How Novak Djokovics Cincinnati win would affect approach for Roger Federer US Open rematch

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Federer and Djokovic met in Cincinnati (Picture: Getty Images)

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are closing in on a mouthwatering 47th meeting, with the pair just one win apiece away from a star-studded US Open quarter-final.

The pair will take on fourth-round debutants John Millman and Joao Sousa on Monday, and victory would see the pair lock horns once more.

Having not faced off for more than two years prior to the Cincinnati Masters final, the pair now face the prospect of colliding twice in the space of three weeks.

Djokovic dismantled a weary-looking Federer at the Western & Southern Open to become the first man to win all Masters 1000 titles and the close proximity of that win to a Grand Slam quarter-final will undoubtedly add an extra dimension to a potential US Open meeting.

The Serbs strategy coach Craig OShannessy spoke to and the Love Tennis Podcast about the extra layer that would be added and how that would affect the teams preparations for the match.

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Its 80% the same, he said. Roger did not play a good match. That was not the Roger Federer we know. He was missing a lot of shots at the net, his groundstrokes werent great.

How much credit do we give Novak for making Roger play bad or how much did Roger just turn up onto the court and say today is not my day? I think it was a little bit more of the latter in that match.

I watched Roger courtside playing Nick Kyrgios. For the first part of that match, Nick was actually the better player. Roger wasnt at his best in that match but I tell you what, the guy never beats himself, which is why hes had such success at Grand Slam level and in his career in general.

If we do see Roger and Novak, there will be a layer of the Cincinnati match. Certainly Roger didnt play well. I thought Novak matched up very well.

Our team will be going back and looking at the tape of that and Im sure their team will be looking at that as well. You have the Cincinnati layer, the overall body of work between the two guys. Also looking at what Novak has done here, whats working so well at the US Open but certainly what Rogers doing well.

<> at Lindner Family Tennis Center on August 19, 2018 in Mason, Ohio.

Should the match occur, OShannessy will effectively break down Federers performances at the US Open, in order to try and give Djokovic a tactical advantage.

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At my media area Im able to say I want to see every single one of Rogers forehand errors for the entire tournament so far through the first four rounds, he added.

You just look for patterns, hell be making forehand errors all over the court but there will be certain parts of the court, hotspots where hes more comfortable this week in New York and certain spots that are a little bit bothersome for him.

Youre looking for tendencies and patterns – particularly on the big points – and will the player serve at the same spot on break point as he has continually done in the past or is he going to change it up?

You get your player ready for what the patterns are likely to be and if they change they know that theyre changing and they know that the player is adapting. Sometimes thats even a win for you right there that theyre not comfortable going for their favourite patterns on big points.

Im really looking forward to it if we do get Roger and Novak through to that match, it will be an absolute thrill to help prepare Novak for it.

Since winning the Australian Open at the start of the year, Federer has struggled to match up to the performances he showed in 2017.

The 37-year-old Swiss failed to defend titles in Indian Wells, Miami and Halle, before falling to Kevin Anderson in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.


After Djokovics one-sided win in Cincinnati, many questioned whether age was taking its toll on the world No. 2 – but OShannessy believes those theories are premature.

I dont see his body giving up, he said.

One of the big things with the top players at the moment, were looking at these guys and saying well how come theyre playing so good deep into their 30s?

Federers body is not breaking down, according to OShannessy (Picture: Anadolu Agency/Getty)

I contribute a lot of this to the physios that they have full time on their staff. Rogers had a guy with him day in day out working on his body for a decade. And what that does is completely slows down the ageing process.

Roger has a game style that has such little stress on his body, he floats around the court, he keeps the points short, hes still so quick.

Very rarely do you find Roger on defence, his anticipation, his ability to go cross court and not recover to the middle of the court is a major advantage.

So theyre covering more metres on the court. Roger will hit a ball, know the percentages, know its a very low percentage for the guy to go down the line, so he actually stands in the part of the court that entices the low percentage shot, shuts down the high percentage shot and that anticipation has also elongated or lengthened his career considerably.

OShannessy (left) with Djokovics former coach Agassi (Picture: Craig OShannessy)

At 31, Djokovic is no spring chicken either. However, OShannessy has been amazed by his desire to keep learning and understanding his own game as he looks to add more Grand Slam titles to his collection.


And he believes the tactical clarity in the Wimbledon champions mind on court is contributing to his continued success.

Novak is amazing in that hes already had so much success in his career – hes one of the greatest players ever in our sport, OShannessy said.

And when we talk strategy and analytics and a lot about the opponent, even when we were having our initial discussions in getting this relationship underway, his thirst for knowledge is incredible.

Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, celebrates after winning the third set against Marton Fucsovics, of Hungary, during the first round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Djokovic has been going well at the US Open (Picture: AP)

When I sit down with players, a lot of players will start discussing the game and presenting their opinions. Novak is almost never doing that, hes asking questions and asking the second question.

On the practice court, you want to be thinking about yourself: what is my footwork, what is my technique, where do I want to hit the ball. Once you start a match, you dont want to be thinking about yourself at all.

You want to be looking at the other side of the court figuring out your opponent, and if I can do a good job of making the opponent simple and having them understand the opponent, it just makes Novaks mind much clearer out there.

Were certainly having success with that over the last couple of months.

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