Thoughts from an incredible week in London!

A week at the O2 in London has really wet the appetite for the 2020 season. We had it all: upsets, debutants, brilliance, concerns and it has opened up some question for next year.

What happened to Daniil?

Probably the most disappointing performer from the week if I’m honest. We have seen Daniil take players apart from the baseline all year and since Wimbledon has been like a machine but in London burnt out.

There wasn’t really part of his game which stood out for me and if anything has revisited that question about trying to generate more off the backhand. I wrote about it during the US Open whether or not he can find more of a ruthless strike instead of guiding it too much.

He did hit the most aces through the week at 37 but didn’t create much at all. 2/6 break points won over the week in London was the lowest of the eight players.

He was tipped as the one to give us something to think about in London but has left with a lot of questions following a poor week for the Russian.

Berrettini’s learning curve

I don’t think it is fair to write off Matteo Berrettini after this week. He had the lowest points since 2009 coming into London but still gave a good account of himself.

Many criticised him on social media for a lack of competition for Federer and Djokovic in particular but lets remember this is essentially his break out year. 

He may be 23 but has taken a different path in tennis having played just 105 career matches with 66 of them this year so this is all new territory against guys who have played over 1000 matches. 

He did get better as the tournament progressed. He pushed Federer a little bit more and was excellent against Dominic Thiem beating him in straight sets.

Going forward I think he can improve with a bit more solid hitting through the backhand and taking a few more balls on early.

Djokovic’ “ok” week

That’s all I can say about his week, it was “ok”. 

Performances this week weren’t bad, with all respect they would have won small events but in London it was no where near the bar required and that was a surprise. 

He defended well behind the baseline all week but what we are use to seeing is that attacking side as well to his game but he’s been off the mark and hitting winners past him was a theme in London.

Even Novak’s numbers for the week were what I’d call 50/50:

Forehand winners – 23
Forehand errors – 21

Backhand winners – 12
Backhand errors – 14

Net points won – 13/20

Break points won – 8/17
Break points saved – 4/11

Those numbers won’t win a big title. The winners and errors balanced out during the week, nothing stood out. We just didn’t see the backhand come into play on the front foot at all.

Break point numbers were uninspiring. He didn’t convert as many as you’d expect and saved around 35% which is pretty low for him. 

Rafa: Year end No.1 but up and down

Rafael Nadal gave us a rollercoaster ride.

Will he play? Will he withdraw? Performance against Zverev was bad, he then picked it up but never looked in control for a period of time. 

No matter how you see it he has ended his year at the year end number one for the fifth time in his career which is the same as Djokovic and Federer.

Nadal is always so good to watch and when he brings his A game its great to see, what I wasn’t sure about was how he pushed his game at times. 

The forehand was loose and over the course of his stay did find more balance off the backhand. 

He did get better as the week went on but that performance against Zverev put him a step back before the competition really began and his wait to win the tour finals goes on.

Federer – Big points = big problems

No one has had to deal with more big points during their career than Roger Federer.

This week however, it came across as a bit flappy.

When the questions were asked in a way the wheels come off. Is it a shock that his two defeats in London this year came against the eventual finalists? No.

Djokovic and Berretttini did ask many questions but Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas just didn’t let go and that’s what stood out for me.

Breaking their serve was a big problem. 1/12 break points won against Tsitsipas and during the tournament was 9/27 break points won and saved just 6/19 he faced.

I couldn’t believe what I was watching at some points. 40-0 on Stefanos’ serve and couldn’t break.

Sascha’s Rollercoaster

Funny old week for Zverev which has been the story of his season. 

v Nadal = excellent
v Tsitsipas = bad
v Medvedev = good
v Thiem = ok

He started off his week with some excellent tennis but never found that level again. He got thrashed by Stefanos 48 hours later and then in his win against Medvedev and defeat to Thiem there just wasn’t a challenge.

I think however a good week when you look at it on a whole. Many didn’t expect him here at some point during the season but got to the semi-finals.

Positives from the week but inconsistencies.

Something I hope we see improve in 2020 is the serve because it was messy in 2019 compared to 2018.

2018 stats:

Aces – 549
Double Faults – 210

2019 stats:

Aces – 709

Double Faults – 392

More in both categories but double faults have been a big issue this year. He has the second highest ranking for average double faults in a match with 6 this year. Benoit Paire is top with 6.6.

Thiem & Tsitsipas

I wanted to write about these two together.

I think they have been outstanding this week. They have similar aspects to their games but their individual brilliance is a pleasure to watch.

You just cannot take your eyes off what they are doing on a tennis court.

They’ve excited us through 2019 and 2020 can’t come quick enough.

To the final it has been a long journey for both between them playing 185 matches this calendar year which is astonishing.

There isn’t much else I can say about these guys.

Dominic Thiem showed us his flashy brutal tennis but did at times go a little bit erratic with his shot making.

Stefanos Tsitsipas dealt with the pressure better than anyone. One of the highlights of the season and of his week was just how well he did in pressure moments on hide debut at the O2.

Screenshot 2019-11-19 at 09.45.37

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