Congrats to Roger for making his fourth Australian Open final! In the first set against Roddick he seemed to continue where he left off in his match against Del Potro, playing masterful tennis once again. In the second set he went off the boil a little but it has to be said that Roddick put up a great fight. Both players would continue to hold serve until the 11th game where Roger broke Roddick to love. The third set was the same thing with both players holding serve until the 11th game where Roger would once again break Roddick after which he served out the match. It was a high quality match with both players hitting more winners then unforced errors. Roger hit a stunning 51 winners as opposed to 15 unforced errors. Performances doesn’t come much cleaner then that.
Roger even served double the amount of aces Roddick did, a very impressive statistic given that Roddick probably has the best serve in tennis. This is just the kind of match Roger would have liked to play before the final. Everything was working well and he will go into the final with full confidence. He has played two high quality matches in a row now and I think it’s pretty clear that the Berdych match is history and that he won’t have another bad match. After all Roger has been in 18 grand slam finals now, equalling Pete Sampras’ record. The only man who has been in more grand slam finals is Ivan Lendl, who has been in 19. So Roger will go into the final with a wealth of experience.
In the final Roger will come up against either arch rival Nadal or Fernando Verdasco, also from Spain. Verdasco caused another upset in the quarter finals beating Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in four sets. Verdasco looks like a different player in this tournament, maybe taking some confidence from Roger’s earlier comments saying that he expects Verdasco to start doing well in the grand slams. Does Roger ever get it wrong?! He also said that Murray is not the favorite for the Australian Open and that Djokovic didn’t make a good decision to change his racket before defending his title, both of which turned out to be true. In the other quarter final of the top half of the draw the number one seed Nadal easily disposed of Giles Simon in straight sets.
Simon didn’t seem to have the fire power to bother Nadal too much, although he didn’t play a bad match. Nadal’s damaging ground strokes coupled with he’s usual gritty determination proved to be too much to handle for the Frenchman. I expect a different scenario when Nadal comes up against Verdasco in the semi’s. Verdasco has got the arsenal of shots too take the game to Nadal and hurt him. If you can beat players like Murray and Tsonga you are a serious threat to anyone. I think a lot of people are expecting Nadal to win this one without too many problems, but I for one wouldn’t be surprised if Verdasco wins. In the past Nadal would have had the mental edge over his fellow countryman, but the Verdasco we have seen in this tournament is something altogether different form which we saw before.
He is playing like he believes in himself for the first time, and finally living up to the huge potential he always had. He has a lethal forehand that can hurt Nadal. Of course Nadal doesn’t have the worst forehand in the world himself, but Verdasco hits it flatter and won’t give Nadal much time. I feel that Nadal has had the easiest draw of all the top contenders and that may come back to haunt him. He hasn’t been tested at all, not losing a set in the whole tourament so far. We saw the same thing at the US Open last year where he made the semi-finals without much problems, only to lose to an in form Andy Murray. So really I think Verdasco can cause another big upset here and I wouldn’t be surprised at al if it happens.
The Australian Open seems to be the grand slam where players make a name for themselves with so many surprise finalists over the years. Players like Arnaud Clement, Rainer Schuttler, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and other have made the final out of nowhere and this year it could happen yet again if Verdasco triumphs over Nadal. It’s really quite an uncanny phenomenon and Nadal will hope that it’s all just by chance. Remember Nadal has never passed the semi-finals of a hard court grand slam. So Nadal has two curses to deal with here. Should he break the curses he will come up against the Federer of old in the final. Roger is one match away from tying Sampras’ all time grand slam record of 14 and he will take some stopping…