Tennis  

It is Djokovic, Warwinka final

Novak Djokovic of Serbia . Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USTA/AFP

Novak Djokovic of Serbia . Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USTA/AFP

Novak Djokovic was first to book his place in the Men’s Final when he defeated Gael Monfils in the semifinals in a match that portended possibilities in the future of tennis. Thereafter, n Stan Warwinka won a hard-fought battle against a battle-weary Kei Nishikori. To set up a repeat of Roland Garros.

Djokovic led 5-0 in the first set. Monfils rallied back but lost 6/3. When the second set ended 6/2 in Djokovic’s favour, many questions arose; especially about Monfils seriousness and commitment. Was her reverting to his entertaining ways or deliberately mocking the triviality of sports that has given him a financial fortune?

However, resurgence in the third set indicated there was a method to his unconventional approach. Third set. Monfils woke up. He broke Djokovic’s serve in the sixth game to go up 4-2. He served brilliantly to take the seventh game for a 5-2 lead. The world number one player held his serve though forced to struggle for the last point. Serving for the set, Monfils failed in a foray to the net on first point. After losing the second, he grimaced in agony prior to collecting balls for serving. Then he reduced the points’ deficit and delivered a crushing service winner to deuce to the cheers of the crowd. A second service winner gave him the advantage. At that point, Djokovic’s shirt was ripped. In the ensuing rally, Djokovic pushed Monfils wide yet he drilled a winner down the sideline to claim game and set 6/3. Was Monfils introducing an unusual way to unsettle the hard hitting and long rallies of the baseline game of today? Some kind of tennis rope-a-dope that Ali used to weaken Foreman in Zaire and the soft-balling Arthur Ashe applied to defeat the slugger Jimmy Connors in the 1975 Wimbledon Finals?

In the official break, Djokovic remained on court while a trainer massaged his left shoulder. The speculations were sustained when, despite Djokovic taking the first two points on his serve in the opening game of the fourth set, and had two game points at 40-30, Monfils forced him to deuce. The Frenchman took the first advantage point but Djokovic was helped by a net cord. On the next advantage to server, Novak held serve.

At the changeover, Monfils changed racket and had no need for a trainer that came over to him. Monfils fell behind 0-30; slapping a ball out; and Djokovic had three game points but Monfils deuced the game. He made a deft drop shot winner that had Djokovic raising his hands to request crowd applause. Monfils clinched the game with a service winner. Djokovic broke Monfils to lead 3-1 but he was tossed from side to side in the fifth game and actually slipped as he conceded the game. Again, Djokovic received treatment for right shoulder while Monfils headed to locker room.

On resumption of play, Monfils faced break point but nullified it, got the first advantage and lost it until Djokovic prevailed after an exchange of crosscourt backhand shots. It was the Frenchman’s last hurray as Djokovic held serve to lead 5-2. Monfils lost three points quickly to face match point claimed when a routine Djokovic return of serve caught his opponent flat-footed. It was the thirteenth career loss to Djokovic who achieved his 21st career Grandslam final.

In the other semi-final, Stan Warwinka and Kei Nishikori faced each other for the third time in Grand Slam event. The rook had been closed and the air conditioners turned on, offering an indoor facility and conditions. Nishikori won the first set 6/4 Stan prevailed in the second set wining 7/5.

In the third set, the Swiss player was down 1-4 but he fought back to level, breaking Nishikori in the eighth game. Stan held his serve to lead 5-4. Needing to hold serve and remain in the set, Kei was leveled at 30 all and faced a set point that he saved with a combination of great serve and a crosscourt winner. However, he missed an easy forehand to break point and lost the game and set 6-4. In the fourth set, there were visible signs of fatigue in Nishikori. Stan took the first game with great serving and broke Kei to lead 3-0 when he held serve in the third game. Kei fought back to break Stan in the fifth but returned the break to fall behind 2-4. Stan took the seventh game at love delivering a second service winner at game point. Down 2-5, Nishikori dropped the first point on a forehand error. He lost the second to 0-30 and faced three match points. The match ended when he netted a routine forehand.

Warwinka will face Novak Djokovic in the finals. It will be a repeat of the 2016 French Open won by Warwinka. Asked about the meaning of him pointing his trigger finger at his own head, Stan said it was to remind him to battle himself. Yes, if he can tame his propensity for attempting premature winners, it might tip the scale in his favour against a well-rested Novak Djokovic who had beaten him 19 times in their 23 career meetings.

In this article:
Novak DjokovicStan Warwinka


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