King of Clay Silences Directionless Djokovic

I got all my quarters predictions right, holy moly. Dominic Them backed up his performance against Grigor Dimitrov by sweeping past an exhausted Borna Coric, booking his place in the semi finals in straight sets, whilst Pablo Cuevas did have too much guile for Alex Zverev, who seemed to run out of steam also. The ATP is an older man’s game now, experience and building up tough matches in the legs is what these raw talents like Zverev and Coric need, and I’m sure they will. These two are here to stay.

David Goffin also will only get better too, he gave Rafa Nadal plenty to think about including a classic 7th game of the first, but Rafa is called the King of Clay for a reason. He’d have probably beaten Djokovic again if the draw worked that way for him. It’ll be interesting to see how he will do in Paris.
So the semi finals were Thiem-Cuevas and Nadal-Djokovic. Thiem managed to produce some of his best shotmaking when he needed it most, and that was good to see, as he hasn’t been the most clutch player in the past, and Cuevas gave everything he had. A fun semi, a shame it was over in straights. Cuevas is another player who has had quietly decent results this clay season, and no man will look forward to playing him in Paris (especially Stan Wawrinka).
The big one however was the Rafa Nadal show, and it was emphatic. Becker stated that Novak had missed playing Roger and Rafa in ’16, well it certainly didn’t seem that way here. Yes, Rafa has a lot of confidence and matches under his belt, but I was expecting Novak to offer up more than he did in all honesty. I really thought a match with Rafa would’ve been the best thing for him, but yikes. If I were him I’d hire a team pretty damn quickly so he can get some direction again, as his brother and Pepe looked a sorry sight up in the stands.

I’m surprised this Pepe guy hasn’t garnered more attention. Since Nole hired this guy, his career has only gone in one direction, down down down. If he really does buy into his coach-but-not-coach’s ‘spirituality’ then he really has lost the plot. He certainly has had a loss of motivation, that much cannot be denied. Perhaps he just got bored dominating tennis for close to 2 years in 2014-16.
Rafa meanwhile goes from strength to strength, and a lot of credit has to go to him, Carlos Moya and Francisco Roig. Both men are geniuses, Roig was arguably coach of the year consistently with Del Potro, and Moya has been there, worn the t-shirt, and has succeeded in inspiring Rafa, plus giving his game a minor face-lift in a similar vein Edberg did for Federer and Norman did for Wawrinka.
So, the final. Honestly I’d back Thiem more on this Madrid surface than I would at say, Rome and Paris… but I just can’t see how Thiem can exploit any of Rafa’s weaknesses. Thiem has also pulled out some good tennis out of his butt with Dimitrov and Cuevas, so this is probably one match too far. Rafa is also on fire right now.
It certainly could be a great final if Thiem leaves it all out there. My next post will cover the final and the draw for Rome. πŸ™‚

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