Well it was another drama filled match against Mayer today, very much like the one against Monfils at the US Open. Lets hope this one doesn’t have the same consequences. That said, he will not be playing a player with a huge serve and destructive ground strokes this time around. Instead he will play against his US Open opponent before the Monfils match, Agut. And of course Roger beat him comfortably in New York, their only meeting so far. I for one am delighted that Roger won last night, or should I say early this morning? They finished past midnight in a match that lasted almost three hours. Roger came out looking rusty which was to be expected I guess, going down a break early on. Mayer was playing lights tennis out on the other hand. It looked like Roger would concede the first set, but somehow he managed to break Mayer when he was serving for the first set at 5-4.
And again Roger was missing many break point opportunities. Roger also managed to break Mayer at 6-5 to win the first set. But then he made the mistake of dropping serve in the first game of the opening set. The rust was continuing to show and Mayer picked his game back up again. Mayer also broke Roger’s serve when he was serving to stay in the second set at 3-5. All squared. Keep in mind that Nadal was upset by Lopez earlier in the day and Roger only needed to win one match to pass him in the rankings. I thought Roger would still win despite losing the second set, but it wasn’t nearly as simple as that. Serving at 4-5 and 15-40 he faced his first two match points. The first match point was most impressive from Roger as he saved it with an unbelievable stretch volley after which Mayer missed the passing shot to an open court by centimeters. That was huge right there.
On the second match point Roger hit a great serve down the T which Mayer did a fine job of returning, but Roger was clutch again as he blasted an unreturnable forehand. He went on to hold serve and the match would eventually be decided by a tie break. In the tie break Roger dug himself into another hole as he first went down 2-5. At this stage I really believed it was over and that Roger would blow a great chance to pass Nadal in the rankings. Not to mention I am on holiday and I finally have a chance to watch some tennis. I was already resigned to defeat. But apparently Roger wasn’t as he got the first mini break back with a terrific forehand cross court angled pass. Another key shot in the match. Mayer appeared shell-shocked as he missed an easy forehand wide on the next point. It was back on serve. But again I thought it was over when Roger missed a regulation forehand long to hand Mayer two more match points at 4-6.
The new outfit was nice as usual
Unbelievable. Roger held serve on the first match point with a solid serve-and-volley play. Then on the next point he came up with the clutch play again as he chipped a backhand return low to and incoming Mayer’s feet and made the backhand pass down the line. It was all squared at 6-6 in the final set breaker and they changed sides. On the next point Roger failed to make the return and yet again he was staring defeat in the face at 6-7. He then came up with an unreturnable serve and at 7-7 Mayer missed a second serve return wide. I guess he was starting to really feel the pressure himself at this point. This Federer guy won’t go away! The final point of the match was a bit special and the fitting end to a great match as Roger made another terrific defensive play and lobbed Mayer for the winner to clinch it. You had to feel for Mayer who was in tears as the two players shook hands at the net.
It was another very clutch performance from Roger which showed why he won 17 slams and why he is mentally still one of the best in the game. The ability to win matches where things are not going according to plan has been a trademark of Fed 4.0 and one of the things which has improved since Roger’s peak. Back then Roger was so dominant that he didn’t need the ability to win these kind of matches. But he has adapted well and this year alone have won several matches that he probably should have lost. Just a month ago he came back from match points against Monfils too. And maybe the best display of his fighting abilities was against Djokovic in the Wimbledon final coming back from 2-5 in the fourth set to force a decider. Even though Roger has not won a slam this year I think the ability he showed to fight and be clutch can only help his GOAT claim.
If there was every a question mark it was about his mental fortitude and he has done well to silence those critics this year. Hopefully all that fight and grit will still pay off in a bigger way towards the end of the year or the beginning of next year. Like I said Roger now plays Agut who defeated Pospisil in three close sets. He plays the same time today as he did yesterday. The big news yesterday was that Nadal lost in straight sets to Lopez but for Fedfans it was also big news that Nishikori was upset by Sock in straight sets. Clearly all the tennis of late caught up with Nishikori and the result was an open path for Roger to the semis, and a chance at becoming world #2 right away. But first he had to pass the Mayer test which thank God he did. I think we can expect a much better performance from Roger against Agut. And then if he wins he could well play Benneteau in the quarters who straight setted Dimitrov.
‘Well whaddya know, I did it again’
Another disappointing result from a player who I feel is overrated and over hyped. The player who I think is the real deal, Thiem, put in a terrific performance against Djokovic, even though he lost 6-3, 6-4. I watched the match and he was hitting some incredible backhand winners and just playing very well overall. It is just that Djokovic is playing otherwordly tennis right now. I think he will win this tournament too unless Roger can find God mode in the semis. But there is a long way to go anyway. I am just delighted that Roger pulled off the win, that he is the new world #2, and that I will be able to watch more tennis and blog more! Looking at the bottom half it really is extrememly open now with Berdych being the highest seed left there at #6. I think he will probably make the final too as he has shown some good form since the US Open.
All of this is because Stan continued his disappointing form since winning the Australian Open this year and Raonic withdrawing in his match against Monaco due to health problems. And of course the upset of Nadal. Lopez actually did very well to close out Nadal there in straight sets as he was threatening to do his usual comeback in the second set. Then Nadal has been diagnosed with appendicitis but decided to compete regardless. Clearly he does not have a very acute case but I think playing was not smart anyway. And now he has said that he will postpone surgery until after the Masters Cup? In contrast to Roger Nadal is not careful enough with his health. Clearly health comes first and Nadal should get this taken care of right away. Wasn’t the Lopez match enough of a clue? It’s not like he is going to dominate the indoor season or win the Masters Cup anyway…
That tie break: