Novak Triumphant: It’s tough to imagine Roger Federer looking much worse than he did yesterday in losing to Novak Djokovic 6-3 6-3. If anything, it wasn’t even as close as the score indicates. Federer barely won half of his own service points.
The statistical profile of the match is very similar to that of Federer’s loss to Andy Murray in Shanghai last year. That day, he lost 6-3 6-2 in 85 minutes, winning only 52% of service points. It’s amazing that someone who can play so flawlessly against a lesser opponent can miss so many relatively easy balls on a bad day against Djokovic or Murray.
For Djokovic, the story is all positive. Despite some lapses in earlier matches against Florent Serra and Tomas Berdych, he executed perfectly in the final, and is making a case that he is the best player in the world on hard court. He has now won half of his last six encounters with Roger, including the last two in a row.
Streak over: Finally, someone managed to beat Nicholas Almagro on clay. In contrast to the final in Dubai, the match in Acupulco took three sets, two tiebreaks, and a grinding two hours and forty minutes. In the end, David Ferrer cruised through the final set 6-2.
I will be interested to see whether Almagro can keep his momentum going through the hard-court circuit coming up; his game does not seem as clay-specific as Ferrer’s, but he has never had the same success on hard courts. If he does, he’ll have to serve better than he did yesterday: He made only half of his first serves, and a mere 45% in the final set.
JMDP cruising: Mardy Fish didn’t prove much of a challenge yesterday for Juan Martin Del Potro. Fish failed to win even half of his service points, as the Argentine was in control of the match from the beginning. In the other semifinal, Janko Tipsarevic made a date with Del Potro by beating Kei Nishikori, 6-4 6-4.
I don’t want to underestimate Tipsarevic, but it’s hard to see him giving Del Potro much of a challenge. Janko has had a very easy draw–he won’t play a seeded opponent all week–and he just doesn’t have the game to match up with the Argentine’s. Del Potro is gunning for his first title since the 2009 US Open.
One more final: Yesterday I introduced you to Evgeny Donskoy, a promising young Russian who reached the final after qualifying in Casablanca. In three sets, he beat Alessio Di Mauro to win his first challenger-level title. In fact, it was his first final on the challenger tour, and only the third final of his pro career; his biggest triumph to date was winning a 2008 Futures tournament in the Ukraine.
If my arithmetic is correct, his ranking will land somewhere between #200 and #205.
See you tomorrow!