Bonjour friends. Yesterday I had to work so I couldn’t watch this match, but thank God I found some good highlights. The French Open doesn’t allow any highlight videos on Youtube due to copyright reasons, so I was worried that I may not even get to see highlights. The highlights I found was comprehensive though and I could get a good idea of where Roger’s game is at. And although this is just Devvarman I thought the 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 win was pretty impressive. Sure we can’t deduct much from a match against someone who has nothing at all to hurt Roger with, but we can deduct that Roger is feeling comfortable out there and striking the ball well. The important word here is efficient. It was just a clean, clinical performance where he once again conserved energy for the second week. It’s hard to impress against an opponent like Devvarman, but you can win as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
And that is just what Roger did. So you can’t ask much more of him. But there were some other good signs in this match. The first thing that was apparent was that Roger was hitting his backhand really well, especially his backhand down the line. I have always said that is a shot he hits well when he is confident. Against Devvarman he hit countless backhand down the line winners. The other thing that was noticeable was his attacking mindset in general. He was being aggressive on the return and looking to come in to the net. But we have seen this from Roger for a long time now. It’s nothing new. It shows that Roger is getting wiser as he gets older. He lost too many French Open finals in his prime against Nadal stubbornly trying to beat Nadal at his strength, which is from the base line. Just because it is clay doesn’t mean he should not play attacking tennis and become a clay court specialist.
If he does that he plays into the hands of the pushers. He must take things into his own hands. So it’s good to see him thinking ahead and practicing the things he will need later on in the event. Roger touched his back early in the second set which made it look like he had some discomfort in the area. A reader of my blog mentioned that his first serve percentage then went down, but went back up in the 3rd set when the sun came out. I see his first serve speed was also low at 180 kmh. So it does indeed look like his back was bothering him again, but only when it cooled down. The first serve percentage was good anyway at 62%, although not as good as it was in Rome. The winners to unforced errors were 54/33, while he won 19/30 points in the fore court. So overall another very clean and efficient performance.
There is a feeling now that Roger is motivated and confident to take advantage of his draw, and he wants to do so saving as much energy as possible in the process. This all started in Rome and it is good to see him keeping the momentum going and getting some help from the draw gods. The first two rounds were almost warm up matches though. In a sense the tournament starts now for Roger. He now faces Benneteau who he admitted in his presser can be an awkward opponent for him. Of course Benneteau really tested Roger at Wimbledon last year and beat him in Rotterdam this year. He also beat Roger in Paris in 2009. Personally I see this as time for revenge. Yet again you feel the draw gods have been on Roger’s side because Benneteau had a tough five set match with Kamke in the 2nd round. He will probably be tired and he is there for the taking.
I’d like to see Roger get this done in straight sets. If Roger beats Benneteau then he will play the winner of Querrey and Simon, who has been another tricky opponent for him in the past, although he destroyed him 6-2, 6-1 in Rome. It just feels like everything is falling into place for Roger. But like I said one match and one point at a time. No opponent can be taken lightly. Every opponent from here on can potentially cause an upset. As far as today goes Djokovic destroyed Pella 6-2, 6-0, 6-2 which was nice to see. He now faces Dimitrov again who had a pretty routine straight set win himself. Dimitrov is potentially a dangerous opponent for Djokovic but I think Djokovic wins in 4 sets here. Yesterday Monfils continued his good form as he took out Gulbis in four sets and Tsonga beat Niemenin in straight sets.
Good luck Rog!