Djokovic Cruises In Beijing; Murray Meets Milos In Tokyo
by Sean Randall | October 5th, 2012, 1:09 pm
  • 67 Comments

Eyeing the year-end No. 1 ranking, Novak Djokovic seems to have his game in excellent form. Last night the Serb blew out Jurgen Melzer 6-1, 6-2 to reach the semifinals in Tokyo. Djokovic may have lost the US Open final to Andy Murray, but I still think he’s the best outdoor hardcourt player on the planet right now.

“I have stepped up at least a level in each match that I have played here,” said Djokovic. “But I am trying to be more aggressive and to have more efficiency on my serve. The serve was great tonight. It’s one of the best serving matches I have had in my career, so that’s a positive sign. I will try to keep on going.”

Next up is Florian Mayer tonight and then a likely date with JW Tsonga in the finals, provided the Frenchman disposes of Feliciano Lopez. So Novak will be the heavy favorite this weekend to pick up his fourth title of the season and really put pressure on Roger Federer in the No. 1 race.

The women’s semifinals feature Victoria Azarenka against Marion Bartoli and Maria Sharapova vs. Li Na. Another scream final ahead?

In Tokyo, Andy Murray continued his title defense taking out Stan Wawrinka in three sets 6-3, 3-6, 6-2. Murray moves on to the semifinals where he’ll have another showdown with Milos Raonic. The Canadian, who saved a matchpoint today in a tough third set breaker victory over Janko Tipsarevic, beat Murray on the clay this spring, but on an outdoor hardcourt Murray’s a much better player. And we saw that in New York when Murray hammered him.

“I think it will be tough. He’s played well this week. Today was a good win for him,” Murray said of Milos. “When you play a guy with a game like has, it’s always going to be tricky. I’ll try to do what I did in New York. I got a lot of returns in play. Once I was in the point, I was able to dictate a lot of them so I’ll try and do the same tomorrow.”

In the other semifinal Marcos Baghdatis battles Kei Nishikori who excited his home fans upsetting Tomas Berdych. So it’s shaping up to be a good weekend of tennis, and it’s on TV courtesy of the Tennis Channel. Hopefully the sickos stay away.

SATURDAY BEIJING SCHEDULE
NATIONAL TENNIS STADIUM start 12:30 pm
[3] J Tsonga (FRA) vs F Lopez (ESP) – ATP

Not Before 3:00 PM
[7] N Li (CHN) vs [2] M Sharapova (RUS) – WTA
[1] V Azarenka (BLR) vs [9] M Bartoli (FRA) – WTA

Not Before 7:30 PM
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs F Mayer (GER) – ATP
[5] N Llagostera Vives (ESP) / S Mirza (IND) vs [3] E Makarova (RUS) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA

SATURDAY TOKYO SCHEDULE
CENTRE COURT start 12:00 noon
[1] A Murray (GBR) vs [6] M Raonic (CAN)
M Baghdatis (CYP) vs [8] K Nishikori (JPN)
[1] L Paes (IND) / R Stepanek (CZE) vs D Bracciali (ITA) / F Cermak (CZE)
[4] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) vs T Berdych (CZE) / N Zimonjic (SRB)


Also Check Out:
ATP London Race (29 Sept 14): Murray Moves Up, Nishikori Strengthens London Bid
Serena Williams Pulls Out Of Tokyo, Beijing Remains On Her Schedule
Roddick Faces Chardy in Tokyo; Wozniacki Bids for No. 1 in Beijing
Nadal, Murray Collide For Tokyo Title; Berdych Battles Cilic In Beijing
ATP Fall Guide: Where The Big Boyz – Nadal, Djokovic, Federer – Will Be Playing

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67 Comments for Djokovic Cruises In Beijing; Murray Meets Milos In Tokyo

mat4 Says:

It would be interesting to see the speed of his serves against Melzer. He served faster than usual at the USO, went for the lines, but his % was lower. Now, it seems that this serve starts to click. Hopefully he can continue to improve it. The physiognomy of his game changes a lot with a better serve.

It should be noted that he made eight or nine aces in the last three games. I rewatched the match to see if it was about Melzer’s fatigue or about Nole outstanding serve. Both, it seemed to me.

Novak’s volleying was terrible most of the time, on the other side. He hasn’t learned to smash yet. But his FH looked really good, and the return was killing.

Hope he will continue to play that way.


Adam Says:

Djoker is an arsral fan.
I felt that the way he lost to Muzzard in the Olympics sais a lot – not breakcserve once. After he lost the US Open Final pretty sure that Novak will be reca;ibrating his game solely around Muzzard. Novak said that Andy thrashed him when they first met in juniors. Don’t think Novak liked that. He was very big on the No Gluten diet in 2011. Now he will be busy pre Aussie Open. He’ll be fully aware that Andy basic beat him in NY because Novak was complete;y spent going into the 5th set. Wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a new coach. Novak will not take this lying down – and he is a pro-active sort of guy. The H2H now is 8-7 to Novak. Iy started 4-0


Brando Says:

Novak is a beast on outdoor HC, so his performance comes as no surprise really.

He only struggled against fed and andy on outdoor HC post grass season- neither are in the china open.

He’ll win this thing in straight sets IMHO. He’s far better than the opponents in this tourny.

So it’s less him being impressive and more he’s meeting expectations by taking care of opponents that he should beat regardless of the surface really- Berrer, Berlocq, Melzer.

Next up is Mayer- who here genuinely thinks he can beat nole? At a guess, i’ll say no one.

Tsonga in the final though might be an interesting match.

Ultimately, it’s a nice warm up for shanghai where the real challenge (fed, muzza) awaits for him!


rogerafa Says:

“I still think he’s the best outdoor hardcourt player on the planet right now.”

I think he has been the best all-round hard court player for quite some time. Virtually invincible on very slow courts like AO and Miami and extremely consistent at other venues. His 2011 indoor season results are simply not reflective of his ability indoors. There is no reason why a good outdoor hard court player can not be good indoors too. The reverse is not necessarily true. Some players who can not handle the elements do better indoors but Novak, being such a quality player, should be able to do very well anywhere.


Kimmi Says:

much closer match today than their uso encounter. murray just snatch the second set.


racquet Says:

Murray played fantastically in that game to finally break Milos. 3-1. Raonic has been flawless for 2 sets. Can he hold?


Margot Says:

Ooh racquet…too close for comfort in first two sets. Andy seems to have woken up now.
Milos has certainly learnt from his last encounter. Am always worried by these huge servers in best of 3. Not so much in 5.
Come on Andy!


jane Says:

And Murray’s up a break in the third, too. But racquet you may’ve been right about the court. Or possibly it’s good news for Milos, and he’s learned something from their last encounter. What do you think?

Meanwhile Tsonga is crushing F-Lo so far. If Nole gets past Mayer, looks like he may have his hand full if Jo keeps up this level!


jane Says:

Oh hi Margot; I see you already answered with your thoughts, re: Milos learning from his last “schooling” by Muzz. :) That’s good. But it looks like Andy has found his way now…


racquet Says:

This court suits Raonic’s game perfectly jane. Andy was uncomfortable the whole time. Hopefully he can hold. He’s getting more looks in Milos’ service games but it ain’t over.


racquet Says:

Ugh, poor game and Milos gets the break back. Andy will be furious. Have to credit Raonic – he’s playing beyond his years.


jane Says:

Hmmm…Better to finish it without a tiebreak, ideally. Tiebreaks are such crapshoots.

F-Lo retired so Tsonga is through.


jane Says:

Oh, Milos double faulted twice this game, and once to give Andy MP! Will he get it??


jane Says:

OMG, a third double fault for a 2nd MP!


racquet Says:

Raonic plays so fearlessly on the MPs.


racquet Says:

Tiebreak. Don’t have a good feeling about this.


jane Says:

Lots of drama in that game, and all just to reach a TB – for the match. I thought for sure Muzz would get one of those MPs. Credit to Milos for holding his nerves and going for it.


jane Says:

Murray’s winning more of his own second serve points, which could make the difference in this TB, but Milos has actually won 3 more points in the match to this point.


racquet Says:

unbelievable tennis.


racquet Says:

It’s over now surely.


Kimmi Says:

murray was 4-1 in the final set. milos came back, wins the tie breaker. murray out!


jane Says:

Well, kudos to Milos: nice win for him. I wonder who he’ll face: Baggy or Kei.

Good fight to the end by Andy, though he should’ve held onto his break lead in the final set.


racquet Says:

Yep, 2 poor shots from Andy in the TB and Milos capitalizes. Great match. Raonic maturing fast. Andy will be disappointed but not disconsolate.


Margot Says:

Well played Milos, so calm on court.
Lendl can’t hold Andy’s hand ALL the time, more’s the pity.
Very right to worry about these big servers in best of 3.


jane Says:

Agree racquet, on both counts.


racquet Says:

With this form none of the top 3 will want him in their section of the draw at Shanghai.


jane Says:

Is Shanghai as fast as this court?


racquet Says:

margot, at least Andy won when it mattered most :)

jane, I believe it’s not as fast but today was the first time I saw Milos being so consistently aggressive on the return. If he does that consistently he’ll trouble everyone.


jane Says:

Yes, Milos was better able to take advantage on the second serve return today – true racquet.


Margot Says:

racquet, very true. And much as we like it, Andy can’t win every match.
Molos’ game has really picked up. Hope Andy’s more prepared next time.


racquet Says:

Well the draw is out and Andy is in the same half as Fed and same qtr as Isner. Don’t know if Raonic is in Nole’s or David’s qtr yet.


racquet Says:

margot, no he can’t win every match but at least he hasn’t ever lost to Ivo or Isner :)


racquet Says:

Ah, so Tsonga, Raonic and Berdy are in the same qtr and Nole & Tipsy in the other.


Kimmi Says:

kei playing well, hope he wins!


mat4 Says:

Hi, everybody!

Unfortunately, I still have a lot of writing to do and I can’t spend much time here, nor can I watch enough tennis for my taste. But still, there is youtube, and I manage to find some recent encounters to enjoy in, when I have some spare time.

Raonic and Isner are very dangerous players, big servers always are. But I have to admit that I am very surprised by today’s result (although Milos has already won against Andy), since AM is one of the best returner in the game.

I don’t think that Raonic plays beyond his age: although top players are in average older now, he should be at his top.

Nishikori is a pleasant surprise, although I was rooting for Baghy. Marcos is a very talented player, but a bit like Gulbis, it seems he doesn’t play to win, he just doesn’t adjust tactically in his matches.

Novak played a good first set today, but Mayer woke up in the second, played some outstanding tennis and fought until the end. It was interesting to see how he adjusted his positioning when returning in the second set.


Tennis Fan Says:

Wow! Fantasic match by Raonic. This boy is the real deal. He outthought Murray on many points and that was probably the most impressive part of a very impressive performance. He played up near the baseline and outpowered Murray on many points with his powerful ground strokes and showed finesse at the net with some excellent volleys and even the odd drop shot or two. This guy is going to be top 3 if he can stay healthy. Very impressive win … many people don’t give Raonic enough credit for this win. I didn’t think he was ready … but now I know he is. He has it between the ears too …which very few young players have. Can’t wait to see him play next season. He will be top 10 or higher!! Watch out world… Canada comin’ through.


John Says:

Rafa Nadal
6 Sep 2012 – Public
Rafa Nadal would not be at the Semifinals of the Davis Cup and will stop for the next 2 months

“I have to recover and I’ll be back once the pain is gone”

Manacor, Spain, September 3rd, 2012.- Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal will not play in the next 2 months and will stop to rest and recover his knee. Among other things he won´t be able to be at the disposal of the Spanish Davis Cup captain for the semifinals tie against the USA.

Rafa has partial tear of the patella tendon at the distal pole of the patella plus an inflammation of the Hoffa’s fat pad of his left knee.

Since the diagnosis of that tear, Rafa has been receiving medical treatment consisting on specific medication, physical therapy and a progressive program of rehabilitation and muscular potentiation.

For Rafa Nadal “I have missed the Olympics and the US Open in the last few weeks, tow of the most important tournaments of the year and that I really wanted to play. I really want to be back competing and enjoying the tennis tour, but I have many years in front of me and my knee needs some rest. I will be back when I have no pain and able to compete with guarantee.

I feel better after the meeting with my doctors and happy knowing that the evolution of the past weeks has been positive and surgery has been avoided. I will continue to work with the plan my doctors have established to be able to compete as soon as possible in the right conditions.

I would also like to thanks all for the support I ma receiving these days.” http://bit.ly/PRs1la


John Says:

Please Ignore, I know its old news. I accidentally posted the wrong article.

Apologies.


Sienna Says:

John
Rafa made a dramatic withdrawal last year from Davis Cup.
Nobody was expecting him to join the party when the price was already for the taing. Or were they?

But Rafa just had a six months of. Either by choice or by forced ruling from Atp.
We surely find out in future what was the case.

Rafa also abandonned his spot as vice president of the players counsil? This might also be part of the forced ruling by ATP.So a 6 months silentban might be enforced together with stepping down from player counsil.


Brando Says:

Disappointed that andy lost- was hoping that he would win here and continue his form and momentum from the USO.

That said, i don’t think it shall hurt his chances going into Shanghai. This tourny was preparation for that IMO, and if you look at it that way he was one match away from playing the maximum possible matches- so it’s not bad prep at all.

Certainly more than fed, who’s on his side with unfortunate off court issues on his mind.

Andy should be fine in Shanghai i hope.


lazlo Says:

Silent ban–Either by choice or by forced ruling from Atp.

Siena,
That is a bold statement. Care to show proof of thisso-called ban?


the DA Says:

” But I have to admit that I am very surprised by today’s result”

More surprised than when Isner beat Nole and Roger or less surprised?


Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Why can’t people leave Rafa alone. He is not the subject of this thread.

Sienna, you have a problem of Rafaitis. Just leave him alone. You have no contribution to make in tennis discussions, all you do is defame the character of someone you’ve never met and know nothing about.

You are irrelevant as far as Rafa is concerned so change the record.


mat4 Says:

@DA:

I am never that surprised when Novak loses against a big server. His main weapon is to be very aggressive on his return, and he has less opportunities against a big server. Another thing is that Djokovic needs to get some rhythm, some rallies to find his game. Finally, Novak used to have a game by set when he served awfully, so he has an ugly record against big servers: he lost against Karlovic, Isner, Tsonga (many times), he was without resources against Safin (who served very well). This has changed in the last two years, but I think he still is vulnerable.

Roger has an almost impeccable saldo against big servers, because he is a great server himself and holds easily. He lost a few matches (against Isner and Karlovic) but you can’t always be at the top of your form.

Of the top players, Rafa and Murray both have an excellent record against big servers, although both are vulnerable to a combination of serve and power.

But I expected Murray to win that one: Raonic has obvious weaknesses that Murray, perhaps the guy the most able to return big serves on the tour, could have used. Their last match was a one way affair, and AM is in good form.


skeezer Says:

Eieio,

“all you do is defame the character of someone you’ve never met and know nothing about.”

This is true, not good.

Neither is this;

“”all you do is say how good the character of someone you’ve never met and know nothing about.”


skeezer Says:

Mat4,

Question; does the serve win over the return?


rogerafa Says:

I think almost all of us including Sienna and EIETMO are irrelevant as far as Rafa or any other player is concerned. Very few of us have met any of these players or know them personally. Changing or not changing the record would not affect any player.


mat4 Says:

@Skeezer:

What do you think? ;-)


the DA Says:

@mat4

All good observations. I would add (having seen the whole match) that Raonic reveled in the fast court and took time away from Murray on almost every other point. He was definitely more aggressive on the return than I’ve ever seen. Plus, imo, Andy wasn’t in peak form, he blew a few of his bread & butter groundstrokes including a couple of key passing shots and a BH on MP.

@ skeezer

Interesting question. I remember a quote by Sampras that the key to winning slams (especially Wimbledon) was the return. I’ll try to find it.


skeezer Says:

I was always under the belief that a big server always has a chance to beat anybody. If he holds throughout the set, the advantage is with the big server in the TB (most cases)

Thoughts?


rogerafa Says:

Depends on the conditions and also if the big server has only the big serve and little else. Guys like Ivo and Isner have a big edge due to their height and thus are able to have high first serve percentages. That puts tremendous pressure on their opponents. Other big servers will likely give a chance here or there. The relative lack of success of the big servers reflects the quality of returns of the top players and the generally slowed-down conditions. Kudos to Rafa, Andy and Novak for being such sharp returners. Roger was great in his prime too.


mat4 Says:

@Skeez:

Thought you were joking.

The combination of both, without doubts. If you are a big server, you don’t have to be aggressive on the return like Djokovic, but to put enough balls in play. Even Djokovic blocks his returns against Roddick or Isner.

Take Federer, p.e. I believe his return game is underrated. It is not as good as it was, but I remember well Ljubicic saying that he couldn’t ace him.

Anyway, since the arrival of new, graphite racquets, just find a number one ranked player without a good or dominant serve. Lendl served quite well. McEnroe too. Edberg, Becker, Sampras, Federer, Safin… Even Agassi and Djokovic have competent serves.


mat4 Says:

I forgot Roddick… Ooops!


the DA Says:

Well of course they always have the chance but I would say more so in 3 setters. But in what context are you asking? To win slams?


the DA Says:

In 5-setters it wasn’t necessarily the greatest advantage for Roddick and Ivanisevic and more recently Ivo and Isner. The difference with Sampras is he not only had a great 2nd serve but an effective return game. IMO, I think Milos’ 2nd serve is the best since Pete, and if he improves that return – watch out.

Like Mat, I agree that you need a combination of both. With the slower courts nowadays, having both a respectable serve and great return game is going to trump big servers.


skeezer Says:

@ the DA

Dunno. I just noticed when the likes of a Ivo, Roddick, and Milos, when there serve game is on, they seem to be very close in there matches. when the scores are like 6-7,7-6, etc…..I would say the big server, as long as he is holding serve, has a good chance in the TB, regardless of how bad his return game is. They only need one good shot to take over the TB. Granted they don’t win every TB, but we are talking guys who are really not that good with an all around game…..

@Mat4

Seriously, we need to hook up and have a Brewsky somewhere someday, cause we both can never figure out who is jokin, or when we are serious


skeezer Says:

@ the DA

BTW Sampras. Best 2nd serve EVER ;)


mat4 Says:

@the DA:

Andy has problems against powerful players with a big game, and his second serve can be a weakness.

He has a great touch and moves the ball around well, I have seen him up his defence in a match, but never change his overall strategy. Then, he was never the first to try a winning strategy: against Rafa, he plays Novak’s game; against Roger, he tries to emulate Rafa; against Novak, he just waits.

As a Novak fan, I was really afraid that Andy would fulfil his physical potential (with Tsonga, he’s the strongest, the most athletic figure among the top ten) but I finally realised that he lacks something, perhaps the work intelligence of Federer or Djokovic. Federer still improves his game, Djokovic too.

Of course, all I wrote could just be BS, as usual.


jane Says:

skeezer @2:14, that’s true. But, just to play devil’s advocate, that is also assuming the big server’s “big weapon” isn’t neutralized by the returner. If we look at the current big servers on tour – Isner, Ivo, Milos – compared to some of the best returners – Nole, Muzz, Rafa, Ferrer – who has the higher ranking?

The key, obviously, is to have a well-rounded game. And most of the top guys and/or multiple slam champions have that: one of serve or return may be stronger, but the other aspect of their game isn’t a weakness. Milos seems to understand that he has to have a better return to win big matches more consistently.

In late 2009 to mid-late 2010, Nole’s serve was a constant liability (Double Fault King!), but he was able to hold onto #3 and win a lot of crucial matches on large part because of his return (the rest of his game played a part, of course). In other words, if he was broken, he could often break right back. I’m not sure a good return can be “neutralized” like a big serve can?? It allows a player to grasp control of a rally. But what happens to a big server if that weapon goes AWOL? Unless that player has a generally rounded game, i.e., a workable-good return, I think they’re more likely to lose the match: lose the serve = lose the match? Just speculation of course.

Nole’s entire game is definitely “easier” when the serve is flowing, as is Murray’s. Indeed, I am sure that’s true for pretty much any player. But it seems that the players who have a weapon-like return are more able to fight through/ grind out matches. I don’t know. It’s clearly debatable.


jane Says:

mat4, I agree: Roger’s return was mostly striking on the first serve of opponents (some of his returns to Roddick back in 2006 would land at Roddick’s feet, but usually those were off first serves). But when players serve to Fed’s backhand side, perhaps his return is a little less effective due to the one-hander??


mat4 Says:

@Skeez:

I don’t drink beer, so sorry.

But if you let me have a few “zu-brew(s)ka” instead, I am your man!

About the serve: serving well can be crucial in the top. Again, I’ll mention Federer and Djokovic, whose serve changed a lot in the last few years. Small changes in their serves brought big differences in their careers. Murray depends on his first serve. The only exception is probably Rafa, although the only time he won the USO, he served better than ever.


the DA Says:

@mat4 – ” I have seen him up his defence in a match, but never change his overall strategy”

I completely disagree. And to be fair you probably don’t watch as many matches of his as I do, unless he’s playing Nole. I can list numerous instances where he has changed his game plan to win. One of the most vivid examples I recall was a 2nd rnd match against Nalbandian at the Paris 1000 the year that the courts were fast. After quickly dropping the first set he completely changed to serve & volley in the 2nd set and ending up winning. Not even Nole would do that.


mat4 Says:

@jane:

Roger FH return goes CC most of the time and is very dangerous. His BH slice return is also working against most of his opponents, Rafa excepted. Roger plays it CC, the rebound is low, but it lands right on Rafa’s FH. I believe that it had a lot of impact in their matches.


mat4 Says:

@the DA:

Good points. Haven’t seen that match, although I watch Murray often.

Nole certainly wouldn’t have serve and volley…


mat4 Says:

… served and volleyed… ?


mat4 Says:

Everybody left. I am probably unbearable. So, a link for my redemption:

http://www.jumbojoke.com


jamie Says:

Ali is going down tomorrow.

Top story: Rafael Nadal To Undergo Appendix Surgery On Nov 3, Will Miss Paris And London
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Rankings
ATP - Oct 20 WTA - Oct 20
1 Novak Djokovic1 Serena Williams
2 Roger Federer2 Maria Sharapova
3 Rafael Nadal3 Simona Halep
4 Stan Wawrinka4 Petra Kvitova
5 David Ferrer5 Na Li
6 Tomas Berdych6 Agnieszka Radwanska
7 Kei Nishikori7 Eugenie Bouchard
8 Marin Cilic8 Ana Ivanovic
9 Milos Raonic9 Caroline Wozniacki
10 Andy Murray10 Angelique Kerber
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