Nole Djokovic: Odds "Against" Favorite

Novak Djokovic Winning in the US Open 2010 Quarters

Congratulations to my very good mate - Marianne, who quite deservedly earned the 'USTA Tennis Writer' Award. It could not have been awarded to a more deserving person - Felicidades Clara.

And then there was the Second Saturday in New York ...

To die hard tennis fans this is more of a roadblock to what they really want on Sunday - you know, the final between a once is a lifetime artisan Swiss and a large than life pop-eye Spaniard.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let us think about the second semifinal for a moment (we'll think about the first semi a bit later in the night)

Clad in 'The Second Coming' theme by William Butler Yeats, Djokovic has pretty much embodied the theme of that verse ... "let the beast out to create anarchy"

"TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand"

After the first round blip, he pretty much has played brilliant until now, he dispatched the lean and green Fish in straight sets, and then he took Monfils to the woodshed (its such a Brad Gilbert word) in the quarters.

In simpler terms though: Mardy Fish did not play his game because of him getting slimmer, and Monfils really wanted to entertain, more than he wanted to win, and on blustry days on a tennis court - good luck with that.

We've discussed previously on how Federer and Nadal have played miles ahead of the field on windy days and evenings on court (check out the "Tilting Windmills" post), but Nole himself has not been too bad either.

His match against Monfils was a testament. With gusts blowing constantly, the ball moved in between and even worse, sometimes after the first bounce (its like it had a mind of its own - the notorious Adidas Jabulani). But Nole strapped himself tight to the pilot's seat - and just got the job done. Yeah, he quite simply got the job done.

He did not try to play elegant tennis, did not try and entertain the crowd, did not go for the side lines .... he just wanted to win, and he did in three straight sets against one of the most talented opponents on the tour.

So, here we are ....

Winning against Fish and Monfils on windy days is one thing, and winning against de'Federer on the Second Saturday in NY is completely another - and thats without the winds.

As am thinking on answering 'what can Nole do - to win this' or 'if am Marian Vajda, what would I say', I realise that this article is going to end soon, because there isnt much he can do to win

Other than ...

He has been in the NY semis 4/4 times between 2007 and 2010, and all the four times he has lost to the Swiss (once in the final, and thrice in the semis). I really thought he had a great opportunity in that close four setter in 2008 semis, if only he had not mentally caved in.

Hope the wind gods smile on Nole, because if it's windy then Federer handles the conditions much better than anyone else on tour (and he actually enjoys plying his trade in the wind, to see how much he is better than the bloke across the net).

The first set is KEY - Nole simply cannot afford to let it go to wake up somewhere in the middle of the second (Toronto). He has the game to win against the Swiss, and he claims he has it mentally as well [?]. But when you play Federer, there are so many ups and downs in a match on a big day, that you simply need to hold on to the train and not get demoralized.

"Burn the lines. serve big and consistent, offensive body language and hope the FED has an off day" - and hope the chips fall your way when it all shakes out in the end - In A Nutshell.

Tactically: Nole can keep Federer pinned to the right corner of the court on his backhand, by using his own cross court backhand, but he needs to pull the trigger down the line on his backhand to end the point. That's the risk, because if he does not burn the line or anywhere close, the down the line backhand goes to Roger's forehand, from which point he can control and win most points eventually.

Nole's forehand is no more a liability, it holds its own very well even to the extent of hitting winners at will, and hence that's not as much as a weak link as its made out to be.

The problem - is his second hit. If he has a low first serve percentage, Federer will prey all over the second hit, assuming Nole makes his second hit consistently (and he does not under extreme duress).  I would like to say, he needs to serve big and consistent, but am not sure he can.

He has the ground game to beat Federer, and he has played well enough to beat him as well. But a Second Saturday in New York is much more than game based winning alone,

Nole needs the wind to smile serene on him tonight, and he needs Federer to have an off day - on his forehend (been known to happen). He needs to serve big and consistent, and keep the double faults to a minimum. And "WHALE" off both flanks, before Federer controls and wins the point eventually on his forehand.

That's the problem, there are too many things that NEED to go Nole's way for him to win this match. I think his second hit will eventually cave in under pressure ...

Nole Train has the game to win this, but FED-Express will be the one getting through in a regulation four, or an air tight four.

Some would like Nole to suspend reality for three odd exhilarating hours on Ashe and WHALE his way to a second final, but you would be hard pressed to find punters who are inclined to stack a few chips on him doing the same. If for nothing else, at least for his ol' man to get rid of that awful tee he has been rockin all through the two weeks.

Anything less than a A+ Nole day, then the 'FED' part of the FE'DAL final is  good to go.

He is indeed, the 'Odds Against' favorite

I'll be back later for the first semi-final

--- Keep Rockin Long John Silver

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