As expected Djokovic prevailed in the final against Ferrer to win his third straight title since the US Open where he suffered another crushing loss to Nadal. It’s been an impressive run and he probably goes to London as the favorite. Of course we as Fedfans hope and know that Roger can’t be counted out. The fact that Roger did not win the titles in Basel or Paris is really immaterial at this point. What matters is that he improved with every win and steadily his confidence has been on the rise, to the point where it is peaking just in time for London. If he snatches the Masters Cup he wins the one that really matters and ends a difficult year on a high. Long way to go though. His first match is of course tomorrow when he plays Djokovic in consecutive matches after playing against him in Paris for the first time this year.
The importance of this match can’t be underestimated. Should Roger win it he gets off to a winning start, and immediately the pressure to pass the group stage decreases. After losing his last two matches with Djokovic the head-to-head is 16-14 in his favor, and opening the gap to three wins is certainly a lot more comfortable than if Djokovic closes it to one. Not to mention what it would do for his confidence to beat Djokovic who is unbeaten post US Open. It would once again prove that his confidence is still increasing, and all of a sudden he becomes the favorite for the title. I am tempted to go as far as saying he must win tomorrow if he wants to win the title. Losing two consecutive matches to Djokovic right now can’t do his confidence much good. But I concede that if Roger loses it is not the end of the road.
Head-to-heads for group B
Things just become considerably more complicated. Suddenly his remaining group matches are must win matches. I think Gasquet will lose all his matches. He is definitely the weakest link of the top 8. I think Del Potro will beat him tomorrow and if Roger wins tomorrow, the second qualifier from the group will be decided between the winner of Djokovic and Del Potro. If Djokovic wins tomorrow the second qualifier will probably come from the winner of Roger and Del Potro. At least Roger has beaten Del Potro in Paris and would have a good chance of doing so again. The problem if Roger qualifies second in his group is that he will probably get Nadal in the semis, which again is not the end of the world. It just makes things harder. He will play three matches in three days, and if he loses to Djokovic the emotional toll of the group stage will be higher as opposed to him beating Djokovic.
So although it’s not a fact, I think he must beat Djokovic in the first match to win the title. I really think the start is gonna be all important this time folks. And I do believe Roger has a very good chance of beating Djokovic tomorrow. He saw what he needed to see in Paris. He lost but he was all over Djokovic in the 1st set. He knows the match will be on his racquet. He lost because his game fell off in the 2nd and 3rd sets, not because Djokovic overwhelmed him. It will be a question of bringing his best game tomorrow and maintaining it. The extra day’s rest as opposed to Djokovic’s match in the Paris final may be what swings this in his favor. So Djokovic got the Paris title when Roger could have won it. Let him have it. It may well end up costing him the Masters Cup title. He beat Ferrer 7-5, 7-5 in two pretty grueling sets.
Roger’s hitting partner yesterday was Radek ‘Sexy’ Stepanek
Ferrer served for both sets at 5-4. It was disappointing how he choked on both occasions and could not take Djokovic to three sets at least, but at least he fights hard and both sets were mentally and physically draining. It may just have done the trick to give Roger the edge because he will be the fresher one this time. Djokovic will have only today to recover while Roger will be ready to rumble. We will see how it goes. The serve will be key as usual and Roger will need to maintain a high first serve percentage as well as point winning percentage behind first and second serves throughout. He must dominate and not get into many extended base line rallies. That will expose his weaker backhand side. To dominate he will need to serve well, hit his forehand well, volley well, and use variation. There is no doubt in my mind he has the ability to win this.
Short practice video: