Saturday, September 3, 2011

US Open R2: All's well that ends well - David beats Ljubicic

The end was straightforward, David easily serving out his 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Ivan Ljubicic - as can be seen in the clip above. The rest of the match, however, was not quite as straightforward. With four very different sets. And with David going from playing really well to really bad. But then also back again.
So now it's time for the big one. In tomorrow's third round David will face second seed Rafael Nadal (match record: 2-2). From Court 13 to Arthur Ashe Stadium - the kind of setting David loves.

Set 1
While David seemed to pick up exactly where he left off against Reynolds it was Ljubicic who caught a very shaky start. David managed to get an early break (for 2-1) and went on to play what probably his best set of tennis since his last surgeries. Dominant during most of the rallies (helped by Ljubicic's passive play from the baseline) but also completely dominant on serve - dropping only four points on serve in this set. A perfect start, with the momentum firmly on his side. Or so it seemed...

Set 2
- Until his first turn to serve in this second set. Out of nowhere, David lost his serve to love, on a double fault and a couple of unforced errors. And together with his serve he surrendered the dominant position he had been in before, now having to try and catch up with Ljubicic. At 3-1 for Ljubicic David had his chance but after failing to get the break back he lost his serve again and the second set was done and dusted. With David now visibly (and understandably) frustrated.

Set 3
The set that would decide the outcome of the match saw David continuing to struggle on serve but playing much better again during the rallies. The result was a series of breaks (starting with David's for 3-1) and a somewhat bizarre pattern. Twice David managed to go up a break - and twice he immediately surrendered it again, both times losing his serve to love. Until the altogether fifth break in a row then meant a 5-3 lead for David. This time he finally managed to hold serve again and that would prove to be decisive as this third set had very different effects on David and Ljubicic.

Set 4
Up two sets to one, David served and played much better again, while it was Ljubicic who now fell apart. David quickly went up a double break and 3-0, suddenly started hitting aces again and also took the opportunity to play some particularly nice points for the crowd, against an opponent who was already defeated.

After a bright start David made things very difficult for himself in the second and third set, especially concerning his serve. But the fact that he was able to serve much better again towards the end seems to prove that this was more a problem of the mind than of the body. Compared to the Reynolds match he made more first serves (59%) but won less points on them (67%; 61% on second serve), while the constant factor remains making too little of his chances to break (6/16). Still, despite the ups and downs, David played a cleaner match than in the first round, with less unforced errors (36) and double faults (5).
But what to take from it? I thought that David played very well, patiently constructing the points - in parts. He also served better than he has in a while - in parts. And while he did well to get back on track, he may get away with breakdowns like that against Ljubicic. But against Nadal - that will be a different matter.


  1. Thanks for the report, Julia.

    I'm afraid I missed the entire match, so it's a good thing I have the reports and comments on here to fill me in.

    It's also a lot less stressful when the first thing I read is that David won - before the not-so-good bits. ;)

  2. So pity that he doesn't play constantly at the moment, yesterday he had only a mental problem I think. With ups and downs he can't win against Nadal, the downs must be reduced. I haven't seen the match from Nadal but he said in the interview he was much better yesterday, 6:2 6:2 and then the opponent retired

  3. great report as usial, ty.
    as for Nadal, i have seen both his matches, he was kind of rusty in the 1st one, and u cant really tell the 2nd match, Mahut is not the type of player to test Rafa, Rafa at his worst would beat Mahut at his best, the 6-2 6-2 doesnt send a big message.
    But all in all, Nadal is always tough, always good, but he surely isnt playing his best tennis at the moment.
    My anti-Nadal friends (and they r many) are praying for Nalbandian to down Rafa, of course here we have other reasons.

  4. From what I saw from David in Cincinnati to this match now, I think he has upped his level of play considerably. Even though the serve failed him in that 2nd set, he was rallying from the baseline fairly well for most of the match, pulling out winners from the forehand. Hopefully David can play this well from the baseline vs. nadal, who he surely can test from the return game as his serve is nothing compared to ljubicic. I still expect Nadal to win but is hes having an off day david will test him, and probably win the first couple of sets before loosing stamina and mind. Its a good matchup for him, much better than djokovic federer and murray are for him bc nadal has the worst 2nd serve out of those three and has been low on confidence after the djokovic dominance

  5. Hi guys, I haven't left a comment here for a while.
    I for one really like Rafa but there's no way I'd cheer for him agianst David! I believe that David has a fair chance if he plays a constant game. Rafa has been having his ups and downs lately but once he gained the upper hand, he'd be unstoppable.
    I watched both David's matches and I'm hoping they don't schedule the match for the evening session so I can watch this one too :)

  6. Nice report Julia :)
    The thing is, Rafa will exploit each and every weak 1st serve that David might hit.
    Also, he won't give time to David to try to figure out what to do if he's troubled, so an early break can cost him a whole set, and so on...
    We all imagine David knows that, I hope he'll be "calm" enough to follow his game plan, I'm sure he has one! :)

  7. Great idea to put the match up first... They're really not making things any easier for David. Hope he's awake by then.

    And hi, camilia. :) Nice to see you here again. Same here, by the way. As far as Rafa is concerned. ;)

  8. yes Julia, hope it's a good hour for David to play...

  9. Well, what David thinks about playing early I've quoted in this post...

  10. That was about playing at 10.30am, by the way.

  11. Oh.... okay lol :)
    "it's ridiculous to play at this time. Looks like, I don't know, futures - futures in, I don't know, nowhere. So it's ridiculous." Haha I like his sarcasm.
    11:00am implies being leaving his hotel way too early...
    They could've scheduled them to play later.. like 3rd match just like yesterday.

  12. No surprise to me,the Us Open wants to help Nadal as much as they can.

  13. i was hoping for the last match on Ashe, not only david doesnt like waking up early, he doesnt playing under the sun, but since its a morning match, 1st one is the better, would be much cooler than say 2 pm

  14. I'm surprised the match is on so early tomorrow - to my eyes it's match of the day and should have had night session. From a selfish point of view the timing suits me, as I'll be able to watch at least some of the match, as I'm going out tomorrow evening. I like Rafa as much as David, so I'm just going to sit back and enjoy without any stress. It's hard to imagine David pulling out a win, but Rafa's looking vulnerable at the moment, so who knows!