Djokovic vs Berrettini, Balanced Armour vs Shiny Weapons
That video game attribute thing was really interesting and pretty fun. I wouldn't mind seeing a bit more of that.
Terrific analysis, the stuff on Djokovic's second serve was particularly interesting. I'm sure you're right that it was intentional.
Overall, despite his return greatness, I was surprised at how well Djokovic handled Berrettini's serve and how he did so pretty much right out of the box. As you note, he did get better as game went on but often against the really big servers it'll take him quite a while to get dialed in.
Although Berrettini got a set off Djokovic, I could've imagined the Shapovalov match going against him easier than this one (which is again a suprise to me). I hope it was breakthrough tournament for Shapo.
Great analysis! Thanks Matt. You mentioned that Djokovic is aging out of the game, whereas many commentators think he's playing his best tennis and could go on like this for 3 - 4 more years. What do you think?
Did Berrettini’s forehand grow more tentative as the match went on? Seemed like many of his forehands fell short in the fourth set.
A great write-up, again. Thanks.
To my mind this match is proof positive of the added value, or added complexity, provided by the rule against mid-match coaching. On the one hand we have Djokovic intuiting his way to 75 mph second serves, while on the other hand there's Berrettini *not* seeing that he's being bamboozled.
The stats are fascinating, but of course all post-match. A player cannot quantify for themselves what's happening, mid-match, in any way that's close to such detail, but a coach can. For my money we will cheapen what it takes to win tough matches – whether they're tough tactically or emotionally/psychologically (see: Barty/Pliskova) – if the calls for letting coaches on court are heard and accepted all around. Worst case scenario, yes, but do we want a courtside coach getting these stats from an off-court team member and sharing them on changeovers? In the increasingly data-driven tennis world is that so far-fetched? (Can I use more hyphens?)
Making your opponent pay for missing first serves, somehow, is a basic tenet of a winning game. Letting a player like Nole start the point as if it's 21-out-of-the-hand only plays to his strengths. Berrettini never saw that, never did anything different. Whether the outcome would have changed is not sure, but at least the Italian would have thrown the challenge back into Djokovic's lap a bit more.
I didn't watch the whole match, but did Berettini ever try running around his backhand? Seems like that could be another tactic to try to get out of backhand jail, although Djokovic has a killer backhand dtl as well.
Oh mannn, I love how granular the stats breakdowns are, so well done! Definitely a step up from the freezing cold takes and petty fan feuds on /r/tennis and Tennis Twitter 🙃
Hi! Thanks for this great analysis.
I have a general question regarding Berrettini’s backhand. How do you compare it (in terms of quality) to the backhands of similar guys on the tour that rely heavily on their forehands/serve +1s and have exploitable backhands? For example Rublev, Hurkacz, Tsitsipas, Ruud, etc.
I’m asking because I’m struggling to make sense of that shot since he came back from his injury earlier this year. I feel like compared to 2019, it has improved and became more solid, but it is still very susceptible to breaking down more frequently than not.
Hi Matt, thanks for a great analysis as always. It was very interesting to read about Djokovic's tactic on the 2nd serve, soft-balling it to the Berrettini backhand. I have a few questions about Djokovic's 1st serve strategy. I came across a piece by Craig O'Shanessey on atptour.com which pointed out that Djokovic when serving to Berrettini's forehand on the first serve was highly successful--he won 21/22 (!) 1st serves made wide to the deuce court and 13/13 (!!) 1st serves made down the T in the ad court. The success of this strategy in the deuce court is understandable because it pulls Berrettini out wide and opens up the court, but why was it equally effective in the ad court? Is it because it gives Berrettini no angle to work with on the return--or does Berrettini generally do something off the forehand return that makes it more attackable/prone to error? Finally, for all the success Novak had with this strategy it's interesting he mixed up his 1st serve locations on both sides (as you pointed out)--I'm presuming this is just so it doesn't become too predictable?
This is fascinating. I thought that Djokovic was serving soft seconds because he was nervous and imo cost him the first set. In particular, the tiebreaker was lost because Berrettini was able to attack those puff-ball second serves. But even after that, everyone was thinking that Berrettini would have to maintain that high level which he just couldn't do.
You basically open with this thought, but ultimately I found this match so routine that it was almost boring. Besides the first set making things somewhat interesting, Djokovic never had to raise his level to crazy heights and I think it's because Berrettini is so one-dimensional.
This breakdown helps me realize that Berrettini is basically Roddick and it makes me somewhat impressed with his general success because one would think that it would be even harder to be a top player with this kind of game in today's environment. Even Roddick was working on his volleys and backhand long before he retired, ultimately culminating in his best match at 09 Wimbledon despite the loss.
Whenever Djokovic was on the ropes, he could hit it to Berrettini's backhand and re-set the point at neutral. And letting Djoker restart points at will is bad news for anyone on tour.