Rome 2012, Friday

Some unexpected results this week and some other matches not being as straight forward as we might expect. Probably a lot of the top players have one eyes on Roland Garros next week and don’t want to use up too much energy or risk injury.

 

Djokovic v Tsonga:

Head to heads are 6-4 in Tsonga’s favour although their last “meeting” was a walkover to the Frenchman in Paris last November.

They have never played on clay. Tsonga’s game isn’t best suited to the slower surface. 4 of his wins over Djokovic came on indoor hard courts.

Djokovic started so badly against Monaco in the last round. Just 47% of first serves in meant he was putting himself under added pressure. From his body language he just didn’t understand why things weren’t working and as Monaco finally held serve to take the first set the world number 1 smashed his racquet to pieces. Monaco wasn’t making life any easier for Djokovic in that set as he was playing some superb tennis with the occasional booming passing shot for good measure.

In these situations you just expect the top player to find a way to get his game back on track. I had a lay on him at around 1.45 from the first set which I left open although I was ready to exit at the first sign of revival.

The second set started the same way and Djokovic was broken in the third game. If Monaco could hold for 3-1 he had a great chance. He didn’t win a single point in that service game and that was the turning point of the match. 4 straight games from Djokovic levelled the match at 1 set all and whilst Monaco kept the third set tight the result wasn’t really in doubt.

Tsonga for me never really looks comfortable on clay. I watched his match with Troicki in the 2nd round and it all looked rather half-hearted. Troicki made his task a lot easier it has to be said.

I expected Del Potro to be in the quarter finals but his knee injury made him a spectator in their second set as he went for the big winners early in rallies to try to shorten the points.

Djokovic will have been thinking about that first set against Monaco and won’t want to repeat it. He also won’t want another warning for racquet abuse although obviously the fine won’t bother him! Maybe he took Monaco for granted. He had won all 5 of their previous matches and had never lost a set against the Argentinian. He wasn’t mentally prepared for the match and had to sort himself out on the court. That shouldn’t be an issue today. There can’t be many players left who have a positive head to head record against him and you can guarantee his will be focused from the very first point.

If this was a hard court then I would say Tsonga had a chance. Djokovic isn’t at the same level as he was last year but I think today Tsonga will suffer because of Monaco winning that first set yesterday. The defending champion has more motivation today to put in a good performance especially as his next opponent would most likely be Federer if they both make it through today.

Tsonga may nick the second set but I think its more likely to be straight sets for Djokovic.

Update: Both players took a while to settle on their own serve. There were 5 breaks of serve in the opening set with the  final one giving Djokovic the set.

One way traffic in the second and Djokovic won 7-5, 6-1.

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