Hi, friends. I haven’t had time to read all the comments of late but what I’ve seen is that some people are quite concerned about Roger’s win over Tursunov while others are quite happy about it. I fall into the latter group. First of all it’s hard to be concerned after Roger won. And it’s even harder to be concerned when he beat an inspired opponent in four sets. I don’t think Tursunov can play any better, but that should be no surprise given how many players seem to play their best tennis against Roger. How many times have we seen players in the zone against Roger and beating him? Many times in the last few years. The big difference in 2014 is that Roger is still winning those matches and winning them ugly if he has to. Roger is past his prime and can’t just school all comers the way he used to, so he has to find a way of winning despite not being at his best.
And that is exactly what he did against Tursunov. Despite a dismal break point conversion rate of 4/21 he served up a storm and found a way to get it done in four sets. Brilliant. I was really proud of my player for the way he fought through a rampant opponent and found a way to get the job done. Especially the way he came back in the third and fourth sets after losing the second set on a tie-break. The final score was 7-5, 6-7(7), 6-2, 6-4. Roger played a solid tie-break, but Tursunov finally came up with a scorching winner that made the difference. Just too good and nothing to have regrets over. And clearly Roger did not have any regrets as he won the next set by two breaks and the final set by another break. Granted Roger wasted even more break points than he did in the first two rounds, but who cares given the score line?
If anything this was another very encouraging performance from Roger. Roger lacked matches since Monte Carlo, so is the rust that he is showing really such a surprise? Taking your break point opportunities have to do with match fitness and confidence. But since Roger don’t have those at this point the second best option is to win despite not having them. What more can you do? Then you either play yourself into confidence and match fitness or you lose and try again. It’s that simple. Roger is doing the best he can do at this point. So far, I would say he has done the necessary in every match. Nothing more, nothing less. How can you fault him for winning? Of course, that doesn’t guarantee him a win against Gulbis, but if he keeps doing the necessary it logically follows that he will win again.
Roger does not come into the French Open with his usual two warm-up events or a final in Rome. He played Monte Carlo which is the first of the clay court events and then lost in the first round of Rome. Considering that I think he is actually doing very well. I guess this is a point where I and some of my readers differ like night and day. I am realistic but positive. To me, it seems like many Fedfans are unrealistic but negative. They expect Roger to do the impossible, but they are all too ready to criticize him. I don’t expect Roger to do the impossible, and I praise the little victories. This is why I don’t believe in creating expectations because it causes disappointment and negativity. Just go day by day and round by round and enjoy every step of the way. I simply cannot be negative over a win.
Roger is my favorite and I will always give him the benefit of the doubt. I just can’t get myself to criticize him when he has won. Especially after digging so deep and showing so much heart. It was clear that he was struggling somewhat out there and that things were not quite going his way, but he found a way and for that I have nothing but admiration. I will also give Roger the benefit of the doubt against Gulbis. I refuse to be negative and say that his form against Tursunov means he will lose to Gulbis. For that, I believe too much in my player. I will only accept defeat after the two have shaken hands at the net and Roger came out the loser. This will be the attitude of any true Fedfan. No doubt Roger is in for a difficult match against Gulbis, who had another impressive win against Stepanek.
But before the French Open started Gulbis had a negative win-loss record in slams while Roger became the first man to have at least 60 wins in all four slams when he beat Schwartzman. Think about that for a second. Clearly Gulbis lacks consistency, especially at slam level, while Roger lacks anything but consistency. Of course Gulbis can beat Roger, but it is very far from guaranteed. The way some people make it sound Roger has already lost. The win against Tursunov may have been exactly what Roger needed before playing Gulbis to give him self-belief and confidence. Personally I wouldn’t be surprised if he puts in a very efficient performance and defeats Gulbis in four sets. The main thing is to tidy up his break point conversion rate. As far as the match stats against Tursunov goes, let me also remind me that it was the first match his winners outnumbered his unforced errors.
And then of course the serving stats were impeccable. The volley stats were decent too. So once you take the dismal break point conversion rate away it was actually very good match stats. The fact that Roger created 21 break point opportunities is already a promising stat. Now he just has to convert more of them. If he does that against Gulbis he will win. As for the rest of the draw, Djokovic had a tough 6-3, 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-4 win over Cilic. I never rated Cilic but since he hired Ivanisevic as his coach he has become a very competent player. He played out of his mind against Djokovic and in the end Djokovic did well to shut him down in four sets. It was also ironic that after playing so well that Cilic served a double fault on match point. The negative ones will say that Nadal is now the clear favorite to win the French Open.
The way I see it Djokovic did well to get it done in four sets and he learned an important lesson that may serve him well if he faces Nadal in the final, which is that he was being too passive. Djokovic has a much harder draw than Nadal, but it may end up costing Nadal the title. Djokovic is being thoroughly tested while Nadal has a cakewalk draw. Berdych had a good win over Bautista-Agut as well while Isner did the same against Robredo. Those two will now face off for a place in the quarter finals against the winner of Roger and Gulbis. Things are getting interesting. Today Nadal will be in action against Mayer who will probably get utterly destroyed by Nadal while Murray is playing Kohlschreiber which will be interesting. Well, I’m gonna stop here. This post has already gotten long.