Federer Entertains in Tricky US Open First Round

Hi, folks. Roger is safely into the second round of the 2014 US Open, but with more difficulty than expected. I tried to watch the match, but my laptop wouldn’t pick up my wi-fi network, so I didn’t see much. From the highlights and other sources, I gather that both Roger and Matosevic played very well, other than the third set mental slump from Roger. From what I saw Matosevic played much better than I thought he would, but from what I saw Roger played really well too. He was up to his old brilliance with one or two unbelievable shots, and his backhand looked to be back to peak level. In many ways, he looked like the Roger of old, which was very encouraging and positive. As I expected the title in Cincy boosted his confidence, and I am liking his chances to win #18 here even more.

The problem is Djokovic clearly can’t be written off either, but more about that later. I don’t think the relatively close scoreline of 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4) for a first round is anything to worry about. If Roger didn’t slip up in the third set this would have been a routine win, and like I said from what I saw Matosevic was actually playing really well. The first two sets were routine with a break for Roger in each, and in the third set Roger broke again to take a 4-3 lead. From what I hear there was then an incident where Matosevic looked up to Roger’s box where Michael Jordan was sitting and shouted ‘I want to be like Mike!’ Personally I find that funny but apparently Roger did not as he got distracted and handed the break back to Matosevic. They headed into a tie break which thankfully Roger won relatively easily.

Never turn your back on a Federer tweener…

As this was a first round match not much can be concluded from it as usual and I won’t make much of the fact that Roger handed back his serve to Matosevic after having broken. The score really should have been 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, but the tie-break could have been a good thing in the end to help Roger sharpen his mental game. The important thing was not to drop the third set and there he was successful. The first round is just a settler and this match had more of an exho feel about it with Jordan being in attendance. Roger even pulled off another epic tweener. He hit it after the lob from Matosevic was out, but what made it epic was that he hit Matosevic right on the butt after Matosevic had already turned around. That was really entertaining and Jordan had a good laugh about it. It really was a treat to have the basketball GOAT in attendance, even though I didn’t see much.

From a personal standpoint, Jordan is one of my biggest sports idols. I was watching the NBA playoffs when I was in college in the States and Jordan won the sixth title with The Chicago Bulls. I remember very well that lost shot he took to win the championship for The Bulls. Anyway, it was nice to see the two GOATs finally meeting and of course Jordan was a huge idol of Roger when he was growing up as well. In conclusion, the match with Matosevic was very positive for a first round. Roger would not have been on his mental game yet, but the breaker in the third will put him in a good mental state for his next match. Also, I loved the overall impression I got from Roger. He just looked very confident and relaxed out there, exactly what I expected and hope for. Now to get back to Djokovic.

The two GOATs sat down for a chat

I felt that he was not necessarily gonna be much of a factor this year in New York and said that he could lose before the final. Sure it is still possible, but I was just reminded what a dangerous and quality player he is and that the early losses in Toronto and Cincy could have been just the wake-up call that he needed before the big one. Sure Djokovic have only won the US Open once and he just got married, but he is way too dangerous to write off. The danger is there that he can do to Roger what he did to him at Wimbledon if they both make the final which would be kind of devastating, but it is way too early to worry about that. As far as the match stats go for Roger the serve stats were top notch and the overall stats were good, aside from the break point conversions which are too early to mean anything.

Roger will play Groth next on Friday who he has never faced before.

 

Match Stats:

Tweener:

Highlights: http://www.usopen.org/en_US/video/2014-08-26/laj_gspf39waubt8ocdqll8qaz61juww.html?promo=right_rail

Ps. Roger and Jordan did a shoe promotion thing for Nike so Roger was wearing a pair of Air Jordans for tennis. I thought they looked pretty nice but I much prefer Darth Fed with the black shoes and socks.

Thoughts?

Posted in Grand Slams, US Open.

31 Comments

  1. Hey, Ru-an!

    Another wonderful post, so thank you for that! It’s now 4:20am here and I woke for a bit and figured that I wrote something. I didn’t watch the match but from what you say Roger looked confident. That is great to hear and I’ll watch my DVR to see it again.

    To me, since Roger is 33 years old now and he hasn’t made the US Open Final in 5 years, even though the draw is decent, the biggest worry is to actually fulfill that goal and reach the final. After that, we’ll worry about who can be across the net.

    From what I’ve seen, it could be any of those 4 (in that order)

    Djokovic, Wawrinka, Murray, Tsonga

    In Roger’s section, I am worried about Grigor only because of the hype around him. I am sure that Roger will handle him but that’s the match potentially to which I am going and it’ll be blast. Would much prefer to play Gasquet though. ;-)

    Also. I hope that Berdych loses already. He’s lurking around and if for some reason, Ferrer stumbles, Berdych will make semis and then it will be tricky. I think that Roger can best him here but it’s another unnecessary complication to the final.

    Again, I am suddenly a bit more worried now about Roger actually making the finals. If he does, his dream of winning 18, his turnaround after the last several lost finals, etc. will carry him through no matter who’ll be across the net. But he’ll feel a little pressure to actually make the finals since he’s expected to given the draw. I hope that he’ll answer the call. I am cautiously optimistic but I am sure that with each match that feeling will get better.. ;-)

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Hey Vily!

    I had the same concern about Roger feeling pressure just because of the draw (and his great level of play this year, and Father Time and just about everything else) but didn’t see his match. So I was very glad to hear from Ruan that he’s looking relaxed as well as dangerous!

    No doubt it will be more difficult to stay relaxed and focused against the very top players, but I agree with you, not only about the Final Four you mentioned, but also that if Roger gets to the final he’ll sweat blood to take the title home, and I would give him a nod even over Djokovic to do that. With fingers crossed…

    But it’s also true that he other players definitely need to be looking out for a rejuvenated and deadly Federer!

    As Ruan has very quotably said, “Never turn your back on a Federer tweener”!

    Best,
    Joe

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Ha thanks Joe I’d have to admit that was one of my better captions. As for all odds you mentioned that are stacked against Roger that makes me think even more about Sampras’ 2002 USO run. He had been written off completely but found his old game and the rest was history. He became unstoppable and the same could happen to Fed, judging from what I saw in the first round anyway. There was just something that I sensed that could indicate he is back to his unstoppable best, but yeah it’s still early days.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    You’re welcome Vily. I am not too worried about Fed maiking the final. More about the final if he faces Djokovic. But I am starting to sense this could be Roger’s ‘Sampras 2002’ USO. It is early days and it is just an inkling but if it is the case there will be no stopping Roger this year. Not even Djokovic will be a threat.

    [Reply]

  2. I just saw the schedule for tomorrow, and as a surprise I saw the Roger is scheduled to play once again in the evening (the first match)

    I was expecting him to play during the day. I think that the reason for that is that his next match would be on Sunday evening and the forecast is showing thunderstorms throughout the day.. I assume that they’ll schedule Roger during the day session there so that he can at least get his match in before the weekend is over.

    Then he might get another day session on Tuesday and the the QFs will be on Thursday evening again.. And then Saturday and Monday…

    Anyway, just keeping you posted..

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Check out what it looks like when Fed ears the black shoes with a black outfit. So much better. I just hope he doesn’t keep wearing those white shoes and socks.

    [Reply]

  3. Okay! So finally I got home today and was able to rewatch Roger’s match in full. First of all, I was very impressed with Roger’s backhand. He hit almost like 10 down the line backhand passing shot winners and even John McEnroe mentioned that if he keeps hitting the ball like that he’s getting another major on his hands.

    Matosevic was a character but fundamentally, Roger’s game was there so I am now more relaxed, watching him play.

    BTW Ru-an, Roger wearing those white shoes was a marketing ploy and also a “thank you” to MJ who was in attendance. I bet that tomorrow we’ll see him wear the true “Darth Fed” outfit. Obviously no MJ will be in attendance and no added pressure. I think that Roher did pretty good in the 1st round but he’ll get better.

    I’ll assume that he’ll get Karlovic in the 3rd round – so obviously tricky opponents in the first 3 rounds, but if Roger is focused, he should win in straights unless the focus dips and then he may go to a 4th set. But let’s hope that won’t be the case.

    The 4th round should be no problem.. The key will be the QFs and potentially the SFs

    In the quarters, I am slightly nervous about Dimitrov but even more nervous about Monfils. Gasquet is scheduled to face Monfils if both players win their 3rd rounder. Monfils is a crazy guy because he plays ultra-fast, even faster than Roger and just goes for broke on every shot. Obviously on fast conditions, if Roger plays well, he’ll be favored but I get nervous because Monfils did play him close in Cincy and pushed Novak in Toronto. Plus, he has beaten Roger in the past so I’d rather not see them play. In any case, Monfils will have to beat both Gasquet and Dimitrov back to back so let’s see what happens..

    I hope that Ferrer will beat Tomic tomorrow to keep Berdych in check..

    On the other side of the draw, Djokovic’s cake walk is over. Now, we’ll see what his form is really like – Querray, hopefully Isner after, then Tsonga/ Murray/ Kurgios after and Wawrinka/ Raonic after… One if those guys will punish Novak but let’s wait and see.

    Anyway, on to tomorrow! :-) )

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Hey Vily!

    These are great comments as usual, and I surely agree with everything you said. Ruan is quite right IMHO about which outfit is better as well, and I think Roger will be back in Darth Fed mode from here on out, as you mentioned.

    I didn’t even get to watch the entire first set of Rd 1 b/c of family stuff, but I heard McEnroe say that Roger would be holding the winner’s trophy if he could keep hitting backhands like he was that day, and I was amazed to hear it! I know Mc has gone on record as saying he doesn’t expect another slam victory for Roger, and I’ve also read that he’s picked Djokovic to win USO ’14.

    So I was very glad to hear him say that! I know someone posted on Ruan’s blog after the past Wimbledon final (was it you?) that after the close final match with Djokovic, McEnroe was now a ‘believer.’ I was surprised enough at that post that I did some searching on the internet, but could never find it and I’m not sure what that means anyway. It doesn’t quite sound like a statement that Roger will bag another slam trophy…

    But I have to add a remark Becker made that I haven’t seen on Ruan’s site, “We were all dying out there.” He was talking Djokovic’s entire coaching staff when Roger went Goderer in the fourth set. They were thinking that they’d done everything that could be done, that Djokovic was at his absolute peak, and that Roger was going to do it again – for the 18th time.

    I definitely believe in Roger and, and I believe in his ability to win number 18, and comments that experts like you and Ruan are leaving make me feel even more positive. The incredible faith of Katanyi and others is also very uplifting! I have to add that I won’t be deterred in the slightest if we need to wait until next year to see it either.

    Somehow, this entire year seems like the biggest mountain Roger has ever climbed, and it has been such a privilege for me to see him climb it. So many voices were clamoring for his retirement last year, but so many people are afraid of any defeat! They said the same about MJ’s comeback too.
    Roger has been through the valleys at this point in his career and fears defeat less than any athlete I know (like a true ‘Hero’ in Joseph Campbell’s works), and I think that makes him even more dangerous. I think he’s smarter now, brings more tactics to the table, and knows how to ‘play the man’ better. I so admire him for the fact that he is a sportsman in the midst of all this. No MTOs, no cheap shots, toilet breaks, etc. – unlike some of his more successful opponents.

    And everyone who turns their back on him deserves to be tweened!

    Best,
    Joe

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    Hey, Joe! I am not an expert but would like to think if myself as a knowledgeable enthusiastic fan. But that’s about it.. Thank you, though!

    Now, John McEnroe stated that as far back as in March, he observed Federer play at the Indian Wells Final with Djokovic and he was thoroughly impressed with Roger’s mime men and he said that it was the best that he had seen from Roger for the past 3 or 4 years. He was encouraged by the Wimbledon performance and that with a favourable draw, Roger could win another major.

    Now, for the US Open, he’s picked Djokovic and the other commentator pushed him to explain why that is so, given that Roger has the more favourable draw. He answered that he “senses” that something BIG is about to happen and he referred to the potential QF match with Grigor Dimitrov and he feels that Roger’s run might end there… In any case, I disagree because Roger’s smarter and more experienced than Grigor.

    If they play and Roger sticks to the baseline and doesn’t attack, then Grigor has a chance. But under the lights, I doubt it.. I actually don’t know if Grigor will even make it that far. And he played Novak and Nadal decently but only because they preferred to grind it out with him. Roger won’t be so naive that he can beat Grigor from the baseline.. He’ll attack and that will pay dividends for him as it has all year..

    In any case, McEnroe should be more concerned with Novak because there are several players that can push or even take him out. It’s shocking to me that he doesn’t even contemplate the idea..

    [Reply]

  4. Hey Vily,

    Well it certainly means a lot to me that Ruan has a sense of the inevitability of all this. I’ve learned to respect his knowledge and his intuition! The fact that you agree too is good.

    And I have a strong sense that Roger will win number 18 too; I just don’t know if my sense is specific to USO ’14. But maybe that’s the ‘big thing’ John M. senses too. I think a lot of people who post here have a similar feeling about an impending victory for Roger. There just seems to be something in the air…

    We all know it’s early in the tournament. But if Roger attacks – as you say – and if his serve holds up (I think you said that a while back too), I think he is the favorite, even a slight favorite against Djokovic. Roger has played very well against him this year and they are 2-2 in ’14 as you know. I still feel that there’s a little unfinished business there.

    But the way Djokovic is playing this tournament is remarkable, considering how he played in tourneys before USO. I don’t want to say he’s looking like a cycle-on, cycle-off guy, although I suspect he is. I just hope for the best for Roger. And bel18ve!

    [Reply]

  5. What can I say?! Another impressive and solid performance from Roger today! I like it. Even though Roger is getting broken with some frequency and this year’s US Open, he is consistently able to find a way and close out matches in straight sets.

    I must admit that Roger had couple of very tough early round opponents but from her on out, Roger is pretty much in cruise control at least until the quarters. At the same time, Novak and everybody else will start to get into tough and tricky matches. This is where Roger can potentially win the tournament – by cruising through with no waste of enegry. Karlovic is out so that’s great. Berdych survived but that’s ok! Ferrer is moving in the draw so no worries there. Gasquet also won so potentially I want him to beat Monfils to relax me a bit… Dimitrov is gonna be tested and may even lose to Goffin so we’ll see.

    In any case, Roger is looking VERY good. Darth Fed returned so that’s also cool. It was interesting that Chris Evert stated that she believes that Roger is playing better at this year’s US Open than at Wimbledon. At an interview on ESPN, Roger said that he’s certainly playing with more confidence. Cincinnati was key for him because now he’s playing with a lot if confidence, getting to balls that even he wouldn’t have expected to get to a year ago. A lot of things are coming together and I sense that he’ll get his hands on the trophy. It is early but at the same time we can pretty much fast forward to Thursday… I think that there will definitely be surprises on the other side of the draw… We’ll know soon enough.. :-) )

    [Reply]

  6. Thanks Vily. Glad to hear he won and played well. Wish I could be watching. Enjoy!! Joe, did you get my email last week? Ruan, you feeling better yet?

    [Reply]

  7. Well the man in black did it again! Ru-an I’m definately sure the black socks played their part Fed looked great and the tennis was not too terrible either. Looked to me like Roger played a very savvy game, but I must confess that the Aussie has some game as well. Great that it was all done and dusted in straight sets.

    [Reply]

  8. Some interesting statistics for M.Granollers – the next adversary of Roger.

    He won the match against Karlovich after almost 4 hours of play. He won 180 from a total of 351 points, and managed only 7 winners (actually these were 7 aces)!

    But we should also note that he made only 5 unforeced errors in 5 sets (231 minutes)

    By the way , Karlovich did the same :
    31 winners = 31 aces.

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    So there were no normal winners in the entire match? That’s incredible.

    [Reply]

  9. I watched Granolliers close up for 10 days in Switzerland. Anything can happen in tennis and any of these guys can be great on a given day but I honestly would be STUNNED if he could beat Fed. He just didn’t see him ever get close to a level that should give Roger trouble.

    [Reply]

  10. I can’t believe how good Roger’s backhand has been these last two matches. It’s almost as good as it was in 2006-2007. If he could just improve his forehand consistency a little bit, he’d be the best player in the world for sure right now.

    [Reply]

  11. Couple of articles to keep you interested.

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/one-record-that-federers-chasing-doesnt-really-count/

    http://www.newyorker.com/news/sporting-scene/stringing-roger-federers-nine-rackets

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Sorry about no post yet guys, but at least I got started on it. Had some stuff to do today and health not back yet. Will post asap tomorrow when I wake up.

    [Reply]

    Dolores Reply:

    Hi Ru-an, am so sorry that your health is still not 100%, am sending you tons of get-well wishes, do hope you will overcome your problem. Do take good care.
    Just checked all the scores of today’s matches, looks like there were no major upsets, although am glad that Kohlschreiber defeated Isner.
    Looking forward to tomorrow for Roger’s daytime match. Good luck, Roger, will be cheering for you 100%.
    Best,
    Dolores

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Dolores I appreciate it. Kyrgios currently destroying Robredo and could go deep here.

    [Reply]

    Jiten Reply:

    Well. But this kid is destructing himself with over exuberance. Being in the oldie league and as such with more experience, Robredo is taking advantage of it.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I didn’t see the second set but Robredo is no push over of course, as we painfully found out last year. The third set becoming important for Kyrgios now.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Clutch from Robredo in the breaker as he takes the 3rd set. Kyrgios have fallen off.

    [Reply]

    Jiten Reply:

    That easy smash at 4-3 and breakpoint, is going to haunt him if he ends up losing the match (which, looks like he will). The new string technology has just turned the sports into a defender’s game.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I missed that. Sounds like the turning point.

    [Reply]

  12. Hi Ru-an, everyone! Sorry, no time to comment. Ru-an, please keep well. Sending you health vibes now….I hope feeling less than 100 percent will not spoil some of the excitement and thrill of this USO for you. I may not be able to comment much after this. Im so enjoying this USO! Love Darth Fed. Love the black shoes even more. Bhdtl in first match was devastating. Roger super confident and seem to love the pressure and wears the favourite label really well. Dunno about you guys, but my main worries are Djoker, Berdych, Monfils. Berdych is playing nicely into form. He’s one player I am always wary of besides the top 4. Roger always brings out Berdych’s best. It is so annoying. However I think Roger’s new aggressive game will stack up well to Berdych’s. Monfils is playing well, seem very motivated and can give Roger nightmares at worst or tire him out at best. So I want him out. I want Berdych out. Grigor at quarters should be manageable, Ferrer in semis would be perfect. I want Djoker out too because if it’s a Djoker/Federer final, I would be very nervous. Toronto and Cincy has provided enough distracting time for him already. The guy is ready for his next slam. I hope I am so wrong. Ok, gotta run! C’mon Darth Fed!!! May the force be with you!!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    No worries Veronica and thank you. Glad you are enjoying the tennis. Like Vily you seem to be very worried and looking ahead in the draw. Personally I prefer to take it one match at a time and worry about the opponent when he is actually on the opposite side of the net, but that’s just me. Loved ‘May the force be with you!!’

    [Reply]

    Jiten Reply:

    Sorry Sis for the loss of the Kyrgios kid against Robredo. He needs to control his emotion and aggression. But he definitely has future and will learn from this experience. I really love watching him. For our own man, as Ru-an says, one match at a time. Set your alarm for the next one, probably 6:30 am your time.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I’m really tempted to get up or even stay up for this one Jiten. It will be around 1-2 am my time I think. But given my health it’s probably not the best idea,

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *