Thursday, August 23, 2012

Some Thoughts in Relation with David's Loss to Dolgopolov

There are those little moments that every player loves. A particularly great shot, an unlikely winner out of seemingly nowhere, a brief moment of magic - and then the crowd, erupting in a cheer. Many of David's matches have included moments like that. When he played his angles, his backhand down-the-line, or his return winners, for example. And he loved it. Yesterday's match had a couple of those moments as well - but they belonged to Alexandr Dolgopolov. It was not a terrible match from David but these days, faced with higher-ranked opponents, trying to stand his ground is hard enough work for him to leave very little room for magic. Or for enjoying himself on court.

Against an opponent from the same region in the rankings it's still enough to get a fairly easy win, as David demonstrated with his victory over Robin Haase. In a match like that, he can get away with not serving too well, and he has a much better chance to execute his own game. He gets more time to set up his shots and doesn't find himself in a defensive position during the rallies so easily.
What happens if his opponent takes that time away from him and manages to move David around the court could be observed during yesterday's match. Dolgopolov not only did a good job of keeping David on the run, there were also several rallies where he simply beat him for speed with his groundstrokes. Shots that David found no way of defending against.

Still, David was not without chances in this match. A chance to retrieve the break at 4-2 in the first set. And, most notably of course, leading 4-2 and 40-0 in the second. Getting broken after having been up 40-0 is something of a "specialty" with David these days. The same goes for messing up the important moments during a match, and both of these phenomenons speak of a problem that seems to be of the mental kind. It's almost as if David has totally forgotten how to take the initiative and believe in himself in situations like that, as well as how to remain positive when things aren't going his way.

By now, it's probably safe to say that the Queen's Club final has turned what was a decent season until then into a protracted drama. An incident that, I believe, happened for certain reasons, as I wrote in a previous post. But while perhaps David wasn't really happy with the way things were going until that fateful kick, what has happened ever since then can't have served to lighten his mood. On paper, he just got rather unlucky with the draws and lost a few matches to players, ranked far above him. But on court, what was perhaps an uphill battle in David's eyes even before the Queen's Club final has by now turned into what more and more seems like trying to make a last and increasingly grim stand. Against his opponents, against umpires, the rulebook, against everything that continues to work against him - as he appears to see it.

On Monday, the last Slam of the season, the US Open will begin. It could be the last Slam for David. Apart from singles, he'll also play doubles with Edu Schwank, in an obvious attempt to prepare for the upcoming Davis Cup semifinal. With the Davis Cup now probably even more than already before the very centre of David's attention. After that tie, it'll be time for the Asian swing. That David won't try to defend his quarterfinal points at Tokyo is already clear. But if he also decides to skip the Shanghai Masters then it could mean that from now on, he only intends to play those events that he likes. And that could be a further sign of what might happen at the end of the year.


  1. i am sad
    just cant handle the situation that this is it
    both in terms of retiring and more so his weak game lately without any magic

  2. thanks for this post Julia, once again, we have to get prepared to the idea that David might retire this year and not continue for another season.
    What happened during his match against Dolgo when he couldn't consolidate the break has become too much frequent lately, it'll be tough to keep winning even if he has a "good draw" in a tournament. But clearly, it is a combination of many parameters that allows a player to keep the momentum during a season...
    US Open draws later today, dare we hope for some luck for David? (I'm not sure anymore of what kind of opponent he has to get to consider himself "lucky in the draw" but still, I hope he'll be able to play and win a couple matches in NYC, that's all I'm hoping for what might be his last Grand Slam, really sad to think about the retirement but we have to :(

  3. but he just came back why does he need to retire when he is injury free?
    he should play another season at least and start training harder
    and he needs a coach

  4. I've written about these things so many times, I'm not going to repeat myself.
    I'll only say this, I've been through this scenario before with my first favourite player. I know what it's going to be like when David retires. And that's why, as difficult as it may be, I'm going to make the best out of the situation.

  5. I guess I'm somewhat glad I didn't see the rest of the match after 1-1 in the first set. I'm sure I would have flipped it off after David's 4-2, 40-0 lead in the second. Not holding serve from 40-0 up and getting broken right after you break are two of the most unpardonable sins in tennis. Totally destroys momentum. Unfortunately David has become good at this. It's got to be lack of confidence. Holding back instead of letting go. I think he should watch a replay of Rosol's upset of Nadal at Wimbledon. It was a brilliant display of no-holds-barred tennis. David's probably in the best shape he's been in in years, so it's all mental. If he's going to continue to play, he needs a real coach.

  6. That's a pretty big if. And getting bigger. I'm also not really sure whether a coach would solve the mental problem. But I'm sure that he won't get one for the remaining handful of events this season.