Darth Fed Uses the Force to Slay Groth for US Open Third Round Berth

First of all it was nice to see the real Darth Fed back with black shoes and black socks. And this time The Force was strong with him as there were no lapses in concentration or third set tie-breaks in a routine 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory.  The Michael Jordan ‘exho’ was fun and all but it was time to get down to business and make the night his own again. I got up once more for this one but this time my stream was very poor and I had to leave early. It was only when I caught up with the highlights on Youtube that I could get a feel for what was really going on. And again I found myself delighted and impressed with Darth Fed’s play. He has just looked the part so far and I’m sure the title in Cincy did his confidence wonders. Again his backhand was looking like prime level and there were some more moments of pure genius that could only be done by someone who had mastery over The Force.

I mean Darth Vader himself would have been proud. The return at 5-3 and 0-30 was particularly impressive. It reminded me of the return from Darth Fed off a 140 mph monster from Roddick also at the US Open. But this was better in my opinion. Darth Fed off the stretch on his backhand off a 142 mph bomb from Groth, and then the control to just block it back for a scorching winner was ridiculous. Many people will call it luck, but luck explains little. Roger pulls off impossible shots with regularity and calling it luck makes little sense. Then at 5-4 and 15-0 in the second set comes the point of the match where Darth Fed pulls off another miraculous shot where he lobs Groth for a winner on the stretch. The control is just something to marvel at. Finally at 1-1 in the third set and advantage to Groth Darth Fed pulls off another wonderful lob and follows it into the net to finish with a volley winner.

Those were of course not the only moments of brilliance from the mighty Darth Fed but just some I thought worth mentioning. This was the first time I caught a glimpse of Groth and he does indeed have a very powerful serve. The fact that Darth Fed won in straight sets without the need to enter a tie-break shows once more that he is probably the best returner of big serves in the world. He just has a lightning fast eye and he blocks those returns back with sublime timing and precision. Groth isn’t just a big serve though. The rest of his game is pretty good. In the first set, Darth Fed got the break in the seventh game and at 5-4 he served out the first set to love. Then in the second set Darth Fed had the ideal start as he broke in the opening game, only to get broken right back. As I didn’t watch the match I can’t really comment on how Darth Fed got broken, but I don’t see it as a big deal.

What matters to me is that he broke again which he did in the tenth game this time. Darth Fed is the one that then got broken first in the third set in the sixth game, and this time he was the one that broke straight back. I thought that at least this set could head into a tie-break but at 4-4 and game point against him Darth Fed hit a terrific little backhand angled chip return winner that got him back in the game, and on break point Groth double faulted. Darth Fed then served out the match to 15 with an ace. I realize I didn’t see much of the match, but I still feel there is a certain confidence about Roger’s play that I haven’t seen in a very long time. There just seems to be a certain crispness about his strokes. His still backhand looked fantastic and his forehand looked great too. He hit some terrific inside out winners on that side.

He was back…

The serve was in fine shape as always and the winners almost doubled the unforced errors. And this time the break point conversion rate was good. The returns and volleys were great too. For a second round match, this was just the performance you would have hoped for. Roger got the match done in under two hours and there were no scares of losing a set. So no mental or physical stress and no unnecessary energy expended. Roger will next play Granollers and not Karlovic as many a Fedfan feared, which was why I picked Granollers as a possible opponent for Roger for the third round in my draw post. Granollers did a good job of beating Karlovic in five sets. Granollers and Roger have played twice before, both times in Dubai and both times with Roger getting the routine win.

I don’t expect anything to be different this time around. So once again Roger’s draw has worked out well for him knowing that he won’t be up against the massive serve of Karlovic, but Granollers deserves to be where he is and shouldn’t be underestimated. As for the rest of the draw, Fognini tanked against Mannarino so he is already gone, and Mannarino will play Bautista-Agut to find out who faces the winner of Roger and Granollers. Monfils and Gasquet both had straight set wins too and their meeting in the next round could be interesting. Then Dimitrov and in-form Goffin had easy wins and their meeting could be one of the highlights of round four. My countryman Anderson had a good win over Janowicz too and I am happy for him after what happened in Toronto where he choked big time against Dimitrov.

Entertainerer was back too!

He plays Cilic now though which won’t be easy. Then Thiem took out his friend Gulbis in five sets and will play Lopez for a place in the last sixteen. Finally in the bottom half Berdych is still alive, all be it only just after a five set escape against Klizan. Berdych should have gained confidence from that win and now faces Gabashvili. So you would expect him to make the fourth round at least, but then he could face Lopez who he has a 4-6 head-to-head record against. Ferrer is probably still the favorite to come through in that quarter of the draw, but it is pretty open. It could be any of Berdych, Lopez, Cilic, or Ferrer. Or maybe even a surprise semi-finalist. Then in the top half Djokovic is still at his lethal best as he first swept aside Mathieu 6-1, 6-3, 6-0, and then Querrey 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. Also Kohlschreiber removed a danger for Djokovic in Isner, so things are all of a sudden looking much better for Djokovic.

He is now the biggest threat to Roger winning #18 in New York for me again, although I guess Tsonga or Murray have their own plans. Murray has not looked particularly impressive so far though and he could lose to Tsonga, even though he possesses a 9-2 head-to-head lead over Tsonga. Tsonga won his last two matches in straights after dropping a set to Monaco in the first round, while Murray has dropped two sets against lesser known players. So I am slightly favoring Tsonga in what should be a fourth round highlight no doubt. Other than that Stan had a walk over over Kavcic and will now play the seasoned veteran Robredo who keeps impressing after defeating very promising youngster Kyrgios in four sets after dropping the first set. I watched a big chunk of this match and after being very impressed with Kyrgios early on he faded away in the end.

Darth Fed’s defensive lobbing was a feature of his play

I missed the point but according to Jiten Kyrgios missed an easy overhead at 4-3 and break point in the third set, so it seems his inexperience cost him the match there. No doubt he is a huge prospect for the future though. He has a terrific serve and all court game and he looks very confident and clutch too. He just needs to mature a bit still from the looks of things. So Robredo now faces Stan which should be another very interesting fourth round encounter. Finally Raonic vs Nishikori is another fourth round match to look forward to. The top half have shaped up nicely but Djokovic does look like the favorite to come through it at this point. It looks like Roger will have to do it the hard way if he is going to win #18 here. But Djokovic still has tough matches ahead in the next few round so who knows.

 

Highlights: The return is at 1:47, the point of the match at 4:03, and another great defensive lob at 5:04.

Yet another amazing lob: 

Presser: 

http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2014-08-29/201408291409369382967.html

Schedule:

http://www.usopen.org/en_US/scores/schedule/index.html?promo=topnav

Federer Entertains in Tricky US Open First Round

Hi, folks. Roger is safely into the second round of the 2014 US Open, but with more difficulty than expected. I tried to watch the match, but my laptop wouldn’t pick up my wi-fi network, so I didn’t see much. From the highlights and other sources, I gather that both Roger and Matosevic played very well, other than the third set mental slump from Roger. From what I saw Matosevic played much better than I thought he would, but from what I saw Roger played really well too. He was up to his old brilliance with one or two unbelievable shots, and his backhand looked to be back to peak level. In many ways, he looked like the Roger of old, which was very encouraging and positive. As I expected the title in Cincy boosted his confidence, and I am liking his chances to win #18 here even more.

The problem is Djokovic clearly can’t be written off either, but more about that later. I don’t think the relatively close scoreline of 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4) for a first round is anything to worry about. If Roger didn’t slip up in the third set this would have been a routine win, and like I said from what I saw Matosevic was actually playing really well. The first two sets were routine with a break for Roger in each, and in the third set Roger broke again to take a 4-3 lead. From what I hear there was then an incident where Matosevic looked up to Roger’s box where Michael Jordan was sitting and shouted ‘I want to be like Mike!’ Personally I find that funny but apparently Roger did not as he got distracted and handed the break back to Matosevic. They headed into a tie break which thankfully Roger won relatively easily.

Never turn your back on a Federer tweener…

As this was a first round match not much can be concluded from it as usual and I won’t make much of the fact that Roger handed back his serve to Matosevic after having broken. The score really should have been 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, but the tie-break could have been a good thing in the end to help Roger sharpen his mental game. The important thing was not to drop the third set and there he was successful. The first round is just a settler and this match had more of an exho feel about it with Jordan being in attendance. Roger even pulled off another epic tweener. He hit it after the lob from Matosevic was out, but what made it epic was that he hit Matosevic right on the butt after Matosevic had already turned around. That was really entertaining and Jordan had a good laugh about it. It really was a treat to have the basketball GOAT in attendance, even though I didn’t see much.

From a personal standpoint, Jordan is one of my biggest sports idols. I was watching the NBA playoffs when I was in college in the States and Jordan won the sixth title with The Chicago Bulls. I remember very well that lost shot he took to win the championship for The Bulls. Anyway, it was nice to see the two GOATs finally meeting and of course Jordan was a huge idol of Roger when he was growing up as well. In conclusion, the match with Matosevic was very positive for a first round. Roger would not have been on his mental game yet, but the breaker in the third will put him in a good mental state for his next match. Also, I loved the overall impression I got from Roger. He just looked very confident and relaxed out there, exactly what I expected and hope for. Now to get back to Djokovic.

The two GOATs sat down for a chat

I felt that he was not necessarily gonna be much of a factor this year in New York and said that he could lose before the final. Sure it is still possible, but I was just reminded what a dangerous and quality player he is and that the early losses in Toronto and Cincy could have been just the wake-up call that he needed before the big one. Sure Djokovic have only won the US Open once and he just got married, but he is way too dangerous to write off. The danger is there that he can do to Roger what he did to him at Wimbledon if they both make the final which would be kind of devastating, but it is way too early to worry about that. As far as the match stats go for Roger the serve stats were top notch and the overall stats were good, aside from the break point conversions which are too early to mean anything.

Roger will play Groth next on Friday who he has never faced before.

 

Match Stats:

Tweener:

Highlights: http://www.usopen.org/en_US/video/2014-08-26/laj_gspf39waubt8ocdqll8qaz61juww.html?promo=right_rail

Ps. Roger and Jordan did a shoe promotion thing for Nike so Roger was wearing a pair of Air Jordans for tennis. I thought they looked pretty nice but I much prefer Darth Fed with the black shoes and socks.

Thoughts?

US Open Schedule Out – Top Half Will Play First

http://www.usopen.org/en_US/scores/schedule/index.html?promo=subnav

Hi, folks. The US Open schedule for day 1 is out and the top half will play first, which, of course, means no Roger. Roger will probably play on Tuesday then as there is no Nadal in the draw. That gives Roger one more day of rest after the physically taxing weeks he had in Toronto and Cincy. Even though that means Roger will have a packed schedule from Tuesday onward I definitely think this is for the best. Roger just seems to be in the flow right now and everything is working out for him. Already the draw has worked out very well for him, which is what I’d like to get into in more depth in this post. In my first draw post, I didn’t focus as much on the draw because I didn’t want to look too far ahead as there was too much hype for me about Roger’s apparent easy draw. But since the hype has subsided slightly I want to take a closer look at the draw.

Roger opens his campaign against Matosevic who he played against once before in Brisbane this year and won 6-1, 6-1. Matosevic has been in the top 50 and is a decent player, but he hasn’t been in the greatest form of late. He should be the ideal first round opponent for Roger to get adjusted and settled. I am quite looking forward to seeing how Roger deals with Matosevic after his recent Masters title. Roger must be brimming with confidence and this could get ugly for Matosevic. Should Roger progress he will face Groth or Ramos-Vinolas. Roger have never played Groth and he played Ramos-Vinolas once in the first round of Wimby 2012 and beat him 6-1, 6-1, 6-1. I haven’t seen Groth, but I think he has a big serve which Roger is very good at handling anyway. So really as far as the first two rounds go Roger has the ideal start.

He has an extra day of rest and then shouldn’t have to expend much energy in his first two matches. You’d expect him to win both in straight sets given his recent form. Then Roger’s third round match will probably be on Sunday and there he can face Karlovic who could potentially be tricky. But again Roger is so good at dealing with big servers like we saw in Cincy against Raonic again and should he face Karlovic he could well get another straight set win. The points will be short anyway and it won’t be very physical. Roger could go into the second week without having dropped a set if he keeps his recent form up. If he does that he will still be very fresh for the second week. In the fourth round, he will probably play Bautista-Agut or Fognini, which should be a very comfortable match for him if Roger’s recent form is anything to go by.

There’s that sweet outfit again

Neither player possess any significant weapons and can be overpowered by Roger in quick time. I expect Roger to still be very fresh come quarter finals time. And he needs to be because then he could have a potentially tough match with Dimitrov or Monfils. Even though Roger performed very consistently of late he has had some long three setters in Toronto and Cincy and you never know when he could just be slightly off his best, in which case Dimitrov or Monfils could potentially make things difficult for him. I don’t expect him to lose to either of them, but he doesn’t want to expend too much energy. If he drops one set that would be fine, but five sets could potentially count against him in the semis or final. I’m not even sure who Roger could face in the semis. That third quarter is quite open.

I’d expect Ferrer to get through but what if he gets upset? Then it could be just about anyone. I don’t expect much from Berdych as he has been in dire form of late which again is good fortune for Roger. I guess any one of Cilic, Lopez, and Gulbis also have their chances to make semis. Probably Cilic is the second favorite to make it after Ferrer. Roger owns Ferrer 16-0 now and it’s very hard to see him beat Roger in New York. Cilic could potentially be tough, but again for a semi-final opponent in a slam it has to be considered a pretty damn nice draw. Gulbis can be a danger too, but I don’t expect Roger to lose to any of these if he gets this far. Probably the quarter finals will be Roger’s biggest test before the final, assuming he gets there. That brings us to the top half of the draw.

The top half is much tougher than the bottom half. You have Djokovic, Isner, Murray, and Tsonga all in one quarter, and then you have Nishikori and Raonic in the other. I would imagine Raonic will come through in that quarter. In the semis, it is hard to predict who he will face. Most people will say Djokovic, but I am not so sure. He hasn’t looked very good at all in Toronto and Cincy. I know that doesn’t necessarily mean much and that Djokovic could make the final, but for me his chances are about equal with Tsonga and Murray. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he is upset by Isner. Tsonga looked great in Toronto and Murray looked to be on the brink of something good before Roger halted his progress in Cincy. I find that quarter really tough to call and it will make for interesting viewing.

Roger looked calm but confident in his presser

 For Roger’s sake, it would probably be the best if Djokovic does not make the final. But then again it would give him the opportunity to reverse the Wimby final result. I just think Murray or Tsonga would be slightly less dangerous, simply because Djokovic is a better player. Whatever the case may be Roger couldn’t have asked for a better draw and it does look like he might well win #18 here. It is an exciting time for Fedfans and how special it would be if Roger lifts the trophy in about two weeks from now. But we have to remember that Roger still has to make the final, and whoever waits there will probably be battle hardened given the draw while Roger could lack a serious challenge. I am just happy with the current situation and Roger seems relaxed and at peace too. Everything is going well for him with his new family, new coach, and new racquet.

I have said plenty of times that the new low of 2013 could well be what propels Roger to a new high and that it was necessary if Roger was gonna win #18. It sure would be amazing if Roger wins a sixth US Open and hold the record for most US Open titles all by himself. That would be unbelievable, not to mention that he would be in the running to return to the top spot of the rankings. But between Roger and that new high stands an abyss of two weeks of the toughest opposition in world tennis which he first has to cross.

Good luck champ!

 

Roger’s pre-tournament presser: 

http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2014-08-23/201408231408824319349.html

Update: Somehow I completely forgot about Stan. Even though he has been horribly inconsistent since winning the Australian Open it is not out of the question that he can make semis or final even. He certainly has the ability to do so, but it’s unlikely given his lack of consistency of late.