Federer and Nishikori Score Straight Set Wins on French Open Day 4

  • Federer vs Granollers

Today Roger was back against Granollers and it proved to be another successful outing as he won 6-2, 7-6(1), 6-3. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but I’m sure he will be just fine with the outcome. The first set was routine with two service breaks but in the second set Roger got broken in the sixth game to trail 2-4. He didn’t allow Granollers to consolidate however as he broke right back after a long game. The set would be decided by a tie-break where Roger breadsticked the grunter.

Roger then got broken in the opening game of the third set and fell behind 0-2, but quickly got his act together as he reeled off five games to take a 5-2 lead. Granollers made Roger serve it out at 5-3 and he did so as Granollers netted a backhand return. It was a decent match with some interesting rallies, which included a double-handed backhand lob from Roger, followed by a one-handed backhand winner. There were loads of drop shots as well of which Granollers probably hit the best one.

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So in the end another good straight set win for Roger as expected, but I’m sure Fedfans can find something to worry about. As I expected the breakpoint ratio also improved and now there is nothing left to find wrong with the match stats. I guess if Fedfans want to worry they can worry about the fact that Roger got broken twice despite a good serving performance, but he broke back on both occasions and in the tie-break he also schooled Granollers. But perhaps there is on more thing Fedfans can worry about.

  • Mcenroe Makes Telling Statement

And that is what John Mcenroe said while commenting during the match for Eurosport. He said: ‘The older you get the more you can’t figure out why you don’t feel quite right on the court some days’(don’t remember the exact words but that was the gist of it). I found this to be a telling statement because I always said that the game is still there for Roger, but that I couldn’t quite figure out why he is not always into it mentally. So this is the answer for me. Roger is still doing extraordinarily well in the sport at his age.

I don’t think about that there can be much doubt. He is number two in the world and still very consistent. But there are days when he doesn’t seem to be there mentally like against Seppi in Melbourne and Monfils in Monte Carlo. It’s nothing new at all. It has happened since 2008 probably. In tennis, you decline physically as well as mentally, and some days Roger is just not there mentally. So this is currently probably the biggest problem for Roger, more so than his physical decline I would say.

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I say that because physically you at least know where you are, but the mental part is unpredictable like Mcenroe says. You just don’t feel the same out there on any given day and there is nothing you can do about it. This is why it is difficult for Roger at slams especially to string enough wins together for another title. His draw at the French Open is very friendly, but there is no telling when he can have another lapse and lose to anyone basically. But it doesn’t help to worry about what could happen.

  • Federer’s draw

Roger’s draw has been very friendly so far in Paris. He will face Dzumhur in the third round of a slam who I’m not even sure I’ve ever heard of. Apparently he made the third round in Melbourne too. Monfils also won in five sets today after a four setter in the first round which means he is already tiring out before a possible fourth round meeting with Roger. He is playing Cuevas now too who will be a difficult opponent. So things are panning out nicely for Roger and in his current form he is in the position to take advantage of it.

  • Elsewhere in the Draw

As far as upsets go there were four more today and that was Fognini, Gulbis, Bautista-Agut, and Verdasco. Gulbis lost to Mahut and falls 57 places in the rankings to number 86 as a result after making semi-finals last year. What a drop! Nishikori and Berdych are still on a collision course as Nishikori had a good straight set win against Bellucci while Berdych dropped a set against his compatriot Stepanek. Stan also had a four-set win against Lajovic and now plays Johnson who you’d expect him to beat.

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Finally, I was disappointed today to see Thiem losing 7-6(7), 7-5, 6-7(5), 7-5 to Cuevas after he served a double fault at 6-5 in the first set tie-break, and that is the third time that has happened in his last four matches. Had he won the first set he could well have won the match, but I will give him a break after winning Nice. At least he defended his French Open points and is now in the top 30 for the first time. I would have taken that at the beginning of the clay court season for sure.

  • Tomorrow’s Matches

Tomorrow the rest of the big four is back and like Roger today, the Djoker will play on Lenglen while Nadal and Murray get Chatrier. The Djoker plays Muller which I expect to be routine. Murray plays Sousa who is a dirt baller, but that will probably be routine for Murray too. The most interesting of the three will be Nadal against Almagro although like I already said I give Almagro almost no chance. I am just interested to see if there are any more signs of vulnerability from Nadal.

At least Almagro has beaten Nadal on clay before and he is not the worst player on clay. The biggest problem is his mental weakness and choking abilities. The other matches which I will personally be keeping an eye on are the two matches that involve youngsters which are Coric against Robredo and Sock against Carreno-Busta.

  • Highlights

  • Match Stats

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Two-handed backhand lob and winner Temper tantrum

The is in your court.

Posted in French Open, Grand Slams.

10 Comments

  1. Ru-an,

    I’ve been thinking about this and you hit the nail on the head. Mr. McEnroe is right about this. It explains why Roger wins some matches that ought to be difficult and loses some matches that ought to be easy.

    I’ve learned that anytime I try to predict or even wish for a certain opponent it always happens that I should be careful what I wish for.

    It has happened on many occasions. Most recently, last year at the U.S. Open 2014, I was watching the live match between Cilic and Berdych and I remember vividly rooting for Cilic. I was thinking – hey Roger has had difficulty against Berdych and he just recently beat Cilic – so I figured that if Cilic won that Roger would have the much easier SF. And we all know how THAT turned out.

    Same here. We wish and assume that Roger will have an easier time against Cuevas than against Monfils but you just never know.

    Also, I thought – thank God that Baghdatis lost but you just never know. I assume that Roger will win his third round easily but nowadays you just never know when that bad day will come. It could come later, it could never come or come the next match or the one after.

    Basically, it reiterates my point that Roger should be in the Final – on paper. But that was the same during the U.S. Open and in Australia. That is by far one of the easiest draws in a while for Roger, even if it is oh his “worst” surface. But we’ll see. In the end, even making the final will mean little unless he wins. Obviously it would still be a great feat but I just don’t see him winning the darn thing. At least not yet…

    [Reply]

    veronica Reply:

    It’s actually nothing new what McEnroe said. Others have said it. Maybe worded differently but essentially mean the same. Fans know it. McEnroe just refreshed and reminded us. It’s actually a lot to expect Roger to win a slam these days, tbh. The mentality required for such a feat, especially in this, the golden era of tennis, is not favourable for an older player, even if he is Roger Federer. But more so, I feel, is because Roger is an Artist. Artists feel it more. If It is their day, they are geniuses. If it is not their day, they are pedestrian. This may explain some of his bizarre wins/losses, as Vily mentioned, win when supposed to lose; and lose when supposed to win. Other players like Djokodal, when they don’t feel good, they find the discipline to rise above it. Not saying Roger can’t find it too but artists can’t always find it when they need it most to rise above their feelings/instincts. Roger plays well when he is instinctive; just another testament of how much he functions more like an artist than a disciplined tennis player. He has learnt to balance and cope with his artistic tendencies through the years; his huge trophy cabinet is testament to this. But as he gets older, it gets harder to deal with the artist within. Fans’ hope for no. 18 maybe based more on Roger being able to string together 7 “feel good” matches; rather than that he can/should beat who and who. His talent, fitness and new ultra aggressive game all need the “it” factor to bring him to the finishing line – as McEnroe said, when you don’t feel quite right, as you get older, and especially if you are an artist like Roger. But Roger could benefit from “outside” mental helps like sports psychologist, meditation, etc, instead of figuring things out all by himself. These helps can strengthen and stabilise some of the inconsistent mental tendencies that Roger would get more as he gets older. But I can’t see Roger doing that :-( so I will continue to hope for that 7 “feel good” matches to happen!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes, fans know it Veronica but they use the physical decline excuse more often. And that is wrong in my opinion. Roger is actually still in good shape. I don’t think it’s a physical problem as much as it is a mental problem. He can still get through long matches. The problem is getting mentally tired and not feeling normal on any given day. It basically just happens randomly, like at the AO or MC. There was nothing to suggest he would play poorly in those matches and it was certainly not physical tiredness.

    [Reply]

    balthazar Reply:

    The mind and the body are ultimately one, Ru-an. Physical fatigue can cause mental fatigue; mental fatigue can cause physical fatigue. Each aspect flows into the other, like an endless loop, so it’s almost pointless to try to figure out which comes first, especially with regards to the aging process. All one can really say with certainty is that growing old causes a general and gradual decline in both athletic and mental prowess.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Fair enough Balthazar. But the mind is stronger than the body. You can still overcome physical tiredness with your mind for instance, but your body doesn’t have that kind of power over your mind. If your mind is not in it there is no hope. I hear people talking about Roger’s physical decline all the time, but not nearly as much about his mental decline. Moreover, the mind determines something like 80%(or more) of your success in tennis. Just ask Connors. It is absolutely crucial to your success, and with time there have been more and more days where Roger just inexplicably collapses. That is not due to physical decline.

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    “Still, Federer knows the curtain is falling fast on his illustrious career. As his opportunities dwindle, his impatience grows. “Get it together,” he seems to be saying. Time is running out. Off days are luxuries he can no longer afford.”

    I thought that was very telling. B-)

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2477709-roger-federer-playing-with-sense-of-urgency-with-french-open-draw-in-his-favor

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    ‘Before the draw, few expected Federer to reach the final. Now he’s considered a lock.’

    Maybe he is a lock for the final but you wouldn’t guess it by the behavior of his fans.

    X_X [-O< :-SS

    [Reply]

  2. Looks like an encouraging start, two pretty solid matches for Federer. He seemed to be moving really well, which is absolutely crucial to his success on clay. If anything, it’s maybe the serve that’s a bit lacking in consistency at key moments, but it’s early days yet.

    Can’t win the title in the early rounds, but you can lose, the important thing is to move on to the next round without too much energy expended.

    I’m sure he’s motivated to do well in this tournament, given his poor results here last year and this year at AO. The trick is always to peak during the majors. Recently he’s been peaking during the runup to the Grand Slams only to suffer a dip in form during the Slam itself–Wimbledon last year (won Halle), USO last year (won Cincinnati), AO this year (won Brisbane). Hopefully, this time he can peak during Paris since he didn’t win Rome. So far he’s done OK with a title and final in the clay season but I think he can kick it up a notch.

    Chances are high that Murray will, for the umpteenth time, disappoint after raising his fans’ expectations, and lose early in the tournament; Nadal always gets lucky and this time, despite the “nightmare draw”, he’ll probably only have to face one of Djokovic and Murray. If he does meet Murray in the semis, the Scot will be straight-setted just like last year.

    I agree with Federer that the man who has won 9 years out of the last 10 is the favorite here. Nadal will almost surely make the final. He’s always back to his best by the time he reaches the quarters of a Grand Slam (AO excepted) so it doesn’t matter that Djokovic is playing him “earlier” in the tournament. And then Djokovic may have a bit of difficulty motivating himself in their encounter, since it’s only the quarters–even if he wins, he still has to play two more guys for the trophy so mentally he will have to hold back a bit against Nadal to conserve energy, otherwise he’ll have nothing left for the semis and final. Nadal, of course, never has any such concern.

    [Reply]

    Gargantouas Reply:

    Good points as always Steve. I only disagree on Djokodal. If Nadal doesnt lose this year, he will never do. At least it’s likely compared to other years when it was unthinkable. If Nole prevails, I’m sure he will have more in the tank to go all the way, he deserves to win it and hopefully we get an epic match like 2011 semifinal!

    [Reply]

  3. “Im sure Fedfans can find something to worry about….” ;-) Well, I have to disappoint you, Ru-an! I couldn’t find anything to worry about! :-) It was a perfect second round. Didn’t know the Grunter is such an all rounder. His drop shots are among the best, certainly better than Roger’s! Roger got a good workout; enough to give him some rhythm but didn’t expend too much energy. I love pissed off Fed. He should let it out more instead of keeping it all inside. I think it actually frees him to play better. First round he looked stressed. Last night he looked pissed. It does look like he is serious and wants this!! But one match at a time… …And about Thiem, what a disappointment for you, Ru-an, but I think it’s too close after he just won his first title. But I do think he needs a few years yet before he can seriously contend at slam level. His rise, if he does rise, would be more gradual than Kyrgios. Players like Kyrgios are rare but I’m worried for that guy; too highly strung; needs to get the right people to guide him.

    [Reply]

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