Hey, folks. Hope you had some time to enjoy the tennis. Personally I am grateful that I was able to watch the first two sets of Roger’s match, the first time I have spent any significant time watching Roger. And I was happy with what I saw(a cliche by now I know). I say that knowing that Roger is pacing himself, because clearly he was not trying to play his best tennis yet. He was serving for the first set at 5-2 and dropped serve, so the score really should have been 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. The fact that Roger won 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 while playing within himself shows you what a pushing mug this Bautista-Agut is. Just an old school flat hitter with no significant weapons whatsoever to speak of. Don’t get me wrong, Roger was playing well. But in the first set especially I was a little frustrated with the missed break chances and the loss of serve.
In the second set, Roger broke early on and with RBA serving to stay in the set at 3-5 Roger broke again to win the set. This is when I had to go to work, but I was satisfied with what I saw, hoping that Roger would win the final set 6-2. He did just that for a routine win. So Roger broke twice in each set and really should not have dropped serve in the first set, but he has won 17 slams because he knows how to pace himself through a slam. Why would he bring his best game against a nobody like RBA? He just did the necessary. He now plays Monfils for whom he will need to play well so it’s good he didn’t go all out against RBA. Looking at the match stats they were solid again and after the first set I thought the break point conversions were going to be poor, but they ended up being good. Another thing that struck me in the first set was Roger’s net play.
He looked amazing in the forecourt. Edberg-like. The movement and technique were terrific, and there is no doubt Edberg has had an influence there. Great to see. Now on to his quarter-final with Monfils. Monfils beat Dimitrov in straight sets, so first let me say something about that. I know a couple of my readers are big Dimitrov fans, but in my opinion he is not the real deal. Sorry guys, just my opinion. He is trying too hard to be like Roger and he dates Sharapova who I can’t stand. There is just something fake about him. He has a nice game and he will go far, but he is clearly no Roger Federer. No doubt the youngsters have made their move this year. Dimitrov, Kyrgios, Raonic, Nishikori, and Thiem have all scaled new heights. But the one that has impressed me the most is the one I mentioned last.
Dominic Thiem is the real deal folks. He is the one as far as I’m concerned. He is on his first full year on the ATP Tour and he is wasting no time whatsoever to make his move. It took Dimitrov four years to make the second round of the US Open. Thiem made a fourth round in his first go. Thiem is already ranked #45, and will be ranked #36 after the US Open. This guy is a prodigy and will probably be ranked higher by the end of the year. I remember Dimitrov’s rise in the rankings was steady, but it was nowhere near as fast as Thiem’s. Anyway, I think the future of tennis is bright and I am excited about it. The five guys that I mentioned all have great potential and the nice thing is that they all have attacking games. Ok back to Roger. He is playing Monfils who is clearly in impressive form, not having dropped a set so far in the Open.
I hated the white shoes, but Darth Fed will be back…
I have always known Monfils has immense potential, ever since I saw him playing at a Future I took part in in Paris. Tsonga was also there and while I thought Monfils was going far I didn’t think the same of Tsonga, even though Tsonga won the tournament. Anyway the French being the way they are, they are not exactly mental giants. Monfils is capable of the odd great performance which is why he is dangerous, but when he comes up against a really great player like Roger he is usually found wanting. He has beaten Roger twice before and trails the head-to-head 2-7. Neither one of the wins were particularly important though. Once in Paris 2010 and once in Shanghai 2013. Roger was of course injured last year and had a very poor year by his high standards, and the match in Paris went to three tie-breaks.
They have also met three times in slams in Paris, and Roger only dropped one set in those three meetings. I’m not overly concerned about Monfils, even though he has been playing very well I assume. It’s difficult to call a score line for this match. I think it can go anything from three to five sets, but I’m pretty sure Roger will come out the winner in the end. For the sake of saving energy, I’m hoping it will be straight sets or four sets at most. This will be especially important as it has become very likely now that Roger has to beat Berdych in the semis and Djokovic in the final to win the title. So in the end all this hype about Roger’s apparent ‘favorable’ draw is slowly turning out to be a lie. That is why I told you at the start that I don’t take draws very seriously and that taking one match at a time is always the best.
Beating Monfils, Berdych, and Djokovic, who all seem to be peaking, for the title is no doubt a tall order. But it is still one match at a time and it is not a guarantee yet. Roger has to get by Monfils, Berdych past Cilic, and Djokovic past Murray and probably Stan. So for whoever is winning the title it is going to be an uphill battle. I just wanted to demonstrate how little draws mean. As if peak Monfils is not hard enough, Roger can then play Berdych who historically has been a huge headache for him at times, and then Djokovic who is the best player in the world at present. Yet even if he has to beat them all I still believe he is good enough to do it. The main thing is now to focus on Monfils and trying to win in straight sets. Fortunately, Roger has only dropped one set so far and haven’t spent much time on the court.
He is in the position he wants to be in for what could be a very demanding second week. He is also feeling very confident. Personally I am certainly not worried about semis or final already. Monfils will be difficult enough to deal with and we don’t know who Roger will face in the semis and final, if indeed he makes it that far. He could end up facing Cilic and Stan for all we know, or Cilic and Murray. Even Nishikori can still make the final although after his five-set marathon with Raonic it is highly unlikely. How about Berdych though? The guy comes from nowhere after having one of his worst seasons in ages to destroy his fourth round opponent at the US Open, and he now looks like the favorite to make the semis. Obviously the match against Klizan was key for him to find his confidence again.
The many faces of Roger Federer during a press conference
But seriously, does he start playing better when he sees Roger in his half of the draw? You just know if they meet in the semis he is gonna do whatever he can to be a thorn in Roger’s side again. What I’d like to see happen though is that Roger beats Monfils in straights, Berdych in four, and Djokovic in five for the title. I think Roger will up his level with every round from here on anyway. I definitely expect him to be sharper than he was against RBA for his quarter final match, and I expect him to pick it up a notch for every following round. There isn’t much room for error. If he has one bad match it can and will probably prove to be fatal. Not only may it cost him the match, but if he expends too much energy it can cost him in the next round. Now let me look at the top half in a little more detail.
Djokovic straight setted Kohlschreiber and looks to be wasting no time in heading for his fifth consecutive US Open final. He has looked utterly invincible so far, but now the real competition starts. Murray ended up straight setting Tsonga which was a surprise to more than just me. Stan also looks to be making a very strong run here after defeating Robredo in four sets. The top half is playing today and even though Murray must have played well against Tsonga, Djokovic must be the favorite against him. I also like Stan’s chances. When he plays well like he has been he is very hard to stop, and Nishikori could be tired as I mentioned. Stan is also the one guy that can potentially trouble Djokovic, just like Berdych can potentially trouble Roger. It is looking more and more like another Djokerer final, isn’t it…?
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Point of the match:
Terrific net play: