intangibles—forehands—lag, or a lack thereof
Always felt unlikely Medvedev could back up that semi final performance. His passing choices were perfect in that game and fairly poor in this, although credit to Djokovic for his instinct.
Djokovic is still clearly one of the fittest on tour. But I don't think hes the fittest, and he's perceptilbily beginning to fade over the last couple of years. Of course he's adapted with a slightly more aggressive gamestyle. But he's now massively helped by next gens poor techniques, and lack of ability to stay in tough rallies when it matters, extend points and really test his stamina. I'd only trust Medvedev and probably Rune to match him when they go locking down, Alcaraz can but his forehand sprays too often.
Great analysis again!! I always felt that being outside the 6-6'3" range is tough. Medvedev gives up too much at his height. A "shorter" player will always be more agile. It's like Sugar Ray Leonard or the great Ali. They were fast and agile. Djokovic is starting to look like a classic player now. He can punch and counterpunch. That makes him so much more dangerous.
I think he is managing extremely well physically. I just don't know if 2028 is reasonable. Everyone thought Roger might play to 41, Tom Brady until he is 50 and now Djokovic until 41. I think he has a few more left in him but it will be tough for him to win 7 matches against younger foes.
The part you hit on the head is the need to clean up the strokes. Everyone is enamored with the huge spin and speed potential of the game. It was Robert Lansdorp whose philosophy was that tennis is about hitting a skidding ball near the line. He criticized Sampras for reversing his finishes. Then he realized that Sampras was solving a problem. Sampras's forehand is, as you noted, a stylized version of Lendl's. Classic and clean.
You are telling us that what is old is new. And he we are with Djokovic who has become a complete player. Alcaraz, too!
Again, thanks for the great analysis.
One question, Do you think it is Medvedev's lack of down the line backhands that hurt him? He just seems much less comfortable going down the line especially with low backhands.
I think the only one that I have seen dominate Djokovic in this regard is Wawrinka. He could hit down the line backhand and short cross court backhands at will. Even off of low balls, Wawrinka could make Djokovic pay.
Wawrinka won't be playing in 2028. But his backhand, in my eyes, was the only one that could stand up to the modern two hander and come out on top.
It might be time for all the one handers to clean up their strokes, too!
I started to think your forehand does not have lag and you are trying to find reasons that it is okay not to have one. Djokovic clearly has massive wrist lag. Only reason you think he does not is his strong semi-western, that allows him to execute lag without too much visible wrist extension.