Yesterday’s men’s quarterfinals featured unbelievable displays of physical ability by Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori. Djokovic notched a big win last night with his victory over Andy Murray. While earlier in the day, Nishikori defeated favorite Stanislas Wawrinka in 5 sets. But the score lines don’t explain these results very accurately.
Anyone who saw last night’s match can attest to the obvious difference in physicality between Djokovic and Murray. By the fourth set, it was becoming pronounced.
Murray opened his service game with a strange, 70 mph first serve using almost no knee bend. You wouldn’t think twice if you saw this form from a recreational player, but in the US Open it stands out.
Since winning Wimbledon in 2013, Andy has been dealing with injuries to his back that have kept him out of multiple tournaments. And while it has been a long road to recovery, Murray stated going into New York that he was feeling good once again.
What occurred last night was an example of the fitter man winning. Novak Djokovic is built for 5 sets. Actually, he could probably go 10. Murray wasn’t used to those kinds of physical demands, and it showed.
Through the first 2 sets, Murray looked ready to play. Both went to tie breaks, and we expected another Murray-Djokovic classic in the making. But as it crept into the third set, Murray began to falter. Even visits from the athletic trainer didn’t change his performance on court. After the match he told reporters, “I thought physically he was better than me in the end.” And he was right.
Andy Murray used to be one of the few players that could handle extreme physical intensity, matching Djokovic shot for shot at the 2012 Australian Open. The match that went 5 hours.
But Murray’s hiatus last year effected his longevity in matches, and it ultimately cost him last night. Not because he isn’t in good shape, but because he’s not in Djokovic-shape.
Djokovic’s next opponent will be Kei Nishikori.
In the round of 16, Kei outlasted the favorite Milos Raonic in a 5 set epic that lasted until 2:30am local time. At times, Nishikori looked defeated. But he dug deep and ultimately won because of his own superior fitness.
This leads into yesterday, when Nishikori beat Wawrinka. Setting up the unexpected clash with Djokovic on Saturday.
For those who enjoy and appreciate stellar fitness, this match-up is for you. Are you not entertained?