Novak Djokovic played his first match against a countryman since Miami (vs Troicki) and as he said previously on Twitter, it’s “always tough to play vs friend”. Still playing with kinesio tapes on his left thigh (probably due to yesterday’s fall) and on his right arm, Djokovic wasn’t able to defeat the last player who defeated him in 2011, losing after 1h42 today.
The first set was being played authoritatively by both players. Novak made a double fault in the first game, but it was the single point he dropped on the first game, along with two other points throughout the next three service games. Nole wasted one break point first Janko’s service game, and three others on the next one. He and Tipsarevic seemed to be more used to the slippery conditions of the court, which allowed the world nº1 to make use of his good defensive skills to fight against the powerful forehand of the Serbian nº2. The set was decided in a tiebreak totally led by Tipsarevic. Novak was the first one serving, and as well as he did in the first service game of the match, he made a double fault, which gave Janko an early mini-break. Yet again, the forehand of the world nº8 and his great serves dictated the whole tiebreak. The two points won by Djokovic (both with service winners) weren’t enough to compensate the errors, and after three forehand winners and excellent first serves, Tipsarevic took the tiebreak and thus the set by 7-6(2).
Despite the low percentage of 1st serve in from Djokovic, he took 16 out of 18 points with it and never faced break points. Tipsarevic with a better balance between the winners and the unforced erros, as well as a better percentage on his 1st serve (26/ 33 points won).
After one hour of good quality tennis, the second set was a bit more boring and it looked like a typical grass court match, I mean, “it was all about the serve”. Janko was the first serving, making two double faults (not consecutive, though) and two service winners, leading the game into a deuce, where he held. The three following games were held to love: Djokovic hit 4 first serves, three of them where Tipsarevic wasn’t able to return the ball inside the lines. On the next game, Tipsy hit the first ace of the set and then on the following game Djokovic hit some good winners with his forehand and backhand. After all, in the 16 initial points of the 2nd set, we saw 6 service winners, one ace and 2 double faults (“all about the serve”). On the fifth game, two errors from the server allowed Djokovic to take two points, not enough, since Janko’s serve was “on fire”, making use of it in the crucial moments. Djokovic was serving at 3-2, and another double fault was on the way to start the game that, together with 3 errors from Nole (also due to good returns), allowed Janko to take a break point for the first time in the match, and the only one he had. Djokovic was off the match, slipping more, without showing any signs of a possible comeback. Tipsarevic, the best player at the moment, managed to hold after a couple of good serves, putting his countryman serving to stay in the match at 5-2, but Novak looked like he wanted to get out of there as soon as possible, not hitting the ball with enough conviction to put his opponent in troubles. After a bad drop shot, Tipsarevic had his first match points, three in a row to end up the match! The crowd felt that Djokovic wasn’t giving his best in the match, and started whistling him, as they had already done. Djokovic took the whistles, and replied with two potent aces, followed by a service winner to take the match points down. After a tough hold, Janko had his chance and he didn’t waste it. However, Djokovic seemed to be improving his game, turning into a more attacking style that gave him two break points. But that match was destined, and after saving the break points, the last point of the match was finished with another error from the top-seed of the tournament.
Being Djokovic the defending champion in Madrid, he says goodbye to the blue clay with 180 in the bag, instead of 1000 assigned to the champion, 820 less. Next week he’ll be attending Rome, with more 1000 points to defend before Roland Garros. Let’s wish him all the luck and AJDE !!!
And of course, good luck to Janko on his semifinal against Roger Federer!
By: Zeze Morais @ZezeAM