It was a battle of the generations, a battle of force (and drop-shots) against tactics and finesse that took two and a half hours. And you can say what you want about David's performance in this match but not that he didn't put up a fight. Still, in the end it simply wasn't enough to beat 24th seed Jerzy Janowicz, who won 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3. I've tried to find some quotes but apparently, David didn't talk to the media.
|(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)|
Early on the second set David came back from 0-40 to hold serve for 2-2. From 3-3 on, there were three breaks in a row, with David getting two of them, the second of which for a 5-4 lead and the chance to serve out the set. And he did, winning it 6-4.
In th third set Janowicz quickly went up a double break and 5-1. David retrieved one of the breaks and held for 5-3 but in the end, he couldn't keep Janowicz from serving out the match, the second time around, taking the final set 6-3.
It wasn't that David couldn't do anything against Janowicz's serve or against his the force of his groundstrokes. Or against the drop-shots that Janowicz likes so much. I thought David did a good job of keeping him busy, moving him around the court and constantly changing not only directions but also spins and the speed of the ball. He found a way of blocking Janowicz's serve, often getting it back with good depth. And during the match, David got better at guessing when Janowicz would play another drop-shot. In short, there were enough things that David did well in this match, and there were some truly spectacular points that he played.
But at the same time the match also showed the basic problem David has. He's still able to play great tennis but it seems he's no longer able to do it consistently. In this case, the downward spiral wasn't quite as dramatic as it was in the match against Ferrer at the Copa Claro. Still, towards the end of the second set David visibly began to try shortening the points, rushing to the net behind bad approach shots and getting passed time and time again. At that point it was clear that he was running out of gas again. And that though Janowicz practically handed him that set on a plate he wouldn't have it in him to win the third.
In short, David still has the game to trouble players ranked much higher than he is. He still has the game though not necessarily the serve and he doesn't have the stamina or the fitness. The one exception so far this year has been the match against Almagro. But I think it was exactly that - an exception.
So no great run at Indian Wells this time but instead a defeat and one that will have consequences.
Going out in the second round with quarterfinal points to defend is going to cost David 155 ranking points. So when the new rankings come out after Indian Wells, David will no longer be inside the Top100. He'll be ranked around #122. And with this kind of ranking it's either wildcards or playing qualies if he wants to get into main draws (as he doesn't want to play Challengers to impove his ranking again).
Two weeks ago at the Copa Claro, David said that from now on, he wants to play fewer events in general. Right now, I still can't say what his schedule will look like in the weeks and months after the Davis Cup quarterfinal. But for the time being, which tournaments he'll play will depend on where he gets a wildcard.
- Just like at our next stop, Miami.
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