world No.4 now, overtaking Dominic Thiem, and be seeded in the top four for the Australian Open.

Grade A: You can’t do much better than the Evans-de Minaur match. That alone warrants an A.

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ATP Cup day 6 notes

Looking at Hubert Hurkacz move around the court and at his all court game, you would not guess he was 6ft 5 tall (196 cm). But his height is easier to gauge once he’s serving or he’s standing next to his opponents at the net come handshake time.

Hurkacz is 4 inches (11 cm) taller than his beaten opponent Dominic Thiem on day 6 of the ATP Cup. There was much less distance between them on the tennis court though, with Hurkacz winning 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5).

Hurkacz has the variety and touch to break up Thiem’s rhythm. The timing Thiem thrives on as he powers away at the ball so relentlessly just is not there versus players like Hurkacz who can keep Thiem guessing and force him into errors, too many of them of his own making.

Hurkacz, aged 22, has been a big sweeping breath of fresh air to the tour. There is nothing about him of the spoiled, racket-breaking, parent-abusing, tanking tennis brat on whom the media spotlight has shone both a flattering and ugly light. Hurckacz goes about his business letting his tennis do the talking and this year it has already had plenty of nice things to say, with wins, over Thiem, Coric and Schwartzman at this year’s ATP Cup. When Hurkacz does talk, he’s low-key and effortlessly charming.

Nikolas Basilashvili might have lived to regret convincing Pablo Cuevas to come back on court after the Argentinian threatened to default after the umpire warned him about distracting the Georgian during his service motion.

At the time of the warning, Bashilashvili was leading 5-4, 40-0, having just broken Cuevas, With Basilashvili serving for the set, Cuevas, on returning to the court, did a war cry to his team. He then did a frog leap before Basilashvili served at 15-0, and then bounced up and down with Basilashvili serving at 30-0. Cuevas received a code violation for not being in the right position on the return. The Uruguayan called on the supervisor who upheld the umpire’s decision resulting in Cuevas making his way to leave the court. He did not get far before Basilashvili intervened and coaxed his opponent back on court.

Cuevas came back out with some real fire inside him, losing the first set 4-6, but taking the second 6-1 and then taking the match deep into the third before losing it 4-6. Both men left the court proving themselves to be nothing less than the best of competitors.

Kevin Anderson defeated Benoit Paire, Gael Monfil’s replacement, saving match points in the process, 2-6, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (5). Paire served for the match at 5-2 in the second and led 4-2 in the third. Anderson is coming back from injury and had built good momentum in his career, reaching two slam finals (US Open, Wimbledon) in the space of ten months. These kind of battles are what he needs right now, and after his strong performance versus Novak Djokovic this event, he’s looking good at the start of 2020.

Other notes for the day:

  • Cristian Garin led Djokovic 3-1 in the second set. He did look a little flustered by that ascension after losing the first set 3-6, and he did not win another game.
  • Yoshihito Nishikoka served for the first set versus Rafa Nadal but could not serve it out and lost 6-7, 4-6.
  • Diego Schwartzman beat Borna Coric 6-2, 6-2. Coric was defeated by the same score in his previous match (l. Hurkacz).
  • The last eight starts tomorrow. The draw looks like this

Serbia Vs Canada

Argentina Vs Russia

Great Britain Vs Australia

Belgium Vs Spain

Grade: B+. There were a few really engaging and good quality matches today. Good showing considering it’s the last day and a lot of the final places had been decided. The playing for your country and team element is clearly inspiring the players in general and its paying dividends in terms of passion and atmosphere.

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ATP Cup Day 5 notes

Nick Kyrgios left his mark on the ATP Cup beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6, 6-7, 7-6. The Australian was bought in as a replacement for Alex de Minaur who was being rested for precautionary measures after his efforts versus Sascha Zverev and Denis Shapovalov. I was not aware teams could pick and choose who they wanted to play from their top 3. I thought that was why Reilly Opelka had been so critical of the event- as the US No.3, ranked 39, he would miss out on ranking points and prize money opportunities while world No.2s from countries with less tennis depth would have those chances.

Picking Kyrgios was the smart move. He has beaten Tsistsipas in their only encounter, another tight one back in Washington last season. Meanwhile Tsitsipas led de Minaur 3-0.

Kyrgios, the Australian No.2, had been sitting out his matches with No.3 Milman taking his place. Because de Minaur was injured, Kyrgios was now the No.1, and back healed, he took to the court to go shot-maker to shot-maker with the Greek.

Points were over quickly, both players attacking. It really was a shot makers delight.

It was also a meme-lovers, one, too. Kyrgios did not oblige, though; it was all the Greek. Tsitsipas, on losing the first set, threw his racket, physically injuring his father who was sitting courtside and who did not waste time moving to a seat at the back of the team seating area. Tsitsipas’ mother was not afraid to confront her son, though. She roundly chastised him and then left the court in disgust and a meme was born.

She came back for more, too, as Tsitsipas received treatment from the trainer, the Greek getting it from all sides. He was lucky to just receive a point penalty, too. It could have been a default, but this being the ATP Cup, anything goes, especially if it keeps the crowds entertained.

Kyrgios won the match, much to the man he stood in for de Minaur’s delight. The Australian is as vociferous a supporter as he is a player.

This tournament’s other parent destroyer, Sascha Zverev, suffered another loss, this time to Denis Shapovalov, 2-6, 2-6. This time there were 7 double faults and a 29% second serve percentage. For Zverev, the nightmare of the ATP Cup is likely over with Germany third in their group. Where he goes next is anyone’s guess. A week and a half might not be enough to work out that service game, but it’s better than his previous form of no practice at all (he himself admitted he did not pick up a racket until arriving in Brisbane).

Other notes of the day are:

  • Goffin defeated Dimitrov 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, picking up only his second win in ten matches versus the Bulgarian.
  • Michail Pervolarakis, ranked 486, took John Millman to a final set tiebreaker. Pervolarakis lost 6-4, 1-6, 6-7 (1) and was unable to make anything of the final set tiebreaker, but he won’t forget the ATP Cup for all the right reasons and it will be interesting to see if there is any positive impact on his game and fortunes.
  • 417th ranked Dimitar Kuzmanov defeated Steve Darcis, ranked 200 and who retires after this Australian Open, 6-0, 6-3.
  • Only 3 of the day’s 12 singles matches went the distance. Two of those were in the same tie, Australia Vs Greece.

Grade C+. Kyrgios versus Tsitsipas is always going to be entertaining. Other than that, though, the tournament is starting to wear thin quality and interest wise on day 5 and is starting to drag. The quarter-finals seem a long way off and tomorrow feels a little like the last day of the ATP WTF feels with most of the group qualifiers pretty much decided.

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Fantasy ATP Tennis 2020: At least 4,193 GBP/5,000 Euro in prizes!

Fantasy ATP Tennis 2020: At least 4,193 GBP/5,000 Euro in prizes!

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ATP Cup Day 4 Notes

The tennis scoring system is one of the best in sport, not limited by time and only limited by a player’s skills and appetite for the fight, and Denis Novak showed us why it pays to stay in a match despite all the mental baggage that must come with losing the first set to love. Guido Pella is one of the most solid players on tour, but he was not able to maintain his initial level in the match- very few players follow up a love set with an equally dominating second set as levels fluctuate so much on both sides of the net. Novak took charge of both the second and third sets at the business ends to win 0-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Herbert Hurkacz did manage to dominate both sets he won versus Borna Coric, 6-2, 6-2. The Pole was always a contender to beat Coric but to defeat him in such commanding fashion came as a surprise. Coric did spend a lot of emotional and physical energy beating Thiem, so there could have been some element of a let down, and he was never able to reproduce those heightened emotions versus the ever methodical and focused Hurkacz. The Pole had a terrific serving day- 9 aces, 84% of first serves won and 73 of  2nd, and did not face a break point. He had a fine returning day, too, breaking 4 times.

Benoit Paire got into a tussle with Dusan Lajovic, winning in three sets. The Frenchman blew a set and a break lead then a couple of mini breaks and match points in the tiebreak and did not hide his self disgust as he spat on the court and smashed his rackets. I don’t usually care for racket breakers, or Paire, but there is no denying such emotional outbursts create atmosphere and can give a match an edge.

Other points of interest of the day:

Thiem and Schwartzman got into it in their match, one of those straight setters with the tone and urgency of a match going the distance. Great rallies. You would be happy with this match in the second week of a Major.

Of the 12 singles matches today, only 3 went the distance. Of those 18 sets from 9 straight setters, only two sets went past 6-4. There will always be some predictable and bad match ups- Novak Djokovic and Gael Monfils an example with Djokovic winning 6-3, 6-2 and getting his 16th win of 16 matches- but this tournament also throws up some big mismatches- Marin Cilic Vs 448th Kacper Zuk (Zuk did really well considering, losing 6-7, 4-6) and Roberto Bautista Agut versus unranked Franco Roncadelli. I am not sure how I would feel if I, someone who is not interested in doubles, paid to watch Spain vs Uruguay and got delivered Bautista Agut rout an unranked player in 57 minutes and then Nadal routine Pablo Cuevas in 73 minutes, losing three games and facing a single break point the whole match.

Gaston Gaudio looks incredible.

Grade: B-. For me, personally, while some of the tennis was entertaining, none of the matches really gripped me. There was enough for this to be a satisfactory day at the tennis with some interesting examples of what makes tennis such a great sport, but this was balanced out by the inherent flaws of this format with some very unbalanced match ups.

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ATP Cup Day 3 Notes

The match of the day for me was always going to be Denis Shapovalov Vs Alex de Minaur, and these two lived up to my expectations. Both players have started 2020 on top of their games and produced some exceptional rallies. As a fan of both players, I did not mind who won, and de Minaur’s comeback provided great entertainment and the atmosphere of the home crowd and the Australian team cheering on de Minaur seeps through the TV into whatever room you watch tennis in. How fair it is, as is the issue with the Davis Cup, that this event favors one team re home court advantage, is up for debate. Still, credit to de Minaur for once again drawing on the crowd and the court side support as he dug himself out of another set down, 2-4 down hole and emerged the winner, never looking back in the third.

The most captivating aspect of this ATP Cup for me, for all the wrong reasons, is Sascha Zverev and the trials of the German team supporting him. Sascha reduced his father to tears while the rest of the team dance on eggshells.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, for the fifth time in a row, had no time for Zverev’s tormented self. The double faults and mood fluctuations coming from the German just complimented the Greek’s box of tricks.

Another compelling aspect of the ATP Cup is the prominence it has given players who might otherwise have had to do a lot more work to play on such courts as the Brisbane, Perth and Sydney ones. We saw the world No. 423, Dimitar Kuzmanov, play the world No. 818 Alexander Cozbinov, the former winning 6-1, 7-5, on Sydney’s Ken Rosewall arena.

Reilly Opelka has a strong case in his criticism of the ATP Cup discriminating against high ranked players from countries with deep tennis fields. Kuzmanov and Cozbinov are from Bulgaria and Moldova respectively and are those countries No.2 players. Opelka, meanwhile, is the USA’s No.3, ranked 36. Still, as a fan there is a something refreshing and encouraging about seeing two players so low ranked play in this radical new event on such a prominent stage. The format may be a negative for Opelka, but it is very fortunate for players such as Kuzmanov and Cozbinov. In a sport as ruthless as tennis, with so few spots at the top for the tens of thousands of hopefuls, it’s a positive if now and then a door or two are opened for those plying their trade many rungs down the ladder.

Other noteworthy points of the day:

  • John Millman beating Felix Auger-Aliasimme. I was looking forward to seeing Nick Kyrgios in this one and the event probably lost quite a bit of publicity, good or bad, but the Australians got the upset and the win.
  • Dan Evans beating David Goffin. Evans is a tricky player and played a very astute match here, using his slice to great effect.
  • Casper Rudd defeating Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-2. Fognini is prone to upsets at the best of times. Good on Rudd for maximising his opportunity here.

Grade: B. The event is still doing well in my eyes despite all its flaws. de Minar and Shapovalov was entertaining and inspiring and there was the car crash element of Zverev and the randomness of Kuzmanov Vs Cozbinov plus a few upsets.

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ATP Cup Day 2 Notes

Borna Coric Vs Dominic Thiem is one of my favorite match ups on the ATP, and so I was not disappointed by their ATP Cup contest, won by Coric 7-6. 2-6, 6-3.

Thiem stands pretty much alone high up in the rankings for his age group. His generation have been sporadic in their successes- Pouille made the AO ’19 semis and Sock won Paris ’18, and Tomic’s best days were done before most of his gen got going, but it’s Thiem who has been leading the way week in and week out. Thiem is now banded with the successful Zverev-Medvedev-Tsitsipas NextGen group, and of that group, it is Coric who is closest to the Austrian in terms of both maturity and focus which is what draws me to this rivalry.

Coric and Thiem had very different 2019s. Thiem won his 1st ATP 1000 and made another RG final, while Coric, who made such strides in ’18, finishing it on the cusp of the top 10, lost his last 6 matches of ’19 and finished it ranked 28.

A new season is a great chance for players to press the reset button, and Coric did just that. He pressed the rewind button, too, going back to 2018, a season which saw him play such great matches as his Halle final win, and his matches in Indian Wells versus Anderson and Federer.

Twice that year, he also went the distance with Thiem, in Paris and Madrid, losing both matches. Thiem led the head to head 3-1 going into this ATP encounter, and Coric’s sole win in Miami ’17, a straight sets affair, was a text book example of how a consistent and mentally tough player can draw a bigger hitting careless one into an erratic display. Big hitters are my thing, but I love to see intelligent dismantling of brainless ball-bashing (Thiem, to his credit, has come a long way since those baffling displays) especially when done in such humble and focused style as Coric’s.

This match, Coric went about his smart point construction, going for some shots, too, to keep things less predictable, and employed all his grit and determination to keep a fighting Thiem at bay in the first and third sets. There was plenty of positive body language, too, heart thumping, some finger wagging. Seeing off Thiem in three sets, and prevailing in that fifteen minute game in the third, deserves nothing less.

Other highlights of the day were:

  • The final stages of the Nadal-Basilashvili contest. Watching Basilashvili in full flow is one of my favorite tennis sights. He made a nice attempt at a come back in the second set, which he did not pull off, the breathtaking winners balanced out by groaning errors. Still, when Basilashvili powers away at the ball, I live a little and all is forgiven.
  • Novak Djokovic’s reaction to the Anderson win. If I was a Djokovic rival for the AO title, I would do what ever I could to avoid seeing that reaction. Djokovic looks ravenous which is always bad news for his rivals around slam time.
  • Hurkacz’s defeat of Schwartzman, another positive step for the Polish player. Watching Schwartzman is always entertaining, watching Hurkacz getting on with the job against such a competitor is reassuring.

Day 2 didn’t have quite the impact on me that day 1 had, but there was still enough there to keep me entertained and I can’t ask for much more than a potential top ten match of the season on any given day of the year.

Grade B

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