Hello guys. I never had the time to preview Roger’s second round match against Davydenko in my last post. Roger had a staggering 17-2 head-to-head record over the dangerous Davydenko before this match. Roger really has some amazing head-to-head records over some very good players like Davydenko, Roddick, Ferrer, etc. Davydenko did make the final of Doha where he lost to Gasquet after being a set and a break up, so he was in good form. When the draw came out everyone was going on about what a tough second round this would be for Roger, yet he made it look easy. I was very impressed with Roger in his first round and I was equally impressed with this match. Not because it was another masterclass, but simply because of the efficiency with which he defeated a dangerous opponent. He won without expending much energy while at the same time not using up his best form.
I thought it was important against Paire to get off to a flying start, just to make his intentions clear to the tennis world after being on the side line since the Masters Cup. People also doubted him because of his draw, and I don’t think there are many people now who doubts that he can make it at least to the semi-finals. Roger drew first blood against Davydenko when he broke at 3-2, after Davydenko steered a backhand cross court wide. At 5-3 he served out the set to love, and closed out the set with a forehand volley winner after following his serve to the net. He was playing attacking tennis and dominated with his serve and forehand. Davydenko is a very attacking player himself, but he simply doesn’t possess the heavy artillery that Roger possesses . Neither does he possess the same variation. Taking those things into account it is not hard to see why Roger now has a 18-2 head-to-head record against Davydenko.
In the second set Roger broke at 1-1 after opening the court up with a superbly times backhand, and then doing the finishing with that lethal forehand. Roger’s backhand was looking very solid against Paire and that was the case again against Davydenko. He hit a couple of stunning backhand down the line winners in this match as well. At 5-4 and 40-15 in the second set Roger forced the short return with a serve, after which he cleaned up with the forehand to go up two sets to love. It was once again that lethal combo that did the damage. Roger then proceeded to break to love in the first game of the third set after a double fault from the Russian. Roger consolidated on serve with one of those masterfully executed drop shots that left Davydenko stranded on the base line. Roger then continued to dominate on serve and served an ace on match point to close out in style.
Pretty in pink
The GOAT dominated this match with his serve and ended with a very high 68% first serves. And like I said he backed it up with his forehand as well as net play. The unforced errors outnumbered the winners by 42-35, while Roger only converted 3/13 on break points. So he was obviously playing within himself and just did what was needed. That is the advantage of having one of the best serves and forehands in the history of the game. Roger can rely on those two alone to win matches for him without having to be at his very best. Even against a quality opponent like Davydenko. I have been extremely impressed with Roger so far. He had a slightly disappointing indoor season last year considering it is probably his favorite part of the season, but still ended very well at the Masters Cup.
So I had a lot of hope for 2013, but you are never sure just what is gonna happen after such a break from the tour. What was next after scaling the heights of 2012? What would keep him motivated? Would Roger 3.0 stick around? Those were all questions at the back of my mind, even though they weren’t exactly bothering me. And then of course he got a really tough draw in Melbourne. So it has been a small revelation to see his form so far. The way he ended 2012, the exhos in South-America, the break from the tour, and the training all contributed to get Roger in prime shape for the start of the 2013 season. When I look at the highlights of his matches I can’t help thinking he must be very close to prime form. People tend to think that at 31 years of age that is simply not possible, but with Roger I guess anything is p0ssible.
If prime Roger(or Roger 1.0) was better than Roger 3.0, then it is by a very small margin. It is just incredible how well Roger moves and how cleanly he strikes the ball at the age of 31. It is almost like he didn’t age at all. People have to take into account that the competition have caught up as well. I mean Djokovic and Murray have both been playing some amazing tennis. Everyone has really gotten better. It is just impossible to keep dominating the way Roger 1.0 did. It is just a given that the field will catch up. So if Roger’s level have fallen from his prime days I think it is very marginal. Roger now comes up against Tomic, the potential match that had everyone talking before the tournament. Before Roger’s first match and after following the interviews with Roger and Tomic, I would be lying of I said I wasn’t a bit worried about this match.
Pink has never looked this good
But now I can honestly say that I am not as worried as before. I still think Tomic can win a set, but I’d be surprised if he wins more. Tomic won his first round easily but had a tough four setter against Brands yesterday, winning 6-7(4), 7-5, 7-6(3), 7-6(8). That doesn’t impress me all that much. Sure Tomic’s form was good up until Melbourne, but lets not forget the spanking Roger gave him last year. I think Tomic has improved since then which is why I believe he can win a set and make it competitive, but I just don’t see how he can beat Roger. So my prediction is Roger in four, if not straights. Tomic has an interesting game and he is talented, but I feel he lacks the weapons to really trouble Roger. As long as Roger keeps playing attacking tennis the way he has been, I think he will be just fine. He can once again dominate the match with his serve and forehand.
Elsewhere in the draw Djokovic and Murray has been moving along smoothly as well. Apparently Djokovic was impressive in his second round match against Harrison, schooling him 6-1, 6-2, 6-3. Obviously Djokovic remains a huge threat for the title, but there is a long way to go before we will start worrying about him. My friend Jonathan informed me that Roger said the courts are indeed playing a little faster, although I couldn’t find it in his presser after scanning over it quickly. If that is the case then it is another encouraging thing. Today Djokovic is playing against Stepanek which just started and which I will watch as soon as I’m done here. I think Djokovic will get it done in straight sets without much trouble, but it will be nice to be able to see him in action for the first time anyway.
I have three days off now hence the longish post. I will also be able to watch Roger against Tomic so I am excited about that. Then I will do another write-up on Saturday. In GOAT we trust!