Novak Djokovic Holds Huge ATP Ranking Points Lead Over No. 2 Andy Murray – Passing Shots with Kevin Craig
by Kevin Craig
- Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open title is his 11th major title overall and puts him on even terms with Rod Laver’s and Bjorn Borg’s 11 major titles. Djokovic now also has six Australian Open titles, matching Roy Emerson’s record.
- The current points gap in the ATP rankings between No. 1 Djokovic and No. 2 Andy Murray is equal to the points gap between No. 2 Murray and No. 36 Pablo Cuevas. With his win at the Australian Open, Djokovic is now guaranteed to hold the No. 1 ranking for at least 100 consecutive weeks.
- After hitting 100 unforced errors in his fourth round win over Gilles Simon, Djokovic hit only 88 unforced errors combined in his last three matches.
- Angelique Kerber was a combined 1-11 against Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams heading into the 2016 Australian Open before beating Azarenka in the semifinals and Williams in the final.
- The loss in the 2016 Australian Open final was just the fifth loss in a major final for Williams, and her first in three sets.
- For the first time in Australian Open history, eight different countries were represented in both the men’s and women’s singles draws. Serbia, Japan, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, France, Canada, Spain, and Great Britain were represented on the men’s side while the United States, Russia, Poland, Spain, Germany, Belarus, Great Britain, and China were represented on the women’s side.
- Jamie Murray became the first person not named Bob or Mike Bryan to make three straight major doubles finals since Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor did it in 2002. Jamie and his brother Andy Murray will now both be ranked No. 2 in the doubles and singles rankings, respectively, the first time two brothers have done so.
- Bruno Soares became the first player to win two titles at the Australian Open by virtue of winning the men’s and mixed doubles since Rennae Stubbs won the women’s and mixed doubles titles in 2000.
- Di Wu became the first player from China to win a challenger title as he took home the title in Maui. Wu beat the No. 1 seed Kyle Edmund in the final, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
by Kevin Craig
Novak Djokovic claimed his sixth Australian Open title and 11th major singles title overall on Sunday night in Melbourne as he defeated Andy Murray in the final, 6-1, 7-5, 7-6. The win evens Djokovic up with Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg at 11 major titles, a number which Djokovic will surely increase by the end of 2016.
The first set started promising for Murray as he had a break point in the opening game of the match on Djokovic’s serve. It was all downhill from there in the first set though, as Djokovic fought for the hold and then quickly raced out to a double break lead at 5-0 in less than 20 minutes. Murray, stunned by what had just happened on the court, started to show signs of life as he was able to get a game on the board and avoid a bagel before making Djokovic stress slightly as he served out the set, having to play a game that lasted 10 points.
Djokovic started off the second set strong again, having a look at four break chances at 1-1. Murray was able to fend those off, but not the break chance Djokovic would see at 3-3, allowing the Serb to take a break lead in the set. Murray refused to go away though, as he quickly earned his first break point since the opening game of the match and took advantage of it to get back on serve. Despite the disappointment of letting the lead slip, Djokovic continued to apply pressure on the Brit’s serve, getting break points at 4-4 and 5-5. Murray was up 40-0 in the 5-5 game, but lost a 37-shot rally to Djokovic, the first of five points that the Serb would go on to win in a row to get the break advantage and a chance to serve for a two sets to love lead. Murray fought in the 12th game to earn a break point and take Djokovic to deuce, but the Serb didn’t let up and was able to successfully take the set.
The match appeared done and dusted early in the third set as Djokovic broke in the opening game and then held at love for a 2-0 lead. Combine that with the fact Djokovic had only ever lost from two sets up once, to Jurgen Melzer at the 2010 French Open, and there was little hope for the No. 2 player in the world. Murray, though, was able to earn break points in back-to-back service games from Djokovic, and was successful in the latter game as he got the third set back on serve. It was straightforward to the tiebreak from there as the returners only got past 15 twice in the last six games of the set. After fighting so hard to get to the tiebreak, it appeared as if Murray had nothing left, falling into a 1-6 hole. Djokovic, on his third championship point, hit an ace down the T that sealed the straight sets victory and his 11th major title.
The disappointing moment for Murray sees him lose to Djokovic in the Australian Open final for the fourth time. Murray, though, does not have to stress about tennis for a couple weeks as he can head back home to his wife and await the birth of their first child.
Djokovic’s success stemmed from his application of pressure on Murray’s second serve and being able to force him into hitting unforced errors. The 35 percent success rate on second serve and 65 unforced errors will create an easy recipe for the No. 1 player in the world to grab the win. Djokovic was able to do so in less than three hours as he was not only able to level Laver’s and Borg’s number of major titles, but also evened himself with Roy Emerson’s six Australian Open titles. Djokovic continues to look unstoppable early in 2016, and the tennis world is left waiting to see who has the ability to beat the best player in the world.
by Kevin Craig
Andy Murray is into his fifth Australian Open final after defeating Milos Raonic 4-6, 7-5, 7-6, 6-4, 6-2 on Friday in Melbourne. Murray ended Raonic’s undefeated start to the season, as the Canadian had won nine matches in a row to start off 2016. Murray will go on to face Novak Djokovic in the final of the Australian Open for a fourth time, the most recent of which came in 2015 with Djokovic winning in four sets.
The eagerly anticipated semifinal match between the No. 2 seed and the No. 13 seed got off to a start that not many people would have expected. Raonic broke Murray at love to start off the match, before fighting back from a 0-40 whole on his serve to get the hold and go up 2-0. There’s not much else to say about the first set, other than that Raonic had another break chance at 4-2, but Murray snuffed it out. Too little too late for Murray, as Raonic cruised on his serve throughout the set to take the early lead.
The second started very tight as Murray had break points in two of Raonic’s first three service games, but was unable to convert on any of them. Raonic struggled to make an impact on Murray’s serve throughout the duration of the set, winning only six points on Murray’s serve. Being able to relax on his own serve allowed Murray to continue to apply pressure on Raonic’s serve, opening up a break chance in the 12th game of the set. Murray would not miss out on this opportunity, as he took it and the set to level the match.
Five holds at love started off the third set as both players appeared to settle down a bit now that the match was back at even. Only once in the set did a returner get past 30 in a game, and that was when Raonic took Murray to deuce at 5-5 and saw a break point. Raonic failed to convert on that, but when the set went to a tiebreak, he was ready to pounce on the big points, taking it 7-4 and going up two sets to one.
The experienced Murray didn’t let the disappointment of dropping the third set get to him, as he waited for an opportunity in the fourth set to take advantage of. It took a while, as once again the servers dominated and the returner got past 15 only once in the first six games of the set, but when Raonic played one poor service game at 3-3, Murray was all over it and broke at love to take the lead. The last three games of the set all went to deuce as Raonic had three opportunities to get back on serve in the set, but Murray played too well for Raonic and closed out the fourth set to even the match up again.
Raonic’s window to get the win appeared to close as the fourth set ended as Raonic quickly found himself down 4-0 in the fifth set. The Canadian appeared to be hindered by a groin injury throughout the match, but the pain intensified as the match approached the end. Murray took advantage of Raonic’s inability to move as well as he had been, jumping out to the double break lead and not looking back, only losing one point on serve in the deciding set.
Murray’s consistent level of play and tough defense proved to be too much for Raonic throughout the match, as Murray hit only 28 unforced errors, 50 less than what Raonic hit. Murray also applied a lot of pressure on Raonic’s second serve, as Raonic won only 44 percent of the points on his second serve.
Despite the loss, Raonic has proved to the tennis world that he has made the necessary improvements to compete at the highest level of tennis. With wins over Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka already in 2016, combined with this valiant effort against Murray, the rest of the ATP will be on the lookout for the big hitting Canadian.
Murray will now take advantage of the much needed day of rest after having to battle Raonic for over four hours, before taking on Djokovic in the final. Murray has played Djokovic in five of the nine grand slam finals that he has played in, but has not been able to beat him in the three finals they’ve played in Melbourne. Murray did come out victorious at the US Open in 2012 and Wimbledon in 2013, and will hope to replicate those results on Sunday night in Rod Laver Arena.
by Kevin Craig
Andy Murray won the Davis Cup title for Great Britain on Sunday in Ghent, Belgium as he defeated David Goffin, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 to clinch the 3-1 victory over the Belgians. The title is the first for Great Britain since 1936. Murray was able to lead his team to victory by going 11-0 in his Davis Cup matches this year.
Murray opened up the match confidently and controlled play with his serve, only losing seven points in the first set in his service games. The British No. 1 was also able to play a very steady game on the ground, only making six unforced errors and hitting 11 winners, leading five break chances total. On the other side of the court, Goffin was only able to earn one break point in the set, and was unsuccessful in converting. Combine that with a first serve percentage below 50 percent, and you have the recipe for an easy first set victory for Murray.
The second set was tighter, as the score line would suggest, as the only break came in the 11th game of the set. There were three other games in the set that went beyond deuce, including one that lasted 16 points. After being taken to deuce twice in his first service game of the set, Murray was able to hold at love three games in a row, and then only lose four points in his last two service games, allowing him to make his way to a comfortable two sets to love lead.
Goffin looked to have some life in the beginning of the third set, breaking Murray in his first service game. Unfortunately for the Belgian, though, Murray was able to break right back. The Brit went on to break twice later in the set, as well, leading to a comfortable third set victory. One of the breaks came at love, and the other came to close out the match for Murray. Match point was an amazing point between the two stars, and it ended with Murray turning some incredible defense into a backhand lob winner to give Great Britain the Davis Cup title.
This title for Great Britain is just another great achievement on the long list of Murray’s, going along with his Wimbledon and US Open titles, as well as his Olympic gold medal. Murray concludes his magical 2015 Davis Cup run after getting wins over John Isner, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gilles Simon, and Bernard Tomic along the way.
This win also sees each of the members of the Big Four having Davis Cup titles, as Roger Federer won in 2014, Novak Djokovic in 2010, and Rafael Nadal in 2004, 2009, and 2011. Now the highest ranked player without a Davis Cup title is Kei Nishikori at No. 8 in the world. The 2016 edition of Davis Cup begins on March 4th, and will hopefully see as much excitement as the 2015 edition.
by Kevin Craig
Great Britain took a massive step towards securing their first Davis Cup title since 1936 by defeating Belgium in the doubles rubber on Saturday in Ghent. The British team of Andy and Jamie Murray were able to defeat the Belgian team of Steve Darcis and David Goffin in a tight four set match.
The Brits won the match by a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 score line, fighting off a resilient performance from the home team. The first set was straightforward for the Murray brothers, only making four unforced errors and saving the only break point they faced. The Belgians kept it tight, though, as only three points separated the two sides in the first set.
Darcis and Goffin continued to play well into the second set, and were able to prolong the match by getting a break and winning the set. The Belgians controlled play with their serve, making 80 percent of their first serves and winning five out of the six points played on their second serve. This success on serve allowed them to apply pressure on the Great Britain service games, leading to three break point opportunities. Again, the set was very tight throughout, as this time only two points separated the teams.
The third set saw the momentum shift in the favor of the Brits as the overall quality of the match dropped. The third set saw five breaks total, but the advantage in that department went to the Murray brothers as they broke three times, compared to the Belgians’ two. Darcis and Goffin struggled on their first serve, only winning 29 percent of their first serve points, allowing the Brits to see four break chances. The Murray brothers didn’t perform at their highest level, either, but they were able to play the bigger points better, allowing them to take a two sets to one lead.
The fourth set was determined by which team was more efficient on break chances, and that was Great Britain. Belgium had a lot of opportunities, but succeeded on none of them, wasting seven break chances in the fourth set. On the other side of the net, the Murray brothers only had two break chances, but took advantage of both of them, allowing them to win the set, and the match, with a comfortable double break.
Many were surprised by the fact that Goffin was chosen to play the doubles over Ruben Bemelmans, a player with much more success in his doubles career. While Goffin may be a much better player all around, Bemelmans had been a successful part of Belgium’s doubles teams for the past few years. The decision to not play Bemelmans may not have ultimately changed the outcome of the match, but Great Britain is now able to head into Sunday knowing they only need one win to take home the Davis Cup title. With Murray playing the first match of the day, British tennis fans hope they will be celebrating early.
by Kevin Craig
The Davis Cup final being played between Belgium and Great Britain saw exciting action on Friday, as David Goffin was able to come back from two sets to love down to beat Kyle Edmund, while Andy Murray was able to level the tie with a straight sets win over Ruben Bemelmans. While the tie is being played on clay in Belgium, the Brits had an advantage coming into the tie as they have the No. 2 player in the world on their side, as well as a dominant doubles pairing. This advantage was not lost with the results on Friday, but was actually almost given a boost as Edmund was a set away from pulling off a major upset.
Goffin was able to outlast a blistering start from Edmund in the first match of the day, winning 3-6, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-0, to give Belgium the early lead. The incredible start from Edmund was a shock to the tennis world, as it was his first Davis Cup match and that the match was being played in Belgium, on clay, against a Top 20 player. Edmund had been in great form recently as he had just won a challenger tournament on clay in Bueons Aires. Despite the good form, no one expected Edmund to shoot out to a two sets to love lead, including everyone on the Belgium sideline. Edmund was able to take advantage of Goffin’s poor first service percentage, 44 percent in the first set and 38 percent in the second set, to apply pressure on the Belgian’s serve. Combine that with 13 unforced errors in the first two sets, compared to Edmund’s four, and you have a two sets to love lead for the Brit. That hot start was unable to last, though, as Goffin was quickly able to turn things around, getting a break early in the third. This was the clear momentum shift in the match, as everything started going Belgium’s way from this point forward. Goffin only lost 17 points on serve in the last three sets and was able to begin dominating play as Edmund’s legs appeared to disappear from beneath him. Edmund started the match brilliantly given the situation, but it was disappointing to see him barely able to move around the court in the last few games of the match. While the win for Goffin gave them a much needed point in the Davis Cup final, Edmund and the Brits can take a positive out of the fact the match was not as much of a must-win for them as it was for the Belgians, as the Brits have Murray to rely on in three of the five rubbers.
Murray was able to take care of business in his match and pick up Edmund, beating Bemelmans 6-3, 6-2, 7-5. Murray was able to take control of the match early and never lose his grip, breaking Bemelmans six times total and making 18 less unforced errors than his opponent. Bemelmans made a lot of new fans around the world on Friday as he was able to put up a fight with the World No. 2 and showcase his exciting style of play, littering the stat sheet with 34 winners. Bemelmans efforts in this tie are far from over, despite the loss, as he could possibly feature again in the doubles rubber and a potential live fifth rubber. Murray, on the other hand, knows for sure that he will be playing two more ties, and will be able to take the Davis Cup tie into his own hands as he has the potential to win all three points for Great Britain.
The end results of the matches from Friday finished as expected, but the tennis world is still buzzing about the performance put on by Edmund in his Davis Cup debut. While he was unable to get a pivotal win for his side, he instilled fear into the Belgian team and let the world know that he will be a force in the future. Murray’s win set up a very interesting doubles rubber on Saturday that could be viewed as a must-win for the Belgians. In a Davis Cup final match-up that no one would have predicted initially, fans around the world are being treated to as much excitement as they would from any other match-up.
by Kevin Craig
Rafael Nadal is a man on a mission and he is taking no stops along the way. At the ATP World Tour Finals Wednesday, the Spaniard was able to easily dispatch the No. 2 ranked player in the world, Andy Murray. With many tennis fans around the world writing off Nadal and not expecting him to return to the top level of the game, he has been given extra motivation at the end of this year that he hopes will carry over into the 2016 season. For now, though, Nadal will be pleased with his current run of form and that he has advanced to the semifinal round of the World Tour Finals.
Nadal’s win over Murray came with a 6-4, 6-1 score line. The match started off very tight as Nadal and Murray exchanged breaks to begin the match, and went on to play six games in the first set that went at least six points, including one that lasted 11 points. Nadal was able to get a break in the 10th game of the set, though, to earn himself a one set advantage. It was no looking back from there as the 14-time grand slam champion didn’t have to face a break point in the second set and won two-thirds of all the points played. Nadal’s consistently high level of intensity was able to fluster the British star, as Murray struggled throughout the match with his serve, only making 43 percent of his first serves and winning less than half of his service points overall.
In the second singles match of the day, Stan Wawrinka was able to fight off a hot start from David Ferrer to win 7-5, 6-2. The first set looked like smooth sailing for David Ferrer as he went up an early break, but appeared to tighten up a bit in the latter stages, allowing the 2015 French Open champion to win five games in a row from being down 2-5. Wawrinka got off to a bit of a sloppy start, as he was unable to hit through Ferrer’s great defense, but as soon as the smallest glimpse of an opportunity opened up to the Suisse, he took advantage of it and turned the match around. Similarly to the Nadal-Murray match, it was smooth sailing in the second set as Wawrinka broke in the first game and grabbed another break a couple games later to boost his lead and cruise to the win. Ferrer’s struggles on serve continued over from his first match, something that he will hope to fix in his final match at the World Tour Finals before heading into 2016.
In the doubles, the team of Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau were able to go to 2-0 in round robin play, setting themselves up in a great position heading into their final round robin match. Their win on Wednesday came over Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo, 6-4, 7-6(3). Rojer and Tecau were able to get through the first set without much difficulty as they only lost three points on serve and didn’t have to face a break point. Needless to say, the second set was much more intense as the two teams exchanged breaks and ended up needing a tiebreaker to decide the set. The No. 2 team in the world were the better team on the day, though, as Rojer and Tecau were able to tough out the tiebreaker by a 7-3 score line.
The other doubles match saw Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut bounce back and give themselves a much better chance of advancing to the semifinal round by beating Marcin Matkowski and Nenad Zimonjic, 5-7, 6-3, 10-8. The French duo were the steadier team throughout the match as they won at least 85 percent of their first serve points in every set, including going eight-for-eight in the super tiebreak.
Not only did Rafael Nadal clinch his spot in the semifinal round, he was also able to clinch the first place spot of the group. This means the second place spot will be decided by the match between Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, which will surely be an exciting affair on Friday. As for the doubles, despite the loss on Wednesday, Matkowski and Zimonjic still see their semifinal hopes alive, as a win is needed over Dodig/Melo and Herbert/Mahut would have to lose to Rojer/Tecau in straights.
by Kevin Craig
Day two of the ATP World Tour Finals saw more of the same as day one, as the singles winners were able to win comfortably and the best match of the day came from the doubles event. Fans in the O2 Arena were able to witness everything from dominating performances to late match nerves, as the four of the eight best singles players and doubles teams began their journey towards winning the title.
The home favorite of the singles event, Andy Murray, took on David Ferrer in what was the most competitive match of the singles tournament so far. That isn’t saying much in itself, though, as Murray was able to dispatch the feisty Spaniard by a score of 6-4, 6-4. Ferrer struggled with his serve throughout the match, hitting eight double faults and only making 49 percent of his first serves. Murray was able to take advantage of this, having eight break points in the match and converting on three of them. The Brit was able to back up his service games as well, as he only dropped six points on his first serve. This was Murray’s fifth straight win over Ferrer.
The other Spaniard in the event was able to have much better fortune in his opening match as Rafael Nadal beat French Open champion Stan Wawrinka easily, 6-3, 6-2. After an entertaining first set, Wawrinka began to appear disinterested in the match after going down a break late in the first. This allowed Nadal to win half of his points on return throughout the match and earn himself 15 break points throughout the match. Wawrinka was able to save 11 of them, but the four that Nadal were able to win set him up to breeze through his first match in London. Nadal was able to turn around the recent run of form between these two, as Wawrinka had won three of their last four match-ups.
Likewise to day one of the tournament, the best match of the day came from the doubles event. On day two, it was the French Open champions Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo defeating the US Open champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, 3-6, 7-6(4), 10-7. The French pairing of Herbert/Mahut appeared to be well on their way to victory as they had a set and a break lead until the latter stages of the second set. When Herbert served for the match at 5-4, he double faulted on two match points in a row at 40-30 and on a deciding point to lose the break advantage. A team with the world number one doubles player will always take advantage of an opportunity like this, as Dodig/Melo took the momentum and were able to close out the match in a super tiebreak.
The other doubles match was much more straightforward as Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau breezed through their first match in just over an hour with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Marcin Matkowski and Nenad Zimonjic. The veteran pairing of Matkowski/Zimonjic was unable to get it going as they only had one break point the entire match and struggled to barely win half of their own service points. The number two team in the world of Rojer/Tecau used the success in their service games to apply extra pressure on the return, earning themselves eight break points and four breaks throughout the match.
The wins of Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal saw the Big Four go 4-0 in their opening matches of the World Tour Finals, possibly setting themselves up for what would be a very interesting knockout round. Ferrer and Wawrinka can beat anyone they play on any given day, though, so this group is far from decided. The same is true for the doubles event as Herbert/Mahut and Matkowski/Zimonjic will be looking to avenge their losses in their last two round robin matches.
Great Britain and Belgium go head-to-head in the Final of the Davis Cup next month, in one of the most unlikely match ups in Davis Cup history – Britain last reached the Final in 1978 and haven’t actually won it since 1936, whilst Belgian haven’t made it since 1904!
The current world number two, Andy Murray, will be leading the charge for the Brits, having beaten Australia’s Bernard Tomic in straight sets in the semis. His main opponent will be David Goffin, who is currently ranked 16th, but who lost to Murray in their last meeting at Wimbledon in straight sets.
Can Andy Murray Handle The Clay Surface?
Belgium, the hosts, have the advantage of being able to choose the surface for the Final, and have opted for an indoors clay court at the 13,000-capacity Flanders Expo in Ghent. Whilst using clay doesn’t particularly suit the Belgians, they will have calculated that playing on the game’s slowest surface is their best chance of beating Murray, who says it is his least favorite surface.
Murray tweeted after the decision was announced: “So Ghent on the clay for the Davis Cup final – very pumped! Think clay is a good surface for us”. However, this could be a bit of a bluff: notice he says good surface “for us”, and not “for me”.
Murray has, in fact, had quite a good season on clay so far (for example, he managed to beat Rafael Nadal to win the Madrid Masters), so he might be more concerned about adjusting to the slower surface, right after playing a run of games on hard courts at the World Tour Finals. He said in an interview: “If you reach the final and play on the Sunday you also need to take time off – you can’t just play five matches against the best players in the world and then not take any days off.”
Will Murray sacrifice his spot in the World Tour Finals for the Great Britain team though? It would be a historic occasion for the nation. However, Chris Kermode, executive president of the ATP, has categorically ruled out Murray missing the final, which therefore puts his Davis Cup Final in doubt. Murray would have to forfeit £570,000 or so in bonus-pool payments for the 2015 season, in order to bolster his chances in Belgium – certainly not a decision to take lightly.
Will The Belgian Team Rise to The Occasion?
A lot of Belgian hope rests on the narrow shoulders of David Goffin. At 24-years-old, Goffin is light, agile and certainly a dangerous opponent for Murray. This year he won all four of his Davis Cup singles matches to help take Belgium into their first final in 111 years.
But despite his excellence, the Belgium team lacks strength in depth. Their second singles player is likely to be Steve Darcis, ranked 81st in the world, with Ruben Bemelmans (86) and Kimmer Coppejans (116) expected to complete the line-up. But on the other side, Andy Murray, Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot all make formidable options in the British doubles team.
Can the Belgian’s pull together for the occasion?
By Andrew Eichenholz
When Andy Murray walked to the net after a hard fought victory in a final set tiebreak in Valencia late last year, he looked to embrace his opponent, who jokingly or not, flipped him the bird.
Murray had just Tommy Robredoed Tommy Robredo.
Now, it may seem impossible for a person to create a verb with his or her own name, but with his long track record of fighting until the end, Robredo has proven time and time again that he exemplifies that very thing better than anybody else.
So, when Murray looked to congratulate Robredo on a good match, which their clash was, one of the best of the season in fact, the Spaniard was not very happy. Not only did he lose a tough match, but he got beat at his own game, the game of survival.
Robredo’s Grand Slams on his least favorite surface, hard court, in 2014, show why the gritty right-hander has earned his reputation of being a fighter.
In his first Grand Slam match of the season at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Robredo played the always-dangerous Lukas Rosol. Although Rosol is somebody who many would expect Robredo to beat, down two sets to one makes things look a lot different.
It takes enough energy to play down under with the fatigue caused by the rigors of the Australian summer heat, but to hang tough in the fourth set, clinging to his life in the match until a tiebreak would be impressive enough. Not only did Robredo emerge from that vital tiebreak in an even match, but he toughed out the Czech 8-6 in the fifth.
Typical Robredo, never convincing, always there until the end.
Fast forward to Wimbledon, on yet another surface that is not conducive to the heavy topspin, high-net clearance game of Robredo. On the other side of the net, the powerful Jerzy Janowicz, whose serve and groundstrokes skip right through the Wimbledon grass.
Even after not getting off to a good start to his season, or their third round encounter, Janowicz fought back, and started playing tennis reminiscent of his standout 2013 season. From two sets down, Janowicz pushed one of the toughest players on tour around, evening affairs with all of the momentum in his corner.
That is exactly where Robredo wanted him. Down and nearly out, Robredo once again showed that he is most dangerous when backed into a corner. Although he would lose next round to Roger Federer, Robredo showed his character to stay the course and defeat Janowicz.
Robredo may have thought that nobody had seen the script before, so he pressed the rewind button when he arrived to Flushing Meadows for the United States Open. It was time to show the world who he is again, this time on the biggest stage of them all, Arthur Ashe Stadium.
As the crowd looking down from the seats of the largest stadium in the sport of tennis gasped in awe, Robredo was in trouble. The fans were witnessing the birth of a future star in Australian Nick Kyrgios during a third round match. The big-hitter was pushing one of the fleetest afoot of the ATP World Tour around for more than a set, making it seem like Robredo would be on the next flight out of John F. Kennedy Airport.
Slowly but surely, point by point, Robredo maintained his composure, and let Kyrgios start to miss. The first sign of Kyrgios’ dropping confidence was all it took, seemingly giving Robredo a hook to latch onto, never letting go, as he would pull away for a four set win.
By the way, Robredo was down two sets to love against Italian Simone Bolelli in the second round.
Although Robredo may never be a true Grand Slam contender, or a player who fans get to see be at the top of the world in the rankings, one thing is for certain.
Nobody wants to be stuck with Robredo in his or her section of the draw. And, while many opponents will go away and give up when they get down, that is when Robredo is most dangerous.
As he showed after his loss to Murray in Valencia, nobody hangs in there better, and he wants the world to know it.
To read more about the attitudes and teaching methods of Spanish tennis, order the book “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit available here: http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Spanish-Tennis-Chris-Lewit/dp/1937559491