Fatherhood couldn’t be going any better right now for Novak Djokovic. Last month the World No. 1 and his wife, Jelena Ristic, welcomed baby boy Stefan to their family. And since, Djokovic has taken his game to another level. The Serb blanked the field in Paris without dropping a set and now somehow this week, he’s looked even more dominant if that’s possible.
Forty-eight hours after humiliating the US Open champion Marin Cilic, Djokovic ran his streak to seven since the new arrival by crushing Australian Open winner Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 6-0 in Group A action.
Wawrinka, who recall beat Novak in Australia, actually made a match of it early, leading by a break 2-0. But that was it as the 2-time defending champion reeled off 12 of the next 13 games.
“I definitely didn’t expect it, but hoped that I can play this way again and the match result can go this way for me,” said Djokovic who has won 29 straight indoor matches. “Obviously Stan wasn’t feeling his best today, made a lot of unforced errors and had a low percentage of first serves in. On my side, I just played very solid from all over the court. I think I covered the court very well, got a lot of balls back, mixed up the pace, got him off the comfort zone. That’s something that was part of my game plan.
“After I lost the first two games, obviously I didn’t start so great. I thought he played very well the first two games. But, again, I wasn’t frustrated. I kept my calm. After that, it was a really amazing performance.”
That’s right, in his first two matches Djokovic has all but destroyed two of the three Grand Slam winners this year. I wonder what Rafael Nadal and Uncle Toni think about that?
Djokovic is now Friday win over Tomas Berdych from sealing up the No. 1 ranking. Speaking of Berdych, he actually won a match, and did so in impressive fashion hammering newbie Cilic 6-3, 6-1.
With all the matches thus far sadly one-sided, all eight players are still in the hunt for the title. That changes tomorrow as two players will advance, two will be eliminated.
In the opener, Kei Nishikori takes on the struggling Milos Raonic. Kei’s won four of five vs the Canadian and expect a similar outcome in this their fifth meeting of 2014.
The main event features Roger Federer and Andy Murray. The two have split 22 previous meeting, though Federer has won the last two and has taken all three at the London ATP Finals (Murray beat him at the Shanghai Finals).
Murray’s been playing well this fall, and initially I thought Murray would get Roger here. But I’m now leaning Roger’s way instead. I just don’t like the way Murray’s been playing this week. Federer hasn’t been at his best, either, but he’s closer to form than Andy.
“It will be obviously a very difficult match< " Murray said. "But it will be an exciting match. Good one to be part of. Yeah, I hope I can play well. We've had some very good matches over the years. I hope on Thursday it will be the same.
"There's a lot of positives for me going into that match. It's nice to go into Thursday still with an opportunity to go through. And, yeah, look forward to it."
And since it's a round-robin, there are a few too many scenarios involved.
Simply put, it will take a lot for Federer not to make the weekend (I think he'll have to lose badly and have Nishikori win in two). Although, at time of match, if Raonic wins a set off Kei then Federer's spot is secured. However, I don't think Roger would ease up knowing finishing second in the group would pit him against Djokovic on Saturday in the semis. With the way Novak's been rolling, best avoid the Serb as long as possible. Plus, No. 1 remains somewhat undecided.
And if Nishikori wins the early match in straight sets, then Murray will have been eliminated and Federer need only to win a set to take the group.
Tennis Channel has the Nishikori-Raonic and ESPN2 will have Federer-Murray. I hope.
THURSDAY ATP FINALS SCHEDULE
DOUBLES B / 12:00 PM
D NESTOR/N ZIMONJIC VS M GRANOLLERS/M LOPEZ
SINGLES B / 02:00 PM
NISHIKORI VS RAONIC
DOUBLES B / 06:00 PM
J BENNETEAU/E ROGER-VASSELIN VS I DODIG/M MELO
SINGLES B / 08:00 PM
FEDERER VS MURRAY
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