Who was the closest to beat Novak at a grandslam this year?

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Rafa4LifeEver

Hall of Fame
Hello Lovely ladies and gentlemen, my fellow TTW posters, as you all know, Djokovic is yet to be defeated at a grandslam BO5 match this year, even though he's looked far from his best except for a couple of flashes of brilliance.

His mental toughness, clutch are incredible and yet there were occasions where he could have lost the match and opponent had huge chances, yet nole somehow clutched out the win or the opponent couldn't take chance.

I'd list 6 such matches here and explain the individual case briefly from my point of view. Its upto you to decide where nole was closest to getting eliminated from the slam altogether. If you've got any other option than the ones I've listed here, please write that down too. Also, kindly explain your own reasons why nole won & why he could or should have lost the specific match.

Case 1 :- Vs Taylor Fritz at AO
This was the American's greatest ever chance to take down an ATG. For whatever reason, nole's level dropped after set2 & he was looking very vulnerable in set3 & 4 from the Baseline, could not stay in the extended exchanges. In set5, he was basically serving 2 first deliveries to avoid baseline exchanges, but Fritz's lack of tennis IQ couldn't see that and instead of getting 2-3 metres behind baseline to get every possible return back in court & make nole rally, he stood on baseline and once nole broke him in 6th game, it was all over..

Case 2 :- Vs Zverev at AO
One of those matches where you are thoroughly outplaying your opponent but almost always find a way to mess up in all of the critical moments (kinda like WIM19 F). This could have been the biggest moment of the young German's career, beating nole at AO. He was in great position to win set1 6-3, couldn't win despite having upper hand, could not serve it out for 6-4, somehow won it 7-6 in the TB. Then had humongous multiple chances to go a double break up at 4-1 in set 3, couldn't capitalise, lost 5 games in a row. Once again had multiple breakpoints to go a double break up at 4-1 in set4, couldn't capitalise. Had set point in the resulting tiebreaker, couldn't capitalise. He could have won 6-3 2-6 6-1 6-2 if held himself together between the ears.

Case 3 :- Vs Musetti at RG

The young Italian went 2 sets to love up against the Serbian veteran superstar. Had all the momentum going in the 3rd, but somehow collapsed physically & won just one game afterwards. It was very disappointing to witness despite it being his 1st grandslam main draw appearance.

Case 4 :- Vs Nadal at RG

Nadal broke Djo right when he was about to take charge for 2-1 lead. In 99.99999% of the scenarios like this on clay including the ones against Djoko or Roger, its Nadal who runs away with the set afterwards and breaks the heart of his opponents. But sadly it didn't happen this time. Even in the resulting tiebreaker, Nadal botched easiest of volleys. All that extra grind in set3 for nothing. Granted, this was nothing beyond mid-average version of nadal, but still he had big chances and would've won it in 4. Why why why why :cry:

Case 5 :- Vs Tsitsipas at RG

The Greek did to novak what the serb does to most of his opponents, snatch the food right when they're about to eat. Djokovic served for the set1, had set point in tiebreaker and made a bullet of a return, and despite all that, Tsitsi kept his composure to claim the set. He dominantly won the 2nd set too. And we all had hopes, that finally, there was a young player who wasn't afraid of the ATG in front of him & didn't get overwhelmed by the ocassion at all. But, NextGen never fails to deliver. As soon as Tsitsipas knew he was close to finishing line, his concentration and fire dropped big time and he became tight, to the extent where he failed to generate a single break point in next 3 sets.

Case 6 :- Vs Shapovalov at Wimbledon

Well, this is the match where Djokovic was in trouble this Wimbledon. Shapovalov began the match on fire, serving huge & hitting winners everywhere until 5-4 where he served for the set, missed a sitter in open court at 30-30 to set up a set point, lost the resulting tiebreaker by making tonloads of errors. He looked the better player throughout the second set as well, could not win any of the 7-9 break point chances he had, got broken at 5-5 in an error riden spell of points, and from there on it was inevitable Even though he did well to hang on in set 3. Though this is probably the weakest case for a potential nole loss imho.

So, let's discuss here respectfully.
 

Rafa4LifeEver

Hall of Fame
Stefanos was, because he actually was 2-0 up but then Djokovic showed once he adjusted he could outplay him.

Shapovalov however outplayed him properly. If he had a head on his shoulders Djokovic would be in deep trouble as with Shapo's serve 0-2 down on grass would have been really tough.
What do you believe about Daniil's chances??
Do you think the Russian would have done better if he won the 1st set somehow?
 

Nadal_King

Hall of Fame
Game wise Tsitsipas was closest since physically he was fine and 2 sets up but match scoreline wise Rafa as he had set point in 3rd so had he won that I think his chances of winning match were higher than Tsitsipas or anyone at 2-1 up
 

Kralingen

Hall of Fame
People aren’t going to like this response, but Zverev. And pretty comfortably imo.

Reason being I thought that was Novak’s lowest level of fitness since 2018. Didn’t seem like he could move as well and was broken in every set. No one else had that many leads on Novak. The other matches you felt that Djokovic would have the upper hand in the end with fitness but not against Zed. He actually was lucky there.
 

Nadal_King

Hall of Fame
If Med had actually brought his pre final level, the match would have gone five. And no one would know who wins after that.
Exactly Medvedev was great in 1st set just that horrible game on serve at 6-5 which had luck on novak side(that net brush which allowed an easy passing shot for him) effected him mentally and he wasn't the same
 

Rafa4LifeEver

Hall of Fame
People aren’t going to like this response, but Zverev. And pretty comfortably imo.

Reason being I thought that was Novak’s lowest level of fitness since 2018. Didn’t seem like he could move as well and was broken in every set. No one else had that many leads on Novak. The other matches you felt that Djokovic would have the upper hand in the end with fitness but not against Zed. He actually was lucky there.
Even I think so, gentleman.
Zverev messed up big time.
 
Exactly Medvedev was great in 1st set just that horrible game on serve at 6-5 which had luck on novak side(that net brush which allowed an easy passing shot for him) effected him mentally and he wasn't the same
Medvedev has huuuuuge mental issues when he gets/let's himself be disrupted. He melts down badly.
 

GabeT

G.O.A.T.
No one was particularly close though, right? I think only three of the matches went to a 5th set and Novak was firmly in control in this cases. Even where his opponent won the first two sets Novak was mostly in control in subsequent sets
 
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roysid

Hall of Fame
Hello Lovely ladies and gentlemen, my fellow TTW posters, as you all know, Djokovic is yet to be defeated at a grandslam BO5 match this year, even though he's looked far from his best except for a couple of flashes of brilliance.

His mental toughness, clutch are incredible and yet there were occasions where he could have lost the match and opponent had huge chances, yet nole somehow clutched out the win or the opponent couldn't take chance.

I'd list 6 such matches here and explain the individual case briefly from my point of view. Its upto you to decide where nole was closest to getting eliminated from the slam altogether. If you've got any other option than the ones I've listed here, please write that down too. Also, kindly explain your own reasons why nole won & why he could or should have lost the specific match.

Case 1 :- Vs Taylor Fritz at AO
This was the American's greatest ever chance to take down an ATG. For whatever reason, nole's level dropped after set2 & he was looking very vulnerable in set3 & 4 from the Baseline, could not stay in the extended exchanges. In set5, he was basically serving 2 first deliveries to avoid baseline exchanges, but Fritz's lack of tennis IQ couldn't see that and instead of getting 2-3 metres behind baseline to get every possible return back in court & make nole rally, he stood on baseline and once nole broke him in 6th game, it was all over..

Case 2 :- Vs Zverev at AO
One of those matches where you are thoroughly outplaying your opponent but almost always find a way to mess up in all of the critical moments (kinda like WIM19 F). This could have been the biggest moment of the young German's career, beating nole at AO. He was in great position to win set1 6-3, couldn't win despite having upper hand, could not serve it out for 6-4, somehow won it 7-6 in the TB. Then had humongous multiple chances to go a double break up at 4-1 in set 3, couldn't capitalise, lost 5 games in a row. Once again had multiple breakpoints to go a double break up at 4-1 in set4, couldn't capitalise. Had set point in the resulting tiebreaker, couldn't capitalise. He could have won 6-3 2-6 6-1 6-2 if held himself together between the ears.

Case 3 :- Vs Musetti at RG

The young Italian went 2 sets to love up against the Serbian veteran superstar. Had all the momentum going in the 3rd, but somehow collapsed physically & won just one game afterwards. It was very disappointing to witness despite it being his 1st grandslam main draw appearance.

Case 4 :- Vs Nadal at RG

Nadal broke Djo right when he was about to take charge for 2-1 lead. In 99.99999% of the scenarios like this on clay including the ones against Djoko or Roger, its Nadal who runs away with the set afterwards and breaks the heart of his opponents. But sadly it didn't happen this time. Even in the resulting tiebreaker, Nadal botched easiest of volleys. All that extra grind in set3 for nothing. Granted, this was nothing beyond mid-average version of nadal, but still he had big chances and would've won it in 4. Why why why why :cry:

Case 5 :- Vs Tsitsipas at RG

The Greek did to novak what the serb does to most of his opponents, snatch the food right when they're about to eat. Djokovic served for the set1, had set point in tiebreaker and made a bullet of a return, and despite all that, Tsitsi kept his composure to claim the set. He dominantly won the 2nd set too. And we all had hopes, that finally, there was a young player who wasn't afraid of the ATG in front of him & didn't get overwhelmed by the ocassion at all. But, NextGen never fails to deliver. As soon as Tsitsipas knew he was close to finishing line, his concentration and fire dropped big time and he became tight, to the extent where he failed to generate a single break point in next 3 sets.

Case 6 :- Vs Shapovalov at Wimbledon

Well, this is the match where Djokovic was in trouble this Wimbledon. Shapovalov began the match on fire, serving huge & hitting winners everywhere until 5-4 where he served for the set, missed a sitter in open court at 30-30 to set up a set point, lost the resulting tiebreaker by making tonloads of errors. He looked the better player throughout the second set as well, could not win any of the 7-9 break point chances he had, got broken at 5-5 in an error riden spell of points, and from there on it was inevitable Even though he did well to hang on in set 3. Though this is probably the weakest case for a potential nole loss imho.

So, let's discuss here respectfully.
I liked your analysis and it was spot on. I always maintain that Fritz had greatest chance to win aginst Novak in slams. Any other player would have quit after that injury.
But novak held on and helped by the 20 minutes break played better in 5th set.

Fritz of course had a brain fade but Australian govt rule also saved novak that day
 

Rafa4LifeEver

Hall of Fame
I liked your analysis and it was spot on. I always maintain that Fritz had greatest chance to win aginst Novak in slams. Any other player would have quit after that injury.
But novak held on and helped by the 20 minutes break played better in 5th set.

Fritz of course had a brain fade but Australian govt rule also saved novak that day
Thank you very much for your kind words.
 

Rafa4LifeEver

Hall of Fame
No one was particularly close though, right? I think only three of the matches went to a 5th set and Novak was firmly in control in this cases. Even where his opponent won the first two sets Novak was mostly in control in subsequent sets
Sometimes a 4 setter or even a 3 setter is much closer than a 5 setter.
Tsitsipas 5 setter was less close than Zverev 4 setter for example.
 
Stefanos was, because he actually was 2-0 up but then Djokovic showed once he adjusted he could outplay him.

Shapovalov however outplayed him properly. If he had a head on his shoulders Djokovic would be in deep trouble as with Shapo's serve 0-2 down on grass would have been really tough.
Hi, remember me?
 

InsideOut900

Hall of Fame
People aren’t going to like this response, but Zverev. And pretty comfortably imo.

Reason being I thought that was Novak’s lowest level of fitness since 2018. Didn’t seem like he could move as well and was broken in every set. No one else had that many leads on Novak. The other matches you felt that Djokovic would have the upper hand in the end with fitness but not against Zed. He actually was lucky there.
That was a disgusting choke tbh.

Djokovic had some degree of control in every other match from the list or at least a great margin for error and the possibility to come back after falling behind, even against Tsitsipas, but the Zverev match felt on the german's racket from the 3rd set on.
 

Jason Swerve

Hall of Fame
If only Fritz knew the Joker were faking his injury (must be a fan of Steffi Graf). He would've been better prepared to go the distance. Trickery like that should be outlawed. The older players always have something new and treacherous in their bag of tricks to keep holding back these young-bloods from advancing to their first major.
 

Kralingen

Hall of Fame
That was a disgusting choke tbh.

Djokovic had some degree of control in every other match from the list or at least a great margin for error and the possibility to come back after falling behind, even against Tsitsipas, but the Zverev match felt on the german's racket.
I forget the exact score but midway through the 3rd set was one of the funniest choke service games Zverev has ever had and that’s saying a lot.

I think he was 3-1 or 4-2 up serving for 3 games lead and was up 30-0, then went DF, stupid serve+1 volley miss into the net, bad UE, and then DF on BP. And even after that he choked away a few break points on Djokovic’s serve with dumb tactics/misses. I don’t understand him at all.

Zverev could definitely beat Djokovic at USO 2021 btw. It requires a good service day and choking only 30% less than normal but his power and court coverage are massive issues for today’s Djokovic. Of course, no one would back him to do it mentally.
 

Third Serve

G.O.A.T.
Probably Zverev. That match actually felt like it was on Sascha’s racket as opposed to the others where I still knew Novak was going to win even if he was down a break, a set, or two sets. In that match, Djokovic really didn’t have much control over how the match was going. It was all on Zverev.
 

Hamnavoe

Hall of Fame
Probably Fritz. At the start of the fifth Djokovic looked physically shot and beaten, but then he broke out of nowhere and Fritz had a bit of a meltdown.

Zverev had plenty enough chances to win the AO match but the choke felt NID all through it.

Musetti was never close to victory, nor was Nadal, who looked done in the fourth set so I expect probably would have lost in five even if he had taken the third.

Tsitsipas losing felt inevitable as soon as he was broken in the third.

The extent to which Shapovalov outplayed Djokovic is overstated. Djokovic was +2 on points in the first two sets then +10 in the third, and that's with a worse Ace-DF ratio IIRC, so he had a fair advantage off the ground over the piece. Shapo was never close to winning the match.
 

Jason Swerve

Hall of Fame
Probably Fritz. At the start of the fifth Djokovic looked physically shot and beaten, but then he broke out of nowhere and Fritz had a bit of a meltdown.

Zverev had plenty enough chances to win the AO match but the choke felt NID all through it.

Musetti was never close to victory, nor was Nadal, who looked done in the fourth set so I expect probably would have lost in five even if he had taken the third.

Tsitsipas losing felt inevitable as soon as he was broken in the third.

The extent to which Shapovalov outplayed Djokovic is overstated. Djokovic was +2 on points in the first two sets then +10 in the third, and that's with a worse Ace-DF ratio IIRC, so he had a fair advantage off the ground over the piece. Shapo was never close to winning the match.
It's the meltdown. Classless players pull that type of behavior when they aren't winning in order to pull ahead with the help of an oponent's shock and self-destruction. Martinka had a habit of doing similar, but she never exaggerated any injuries of hers or sought sympathy, and she never went full tilt with a sudden change in play because she was losing and had one chance left. Unlike Djokovic, she was always in control. But one thing you can't call that man is Chokovic- it takes too much effort to ruse someone like that, even if it's a classless and disgusting way to comport.
 

vex

Hall of Fame
It's the meltdown. Classless players pull that type of behavior when they aren't winning in order to pull ahead with the help of an oponent's shock and self-destruction. Martinka had a habit of doing similar, but she never exaggerated any injuries of hers or sought sympathy, and she never went full tilt with a sudden change in play because she was losing and had one chance left. Unlike Djokovic, she was always in control. But one thing you can't call that man is Chokovic- it takes too much effort to ruse someone like that, even if it's a classless and disgusting way to comport.
Surely u said the same when Fed openly admitted doing the same thing?
 

BGod

Legend
Nadal had his chances. I don't think going down 2-0 on clay Novak shrugs off like Tsitsipas and likely collapses in 3 or 4.
 

D.Nalby12

G.O.A.T.
Sisipas > Zverev > Fritz. Nadal wasn't going to win that match no matter what happened in third set. He was tired and getting thoroughly outplayed. Djokovic would've finished him in five sets in case he dropped the fourth.
 
If only Fritz knew the Joker were faking his injury (must be a fan of Steffi Graf). He would've been better prepared to go the distance. Trickery like that should be outlawed. The older players always have something new and treacherous in their bag of tricks to keep holding back these young-bloods from advancing to their first major.
Liked for the acknowledgement that nobody has ever been so good at faking injury as Steffi Graf, not even Nadal.
 

jm1980

G.O.A.T.
Nadal had his chances. I don't think going down 2-0 on clay Novak shrugs off like Tsitsipas and likely collapses in 3 or 4.
Nadal wasn't particularly close to winning that second set though. He certainly had his chances to win the third, but collapsed by the fourth (physically or mentally, we don't know), so Novak could have come back from 1-2 down
 

Hayole

Rookie
Stefanos was, because he actually was 2-0 up but then Djokovic showed once he adjusted he could outplay him.

Shapovalov however outplayed him properly. If he had a head on his shoulders Djokovic would be in deep trouble as with Shapo's serve 0-2 down on grass would have been really tough.
I agree re Shapo but i thought Nole was in second gear

Hard to see him keeping that level up for 3 sets

Only Wawrinka has
 

Rafa4LifeEver

Hall of Fame
Sisipas > Zverev > Fritz. Nadal wasn't going to win that match no matter what happened in third set. He was tired and getting thoroughly outplayed. Djokovic would've finished him in five sets in case he dropped the fourth.
Please don't underestimate Nadal even when he's not playing his best
 

mehdimike

Professional
Sisipas > Zverev > Fritz. Nadal wasn't going to win that match no matter what happened in third set. He was tired and getting thoroughly outplayed. Djokovic would've finished him in five sets in case he dropped the fourth.
Rafa could tank the 4th set though and go all out in the fifth. No one knows what could have happened.
 

Sephiroth

Hall of Fame
Tsitsipas

Not being able to generate a single BP in the next 3 sets ON CLAY is unforgiveable

Those AO losses are horrendous too Djokovic had no business winning this year's AO given his own physical issues but he did lmao
 

Sephiroth

Hall of Fame
Djokovic is known for his Houdini acts but to get 3 slams...3 SLAMS out of this year while playing < 50% is baffling
 
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