It was another pretty decent performance from Roger today, although I didn’t catch all of it on youtube. I thought Chiudinelli played just about as well as he could, and Roger did a good job of still winning it in straight sets. In the first set tie break Chiudinelli had his chance at 5-4 and two serves to come, but Roger came up with an exquisite pick up off his shoe laces at the net that just dropped over the net, and left Chiudinelli stranded at the base line. That was probably the most important point of the match. After that Roger broke serve again and then held serve for the first set. In the beginning of the second set, as we saw in the Masters Cup too, Roger played a loose game to drop serve and fell behind 4-1. That seems to be his latest pattern of play when he wins the first set. But what matters is that he came back and got the job done in straight sets.
Some people are claiming that Roger is still in exho mode, but as far as I’m concerned he played against two tough opponents in his first two rounds and did well to get the job done in straight sets in both occasions. Why ask for more than that? This is after all still the warm up event for the Oz Open and no need to play at his very best. Remember he also had some time off now and it may take some time to hit peak form again. The important thing is to try and build on the confidence he had towards the end of last year. I think things have gone well enough thus far. It would be nice if he can win this event to build on the momentum of last year. He will next face Viktor Troicki who he has met only once before and won in straight sets. Troicki has a big serve and can be a dangerous player, but he lacks in the mental department.
I doubt he has the mentality to pull off the upset here. Even if he should win a set I doubt he will be able to pull off the win. Elsewhere in the draw Nadal got bageled today by journeyman Lukas Lacko. Not exactly an honor for a world number one but at least he fought back eventually to win the match 7-6, 0-6, 6-3. There is talk that Nadal has been suffering from a fever, but I’m not sure what kind of fever lasts only for a set. Anyway the fact is he is through to the next round and remains Roger’s main threat at this event. He will now play against Gulbis which could be a test if Gulbis plays well. Gulbis is certainly talented enough to give the world number one trouble. It was nice to see that Davydenko also had a straight set win over Niemenin. Last year he won Doha of course, defeating Nadal in the final.
He was still on fire back then, but sadly got an injury that sidelined him for most of the 2010 season. He is the only player that I know of that has a positive h2h against Nadal and it’s important for the game that he finds top form again. Another guy that has had a bad injury problem is Del Potro, who I hear will be back in Sydney next week. Del Potro will take time to find some of his old form again and will definitely not be a threat as soon as the Oz Open. Davydenko may be however if he can have a good result this week. Davydenko will now play big serving Ivo Karlovic which should be an interesting one. I kind of hope that Davydenko gets through to face Nadal, but wouldn’t mind if Gulbis beats Nadal either. The remaining quarter will be between Tsonga and Garcia-Lopez. Things are shaping up nicely.
On-court Interview: Nice to see Roger caring about his opponents and friends as he usually does.
Yesterday’s interview (They come out a day late): http://www.asapsports.com/show_interview.php?id=68194