The match against Andreev turned out to be a more tricky affair than I thought it would be, but only because Roger is low on confidence at the moment. Roger got the break at 2-1 in the first set to go up 3-1, yet he managed to lose serve twice before the end of the first set. When he does that it’s a sure sign that he is struggling for form. In the second set however he got the break early as he usually does when he is in trouble. He broke Andreev once more to take the second set and even the match up. When I joined the action Roger was 2-1 down in the third set having just been broken. My heart sank slightly. I wasn’t even going to be surprised if Roger lost this match, but as usual his aura and experience would pull him through this one.
When Andreev served to consolidate the break, he opened with two double faults, which helped Roger to break right back. Then at 3-3 Andreev would get another chance to break, and Roger hit a pretty shocking drop shot, which should have been an easy put away for Andreev. Yet he overhit the forehand into the open court. I guess Andreev couldn’t believe that Roger would play such a shot on break point down, which made him miss the forehand. Or maybe it was just Roger’s aura. Not surprisingly then Roger broke Andreev in the next game to go up 5-3. But again he couldn’t capitalize and Andreev evened up the set at 5-5. And yet again Andreev would break to take the lead 6-5. Clearly neither player felt confident enough to capitalize on their advantages.
At 6-5 and 40-30 Andreev held a set point, but he would dump a forehand into the net after a short slice from Roger. Wasn’t the worst play from Roger, as Andreev has a very wristy forehand which makes it harder for him to get under the ball. Andreev would however generate two more set points, but on both occasions made forehand unforced errors. Finally Federer generated a break point himself, but after a forehand down the line from Andreev was called long, Andreev challenged and the ball turned out to be a millimeter in. Again Roger was hating hawk eye, yet when the point was replayed, he still managed to break. This of course meant it was tie break time. Many people would say that Andreev choked, and I would have to agree with them.
Roger lost the opening point on his serve in the tie break, but after that he didn’t look back as he only dropped one more point to win the breaker 7-2. Some people would say that Andreev choked, and I would have to agree with them. But it’s no coincidence that so many players seem to choke against the likes of Roger and Rafa. Roger has built up an aura over the years which makes him harder to beat. So people can’t take credit away from Roger by saying that Andreev choked, because not everyone is able to win 15 slams. In the final set it was more like the Roger we know, as he bageled Andreev. At times today Roger played like he did in that terrible match against Davydenko in Doha, miss hitting forehands out of nowhere and not moving very well.
It has to be said though that Andreev has an awkward game to play against. He hits with a lot of spin which is not easy to control. I feel that once again Roger’s serve was key and got him out of trouble when he really needed it. You gotta respect how Roger can come up with big serves when it really matters. In the end I’m pretty happy with this performance, especially taking into account that Andreev is ranked 37 in the world, and this was a tough match up in the first round. I think Roger lacks confidence and this will definitely help, knowing that he came through a very difficult match. If Andreev won the third set this could have been an altogether different story.It’s pretty amazing how Roger keeps coming through these tight matches in the slams, and again you can’t underestimate what effect the Federer aura have over his opponents.
Roger now comes up against Viktor Hanescu, who best Juan Ignacio Chela 6-4, 6-3, 7-6. Hasnescu is ranked lower than Andreev at 47. I don’t really want to make any predictions, but I do think that Roger will play with more confidence and probably win this one pretty easily. Also in the third round Roger won’t have a very difficult opponent. So at least for the next two rounds I think us fans are pretty safe from more heart attacks. In the fourth round Roger could potentially have a tough match, so we will need the rest. As far as Roger is concerned, every match that he wins will help. Elsewhere in the draw the biggest upset was Soderling who crashed out to Marcel Granollers in five sets. He wasn’t in my list of potential winners here so I’m OK with that!
Del Potro won in four sets against Michael Russell, and apparently his wrist was still bothering him. It’s a shame to hear that, and hopefully it won’t hurt his chances. He next faces James Blake, so he will need to be at his best. I think Blake has had some decent form of late and has beaten Delpo in their only meeting. This will probably me the most interesting match tomorrow. I hope Delpo wins and that Rafa won’t get lucky with the draw again if Delpo loses because of his wrist problem. Andy Murray looked pretty impressive with a convincing win over Kevin Anderson, who I thought was pretty disappointing. I thought he has a big serve, but he only served something like two aces and was way too one dimensional.
One of the most dramatic matches of the tournament so far was Gasquet vs Youzhny today, with Youzhny winning 6-7(9), 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 6-4. Gasquet had several chances to put Youzhny away, but predictably he pretty much choked. Youzhny was suffering from cramp in fourth and fifth sets, but not even that was enough for Gasquet to win. I don’t think Gasquet will ever deliver on the great promise he shows. He is simply too mentally weak, as most French players are. Well, so far all the players that I predicted would have a title shot has all won and looked pretty good so far, with Delpo and Roger the only ones who dropped sets. Roger had a tough first round though and Delpo had the injury problem. Laters.