Djokovic v Isner:
They have played just twice before. Both matches were in 2010. Djokovic won both matches with their Davis Cup match being the closest. 6-4 i n the 5th set. Surprisingly that match was on clay. Not Isner’s best surface.
Djokovic starts at 1.13 against the second highest ranked American on an American hard court who has one of the biggest serves in the world. That probably says more about Isner than it does about Djokovic.
A big serve is a massive advantage on hard courts. However if the serve falters you need a back up plan. Isner’s back up plan is still very much a work in progress. For much of his match with Simon he looked clueless. He may be a very intelligent guy but at times he makes Del Potro look like a Mensa candidate.
Djokovic has looked solid for most of the tournament. He has probably played just 1 poor set which was the one he lost to Andujar. That isn’t a bad thing as it gives him a kick up the arse. It must be difficult to produce your best tennis day after day when you are expected to destroy most of your opponents.
I don’t think Isner has shown consistently any sort of form that will trouble Djokovic today.
Update: Great performance from Isner. Djokovic has lost some of his 2011 edge but take nothing away from the American. From Monday he will be a top 10 player, displacing Del Potro. Hopefully now he will believe more in himself.
Isner won 7-6, 3-6, 7-6.
Federer v Nadal:
This is the one everyone wants to see. Nadal leads the head to heads 20-9. On outdoor hard courts Nadal leads 7-1. Federer’s only win came in 2005 when Fed was number 1 in the world and Nadal was 30th.
If we look at matches going back to 2010 on outdoor hard courts the set score is 9-1 to Nadal.
Federer has had a couple of tough matches although he was suffering with illness. He didn’t show any signs of that illness against Del Potro and he won that match easily.
Nadal was within 2 points of losing against Nalbandian who turned back the clock to 2006. The former world number 3 found some of his old form for almost 2 sets. He was holding serve fairly easily and his groundstrokes were superb. He was able to push Nadal so close because of his own exceptional play rather than Nadal playing poorly.
Federer does have the game to beat Nadal. In their last match at the Oz Open he came out at 100 miles an hour. He was taking the ball incredibly early. Nadal coulddn’t cope with that and was being rushed into mistakes. Unfortunately Federer just wasn’t able to maintain that standard beyong the first half of the opening set.
Nadal starts at 1.75 . This is the first time for 4 matches that he starts as favourite. The market finally woke up. They are two very different players. When they are are both on top form Federer’s game is a thing of beauty. There is no better shot maker and tactically he leaves most players standing. Nadal is more functional. He even looks a little awkward at times but lets remember he is a right handed man playing left handed! Imagine how good he would be if he used his right hand. Scary!
Nadal wins this. Let’s hope its a three setter.
Update: Nadal was below his best and perhaps fatigued by the quarter final. There was talk of a foot problem but I didn’t see anything to backk that up. Federer maintained his high level throughout the match and won 6-3, 6-4.