This is all Linz’ fault, so if you have any issues with it, please let her know on twitter dot com.
Before Jerzy Janowicz disappeared from the ATP tour and became more notorious on twitter dot come for streaming videos of himself playing computer games, he was a promising young player. He made a Masters 1000 final…almost 4 years ago! He made the Wimbledon semifinals in 2013, and was up a break in the 3rd set with eventual champion Andy Murray before collapsing. He’s yet to win an ATP title, and has lost the few 250 finals he’s made.
While he was a real ATP player, Janowicz managed to play all the members of the ATP Big 4 except Novak Djokovic. Now, due to his long absence from tennis (due to various injuries and who knows what else), he’s unseeded, so he has to play the overwhelming favorite* for this 2016 US Open.
Why the asterisk? Because it all depends on whether Novak Djokovic’s left wrist can actually withstand 7 best of 5 matches over the next fortnight. If it can, he is most likely to win this US Open. If the wrist is toast, then someone else will win the men’s US Open trophy. Maybe Andy Murray.
Anyway, the long awaited (by possibly only me) first ever Djokovic-Janowicz match is upon us, and I’ll do my best to liveblog it. Or liveanalyze it. Will there even be something to analyze? Does Jerzy Janowicz remember how to play tennis? FiveThirtyEight gives him a 1% chance of pulling off the upset.
Disclaimer: I’m alone with my soon-to-be 7 month old daughter Maya, who may or may not require my full attention during this match, so who knows how often I get to provide updates. She’s having fun on her play mat right now, so this is why you have this content.
Phil Collins just finished his weird medley, and now we’re heading for the patriotic US Open stuff. More to come.
Here’s a sad tweet:
@jjvallejoa @The_Changeover 3 years ago today Jano was our big, no – huge, Polish tennis hope ;( #USOpen
— Wojtek Krol (@wojtekNYC) August 30, 2016
Maya needs to be rocked to sleep, so I’m guessing I’ll miss the players coming out. Back whenever Maya is down for the count.
Nope, false alarm. Maya wrestled and wiggled and displayed a vigor Jerzy Janowicz hasn’t displayed in years. So she’s back out on her play mat.
The players are on court. Djokovic is wearing a very pretty metallic blue shirt that I swear he’s worn before. It’s actually super similar to the shade of blue he used during the 2009 clay season. Janowicz is wearing a not super atrocious Nike outfit.
First Set – Djokovic to serve
Djokovic starts his US Open title defense with a double fault. As inauspicious an omen as it gets. Holds to 30 anyway. Only one long rally in that opening service game.
Back when Janowicz was an intriguing prospect, what I wanted to see the most is how his serve would match up against Djokovic’s all-time-great return. So far Djokovic is having a very easy time with Janowicz’ second serves, and he is up 15-40 after a horrific drop shot attempt by Janowicz. However, Djokovic bungles a 2nd serve return, so one BP is wasted. Then one of Janowicz’ patented angled CC FH winners saves the other. Moments later, an amazing FH DTL winner seals the hold for Janowicz. That was impressive.
Djokovic is up 40-0, and I have no idea how he got there, because I noticed Maya made a huge puke puddle in the middle of her activity gym. We call her puke “cheese” because it looks like cheese and it makes it seem less gross. I’m actually not grossed out by the cheese at all. These are things new parents say.
Anyway, Janowicz got the game back to Deuce, but Djokovic ends up holding anyway. Maya’s cheese and Janowicz’ FH DTL winner in the previous game the highlights of the match so far.
Quick technological update: had to switch to my Chromecast stream since ESPN correctly went to the Sock-Fritz fifth set. But you are here for some Djokovic-Janowicz content, so that’s what Chromecast is for.
Janowicz is up 40-0 in a flash, after yet another blistering FH DTL winner. This is the kind of stuff that got people (well, mostly me and a few Poles) excited about Janowicz’ potential. In semi-related news, my Chromecast stream has flashed a “Thanks for Watching, your Event has Ended” screen. Not yet, ESPN3. Not yet. Janowicz fires a 140 mph bomb, holds ot 15.
At 30-30, Djokovic fires a DF, and now Janowicz has a BP. ESPN3 is telling me my event has ended, so hopefully can let you know how the game actually ends. Well, I switched to the live TV feed, and Djokovic held. How did Djokovic save that BP? I’m guessing he sent a 2nd serve to Janowicz’ BH, and the return went into the net. Safe bet.
We interrupt this liveblog to announce that MAYA IS ASLEEP! After much twisting and turning, the exhausted baby peacefully fell into a deep slumber in daddy’s arms. The loveliest feeling.
Oh, and while that happened, Novak Djokovic broke Jerzy Janowicz to go up 4-2. I actually had Djokovic breaking Janowicz in the 10th game. There are few things Jerzy Janowicz loves more than playing a terrible service game when he has no margin of error left.
Djokovic emphatically consolidates the break with a seemingly easy FH winner. The air seems to have gone out of the Janowicz Zeppelin.
As my stream went to commercial, I switched to the live TV feed, so I could see if Sock served out the match vs Fritz. He didn’t, but before he double-faulted to give away the break, I saw this tweet:
Djokovic sauve deux balles de débreak avant de remporter la première manche 6-3.
— Carole Bouchard (@carole_bouchard) August 30, 2016
If you don’t know any French, your conclusion should be that my Chromecast stream is SUPER DELAYED, since the set ended 6-3, with Djokovic saving 2 BPs at 5-3. I switched back to my Chromecast stream and Janowicz is serving at 2-5. Welp.
Because my ESPN3 Chromecast stream is so far behind, I can see how Djokovic played a terrible service game and went down 15-40. Fires an ace, then hammers a short return, and after a fantastic rally, Djokovic has set point. Bad return by Janowicz seals it.
First Set Summary: A mostly mediocre Djokovic performance, and a way better than expected Janowicz performance. 6-3 seems like a fair meeting point for those two sentences to meet.
Second Set – Janowicz to serve
Two straight Janowicz droppers see him hold easily. Djokovic looks annoyed, obviously.
Djokovic holds easily to 15, so time for a small essay of sorts.
One of my favorite things in all of sport is trying to predict just how good a young athlete can be. Usually it doesn’t take me long to come up with a verdict – it happens within the first few sightings of the player in question. When I saw Djokovic play on TV in the 2006 French Open, I thought he’d be a World Number 1, and win all 4 Slams. Back in the PEAK FEDAL ERA, that didn’t seem a very realistic prediction. But 10 years later, Djokovic is closing in on his 5th career Year-End Number 1 ranking, and has won 12 Slams, including all 4 in a row. He has exceeded all my expectations (which were pretty damn high), by a wide margin.
During Janowicz’ run to the Paris Masters final in 2012, I thought we were seeing a potential top-10 guy. Someone who could win the big ones. An elite player in the making. During his run to the Wimbledon semis, I hilariously tweeted that he’d win the whole thing one day. Apparently a big Polish sports site took my tweet and created some content out of it. It was funny. 3 years have passed, and Jerzy Janowicz hasn’t come any closer to the Top-10 than I have to my ideal weight of 185 lbs. He’s yet to win a single title. Yes, he’s been injured, but he’s yet to convince me that he really understands professional tennis. I still remember that interview where he sarcastically says that he doesn’t have to train as hard as Nadal.
Anyway, predicting the future is fun. You can get it right a few times. But most of the time, you’ll get it very, very wrong, as you can see from the two examples above.
Anyway, the guys are still on serve.
IMPORTANT BABY UPDATE!
At this point in the match, Maya woke up crying. For the third day in a row, she woke up from her afternoon nap pretty upset. She just seemed so sad. It didn’t sound like pain or hunger. Just sadness. And she was mostly asleep during this. I managed to get her back to sleep in the rocking chair, but she woke up just as I put her back in her crib.
Our theory for this is that Maya is teething. And those damn upper jaw teeth are driving her crazy. She normally never cries. *shakes fist at tiny teeth*
I then looked at the time, and realized she should be fed zucchini. Today is the last day the zucchini is usable. Maya was a bit happier, but cried again as I disappeared downstairs to get her food. She ate her food with gusto, though. It makes me so happy she seems to like eating just as much as her dad does.
As soon as Maya finished her zucchini (which was made at home by her home), Maya got upset again. It was also time for her last bottle of the day. Which she had. She then needed to be burped, and she needed her diaper changed. She’s now happily playing on her mat.
What has happened in the match?
JERZY JANOWICZ TOOK A SET! It was a very odd sequence, though. While I was feeding Maya I could see that Djokovic had a bunch of BPs, Janowicz saved them all, and then at 30-30, 5-6, Djokovic had this horrible double-fault that made him grimace, and proceeded to miss a FH by a football field on set point.
Then Djokovic took the 3rd set without much drama or hassle. 6-2. Janowicz, as he is wont to do, went completely off the rails tennis-wise. At one point late in the set Djokovic had 0 UFEs, and Janowicz had 14. It seemed like points didn’t even get long enough for Djokovic to have a chance to make a mistake.
While I was tending to Maya, all I kept thinking about was the main question surrounding the men’s US Open: is Novak Djokovic healthy enough to win this title?
The answer so far: nope.
Fourth Set – Janowicz to serve
Janowicz gets broken to start this 4th set. The crowd is dead. Everyone wants to either go home, or watch Keys-Riske. I’d want to watch Keys-Riske, too.
All that being said, I agree completely with this tweet:
@jjvallejoa I think Jerzy is playing pretty well by his standards especially fresh off injury ?
— Joe C (@ProdigyRep) August 30, 2016
Djokovic plays a pretty poor sequence of points, goes down 15-40. It feels like both guys have had a million BPs in this match. They’re both saved, Djokovic holds with a lucky let cord.
Janowicz seemed to hold rather easily, now that he’s down a break.
This tweet is also truth:
@jjvallejoa I told it right from the draw. No one believed me. Jerzy's brain made for those matches. Had he picked someone else ? Flopped.
— Carole Bouchard (@carole_bouchard) August 30, 2016
Let’s rank all the things that made me think Janowicz would become an elite player:
- Huge power off both wings, and a huge, potentially devastating service game.
- Insane ability to cover the court. He’s a giant that moves like a sorta tall person. He even slides on hard court!
- He lives for the big matches. Plays like he belongs, no matter the setting.
All of that has yielded an OK career. Just not the career I thought he’d have.
Oh, look. Janowicz got broken again while I typed that. The man has played 2 ATP-level matches this year prior to tonight. The last time he was on a tennis court was a few weeks ago in a clay Challenger in Europe. He’s probably not match-fit enough to go the distance in a best of five match against the World Number 1.
Djokovic hits the best shot of the match when he runs to the net behind a serve, and hits an incredible volley full of backspin. It was a sick shot. He holds easily.
Janowicz plays terribly, and gets broken to 15 to end the match. Mercifully. The man had gas for 2 sets. He played two decent sets.
Novak Djokovic wins 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1
- Jerzy Janowicz can still do amazing things, but still does mostly poor things. He did play a heck of a lot better than his 2016 season would suggest.
- Djokovic’s left wrist seemed OK. His serving arm seemed to have some serious issues in set 2, and he got treatment for it.
- Djokovic played mostly mediocre tennis. He lost a set to a guy who hadn’t won an ATP match in 2016.
- Bodies heal in weird ways, and medicine is quite advanced. We might look back at this bad performance in two weeks and it will seem like a bad dream. But if you want me to project what Djokovic’s tournament will look like, I would say that his remarkable streak of making the semis or better at the US Open since 2007 is in serious danger.
- Can Jerzy Janowicz play more ATP-level tennis? It sure seems possible. He’s still just 25 years old. There’s so much raw talent in there. At the very least someone should do a reasonable projection of all the money he’s losing by not taking advantage of his amazing natural gifts, put it in a PowerPoint, and show it to him and his family. He’s leaving so much money on the table.
Oh, and this:
This boob-cupping celebration should probably be left at Chatrier. Doesn't look like something that gets better with each iteration.
— Juan José Vallejo (@jjvallejoa) August 30, 2016