Sunday, 23 January 2011

Lady Luck on Djokovic's side

By Alix Ramsay. Courtesy: Official Website

Every chap, no matter how good, needs a little bit of luck if he is to win a Grand Slam title. Fair enough, heaps of talent helps, eye-wateringly hard work is essential and the heart of a lion is a basic requirement, but a little luck never went amiss. And, as Novak Djokovic continues his stately progress through the draw - he has only dropped one set so far - it would seem that luck is on his side.

He eased into the quarterfinals after giving Nicolas Almagro a 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 spanking and was back in the locker room with his feet up after only one hour and 44 minutes. At the same time, Tomas Berdych, his next opponent, was still sweating his way through the second set of his fourth round encounter and was looking rather hot and bothered in the sunshine.

"It was a very good match," Djokovic said. "Serve was great today, and it's important to raise a level of performance as I did today, you know, before the quarterfinals. Now the opponents are very difficult and matches are tough and unpredictable. It was a great match for me today. I had a tough opponent, big hitter, and I could test couple things in my game: My patience and aggressivity in any event some moments."

The element of luck will come into play in the next couple of days for Djokovic. In the past he has struggled in the heat and, with a long history of injuries, allergies and breathing difficulties, he has been forced to default from four previous Grand Slams, including Australian Open 2009 when a combination of hot sunshine and Andy Roddick were enough send him running for cover.

But the weather forecast for the coming days is for cool and overcast conditions as the quarterfinals matches are played. After that, the big showcase matches will be at night, out of the heat and in front of the sort of evening crowd that Djokovic loves. It is a little detail like that, getting the rub of the green every now and then, that can make all the difference at a major championship.

The likeable Serb has certainly done his bit towards winning another Australian Open title. He has come to town with his confidence high and his game in perfect working order and he was in imperious form against Almagro - and the Spaniard was playing pretty well himself.

Muscular, powerful and with a single-handed backhand to die for, he was running Djokovic around and making him cover more ground than seemed either wise or possible on a hot day. But when it came to the killer shot, Almagro could not make it count. Put under so much pressure by the power and precision of the Serb, he had to play eye-balls out and that left very little room for manoeuvre. By the end, Djokovic had hit 31 clean winners and only 17 unforced errors while Almagro had produced 15 winners and 35 unforced errors. That was all anyone needed to know - Djokovic was awfully impressive.

"Game‑wise, yeah, I'm happy," he said. "I'm feeling good energy‑wise. I didn't spend that much time on the court in the opening week. I'm looking forward to the next challenge. It was important for me if spend as less time on the court as I could, and that's what I did.

"I'm hitting the ball well. Physically and mentally I'm fit and ready to win another match. So I'm taking one match at a time, and seriously, analyzing my next opponent, either Berdych or Verdasco. Both of them love playing on hardcourts, big hitters. The match against Almagro today was good."

The only slight flaw in an otherwise perfect day was that Djokovic picked up a warning for coaching at the start of the second set. He had just fluffed a forehand, looked up to his gang of supporters in the box, and got a warning for his trouble. That cause a furrowing of the brows, but only for a moment.

"As you always make as a player an eye contact with your team," he said. "That's what I did. I didn't ask for any advices, you know, because they can't help too much. You've got to do what you got to do. So I don't understand. I don't think it was the right call."

With a little luck, it will not happen again this week - and luck seems to be on Djokovic's side at the moment.

No comments:

Post a Comment