Above you will find a rumour that was started today about Roger possibly taking off the rest of 2009. I found out about this nonsense earlier today, and although I told myself it was just a rumour, I couldn’t help remembering that Roger’s withdrawal from Shanghai and Tokyo was also just a ‘rumour’ at first. So I was kind of holding my breath until I knew the truth. Bless you Roger for quashing this rumour almost as soon as it was started, I for one appreciate it. And shame on you Yahoo for starting this propaganda! I hate it when the media starts a rumour just to get exposure, while at the same time they just show how little they really care about their readers. After this I would be surprised if any Fedfan pays Yahoo sports any attention again.
Today I didn’t have anything specific I wanted to write about, and for a moment I thought I would write about this rumour. But what would be the point of that? It would just help these people get more exposure and it would put doubt in my readers’ minds. So I am happy to share with you that Roger dispelled this nonsense on his Facebook profile today:
I have been back practicing and training now for some time and all is going well. I feel much better. I am looking forward to playing my hometown tournament in Basel . I have also had a chance to spend some amazing time with my family. Myla and Charlene are doing great. After training yesterday, Mirka and I took them for a walk along Lake Zurich. I am always excited to be back in Switzerland!
How cool is it to be a fan of someone that communicates so well with his fans?! Roger will be back in full force in his hometown tournament, and ain’t nothing stopping him! From what I have heard the Roger Federer Arena will also be done in time for him to be the first to play on it this year in Basel. It must be pretty cool playing in an arena which is named after you while you are still on tour, and it is symbolic of how he has owned that tournament as well. Watch out all other title contenders! It’s nice to see that Roger has spent some quality time with his family, and that should put him in good stead for his three remaining tournaments this season. Other info that I have gotten is that Roger has been back to his usual training spot in Dubai, and a Fedfan on rogerfederer.com actually spotted him in a shopping mall in Dubai with Mirka and the twins.
The fan was respectful enough of Roger not to invade his privacy and just politely said hello. I think that was nice, and it is what I would have done as well. Like we have seen today, Roger is considerate of his fans even when he is not on the tour, and he deserves the same consideration when he is spending time with his family. We excitedly await your return, champ!
Ps. Thanks for Doots from AllINeedIsAPicketFence for making me aware of Roger’s facebook post.
Well that was quite an interesting day of tennis, wasn’t it? First Nadal gets upset 6-2, 7-6(4) by 17-year old Coric, and then Roger puts on another master class against Dimitrov for a 7-6(4), 6-2 victory. 17 years old. Are you kidding me?! Clearly the kid has a very bright future ahead of him. I certainly didn’t expect him to beat Nadal but he showed great composure and maturity in the second set to hold on and get by far the biggest win of his career. So there is another new youngster in the mix which is nice to see.The teenagers Kyrgios, Coric, and Zverev have all come to the fore of late which is nice because it has been a long time since any teenagers have made big waves in the tennis world. Nadal’s loss to Coric means his tennis season is over as he announced he will finally get his surgery done and miss Paris and London.
It’s a damn shame as I would have loved to his behind getting kicked a few more times in the indoor season, but as we have seen from Nadal he only competes when conditions are favorable. He is never ‘injured’ during the clay court season for instance. And of course with this loss he avoids Roger in the indoor season as well, keeping his 23-10 head-to-head over the GOAT nicely in tact. It’s the story of the head-to-head folks. Nadal was very seldom good enough to face Roger on surfaces that favor him, especially in Roger’s prime. But Roger was always good enough on clay to face Nadal, being by far the second best clay courter of his generation. The same can’t be said for Nadal about indoor or fast surfaces. He is a very lousy indoor player for a so called GOAT contender.
I’m not even sure Nadal really has appendicitis. It’s hard to believe anything he says anymore, and who knows what is next for him. He could be finished and win no more slams, or he could surpass Roger’s slam count. He will probably win the next four French Opens anyway and become the ‘GOAT’ with the most unbalanced resume of all time. I don’t even care anymore. It’s not worth giving attention to, because he comes across as a child who is throwing his toys out of his pram to look for attention. Rather I want to focus on Roger and all the fantastic things he has achieved this year already. What a privilege to be a Fedfan! I say it again and again but it is so true. Even at age 33 Roger just keeps scaling new heights. Roger has won more matches this year leading up to Basel than he did in 2007(61 vs 58)!
But that is hardly a surprise to me given how little he played last year. Leading up to Basel this year Roger had already played 71 matches, whereas last year at the same point he had played only 49 matches! Amazing. The Nadulltards have already began their doping allegations since Roger can play so many matches at 33, but in the process very conveniently ignored the stat I just posted. 2013 was basically a rest year for Roger and I always knew he was gonna play catch up at some point. It’s been absolutely phenomenal what Roger has done this year so far, and the best may be yet to come. I would really like to see Roger claim this Basel title. There is always one more title to win and one more thing to achieve, and really we should just be grateful that Roger is still playing.
But if he wins Basel it would just be very satisfying for a number of reasons which I listed in yesterday’s post. If he does that I don’t even care what happens for the rest of the year, because then he has already exceeded my expectations. Roger now plays Karlovic who defeated Becker 6-4, 6-4. We know Karlovic is a danger with his massive serve, but we also know that Roger matches up very well against big servers. You have to like Roger’s chances for the title now after the way he disposed of Dimitrov. I could only watch the first set of which was a high quality affair. The first set was obviously very close and I was quite impressed with Dimitrov. For a while there he was looking very threatening but in the end Roger’s mental superiority and experience won the day quite comfortably.
But he is also more talented than Dimitrov. Dimitrov is just a lesser version of Roger. They have very similar playing styles but Roger just does everything a little better. That is why I am not crazy about Dimitrov. Who wants to be an imitation of someone else, no matter how amazing they are? Certainly not me. I want to be my own man. So it was nice to see Roger giving him quite a spanking in the end. The big test came with Roger serving at 5-6 in the first set to force the tie break. He had to face down three set points there, which if he lost any of this match would obviously have had a very different complexion to it. So it was closer than the scoreline suggested. Roger went down 15-40 in that game. He first came up with a forehand winner and then a second serve ace to save the fist two break points.
Looking lethal in Basel
As clutch as it gets. And then he saved another with a serve-and-volley on a second serve. It was just very gutsy stuff. Once Roger came out of that very difficult and long game he quickly took control of the tie break as he broke Dimitrov’s opening service point and wrapped up the breaker 7-4. It reminded of the match against Benneteau in Shanghai where Roger also won the first set breaker 7-4 and then put on a master class in the second set to bagel Benneteau. I missed the second set but from the highlights I could tell it was very high quality stuff. And as expected Roger tightened up his break point conversion rate. So like I said Roger now plays Karlovic while the other semi is between Coric and Goffin, who upset Raonic. I watched some of that match and Goffin is now on a 15-match winning streak after titles in Metz and the Mons Challenger.
He is surprisingly small but he has a pleasing game. Much more pleasing than the one-dimensional Raonic anyway. So it was nice to see him win. It should be an interesting encounter between him and Coric too. Both are high on confidence now for different reasons, and I’m sure the possibility of facing the GOAT in an ATP 500 final will be all the motivation they need to give it absolutely everything they’ve got. They will be on first followed by the GOAT vs Karlovic. And I am pleased to see they will be playing earlier today as it was already 3 am this morning for me when Fedtrov finished the first set. The Paris draw is also out and it looks good for Roger. The only guy that really poses a threat before the final is Berdych but I doubt that with the form Roger is in. Anyway it’s now all about today. Looking forward!
Edit: I screwed up with the stats regarding how many matches Roger played this year compared to last year(like I usually do), but it comes to the same. Roger played 22 more matches leading up to Basel this year as opposed to last year. It is fixed now and yes, you are allowed to correct me.
I didn’t make a post about Roger’s quarter final match against Gasquet because there was nothing to post about. He won the first set 6-1 and then Gasquet withdrew. There was some other big news however which was that 18-year old Borna Coric had another big four win when he destroyed Murray 6-1, 6-3. The other big four win was over Nadal last year in Basel of course. This young player is the real deal and a future #1 as far as my opinion goes. He got into the main draw as a lucky loser after losing in the final qualifying round to world #315 Martin and made full use of his luck by going all the way to the semis. He got man handled 6-2, 6-1 by Roger but he had done his job. He would have been tired after five matches and losing to Roger is no shame.
Along with Kyrgios and Thiem Coric is the future of tennis. The Dimitrov, Raonic, and Nishikori generation has been a bit of a disappointment but the next generation seems very promising. It actually looked like Coric could pose a real threat to Roger but he wasn’t ready yet. Roger did enough not to let Coric into the match, but only just. At times he looked uncomfortable against the youngster. He also made more unforced errors than he hit winners. The main thing that I was impressed with about Coric in Dubai was his physical and mental maturity. He plays a bit like Djokovic with solid ground strokes and good movement, but he probably needs to work on making his serve and forehand bigger weapons.
Old enough to be Coric’s dad? Lol.
Roger will play Djokovic in the final which is the final we have all been hoping for. It is a classic rivalry which have produced many classic matches. Djokovic had a tough test from Birdshit in the semis though which he survived 6-0, 5-7, 6-4. Birdshit played as well as he could but of course he lacks the X factor which you need to win the big matches and titles. But I don’t want to take anything away from Djokovic who showed once again why he is easily the best player in the world right now and why he will win many more slams. That said, you wouldn’t count Roger out to upset him in the final. He already showed he can do it in Shanghai and these courts are at least as fast as Shanghai, if not faster.
Roger also defeated Djokovic last year in Dubai, so he may even be the favorite. The only problem for him is that he hasn’t been tested at all this week, while Djokovic came through a very tough test against Birdshit yesterday. This will also be Roger’s ninth final in Dubai and if he wins it it will be his seventh title. But even if he loses the good news is that Roger 4.0 have stuck around this week, although the true test will be when he faces adversity again. Then we will see if he still has the clutch factor. As for Nadal he defeated Delbonis 6-1, 6-1 in Buenos Aires which will give him a lot of confidence. Nadal is still an uncertainty at this point and playing in another tournament so there is no need for Roger to worry about him.
But I’d still like to see a Fedal meeting in the near future which we have been waiting for for a long time now. I also want to find out if Roger 4.0 sticks around if Nadal rises again, because Nadal seems to be in Roger’s head and when he is dominating Roger usually slumps. I still can’t be 100% sure about what happened in Melbourne and I wana see if Fed 4.0 is mentally strong enough to withstand Nadal. But if Nadal fails to win the French this year we may never find out. Clearly I believe Nadal is in Roger’s head and I’d like Roger to exorcise that demon before it is all said and done, but he may never get the chance. But don’t expect Nadal to go down without a fight. Can’t wait for tonight’s final!
As I expected it turned out to be a close match but, of course, I gave Nadal the edge and Federer ended up winning 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 in what was a good contest. So all credit to Federer for proving me wrong and getting another win over Nadal at long last and in doing so winning his seventh Basel title and sixth title of the year. It hasn’t at all been a bad year for him. He just came up short again when it mattered most.
With this confidence boosting victory, he will also be a big factor in the remainder of the indoor season in Paris and London. His draw is Paris is good so he should try to make the final there at least.
As far as the match goes the opening three games made you think that we will see the usual result from a Fedal encounter because Federer went to deuce on his serve while Nadal held serve easily. But Federer soon hit his stride and played some very nice tennis.
As you would expect, he was the one who looked comfortable on the fast indoor courts while Nadal was on the defense most of the time. Federer broke serve in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and he broke Nadal again in the ninth game to win the opening set 6-3.
In the second set, he looked in control the whole time while Nadal was the one under pressure on serve. So it was against the run of play when Nadal broke serve in the eleventh game to take a 6-5 lead. He proceeded to hold serve and all of a sudden Fedfans were fearing the worst again.
At least Federer was serving first in the deciding set which was a slight advantage. He broke Nadal in the eighth game after a loose game from Nadal where he made two uncharacteristic unforced errors late in the game to take a 5-3 lead.
Federer still had to hold serve to clinch the victory which was never going to be easy given he was up against his nemesis. On one match point, he served an ace which got called out but Layani overruled it to add some more to the drama. Then on the next point Nadal had a very good look at a passing shot but Federer guessed the correct side which was huge.
On the second match point, Nadal sent a return long to the great relief of Federer and his fans.
What Does It Mean?
Not much, really. It basically means that Nadal does not utterly own Federer which would have been the case if he defeated him in Basel as well. Federer has over the years gotten some key wins over Nadal so although I thought Nadal would win today, I shouldn’t be all that surprised.
A sixth consecutive loss to Nadal in his own country after having his best year since 2012 with the way Nadal has been playing this year would have meant the rivalry was truly dead and buried. Now at least the rivalry is on life support, as opposed to flatlining.
There never was much for Federer to gain in this match as far as the rivalry goes. It was in Basel on a court that suits his game to the T so if there is one match where he is still the favorite to beat Nadal it was there. The only thing Federer had to gain from this match was to prove that the ownage is not complete.
I’m kind of happy about it because that would have pretty much ended all Federer’s hopes of being the GOAT. Nadal would have owned him so utterly that no unbiased person would have called him the GOAT. At least now he is still in the conversation, but of course if Djokovic catches up with him he will be surpassed due to his head-to-head with Nadal.
I am also glad about this result because it makes tennis more interesting. If Nadal won the rivalry would have been well and truly dead. Now at least there would still be a reason to watch any future meetings.
For Federer to make any kind of serious statement in the rivalry he would need to win a slam meeting. But even then the slam head-to-head would still be 9-3 in Nadal’s favor. I don’t see it happening anyway if he can hardly beat Nadal in Basel. It will now also be very interesting to see what happens if they meet in London.
It’s highly unlikely that they will meet in Paris as they are in opposing halves. In London, the courts are much slower than in Basel so probably Nadal becomes the favorite again there, but then again I said the same thing about Basel which is why it will be interesting.
In the end I am happy for Federer because seriously, losing even in Basel to Nadal? That would have been a bit rough for a player with his record. It would have been another terrible stain on his legacy after all the losses he already suffered to Nadal. It’s good to see him regain some pride at least if nothing else.
What Is Left of the Tennis Season
So we are into the final stretch of the tennis season with only Paris and the grand finale left in London(Davis Cup too but I couldn’t care less about it). The eight players who will be present in London have also been decided with Ferrer and Nishikori taking the remaining spots.
In the end, Nadal qualifies in the fifth spot which is almost surprising after the year he had. And he isn’t done. He could still be a factor in Paris and London. The Basel final loss was another very good result for him, especially after coming back in the second set and making it a very close match.
Let’s get real. He has never passed the quarterfinals in Basel and he came very close to winning it on the worst possible surface for his game. Even at his very best it is doubtful whether he could have done that so he is right there with his game.
Finally, Djokovic will be back this week and so will Murray. Djokovic will be fresh again after his exploits in Asia and history is now beckoning. It should be a very interesting last couple of tournaments. Djokovic has the opportunity to become the first man to win six Masters titles in a calendar year.
Given the court speed, you wouldn’t bet against him doing it. The court speed does not particularly favor Federer and the run in Basel will likely take a physical toll on him. Three out of his five matches went the distance and the final could have been particularly taxing.
Even if Federer doesn’t win another title this year this title and the fact that he defeated his nemesis is a good end for him. Of course, losing early in Paris or suffering more losses to Djokovic and Nadal in London is not going to help his cause but if I was him or his fans I’d already be happy with his year.
Sure he lost the two big ones but he is 34 after all. The limelight now belongs to Djokovic and if he wins Paris and London he will clock the best tennis season in history. The rest of the big four will do their best to stop him which will make the next three weeks a fun time in tennis.
Hey folks. First of all I apologize for my blog being offline earlier today. I got some emails from people who were concerned. If it ever happens again don’t panic. If I decide to quit blogging I’ll let you know beforehand. Now on to the latest Federer news:
Officially, I’ve decided that I will make the trip next week to Shanghai. I can’t wait to see all my fans and I hope I can win the Shanghai Rolex Masters for the first time!
OK so it’s confirmed. Roger will play Shanghai. Thoughts? As is the case with the India situation I’m not quite sure what Roger’s thinking process is going to Shanghai. Don’t get me wrong. I am happy for the Chinese fans and tournament. Not having Roger there would have been a big loss. But Roger have played a lot of late for his age. It was already a bit of a surprise that he played in Toronto where he made the final. Then another final at Cincinnati, semis at the US Open, and Davis Cup after that. I would have thought a longer break would have been better and then playing Basel, Paris, the Masters Cup, and Davis Cup. But it looks like Roger will skip Paris now instead and make the long trip to China. Surely he won’t play Paris now as well. That would be begging for burn out. After Shanghai he will have a week before Basel begins. After Basel there is no break before Paris.
And then there is a week break again between Paris and London. And of course the weekend after London is the Davis Cup final. I don’t think Roger is gunning for year end #1. I think he is trying to become #2 so he can have a top 2 seeding in Melbourne. I think that should be the plan anyway. If he wants to try and end the year #1 then he will need to play Paris, and then he is seriously jeopardizing his chances in Melbourne. Winning a slam at this point should enjoy priority over ending the year ranked #1. Sure it would be nice to tie Sampras’ record of six year end number ones, but Roger is not threatened by Sampras. He is threatened by Nadal and therefor #18 is of primary importance right now. The fact that he added the IPTL to his schedule in December on top of the charity match with Stan means he definitely should not play Paris if he does not want to risk burn out.
Not to mention that he has already confirmed that he will be back in Brisbane next year. I just think Roger had a great comeback season after 2013 and I don’t want him to overplay now and suffer the consequences in 2015. I think Nadal will rise again in 2015 which means Roger will probably have a down season again, given how they keep alternating. But at least I want to see Roger get the #2 ranking and give himself the best possible chance to win the Australian Open where he has been very consistent over the years. Roger schedules well and he will know best what is best for him. I just hope he doesn’t overdo it like he did in 2007 and 2012. And just to make it clear, the fact that he lost third round in Shanghai last year doesn’t mean there are points up for grabs. If he plays Shanghai and skips Paris, like he should if he had any sense, then he will lose 360 points for the semi last year in Paris.
Federer Clinches Davis Cup Tie for Switzerland in Deciding Rubber Against Kazakhstan
Hi folks. If you read my comments you would know by now that I’ve been teaching English at a summer camp in Thailand for the last week. It’s been extremely hectic so I had no time for posting. I did try to follow some of the Davis Cup this weekend, even though my connection was way too weak to watch a proper stream. The Swiss were playing at home in Geneva and Stan was first up on Sunday as the Swiss number one against Kukushkin in the reverse singles. I guess it was not all that much of a surprise when Stan lost to Golubev in four sets given his recent form. This put the Swiss under pressure from the start. It was up to Roger to tie things up against the Kazakhstan number one Kukushkin, and he did just that by routining Kukushkin in straight sets.
Saturday’s doubles was therefor going to be an important match. Fedrinka was up against Golubev and Nedovyesov. I watched some of this match as my stream was half watchable, and I wasn’t exactly impressed with what I saw. Stan was struggling again and Stan and Roger seemed to be out of sync. Something didn’t feel right. I could not see much however so I’m gonna rely on you to correct me and fill in the blanks. I do know that at one set all Roger and Stan was serving for the third set at 5-3 and 30-0. Or so I heard anyway. If that is true then it was basically unacceptable to lose this match. But they did so in 4 sets. It was a real disappointing performance from the former Olympic gold medalists.
Swiss GOAT digging out the win for his country
But like I said something felt off to me and maybe the fact that Stan was the number one player instead of Roger had an effect. From Roger’s comments I always conclude that him and Stan are very good friends, but then I sometimes hear something different from Stan. In tennis there are no real friends anyway because you compete against each other. A lot of these so-called friendships are just appearances. That is why I don’t rate Davis Cup very highly. It is a team sport whereas tennis is an individual sport. You depend on others and you are not in complete control. I’m not saying that is necessarily a bad thing, but it is not how it works in tennis. So Stan and Roger ended up losing the match in 4 sets.
Once again the Swiss were under pressure and it was finally time for Stan to step up. To his credit he did just that, even though he dropped the first set. He then recovered to win the match in 4 sets. It was up to Roger again to set things right and he made it look easy with a straight set win over Golubev to clinch the win for Switzerland. He was never in trouble. He broke in the first set and got broken back only to win the first set in a tie break, and from there on it was smooth sailing. Once again Roger showed his class and I think it is fair to say that he is the real Swiss number one going by current form. His form is still very encouraging while Stan has been a disappointment since he won the Australian Open.
Hey, guys. Thank you for all the get well wishes. Yesterday Roger played the last match of the day again against Ferrer who he had a 14-0 head-to-head record against going into the match. The match up was clearly favoring him, but when the head-to-head is that favorable in the favor of Roger I am always a little edgy that the next match will be the one the other player finally gets a win. We saw it with Roddick for instance where Roger lead the head-to-head 21-2 before their last meeting in Miami and was about to become the first person to lead a head-to-head by 20 victories. Roddick played a great match and defeated Roger. Well looks like I’m getting sick again. Gonna have to cut it short once more. I tried. I’ll allow you to fill in the rest.
Well what a special performance that was from the Maestro to dismantle a potentially very dangerous opponent. Benneteau had already beaten Roger twice out of seven matches before this match and came very close to beating Roger at Wimbledon in 2012. And Benneteau came out pretty much in the zone against Roger in the first set on this occasion. He hit some amazing shots including one Federeresque slice/drop shot winner with loads of side spin. He put a lot of pressure on Roger and it looked like this could be another long and difficult night for the GOAT. But there was a key point with Roger serving at 4-4 and 15-30. Benneteau had him in desperate trouble out wide. Roger could only just make the return and Benneteau could basically go where he wanted. He went back to Rogers forehand and Roger pulled off a brilliant passing shot down the line.
Benneteau was well in control of that point and had he won it it would have been two break points and he could well have won the opening set, making this an entirely different ball game. But Roger made a big save and the first set would be decided by a tie break. The first seven points of the tie break went against serve if I remember correctly. Roger was the first one to hold serve at 4-3 with an unreturnable serve and at 6-4 he took the initiative with a backhand cross court winner to win the all important first set. Roger hit some amazing backhands throughout the match and no doubt that is a shot that has improved. After Roger won that first set the resolve of Benneteau was broken and Roger went on to bagel him in the second set. Although Roger played some amazing tennis in that second set it was once again his mental fortitude in the first set that impressed me the most.
First the way he hustled at 4-4 and 15-30 to avoid getting broken and then seizing the opportunity at 6-4 in the tie break with an attacking backhand to finish the deal. That is what set up the easy second set because by then Benneteau was a spent force. Roger may not have won a slam this year but he may have done something equally impressive which is to prove the critics wrong who says he lacks in the mental department. And that includes me. Roger really proved to me this year that he is mentally extremely good and that there is a reason that he won 17 slams. But I also think he has improved mentally with age because he had to compensate somehow for not having the same untouchable aura he had in his prime. Roger will now face Djokovic for the 36th time in the most exciting rivalry in tennis today. This after Djokovic was back to his best by routining Ferrer 6-4, 6-2.
So actually Roger and Djokovic lost an equal amount of games and are both playing their best. This will no doubt be the real final because the other semi-final will be contested between Simon and Lopez. Simon upset Berdych who he now has 6-3 head-to-head against. And what is more he fed Berdych another delicious bagel. Delicious for me anyway as I can’t stand the guy. As for Lopez and Simon the head-to-head favors Lopez 2-1 and I hope he wins since he has a much more attacking and exciting game than Simon. To get back to Djokerer it’s a tough one to call. I think Djokovic is probably the slight favorite but I wouldn’t be surprised if Roger pulled off the win. One thing that I couldn’t help noticing yesterday against Ferrer is Djokovic’s overhead. It really is exceptionally bad for anyone in the top 100, not to mention for the world #1.
Against Ferrer he had break point at 3-1 for the double break but he missed another sitter of a smash. So really the score should have been 6-2, 6-2 but instead of it at 5-4 Djokovic barely held on to win the first set and was lucky that it did not go to 5-5. It also struck me that Djokovic’s overhead cost him the 2013 French Open title when he ran into the net after an overhead, and consequently the US Open that same year because he was shattered mentally after that loss to Nadal. And yesterday I found out it cost him the Olympic gold against Nadal in 2008 too. So his overhead cost him two slams at least, the Olympic gold, and the golden career slam. And who benefited? You guessed it. It just bothers be that a great player and a world #1 can have such a poor overhead which is one of the easier shots in tennis. He would have been in the GOAT debate by now could he hit a proper overhead, and who knows where Nadal would have been.
Not on 14 slams that’s for sure. I don’t know if Djokovic’s overhead will play any part in his match against Roger but I do know that Roger will be at his very best against Djokovic, and even that may not be good enough to win. At least he was the last player to beat Djokovic in Shanghai in 2010. I remember that quite well but that was still Djokovic 1.0. I think the kind of mistake Djokovic made against Ferrer with the overhead is the type of mistake Roger can and should take advantage of if he wants to win. Other than that he will just have to play almost perfect attacking tennis while mixing up the pace of his shots with slices to stop Djokovic from getting rhythm. Whatever happens I am just glad Roger comes away with his 360 points and made semis so that he can skip Paris if that is what he feels his body needs. This match is a freebie the way I see it but of course a win would be epic!
Today Roger was back against Granollers and it proved to be another successful outing as he won 6-2, 7-6(1), 6-3. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but I’m sure he will be just fine with the outcome. The first set was routine with two service breaks but in the second set Roger got broken in the sixth game to trail 2-4. He didn’t allow Granollers to consolidate however as he broke right back after a long game. The set would be decided by a tie-break where Roger breadsticked the grunter.
Roger then got broken in the opening game of the third set and fell behind 0-2, but quickly got his act together as he reeled off five games to take a 5-2 lead. Granollers made Roger serve it out at 5-3 and he did so as Granollers netted a backhand return. It was a decent match with some interesting rallies, which included a double-handed backhand lob from Roger, followed by a one-handed backhand winner. There were loads of drop shots as well of which Granollers probably hit the best one.
So in the end another good straight set win for Roger as expected, but I’m sure Fedfans can find something to worry about. As I expected the breakpoint ratio also improved and now there is nothing left to find wrong with the match stats. I guess if Fedfans want to worry they can worry about the fact that Roger got broken twice despite a good serving performance, but he broke back on both occasions and in the tie-break he also schooled Granollers. But perhaps there is on more thing Fedfans can worry about.
Mcenroe Makes Telling Statement
And that is what John Mcenroe said while commenting during the match for Eurosport. He said: ‘The older you get the more you can’t figure out why you don’t feel quite right on the court some days’(don’t remember the exact words but that was the gist of it). I found this to be a telling statement because I always said that the game is still there for Roger, but that I couldn’t quite figure out why he is not always into it mentally. So this is the answer for me. Roger is still doing extraordinarily well in the sport at his age.
I don’t think about that there can be much doubt. He is number two in the world and still very consistent. But there are days when he doesn’t seem to be there mentally like against Seppi in Melbourne and Monfils in Monte Carlo. It’s nothing new at all. It has happened since 2008 probably. In tennis, you decline physically as well as mentally, and some days Roger is just not there mentally. So this is currently probably the biggest problem for Roger, more so than his physical decline I would say.
I say that because physically you at least know where you are, but the mental part is unpredictable like Mcenroe says. You just don’t feel the same out there on any given day and there is nothing you can do about it. This is why it is difficult for Roger at slams especially to string enough wins together for another title. His draw at the French Open is very friendly, but there is no telling when he can have another lapse and lose to anyone basically. But it doesn’t help to worry about what could happen.
Roger’s draw has been very friendly so far in Paris. He will face Dzumhur in the third round of a slam who I’m not even sure I’ve ever heard of. Apparently he made the third round in Melbourne too. Monfils also won in five sets today after a four setter in the first round which means he is already tiring out before a possible fourth round meeting with Roger. He is playing Cuevas now too who will be a difficult opponent. So things are panning out nicely for Roger and in his current form he is in the position to take advantage of it.
Elsewhere in the Draw
As far as upsets go there were four more today and that was Fognini, Gulbis, Bautista-Agut, and Verdasco. Gulbis lost to Mahut and falls 57 places in the rankings to number 86 as a result after making semi-finals last year. What a drop! Nishikori and Berdych are still on a collision course as Nishikori had a good straight set win against Bellucci while Berdych dropped a set against his compatriot Stepanek. Stan also had a four-set win against Lajovic and now plays Johnson who you’d expect him to beat.
Finally, I was disappointed today to see Thiem losing 7-6(7), 7-5, 6-7(5), 7-5 to Cuevas after he served a double fault at 6-5 in the first set tie-break, and that is the third time that has happened in his last four matches. Had he won the first set he could well have won the match, but I will give him a break after winning Nice. At least he defended his French Open points and is now in the top 30 for the first time. I would have taken that at the beginning of the clay court season for sure.
Tomorrow the rest of the big four is back and like Roger today, the Djoker will play on Lenglen while Nadal and Murray get Chatrier. The Djoker plays Muller which I expect to be routine. Murray plays Sousa who is a dirt baller, but that will probably be routine for Murray too. The most interesting of the three will be Nadal against Almagro although like I already said I give Almagro almost no chance. I am just interested to see if there are any more signs of vulnerability from Nadal.
At least Almagro has beaten Nadal on clay before and he is not the worst player on clay. The biggest problem is his mental weakness and choking abilities. The other matches which I will personally be keeping an eye on are the two matches that involve youngsters which are Coric against Robredo and Sock against Carreno-Busta.
So the action is under way and yesterday Chardy set up a fourth meeting with Roger after defeating Schwartzman. Roger did get revenge for his Rome loss to Chardy last year in Paris which was a close affair. Today however Roger got proper revenge as he disposed of Chardy by the same scoreline Nadal disposed of his first opponent Pouille, 6-2, 6-1. I thought it was a highly encouraging performance at the beginning of the clay court season for the second best clay courter in the world in recent years.
It was basically JesusFed, who was also present in Indian Wells. The match stats are just about peRFect and there was no rust whatsoever after the three week break. I guess Roger really benefited from his training camp with Thiem while Thiem got the opposite out of it, because he lost 6-4, 6-4 to the guy Nadal destroyed today. I knew Pouille would be a difficult opponent but that is still a disappointing performance from Thiem. But I still think Thiem gained valuable experience that will serve him well in the long run.
How about dat first serve percentage?
Anyway to get back to Roger he couldn’t have asked for a better start to the clay court season. Sure Chardy didn’t look great out there by making double faults and unforced errors, but he is still a dangerous opponent and for Roger to routine him that easily is pretty special. It makes me excited and gives me hope that Roger can do some serious damage on the dirt. So even though Thiem made a poor showing I think we need to at least thank him for being good preparation for Roger for the clay season.
I liked the look of Roger’s new outfit but I liked his tennis even more. From the start he was looking to approach the net and to be aggressive on the return. I think that will be key this clay court season for him. Even though clay is a slow surface he still needs to try and dominate proceedings and not allow the base line grinders to draw him into too many extended rallies. It is not easy to do because he has to be very precise, knowing when to full out attack and when to wait for the right moment.
Any thoughts on the outfit?
But given how he played today he seems to be very much in the flow of things still. Roger’s draw doesn’t get any easier because next he plays Monfils who defeated the Dog in two tie breaks in an impressive display. It was surprisingly clutch from Monfils and you would have expected the Dog to win at least one of the breakers. But the French have always been different players when they played close to home, and I am expecting a tough match for Roger.
Roger leads the head-to-head 8-3 and I am sure he is primed for revenge after losing to Monfils in the Davis Cup final last year. On that occasion Roger could not prepare for the match due to a shoulder injury, but this time there will be no such luck for Monfils and I hope to see a good old beat down. But like I said Monfils is a talented and dangerous player who plays well close to home. Personally I am just excited to see Roger play so well so soon as if he is just carrying on where he left off in Indian Wells.
This means we can be in for a few more JesusFed performances this week but lets just take things as they come. Roger’s draw is no joke because both Stan and Dimitrov is through to the third round which means Roger will have another tough match if he beats Monfils.
Nadal vs Pouille
I watched the beginning of this match until 3-2 in the first set with no service breaks. I thought Pouille was playing well but that Nadal would win, so I left to go meditate. I didn’t want to meditate too long because of course Roger’s match was after, so I decided on 45 minutes. When I came back Nadal had already won 6-2, 6-1, with Pouille managing only one more game since I left. So I was just in time for Roger’s match. I was disappointed with Pouille but also realized Nadal must have played well.
Nadal was sporting a new paint job
So it looks like Nadal is very happy to be back on his favorite dirt which is an ominous sign. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. Who knows how far he will go in Monte Carlo but I won’t be surprised if he wins it. He is the underdog at the moment which suits him just fine. He doesn’t even have to lie when he says he is not the favorite anymore! He likes being the underdog and it will make him relaxed and confident. He now plays Isner who had that revival in Miami and who has looked good so far in Monte Carlo too.
That will be another test and will tell us more about his form. Like Roger he has a tricky draw which will be a true test of whether he is confident again.
Elsewhere in the draw
Today all the seeds won, with only one of them(Bautista Agut) needing three sets to get the job done. The only casualty in the seeds so far has been Gulbis who got obliterated 6-1, 6-0 by Haider-Maurer. The world #17 is having a shocker of a season thus far and is 1-8 for the year. And the main problem with his game as far as I’m concerned is that monstrosity of a forehand he currently has. He actually used to have a decent looking forehand which was a decent shot, but then he change it to his current bizarre forehand.
It really looks ridiculous, like he is trying to take flight or surf. But that is Gulbis for you I guess. Talented but crazy. At least he has a personality which is desperately lacking on tour these days. Elsewhere Cilic had his first win since coming back from injury by defeating Mayer in three sets. Another player who had injury woes of late is Tsonga and he has also looked good so far. He will now play Cilic for a place in the quarter finals to face Djokovic probably. Djokovic is still the man to beat and should Nadal make semis Djokovic will take some stopping.
But we will see how things pan out. For now I am just delighted with Roger’s form. I’ve been delighted with it since Indian Wells but it is good to see him bringing that form to Europe. How cool is it to see him play that well at age 33? As usual we are being spoiled as Fedfans. Tomorrow center court will be stacked with blockbuster matches as the big three and Stan will all be in action. Stan and Dimitrov will start proceedings after which Roger will hit the court. Nadal will follow and Djokovic vs Haider-Maurer will conclude proceedings.