Australian Open Rd 4: Federer def Robredo 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2

This was not what you would call a convincing performance from Roger, but again he gets the job done and moves into the next round. This takes him into his 27th straight grand slam quarter final, and ties him with the record set by Jimmy Connors. It’s nice when one streak has ended and there is just the next streak to fall back on, isn’t it? What amazing consistency by Roger at the slams. To give you and idea, Nadal lost in the fourth round of his favorite slam in 2009, which means someone of his consistency isn’t even close to this record yet and will never be. Today wasn’t JesusFed once again. There were too many unforced errors for that. In the second set things got even worse as Robredo broke serve after several unforced errors from Roger. Robredo held serve and it was all squared again. Then in the second game of the third set Roger got the important break which put him ahead again.

He held on to his serve for the rest of the set to take a two sets to one lead. Finally in the fourth set he started showing glimpses of JesusFed again. I must say I was pretty stunned by Roger’s bad play in the second set. I mean this was FedError back in full flow. Not a good sign. But at least Roger cleaned up after that. It is a bit concerning that FedError made an appearance after JesusFed has been on display most of the time since the Masters Cup. There is just too many shanks and unforced errors. I guess it is still the loss in confidence after the Simon match, but I would have thought that would have been in the past by now. In the third set Roger started playing more attacking tennis again which I thought was the key. It is nice to see him slice less backhands and hitting over them more.

Robredo did everything he could but was never gonna rival the attacking capabilities of Roger. Roger has now dropped 3 sets in four rounds which is somewhat unexpected for me. This is due to the fact that JesusFed has been mostly absent. I was hoping Roger could really put in a strong performance today but it wasn’t to be. He will now play his friend Wawrinka who took care of Roddick surprisingly easily in straight sets. Wawrinka has been a different player since he started working with Peter Lundgren and is not to be taken lightly. Roger will have to be on his game. I am a little worried about Wawrinka but I also know that if Roger gets his game together it should be a relatively easy win. The question is whether he can do it. His form throughout this event has not been impressive.

It would certainly help to make a statement by destroying Wawrinka. Roger has only lost once out of 7 times to Wawrinka and goes into this match as the clear favorite. But he will have to impose his game upon Wawrinka from the start and not give him any ideas. Wawrinka is dangerous. I watched some of the match with Roddick and he was very impressive. His serve was very solid and his backhand is always a weapon. I think it is gonna take a very competent performance of Roger to dispose of Wawrinka. IF JesusFed shows up then there can be only one result, but if FedError shows up there will be trouble. If neither shows up and Roger just plays at his normal level then it will probably be quite a tough match. Maybe something like the Simon match. I hope that doesn’t happen. I’d like to see Roger win this match handily and make a statement heading into the semi-finals.

It looks like he will be facing Djokovic there although it could also be Berdych. But whoever it is Roger will need to be on his game and thats’s why I want him to put in a good performance for once against Wawrinka. Allez Rog!

Presser: http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2011-01-23/201101231295767255570.html

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

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43 Comments

  1. To be honest based on the last match Warwinka has to be the slight favourite for the quarter final. But u know what they say- form is temporary, class is permanent! Roger also also the mental edge over Warwinka. It must be so demoralising being in the shadow of the GOAT even within ur own country.
    Even if Roger loses he’s given his all. I’m not as confident as I was at the start of the week but I’m not sure he can get thru Warwinka, DJ and Nadal/Murray after all the tennis he’s played over the last 6 months. Regardless of the result I’ll always be an RF fan. Go Roger!! He can still do it but he’s gotta click into JesusFed mode pretty quickly

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    Saim Reply:

    Don’t worry he’ll be able to win.

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  2. I’m beginning to seriously wonder if Fed doesn’t have some sort of injury, incurred either during or in the aftermath of the Simon match. How else to explain the devastating form he was in for the first five sets of the tournament (Lacko match and first 2/5 of Simon) – picking up right where he left off in Doha and WTP London – only to show absolutely no glimpse of that in the subsequent two matches? And I mean not even a glimpse – even the 10-game straight stretch against Malisse and the 20-0 points on his serve in the first set against Robredo didn’t display anywhere near the form he showed in Doha or the start of the AO.

    Two other possibilities: (a) his form is really suffering under daytime conditions; (b) he is deliberately easing up, both to peak later and/or play possum for the other big guns.

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    Jiten Reply:

    I think it is possibility (b). In the last US open, he peaked a bit early; my guess is: it is a deliberate ploy on Fed’s part. He is holding something back in order to unfold it from the semi-finals onwards. Also he is looking very relaxed even during the points he was losing.

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    MS Reply:

    Agree with every word from Nelson and I sincerely hope that you are right and it is just (b). I keep wondering if things would have been very different had Simon not been his R2 opponent and if that match has really dented his confidence or he is desperately trying to conserve energy after having played a 5 setter so early on.It is unbelievable how the God mode from those first five sets has vanished – just like that. It is just so weird because it is like a different person playing altogether.

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  3. And I agree with Andrew that it’s tough make Rog the favorite going into tomorrow’s match. Wawrinka’s form in the last two matches has been spectacular.

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  4. I look back at the FO 2009 and recall that Roger had to battle 2 five setters ( Haas and Del Potro) including one in the semis. I think we can give him the allowance of one five setter at the AO ’11 considering the pedigree of Simon. Of course, as you and others observed, his tennis in set 2 later stages where he gifted the set to Robredo was atrocious. Either he deliberately gave it away because he felt he needed the extra practise( ha ha) or it was a mind game of a totally different level meant to lull his semi-final opponent into a false sense of security. It was that bad.

    Wawrinka promises to be more dangerous than when Roger faced him the last time. I mean, he left his family to pursue excellence and that takes a monk’s discipline and commitment. We will just have to see how it all translates in his game.

    I’d say Roger in 3 very tight sets where he plays controlled, risk-free tennis, accelerating when required towards the end of the set, or 4 sets of up and down brilliance where I expect him to win sets 1, 3 and 4, like it happened with Robredo. It’s conceivable that Wawrinka could win set 1 and Roger will tolerate no more nonsense while closing out sets 2, 3 and 4.

    We will just have to wait and watch.

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  5. I’m thinking Federer’s back is acting up again. He just doesn’t look like he’s moving as well as in previous events. A little worrisome.

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    MS Reply:

    Don’t think so. Quoting his presser from the Malisse match :

    ROGER FEDERER: “Yeah, I pulled up with no back problems after the match with Simon, which in the past would have stared me a little bit. Somewhat of a cold condition, somewhat of a little wind with the sweat on the back and everything. That would have worried me. Perfectly fine, same night, next day, and today.

    I’m happy how my body is feeling and I’m moving well. That’s obviously key to good tennis play today is good movement. That’s what I got at the moment, so I’m very happy.”

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  6. This one may be too difficult to predict. However, I suspect it could well go to 5. If Roger makes it, I hope it isn’t too long a match because the physical toll could well tell in subsequent matches.
    Talking of ‘physical toll’, I couldn’t believe the match between Schiavone and Kuznetsova yesterday. Nearly 5 hours on court and at the end they are still running, smashing groundies and even serve-volleying (which was Schiavone in particular, who we are supposed to understand at 31 is in the twilight of a pro’s career.) Neither player looked spent at the match’s conclusion, which begs the question of how much longer could they have played – another hour or two, or longer? It was the finest advertisement for illegal pharmaceuticals I have seen since a certain match in the men’s draw at the AO in 2009. We are supposed to believe this is all ‘naturally’ achievable – even by veteran athletes – and although long matches have been played in the past, for players (especially female – sorry, ladies!)to show no diminution of speed and stamina over such gruelling encounters (approximately twice the duration of a marathon) is very much a modern phenomenon. Mildly curious, to say the least. Here’s betting Schiavone is fit and primed to go in her next round match.

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  7. Just an average performance from Fed. I think he is still trying to shake off effects of Simon match. I hope he is not injured or anything. I think its just temporary loss of convinction.

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  8. Worrying sign from Fed indeed, though I will never write him off whatsoever, especially after so many past experiences where he just hit form at the right time.

    He is now either struggling for confidence or start feeling the effect of tiredness. I’m hoping its just the former and that he could find a way around it, and soon, or it is going to be a roller coaster ride against an in-form Wawrinka. One positive to take heart from was the fact that he started playing attacking and managed to up his game towards the end of the match, as highlighted by Ruan. let’s hope he carries it into the next match.

    One more thing caught my attention, that I thought his body language was a bit unusual during the last few matches. He clearly showed his disappointment after hitting some UE or being passed after charging the net, which he would normally take them coolly or hide them well.

    I’m also curious to hear from you, about who has a better chance to upset Nadal in the semi, Murray or Soderling? Don’t see anyone else before the semi.

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  9. Just checked the stats. He is actually serving well at 69%, winning 79% of his first serves and 61% of his seconds. This is an improvement compared to his previous match, and an encouranging sign, as this is a key anchor of his game.

    He is still poor in UE/winner, receiving points won and BP conversion, all seem to point to a confidence issue.

    I felt his shots are rather conservative, hitting to the centre too often instead of moving his opponents. They also lacked the bite and penetration that we know he is capable of, resulting in some short and floating shots that gave his opponents the chance to hit big and put him under pressure immediately.

    Let’s pray that Roger brings his Jesusfed game tomorrow and all of us would be full of confidence again. Cheers.

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  10. Such small things make the difference. He made just one mistake, played just one brain-dead service game, and Robredo was in a position to take advantage, thanks to his good serving in the second set.

    Can’t predict Roger’s form from day to day. Fortunately he doesn’t have to be in God-mode to win the title; when he finally won the French, JesusFed was nowhere to be seen until the final.

    I’m optimistic that he can clean it up for Wawrinka.

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  11. Agree with you all about the worrying performance but I have another explanation – Federer is just bored. He was bored against Malisse and he was bored against Robredo. He beat those guys so many times that it’s hard for him to motivate himself. The problem is that those matches took him out of the form he was in and now he’s trying to get it back.
    Wawrinka is playing solid now – Federer must find his motivation (he should have no problem finding it in this stage and I’m sure he wouldn’t like to lose to his country man) and form for this match and for the rest of the 2nd week.

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  12. Murray absolutely destroyed Melzer today. If I was Rafa I would be a little worried about who’s shaping up in his side of the draw (once he gets past another token Spaniard.)The guy (who I had never heard of before) that beat Soderling is no slouch either. Things are looking more and more interesting.

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  13. There is nothing to get worried about…Roger knows when to shift gears and when to come up with his top finesse…
    nadal vs cilic can be interesting to watch tonight…nadal,if gets through(which he will most probably) will be having an absolute dolly in the quarters…what a joke!!!

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  14. Another reason Roger should keep FedError at bay and win this convincingly (apart from the effects on Roger, Nadal, and the game in general that everyone talks about) is the effect on Wawrinka: as mentioned earlier, he has recently “left his family to pursue excellence.” Yes, you heard it right – he left his wife and 11-month-old daughter to play better tennis (and had the brains and guts to announce it in that form on Twitter – twice, in fact). Now, imagine what it would mean if two weeks later he both overcomes the GOAT and advances to the SF of a grand slam, for the first time in his career: we will have to agree that it was worth it :-)

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    Andrew Reply:

    Leaving your family and child is not clever and should not be encourgaed. It doesn’t take guts.
    Agassi has warned for many years against doing such a thing for tennis. Roger’s life is an example to all other pro’s that you don’t need to go to such extremes to win at your sport.
    If Stan wins and he thinks it’s because he left his wife and kid then that is a very very sad state of affairs and he would’ve sunk very low.

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    Ilya Reply:

    Well, I was ironic, of course, about the brains it takes to announce it in that form. Pro athlets make their living mostly from endorsements, and to state “I left my family just to play better tennis” = “I am an asshole” = bad role model = no endorsements = bad judgment from Wawrinka. Moral issues aside, managing your public image is an integral part of an athlet’s job. He could have just said “things have not worked out” and nobody would have had an issue with that, so my point was it was a bad judgement from him to the point of being a classic “major screwup”. As to the moral issues, why is leaving your wife not a good choice if things are not working out (as they clearly have not for W, otherwise he would not have left)? Better than staying and looking to the side, as in Wood’s case, I guess.

    Fed wins! in every sense :-)

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    Andrew Reply:

    Apologies Ilya- I didn’t realise you were joking! You were doing a bit of ‘Andy Murray deadpan’ there! haha

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  15. I’m glad everyone is being realistic about Roger’s chances. He should win this match but he may lose if JesusFed is absent and if Warwinka plays amazing. I think everyone is worried because we all think Roger will win but we recognise that in doing so he may need 4 or 5 tough sets and that will probably effect him for the semi finals and finals. We are all hoping he can win quickly and move on to face DJ.

    I also hope that DJ beats Berdych. Roger has had alot of problems with Berdych recently and really should have lost to him in Toronto last year but Berdych blinked when serving for the match. That would have been Roger’s 3rd loss in a row to him. I think Roger has a better chance to win quickly in straight sets againt DJ.

    I also notice that Roger has been put on Rod Laver Arena first. Normally he would’ve been given the evening sesion. I wonder if that’s the tournament organisers helping him a bit because he said the other day that it was tougher against Simon to hit winners when it got late as the court slowed down. The organisers clearly want a FEDAL final- Nadal is sweating buckets so they keep giving him the night matches so he doesn’t de-hydrate too much!

    Playing a 1pm in the heat of the day will help Roger. He likes the quick conditions.

    I also saw that Muray destroyed Melzer and Soderling is out so much more chance that Murray will get through to play Nadal. I think that Murray has played the best tennis over the first 4 rounds so he has more than a good chance of taking Nadal out.

    Great post btw Ru-an.

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    MS Reply:

    Andrew, I am happy Fed has a day match which definitely boost his chances against Wawrinka. Fed was clearly not pleased with the conditions during the only night match he has played so far (Simon match).
    But if he gets past this one, the SF and F are obviously going to be night matches again, so should I be worried ?

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    Andrew Reply:

    Maybe

    But pn the other hand maybe not! Roger was saying in one of his more recent interviews that the conditions have changed and it’s hotter now (that’s why Nadal is sweating so much)

    So if he switches to night matches after this one he should be ok! It’ll be humid as hell and the ball should be quicker off the surface but not so baking hhot in the sun that he ‘sweats bullets’ as he puts it

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  16. Interesting thoughts here about Fed and his on-again, off-again performances. I think he’s saving something for the later rounds. Doesn’t want to show all his cards. Playing possum. Surely Robredo was never a threat to him? I recall Fed himself saying something to that nature a couple of years ago.

    And this ‘age’ thing? The guy’s 29. Not a dribbling doddering old fool yet, by any means. 29 is still young and healthy. If he has minor issues with recovery time, well, that’s why slams are played over 2 weeks. At least we don’t have to see a ‘Super Saturday’ and Sunday rebound like in NYC.

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  17. Fantastic stuff. Solid performance with some nice exo-like shots. I’d say an A- level for Fed, peaking into the semi’s. Curious to get Ruan’s analysis.

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  18. Also curious to know what Ruan and others think is the better match-up for Fed in the semis: Nole or the Berdman. I gotta go with Djokovic: Berdych beat him two out of last three and Fed’s Toronto win was by a razor’s edge, with lots help from the crowd at that. Whereas I think he really has Nole’s number, crushing him in London and beating him soundly in Basel and relatively well in Shanghai. And the US Open was the match of Nole’s life, while Fed was truly off-colour at times, esp. on the first serve %. And still had match points! So, let’s go Nole!!

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  19. You should fear Nole more, Nelson Goodman. Berd won’t do anything, but Nole’s won this event once already. And is looking very good. I give Nole great chances vs Fed, should it come to that.

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  20. Oh what a surprise Marron is backing DJ to cause an upset. It seems to me that after Roger’s sublime performance the Nadal fans among us are starting to panic as they realise that Rafa is NOT going to beat Murray and the GOAT in a row!
    Amazing tennis from Roger. I never doubted him for a minute (he he!) :-)

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    marron Reply:

    I give Nole a good chance, Andrew. That doesn’t mean ‘I’m backing DJ to cause an upset’, as you put it. My comment has nothing to do with Rafa. And, I don’t think IF the number 3 guy beats the number 2 guy, that really is defined as an ‘upset’.
    An upset would have been if Stan had beaten Fed. An upset was Sod losing to Dolgopolov.
    Before the AO started, Fed was looking the best. Now it seems, to my jaundiced eye, that Nole is right there with him. IAC, that’s why they play the matches.

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    Andrew Reply:

    LOL!! Thanks Marron your response actually made me LOL. You don’t give Nole a chance. You give him a “great chance”! And you suggest that a Fed fan should “fear” him!

    it seems to me that you’re hopeful that Nole will help out a certain bull for the final, no? ;-)

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    marron Reply:

    Sigh. Andrew, please read the above again. My response, initially, was to Nelson, re: his thinking that Berdy would be the tougher opponent for Fed. My opinion was that HE (Nelson) should fear Nole MORE than Berdy, and that he should cheer for Berdy to win instead.

    I do give Nole a great chance vs Fed, I don’t think this match is a lock. Do the betting sites have Fed down as a sure winner? I doubt it.

    Regardless, he (Fed) is looking very good after his Stan match, much better than the Robredo match. Make what you will of my statements, fine with me. But it would be good if you read less into them and just read the words.

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  21. I agree. Berdych is not the player that Djokovic is, as he has just shown by blowing his lead in the 2nd set of their match. For hard flat-hitters like Berdych every match is a lottery: when they are on they can be totally imposing but when made to rally at length they almost always miss. Cilic is much the same. Djokovic can be temperamental but he can certainly play. He also makes his opponents have to win their points, as Roger well knows.

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  22. I think that DJ is the perfect semi final opponent for Roger. A baseliner just like Nadal so it will help Roger get into his stride for the final against either Nadal or Murray. Warwinka rallied from the back of the court with Roger yesterday and look what happened!

    I don’t think DJ has the self belief to get to 2 slam finals in a row. In the matches they’ve played since the US Open Roger has improved against him every time. In Basel it was close (3 sets) In Shangai Roger outplayed him (2 sets) and at the ATP world tour finals he dismantled DJ on a fast indoor hardcourt (2 sets) when that surface is DJ’s best. DJ won the Paris masters 1000 event on a similar court last year and has always done well indoors. And yet Roger took him apart.

    DJ is also suspect mentally. Even though he won today he was complaining and muttering to himself the whole time. He also kept staring at his box. He is a great player but I don’t expect a repeat of the US Open semi. There’s only so many times you can close your eyes and hit at 110% before it falls out on match point!

    I was more worried about Warwinka than I am DJ

    Onwards Roger!

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  23. ‘I was more worried about Warwinka than I am DJ’

    LOL! You were? Silly Andrew.

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    Andrew Reply:

    Well I was also worried about Nadal in the WTF in London but I guess I was silly to worry there too, no?

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    marron Reply:

    I guess you were. Silly Andrew. :-)

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  24. Not much to complain about a straight sets win. Sometimes exhibition-quality, especially at the end of the second set. Seemed he was occasionally having trouble hitting cleanly through the court, a lot of spinny groundstrokes, and some shanks. Maybe it was the heat and humidity?

    Wonderful to watch him experimenting and enjoying himself with outrageous shots. Indulging his sense of play stimulates him and allows him to express himself, which also helps him play better tennis.

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