Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The End of the Streak: David Defeats Haase

(Fred Mullane/Cameraworks)

There is a photo from the match, after all.

After four first-round defeats in a row, David finally broke his losing streak yesterday with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Robin Haase, the self-confessed "David fan". And as much as I would've liked to include some clips or photos with this post - there simply are none. So no extras this time but here's a brief summary and few thoughts on the match.

David was off to a good start, held to love in his first service game and then secured an early break to go up 2-1. After fending off a break point in the following game, he extended his lead to a double break and 4-1. At 5-1, David had a first set point on Haase's serve but the Dutchman responded with an ace. Serving for the set at 5-2, David saved 4 break points before, on his altogether fourth set point, Haase committed a backhand error and David took the first 6-2.
In the second set, David managed to get what would turn out to be the decisive break for 3-2. Making far too few first serves in this set, David still got through his service games without any real difficulties. At 5-3, with Haase serving to stay in the match, David had 3 match points but again Haase managed to save them and scraped through to 5-4. What followed was the longest and most dramatic service game of the match, in the course of which David saved 3 break points before eventually converting his fifth match point with a service winner, 6-4.

The most important thing about this match is of course that David won it. That he managed to break the losing streak he had been on since the Queen's Club final. A first, crucial step towards regaining the confidence he'll need for what's ahead in the coming weeks.
Other positive aspects include that he was able to play this match on his own terms, successfully executing some of his favourite shot combinations and patterns, and controlling most of the rallies. And that he managed to win the match without dropping his serve.

At the same time, the match also showed the problems David is still having at the moment, and which I'd still put down to a lack of match practice and confidence. Something that enhances existing weaknesses. In David's case, yesterday it was once more his forehand that got him into trouble, especially at the important moments in the match (e.g. serving for the first set: 6 forehand errors in that game). Speaking of important moments, closing out sets and matches is something David tends to struggle with, also on better days. And he did struggle mightily. But, and that's what matters, he managed to get there in the end.
And then there was the serve. David made only 45% first serves (35% in the second set). That he still managed not to get broken was mostly down to winning a very healthy 64% of his second serves. Here, I'll explain what I already alluded to in the comments. The camera angle on Court 2 makes it rather difficult to follow the rallies. But it showed yesterday what seems to be the basic probem with David's serve, which is to say his first serve. Now, David has a very high ball toss, which tends to cause difficulties in windy conditions. Yesterday, there was no wind but his ball toss on first serve was - all over the place. Too far ahead, too far to the side, too far behind. While on second serve, the toss and the whole motion seemed far more stable. To show you what I mean, here's a screencap of a first serve.

Yesterday's match was an important first step for David. Today, a different kind of challenge awaits in the form of Alexandr Dolgopolov. We'll see how David will deal with it.

1 comment:

  1. indeed, David wasn't able to deal with his ball toss, the screencap is.. wow, ball toss too far to the side, no wonder his % of 1st serve was pretty terrible...
    But I'm happy David won a match again, after all this time, he needed that win!