Oh dear what a match this was. Nadal had to fight hard to win this match in 5 sets (2-6, 6-3, 7-6, 3-6, 5-7). Smyczek was unrelenting and showed amazing mental strength and heart in his playing. Sometimes big cats like Nadal almost seem affronted when a relatively unknown, less-accomplished player reams them from inside out like Smyczek did, but Nadal showed amazing grace and deference to his very-worthy opponent. Nadal’s reaction to winning was as if he’d won the title, falling to his knees and quite emotional over his win. The lesson or take-away for this match, though, is Smyczek’s show of upstanding sportsmanship. Nadal was serving at match-point and some pompous-ass fan yelled as he was hitting his serve, which resulted in a fault. Smyczek allowed Nadal to take the serve over and Nadal won the match. In this last game Smyczek came back from Love-40, which is a huge display of mental toughness. I hope we see more of this guy in 2015.
Disclaimer: I have a deep fondness and respect for Kevin Anderson
I’m watching this match live on the Tennsi Channel right now and Der Struffi is serving amazingly. My favorite out of this match is Kevin Anderson, though, due to his experience. I saw both of these gents play in 2014 and what was most impressive about Struff was his steadfast serving. Not only does he hold serve very well, but his drive and skill to finish the point are reliable, and giving Anderson much trouble.
When Anderson does return Struff’s serve, he is able to make it a winner in many cases. Not to mention his serve is beautifuly on point. Of all the ATP players I have met in person, Anderson is one of the most genuine and down to earth there is. Even though I have an affliction for German tennis gods, Anderson’s personality and likability are swaying my pull right now. My prediction is that Anderson will win the tie-break and sweep the second set.
I’m a huge Isner fan and have been waiting for his game to progress more beyond his serve. Despite his 7-6/6-4 vistory over Janowicz, staying in rallies enough to win the point against big hitters has been a challenge for him. This was witnessed in the 2015 Hopman Cup. In matches like this one, aside from his serve, Isner is very dependent on his opponent’s errors in order to remain in the game. With janowicz’s hard, flat return it was difficult for a very-tall Isner to get under these balls.
Another issue I’ve seen with Isner, and others that are losing points in the net or going long, is that they are not bending their knees enough in their returns. This is even more problematic with Isner’s height. In most of his forehand returns that were hit in the net or went long, Isner was not bending his knees enough. If I were isner’s trainer I would prescribe him some light weight barbell squats to increase his vascular capacity and increase stamina and movement for bending those knees.