Now you know why I was cautious not to be too optimistic in my last post. Djokovic was dropping sets all week while Roger was pretty much flawless, but when it came down to crunch time Djokovic came up with the goods. Djokovic is just extremely difficult to beat on these courts. It’s disappointing how Roger won the first set and looked like he was cruising to another victory, but you have to give credit to Djokovic as well. His defense is just incredible and like I said in my last post it is just very difficult to get the ball through him. In Dubai Roger could do it because of the faster courts, but in Indian Wells Roger could not find a way through Djokovic when it mattered most. Roger broke serve in the second game and played really well for the first set or so. But then at 3-4 in the second set Djokovic came up with one of those amazing defensive plays which allowed him to break.
He served out the second set and all of a sudden it was a set all after Djokovic was made to look pretty damn average by Roger. Then in the first game of the third set Roger was in trouble on his serve but did well to hold on. I thought this was a good sign, but he got broken in the next game after some more great defending from Djokovic. Then at 4-5 with Djokovic serving for the match Roger breaks back, which is testament to his new found mental strength. But there are two sides to that story, because from there on Roger was mentally poor. At 6-5 you would think that he will really try to test Djokovic but he allows Djokovic to hold serve to love, and in the tie break there is none of the clutchness we have seen from him of late as he loses it 7-3. So yes that was disappointing to me that he came up short mentally again at the end there.
But at the same time you gotta give him credit for breaking back when Djokovic served for the match. There were many clutch moments from him in the match and I still think he has mentally improved. It’s hard to criticize Roger after such a week. He just came up short right at the end but overall you have to say it was another great week for him. He is back in the top 5 and will surely be back in the top 4 after Miami where Ferrer has a final to defend and Roger did not play last year. I hope Roger can make at least semis in Miami or better. The courts there are even slower than in Indian Wells though and a lot will depend on his draw. 2014 has been terrific so far and I have a lot of optimism for it despite this loss. You can’t win everything, especially when the court speeds are not in your favor.
I wouldn’t have thought Roger would be in the situation he is in right now at the start of the year anyway. Aside from the loss to Hewitt in Brisbane it’s been pretty flawless. You just don’t expect him to win everything with the slowing down of the courts and quality base line grinders like Djokovic around. So I don’t think he could have done much better so far this year. I also want to congratulate Djokovic who showed once again that he can’t be kept down for long. This loss is positive for Fedfans in the sense that Djokovic has his confidence back and that is needed for him to stop Nadal on clay. Even though we want to believe otherwise it is just much more likely that Djokovic will stop Nadal on clay than Roger. Roger just recently lost to Nadal on hard court in straight sets after all.
If Djokovic lost here his confidence would have sunk even lower, and it would probably have been up to Roger to stop Nadal from winning another French Open. Now at least there is a fair chance he can be stopped. I am looking forward now to some more good tennis from Roger in Miami and for him to get back into the top 4 ahead of Ferrer where he belongs. Then the draws will also get a lot easier for him. Lets not forget that Roger is still building up towards something bigger and that this is not the end. His level is really good now and the important thing is the consistency, but he might have to wait for faster courts to have some serious success again. I think at Wimbledon we can expect him to be a huge factor again. If he wins an 8th Wimbledon it would be the ultimate anyway.
Onward and upward!