Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Missed Opportunity... David Loses to Seppi

(Mirko Jovanovic/tournament website)
At 1-0, 30-30 in the third set, something happened that had already happened several times during the match, in the same or in similar form. The net cord transformed David's return into an unplayable drop-shot. And not for the first time in this match, a lucky net cord granted David a break point. But today, neither his repeated luck with the net, nor a 4-1 lead in the final set were enough help for David to get the win. And in the end, after an hour and 52 minutes, it was Andreas Seppi, who prevailed 2-6, 6-2, 7-5.

Even if during the first set, it looked like this match was headed in a very different direction. With the majority of rallies being conducted from the baseline, David's groundstrokes had enough accuracy and depth to put Seppi under constant pressure. And on return, especially his aggressive second-serve returns allowed David immediate control of the rallies.
He broke Seppi to love to go up 3-1 and profiting from the Italian's many unforced errors at this stage (which were also the result of David's dominance) he maintained his lead without difficulties until at 5-2, Seppi served to stay in the set. At that moment, again David's second-serve returns made the difference and with another of those, drawing the error, he broke once more to take the first set 6-2.

The second set, that would eventually see a complete reversal of roles, began just like the first one, with Seppi making too many unforced errors. Up 1-0, David had an early break point (set up by a lucky net cord) but failed to convert it. And perhaps, this was the very moment that changed the course of this match. As it was from that moment on that David's dominance began to fade. With his groundstrokes now lacking more and more in depth, David found himself getting pushed behind the baseline and trying to defend, rather than dictating play. Seppi broke David for a 3-2 lead and it was then that David's unforced errors count seriously began to rise. At 4-2, Seppi broke again to go up a double break and 5-2 and serving much better in this set, he closed it out to take the second set 6-2.

At the start of the third set, David seemed to be able to make a new start. After holding serve to love (for the only time in the entire match), the above-mentioned net cord granted him a break point, which he converted for a 2-0 lead. While David was now visibly trying to hit his groundstrokes with more depth again, which worked better than it had in the previous set, he still came under pressure in his service games, having to fend off various break points. David managed to scrape through to get to 3-0 and then 4-1. But then, with more and more unforced errors creeping back into David's game, Seppi finally broke back to get to 4-3. At this stage of the match, David was visibly running on empty, physically but he still managed to hold serve until Seppi got the decisive break for 6-5 and then closed out the match.

A major factor was once again David's serve, which already wasn't exactly impressive in the two previous matches. But while back then it merely made things a bit more difficult for him than they would've needed to be, this time his serve, or rather his inability to hold serve, ended up costing him the match. The serve is of course a classic with David. And 7 double faults for a three-set match is far from unusual, while making 62% first serves overall is actually pretty good by his standards. But his serve was simply too harmless, both the first and the second, as evidenced by the only 53% of first serves David won in the second set.

Another obvious problem in this match was that David ran out of gas in the third set. Now, ahead of the European clay-court swing and after the Davis Cup quarterfinal, David paused for three weeks. During those weeks, nothing was to be heard of him. So we don't know how he prepared for these events. In the two previous matches, David wasn't really tested. But watching this match, I couldn't help but think that those ten hours on court within two days in Davis Cup probably took enough out of David to require a longer pause - and less training than perhaps originally planned for those weeks.

Belgrade was supposed to be David's golden opportunity. To win another title but also to gain what could've been up to 250 ranking points. And those would've been extremely helpful for making it to the London Olympics. Now, it's only 90 points that he has gained. Much better than nothing, of course. But still, I guess it's that missed opportunity that will bother David the most about this loss.

(Mirko Jovanovic/tournament website)

9 comments:

  1. Poor David really poor in madrid he go home probbaly with 10 points, the rome draw will be pretty much the same, so olympia without David is really realistic but when he play like that he was nothing to search at olympia anyway

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    1. The Madrid draw is pretty much as bad as it could get for David. But that doesn't mean Rome will be just as bad.

      Winning Belgrade would've made qualifying for the Olympics much easier. But reaching semis doesn't mean it's over. And for my part, I hope he gets to take part in the Olympics and have that experience one last time, regardless of the result.

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  2. Well said Julia. Hope he plays better in madrid. At least he has a few more days to rest now

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    1. And to try and get used to the blue clay...

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  3. I think some of the posters over-reacted about his loss!!!!! We all know how unpredictable he is/was - he also lost in early rounds to 'poor' players in his younger years. We are getting used to this type of result all these years. Instead, I prefer to see him losing 7-5 in the final set, compared with those heartbreaking 6-1 6-4 losses to Blake and Wawrinka last year.

    I think after the surgery, clay would be his weakest surface. I dont think his body could handle too long matches on clay, and he might be much more cautious about his movement to avoid injuries.

    It is indeed sad it is the tournament he should have won, but now Seppi went on to win it so easily in the final...

    Somehow I hope he won't make it to Olympics, so he could focus exclusively on the hardcourt events in August to gain more ranking points, but this is probably his final chance to take part in the Olympics, so it is understandable why he is dying to make the cut.

    And this year he made it to 2 SFs and 2 QFs, and 'only' lost in the R1 once. How many of us could imagine this decent result would happens at the start of the year?

    Also, it was not that he does not use his talent or he is lazy. But he missed the golden years and was not allowed to FULLY use his talent due to injuries. Now he is 30, and we should be realistic and should not expect him to play like what he did 5-6 years ago.

    But I still hope he has 1 deep run in a Grand Slam - perhaps a QF or SF finish in US Open!

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    1. It's nice to see a more balanced reaction to this match...
      And you're right about David's results this season. The last two years, he could barely play a match on clay without getting injured again. Now he's not only playing a normal schedule again but he has also had some good results on clay. Although he still has to be careful on it and still can't risk to slide. Which makes his movement on clay a bit awkward, sometimes and not what it used to be in the past.

      As I've said, the question is how much he was able to train ahead of the European clay events. Not because he's lazy but because of the DC QF. Two matches like that on two days would be tough for any player. But for David they might have had some physical consequences... Still, I can only speculate about this.

      The golden years are long gone, that's true. And for my part, I prefer to look at what's positive, like David playing regularly again, as long as I still can. Of course I would've loved for him to win the title. But that he didn't is not the end of the world...
      I hope he'll get to play the Olympics. And my biggest hope is that he'll finally win DC. But apart from that, I pretty much agree with everything you've said. :)

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    2. Thank god u two talk sense as well. Good to see. To me, it's just good to see him play fresh from injuries this season. How long has it been since thats happened? Years.. Hes never gunna be as good as he was and tbh with u people call him not dedicated and so on but for someone who has had the amount of injuries as David has and is still carrying on trying to improve at 30 is the complete opposite. Credit where credits due. He obviously couldve and shouldve done better in his career in terms of talent but clearly injuries, bad luck, little things prevented that. Im lookin foreward to the game tomorrow tho! Come onn nalbyy

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  4. That match was really poor from David i don't understand even clay is not his best surface and he has problems with it how a player play like that even he knows he need this points...............

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  5. I'm sure he would've liked to play better than he did. He couldn't and the question is, why. But about that I can only speculate since David didn't talk to the media after the DC QF.
    More points would've helped more but 90 points are better than nothing.

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