Our prolific guest contributor and analyst, coach Evan, is back with his take on the Djokovic vs Tsitsipas Rome final.
Have you ever heard of the sniff test? Me either. When in Rome, players, before the final have to put a hood (or a bedsheet) over their head, and a patron brings over Tupperware bowls filled with random crap and the players have to sniff the contents.
Here’s the deal. Only Tsitsipas played. And in his Tupperware bowl was Taleggio aged cheese from 1920 And he threw up.
That would explain the bagel in the first set. When in Rome….
I’m going to keep this first set simple. I’m only going to focus on the first three shots, maybe four.
Djokovic worked off the center of the court, as he has for the past few weeks. Tsitsipas probably should have taken some smelling salts after the cheese episode. Or at least done his homework. More on that in a sec.
After the return, each second ball went to a different location. Hmmm!
In his first service game, the first two +1’s after the serve went to the backhand corner and the second two went to the forehand corner (there was a missed return in there). The cool part was point two in the game. Djokovic hit his first two shots to the middle of the Ad side, shot the next one over to the forehand corner, and went back to the backhand side but moved the location closer to the side. He snuck a changeup in on Tsitsipas.
He noticed, in previous matches, Djokovic is getting burned on droppers. He pulled one out on point two. It’s comical that players play other people’s strategies, not their own. Just because someone did something that worked doesn’t mean it will work for you.
Ask Zverev how that worked out against Rune a couple of weeks ago. He noticed Rune’s first-round opponent had success at the net. So, when in doubt he too came into the net. On crappy approaches and got passed most of the time. This happens on every level. Players cannot think for themselves and play a game of follow the leader.
Just don’t follow Borat. His B.O. will knock you out.
Players at home! Work on YOUR game. Not someone else’s.
I’ve spoken about this before.
Grip change combos.
To beat Tsitsipas and Felix and Musetti….use grip change combos….Watch the youtube video of Jonas and me to learn more about that.
In the words of one troll that wrote in the comment section, “This is crazy to think the pros are doing this.”
In my words, “Spoken like a true a$#hole.” Thank Chubbs Peterson for that one. Happy Gilmour’s caddy.
What do you think of Tsitsipas’s shirt?
I bet you didn’t know that Adidas went to hundreds of kindergartens to seek advice for designs from five-year-olds.
“Make the wheel of a ship!”
“I want wavy lines like sea.”
“How about a line like a rainbow and put a quack “crack” in it.”
“Or how about an Atari logo.”
The first set was pretty quick. But go back and look at the two-four ball combos by Djokovic. There’s so much to be learned.
What you do with your first few shots matter. How close together are they? How far apart? Mix up the space and location.
I wanted to pick on someone sooo bad for their analysis….but my wife yelled at me. “Be the bigger man. Stop picking on people.”
When I watch Tsitsipas play, I think about grip changes….but on a mental level, I see a player who struggles to adapt when the stress is on. Like his brain can’t process or adjust during those moments.
But I’m sure he’s working on it. The funny part is that he always looks rushed like he’s in a hurry.
Do you think he’s in a hurry to win a Major? Does he believe that time is running out? I’m no psychologist, but regardless, he needs to extinguish some childhood demons if that’s going to happen.
Don’t we all!
What’s holding you back in your life? Do you think there’s a correlation between your life and your tennis game? We all have a mental breakdown during points.
For instance, if I do conditioning hitting drills with players, they will hit the wall mentally at some point….could be on ball six or eight….could be on ball twelve….from a coaching standpoint, your trying to find your player’s breaking point….the point where you see them start flying a ball out, hit the bottom of the net, flail like a turkey. That’s the point where their mind cracks. It’s their brain or subconscious wanting to stop and it comes out in their body language. They need to understand this and so do you. And you have to work on improving your concentration and the player needs to understand this and improve the number they can sustain before they crack.
Tsitsipas cracks in the first game at 40-15. He served to the backhand five times in a row. On the fifth point he gets fooled by a Djokovic dropper.
What’s his brain thinking about?
He “lips” the second shot (like the ball licking the racket…shank) and his mind is so caught up in the fact that he is on his patterns. He’s trying to focus.
The lipped shot annoys him and his concentration is technical and not tactical. Hence, he was fooled by the dropper because his mind was elsewhere. Happens to all of us.
But, it is good to see that he takes the first game on Djokovic’s four missed returns by his serving overload to the backhand side.
Djokovic had one cool point at 15-0. Go check it out.
From a club player standpoint, the match looks like an attack on the backhand. I’m trying to open your eyes for when you watch the French Open.
It’s more than that. It’s about taking time away from your opponent. Not necessarily the way your coaches have been telling you, but by establishing the distance (or lack of space) between your first two shots and your two shots afterward. And it helps to be able to watch your opponents train to confirm beliefs.
If you see a player constantly training with long-distance side to sides, stick them in the corner for a few….if you see them hitting tons of cross courts, put them on the run.
The concentration it takes Djokovic to do this is built over time. Look at his history. He had two years in his career where he didn’t win a Major.
What do you think he was doing? Maybe working on higher-level combos and patterns? And he bought into it by his coach or…. One of the world’s top brain docs…
Speculating there, but if I had his money, that’s what I would be doing.
Have you ever played a match against a weaker opponent and just hit second serves down the middle of the box, knowing the opponent couldn’t hurt you and worked on point structure?
Rather than waste time hitting winners and not getting anything out of the hit? No? Or were you too busy focused on winning and the score? That’s a great way never to get better.
The other thing about the combos is that you have to fit in a few basics to trick the other player’s mind and keep them from noticing. If you go to the well, good players will recognize and adjust.
This comes back to changing your training routine, building new patterns, and stop focusing on winning in practice to make yourself feel better.
“Who’d you play today?” the parent said on the car ride home. “Did you win?”
What a great parent….focusing on their own needs and not their kids!
Parent! Have you ever thought that your insecurities seep into your kids and hold them back?
I’m not just picking on you. I’m in the same boat. But I’m correcting the way I approach my kid in the hopes they don’t develop any more mental blockers because of me (I wanted to write mental midget but that nomenclature is getting frowned upon….but it’s the first word that popped into my head).
I am just being honest.
(I just let out a big sigh).
Pattern development isn’t overnight…it takes many years if you start early enough. But when winning is the mantra, you are S.O.L.
And if you are “older” and trying to make it at the highest level….the goal should be to understand this so your kids don’t make the same mistakes and repeat the cycle.
And YOU develop as a person!!