Well this was the first match of Roger I got to watch this week and it was another solid performance. He got the break early on to go up 3-1. Then when serving for the first set at 5-4 Wawrinka played a great point at 15-15 after Roger was in control of the point. Wawrinka showed some good defense and ended up hitting a backhand down the line winner. He also won the next two points to break right back. Things were all squared again. It would come down to the tie break. In the tie break Roger would once again lose his lead. He was ahead 5-1 at one point after which he lost both his serves. But he broke again to take a 6-4 lead, and then served it out at 6-5. After that it was pretty much a done deal. Roger broke in the first game of the second set and again at 3-1. Roger now leads 10-1 in the head-to-head, one win away from another turkey.
It was a good performance from Roger with some glimpses of JesusFed. But the big news was that Djokovic lost only his fourth match of the year against Nishikori, and the second one in which he wasn’t injured. Who would have thought it would be Nishikori? But he really deserved it as he played some very gutsy tennis. Djokovic was just two points away from the final at 6-2, 5-4, and 30-0 on the Nishikori serve, but Nishikori played a very gutsy point then which changed the momentum of the match. Nishikori went on to win the second set in a tie break and then bageled Djokovic in the third. Yes, bageled. It was really a fantastic display from Nishikori and surely the biggest win of his career. I was of course wrong about Djokovic making the final, but it really looked like he would when he was just two points away.
I don’t think this loss can just go down to the fact that Djokovic was injured. Djokovic was in a winning position and Nishikori just took the initiative away from him. So Djokovic may not have been at his best this week, but all credit to Nishikori. A Djokerer final would have been nice, but I’m not complaining. Roger needs a title pretty badly and the Djokovic loss increases his chances. This will probably be the biggest match of Nishikori’s career and it will be hard against the GOAT in front of his home crowd. Moreover, beating Djokovic and Roger in consecutive matches will be a tall order. So Roger does go into the final as the clear favorite. He needs to take advantage and get his second title of the year. That would mean an incredible fifth title in Basel and it will be a great boost to his 2011 season and his chances going into Paris and London.
I just knew Roger was going to be very psyched up for the indoor season and it can add a lot of shine to his 2011 season if he can pick up one or two titles, not to mention give him a nice confidence boost going to Australia next year. Of course last year the indoor season turned out to be a fantastic stretch for Roger and sadly this year he is not playing as many tournaments. But nonetheless it could go a long way towards saving his 2011 season, especially if he wins the Masters Cup again. I would like to see Roger now win Basel and then really put in everything to win Paris as well. I don’t know if he puts less emphasis on Paris, but I don’t think he can afford to that this year if that is the case. He has to try to end the year with three straight titles so that he can end with four titles, the same as 2008.
I mean indoors is the one surface where he is still the best, and especially with Djokovic and Nadal struggling he needs to take advantage. Other big news is that Djokovic withdrew from Paris, which gives Roger an even bigger chance there. Nadal also withdrew. So I feel like Roger should really try to pick up his first title in Paris. He is rested and in form. The surface is also fast and suits him. The withdrawal of Djokovic from Paris also means that he can’t catch up with Roger in title count in 2006. It also means that he will have less wins at the end of the season, much less than Roger had in 2006. The effects of Djokovic’s physically demanding game style is really starting to tell at the end of the season. He withdrew in the final of Cincy, withdrew in Davis Cup, lost in the semis of Basel, and now withdrew from Paris.
What is next? Withdrawal from the Masters Cup as well? For Djokovic to be part of the debate for the greatest season in tennis history he now needs to win the Masters Cup. If he fails there is no debate. Simple. If he does win it then Roger still have many more match wins and more titles. Djokovic then only has the record five Masters Series titles which is better than Roger. For the rest Roger is pretty much ahead in everything. If Djokovic wins all his matches at the Masters Cup he will still have one loss less than Roger had, but his winning percentage will be worse than Roger’s no matter what. It is a tall order for Djokovic now. He is looking very jaded and he has to win the Masters Cup, preferably without losing a match in round robin. Or else there simply can’t be a debate. I really think Roger is now the man to beat for the rest of the season.
He has to get the job done tomorrow first, but I think he will. Then he will be hard to stop in Paris and London. Djokovic and Nadal is having problems, and Murray’s momentum has been broken by going to Basel. Tomorrow will be the first meeting between Roger and Nishikori. Make us proud champ!
Ps. It’s not confirmed that Djokovic won’t play Paris yet. Either way it looks doubtful that he can win the title and will probably pick up another loss if he plays.