Paris RD 3: Federer def Pouille 6-4, 6-4, to Face Raonic in Quarter Finals

Hi there tennis fans. Roger kept a 14-match winning streak alive today as he routined Pouille to make the quarter finals in Bercy. I liked Pouille’s game, although the high toss on his serve won’t make things easy outside on a windy day. I think he will become another top player for the French but he’s still young and Roger didn’t need to play his best tennis to win fairly comfortably. Roger was never in trouble on his own serve and didn’t face any break points, while he broke Pouille in the seventh game of each set to get the win. I find matches like these boring but as long as Roger is winning you can’t complain. The match stats proves that Roger didn’t need a very high level to get the win and I wouldn’t worry about his 20% break point conversion rate. He just did what was needed. It was nice that he got this routine win after the long match with Chardy because it saves him energy.

He now plays Raonic who defeated Bautista-Agut. Roger leads the head-to-head 6-0 and the last three wins have been routine. It seems Roger just needed a few matches to figure Raonic out and now it’s easy going. It’s not like Raonic has a plan B once you figure out how to neutralize his massive serve. He is a one-dimensional player. Obviously you don’t want to become too comfortable and underestimate your opponent but it’s pretty hard to see Roger losing. I would be more worried is he has to face Berdych in the semis, who is playing against Anderson. Unbelievably Stan lost from 5-4 and 30-0 up on his serve in the third set against Anderson. I don’t want to take anything away from Anderson because he did well to win the second set and hang in the third set long enough to get the win, but it was ultimately due to Stan’s inability to close out the match that he won.

Stan’s game is basically in ruins since he won the Australian Open, but so what? I’m sure if he was given the choice to win the Australian Open and struggle for the rest of the year he would take it any day. He is still in the top four in the world and going to London. He also won Monte Carlo and made quarters at the French and Wimbledon. Stan is just very low right now and it doesn’t bode well for the Swiss’ Davis Cup chances. Maybe people understand a little better now why Davis Cup doesn’t mean an awful lot to me and why I’d much rather see Roger get the year end #1. In fact I forgot to mention it in my last post but Roger said after his match with Chardy that he would rather become world #1 again than win a slam. A lot of people were surprised by the answer but it’s not really that surprising given that you have to play consistently well over a twelve month period to become #1, whereas to win a slam you only have to play well for two weeks.

And maybe people understand a little better now why I made such a big deal of #1. I think it would be unbelievable if Roger becomes #1 at age 33 again. When Roger lost in the Wimbledon final many Fedfans were shattered but I kept believing that it just wasn’t meant to be at the time and that Roger would still get his reward. Well that reward may just be the year end #1, and yes I think it would help his GOAT claim as much as a slam would. Think about it this way: You can win a slam but not be #1, but it’s very hard to be #1 without winning a slam. Rios is the only #1 I can remember who did not win a slam, but there were many players who won slams without becoming #1. Ivanisevic, Johansson, Krajicek, and Korda, just to name a few off the top of my head. Then you have Stan and Cilic who won slams this year and still have chances to become #1, but probably won’t.

Stan is a great example because he won a slam but look how poorly he fared since. Murray may be the best example because he has won two slams and yet he has never been #1. To become #1 takes tremendous consistency which is possibly harder than winning a slam. In fact it is harder if you look at how many players that won slams became #1, as apposed to players who became #1 that did not win slams. Becoming #1 is harder than winning a slam which is why Roger said what he said. It is not rocket science. The only reason why winning a slam seems to be so important is because people tend to remember who won slams, whereas weeks at #1 are less remembered. I think weeks at #1 is underrated and should hold more prestige than the amount of slams you win. Roger has already occupied the top spot for the most consecutive weeks and most weeks in total.

The only thing he doesn’t have is the record for year end #1’s which Sampras holds at six years. It’s not the year end #1 that is so important though. If Roger became #1 again it would be significant because of his age. Actually if Roger wins Paris and Djokovic does not make the final he will be #1 for at least two weeks, since the Masters Cup points come off before the tournament starts. Roger has already spent 302 weeks in the top sport which is unbelievable. Adding to that would just cement his status as the GOAT. I said earlier this year that if Roger won a record eighth Wimbledon title it would make him the undisputed GOAT in my mind. Well if he returns to #1 it would achieve the same thing. Certainly becoming #1 should not hold any less prestige than winning a slam, and this would be the fourth time Roger scales those heights. So I am really hoping Roger can get it because in a way that would be better than if he had won Wimbledon this year.

And the first thing he has to do to get is is to out perform Djokovic in Paris. Djokovic now plays Murray who destroyed Dimitrov 6-3, 6-3 and by doing so qualified for London. As I said before, he is too good not to be there. He looks to be back in great form and it is not impossible that he can defeat Djokovic. All the pressure is off after successfully completing his campaign of qualifying for London and he can now go out there and swing freely with nothing to lose. Even if Djokovic wins he could be in for a potentially very difficult semi against Nishikori. Nishikori looked very solid again in his win over Tsonga and I think he will take care of Ferrer. So it is a tough road to the final for Djokovic and Roger has to make sure he keeps winning. He must beat Raonic and preferably without expending too much energy because he could have a potentially difficult match with Berdych in the semis.

Chum Jetze!

 

Highlights:

Federer Survives Tough Test from Chardy to Make Paris Third Round

Hi guys. Isn’t it nice to see Roger in action for consecutive weeks? Especially with him playing this well? The 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 6-4 win over Chardy was clearly not a straight forward one, but the people who claim Roger played badly are delusional at best. Chardy was on fire and is a very destructive player when that is the case. He has a huge serve and forehand. How on earth did Roger play badly if he defeated him? It is just astonishing what utter nonsense people can come up with. What do people expect anyway? That Roger should show up at every tournament and peak from beginning to end? That is not how it works. It takes time to adjust to the new conditions and you try to peak later in the event against the best players. Chardy had already played a match while this was Roger’s first. So Chardy had the advantage of being better adjusted. For one thing these courts are slow and the bounce is high.

Very unfortunate that the ATP keeps doing this but it is what it is. Indoor tennis used to be played on carpet, but nowadays they have  surfaces that plays more like indoor clay. Too bad for Nadal he sat Paris out yet again. He probably would have loved this surface. It certainly is not what indoor tennis used to be but that was not gonna stop the GOAT. These days there isn’t much that can stop the GOAT. It seems he has forgotten how to lose and is not only winning all the routine matches but the close ones as well. Since that match with Mayer in Shanghai Roger has been especially impressive in the mental department. He gets through all the close ones even when he is not at his best. It’s like they say: winning is a habit. It’s the opposite situation of what we had last year when losing seemed to be a habit with Roger. It just goes to show the importance of confidence and momentum in tennis.

Pretty decent match stats in the end

Roger came out cold as he got broken in his opening service game and fell behind 0-3. Chardy on the other hand came out hot after his first round win and was smoking that forehand. It really is quite a delicious shot to watch when in full flow. Chardy even had a break point at 4-1 for the insurance break, and if he had won that point the first set would surely have been over. But Roger played a very solid point and then held serve. Then at 5-3 with Chardy serving for the set Roger broke back to 15 after a forehand return winner. As we have seen so regularly from Roger of late he breaks back in the nick of time to steal a set. This has happened at least a couple of times since Shanghai and therefor it has very little to do with luck, and everything to do with confidence and self belief. After Roger broke back he then faced three set points on his own serve. And again that would not have been the first time that happened since Shanghai.

You almost expect him to save those set points now. He is just mentally extremely solid. It has to be said that there was some poor tennis in there as well from Roger, but nothing that cost him too much. It was just mental adjustment after the two day break and coming down from the high of the tournament win in Basel I think. Some sloppy play at times but like I said nothing that cost him much. At 5-5 Roger then broke serve himself, to love, and served for the set at 6-5. Again he played kind of a sloppy game and this time it was Chardy who broke him to force the tie break. It wasn’t the highest of quality tennis in the first set but exciting and enjoyable because it was not predictable. In the tie break Chardy dropped his serve on the opening point and I don’t think he ever recovered from there. Once Roger won the opening set it was difficult to bet against him winning the match, but it certainly wasn’t all straight forward from there.

Yep, it was that kind of day

In the second set it was Roger who set up two match points at 40-15 after some ridiculous defensive play on the Chardy serve. This time it was Chardy who saved the match points though and the second set would be decided by a tie break as well. Roger got the early mini break but Chardy broke back and at 6-5 he blasted a forehand winner to break serve and win the second set. It was all squared but Roger wasted no time in taking control of the match again as he broke in the opening game of the third set. At 3-1 Roger had a chance to get the insurance break, a lot like Chardy did in the first set, but Chardy saved it. Unlike Chardy in the first set though Roger was not gonna let him back in the match and served out the match to love at 5-4. All in all it was a very entertaining match with many twists and turns but with Roger’s mental fortitude winning at the end of the day once more.

Roger will now play local player Pouille who pulled off the upset over the crazy Fognini. I watched some of that match and even though Fognini did his usual clown act by losing the second set from 5-2 up, Pouille did a good job and I like the look of his game. I’m looking forward to his match with Roger today and since he is a relative unknown him and Roger have never played before. Other results of interest yesterday were that Stan won his first match for some time which I’m sure Roger will be relieved about. The only other seed than Fognini who lost was Isner who lost to Monfils who will now play Djokovic. Djokovic looked very solid in his win over Kohlschreiber and despite the fact that he has a much tougher draw than Roger he could win this title. The slowish conditions favors him which is why I kind of hope he loses before the final. Or Roger’s year end #1 hopes could suffer a fatal blow…

Highlights:

Federer Clinches 6th Basel Title and Closes in on Year End Number One

Hey folks. I had an emergency at work today and couldn’t really enjoy this title from Roger but maybe I can do that now by making a post. The final was a mismatch as I suspected it could be, but I didn’t want to sound too self-assured in my preview post. Due to the situation I was in I couldn’t really enjoy the match but like I said it was a bit of a mismatch anyway as Roger blew Goffin off the court in only 51 minutes. Goffin has a pretty nice game but as I said in my last post he just doesn’t have the weapons to hurt Roger. I don’t see him ever being a top 10 player either. Maybe he can hang around in the top 30 somewhere, although there are more and more young talent coming through. Roger’s most impressive matches in this tournament were against Dimitrov and Karlovic. He also had to work very hard against Istomin, and he no doubt deserved this title.

All in all I thought it was a very impressive tourney from Roger especially from a mental standpoint. And then of course he played some beautiful attacking tennis as well. I see the final more as a reward for the hard work he put in during the week. And it comes at an opportune time because it helps Roger to stay fresh and ready for Paris this week. So in the end things have worked out really well and Roger is now 6-5 in Basel finals. It was also nice that Nadal got humiliated by a 17-year old and that Brennwald’s big investment in him failed. This is also Roger’s 82nd title as he keeps closing in on 100 titles and he also achieved his goal of 5 titles for this year. So aside from not winning a slam it has already been a successful year. Lets face it, the slams are the most important thing.

Enjoy Brennmug! #karmaisabitch

But it is not the only thing and Roger still has chances at slams if he keeps his current form up. The most important thing is the present moment. If Roger can win the Masters Cup and end the year as number one it will go a long way towards helping him win a slam next year. Remember in 2011 when Roger won the triple in Basel, Paris, and London and then he went on to win a slam in 2012? And given how close Roger was to winning a slam this year it is even more important that he ends the year well and set himself up well for 2015. It is hard to predict how things will play out because Nadal will probably come back from his injury next year and play like superman out of nowhere again, and the normal pattern is that Roger slumps when Nadal rises and vice versa.

Roger is having a superb 2014 by his current standards and that makes you think that he can slump again in 2015. But there are things that make you think he can keep his current form up too, like the fact that he seems to have solved his back problem, found the ideal coach, changed his racquet and playing style, etc. Nadal is now on 14 slams and I think this is where this whole GOAT debate gets very interesting. Nadal is now within striking distance of Roger’s record and Roger knows that. I think the rivalry is heating up more than ever. Nadal for instance made a dig at Roger when he said the Davis Cup this year is weak and Roger hit right back after Nadal’s upset in Basel, saying that Nadal should not be losing to someone he has never seen play himself and that he doesn’t understand Nadal’s choices.

Champions don’t whine. They win.

If you ever thought these two guys were friends think again. In fact Nadal recently confirmed that they aren’t friends. Roger already predicted a long time ago at the Hit for Haiti in Indian Wells with Nadal, Sampras, and Agassi that things will heat up between him and Nadal towards the end. Well I believe we have now reached that point and things are already heating up. Nadal may be in charge of the head-to-head but Roger is in charge of the slam titles and he is not gonna just sit back and watch Nadal catch him. He wants to win at least one more slam himself and do whatever it takes to stop Nadal from catching him. I think next year at the Australian Open Roger will already have a great chance of winning another slam because he will have a top two ranking and Nadal may not yet be up to speed after his disastrous indoor season.

But like I said the present moment is the most important and now all the attention goes to Paris where Roger has a good draw. His potential opponents are Chardy, Karlovic/Fognini, Raonic/Agut, Berdych, Djokovic/Murray/Nishikori. Roger will only play on Wednesday and by then he should be fresh and ready to go. If recent form is anything to go by Roger will win this tournament especially if Djokovic doesn’t make the final. I put Nishikori and Murray as possible opponents for Roger if he makes the final because it’s hard to predict what kind of form Djokovic will be in after the birth of his baby. We know Nishikori beat Djokovic at the US Open and Murray just won his third title in five events after beating Robredo in the Valencia final. He is up to 5th in the race and it is nice to see that he will surely now qualify for London with his late run.

Pizza party time!

He is too good a player not to be there. I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes a deep run in Paris either. With four spots still available in London this should be an interesting event and of course for Roger it is important to do better than Djokovic to keep his year end #1 hopes alive. As far as the draw and the current form of him and Djokovic goes the odds certainly seem to be in favor of him doing so. Ideally I want to see Roger win Paris and London and end the year #1. As far as Davis Cup goes that would be more like a nice bonus if he can get it. Getting the year end #1 would be a terrific reward after missing out by such a small margin on the Wimbledon title this year. That would come right after a slam title for me and ahead of the Masters Cup. But a lot of pressure is now released with Roger winning Basel and reaching his goal of five titles for 2014.

It sets us up for a very enjoyable and interesting rest of the season!

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