Australian Open Rd 2: Federer w/o Beck, to Face Karlovic

Unfortunately there isn’t much for me to report on as Roger got the walkover after Beck withdrew due to back problems. It is hard to say whether this is a positive or negative for Roger. On the positive side he will get more rest now and will be fresher in the second week of the tournament. That is obviously a good thing. But on the other hand he probably would not have had much difficulty in disposing of Beck and it would have been a good practice session. In a way it breaks his rhythm because now he has three days without a match. As the tournament progresses the competition usually gets stiffer and stiffer and if you miss one match then you are not quite as sharp for the next match. Having said that, I don’t see it being a problem. Roger could have used another match before playing Karlovic, but he will also be more rested now.

Karlovic beat Berlocq today in four sets. Roger leads the head-to-head with Karlovic 9-1. I don’t see Karlovic being much of a problem especially on the slowish hard courts. Obviously Roger’s returns needs to be good which it usually is against the big servers. I don’t see Karlovic ever breaking him. There will probably be at least one tie break, but I would like to see Roger win this in straight sets. The fact that Roger had an extra day off means it won’t be so bad if he drops a set though. The only way he would lose a set is if Karlovic snatches a tie break and that is pretty unlikely to happen anyway. Karlovic is a pretty awkward opponent since he doesn’t give you much rhythm. It usually comes down to one or two points in a set. So Roger will have to be pretty clutch. If he senses the opportunity he must shut the door in the giant’s face.

Elsewhere in the draw Nadal had another pretty comfortable win over Haas, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. From what I heard it wasn’t a very impressive performance by Nadal. It doesn’t matter. You can be sure come semi-final time Nadal will be flying like Superman across the court hitting cyclones of death. His potential top seeded opponent in the fourth round, Isner, won 10-8 in the fifth set of a dramatic match with Nalbandian today. Nalbandian got robbed late in the fifth set when he was not allowed to challenge a first serve of Isner that was out. The umpire judged that he took too much time to challenge which was ridiculous. It was break point and if he was allowed to challenge he would have had a look at a second serve. It is really a shame that such a call was made on such an important point.

That umpire should definitely get penalized in some way in my opinion. Credit to Isner though for winning yet another tough five set match. He seems to be mentally good in these situations. You gotta feel for Nalbandian who was robbed for a second time after that US Open semi with Roddick in 2003. The two young guns Dimitrov and Dolgopolov was also involved in five setters. Unfortunately Dimitrov lost to Almagro while Dolgopolov scraped through 8-6 in the fifth against Kamke. That is Dolgopolov’s second five setter now and it may cost him against Tomic in the next round who had a four set win over Querrey. The Tomic/Dolgopolov match should be a good one which I hope to see. Both play an unorthodox style. I think Tomic has the edge here. He looked good after losing the first set to Querrey.

I would also rather see Tomic against Roger. I would like to see how Roger deals with Tomic’s lack of pace. Dolgopolov is too inconsistent and can really stink up the place on a bad day. Del Potro also continued his winning ways with a straight set win over Kavcic. Fish on the other hand lost in straight sets to Falla, the guy who almost beat Roger in the first round of Wimbledon. It looks more and more likely that Del Potro will make quarters to face Roger then. During my last post Murray was still playing and was two breaks down in the first set. He got one break back but lost the first set. Harrison was playing really well and I was impressed with the way Murray came back. He looked calm as he won the next three sets, quite a bit like his new coach Lendl who was a slow starter. He often lost the first set, but as soon as he hit his stride there was zero chance for the opponent.

Lendl had so much belief in his own ability that losing the first set was nothing to him. Maybe that belief can rub off on Murray now in which case Murray can win multiple slams. Murray has always had the game to do it but he lacked the belief. Incidentally Brad Gilbert predicted that Murray would win two slams this year and become world number one. That is a bit bold and Gilbert’s predictions usually sucks. He is like the American version of Simon Reed. It would be pretty crazy if Murray has a similar year to what Djokovic had last year, but I don’t see it happening. Murray could possibly win one slam though. Looking at tomorrow’s matches the Roddick/Hewitt one should be pretty interesting and I will also keep an eye on the Raonic/Petzschner match. Murray and Djokovic should have easy wins.

Update: Check Booya’s comment below for details on what happened with the Nalbandian call. I didn’t actually see the match and Booya summed it up nicely so thanks for that. It is a disgrace what happened here and a lot of the blame must go on Isner. Isner knew the ball was out and should have admitted it. But the umpiring was just pathetic. In the 2009 US Open final Del Potro took forever to challenge, still was allowed to make the challenge, and when Roger objected he was scolded. That was yet another pathetic piece of umpiring. He told the GOAT to keep quiet when he was well within his rights to question that call. That is why I feel there must be penalties for umpires just like there is for players if they behave badly. Umpires shouldn’t be allowed to get away with blatant ‘errors’ like that.

Second update: Here is the video. It was a shocking call and apparently the umpire is from the WTA. No surprises there.

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26 Comments

  1. Thank you for the nice summary! I’m happy for Roger. He knows how to deal with these tournaments. It’s an advantage for him to have one match less. He’ll need his energy in the second week, and I’m growing confident about his chances here.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    You’re welcome Chris. It just sucks to miss an opportunity to see him play in a slam.

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    booya719 Reply:

    I for one am glad to see Roger get the much needed rest. He’s got 4 very tough matches in a row if he is to win the title. 6 matches instead of 7 might make a difference in the end.

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  2. Regarding Isner/Nalbandian, has anyone ever seen an umpire do something so awful before? I have been watching tennis matches closely for the better part of a decade and have never seen anything quite as bad as that before. I’ve seen blown calls all the time…that’s part of human nature. But this call is certainly not a mistake.

    Isner faulted his service, the call was originally and rightfully called out, and Isner signaled to challenge. Before the challenge the umpire suddenly (and foolishly) overruled the line call and said it was in, which was wrong. That’s fine. Mistakes happen. Nalbandian then wanted to challenge the wrong in call, and the umpire basically told him to shut up and that it was not challengeable. Even the supervisor told Nalbandian that the call could not be changed, which was unbelievable that he did not rectify the situation.

    To disallow Nalbandian’s challenge is simply absurd, and worse yet on break point at 8-8 in the 5th? That is no human error – it’s simply horrible umpiring to the fullest. Shame on that umpire, shame on the supervisor, and shame on Isner as well for not admitting the fault when he and the whole stadium clearly knew it was out. It wasn’t even close. It was out by a half a foot. Playing dumb really makes me lose a lot a respect for Isner that he was more than willing to win a point by such a dishonest method. “I don’t know what happened. It was crazy” is all he said in the post-match interview instead of apologizing to Nalbandian as he should have.

    I remember Del Potro taking nearly 1 minute to challenge a call vs Roger in the US Open final a couple years ago and the umpire let him. Del Potro was right on the call, but as far as the time issue goes, he was well over the allowed time. He dithered, walked back and forth, and even asked his box if it was in or out before he decided to challenge. The time rule is rarely enforced and umpires have never been time-sensitive especially in crucial stages of grand slam matches where challenges are needed in heated situations. Here the time taken was not even close. Nalbandian took no more than a few seconds to check the mark and instantly signaled his hand to challenge. That is not taking too long and he was well within the appropriate time.

    The only way to sum it up as Ruan said, is that Nalbandian was robbed. I’m not even his fan, but to see this type of umpiring in a grand slam event is really surprising. It was a good match until that point. I’ll definitely remember this match for the wrong reason.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks for this Booya I referred to your comment in my post update. Sounds pathetic what happened. Huge credit to Nalby for how he handled the situation. He handled the USO semi vs Roddick in similar fashion when he was robbed too.

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    booya719 Reply:

    The umpire is definitely more to blame than Isner is. I’m not sure if his press conference is posted or not, but it would be interesting to see what Isner said regarding the issue. I think if Isner would even come out with an apology to Nalbandian, then that would be a good step. Even saying something like “The replay showed it was a fault and Nalbandian should have been allowed to challenge. I’m very sorry that something like this happened and I want to apologize to Nalbandian for the way the match ended.” Even just some recognition about the issue would help his character instead of the way he was playing dumb in the post-match interview.

    That being said, Isner should have done the right thing during the match and insisted to the umpire on allowing the challenge even though it was against him. But instead he was relieved that his fault was wrongfully awarded as an ace, taking away Nalbandian’s break point unjustly. Isner went on to hold to go to 9-8. Nalbandian at that point was rattled and furious and rightfully so. Isner broke to win 10-8. Isner took what the umpire gave him which is still a form of dishonesty. So yeah…blaming him does make sense in a way. It’s just an unfortunate thing that ruins a good match and leaves a black mark behind no matter how you look at the situation. It would be better to forget and move on as soon as possible and the sooner Isner is out of the draw the better because he has no business winning the tournament or advancing any further.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    So was the second serve called out or the first serve? Can’t believe the umpire overruled it.

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    booya719 Reply:

    No one mentioned that it was second serve so probably not. I believe Isner double faulted to give Nalbandian an AD, then faulted again which was the fault that got overruled. Isner faulted a lot in that game so it was hard to keep track. Nalbandian had more than one break point in that game and Isner was really under pressure to hold. I think it was 30-40 break point, deuce, AD Nalbandian, deuce, AD Nalbandian. Something along those lines. There might have been an AD Isner in there at some point. Isner was basically going for aces on every serve so it was hard to keep track which was first or second serve.

    In that game though, Nalbandian was getting some good reads on Isner’s serve and it was just a matter of time before Isner was broken. I believe Nalbandian would have broken in that game if not for the awful call, because Isner was faulting steadily under pressure and Nalbandian had all the momentum. In all likelihood with the correct challenge Nalbandian would have eventually broken to take 9-8 lead and held to win the match 10-8.

    The umpire’s decision really saved Isner. I’m not sure what to even call it. Blown call, breaking of the rules, horrible umpire decision, or what have you. It brought Isner back to deuce and gave him a new first serve after he had just faulted a handful of times. Plus it gave him a confidence boost and in turn it dejected Nalbandian after he was treated so disrespectfully by both the umpire and tournament supervisor. The outcome of the match was decided by the call. They’ll probably re-air the match tomorrow and I’ll follow it more closely to see exactly what happened.

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  3. good post Ruan, thank you.
    given the fact that fed is a bit injured i think all and all it is a good thing that he got a walkover. i am sure he will make up for it with some good practice and come out firing againt karlo.
    about nalby-isner: this is not only the umpires disgrace it is a disgrace for the whole tournament coz the chief referee should have gotten involved. my heart goes out to nalby, such a wasted talent.
    i hope isner will have something left in the tank coz i was counting on him to give nadal a hard time in the 4th round.

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  4. I think this is going to be a strange slam for Fed. He’s potentially looking at making the forth round without being in any kind of rhythm. Qualifier-no rhythm, walkover-no rhythm, Karlovic-definitely no rythm, Tomic-no rhythm followed by Delpo. In theory he should come into this match with a lot of energy but it may take him while to adjust to Delpo’s monster forehand. I can’t decide if this is a good draw or bad one. If he makes it past Delpo at least Nadal’s ball will seem slow by comparison.

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    booya719 Reply:

    It’s definitely a tough draw for Roger. One of the hardest draws you can get for the final 4 matches in a slam actually. Don’t count out my man the Dog either. I just checked their head to head and Dolgopolov is 3-0 vs Tomic. I knew he was a good match up for him but I wasn’t aware of this. But regardless of who faces Roger, I agree with what you’re saying.

    Karlovic is a tough draw for just about everyone, just that against Roger it’s really not that bad because a player like Roger can neutralize the big serve and then hit winners as he pleases. Karlovic is doomed in any type of rally. All his points will be won off of bomb serves.

    It’s not a physically taxing match and there will be no long rallies which is what Roger needs to conserve his health for the later rounds. Roger knows exactly what he has to do to beat the guy.

    Still, dealing with Karlovic is not a cakewalk even for an elite returner like Roger. Breaking him is no easy task for anyone. I consider Karlovic a tough draw just because there is always that element of danger on break points and in tiebreaks. If you do manage to break him, you have a huge sigh of relief because you have just won the set pretty much. By contrast, if you get broken early somehow in a set, you can kiss the set goodbye. So there is a small margin for error against a guy like Karlovic no matter what stage of the match you’re in.

    There’s always a chance Karlovic can beat anyone 7-6, 7-6, 7-6. Maybe Karlovic wins the first set 7-6 early and then it can turn into a pressure-filled match. Roger needs to win the first set like he did against him at Wimbledon to stay ahead and then he can stay loose, take more chances, and finish Karlovic off without any problems hopefully.

    Roger usually plays better as the match goes on because he is feeling out the serve and adjusts to it. A score of 7-6, 7-5, 6-3 in favor of Roger is hopefully how the match will go.

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    FeddyBear Reply:

    well said booya.
    i believe fed will take care of business against karlo. if you look at the draw karlovic is really not the worst bomber you could face. theres raonic and isner and roddick. out of the 4 of them, who top the aces list of the event, roddick is the best match up for fed, but the next best match up is karlo. i wouldnt like to see isner or raonic facing fed at 3rd or 4th round. so i think all and all it is a decent draw.

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    booya719 Reply:

    Bad luck for me, Nadal and Federer are the first two matches of the day. Very odd scheduling to have the two most important matches first thing and save nothing for the evening. And today, for some bizarre reason, they are cutting off the start of the tennis coverage here by about 4 hours in favor of a dreaded women’s soccer match.

    I’ll miss Nadal’s match completely and probably miss most if not all of Federer’s match. Nadal is currently laying the smack down on Lacko right now so that one will be over quickly with another 30 minutes as I type this. The coverage here should cut in live about the time when Federer’s match ends. I’ll have to follow a text commentary which isn’t all that fun.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I’m sorry that you can’t watch the tennis booya but I wouldn’t say the Nadal/Lacko match is important. The two important matches is Roger/Ivo and Tomic/Dolgo.

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    booya719 Reply:

    30 minutes was a bit generous of me to say. It’s actually over already. Not that it’s important to me or us as Federer fans, just meant important to the tournament as far as drawing a primetime audience goes. They could have had at least one of Federer/Nadal in the night session.

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    V.Adhithya Reply:

    Spot on booya719.Your prediction actually came true.Federer indeed defeated Karlovic 7-6,7-5,6-3.You are are great predictor.Please predict that Rog will Ao2012.

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    booya719 Reply:

    About today’s match, when the soccer match ended and ESPN’s feed cut in, instead of showing tennis they were showing the end of some horrible college basketball game which dragged on for another about 45 minutes or so.

    By the time they got to Federer’s match the 2nd set was just about over. All I saw was Federer winning the 2nd set. After that, they switched the coverage over to John Isner’s match. They barely showed Federer at all until it was 5-2 when they showed the last two games. So in short all I saw was a few games out of the entire match but I did like what I saw.

    It was a predictable match but sure I’m surprised to get the score perfect. Just that the first set tiebreak could have gone horribly wrong. Way too close for comfort. The good sign is that Roger had some luck on his side there. Luck is something he has rarely had during the past few years. He will need as much luck on his side in crunch situations if he is to win this title.

    As far as winning the tournament, I always believe Federer can beat Nadal every time they step on a court. Even on clay, so I’ll keep the belief here until the end.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    That sucks about your channel. Which country do you live in? Well done with predicting the score right. That’s pretty cool! As for Roger I won’t say it had much to do with luck. Very solid match all round.

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  5. I don’t think Fed will have any real difficulty with Karlovic. As for his ‘lack of rhythm’, that won’t bother him either. He’s been around the block a few times, and knows better than anyone how to prepare for matches during slam weeks. Or deal with changes in the routine, like the walkover.

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    booya719 Reply:

    Karlovic had a minibreak lead twice and was serving for the tiebreak at 6-5. Roger was in some serious trouble. I thought the set was over and Karlovic would win the breaker 7-5, but to my surprise I refreshed the score and saw Federer has somehow won both points on Karlovic’s serves and won the breaker 8-6!!

    Thank goodness. Can anyone tell me how Karlovic didn’t win the set when he had set point on his serve? Was it a fault, or great stuff from Federer? It’s truly a shame I have to miss this match.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Ivo was only a break up once, then Roger got a bit lucky. He made a good return, Ivo gave him and easy pass but he hit it right back at Ivo. Ivo then gave Roger a bit of an awkward short volley but luckily Roger hit a great lob that Ivo couldn’t reach. Then Roger hit a great bh return winner to bring up set point.

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    V.Adhithya Reply:

    Federer played a good match today.He returned well to bring up 6 or 7 break points against Ivo and I was happy with the way he capitalised on 3 of them.Ru-an,looking forward to your post on Fed-Ivo match.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Apologies Ivo did actually break twice in the TB.

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  6. Hey Ru-an.
    Isner,Wawrinka out.Tomic wins epic against Dolgopolov to meet Federer next.Nadal will face compatriot Feliciano Lopez in 4th round.Delpotro to face Philip Kohlscreiber.Almagro and Berdych through and face off in the 4the round.
    Bottom half-4th round draw.
    Kohlscreiber vs Delpotro
    Federer vs Tomic
    Berdych vs Almagro
    Nadal vs Lopez

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I am following the AO ;-)

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    booya719 Reply:

    Dolgopolov actually played pretty consistently for once. He hit winners galore and the level of tennis was very high. Just a bad spell in the 2nd set tie break and some bad luck in the 3rd set tie break cost him the match. Other than that it was a pretty solid match and he almost pulled off the comeback. Really good stuff from both players.

    I’m glad to see Dolgopolov out as much as I like seeing him play. If he weren’t playing Roger in the next round I’d be disappointed to see him out, but I’m glad that Roger won’t have to face him now. Tomic will be hard enough, and Del Potro…on hard court is a nightmare. Nothing more needs to be said of his performance tonight. Tough road ahead for Roger.

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