Just to clarify - some seem to be saying Andy's game was actually in decline during his run to no1?
That isn't what I was saying.
I raised questions about court positioning a little bit during the grass season, and repeated them again after Cincy. Other than the Dimitrov match and the first set of the QF Andy's court positioning at the USO was not that strong and he definitely seemed to take a step or two backwards in the second half of the season.
I was not able to watch Beijing, but saw everything else from Shanghai-WTF and it seemed to me that Andy's incredible defence and returning underpinned what he did in the autumn. The second serve held up pretty well during that time even though his FSP was below 60% the majority of the time.
There were some horribly scrappy matches against Simon, Verdasco, Berdych, Isner, Nishikori, and Raonic during that time, but he stepped it up a the right moments. Andy didn't always use much of his attacking variety during that time - the Berdych, Nishikori and Raonic matches stand out in my mind because those are all players who said how hard they were finding handling Andy's variety in 2015.
Conversely I think it was possible for Andy to have had his best results without playing his best tennis as much as it seemed he was. Andy's best matches in 2016 were I think the two against Stan. Court positioning was fantastic in both.
I definitely never used the word 'declined' or 'regressed' - though I did reply to a post which did use this word in this thread - my biggest concern was with court positioning, and since the beginning of 2017 with the significant drop in second serve points won.
Because of the court positioning I had concerns that Andy would struggle with Mischa's net game because it would take time away from Andy off the ground - he didn't respond well to being rushed in Doha, or by Marchenko. Andy likes to construct points, that takes time, but if a player rushes him he's not adjusting at the moment.
Which is why I questioned what Andy had worked on over the off-season - obvious improvements in 2015 and 2016, but the only thing I can see is Andy running around the ball quite a bit to hit a forehand, which I guess is a Lendl hallmark, but it doesn't look fluid at the moment, something about the movement and rotation looks very awkward, almost in slow motion at times.
This fourth round match was so much about court positioning, Andy played 145 points at the baseline, winning 61 there, Mischa played 71 points at the baseline, winning 34 there, so Mischa actually won a higher percentage of baseline points - 48% to 42% - he played 119 S&V points winning 59%. Andy played just 3 S&V points, and won 2. He basically only came up to the net when Mischa forced him there, which was quite a lot, but Andy didn't take the net away from Mischa when Andy was serving.