What a performance from the Maestro. I expected a tougher match as did most other people, but Roger was like the great wall of China who wouldn’t let Tomic into the match. Every time Tomic got a half chance Roger would snuff it out with some masterful play. It was obvious from the start that Tomic was playing much more attacking tennis than in his previous matches. Massaging the ball was not gonna get the job done against Roger, but neither was attacking play. Roger surprised me a bit. I thought he would win but not this easily. He expended little energy and is now fresh for the hard road that lies ahead. It was clear from the start today that Roger meant business. I joined the match at 3-3 in the first and could immediately sense that Roger was in some kind of zone. The first set was close but Roger got the break to take a 5-4 lead.
Roger needed just one set to figure his opponent out and from there on shut Tomic out of the match. He got two early breaks in the second set, after which Tomic got one break back, but he broke again in the 7th game. In the third set there were two more breaks from Roger and it was all over. Just another very clean, efficient performance from the GOAT. The first serve percentage was good again at 58% and the average first serve speed was back at 188km/h. It was a bit slower in his first two matches, but as one of you suggested he has raised the speed in the tougher matches. I expect this to continue for the remaining matches. The winner to unforced error ratio was a very good 45/28 and the same for the break point conversions which was 6/10. Basically Roger just played too fast for Tomic. Tomic had a great tournament but he ran into someone who was on a totally different level than his previous opponents.
Tomic’s presser had some good stuff in it:
Q. How do you sort of say what you learnt most out of it then?
BERNARD TOMIC: It’s very good experience to play a player like that. You know, I don’t think there will ever be as good of a player as him. I think you can only learn what he does and take in what you learned. Last time I learned a lot of things when I played him, and this time I learned even more.
For me, it’s a great pleasure and honor to play him. I think you learn a lot over the period when you play these top guys, top three or four guys. You can just only get better if you lose against him.
Q. What was different about tonight that you learned compared to Sydney?
BERNARD TOMIC: Ah, grass I have more chance against him, you know, my slices I can use a little bit more and the ball stays lower. Hard courts he’s always in balance. The harder I hit it, you know, the ball comes back in a different corner and ends up always being a winner.
It’s very strange. Never did experience my balls that I hit that hard to come back and to be a winner. It’s good to watch, you know. (Laughter.) Even for me, you know, playing, I enjoy watching it.
Q. Seems like after a couple of his dropshots you shook your head and said, Wow.
BERNARD TOMIC: I don’t know how he does it in that situation. I mean, the ball happens so fast, and to think to do a dropshot in that moment, too good, because I ain’t running. (Laughing.)
Q. Did he say anything to you at all after the game?
BERNARD TOMIC: Yeah, he said, you know, Great tournament, again, and work hard.
Q. Would it be fair to say, with all respect, did you feel like a teenager out there tonight? Was it sort of like man versus boy to an extent?
BERNARD TOMIC: Well, now I know when I’m sitting at home and he makes Davydenko look like it’s nothing. You know, you see these players lose 6‑2, 6‑1 to him, and, yeah, there’s nothing you can do.
Like I said, I played pretty decent at times, but when I played well at times, he just played better and there was nothing I could do. He broke my confidence down.
I thought this presser from Tomic gave us a good idea of what it’s like to face JesusFed. I mean you can play a good match but still have zero chance and basically just be a spectator. You just gotta smile and say too good, which is what Tomic did. There have been a lot of criticism of Tomic which I think was unnecessary. Roger is his idol after all so he can’t be that bad, and he took the loss very well. In fact he seemed like he just enjoyed being on the court with Roger, even though he got destroyed. It was also nice to see what Roger said to him at the net. There is a mutual respect there. It was good to see Roger in such destructive form because he now comes up against a big test in Del Potro. Del Potro proved to me that he really means business by destroying Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-2, 6-1. And again Booya got the prediction right when he said it will be three easy sets. Impressive.
Del Potro looks ominous. He is a player with massive power that can hit through anyone on a good day. If he is really playing at his best level then he will be incredibly hard to stop. A good example of this is the French Open 2009 semi where he had Roger on the ropes. Del Potro was basically hitting Roger off the court, and it took all of Roger’s court craft to hang in there until Del Potro tired. And then of course there is the US Open 2009 final. Is Del Potro back to that kind of form yet? It’s hard to say but he may well be, in which case this will be another cracker of a match. I can imagine that Del Potro likes this surface too. He will have time to wind up those big ground strokes and hit through the court. I don’t exactly know what kind of game plan Roger should employ because if the giant fires on all cylinders there is not much you can do.
In Roger’s presser he said he will mix things up and that he will also need to stay aggressive. He will need to take time away from Del Potro and not allow him to dominate with those huge ground strokes, while mixing it up will also not allow Del Potro to settle into a rhythm. There is no doubt that Del Potro is a huge threat to any player when he is on his game, even to Djokovic. So he certainly can’t be taken lightly. But at least Roger is in JesusFed mode. That makes himself very hard to stop. All I know is that Roger’s draw is incredibly tough. If he is going to get #17 here he is going to have to do it in the hardest way possible. I think it is pretty certain that he will have to play Nadal in the semis and Djokovic in the final, and that after playing Del Potro. It is scary to think that despite how well he played against Tomic, he will probably have to get even better with every match.
Tomic is a lightweight compared to what lies ahead for R0ger. I don’t think Roger is playing much worse than he played in his prime right now, but the field have caught up. One thing that worried me a bit is that these days Roger always have one ‘off’ match during a tournament, because he certainly can’t afford it here. But I will let the Beck walkover count as the ‘off’ match. Roger just has to get better from here on, and I am positive that he can do so. If I have to make a prediction about the Del Potro match I am going to say Roger will win in four, because that is what he has to do. Roger’s five set record is not that great. On the other hand if it goes to five Del Potro may just get tired, and it will be a day match. But I don’t want this match to take too much out of Roger before playing Nadal. On the other hand I think he will have two days off before the semis which would give him enough time to rest.
Whatever the case may be we are now moving into the business end of the tournament and personally I relish the challenge that lies ahead for Roger. Elsewhere in draw Nadal had an easy 6-4, 6-4. 6-2 win over Lopez as was completely expected. It was a terribly boring match, the kind of match that you often see Nadal play and which kills tennis. Nadal will now play Berdych, who beat Almagro 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(3), 7-6(2) in another controversial match. During one point Almagro went straight at the body of Berdych and tagged him. It was a perfectly legitimate shot and definitely the right shot to play in the situation. There was no ill will intended from Almagro. He was just doing what he had to to win the point. Immediately after hitting the shot he went to look if Berdych was ok. Berdych just ignored him however and walked away.
Then when the match was concluded Berdych would not shake Almagro’s hand. I thought that was terrible sportsmanship and the crowd rightfully got on Berdych’s case thereafter. He was booed all the way through his on court interview and as he left the court. You know I don’t have much time for Berdych and now you know why. The crowd will now probably be on his case again when he plays against Nadal. As if Nadal needs things to be any easier. Berdych never had much of a chance, but if the crowd gets on Berdych’s case he may just be utterly destroyed here. As far as today goes, Murray won easily after Kukushkin withdrew trailing 6-1, 6-1. Murray’s draw appeared the hardest on paper, but in reality it has been the easiest probably. And it got just a bit easier today when Tsonga lost in five sets to Nishikori.
Clearly Tsonga is not consistent enough yet to win a slam. All credit to Nishikori though as he became the first Japanese man in 80 years to make the quarters of a slam. As I am writing this Ferrer has just beaten Gasquet easily. The only fourth round match left now is Djokovic against Hewitt. I expect Hewitt to get max 7 games. Then Ferrer/Djokovic should be more competitive in the quarters. Ferrer beat Djokovic 6-3, 6-1 at the Masters Cup, and I am sure Djokovic is eager to reverse that result. Well I think I have covered just about everything. I’m looking forward to the quarters. Things are about to get interesting…
Ps: Forgot to mention some of the ingenious shots Roger played in this match. The backhand half volley down the line with Tomic at the net was extra special. The high backhand smash was not all bad either. For good measure Roger did the fake drop shot where he hits the ball deep on match point. Other than that his backhand down the line was simply on fire. PeRFect!
The Berdych incident: