Maybe the next time Viktor Troicki has to face Novak Djokovic, he should consider pulling a Jeneba Tarmoh, who withdrew today from her scheduled 100-meter run-off against Allyson Felix in the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials. Of course, Troicki, the 26-year-old Serbian, has never finished in a dead heat with Djokovic the way Tarmoh did with Felix.
Tarmoh gave up a chance to make the Olympic Games. Troicki missed out on a chance of reaching his first major quarterfinal when
he was thoroughly dispatched by his countryman, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3, in the fourth round of Wimbledon.
Djokovic has dropped only one set so far, and that's the total number of wins Troicki has in 13 matches against the world No. 1. His only victory against Djokovic occurred in their first pro match in Umag, Croatia, on clay in 2007.
John McEnroe summed up today's match perfectly when he said, "Troicki doesn't do a single thing better than Djokovic." Troicki did score a break in the first set, but Djokovic broke his 34th-ranked opponent three times in winning the set in 28 minutes.
Djokovic broke Troicki right away in the second set, and when he broke him again to take a 4-1 lead, Mike Tirico, announcing the match with McEnroe on ESPN, said, "The No.1 seed is in complete control." At that point, Djokovic had broken in four of Troicki's seven service games. The second set ended in 24 minutes.
"Complete control" is the dynamic of Djokovic-Troicki matches. Troicki repeatedly had to skip off the baseline, as his booming serves were returned back at his feet by Djokovic. Troicki tried to serve-and-volley a number of times, but was either passed outright or missed shoe-top volleys. With Troicki serving at 0-2, Djokovic hit three backhands with his opponent up at the net, one to his forehand side, the next to his backhand side, and then an outright winner past his forehand wing. Troicki looked helpless.
Troicki came into the match after playing two five-setters in the first three rounds, but at 6-foot-4 and 189 pounds, he lumbers around the court and arms his forehand way too much to give Djokovic any real competition. McEnroe said he thinks Troicki just doesn't see the ball early enough. But Djokovic was at his absolute best today, hitting 84 percent of his first serves at one point late in the third set, at an average of 121 M.P.H. He struck 31 winners to Troicki's 15. The defending champion covered the court like a gazelle armed with a Head racquet.
Troicki's best move of the match—after a fan yelled out to him, "Just hit an ace", as he prepared to serve in the third set—was to offer his racquet to the boisterous fan.