Well that was a pretty impressive performance from the 30-year-old GOAT. How privileged are we to be a fan of someone who plays such inspiring tennis at such a late stage in his career? This was such a clean, efficient performance from Roger that I had no hesitation in calling this his JesusFed mode. The 55/13 winner to unforced error rate is testament to that. The first serve percentage was above 60% again which is always good, and although he converted only 2/6 break points you can’t expect more against a huge server like Karlovic. The score was the same as the Wimbledon 2009 match, although on that occasion it was 6-3, 7-5, 7-6(3). In the first set tie break Karlovic got the break at 5-5 after actually dominating Roger in a base line rally, and had a set point on serve at 6-5. Luckily Karlovic missed his first serve and Roger would have a look at a second.
Roger chipped the backhand return to Karlovic’s feet and Karlovic could only come up with a weak half volley to Roger’s forehand. It should have been an easy pass but Roger made the mistake of hitting the ball straight to Karlovic who hit a reflex volley that fell just over the net. This was not a good position for Roger to be in, but his genius saved him as he hit a lob over the tall giant which he could only get his frame on. Roger had made a another great escape. On the next point Roger hit a stunning backhand return winner to break Karlovic and on set point he let rip with a loud ‘Come on!’ as he forced a return error from the Croatian. There were quite a few loud roars like that and it was great to see Roger totally into it. The second set was close again and it looked like we might have another tie break.
With Karlovic serving to force the tie break at 5-6, Roger came up with some sweet backhand passes and got the break to take the second set. Karlovic was playing some great tennis but it was clear that the GOAT was slowly breaking his resolve. I then predicted a 6-3 set and got it right. Not quite as impressive as Booya who got the whole score right! Roger got the break in the third set at 2-1 with a sick backhand return winner which reminded a lot of a backhand return winner which he hit against Karlovic at Wimbledon. I don’t know if you remember it but it was also a stretch out wide on his backhand on the ad court. He had no right to make the winner but with unreal control he steered it down the line. The one in this match was very similar aside from the fact that the trajectory of the ball was high and dropped in at the last minute, and it was on break point.
Therefor this one was even more special. After that it was just a question of holding serve which was no problem. It was really a terrific win for Roger after not playing a match for three days. If he keeps this kind of form up I think he can make at least the final here. I say final because Djokovic is still looking in ominous form. He opened the bakery again in his second round when he breadsticked Giraldo 6-3, 6-2, 6-1. Murray opened the bakery himself against Roger-Vasselin with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 win. Of course Nadal also played today and he had a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 win over Lacko. You gotta laugh at Nadal’s draw, especially now that Isner also lost to Lopez in five sets. This means Nadal is playing one of his favorite Spanish whipping boys for a place in the quarters. At least Berdych is still in. Not that he can cause Nadal an awful lot of problems.
I won’t even be surprised if Berdych loses to Almagro and Nadal gets pretty much a cakewalk to the semis. It doesn’t matter though. Roger’s tough draw will come in handy if he meets Nadal in the semis. It is good preparation, especially since he had one match off. Roger will now face Tomic, who as I predicted would have the edge over Dolgopolov. It was just that though, and edge, because it was a very close match which Tomic ended up winning 4-6, 7-6(0), 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-3. I thought this would be an interesting match and it didn’t disappoint. I enjoyed this match immensely. It was crafty stuff. You certainly wouldn’t see a match with more slices. Both these players have very good slices and they would often get involved in base line rallies where they would go toe to toe on the slice backhands.
Tomic looked a bit nervous in the first set again. He was a break up but dropped serve immediately and then again to lose the first set. In the second set T0mic broke again but again he dropped serve immediately. Tomic was slowly taking control however and bageled Dolgopolov in the tie break. The second set was another tie break in which Tomic showed just what a big stage player he is. The third set was always gonna be crucial. In the fourth set Tomic didn’t show much interest as we fittingly headed into a fifth set. In the first game of the fifth set there was some controversy. It was a long game where Tomic had to save break points. Then on game point a rally ensued and a shot from Dolgopolov was called out by someone in the crowd. Tomic signaled to challenge but the rally carried on and Dologopolov made an error.
The fact that Tomic challenged distracted Dolgopolov. The umpire then looked at Tomic who said he didn’t challenge. Of course there are many people who hates Tomic and will use this opportunity to criticize him. But they will conveniently overlook the fact that someone in the crowd yelled ‘out’. If that didn’t happen Tomic would probably not have challenged. I’m not trying to make Tomic innocent here, but it is clearly a lot more complicated than the haters would make it appear. Tomic soon broke serve then and won this epic match. You have to feel sorry for Dolgopolov but this decision from the umpire was nothing compared to the Nalbandian controversy. The umpire in that match made a blatant error and it was on break point. This issue was much more complicated and it was not on break point.
It had no bearing on the outcome of the match as far as I’m concerned. Tomic was just too good here, even though by a small margin. He really showed great big match temperament to win this match and he is certainly a player for the future. He is a very intelligent tennis player and I like the way he messes with the minds of his opponents. A large part of this match he looked like he was losing, but that is just a way of putting his opponent to sleep. It really is quite fascinating to watch. The casual observer won’t appreciate what Tomic brings to the court and will call his game boring and all kinds of negative things. But he is truly unique and therefor like a breath of fresh air. Now I will get the match I was hoping for between him and Roger. I can’t see the 19-year-old kid upsetting the GOAT however.
I am just looking forward to see how Roger negotiates the lulling game of Tomic. I think Roger will just have too much firepower for the Aussie. Tomic isn’t really quick. His footwork is quite slow. If Roger serves well and make the forehand do the talking I don’t see how Tomic is gonna keep up. Tomic is basically the opposite of Karlovic. I mean they are really at opposite sides of the spectrum as tennis players. Karlovic basically relies on one shot and he doesn’t like rallying. It is basically a reactionary game against him. Tomic on the other hand doesn’t have anything really big and massages the ball. He works his opponents over and lulls them to sleep. So I’m sure it will be a challenge for Roger to deal with a completely different opponent. Whereas against Karlovic one or two points decides the match, he will have to win several key points against Tomic to get the job done.
Patience will be key. Roger is experienced enough not to get impatient though. He will know that he can’t just hit winners left and right. So there will be a fine balance. It will have to be controlled aggression. Roger is a master of this and I see him taking care of Tomic in three or four sets. Del Potro also won easily in straight sets against Lu and is looking strong for a quarter final place. He is facing Kohlschreiber next who is no pushover. Kohlschreiber is talented enough to upset the big names. It will be a test for Del Potro and it could reveal whether he is for real this time. I am still not convinced about his form since he came back from injury. If he beat Kohlschreiber then I would be more of a believer. The Tomic match will be a good preparation for Roger no matter what happens in the following rounds anyway.
Although Roger’s draw is tough I like it, and I think he is prepared for it. From here on he can just keep raising his game. Not that he needs to lift it much more. He seems to be in JesusFed mode already which makes him awfully hard to stop. Then against Nadal and Djokovic he needs to be Goderer. As we know Goderer has no equal, but I am getting ahead of myself. Lets take it round for round. Roger will already have his hands full with Tomic. Looking at today I don’t see that many interesting encounters again. I guess the bottom half is where it’s all happening. I expect Djokovic and Murray to have easy wins again. Then the Hewitt/Raonic match could be interesting. You have a huge server against a great returner which makes for good viewing, although Hewitt is not the player he used to be.
I hope you get to see some tennis and that you enjoy!
The Tomic incident: