Novak Djokovic was, by one metric, historically bad last night for a Grand Slam match winner. He held on to beat Frenchman Giles Simon 6-3, 6-7 (1), 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in the round of 16 at the Australian Open, but he committed 100 unforced errors. In a way, this is more indicative of Simon’s style (as you can see in the video below), than an absolute stinker for Djokovic. Their first set went a whopping 58 minutes, and the whole thing took just over four-and-a-half hours. Simon is a return artist, and he just kept forcing Djokovic to beat himself, which he nearly did.
During his post-match interview, a fan yelled “NO MORE DROP SHOTS!” at Djokovic, advice which, despite its rude source, he took and agreed with. Djokovic himself said that Simon’s backboard-like tendency to hit it back rattled him and made him go for winners that weren’t there:
“It’s not easy when you’re not feeling the ball well and when you’re not moving that great,” Djokovic said. “When you’re playing someone like Simon, he senses that and he makes you play an extra shot. Then you’re trying to cut down on the length of the rallies, go for a winner or go for a drop shot. Sometimes you have a brain freeze, if I can call it that way.”
Djokovic has Kei Nishikori in the quarterfinals. Here are highlights of the whole match: