Certainly not the worst loss Roger have ever suffered this one. It was kind of a win-win situation for him playing Djokovic in the semis. He gets the chance to gauge his form against the best and if he loses he gets some much needed rest before London. Not surprisingly Roger looked flat in the final set today. He has played a lot in the last couple of weeks. It was his ninth match in twelve days, and he just couldn’t get the adrenaline flowing the the 3rd set today. What mattered was the 1st set which Roger won 6-4. I saw what I wanted to see. I can excuse Roger for fading away after that. I mean he was clearly the better player in the 1st set. He dominated while Djokovic almost looked intimidated. He had Djokovic in trouble from the start, creating a break point in the first game but failing to convert. He got the break in the 3rd game then after holding serve to love.
The break point was another beautifully constructed point where Roger drew Djokovic into the net with a drop shot after a long base line rally, and then putting the volley away. Roger almost got the second break at 3-1 after setting up break point with a tremendous running forehand up the line. At 5-4 Roger served for the set and went down 15-40 on his serve. It was a tense game in which he failed to win a set point and two more break points. But in the end he got it done and even broke Djokovic in the 1st game of the 2nd set. Djokovic broke right back to square at 1-1. At 30-30 in the next game he had another chance to set up break point after drawing Djokovic out of the court with an angled backhand, but failed to make the forehand into the open court. From there on things started going south for Roger. He missed a regulation volley to drop serve in the 6th game and conceded the 2nd set 6-3.
Not so pretty this time
He did well to hold serve in the opening game of the 3rd set after going down 0-30, and for a moment I thought he had refocused and would still win the match, but he was just flat. I think if he was fresh he would have won the 3rd set, but he was clearly tired. Roger now gets a two day break before he faces Djokovic again on Tuesday. It’s not much of a break and he is in a tough group with Djokovic, Del Potro, and Gasquet. But at least Djokovic has a final tomorrow to worry about and after today Roger will know exactly what he needs to do to beat Djokovic. I don’t think Djokovic was the better player today. He was just the fresher one. I still think the match is on Roger’s racquet when they play indoors, and since I didn’t see the final in London last year I find myself wondering how Roger lost in straight sets to Djokovic there.
Probably his confidence wasn’t quite at its highest after he was a bit burned out at the end of a long season. Anyway he knows what he has to do to beat Djokovic on Tuesday. It’s just about being fresh and sharp on the day. He is the dominant one. I have faith that Roger will qualify for the semis. Yes he is in a tough group but I believe he can win all his matches and he will have some much needed days off in between his singles matches. You can view the schedule here. Because he gets the Tuesday start he won’t have a day off between his third group match and the semis(if he makes it), but otherwise he will have a day off between each of his group matches. That means he would have to play three days in a row if he makes the final. That could take a toll come Monday but we are not there yet. I think he should go full out to win his first two group matches.
Romeo + Juliet
If he can achieve that it will take some pressure off his third group match. He wouldn’t have to put 100% effort into it, allowing him to save some energy for semis and a possible final. It’s a bit unfortunate that Basel, Paris, and London are three weeks in a row, but at least Roger has not played much this year and should be pretty fresh. As far as the top half in Paris goes Ferrer upset Nadal 6-3, 7-5 which was good to see. Ferrer almost let it slip after getting broken when serving for it at 5-4 in the 2nd set, but he showed great mental strength to not let that deter him and he broke Nadal again in he next game. Ferrer is the defending champ and he shows last year’s title was no fluke by making the final again. I think he loses to Djokovic this time though. If Djokovic wins the title tomorrow, as well as London and his Davis Cup matches, I think he ends the year ranked #1.
Nadal is in the easy group though with Berdych, Wawrinka, and Ferrer. He needs two wins and even if he doesn’t get it Roger could still save him by beating Djokovic in London. It’s hard to see Nadal not winning two matches though. I don’t think he will lose two straight times to Ferrer, and then Berdych and Wawrinka are basically his pets. Well it’s a story of ‘so far, so good’ in the indoor season for Roger and I am looking forward to Tuesday to see if he can set the record straight with Djokovic. I think that will be a key match. If he wins it he will be in great shape to win the title again. He has been building up confidence with every match. He is hitting peak form just in time for London. People might argue if he beat Djokovic today he would have beaten Ferrer in the final, but I’d rather he have the extra day off and be ready for the big one.
There is a storm coming…