Rome Rd 3: Federer avenges Stepanek 6-4, 6-1

Great to see Roger finding his feet on clay. As I expected he took care of the player he lost to last year in Rome pretty easily, never looking in any trouble. In the first game of the match he faced two break points at 15-40, but after he saved them it was all pretty much one way traffic. After having broken Stepanek he was serving for the set at 5-3, but dropped his serve after a disappointing service game. Stepanek looked to be back in the match but Roger made sure that was not the case in the next game when he played a terrific return game to break Stepanek again and close out the first set. In the second set Roger found another gear and hammered home the victory. Once again the forehand looked to be in good shape while the backhand was less solid.

The problem shot for Roger was the first serve, he only made 43% first serves. So even though it was a convincing win there is room for improvement. Against someone like Djokovic Roger would have to make a lot of first serve as Djokovic can attack the second serve and put Roger under pressure. But first he will play against Micha Zverev who upset Gilles Simon surprisingly easily 6-4, 6-1. This is in Roger’s favor as Simon leads him 2-0 in career meetings. It would have been nice of Roger could get a win back over Simon but the win is what matters. I don’t see him having much trouble with Zverev. This is Zverev’s first Masters Series quarter final and Roger’s experience and new found form should win the day.

Djokovic had a very easy victory of 6-1, 6-1 over Tommy Robredo and still looks in fine form. He next faces Juan-Martin Del Potro who you will remember beat Rafa in Miami. I don’t see him pulling off another upset here, so it does indeed look like a Roger/Djoker semi-final. Rafa still has to play today against Robin Soderling and no prediction necessary there. Unfortunately Wawrinka lost to Del Potro, so no repeat of last year’s final when he played against Djokovic. Currently Verdasco is playing against Richard Gasquet and the winner plays against Rafa. It would be nice if Verdasco wins to set up a quarter final clash with Rafa, but Gasquet is not to be underestimated. Well it’s good to see Roger playing well for a change, lets hope he can just keep getting better and at least make the final here.

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