And the struggle continues. Just as I thought Roger had turned a corner he gets straight setted 7-6(7), 7-6(4) by a qualifier. It seems these days Roger’s confidence is so low that even if he grinds out a tough win his confidence is still low. I really thought the win against Mayer would give him confidence. I didn’t just say it as a routine. You could see in that match how he was slowly playing better and better and at the end the desire was really strong. But I guess it is gonna take more time. Of course after the match it was highly disappointing and there were all kinds of thoughts going through my mind. Did Roger really hit rock bottom? How desperate can things get? For the second time in two events he lost to a player outside the top 100. If things continue this way he will soon be out of the top 10!
But after a while you start getting some perspective and realize that it is not quite rock bottom yet. Lets look at Sampras and Nadal for comparison. Nadal lost to Rosol and Darcis at Wimbledon the last two years and against Zeballos after his comeback. Yet he still won 7/9 events since his return including a major. Sampras on the other hand kept losing to similar players after he lost to Bastl in the second round of Wimbledon in 2002, but still won the US Open. I felt like Roger is going the same route as Sampras, but then I realized Sampras would not even have been able to make the semis of a 500 clay event. I’m not turning a blind eye to the fact that this is another very disappointing loss. But like I said things are not critical just yet. At least Roger won three matches and got some more matches under his belt. Losing in the semis is better than losing in the quarters or before.
With a serious lack of confidence and a new racquet, playing a lot of matches was his first priority. And he was one short of playing the maximum amount of matches in Hamburg. So in that respect it was a pretty successful week. It is however important that he follows it up with the title in Gstaad I feel. There has to be improvement, and in order for him to improve from this week he must win the title in Gstaad. You get 180 points for making the semis of a 500 event and 250 points for winning a 250 event, whereas you only get 150 points for making the final. But more important than the rankings is a title. It would just mean an awful lot to Roger to win any title right now. Especially before going to North-America and beginning his hard court campaign there. And again I am not jinxing. I am just being brutally honest.
I feel it is really important that Roger wins Gstaad just to get something going. Some platform to work from. Winning Halle gave Roger confidence but then he ran into a rampant Stakhovsky at Wimbledon and all that good work was undone again. So he had to start over. I haven’t given up hope on the second half of the year yet. I still believe it can be good for Roger, but I think Gstaad becomes pretty crucial now. It is just a small 250 event, and therefor it is even more important for Roger to win it. It will give him a foothold. A starting point from where he can achieve bigger things. Lets say he wins Gstaad, makes quarters or semis in Montreal, and makes final or wins Cincy, he would still be in great shape for the US Open. Things can change fast, but Roger must knuckle down in Gstaad like he knuckled down in that match against Mayer and pick up another much needed title.
The draw which you can see here is pretty good for Roger. He may get Brands again in the second round or his countryman Chiudinelli. In the quarter finals it doesn’t look like Roger will face anyone really dangerous. So there is already two more potential wins for Roger which will help him going into the semis against Monaco probably, who can be a handful on clay. Thankfully for Roger Del Bonis and Stakhovsky is in the bottom half. It looks like Roger may get Stan in the final, because Tipsarevic has been struggling. He may even get Del Bonis again, which would give him a good opportunity to get revenge. It’s make or break now. This is as good a draw as Roger could hope for and he is playing in his home country as well. As for today’s match against Del Bonis I didn’t say much about it because why dwell on a loss?
I’ll just say that Del Bonis was a tough opponent because he is left handed and has a lot of power. It looked like Roger was getting overpowered again, and so far I haven’t seen the new racquet add anything positive to Roger’s game. Roger still shanks the ball on a regular basis, especially on his backhand, and like I said it doesn’t seem like it gives him much added power. Del Bonis was hitting it big and keeping Roger under constant pressure. One thing I have noticed of late is that Roger has slimmed down. Maybe to help with his movement? But maybe he needs to take my advice and bulk up a bit. Start adding some muscle to that skinny upper body so that he doesn’t get overpowered on such a regular basis. It really is an issue, and like I said it doesn’t seem like the racquet is helping in that respect.
And if the racquet is not helping to reduce mishits and give him more power, then what is it good for? But whatever racquet he is using he needs to find some more confidence fast. And just maybe he still needs to adjust to the racquet a bit more too. You can be sure if he wins Gstaad it will all of a sudden seem like the racquet is making a difference, even if it is just marginal. Another thing I didn’t mention is Roger’s back. It seems like it is still a problem as he had it strapped today and missed this mornings practice session. I can’t say much about it because we just don’t know how much it is affecting him. Skipping the practice and wearing the strapping may be just a precautionary measure again. All I know is that Roger can’t keep getting overpowered by today’s heavy hitters. If the new racquet is not doing the trick then he needs to bulk up.
Lets say he wins Gstaad and does well in Montreal and Cincy, and then gets blown off the court at the US Open by the likes of Berdych again. He must find a way to counter these big power players, or he will become more and more irrelevant with each passing event. But lets hope he wins Gstaad and then we take it from there. I’m gonna try to remain optimistic.