Thanks for the responses to my last post guys. As usual you have come up with smart and respectful comments. There are still one or two of you who I want to hear from however and I’d like to keep he discussion going on that topic. It is a tough one but we don’t shy away from tough things on this blog. We deal with it. But let me get back to Roger and Halle, as I’m sure that is what you want to hear about right now. The match was at a difficult time for me so I did not get up for it, even though I’m not currently working. I’ve been struggling with a bit of a cold and needed my sleep. I just caught extensive highlights in Youtube of the match though. In such a one-sided match there usually isn’t much to analyze. I couldn’t get the match stats on the ATP site either so that makes it even harder. Basically Roger took care well of his own service games and obviously put a lot of pressure on Zverev’s serve.
Zverev is another talented lefty like Stebe with no big weapon. He is however a serve-and-volley player. The problem for him was that he doesn’t have a big serve and Roger returned his serve with ease. He kept the ball to Zverev’s feet and forced him to volley up, giving him time to make the passing shot. I have always said Roger’s returns are a very underrated part of his game. He is for instance very adept at returning big serves. We have seen time and time again how he handled Roddick’s serve with ease, and the same for Karlovic and other big servers. Look at this masterful display of returning from a young Fed:
How did you like the point at 1-0 and 30-15 in the 2nd set? What about the last return to break? Unreal. I think Roger is up there with the best returners of all time, but he does tend to chip quite a lot on the return. Of course having a one-handed backhand is not ideal for returning either. Anyway I was pleasantly surprised with this result when I woke up this morning. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the match against Stebe, although I wasn’t particularly disappointed either. It was just an average performance. But it is hard to call a double bagel an average performance. Strangely enough the last time Roger double bageled someone he lost the following day. That was against Guadio at the 2005 Masters Cup. I remember well watching that match and then afterwards he lost to Nalbandian in the final, after serving for the match at 6-5 and 30-0 in the 5th set.
Hopefully we don’t see a repeat of that against Haas tomorrow. The other double bagels that Roger have served in his career that I am aware of was against Del Potro at the 2009 Australian Open(6-3, 6-0, 6-0), against Alan Mackin in the 2005 Davis Cup(6-0, 6-0, 6-2), against Diego Hartfield at the 2008 Australian Open(6-0, 6-3, 6-0), and against Hewitt in the 2004 US Open final(6-0, 7-6(3), 6-0). I have seen the ones against Gaudio, Del Potro, and Hewitt. The one against Hewitt must be the most impressive given that it was a slam final and Hewitt was still close to his prime. I mean Hewitt is one of the toughest guys to bagel. Sure he didn’t have a big serve but he had one of the best returns and he gave 100% on every point. That US Open final was one of the most destructive performances I ever saw from Roger. Take a look:
At 3-2 in the 2nd set Hewitt has a break back point. Problem? Roger serves 3 aces in a row to hold serve. Prime Fed was monster. If only Nadal was good enough back then to make US Open finals he would have been destroyed. But of course Nadal used clay as a spring board to gain an upper hand in the head-to-head and then finally started to make some slam finals outside of clay. Anyway I thought I’d run that video by you for nostalgia’s sake. Haha. It’s nice to see Roger still double bageling opponents at this stage of his career. I think it was important as well, because Roger now faces Haas who beat Monfils 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-3. Haas of course beat Roger in last year’s final and Roger will need every bit of confidence he can get to turn that result around. A clinical and clean performance like the one against Zverev should help him.
The head-to-head is 10-3 in Roger’s favor but that won’t matter much tomorrow. Haas is playing at home and he has been a revelation of late. This is also the final as I see it. Whoever wins here will have a great shot at winning the title. In the other semis it will be Gasquet and Youzhny, so things are pretty much going as we expected. This is a big test for Roger folks. He needs to beat Haas and win the title. Anything less and his chances at Wimbledon this year diminishes greatly. As I said before none of the really big players are playing here. Granted Roger did not win the title last year and still went on to win Wimbledon, but this is an entirely different situation. Roger had already won 4 titles before Halle last year whereas this year he has not tasted title success yet. He must get that winning feeling back. That taste for success.
I believe Roger’s success at Wimbledon last year was due to a long process that started long before Wimbledon. He was knocking on the door and waiting for that moment to pounce. When Nadal lost in the 2nd round he sensed and opportunity and grabbed it with both hands. The point is he was in the winning habit and knocking hard on the door. That’s why I find it hard to believe that he can just show up at Wimbledon this year and defend his title. But he has to give himself a chance by winning Halle. Roger will play at 1 pm tomorrow which will be 5 am for me, and you better believe this time I will get up. This should be a great contest and I am very much looking forward to it. I hope you guys can watch too. I have started a thread in the forum again in case you want to leave live commentary during the match.
I feel like it has been a tough old start to the year, but I think this can be a new beginning. It can only get better from here on, and winning Halle would be ideal for making a fresh start. It’s time to believe again folks.
Presser: Roger said it didn’t feel good double bageling Zverev. Clearly in touch with his emotions and not an animal. He also said he hopes his friend Haas wins. What a nice guy this Roger.