Australian Open Rd 4: JesusFed def Over Hyped Del Potro 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 to Make 9th Consecutive Semi in Melbourne

Not quite what you expected was it? This whole match was decided in the 9th game of the second set. It reminded me of the 2009 US Open. Roger started out in Goderer mode. The first three games was the very best of Roger. If he kept that up we could have seen another 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 win. It was that good. But Roger soon got broken back as his level dropped only by the slightest margin. That is how small the margins in these kind of matches are. At 5-4 Roger brought up two set points with a scorching forehand winner down the line. Del Potro then served a double to hand Roger the first set. As was the case at the 2009 US Open, Roger went a break up in the second set as well. He did so with a genius backhand half volley winner down the line. Now it appeared that Roger was in control of the match.

But as we saw at the US Open, it was far from over. At 5-3 Roger served for the second set and had to face down four break points. It was everything but a convincing service game. He appeared extremely shaky. To be honest I thought he was going to lose serve. It was one of those moments that we have seen so often of late where Roger was about to let his opponent back in the match after being in control, and I was furious. But on the fourth break point there was a long nervous rally and Del Potro eventually hit the ball long, after which Roger let out a huge roar of ‘ALLEZ!’. He knew how important that moment was and so did I. Del Potro was not gonna come back from two sets to love down, and immediately my mind went back to the 2009 US Open. Had Roger held serve when he served for the second set there it would probably have been a straight set win too.

Del Potro did hit two amazing passes on that occasion after the score was 30-30, so you could say that was just too good. I guess Roger was thinking back to that occasion when he was serving for the second set this time, because he seemed very shaky. If he lost serve there we may have seen another five set marathon which Roger could have lost. But the fact that he held serve effectively broke Del Potro’s resolve. In the third set he broke Del Potro two more times. It was another clean performance with 57% first serves, 44% return points won, 38 winners against 22 unforced errors, and 5/8 break point conversions. The average first serve speed was back down to 180 km/h however. I think Del Potro was over hyped going into this match. After he destroyed Kohlschreiber in the last round I fell for the hype myself.

But Del Potro is clearly not yet in the form he was at the 2009 US Open. I won’t say Del Potro is overrated because I do believe he can play like that again if his body allows him to. But I don’t think Del Potro is top three level either. He hasn’t even won a Masters Series title. Roger said in his presser that Del Potro is in that group just behind the top four. I tend to agree with that. Del Potro doesn’t win enough tournaments to be top four. He is just not consistent enough, whether it be his injuries or not. I had a lot of expectation for Del Potro after he won the US Open but I have lowered those somewhat. He is just very injury prone and he needs to stay fit for a long time to really compete for slams again. To get back to yesterday to the match between Djokovic and Hewitt, it was much closer than I expected.

I predicted Hewitt would not win more than seven games, and at 6-1, 6-3, 3-0 it looked like my prediction was right on track. But then Djokovic’s seemed to get a bit bored while Hewitt showed some great fight. Hewitt took the third set 6-4 to the delight of the Aussie crowd, but Djokovic inevitably wrapped up the match in the 4th set. It was nice to see Hewitt play that well after all the injury problems he had. You have to respect the fight he has in him. Does this mean that Djokovic is vulnerable? No. Djokovic have lost sets during slams last year as well and went on to win it. If anything I think this match will be good for him after all the easy wins he had. I don’t expect any lapse in concentration against Ferrer. I am sure Djokovic wants to prove a point after losing 6-3, 6-1 to Ferrer at the Masters Cup.

I expect a straight sets win. But let me get back to the other quarter final match that was played today between Nadal and Berdych. Nadal ended up scraping through 6-7(5), 7-6(6), 6-4, 6-3 in more than four hours. It is funny how it worked out. I expected this match to be a straight forward one and the Del Fed match to be the close one, but it turned out to be the opposite. Berdych was booed when he stepped on the court but that didn’t matter. He played as well as I’ve seen him play. I mean in full flight he is a destructive force. After winning the first set he had set point in the second set, but missed a relatively easy volley. That was to be expected. Nadal was always going to be mentally too strong for Berdych, no matter how well he was playing. A clutch player would have made that volley, but Berdych is not clutch.

Compared to Nadal very few players are clutch anyway. After Nadal won that point and the second set, the result was inevitable. In the remaining quarter final match I think Murray will beat Nishikori. I think we will have the top four in the semis again, which would be a big treat. But for a change we will have a Fedal and Djokoray semi. The Djokoray semi is not certain yet but the Fedal semi is. No doubt there is huge expectations for this match but I am not gonna give my thoughts here. I will do a full preview tomorrow once the remaining quarter finals are concluded. Then I will preview both semis, but with most of the focus on the Fedal semi. Lets just enjoy for now that Roger has made an incredible 9th consecutive Australian Open semi and won his 1000th match. Don’t forget that Roger is on a 23-match winning streak too!

Ps. I forgot to mention that Nadal received coaching from uncle Toni again. I didn’t see it myself but @samsbiceps on twitter told me that Toni signaled Nadal to stand closer to the baseline when returning serve after the first set. I just thought I’d run that by you. Even after getting warned for it at Wimbledon and getting very upset over it, Nadal has not stopped his rule breaking.

Highlights: 

Presser: http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2012-01-24/201201241327394993764.html

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