Reflections on 21/06/2018

21/06/2018. A day for many thoughts when tennis is concerned. There are however three which we believe are significant enough to merit some discussion in this article.

Dimitrov has some recent significant yet unstated psychological problems - when it comes to professional match-play - that needs to be addressed

We have seen it numerous times - Dimitrov freezing and not playing to anywhere near his full potential in a match that matters. His match with Djokovic in this tournament is just the latest event in which he demonstrated such tightness. The last set was virtually a give-away, as Dimitrov makes the most bizarre of professional errors - particularly that of hitting straight into the net when un-pressured in any significant way. This is particularly devastating for Dimitrov given that his style of play is one most influenced by how stressed or tight he is - think Federer's 'fragility'. What is causing this - obvious since his match against Federer at Wimbledon 2017?

Djokovic is becoming more like Federer

There is an observable shift in Djokovic's style of play, most obvious in the first set when rallies between Djokovic and Dimitrov were long enough to observe such change-in-style. Firstly, his motion is much more fluid. He looks significantly less like the typical baseline-hugging grinder that he is known to be. Secondly, and as a corollary to the above-mentioned point, Djokovic is more aggressive in his game-play. He does so by attacking much earlier than he is used to, and by making his shots more strategic (basically what Federer is known for). Is this an age-enhancing measure, given that Djokovic is already 31 - we most probably this is one significant factor if not the main one.

Federer is no longer troubled by his mind

One less obvious (or rather, acknowledged) trait of Federer is his tendency to choke at points of massive significance. The most prominent and consequential of such moments in Federer's career are his loss of his match point against Safin at the 2005 Australian Open semi-final, and his loss of his service game against Djokovic in the 2011 US Open semi-final. However, this situation has been turned on its head since the start of 2017, and just one point in his latest match against Benoit Paire on the 21st of June 2018 is proof that such is still ongoing. During that point (it was match-point for Paire), Federer did a daring backhand flick sending the ball right on the line on the other end of the court, in Djokovic-fashion, with regards to the amount of courage that needs to be held carrying out such an act under such circumstance. Things are looking good and fresh for Federer with Wimbledon coming around the corner.

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