I apologize for missing the last two matches of Roger where he defeated Stepanek and Roddick. It was two convincing performances. He beat Stepanek 6-2, 6-3 and Roddick 6-2, 6-4. With the win over Roddick he made the head-to-head between the two players 20-2 now, one of the most one sided head-to-head records in the history of tennis. Roger looked very good in the run up to the final, so I expected him to play well. I’m sure there were fans worried about Roger’s evil twin showing up, but given the way Roger played throughout the week, the possibility of that happening was small. His confidence have been steadily on the up post Wimbledon. The win in Basel is yet another step in the right direction. There are many reasons that today’s victory is significant. With this title he passes yet another important record of Sampras with a 65th title.
He also becomes the first person to win his home event more then three times, and he has no won no less than nine different events at least four times. Amazing. But maybe the most significant thing for me is the fact that he has now beaten Djokovic twice in a row since losing to him at the US Open. He also exacts revenge for last year when he Djokovic beat him in the Basel final, and the head-to-head between the two now stands at 12-6. That is proper ownage. I got pretty annoyed at people who all of a sudden thinks Djokovic is getting the better of Roger at slams just because he got lucky in a slam once. So these two latest wins against Djokovic makes me happy. It should be obvious now that Roger was not at his best in at the US Open, even though he had match points. It is important that Roger does not allow a big rival like Djokovic get any wrong ideas.
This win will once again remind Djokovic who is his master. It is important going forward. Roger was too good in the first set, even though it wasn’t a great serving performance. He got the break in the third game to go ahead 2-1. Things went according to serve from there on. That meant Djokovic started serving in the second. Roger went off the boil for a while and Djokovic took advantage by breaking in the second game. Again things went according to serve until the end of the second set. Djokovic was back in it. Having said that, I expected Roger to pick up his game again in the third, which he did. But not before making two inexplicable unforced errors in the second game of the third set. One of them was an easy cross court shot with Djokovic at the net which he hit long, while on the next point he had an easy overhead which he tried to smack as hard as he could and it sailed long.
He should really have broken in that game, which made me worry a bit. However he got in together soon and didn’t lose another game. There was some wondeRFul shot making from Roger in this match, not in the least the backhand on match point which won him the match. The delight was clear on Roger’s face as he won his home title for the fourth time. It was a good quality match from Roger, bar the drop in playing level in the second and the brain farts at 1-0 in the third. Not as good as the performance in Shanghai against Djokovic, but pretty convincing nonetheless. The important thing is that Roger’s level never dropped much throughout this week. He showed good consistency throughout, which is another step in the right direction. Every win and every title gets him closer to his very best level.
Since Toronto Roger is now 28-3, with 3 titles, 5 finals, and 1 semi. Pretty impressive stuff. This week will be Paris, then a week off before the Masters Cup. Roger may be starting to feel a little tired by now, but if he gets a Wednesday start in Paris it should give him enough time to recover. I’d like him to give it one last hard push, after which he can rest up for the MC. There is a good chance to pick up points in Paris after a second round exit last year. He has also never passed the quarter finals in Paris. Given the form he is in he can easily make another final or take the title. The only possible problem will be fatigue. Given that Nadal has withdrawn, there is even more incentive to pick up points and close the gap on Nadal who made semi-finals in Paris last year. Just making the final would mean a 1000+ point swing at the top of the rankings.
It is important because Roger will have a chance to get the number one ranking back during the clay and grass court season next year, and break Sampras’ record weeks at the number one ranking. In the mean time the Paris draw has come out which you can view here. It’s a pretty tough draw for Roger who has Ferrer in his quarter and Murray in his half. Ferrer just won the Valencia title which means he is in good form. Ferrer holds no danger for Roger though in his current form. I’d really like to see Roger go to the semi’s and exact revenge on Murray. What happens in the final then doesn’t matter all that much as Roger might be getting tired by then. Then he can go after Nadal in London. This is a good chance for Roger to end the year with wins over all his main rivals and really get a mental edge on them going into next year.
Whatever happens I am very much looking forward to the Masters Cup where Roger will have a great chance of beating Nadal if they should happen to meet. That would really be the peRFect ending to the year.