Novak Đoković became the first tennis player to start a match with a 2-0 lead against a Top 20 opponent. However, the fact that the match lasted 104 minutes confirms that it was not an easy match, with each point being hard-fought through numerous challenging exchanges from different parts of the court. The match served as a “conditioning” session for Đoković, preparing him for the quarterfinals against an American opponent and whatever lies ahead. He wanted to push himself to the maximum and test his game and fitness in all aspects. The humidity under the closed roof of the Rod Laver Arena and the lateral running caused Đoković to experience coughing fits. However, apart from some expected increased perspiration and the need for additional hydration in such conditions, there was nothing to worry his fans and team. Winning the quarterfinals is of utmost importance to Đoković, as it would make him the most successful player in Grand Slam history, surpassing Margaret Court’s 24 titles. However, it would require defeating Top 10 and likely two Top 5 players, which presents a significant challenge for Đoković at the age of 36 compared to previous years.
It is difficult to compare statistics from match to match, as each match is played against different opponents. However, it is encouraging that Đoković served 17 aces (along with 5 double faults, 2 of which came in the first game) and that other serving indicators were consistently good. With a 70% first serve percentage, 81% points won on first serve, 62% on second serve, and similar speed on first and second serves, Đoković has stabilized his performance on the serve. Considering how much running and precise play he had to execute against Mannarino, his physical condition and level of concentration are commendable. The number of unforced errors (15) leaves a better impression than in previous matches against Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Alexei Popyrin, where many exchanges ended prematurely with balls in the net. Additionally, Đoković’s 31 winners and 76% net point conversion rate (13 out of 17) testify to a more aggressive and efficient game. Taylor Fritz, Đoković’s next opponent, questioned what Đoković would need to change when he has already beaten him 8 times. Based on what we saw in the match against Mannarino, Fritz is completely right. After two consecutive wins against his next opponent in competitions last summer in North America (Cincinnati and New York), Đoković still possesses the game plan that guarantees exciting tennis and great shots from both sides of the court.
These are the main points from Đoković’s victory over Mannarino. We will discuss more when the time is right. For now, enjoy the week with Đoković’s pleasant win over Mannarino and the anticipation of tomorrow’s match between Miomir Kecmanović and Carlos Alcaraz.