Today, Paul Brumbaugh wrote about this match; the one which was very difficult for us to watch because Nole was obviously sad. Here is what he wrote:
Going into his second clay court match of the season, Novak’s mind was on much more than just tennis. Earlier in the day while training in preparation for the match against Dolgopolov, he received the sad news of his grandfather, and hero’s passing. You could see the sadness along with passion burning in his eyes as the match was getting ready to begin.
Wiping away tears as he walks up to serve, Nole begins the match with a convincing hold. Then came a few uncharacteristic errors in the third game that lead to an early break for Dolgo.
Novak started to go-for-broke after that. You could tell that his mind was wandering as he was hitting either a winner or an error (more often so) on just about every point. The unforced errors lead to another break of serve for the Ukrainian. Dolgopolov stuck to the more consistent game plan as he took the first set 6-2. Novak was unable to convert on either of 2 break points, and hit a number of unforced errors early on in the rallies.
The pattern began to change as Novak earned a break and an early 3-0 lead to start the second set. He seemed to be getting into his groove by being more patient in the rallies and going for winners on more appropriate opportunities. He was able to earn another break of serve in the sixth game and serve out the second set at 6-1. He converted on 2 of 5 break points while saving 3 break points.
Then came a rain delay at 1-1, 15-0 on Dolgopolov’s serve.
Once play resumed, Dolgopolov began to try to shorten the points with aggression and some tricky drop shots and slices. This seemed to trouble Nole a bit, but he was able to keep his composure on all service games. Both players were holding serve rather easily until the ninth game of the set. Novak came back from 0-30 to break and lead 5-4. After a rather routine hold, the emotions followed. After shaking hands, he looked to the heavens before tears began to flow.
The stats can’t really describe this match because Novak was clearly not himself today. He played somewhat impatient and went for winners that were rather uncharacteristic, but overall, he played a very solid match. His first serve was clicking all match and his forehand was big when he needed it to be.
We all know this win was for his grandfather.
He will play Robin Haase in the quarterfinals. He is 2-0 against him, with their last meeting coming in Basel in 2010, in which Nole won 6-2, 6-3.
Written by: Paul Brumbaugh (@PaulBrumbaugh )