What a fantastic match last night between Monfils and Brian Baker. The American used to be one of the top junior players around the same time as Djokovic, Monfils and Murray but was hit with several injuries that required double hip surjury and also an op on his elbow.There was also a wrist injury, a knee injury and a hernia. He has been winning games and a title on the Challenger tour and received a wild card entry to play in Nice.
He is clearly a very intelligent tennis player ( a rare breed) and had worked out a game plan to beat Monfils. Monfils isn’t one of the brightest tennis players around and it took him a set before he even started to work out how to deal with Baker. Time and time again the American was stepping right up the court to take the Monfils second serves so early that the server didn’t have time to react before the ball was past him. However it was more than just tactics from Baker. His improvised shots were of such quality and he looked so comfortable on court that if his body can hold up he will be rising quickly up the rankings.
I don’t have the stats but I only remember him looking like the pressure was getting to him on 2 points. Both were in the second set tie break so it was hardly surprising. He double faulted and on another point hit a terrible dropshot that barely reached the net but that was about it for the whole match.
Obviously the green helped but I can honestly say that I don’t remember enjoying a tennis match as much in a long time.
Baker comes across as a very likeable bloke. Confident but with no attitude. I hope he sticks around as I can only see him getting better as he settles into the main tour and gets more matches under his belt.
Isner v Davydenko:
Head to heads are 2-2. Isner won their last 2 matches including in Miami this year. He won in 3 sets having lost the first.
Isner’s last match was won in 2 tie break sets against Malisse so I am guessing his serve is going well even if his return of serve isn’t. Malisse can serve exceptionally well at times though and if he’s in the mood can be a tough opponent.
Davydenko has won 2 straight matches! I thought Ebden might give him more problems but he was broken 3 times in each set. However Davy didn’t have many easy holds in that match and whilst his first serve was in 77% of the time he only won 55% of points on it. 50% of second serve points won didn’t help much.
Against Istomin in the last round Davydenko won in 3 sets but was broken 5 times. His first serve percentage was higher this time at 85% with an improved 58% of points won. Improved but not exceptional. He was helped by a poor serving performance from Istomin who served just 54% of first serves in.
Davydenko used to be one of the best returners of serve on tour. Those days are firmly in the past and he doesn’t look likely to get that form back consistently but in each of his matches he shows glimpses of it.
I think its likely that Isner will get a few break point chances today. Looking at the stats which I accept never gives the whole picture Davydenko seems to be serving consistently but a little weakly ( high % of serves in but not effective). If enough of those serves go to Isner’s forehand the American will soon get his range and start to pressure serve regularly.
Davydenko needs to bring his very best return game to the court today. Anything less and he is in trouble. If he can get into rallies with Isner he has a great chance to take at least a set but you have to feel that if Isner is motivated then he takes this.
1.43 is a little on the short side. Hopefully Davy can get a breakthrough early to push that higher for us.