Not a bad result in the end, was it? Dropping a set was never going to be ideal, unless of course Roger came back to triple bread stick Granollers for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 victory. This morning I was woken up by my cat at the window wanting to come inside, and that was just after Roger dropped the first set. So my first thought was here we go again. But after seeing the way Roger came back in God mode in the last three sets I was very satisfied. Not that I watched much. My connection was really bad and I had to go to work anyway. Then later I caught the highlights and loved what I saw. This was, of course, a day match and there was a rain delay at 2-5 in the first set. When they stepped back on court Roger lost only four more games. Roger said in his presser that the wind affected him quite a bit and that the conditions slowed down when they stepped back on the court too.
Also, Granollers was playing very well at the start. So I think the combination of Granollers’ high level, the wind, and the fact that it was Roger first day match is what cost Roger the first set. Obviously when they came back on court things changed drastically. Granollers couldn’t keep up his high level from before the break and the wind had died down. Roger lost sets against players who were in the zone when he was in his prime too, so this is not a setback for his US Open chances in any way as far as I’m concerned. If anything his form in the last three sets makes me believe more that he can win the title. But it’s way too early to seriously start thinking about that anyway. The match stats for Roger was very good. I don’t see any weakness there. It is good to see Roger making no double faults again because lately there have been some of those creeping into his game.
I think after the break Roger started using his slice and variation very effectively to make things difficult for Granollers. It was just an overall master class with destructive serving, ground strokes, and net play. I mean to triple bread stick a player like Granollers who is top 50 and who has won four ATP titles takes some serious doing. That right there is enough to believe that Roger is back to his best and a serious threat for this title. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but the early signs are promising. Roger said in his presser afterward that he felt ‘very explosive, quick’. And if you need evidence see the opening point at 1-1 in the second set. Just unbelievable speed and racquet head control from Roger to hit the winner. So everything seems to be working well. I felt like in Toronto and Cincy Roger was playing well, but everything hadn’t clicked yet.
Some days his forehand was slightly off, some days his volleys, and maybe other days his backhand. But I feel the title in Cincy just made everything click, and although I haven’t watched a full match from Roger at the Open yet I sense that everything is working well at the same time. Both the backhand and forehand are looking good to me. That is why I so desperately wanted Roger to win Cincy because it just gave him that winning feeling and edge back right in the nick of time. He also said in his presser that he now feels very comfortable on the hard courts so that should give you another indication. It was an interesting presser overall. Roger gets asked about his level now compared to his peak from 2004-2007 too. He says that his serve and volleys have improved, but that he doesn’t have the same confidence he used to have.
God mode: ON
That confidence aura in his peak, I have talked about before and yes confidence is maybe the single most important thing in professional sport. But either way I think it is just terrific what Roger is still doing at this stage of his career. Never mind if he is a better player or not. To me, that is beside the point. I just find it fascinating how he adapted over his career by relying more on his serve and improving his net play. He is not as quick as he used to be and he doesn’t have the same stamina, so making those changes was smart. Also changing his racquet and hiring Edberg was big. Roger now plays Bautista-Agut who I have probably said enough about by now. I just don’t rate the guy very highly and if the way Roger ended the match against Granollers is anything to go by he will smash Bautista-Agut.
I mean this guy doesn’t even have a zone level like Granollers did in the first set. The only possible way that Roger can drop a set is if he really sucks. Much has been made of Bautista-Agut winning two titles(not three as I’ve been hearing) this year, but they were Mickey Mouse events and the highest ranked player he beat was Fognini who has zero weapons himself and a nutcase. If Bautista-Agut plays someone with serious firepower like we know Roger has, then he stands no chance unless that player has a bad day. We know tennis is an unpredictable thing, but it’s really hard seeing Roger losing this. Elsewhere Dimitrov won after getting bageled in the first set by Goffin. At a set all and 4-4 in the third set, Goffin double faulted on break point and that cost him the match. Dimitrov held serve and bread sticked Goffin in the fourth set.
I was actually disappointed because I am not quite sold on Dimitrov yet. I didn’t like the way he celebrated in Toronto after Anderson made a massive choke and I don’t like the fact that he is dating Sharapova. But that’s just me. He now plays Monfils for a place in the quarters against the winner of Roger and that guy with the long name. Monfils made short work of Gasquet who was once again a big disappointment. That should be an interesting match and chances are that it will be a long match and they tire each other out, which, of course, would play into Roger’s hands. Especially if he makes short work of the guy with the long name. Then Berdych won easily against Gabashvili as I expected and he looks to be right back on form out of nowhere. I guess he heard he was in Roger’s half of the draw.
He now plays Thiem who had a very good straight set win over Lopez. I like this Thiem. He has a sweet one-handed backhand and I’d rather support him than Dimitrov. He looks like a humble guy too. The match between him and Berdych should be interesting and I hope Thiem wins for various reasons. The big upset was Simon who defeated Ferrer in four sets. You would think that helps Berdych’s chances to make semis. It’s just crazy how Berdych all of a sudden started playing well now that he is in Roger’s half. But you could also say he was due a good performance. I sure wouldn’t be surprised if he makes semis now, but he still has to deal with Thiem and possibly Cilic, which will be tricky opponents. Anyway, I don’t care if Roger has to go through Berdych and Djokovic to win the title. It would just make victory all the sweeter.
Smilerer, or Autographerer?
So we have reached the round of sixteen and today there will be a blockbuster line up which includes Djokovic vs Kohlschreiber, Murray vs Tsonga, Wawrinka vs Robredo, and Nishikori vs Raonic. A great day to be at the grounds if you are in New York. The match that is creating the most interest is probably Murray vs Tsonga but I think they will all be good. The matches are actually tough to call aside from the first one which you would expect Djokovic to win given the form he has been in. I would like Tsonga to win as he would pose a bigger threat to Djokovic I think. I wouldn’t mind Stan winning either as he could also pose a threat to Djokovic if he catches fire. As for Raonic and Nishikori I’d like to see Nishikori win. I’m getting a bit tired of Raonic’s serve botting. Happy viewing!
The sick speed and control:
Post match interview: