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Djokovic's Doubles

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Djokovic's Doubles

Post by HM Murdoch on Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:29 pm

Hi all,

I worked out a stat in response to a debate over on v2 that I think is interesting, so I'll put it up here too.

Some argue that Novak's form is not drastically behind that of 2011. The difference is that his opponents are now in better form and the small margins that nearly all went his way last year are now sometimes going against him.

There is definitely some truth in this.

This time in 2011, Novak had made 10 finals and had won 9 of them. This year he has made 7 finals and has won 3. So the results, whilst not as good as 2011, are hardly bad.

Others of us (including me) believe that the results are not telling the whole story and there are some mental demons troubling Novak recently when he plays the top players. This has really been noticeable since Rome and I've worked out a stat that to me is very revealing.

Since (and including) Rome, Novak has played Fed and Rafa 4 times - Rome, RG, Wimbledon and Cincy.

In these games he has played 58 service games and double faulted 15 times. On average this means that 26% of service games have featured a double fault.

Outside of these matches, he has played 735 service games and double faulted 93 times. On average this means that 13% of service games have featured a double fault.

So his rate of double faults against Rafa and Roger recently is double what it is for the rest of his games. These double faults have often been at key moments - break points down, set points and even match points.

I think this is a great indicator of how Novak is cracking in the big moments against these players. When Novak is feeling worried, his serve is the first thing to go.

Also, although it is not an exact science, double faults do not really stem from great play from the opponent. They are a failure of technique, which in turn is often a symptom of feeling nerves and pressure.

I remain convinced that Novak is going through a mental block against the top guys. The results in themselves may not be extraordinary but the manner they are coming about certainly is.

What do you guys on here think? Is there an underlying mental issue with Novak against the top guys? Or is this just a statistical blip?

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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by ... on Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:54 pm

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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by Tenez on Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:59 pm

Very interesting post HMM! I like those serious researches and stats as they almost always say something and thanks for sharing it with us too.

In short it's clear they are not a statistical blip but I think one would expect the mental side to be under more pressure against players who return better.

You see a mental issue when the issue coudl actually be physical. Let's say Djoko has a shoulder problem and knows that with Nadal and Federer the serve has to be better than versus Mahut or Querrey. That in itself adds "natural" pressure, the other 3 top players also face. He might not force his shoulder against the other players but has no choice versus Fed and Nadal. This forcing teh serve could result in more DFs than he woudl if he did not have to hit a faster serve (v the rest of the field).

So it's difficult to know whether the issue is physical or mental as playing versus the top 2 is likely to expose more physical and mental strain.

I am surprised you left his matches versus Murray out of your stats. Murray is a good returner too and it woudl have given us more clues.

I really do not know how to pin point the difference between Djoko 2011 and 2012. It seems that Djoko 2010 was also in a way very similar to 2012. More erratic, though overall a bit better, but never found that confident wave he surfed in 2011. But already end of 2012 we coudl see problems with his health and shoulder and I must say I was not impressed by his serving yesterday. He started with an ace...and that was it....nothing to hurt Federer after that.

In conclusion, I don't think Djoko or Federer have mental problems against the rest. They are just too good and confident in their own capability to cave in mentally. They are the mentally strongest players I know. Problem is when they meet a very fit Nadal then questions are being asked. Not the mental ones, just the physical ones which of course affect their spirit as well. If you are tired and you cannot run as much, therefore you might risk a second serve a bit more to get an ace or an easy FH to put away. Most will see a DF there as a mental problem when really it is a physical one (stamina).

Look Djoko has an outstanding record of saving BPs, SP, MP..and is on an amazing streak. He even came back from 0/3 down yesterday in teh TB to be first to have a SP in teh second set.

If anything I suspect a shoulder injury, and then maybe problems with his stamina...not as fit as last year.

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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by ... on Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:40 pm

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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by Tenez on Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:52 pm

noleisthebest wrote:It could all be excuses, but at that level we are not even talking shades, we are into nuances of nuances....

And I guess this is the point of those who argue that last year he was slightly more confident as much as the opposition was slighty off. This year the opposition has caught up a bit.

However, having said all that. I think Djoko is at the age where he should really have taken off as he is entering his peak years in terms of achievements. Yet he got beaten by Nadal more often than not when frankly I was expecting easier wins over Nadal than in 2011. Federer is still on his heels...though frankly it's now the other way around.

So when thinking objectively, yes I think there is a problem with Djoko....but I certainly don't think it's mental. Unless he is goinf through a mental breakdown....but that I doubt.

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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by Guest on Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:07 pm

Every year is not same. Nole has phenomeonal 2011 and finding it hard to replicate that. It might have to do something with the use of egg chamber. Results might start to come in if he uses that again.

Also I think that main slide (slight it is) started when Nole decided to enter that stupid clay masters at Rome or MOnte Carlo and let Nadal to stop that losing streak. That could also be the beginning of the personal issues with Nole. In 2011 Nole was having tonnes of mental fortitude but in 2012 specailly after that personal loss, it is not evident.

Nole when in full flow can challenge Nadal and Fed but when he is not Fed and Nadal will get better of him. The loss to Delpo at Olympics was not expected at all.

I dont think that others have improved but it is quite clear that Nole is not the same player.

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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by HM Murdoch on Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:05 pm

Tenez, that is an interesting point about an injury and one that I had pondered myself. It's an idea I finally rejected though because I don't see evidence of it in most matches. His form for most of Wimbledon and Cincy was very good, particularly at Cincy. It was only the matches v Fed that he suddenly became rather lacklustre (although the 2nd set yesterday was much better).

If we are talking a technical problem, I think Nole's forehand has spluttered a bit recently. This in turn is feeding into his service games. He's not the kind of player to hammer an ace, the serve for him is to set up the second shot which he normally steps in to attack. But because he's been dumping a few forehands into the net or sending them long, I think he has at at times not had the confidence to fully commit to the second shot and has been a bit passive. This has cost him in the close matches. And I think this has made him worry a bit about the whole service sequence.

In fairness to Nole, he is aware of this. He said in an interview recently that he has been particularly working on that second shot in training, trying to get it back in good order.

NITB - do you think this focus Nole has on the Olympics and RG was a mistake in hindsight? I get the sense with Nole that he is an instinctive player who is at his best "in the moment". I wonder if focusing so much on two events brought extra pressure that took some of the joy out of it for him? He seemed quite tense, smashing racquets etc? (his grandfather's passing may have been a factor here)

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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by ... on Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:38 pm

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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by ... on Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:32 am

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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by HM Murdoch on Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:38 am

noleisthebest wrote:Taking of doubles....on second thoughts, this could all be connected with the fact that they made Nole expendable in The Expendables 2.
That, too, could've affected his serving performance ....
I know it was a quite ridiculous scene in a quite ridiculous film but I was really looking forward to seeing it! I'm really disappointed about it being cut!

Hopefully it will appear as an extra on the dvd.

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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by Veejay on Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:29 am

I think those double faults gives us an insight into the state of his mental health and mood
Confidence is an incredible thing,when you have it in abundance the world is at your feet,when you dont have it you might as well get your affairs in order
Novak was never going to repeat what he did last season,even he has said so himself ( which already points to a lack of self confidence,I mean if he has done it once he should believe he can do it again)
He hasnt had a bad year,its just that his results looks mediocre in comparison to what he achieved last year
The combination of the death of his grandfather and losing a few matches against his Nadal has triggered a self doubt downwards spiral.Losing RG on a double fault,losing the no1 ranking and a surprise loss to Murray and Del Potro at the Olympics-his confidence has taken a huge knock.
But to be fair his problems started way before then.Hes been struggling with his serve since February.His serve was key to how he dominated last season,so hes not just choking in key moments,he isnt that confident in his game right now either.Its also not being made easier knowing that a 31 year old "grandpa" has managed to dethrone you and is rubbing it in your face
Like the final at Cincinnati,Roger kept serving out wide to play mental games with Novak and challenge him to repeat that shot he came up with on match point at the U.S open last year,forget about repeating it,Novak struggled to return even the second serves out wide.The more he missed the more Roger insisted on proving that that shot was a fluke and in a round about way questioning if last season was fluke

Its been a tough summer filled with lots of disappointment and hes getting a little taste of what Federer and Nadal have had to go through with the burden expectation from fans and the media,something he didnt have to deal with much last season
I actually think hes been handling it all really well,he doesnt look despondent but rather quite optimistic and positive which is exactly what his attitude should be
Roger wont continue this winning streak for much longer so he doesnt have to panic about that,but his loss to Murray should raise a few alarm bells,he is in a good position with Nadal being out,cant allow Murray to take advantage of that


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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by ... on Tue Aug 21, 2012 10:51 am

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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by HM Murdoch on Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:52 am

Veejay wrote:Like the final at Cincinnati,Roger kept serving out wide to play mental games with Novak and challenge him to repeat that shot he came up with on match point at the U.S open last year,forget about repeating it,Novak struggled to return even the second serves out wide.The more he missed the more Roger insisted on proving that that shot was a fluke and in a round about way questioning if last season was fluke
That's a good observation. Fed said in an interview recently that he also did that serve on match point at Wimbledon to see if Novak could do it again.

I like Fed but I didn't like that comment. It's almost as if by trying to prove The Shot was a fluke, he thinks it will makes the loss mean less.

To me, that return was not a fluke and my opinion won't change on that even if he never hits it again. A fluke is a net cord or framing a shot that ends up perfect i.e. an accident. In that instance Novak hit exactly the shot he was going for, so it was not a fluke. Could he pull it off every time? Probably not. But that makes it all the more impressive that he did when he really had to.

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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by raiders_of_the_lost_ark on Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:59 am

noleisthebest wrote:Too much is being read in to those double faults, and that bagel.
He is good on fast surfaces and takes the full advantage of it if he can.
I said before the match the winner will be decided on two things: Federer's serving/Novak's returning. Novak never broke him. End of story.

Yes the court gets a tiny bit quicker and the best and most aggressive returner of all time coming from a Masters win, but now has to eat a donut . Even the court was fast in Dubai this year, and Murray blasted him off. Thats why I don't awe to the great returning skills of the some of the players hyped by the media. They can't return well enough even with these strings and the bigger frames. They can only do it on slow-mo courts and snail-pace balls.


noleisthebest wrote: I just haven't made up my mind yet what I look forward to more: seeing the draw or the final
Pick the finals. the draw is interesting, but I would suggest don't think too much about it.

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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by raiders_of_the_lost_ark on Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:03 pm

HM Murdoch wrote:
That's a good observation. Fed said in an interview recently that he also did that serve on match point at Wimbledon to see if Novak could do it again.

Can you provide the source please?

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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by HM Murdoch on Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:50 pm

raiders_of_the_lost_ark wrote:
HM Murdoch wrote:
That's a good observation. Fed said in an interview recently that he also did that serve on match point at Wimbledon to see if Novak could do it again.

Can you provide the source please?
9:44 on this interview:

youtube.com/watch?v=DUl9Mz8ZjTw&feature=relmfu

(I'm too new on the forum to be allowed to post whole links)

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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by ... on Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:08 pm

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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by Veejay on Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:33 pm

noleisthebest wrote:Too much is being read in to those double faults, and that bagel.
He is good on fast surfaces and takes the full advantage of it if he can.
I said before the match the winner will be decided on two things: Federer's serving/Novak's returning. Novak never broke him. End of story.
Federer just got off to a very fast start as that is his only chance of beating Novak in the best of 3. I'd be worried if the second set was similar, but because it wasn't, there's nothing to worry about.
Best of 5 is the proper format so I look forward to USO very much.
I just haven't made up my mind yet what I look forward to more: seeing the draw or the final

I dont think too much is being read,I think everyone can see the deterioration of his results,its almost as if he he takes a further step backwards with every tournament.We arent just looking at one match we are looking at his season
Before RG most were thinking that he was just pacing himself to peak at the right time,so it was a little surprising to see him struggle so much in a few matches
Losing to Nadal on clay,to be expected however its the way he lost thats surprising.After blowing Nadal off the court in 8 straight games,he lost the match on a double fault
Losing to Fed on grass at Wimbledon,technically Novak was the favourite on paper,but Roger is Roger.Once again its the way he lost the 3rd set that was surprising
Losing to Murray,ok but in straight sets and then against to Del Potro too? Djokovic is a Wimbledon champion
Losing to Roger,no shame in that,but to be bagaled by a 31 year old veteran of the sport on your best surface?
I can understand if Djokovic is exhausted,he played Toronto and made it deep into the Olympics but you cant deny that things have slowly been getting worse.Not enough to panic about but enough to be aware that its costing him

I agree that Federer came out guns blazing but Novak has played him many times and should know that when Roger wants to win he will be unplayable for about the first 30 mins,so he knew Rogers form would drop,all he needed to do was hang in there and hold serve.Roger was also struggling with his serve this week cause he also double faulted more in a match then he usually does in an entire tournament but he was still not broken throughout the entire tournament.Djokovic is the best returner in the game and Roger served out wide for most of the match,even on some second serves and Djokovic still wasnt able to capitalise on Rogers predictability which is completely out of character for Novak and simply not good enough for a player of his calibre
I agree best of 5 sets matches is a completely different ball game but once again,he didnt look convincing on his run at RG,several players took him the distance.Its happens with all the greats from time to time,even Federer was nearly knocked out of Wimbledon,even though Djokovic showed great resilience to come through,he was really struggling at times and it was arguably his experience that brought him through some of those matches

Dont get offended NITB,we all know Djokovic is capable of so much better,thats why some of us are a little worried for him,theres clearly something wrong
As i said,its not enough to REALLY panic about,but its serious enough cause its losing him titles.He has probably already kinda written this season off after the U.S open,so I wont expect any real surge, but I am expecting him to come back next season and make quite a statement at the AO

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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by Veejay on Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:56 pm

HM Murdoch wrote:
Veejay wrote:Like the final at Cincinnati,Roger kept serving out wide to play mental games with Novak and challenge him to repeat that shot he came up with on match point at the U.S open last year,forget about repeating it,Novak struggled to return even the second serves out wide.The more he missed the more Roger insisted on proving that that shot was a fluke and in a round about way questioning if last season was fluke
That's a good observation. Fed said in an interview recently that he also did that serve on match point at Wimbledon to see if Novak could do it again.

I like Fed but I didn't like that comment. It's almost as if by trying to prove The Shot was a fluke, he thinks it will makes the loss mean less.

To me, that return was not a fluke and my opinion won't change on that even if he never hits it again. A fluke is a net cord or framing a shot that ends up perfect i.e. an accident. In that instance Novak hit exactly the shot he was going for, so it was not a fluke. Could he pull it off every time? Probably not. But that makes it all the more impressive that he did when he really had to.

Yeah fluke isnt the right word to use,but we havent seen Novak hit that shot enough to suggest that thats a shot thats part of his repertoire that he can routinely hit at will,I think thats the mental game Roger is playing,that Novak can hit an incredible shot like that but unlike himself,Novak most likely wouldnt be able to repeat it as it was just luck,almost like a hat trick
The shot wasnt an accident,it clearly had purpose motive and execution,but it did look more like Novak thought-he is match point down,he has nothing to lose,just take his best swing at it and hope for the best,fortunately for him it worked mainly because he was so confident that it would work.

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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by ... on Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:30 pm

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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by Veejay on Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:58 pm

noleisthebest wrote:You'll all see in New York!

Its gonna be interesting cause the top 3 must really be liking their chances


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Re: Djokovic's Doubles

Post by laverfan on Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:27 pm

noleisthebest wrote:
I remember that interview, and I thought, cheeky monkey! Fascinating insight into how they all think and make decisions....Fed has always come across as somebody very sly and sharp.

He made a similar comment about serving to Nadal @IW 2012 after Nadal returned from his 'toilet' break. Changed his serve from down-the-T to wide out to Nadal FH in the Ad court at the very last moment.

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