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: