- Federer vs Chardy
So the action is under way and yesterday Chardy set up a fourth meeting with Roger after defeating Schwartzman. Roger did get revenge for his Rome loss to Chardy last year in Paris which was a close affair. Today however Roger got proper revenge as he disposed of Chardy by the same scoreline Nadal disposed of his first opponent Pouille, 6-2, 6-1. I thought it was a highly encouraging performance at the beginning of the clay court season for the second best clay courter in the world in recent years.
It was basically JesusFed, who was also present in Indian Wells. The match stats are just about peRFect and there was no rust whatsoever after the three week break. I guess Roger really benefited from his training camp with Thiem while Thiem got the opposite out of it, because he lost 6-4, 6-4 to the guy Nadal destroyed today. I knew Pouille would be a difficult opponent but that is still a disappointing performance from Thiem. But I still think Thiem gained valuable experience that will serve him well in the long run.
How about dat first serve percentage?
Anyway to get back to Roger he couldn’t have asked for a better start to the clay court season. Sure Chardy didn’t look great out there by making double faults and unforced errors, but he is still a dangerous opponent and for Roger to routine him that easily is pretty special. It makes me excited and gives me hope that Roger can do some serious damage on the dirt. So even though Thiem made a poor showing I think we need to at least thank him for being good preparation for Roger for the clay season.
I liked the look of Roger’s new outfit but I liked his tennis even more. From the start he was looking to approach the net and to be aggressive on the return. I think that will be key this clay court season for him. Even though clay is a slow surface he still needs to try and dominate proceedings and not allow the base line grinders to draw him into too many extended rallies. It is not easy to do because he has to be very precise, knowing when to full out attack and when to wait for the right moment.
Any thoughts on the outfit?
But given how he played today he seems to be very much in the flow of things still. Roger’s draw doesn’t get any easier because next he plays Monfils who defeated the Dog in two tie breaks in an impressive display. It was surprisingly clutch from Monfils and you would have expected the Dog to win at least one of the breakers. But the French have always been different players when they played close to home, and I am expecting a tough match for Roger.
Roger leads the head-to-head 8-3 and I am sure he is primed for revenge after losing to Monfils in the Davis Cup final last year. On that occasion Roger could not prepare for the match due to a shoulder injury, but this time there will be no such luck for Monfils and I hope to see a good old beat down. But like I said Monfils is a talented and dangerous player who plays well close to home. Personally I am just excited to see Roger play so well so soon as if he is just carrying on where he left off in Indian Wells.
This means we can be in for a few more JesusFed performances this week but lets just take things as they come. Roger’s draw is no joke because both Stan and Dimitrov is through to the third round which means Roger will have another tough match if he beats Monfils.
- Nadal vs Pouille
I watched the beginning of this match until 3-2 in the first set with no service breaks. I thought Pouille was playing well but that Nadal would win, so I left to go meditate. I didn’t want to meditate too long because of course Roger’s match was after, so I decided on 45 minutes. When I came back Nadal had already won 6-2, 6-1, with Pouille managing only one more game since I left. So I was just in time for Roger’s match. I was disappointed with Pouille but also realized Nadal must have played well.
Nadal was sporting a new paint job
So it looks like Nadal is very happy to be back on his favorite dirt which is an ominous sign. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. Who knows how far he will go in Monte Carlo but I won’t be surprised if he wins it. He is the underdog at the moment which suits him just fine. He doesn’t even have to lie when he says he is not the favorite anymore! He likes being the underdog and it will make him relaxed and confident. He now plays Isner who had that revival in Miami and who has looked good so far in Monte Carlo too.
That will be another test and will tell us more about his form. Like Roger he has a tricky draw which will be a true test of whether he is confident again.
- Elsewhere in the draw
Today all the seeds won, with only one of them(Bautista Agut) needing three sets to get the job done. The only casualty in the seeds so far has been Gulbis who got obliterated 6-1, 6-0 by Haider-Maurer. The world #17 is having a shocker of a season thus far and is 1-8 for the year. And the main problem with his game as far as I’m concerned is that monstrosity of a forehand he currently has. He actually used to have a decent looking forehand which was a decent shot, but then he change it to his current bizarre forehand.
It really looks ridiculous, like he is trying to take flight or surf. But that is Gulbis for you I guess. Talented but crazy. At least he has a personality which is desperately lacking on tour these days. Elsewhere Cilic had his first win since coming back from injury by defeating Mayer in three sets. Another player who had injury woes of late is Tsonga and he has also looked good so far. He will now play Cilic for a place in the quarter finals to face Djokovic probably. Djokovic is still the man to beat and should Nadal make semis Djokovic will take some stopping.
But we will see how things pan out. For now I am just delighted with Roger’s form. I’ve been delighted with it since Indian Wells but it is good to see him bringing that form to Europe. How cool is it to see him play that well at age 33? As usual we are being spoiled as Fedfans. Tomorrow center court will be stacked with blockbuster matches as the big three and Stan will all be in action. Stan and Dimitrov will start proceedings after which Roger will hit the court. Nadal will follow and Djokovic vs Haider-Maurer will conclude proceedings.
A lot of tennis watching to be done tomorrow!
The is in your court.