Djokovic and Federer’s Winning Start in 2017

Djokovic and Federer's Winning Start in 2017: Both players open the year with a win.

Djokovic and Federer’s Winning Start in 2017: Both players open the year with a win.

Last week was all about how Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal would fare in Abu Dhabi. Well, it was here on adcourtramble, at any rate. Now that the men’s season has kicked off proper, there’ll be much more to talk about. But after focusing on one half of the Big Four for the last few days, I thought we could spend a post looking at the other half. Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer were both in action at the Qatar Open and the Hopman Cup respectively. They both won. But have we learned anything from Djokovic and Federer’s winning start in 2017?

Djoker

Of course it’s too soon to call an entire season on the strength of one match. Djokovic’s performance against world number 63, Jan-Lennard Struff, was telling, however. The Serb found a way to win the match, which is eminently promising in a sport that rewards consistency. Being able to win on the bad days is what separates the top players from the rest. That being said, the way in which Nole found victory probably wouldn’t serve him well against a top ten player.

Djokovic found himself 4—0 down almost immediately. He pulled a game back but still found himself staring down the barrel of a lost first set at 5—2.

Not a good start.

Now, not only did Novak go on to win the match, however, he even pulled back that first set, taking it on a tiebreak. The final score was 7—6 (7—1), 6—3, sealing Djokovic’s fourteenth straight victory in a row over Struff. A win is a win, but it does raise questions about how the formerly dominant Serb will fair against the game’s top brass. Especially after having being so soundly beaten by Murray in the 2016 ATP World Tour Finals. Nadal and Federer will be back and, while we don’t yet know how close they are to their best, it’s a safe bet that allowing them—or any top 5 or 10 player—a four game lead won’t go unpunished.

Speaking to atpworldtour.com, Djokovic had this to say;

It changes things mentally. I was a bit flat on my feet… But I stayed composed because I knew, I believed that I could find the rhythm, start reading his serve better, and that’s what happened

Federer

The title says Djokovic and Federer’s Winning Start in 2017, so let’s look at the Swiss’ opener. After an IPTL withdrawal and the social media storm that has been Roger Federer’s pre-season, we finally got to see the Swiss in some competitive action. Representing Switzerland in the Hopman Cup, Federer teamed up countrywoman, Belinda Bencic, to drub my native Great Britain into the ground with a whitewash victory. Federer faced off against world number 66, Dan Evans. It was his first match back from a knee injury that saw him off the tour since the 2016 Wimbledon semi-finals. One could have forgiven him for being a little rusty.

One wouldn’t need to, however.

Federer dispatched Evans in straight sets. And unlike the mini-drama of Djokovic’s opening set, Federer did it comfortably. The final score of 6—3, 6—4 helped seal the victory for Switzerland, with Bencic also defeating Heather Watson in the women’s tie. The pair then went on to defeat Evans and Watson in the mixed doubles tie. Just for good measure.

The Hopman Cup is technically an exhibition event, however, and Federer was playing someone 50 places below him in the rankings. A comfortable victory here is hardly solid proof that the Fed Express is back on track. Unlike Djokovic’s opening game, however, it didn’t give us anything to worry about.

Djokovic and Federer’s Winning Start in 2017

It will be the Australian Open before we really get a feel for how these two tennis titans are faring after their respective 2016 problems. Federer’s showing at the Hopman Cup can be seen as a divining rod for his game right now, but we need to see him in real action, and for that we have to wait for Melbourne. As for Djokovic, we could well see a real indicator this week. Nole and Murray are due to meet up in the final at Doha—if they both win their matches.

And that would be a really telling match up.

John Bullock

Maker of digital (and sometimes physical) things. Attention span of a

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