Novak Djokovic Vs Lucas Pouille Australian Open Semi-final Preview
Novak Djokovic (1) Vs Lucas Pouille (28) Australian Open Semi-final Preview.
Pouille and Djokovic, who practice together, have never played each other on the tour, and it’s quite the stage for their competitive introduction.
Djokovic has been to the Australian Open semis 6 times and has never lost at that stage.
Meanwhile, this is 24 year old Pouille’s first ever slam semi. This is Djokovic’s 34th, and he’s won 23 of the 33 he has played.
That kind of experience really only makes a difference when there is a chance in the match up of the underdog winning. A bad match up is a bad match up whatever the stage, but when things could go either way, experience can be a tiebreaker.
There are not that many bad match ups for Djokovic. The only players he does not match up well with are those executing their style at the top of their game- ballstrikers like Wawrinka, all courters like Federer, aggressive baseliners like Nadal, big servers like Isner.
If you had to box the very unique Lucas Pouille, you’d put him in the all court one. There are not many of those around, and it’s interesting that the other surprise semi-finalist this Open is also an all-courter, Stefanos Tsitispas.
Lucas can do everything very well, but he doesn’t excel at any one aspect of his game. On his day, he’s good enough to beat a struggling Nadal at the US Open in a fifth set tiebreaker and reach the quarters in ’16, following up his Wimbledon quarter-final a couple of months before, and he’s good enough to spend 2 weeks in the top ten (at No.10) in late March ’18.
But while Pouille can be very good when on, he can also be very poor, hitting unforced errors after unforced error and lacking focus.
That lack of focus is gone now that Amelie Mauresmo is in his camp. One of the women’s game’s great all court players who conquered her demons to world No.1 and slam winning degree, if anyone can teach you about focus and perspective in a match, it’s Mauresmo.
Pouille, in his post Raonic win interview, talked of not focusing on winning but improving and practicing new things in a match, of staying in the moment. Mauresmo has his ear, and he’s listening.
Djokovic has not exactly been singing this tournament, and we don’t quite know where he is on the scale of six time former champion and the the player who crashed out in the fourth and second round the last two seasons respectively.
So, not only is Pouille playing in new territory stage wise, he also doesn’t quite know who is going to be across the net.
Djokovic will take advantage of both unknowns. He will keep Pouille in the dark from the start, letting Pouille set the tone. If it’s a nervous one, Djokovic will make those nerves even worse. If it’s a hot and quick start, Djokovic will stay with him and then go up a gear on the big points.
That’s when Pouille will need to focus. That’s when he’ll not have to care if he wins or loses but on improving.
And improve he will, for what better training to make you a better competitor and player than facing Novak Djokovic and his many guises on Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open?
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