Djokovic Solves Monfils Riddle In US Open Semifinals; Wawrinka Powers Past Nishikori
by Staff | September 10th, 2016, 12:11 am

Novak Djokovic advanced to his seventh US Open final beating an unpredictable Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 in the semifinals at the US Open Friday.

In the heat and humidity of the day with temperatures soaring into the 90s for the 3pm start, Djokovic raced out to a 5-0 lead in just 21 minutes over the misfiring Monfils.

With Djokovic on the edge of securing the first set, Monfils decided to mix things up, crowding the Djokovic serve by moving into the court for returns and chipping balls back off-pace.

The crowd whistled, commentators criticized Monfils for lack of effort, but the 30-year-old would say later it was his only chance at victory. And for a while it actually worked.

Monfils took three straight games and Djokovic was against it again serving 5-3, 15-40. But the World No. 1 got out of it to take the first set.

Monfils went back to a more traditional approach in the second but the errors of his racquet continued and Djokovic hardened.

In the third, the crowd continued to rain down boos on Monfils who couldn’t find anything that could consistently hurt the Serb. Down 2-0 the match was over, but Monfils came back in stunning fashion winning five straight games and eventually the set, prompting Djokovic to rip his shirt.

With the crowd finally in it, Djokovic regrouped to take the match in four. But in the heavy conditions the match took a toll on both players, especially Djokovic who called for a medical time out on his right shoulder after receiving treatment earlier on his left shoulder.

“It was a strange match, as it always is, I guess, when you play Gaël, who is very unpredictable player. I could expect that in a way. I was 5-Love up in less than 20 minutes, and everything felt great; couple of close games there,” Djokvoic said.

“And then just that service game on 5-1, that’s when it started. I was completely caught off guard when he just stood there and chipped the ball back and didn’t do much. If I would get to the net he would go for the passing shot and hit some impossible gets and balls.

“But that’s Gael. That’s the way he plays now. That’s the way he played always. He loves to come up with a variety in his game, and the defense shots. He loves long rallies.”

Monfils, who had never beaten Djokovic in 12 prior meetings, felt he had no choice but to mix things up to win.

“At the beginning I think Novak was playing good,” Monfils said. “I didn’t serve great. It was very quickly 5-0. I had to change a little bit.

“Definitely I try to get in his head. You know, try to create something new for him, you know, to see. And that was it. When the guy is too good, you know, playing clean and you’re playing very bad, I mean, not that good, you know, you need to change.
“At the end, that’s why I think it was necessary, and I almost get back to the first set.”

The error-filled match featured a combined 18 double faults (11 from Monfils), 12 breaks of serve and Monfils hit 52 unforced errors.

After two retirement wins, a walkover and now this bizarre semifinal, in the final Sunday Djokovic will face Stan Wawrinka. The Swiss overcame a set down to deny Kei Nishikori in four sets 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2.

“I knew I could always come back,” Wawrinka said on court. “My game plan is to be aggressive. I knew I could fight for three, four, five hours. I want to make them suffer and that’s what I did against Del Potro and today as well.”

Wawrinka avenged his loss to Nishikori in Canada and the win puts him into his first US Open final after two previous semis.

“I’m really excited. Really happy to make the final. Something amazing for me,” Wawrinka said. “To play Novak, the No. 1 player, it’s always really challenging. But we had some many big memories together, especially in Grand Slams, so it’s going to be an excited match.”

Wawrinka beat Djokovic in the French Open final last year in their last Slam showdown but Novak leads 19-4 overall winning both Masters meetings last year.

“I haven’t played Stan in some time now,” Djokovic said of Wawrinka. “He’s a big match player. He loves to play in the big stage against big players, because that’s when he, I think, elevates his level of performance in his game. Just gets much better.”

Wawrinka has won his last 10 finals and at 31 will try to become the oldest US Open champion since Ken Rosewall in 1970. Both his Slam titles have taken him through Djokovic.

“The secret is simple: I have to play my best tennis, my best game,” Wawrinka said. “He’s the No. 1 player, amazing fighter, amazing player, but I have enough confidence in myself that when I play my best level I can beat him.

“Hopefully I can bring that Sunday. But it’s the biggest challenge. When you play Novak, the No. 1 player in the final of Grand Slam, it’s the biggest challenge you can have.”

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26 Comments for Djokovic Solves Monfils Riddle In US Open Semifinals; Wawrinka Powers Past Nishikori

Danica Says:

Stan doesn’t lose Grand Slam finals.

Dapris Says:

Am a Novak fan.but I will say I won’t mind if he loses to Stan.I respect Stan’s progress and him winning the U.S open over my man Nole will be bitter sweet.there is mutual respect between these two

Margot Says:

Wow! Fighting talk from Stan. Way to go!
Congrats Emily you must be thrilled.

Van Persie Says:

Hope it is lucky Nr. 13 for Novak and Stan may end as runner up at this US Open, as he misses a runner up title in his CV ;) I know, wishful thinking :D

chrisford1 Says:

1. Djokovic will be the subject of a full 2017 season unscripted docu-series filming him in tennis and away from the court, joined by friends, family, other Tour players. Amazon Prime announced Sept 8th in LA. The show is based on a concept developed by Djokovic and a producer named Mike Scarpetta. It will be similar to the series featuring Manny Paquiao trainer Freddie Roach.
Novak has also bought film rights to a Yugoslavian novelette about Nikola Tesla.

2. Some of the Stan WawrinkaDjokovic matches have been all out dogfights. It will remain to be seen if the Final will be the same. Reading between the interview lines, Djokovic is a lot more concerned facing Stan in a big match than Kei.

4. The gal that beat Serena, Karolina Plskova, is 6’1″ and almost typical Czech gal awesome beautiful, has an identical twin sister also playing tennis -Krystina. One ranked 10, the other in the low 100s. Karolina has tattoos on left arm and leg. Sister is a lefty.
If Karolina wins the USO, both will likely be media faves.

Van Persie Says:

Yes CF1, regarding 2 point, I would have prefered also Kei.

Travis Bickle Says:

Hey Djoker fans, have more faith in your guy!

Unless Djoker is seriously injured (and it appears that his injuries are mostly of minor variety that could be easily managed for one important match) he will beat Stan without much problems. Here are some reasons why this is going be much different compared to last year French Open final:

1. Last year Djoker played gruelling semi against Murray over 2 days, while Stan had a full day of rest and was much fresher on Sunday. We saw today what playing against Muzza does to a person (Kei was dead after 2 sets) and Novak played him two straight days and had to face rested Stan the very next day…

2. This year it is reversed – Stan spent 17hrs 54min on the court compared to only 8hrs 56min for Djoker. And Stan is two years older man. So Djoker will be the fresher man in the later stages (after second set)… Even if Stan enters his “everything goes in” mode he won’t be able to sustain it for longer stretches due to his 18 hrs already spent playing…

3. At FO clay, the ball bounces much higher than at USO and Stan has enough time to set his powerful groundstrokes. On Ashe stadium with quicker court and much lower bounce, Djoker will be able to “rush” him, which in turn will cause many errors from Stan’s racquet. Also being rushed will affect Stan’s decision making as well as make him tired sooner than usual.

4. Stan is much weaker serve returner compared to Murray or Nishikori, so Novak weak serving will be less liability than what it could be against best returners. Stan just bunts back even second serve, and that will allow Novak to not be pressured and slowly construct points and move Stan from side to side. Djoker will also punish Stan’s second serves on regular basis…

5. Finally, at FO Djoker was desperate to win his only missing slam and that may have contributed to his stress level. At this USO, he was considering not even playing, so everything that he achieves here he sees as a bonus – so he will be way more composed and calm compared to FO last year.

So, yeah – I can only see Djoker losing this one by retirement due to a serious injury that makes his level below 70%.
70% and more of Djoker’s level wins the title on Sunday against this Stan!

Anki Says:

Nole was awful in the last two sets and failing to close out the first set. What a drama queen Monfils is. Honestly, don’t see Novak even winning a set from Stan with the way he has been serving. DF’s are more than the number of aces. Expect it to be a four setter with Stan getting the better of Novak. Hope it is the other way around though.

Giles Says:

As usual faker lies and cheats his way to victory.
Hoping Wawa will crush him tomorrow. Amen.

J-Kath Says:

Well I got both semi-winners correct and 4 sets per match correct and having congratulated myself, I’m moving on to the finals.

Both guys know how to make it difficult for each other and neither of them have yet to play their brilliant best. So I’m going for a 5-setter and because I think Nole is still off-kilter a bit I’m expecting Stan to take the title.

Giles Says:
Always been a faker, nothing changes in faker world!

J-Kath Says:

Saw this article – and thought of you Travis….really cross on your behalf…..ahmm…

Michael Says:

Well, the one between Novak and Monfils was a bizarre match with the overwhelming humidity factor on the court playing truant.

Just after two sets, Monfils looked physically exhausted and fatigued and it appeared then, it would be a straight set victory for Novak. But in the third set, there were strange twists and turns with Novak losing his concentration with some of the harebrained tactics on court adopted by Monfils. But, then he recovered in the fourth set to coast for a comfortable win and will be meeting Wawarinka which should be an exciting match with the edge ofcourse to Novak.

Giles Says:

Fake uber drivers? Lol. That’s TB alright. Faker fan, what do you expect?

Khb Says:

Novak fans are quality people.
He doesn’t try to be perfect & accepted by
trashy attention-seeking folks.
Money isn’t why he plays tennis. Unlike some overhyped players.
He is the center of brilliant geniuses’ attention.
Laver adores him!
Only the ill & injured Novak could lose to Fed & his weak era clowns.
Novak is the best & only hero that didn’t always
kiss up to the fake players of 2004
(self-declared ‘real player’ Frederinerer &
the other most overrated players of all time,
that feared DAVIS CUP 5 setters and clay tennis
as well as never played better than darling RAFA).

What a quandary…
Fed called himself old but then he had a tasty Davis Cup cupcake draw
to take advantage of. What a 5 set warrior!
Always faking his way to the sweet GOAT title!

HumblelitOrafa fans also aren’t too happy about RAFAFANATICBOYS.

J-Kath Says:


Novak is quality. A few of his fans should try to live up to that.

MARY Healey Says:

It’s players such as Novak that keeps me as a fan. All the drama, hype, convoluted scheduling, press etc. for certain players has reached the stage of making a mockery out of tennis.
I guess the almighty $$$$$$$$$$$$ rules!

Berghain Says:

September 10th, 2016 at 11:44 am

So PsYcho.

Emily Says:

@Margot, I am thrilled. Based on his draw, I didn’t see Stan getting to the final, but he has really stepped up in the necessary moments. Sorry to the Novak fans, but I hope the 2015 French Open Stan shows up. Whoever wins, I’m pleased his form has picked up and hope he keeps that finals streak going

Wog Boy Says:

I am not worried about 2015 FO Stan showing up, I am hoping that 2015 FO finalist, tentative and lethargic Nole doesn’t show up. Nole is yet to prove that he is 100%, so far he didn’t need it, but Stan is big matches player and Nole will need his best game.

Miles Says:

KHB – dream on! Novak is playing in the weakest era of Open tennis. He’s also hugely unpopular with the rest of the circuit. He’s not even going to overtake Rafa’s tally of majors and will forever in his and Federer’s shadows.

Margot Says:

But….but… most of Nole’s career has been played in the era of those two all time GOATS you mentioned Miles. You can’t have it both ways.

mat4 Says:

This match will be a difficult one for both players. The key seems to be the serve of both players: it’s Stan main weapon and without it he’s very vulnerable. Novak, on the other side, doesn’t serve as precisely as he did lately.

On fast surfaces, usually Novak beat Stan fairly easily, taking the time away from him. But the USO conditions are just a bit faster than at the AO, and, in fact, from 2009 to 2013, they were even more similar.

Novak’s strategy will be to move Stan laterally all the time, Stan will try to return well and be more aggressive. I wasn’t impressed by Stan’s level, but I wasn’t impressed by Novak’s level either.

So, the form will probably decide the winner. At his best, Novak is better on any surface and in any conditions, but he doesn’t look at his best. Let’s wait and see.

Meanwhile… idemo, Novak!

Giles Says:

Allez Wawa. Kick his butt today purleeeeeese. 👍👏🏿

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