ATP A&E

The last major of the year approaches. On the men’s side of the draw it is looking an episode of casualty. The injuries keep on pilling up and speculation grows day by day on who will be taking part at Flushing Meadows.

Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka who both participated in last year’s final will not feature again this season and it is looking unlikely that Andy Murray will be taking part. The Brit has been suffering from a hip issue for quite some time which was evident in his loss at Wimbledon and since then has recently pulled out of Rogers Cup this week and just pulled out of Cincinnati next week.

There are also concerns over Nick Kyrgios who didn’t seem to be moving well in his defeat to Alex Zverev in Montreal last night as well as Cilic and Berdych but all are down to play next week in Cincinnati.

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No Novak in New York?

Former world number Novak Djokovic on Monday will fall outside the top 4 on the rankings for the first time since 2007 and is likely to slip further down the rankings over the coming months.

It is expected that Novak Djokovic will not travel to New York over the coming weeks for the US Open and on a bigger picture I’d be surprised if we will see him again this season meaning he could miss big tournaments in Canada, Paris, Beijing and of course the season ending championships in London.

Novak has been suffering with this elbow injury for quite some time and it is unsure how long it will take to recover with some saying 8-12 weeks which would take us to the end of October where no tournaments get played and preparations for London reach the final step.

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Djokovic splits with entire coaching team days before Madrid…

Almost 12 months ago Novak Djokovic ended his wait for that elusive Roland Garros title. Since then it hasn’t gone to plan for the world number two who has been suffering with injuries and poor form and today shocked the tennis world by splitting with his entire coaching team some of which have been there since he turned pro on the tour back in 2006!

Madrid starts on Monday and if he is going to defend his title in Paris in a couple of weeks he needs to hit the ground running.

Splitting with the entire coaching team is a shock, I personally think there is more to it but who knows? The timing is unusual especially midway through the clay court season.

Djokovic on his website said it could act as ‘shock therapy’ and to be honest it is clever because if he starts winning it will be praised and because of his talent and what he has achieved you can’t see him not regaining his form again if anything the question will be, how long?

Djokovic has said that he will take his time to find a coach and will travel to tournaments alone for the time being even without a hitting partner but was spotted in Madrid with his brother.

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Frustrations visible as Djokovic fell early once again!

aWhen I heard about Novak Djokovic’defeat to David Goffin my first thought was “I’m not surprised” watching Novak in the week I felt there was a naivety in his game and a frustration with his tennis.

David Goffin honestly played one of the best performances I have seen this year and will come onto that in another piece and how he has gone up a level.

First of all I’m going to start off with the Novak serve. Service game just didn’t have the kick and maybe plan behind them, serving into the forehand seem a little odd and it happened first few minutes.

Whenever you serve it’s about taking control of the rally so serving into your opponents strongest shot with little power is weird.

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You can see straight away Novak knows he is in trouble. The feet are too close together, there is no time to adjust and move but you can see the way the right foot is planted he is trying to get across the court quickly but his weight takes him forward and surprisingly backs up into the forehand corner opening up the court.

A shot like this is bread and butter for Goffin who perfectly planted that right foot and leans into it with the forehand and you could not ask for a more perfect forehand down the line, time and time during the match he painted the lines and took risks which paid off.

The next thing that bothered me was a lack of anticipation and maybe a sign of panic and over-thinking which 12 months ago you wouldn’t have used to describe Novak.

I have put these two shots below together and it shows this naivety going forward.

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Top one is annoying to watch. I spoke about going into a strength with no plan and this is what happened. Slicing into Goffin’s forehand and approaching the net is dangerous but there was no conviction behind the approach he didn’t commit to either covering cross court or down the line. Look at the racket head it’s side on and he basically strolled up to the net and got passed cross court.

On the bottom one we see the return of my most hated shot in tennis the drive volley. It sucks power away and this time like the previous one there is no conviction but a panic behind the net approach and this time it is 95% likely Goffin goes down the line and he does but Novak didn’t seem to read it.

Overall a poorly planned and played performance from Novak! I think his game is missing that grit from the baseline and we have seen better baseline performances from Kyrgios and Goffin this year who have bullied him on the court. I think sometimes there is a tendency to over-play which when you are on top of the world like last year is great as you are king of the castle but players aren’t afraid and will let loose!

Djokovic 6-3 3-6 7-5 Simon – Novak squeezes past stubborn Simon at Monte Carlo

And breathe!

Well where to begin? Novak Djokovic has crept through to the third round at Monte-Carlo after a hard thought win against Gilles Simon. The Frenchman’s ranking has taken a hit over the last 12 months or so and came into Monte Carlo ranked at 32 in the world but he is still one of most stubborn but effective baseliners on the tour.

The match quickly turned into a battle from the baseline as both Simon and Djokovic were painting the lines so well but towards the end of the first set it completely fell apart for the Frenchman who was hitting error after error in the final three games and to my surprisement completely turned it around.

I was surprised that how quick he turn it around. To lose those three games in a row and then find his feet again showed great character and to maintain it at such a high level and take the world number two to a third set which he led twice by a break was great but at the end couldn’t find a way to serve it out on the big point fluffed his lines.

For Novak to get the win is a massive positive. Frustrations were there and they were frustrations anyone would find coming up against a player of Simon’s talent to begin the tournament to overcome that stubbornness and defensive skills he possesses from behind the baseline.

There were plenty of positives to take but also there was a naiviety in his game which threw up some questions. From the baseline he did hit both wings well but as rallies progressed Simon was winning the majority of the longer ones. In set two he won 24/36 rallies over 5 shots.

The backhand placement in set one was exceptional.

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You can see from the graphic he found the wings and as I say he painted the lines during the match well but when rallies extended especially in the last two sets he did struggle to get out of the middle of the court and didn’t ask questions of Simon but when he tried with drop shots the Frenchman was all over them.

Tough tests will continue to follow this week in Monte Carlo and up next for the former champion is Pablo Carreno Busta who has made big improvements this year.

One week until Monte-Carlo! The best are set to return and where better to kick off the clay court season?

It’s that time of the year again. Monte-Carlo kicks off an incredible run of tournaments as they clay court season welcomes the big boys and there isn’t a better setting for tennis than this.

Tennis - Masters Series Monte-Carlo - Day 2 - Men's Singles 2nd Round - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) v Nicolas Almagro (ESP)

As ever it attracts the best in the world as they look to get preparations for Roland Garros under way but who needs a big week and who could surprise a few?

Novak’s wait…

Former world number one Novak Djokovic is currently on his longest drought without winning a Masters 1000 title since 2009 when he waited 9 tournaments between Paris 2009 and Indian Wells 2011. This man was unstoppable and to go from that perfect form to being vulnerable and just looking out of sorts is worrying. Form this year hasn’t been good and throw injuries into that it just isn’t working for him.

No.10?

Rafael Nadal went 8 years undefeated in Monte-Carlo and then in 2013, 14, 15 he didn’t win the title as form and injuries took over but last year he returned to see off Gael Monfils in a thrilling final to claim his 16th Masters title but with no Federer and doubts over how good Murray and Djokovic will be coming into Monte-Carlo surely that makes the king of clay favourite once again?

Andy’s time?

Andy Murray has never won in Monte-Carlo it’s been a mixture of results for him over the years. This elbow injury halted him in Indian Wells and of course forced him out of Miami and the Davis Cup weekend in France but pictures and videos have appeared on social media of the world number one training with other players at the Mouratoglou tennis academy this last week.

Stay tuned!

There is a week to go until Monte-Carlo begins. It will be a massive week of tennis as clay court finally gets underway, players have something to prove and on these big stages anything is possible. Throughout the week there will be new pieces including Djokovic, Murray, Cilic and more!

 

After a difficult start to 2017 what next for No.1 & No.2?

2016 was a year mostly about two players. First half of the season was dominated by a certain Novak Djokovic who was exceptional up until he won Roland Garros the second half was dominated by the now world number one Andy Murray who went on a mad winning record at the back end of last season but this year for the two top players it just hasn’t happened but why is that?

Both have them had a pretty long off season after the World Tour Finals they didn’t have commitments of Davis Cup or ITPL in December this time around and both return early on in the year, it didn’t really go to plan and it turned into a meltdown in Melbourne with Novak Djokovic falling to Denis Istomin and Andy Murray falling to Mischa Zverev

Prior to Australia these two played each other in Dubai in the final and it was an incredible match up which looked let setting the tone for the year but the tone has fallen flat.

Both then had a couple of good weeks on the tour, Murray won in Beijing and Novak fell in Acapulco to Kyrgios and then fell to Nick once again at Indian Wells with Murray going out in round one against Vasek Pospisil.

Just a couple of days before Miami began rumours started to spread and unfortunately they were true. The top two in the world would miss the tournament both with a right elbow issue so what next?

Form wise, they aren’t playing great coming into the clay court season and it is wise decision to take this recovery time as clay court tennis is brutal on the body.

Next up for the players could be Davis Cup. I do not expect Novak to participate but Andy maybe for Great Britain following that a trip to Monte-Carlo will definitely be on the cards for both and it might be a wise decision not to play until then which is a month away!

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