Australian Open Rd 3: Federer def Malisse 6-3, 6-3, 6-1

As expected Roger got the straight set win here, but it wasn’t exactly the prettiest match he has played. It seems obvious that the Simon match shook him up a bit and he seemed to lack confidence. At time he almost seemed desperate, and it didn’t look like he was playing as freely as JesusFed. No, this wasn’t JesusFed. But who cares considering the scoreline. I have even heard suggestions after that match that Roger is in a funk, which to me seems a bit ridiculous. This is after all just a third round match. Why peak this early? The important thing is to bring your best tennis against the best players and Malisse wasn’t one of them. That doesn’t mean Malisse is bad. Malisse made the final of Chennai and is a player with a lot of potential. But in the end Roger was just too solid when it mattered. At times he played some really awkward looking shots though which made me think the Simon match dented his confidence somewhat.

He just looked unsure of himself like he did against Simon in sets 3 and 4. He’s ground strokes fell short at times and he didn’t step into the ball with full confidence. He did however use the drop shot on many occasions and it has become one of his weapons. There isn’t anyone who uses it as frequently and as effectively as Roger does. Roger started the match off in quite a hurry going up 4-1 with two breaks of serve but then hesitated and gave Malisse a break back. In the second set Malisse actually went a break up in the fifth game, but Roger broke right back to love. I felt he was slightly lucky to break two more times then to win the second set. The third set was more like JesusFed as Roger raced to a 5-0 lead and then got the breadstick. So in the end I would say it was a pretty satisfying win.

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I was wondering if Roger’s form would slightly drop in the third set again and it didn’t happen. It was a good way to end the match and take some confidence into his next match. Like I said after the Simon match, Roger has time now to get any confidence back he may have lost against Simon. People are so quick to panic. It is still early rounds and Roger knows better than anyone how to peak during slams. He will now play against an easy opponent in Tommy Robredo. Robredo has really nothing to hurt Roger with and holds basically no danger whatsoever. This will be another chance for Roger to get an easy win and improve on his latest performance. Roddick and Wawrinka also won. They will now face off for a place in the quarter finals. Wawrinka was pretty impressive against Monfils and I won’t be surprised if he can pull of the win over Roddick.

Wawrinka has been solid since he began working with Lundgren. But either way I think Roger will be pretty comfortable with facing either Roddick or Wawrinka. Come quarter finals I think Roger will probably be back in JesusFed mode and be able to put away his opponent pretty comfortably. After that it will be semi-finals which would be really time to bring on the heat. I think Roger will face Djokovic if they both get that far which is a match I look forward to. Djokovic seems to believe in himself these days which will make it all the sweeter of Roger beats him again. It has now been 3 straight victories for Roger, although none of them have been in slams. A win in a slam after what happened at the US pen will just top it all off very nicely, and I do believe Roger has got the better of Djokovic.

Federer,-Malisse

Then we will see what happens in the other half. Can Murray pull off the upset over Nadal? Or will Soderling beat Murray? There is still a lot of tennis to be played in both halves and we will just have to wait and see. It promises to be interesting viewing anyway.

Interview: http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2011-01-21/201101211295596284776.html

Highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ev9uI48uhzE

Posted in Uncategorized and tagged , .

42 Comments

  1. Effects of Simon’s match must have dented him a little. At least he got a quick win so that he can rest easy. Most important thing is to remain positive and slowly build back his confidence. Hope that he is through his bad day as competition will heat up come next week.

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  2. Doesn’t sound like Roger had his best performance but he still won easily. Djokovic also hasn’t been playing amazing- Ru-an is right as Roger shouldn’t peak too early

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  3. Surprise you’re not a bit more concerned about Wawrinka – he was in pretty fantastic form against Monfils and he’s given Rog trouble in the past (including a bit of a tight/tense match in Stockholm last fall).

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  4. Fed didn´t need to be vintage for this one.He just needed to do the minimum to get through.I´m all for that as we are still in the first week.
    I also think Roger was experimenting a bit, the scoreline allowed him that luxury.

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  5. Ruan, I think your comments about Federer’s possible next opponent/s (Robredo/Wawrinka/Djokovic) might apply if Federer is playing to his top form. But as we know, he is highly variable at the moment. All these guys are solid players, who are either top 10 or have been. No match at this level is going to be easy – and Federer knows that. I think we should expect at least some of the matches to be a lot tighter than you predict – particularly if Federer’s unforced error rate drifts into the kind of territory that it did in the Malisse match. As I indicated previously, better opponents will make him pay for his carelessness and his more dubious shot selection.
    Nadal plays again today. We will at least be spared the ritual of him disposing routinely of yet another pushover of a fellow Spaniard in Lopez, as his surprise opponent is the young Australian, Tomic. The Aussie is a cocky player and I normally wouldn’t much like him. But I think he will not be intimidated and has the potential to at least test Nadal for a set. (He pushed Cilic to a 5-setter here a couple of years ago.) There is one thing I will say about Nadal’s game that I like (only one, Ruan!) and that is he never takes any point – any ball, even – casually, and very rarely overplays. Sometimes, I wish Rog played a bit more like that.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    True but that makes Nadal boring as hell too. Its too predictable with him. Roger may give the odd bad performance but he can play much more interesting tennis and a higher quality when in JesusFed mode.

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    Ed Reply:

    It’s odd, your harping about how “boring” Nadal’s game is. I just watched him dismiss Tomic. And I’m wondering, what “boring” means. I watched Nadal, as always, hit the deep corner time after time, having Tomic, as he gets everyone, at the end of the string he holds, running from side to side. Why does he have to, or why should he, do anything else? Rarely is he beaten because of his game; it is precisely his game that beats his opponents, who haven’t figured out how to beat him. His game is dominating tennis because of his timing, accuracy, speed, and relentless will to win every point. That’s boring?
    Roger may be more “original” than Rafa; he may play with more finesse, but tennis is about winning; it’s about staying in form and improving that form. It’s not about whose shots are more varied but who wins the game. Pete was as predictable as a clock–in fact, predictability is essential, for it’s another name for consistency. On the other hand, the ability to improvise is also essential to winning, and anyone who has seen Nadal play–anyone who looks without prejudice–has seen that Rafa can be a master-improvisor.
    Tennis is also about improving: Nadal has improved his serve and his ability to volley; in fact, his game is getting more complete each season.
    Finally, tennis is a mental game: we all know how many matches are lost between the ears. And Roger is the twitchy one these days, not Rafa. Roger is the one, not Rafa, whose nerve, whose ability to concentrate, is clearly in question: it’s Roger who has become streaky, not Rafa.
    So, you can continue to hammer Rafa, malign his game, impugn his integrity, and see him as a “threat” to tennis, but to do so is to close your eyes to the real drama that’s playing itself out at the top of the sport these days.

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    Saim Reply:

    If Nadal plays every point and Federer is casual here and there I believe that its better for Fed as he does not get tired and enjoys tennis.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    By all means, enjoy Nadals game. I never said you cant. I just find it boring as hell. End of story.

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    steve Reply:

    Unlike the much-hyped Tomic, who never had any real chance, no matter how the Aussie media attempted to build up a new champ, Cilic has the potential to prevail over the Spaniard.

    My main worry was that he wouldn’t be able to even make it far enough to meet Nadal, but he didn’t drop a set until going to five against Isner. I suspected the American’s huge serve would make life very difficult for Cilic, and it did; from the third set on, there were no breaks of serve until match point in the fifth.

    Cilic showed considerable mental toughness to withstand Isner’s serve, hold his own serve, and find a way to get the decisive break, and passing such a tricky test should give him some confidence.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that he has the game to beat Nadal. His ground game is very good, opening up the court with great angles and running his opponent around, and he is also superb at the net. He should be able to take the initiative a bit more against Nadal, who plays mainly from the baseline, than he could against Isner, who uses his serve to play fast, first-strike tennis.

    The big question is mental; whether he can concentrate on playing his game, and not get lost in himself, as happens to him sometimes. But however it comes out, he won’t be intimidated.

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    steve Reply:

    Sorry, Ed, didn’t mean to post this in reply to your comment.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Im impressed by this win from Cilic. It shows true heart. The only thing about him that bothers me is his forehand which seems highly unstable under pressure. He has beaten Nadal handily before however. Im looking forward to this match, but Nadal remains the favorite.

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  6. What a strange match! Am watching it now (recorded) and Roger is playing such odd tennis- he’s playing far too relaxed and going for odd shots! Mentally I think he was exhausted from Simon still. I also think he prob went easy on practice since Simon’s match so his timing was a bit off. He seemed to play like he did against his mate the other day in Doha. That was an odd match too.
    Roger said at one point “what’s wrong with you people” when a line call was wrong. He was really angry! Up to 6-3, 1-3 Federer just played badly in my view- after that he woke up and suddenly started to take the ball much earlier. Very odd that he didn’t do that from the start!! It’s like he suddenly flicked a switch and decided he was gonna start winning!
    I think getting angry fired him up- ‘You wouldn’t like to see me angry’ GRRRR!

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  7. It seemed like a routine win to me.

    Sometimes he gets broken even in the early rounds. After dropping serve in the second set, he went on a tear and won 10 consecutive games. That’s not bad at all.

    Like Ines said I think he was experimenting quite a bit, especially with the drop shots.

    The important thing is a straight-sets win without expending too much energy.

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  8. Hey Guys, just taking a break for a moment from the Aussie Open. Murray just won, and I don’t know where all of you are from, but I have to listen to Brad Gilbert. Brad Gilbert makes me sick. Just another Nadal suck up. He said, “Nadal, is the overwhelming favorite.” OVERWHELMING!!!?? Fed gets no respect from this ___hole. Sorry, just gets under my skin. Has he been watching any other tournaments these past few months? Well, I’ll be lurking in and around here for the next few days, and we’ll see you later. And don’t forget, “GO ROGER!!!!!!!” and thanks for this venue Mr. Ruan. Hope you are doing well. G

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    Ru-an Reply:

    BG is an asshole fanboy no doubt. He once told me that Nadal owned me when he won the US Open on twitter. I mean the guy is so immature it is scary. I used to respect him but that was only because i didnt know who he was. He often predicts Federer losses as well and gets it wrong.

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  9. Whew… not a pretty match by any means, but X-man was never going to be a threat to Roger. I think he could have put the racquet in his left hand and won it.

    I doubt the ‘weird’ play will be seen at this AO again.

    BG is over the top, always. You can’t go by what he says – the guy’s there for color and controversy. I distinctly recall him saying, at the very beginning of this tournament, that both Roger and Rafa were ‘co-favorites, with Roger even holding a slight edge because of the Annacone effect’. Another term he’s coined lately.

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  10. Have just watched Murray’s match. He was in very good shape. I’m hopeful now that he will be able to take Nadal out. Hopefully in 5 sets so he’s tired for the final. Watching Nadal’s match now. He’s making his opponent look good! His passive tennis makes him look like he’s on the backfoot. Nadal just won the first set- will win this easily.
    I’m also annoyed again because Youzhny is out already (to be expected really) and Cilic got taken to a 5 set epic so now he’ll be exhausted against Rafa in the next round. Just how lucky is Nadal with draws!!!? He’ll get a beat-up Cilic after he wins this match and then his Spanish mate who he’ll thrash!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah Andrew Nadals joke draw continues. We will just have to accept it. But like you said, at least Murray is looking good and can hopefully take out the trash.

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  11. Well, Tomic did ok tonight to push Nadal, at one point looking like he might take a set. The world 199-ranked player (who is only 18 years old) made the world No.1 look quite uncomfortable throughout with his unconventional style. At times, the one-dimensional nature of Nadal’s game was quite conspicuous. At 40-15 in his final service game Tomic should have held but his persistent mistake was to feed the Nadal forehand with slow cross-court slices instead of keeping him pinned in his backhand corner. Lack of experience. Another win for Nadal but he definitely looks beatable here on the hard-court against an opponent who combines variety with the ability to think.

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    muhammad Reply:

    neil,
    yeah that was lack of experience…saw tomic for the first time,initially i thought he has got some game plan with these slow cross court returns turned out this is the way he plays…yeah nadal struggled with his serve big time and he surely looks beatable

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  12. Ed, before you get a little too excited about Nadal’s win tonight over Tomic, remember he was playing an 18 year-old ranked 199 in the world. Tomic is in fact still a junior. Note also that Tomic hit more winners in the match than Nadal – 39 to 32. The youngster was holding tough and more often than not making the play. Nadal looked pretty darn awkward out there at times and was clearly frustrated at times by Tomic’s unorthodox style. All things considered, it was by no means an impressive win by the world No.1 and tended to demonstrate the relative inflexibility of his style. Boring? Not to you obviously – particularly when he wins – but technically limited? Yep. It is difficult to see Federer being similarly flumoxed, as demonstrated by his extraordinary demolition of ‘the little magician’ Santoro at this tournament 3 years ago.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Im not impressed at all by Nadal. He hasnt faced one decent opponent yet and still isnt convincing. We will se what he plays like against Murray.

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    Ed Hack Reply:

    I wasn’t “excited”–not at all–by Nadal’s win over Tomic, Neil. That wasn’t my point. “Technically limited”? A curious criticism, for it describes someone who, alas, almost (note “almost”–no, I haven’t forgotten London) owns Roger, and just about (note “just about”) everyone else in men’s tennis.
    Limitations should have significant results, no? Just where in the world of men’s tennis are the results of these “technical limitations,” Neil?
    I’m just not sure what you want from Nadal. To be Roger? Is Roger, then, the sum and substance of tennis, the evolutionary end of the sport?
    When Roger can beat Rafa, then beat him again, then a serious discussion of Nadal’s “limitations” can be undertaken. Nadal’s beating player after player with smoke and mirrors?

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    Ru-an Reply:

    The point is that Nadal wins mainly through mental prowess. His game is definitely technically limited compared to other top players. His volleys sucks and he has no slice backhand for instance. He doesnt have much feel in those hands either. Nadal just happen to suit the bill perfectly for someone who is a tough match up for Roger. He needs to pass all Rogers records to be mentioned in the same breathe and that is never happening.

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    marron Reply:

    Well, I have to disagree with that. If he’s so technically limited, he would be losing way more often. He wouldn’t be ranked number one in the world. He didn’t get to that point by ONLY beating Roger.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Like i said, mentally the best. And no once said he has no talent.

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    ed Reply:

    So it’s “mental power” that gets that ball time after time into the deep corner, starting the opponent’s side-to-side defensive run? He hits the ball with his “mind”?
    No volley? Like most baseliners he stayed back, but Nadal is now starting to come forward–and winning just about every time he does so.
    And isn’t “mental power” what’s become so slippery a condition for Roger?
    It’s true that Rafa’s game-plan is obvious: but it’s devastating too, and no one has figured out, NO ONE, on a consistent basis, how to counter and defeat it. Now I don’t know what you want to call that but I call it mastery of the sport. There are different ways to master anything, but Nadal is not a master? Come on…at the very least you have to give him that title and that acknowledgement or you wind up saying that Roger is constantly beaten by someone who is “only” strong “mentally” while his (Nadal’s game) is, as compared to Roger’s insignificant.

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  13. Ed, if the head to head(h2h) is what counts then Davydenko should be the World No.1 over Nadal because their h2h is severely in his favour – 6-2 on hard-courts. Is Davydenko therefore the better player? By your reasoning – yes.

    But the h2h in tennis can be misleading. Unlike sports like boxing, where you have to beat your main rival to win the championship, tennis requires only that you beat your part of the draw. In most of Federer’s finals he didn’t meet Nadal – who never made it to the final. Nadal has beaten Federer more often in the tournaments they have met because these have tended to be on Nadal’s preferred surface which is clay, where he almost always made the final. In tennis the appropriate comparison between players is therefore in tournament wins (and on varieties of surface). When I last looked Federer was way ahead of Nadal in that respect.

    Match-ups can also explain the h2h. The style of some players simply presents a difficulty for another, yet that player generally has more wins. This is observable even at the club level. Some players can be dominant with relatively few tools: a big serve, or a big forehand, unusual reserves of stamina or simply determination, all the while possessing lesser technique than their opponents. Brad Gilbert, as a player, was a striking example: at college level he was assessed by his coach as having ‘no serve, no forehand, no backhand, no volley . But – he ‘wins matches’. He was a smart player. He made it as high as No.4 in the world while playing what fellow pro Jimmy Arias described as ‘women’s tennis’.

    Goran Ivanisevic made it to 4 Wimbledon finals, winning the last, predominantly on the back of an extraordinary serve, which become unbeatable (except by the best) on grass. John Isner and Ivo Karlovic are other examples of players who possess enormous serves – and little else. They still beat guys, while being technically limited.

    The runner/retriever is also a type of player, who lacking shotmaking skills will beat many opponents through speed and an ability to return ball after ball into play. Traditionally those players have done best on slower courts like clay.

    Nadal is in many respects an enlargement of that type of player: hence he hit fewer winners than the World 199 in their last match. That Nadal is currently able to dominate comes down to his exceptional court speed and stamina, and thus his ability to stay in the point long enough to turn it around and counter-attack, as well as possessing the strength and power to hit winnners (still looped groundstrokes) from seemingly impossible defensive positions. Either in his strokes or in his tactics there is little variation. His game is thus rather one-dimensional, albeit it is very successful – he is the best defensive player in history. However, when his simple formula doesn’t work he gets beaten – as by a more versatile player in Murray at last year’s AO or more recently (and somewhat continuously) by Davydenko. But without possessing some of the skills of his opponents Nadal is still a helluva player and mentally very tough (except when he knows he is going to lose and then he suddenly springs yet another temporary injury.)

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well explained Neil.

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  14. I’m stunned that Tommy Robredo took a set off Federer here. Saw some unsightly shanks too. But I don’t see Fed going down today. Nope.

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  15. Nadal is actually one of the best volleyers in the game today. He doesnt volley quite as well as federer but he can volley quite well. His forehand angles are the best in the game. (or the second best behind federer) His down the line forehand is one of the best shots in tennis. Yes he has good shotmaking abilities, otherwise he wouldnt be able to create the angles that he does. And so what if Tomic was ranked 199? He surely wasnt playing like it, he was playing really well. And Nadal’s first serve percentage was down, otherwise it would have been an easier match for him.

    A player who “lacks” shotmaking ability doesnt have one of the best down the line forehands in the game and cannot create the type of angles he does. His volley’s certainly dont “suck”, he does a good job whenever he comes to the net.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I have to agree with Neil. You seem to evade the crux of the matter.

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  16. Why are there so many people who defend/love Nadal on a Roger Federer blog!? Go away all of you. Go on to Eurosport’s website and argue about how skillful Nadal is on there. Ru-an has made it very clear- Nadal is boring!
    Whilst I admire Nadal for what he is (a retriever) and he is a nice guy off the court (very humble) I can’t watch his tennis and enjoy it. It was painful in 2010 watching Federer defend all the time before he hired Annacombe- but if ur a Nadal fan then that’s what watching every match is like!
    Everyone now praises Federer’s attacking tennis, and they claim that Nadal is also now more attacking- but the reality is that he can’t hit winners against an 18 year old who is 197 ranking places below him. He should have lost the 2nd set but Tomic bottled it.
    Am looking forward to your next post Ru-an. Roger has marched on into the last 8 but making hard work of it in my view. He started so well again but was very average for an hour thereafter. At least he was more aggresive than against Malisse.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Its ok Andrew, we dont mind schooling the Nadal fans over here. They are often in desperate need of it.If they get annoying there is always the ban option :-) Yeah Roger dipped pretty badly in the second set, but thankfully that was all. Just too many unforced errors, but he got the all important win and will have a chance to improve in his next match.
    Will make a post a little later on.

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  17. Just watching Wawrinka about to dispose of Roddick. He has just broken Roddick in the 3rd set and is up 2 sets to love. He would have to break a leg to lose from here.
    I have never seen Wawrinka play better tennis. So far at this tournament I have not seen tennis played at this level. In this kind of form the guy could beat absolutely anybody. Roger will need to raise his level for the quarters.

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  18. I agree with you Neil. I haven’t seen the stats at the end of the match but at one point in the 3rd set Warwinka’s stats were 60 winners to 17 unforced errors! Amazing tennis

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  19. In that Eurosport interview Roger accidently admits that the Simon match knocked his confidence. He says it and then says ‘not that it’s knocked my confidence’. As usual you have already stated this Ru-an. That’s one of the reasons so many people follow this blog- u know Roger so well!!

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  20. my posts are objective and the anti nadal posts here are unobjective. Dont worry, Nadal is the dominant force in tennis and will be in the near future. Yes he can hit plenty of winners.

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