Federer Gets Rough Draw in Madrid


Well it doesn’t look like Roger will have much time to shake off his rust after not playing any tournaments since Miami. In his first match he will play the winner of Nalbandian and Raonic, who are both showing some good form on clay. Nalbandian is in the semis of the Serbian Open and may even end up winning the event. Raonic on the other hand made semis in Barcelona after upsetting Murray, who by the way withdrew from Madrid due to a back injury. So Tsonga will be fourth seed and will be in Nadal’s half of the draw. I would have preferred that Roger is in Nadal’s half of the draw but he probably has a better chance of beating Djokovic than Nadal so he can defend his final points from last year.Roger’s first match will be a test.

He won’have time to shake rust off. Both Nalbandian and Raonic are dangerous players who can cause and upset against just about anyone. Fortunately Roger has been riding a wave of confidence and he should be able to take care of the winner. But you never know. He definitely doesn’t want to start his clay court campaign off with a loss, especially since he is only playing two events. If he wins he will face Gasquet, Bellucci, or Troicki. That’s pretty tough and if he wins there he will probably play against Ferrer, another tough customer. Roger has a 12-0 head-to-head record against Ferrer but it only means that Ferrer will probably get a win at some point. Having said that, if Roger comes through his first round I will expect him to make semis.

Then there will be a blockbuster match against Djokovic. Djokovic is also rested and ready to go. The higher altitude may just help Roger to play first strike tennis like the faster balls at the French Open helped him last year, and use his serve to better effect. Of course I want Roger to win, but if he doesn’t then at least Djokovic gets a shot at Nadal on a faster clay court. When he was still Djokovic 1.0 he almost beat Nadal in Madrid in a marathon match and you would think he has a great chance to repeat what he did last year.

Here is a video of Roger practicing on the blue clay. Do you like it?


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  1. yeah tough draw, Fed will have to be focused to make it to the SF.
    Djoko has a ridiculous draw, and Rafa wont have a oppsition until semi at least.

    BTW is it just me or does Fed looks a bit chubby in recent photos and footage?


  2. Yeah, chubby Fed, eating and swimming and sleeping …. maybe it’s muscle, it’s bulk, Feddybear…. certainly he looks more bulky. Speaking about bulk, the humble bull has been looking pretty bulked up too since the dirt season began. Thanks Ru-an for the video fix. Miss him so much, I needed that fix. I don’t mind the blue courts; more important is if it favours Fed’s game (low bounce, faster court), I don’t care if it’s black or purple or pink!! Just bring back any colour court that play faster!!!! I think the tough draw is good for Fed. We know how he is : always relaxed, preserving energy, play just enough to win, etc. Not being “protected” draw-wise as no. 3 now, plus so many good/dangerous players playing now, if he wants to continue playing, he has to be alert and all guns blazing from the word go. Listen to Ru-an, Fed! – “NO time to shake off the dust!!!” Common Fed!!


  3. I think our well rested Fed will come back like he did for Barkley’s World Tour! He needs the challenge and I saw him in IW beat Roanic when he was very ill with the flu and Roanic was hitting serves @ over 140 mph & I don’t know how Roger even saw them. He didn’t return many but still managed to win when he was sick. Agree on the blue court and it’s advantages for Rog (hopefully) and it surely will be a treat for millions of fans to be able to see the ball so much better on that color of clay. As for Rafa, he simply doesn’t like change of any kind esp. with OCD. Rafa always plays at his best against Roger but I haven’t been that impressed w/his play lately and Ferrer should have and could have beaten him but his head got in the way! David is a tenacious and dangerous player & Roger has to use his complete “bag of tricks” to win this tournament; he has the talent but must stay focused. Great to have him back in the mix! Allez Roger.


  4. It’s pretty grueling, but there is nothing to be done for it but to play on. Fortunately he will only have to face half of those opponents.

    Last year he had a very tough opening round in Madrid, outlasting Lopez in three tiebreakers. (The first tiebreak went to 15-13!). This year should be somewhat less harrowing and he’s more confident in his game this year. The early exit in Miami might well have been a blessing in disguise and given him a bit more time to rest and train.

    His serve will probably help him a bit more, compared to a slower, heavier-bouncing court. Dunno how the much-ballyhooed “Smurf clay” will change things. I don’t think it will make much of a difference, frankly.

    But it will be visually interesting because Federer will be nearly invisible from the waist up, in his blue polo shirt, like camouflage. I don’t know what color his shorts will be, though.


  5. I wish it were such a day
    where Roger really could say
    “my body and mind haven’t gone away nor astray
    no matter what’ s been coming my way ”.

    I wish it were true
    that Roger ’s finally found a clue
    to prevail on the dirt, to really come trough
    no matter it being red or being blue.

    I wish i got it all wrong
    about Nadal being still oh so strong,
    that I could sing about Roger’s road being rough and long
    in a victory song.


    steve Reply:

    Wonderful comment, Wilfried.


  6. Hi, Did anyone noticed that Roger hit a 2 handed backhand(@43s of the video)?


    Wilfried Reply:

    Good point there, Girish. I noticed it too the first time I watched the clip, though it did not allow me to see how good the shot was and where it landed in the court. I watched and a third time to see it again and
    was wondering why he never uses this 2-handed BH in competition.


  7. With his blue shirt against the blue clay Roger will look like the invisible man. Do not adjust your tv sets. But visible or not his game will still look beautiful. However when the Spaniard plays (you know which one) I suggest turning the sound down, to mute the constant whining sound of his complaints.


  8. Ruan:
    I want to understand what is it about Indoor Courts that favour Roger. Much has been stated about how Indoor suits Roger.

    1. Now, the main point I hear is that Indoor has less of external elements (wind, temp, moisture, etc). If that be the case then for a player A and player B whenever they hit a ball, they face the same situation, i.e predictable flight of ball – And meaning the playing field is levelled for everybody.

    So why should it be an advantage only for Roger?

    2. The statements made about how indoor is faster and low bounce.

    2.1 Let us take faster first – Why is it faster. In fact in indoor the Air is trapped from vapour escaping and compared to outdoor in day time the Air in Indoor will be denser causing the flight of the ball thru the Air slower. So, this should actually be disadvantageous for Roger.

    2.2 Temperature – Compared to outdoor in Day time, the temp Indoors will be cooler – meaning the Air will be denser – Again causing the ball to be slower!

    3. Low Bounce Reason

    3.1 Well, what has indoor or outdoor got to do with Low bounce? Is not bounce affected by the nature of the surface only? Of, course one could argue that if the ball in flight is faster the bounce will be lower and vice versa. But again based on above the ball indoors can get slower contradicting the low bounce reason.

    Anyway, I am not an expert in this, but I fail to understand the impact of indoor and outdoor and why it necessarily should favour Roger only?

    Again, if external elements cannot influence, then it is a level playing field meaning that no one has an edge and only the truly skilled one will Win!

    (BTW, how do u explain Roger’s win in IW over Nadal under unpredictable windy conditions?)

    Ruan and Members – Please explain the Advantage of Indoor for Roger if that is the case.



    amine Reply:

    I think it just happens that most indoor courts are very fast (WTF, paris, Rotterdam, basel, dubai…) and that’s why it favors Roger like US OPEN, wimbeldon, Cincinatti…I think its more fast court vs slow court issue than outdoor Vs Indoor but your analysis is right (you can check world recolds indoor Vs outdoor in athletics and outdoor are way better). I also think that federer has a great ability to ajust and control the ball in difficult outdoor conditions.


  9. Hi Ru-an,
    Some delightful news on the lighter side, Halle, Germany, has named a street after Roger, “Roger Federer Allee”! Sounds GREAT, and what an honor for Roger.


  10. Guys:

    It is that time Again! Just an hour away we are back to watching Roger’s symphony with the genius of Mozart and precision of Beethoven!

    This is tough for me as the match starts at around 10:30 PM local India time and I have an early meeting tomorrow. But heck, this is Roger, screw the meeting and I am going to watch it thru.

    Plus, the last time I did not watch because it was late plus I was confident was Miami against Roddick and to find next morning frantically Googling only to find that he lost – Sheesh! I do not want that now. I want to stay with Roger for this match.

    Plus, I got to tell you guys, this withdrawal symptom of not seeing Roger for few weeks is worse than abstaining from Alcohol! I am going to blame Roger as my problem and not alchohol when I meet my shrink next time!

    Anyways, I do not know about Roger, but I am Nervous, really, really – Roger with less match practice, new surface, Raonic on Fire – Hmmmm… Nervous, Nervous…

    But I believe our MAN will come through!
    Go ROGER! Let the show begin!


    Jiten Reply:

    It actually started around 12:40 am in India. But hey Sraman, our hero got through only because you (we) braved it through in the wee hours of the morning. I am already feeling more energetic in my office today!


    sraman Reply:


    Thanks for staying with Roger. I actually was pissed when the Del Potro match was on instead. (What’s with these Madrid organizers?) So I set my alarm for 12:30 AM only to find Potro match still going. Set alarm again at 1:30 AM and thus missed the first set, which I do not regret in retrospect!


  11. Mozart has not arrived yet and Beethoven got lost. It looks like it was a mistake to take such a long break. Fed looks very unsecure.


    amine Reply:

    I did not get that impression, it looks like Raonic is developping into a very serious customer


    Dave Reply:

    No he wasn’t, he was just rusty playing against a difficult opponent. Fed played well when it mattered. A win is a win.


    spaniel Reply:

    I was writing it after 1st set, Fed started to play better in 2nd. Raonic was great, no doubt but Fed’s backhand was really rusty.


  12. Roger was lucky to get through today. He did look a little rusty too. He said he chose to serve and volley against Raonic because it was so slippery on the court. Yes, Raonic is a very serious customer. A lot more so that the others in his age group ie Harrison, Tomic. He’ll be top ten before long.


  13. Fantastic match of very high quality, undoubtedly the best of the tournament to date.

    Federer was clearly rusty, but that takes nothing away from Raonic. 21 aces–over five games’ worth of points!–and that was just the tip of the iceberg.

    Raonic was fearless and aggressive, used his big weapons well, never seemed out of his depth. He even came up with a Federer-like one-handed backhand flick! He’s a fierce competitor and as Sue said he’ll be top ten in a couple years.

    And Federer responded by giving us a blast from the past and serve and volleying repeatedly, even on his second serve. I particularly remember an amazing touch volley to save a break point at 3-3 in the third set, which he cut off at precisely the right angle to put it just out of Raonic’s reach.

    His all-court skills got him through and he came up with some great returns when he needed them at the end of the second set and during the tiebreak.

    This win was important to get his clay campaign off to a good start and he should be able to build on this for the next few rounds.


  14. Roger did come through! But in ways not I expected. These are what I liked and did not in this match.

    Did not Like
    – Horrendous ground game – 37 Unforced errors!
    – Suspect Movement
    – Lost more points than he should have when he did return serve well and stayed in rallies.

    Hopefully these are only due to the long break, in which case Roger should improve as he gets further in the draw.

    – To the Net! Serve and Volley! And on Clay! Whopping 34 Net Approaches!
    – I thought he served well.
    – Super cool & Relaxed throughout, as if there was absolutely nothing to lose – No frown, frustration, angst, etc, etc. I do not recall in the recent past seeing Roger so Relaxed and even at several crucial break points. And to come behind the Serve and Volley at 15-40!
    – It seems to me this was more of a clutch performance than anything else.

    Roger better get his ground game act together for Gasquet.

    Ruan, what is your observation? And what do you guys think?


  15. This Raonic kid is surely going to be a top 4 player some day. His movement is not the best, but when he can serve like this, movement sis of secondary importance.
    What a killer serve it is. The only way to beat him is to take returns early by standing close to the baseline, a high risk strategy. Every time Federer stood back, Raonic went wide and at that point, the serve is above Federer’s head. His serve is not all power. He has incredible placement plus tremendous speed(averaging 137-138mph) for stretches. If you try to return from deep, he is just going to kill you. Very curious to see how his game matches up against Nadal. Nadal does not like returning from close to baseline on clay. He has won two straight set matches, but they were when Raonic was ranked close to 100 or coming back after injury. Raonic can hurt Nadal in a way nobody(only Isner) can. Raonic has also tidied up his baseline game and does not seem to go for too many outrageous low percentage shots. He is now happy to play a few rallies and then blast his FH when the timing is right. In this match, we saw lobs, drop volleys, raping FH winners, one had BH passing shots all from this kid. He won, but pushed Federer to the limits of his creative ability in doing so.

    And what a beautiful game Federer played yesterday. His volleying was very good and came up with some deft touches at the net. Federer has got to be the best volleyer on planet today(Tsonga and Murray come close), but his feel for the net is amazing. I laugh when people say that Nadal is a better volleyer. He gets a higher percentage of volleys, but only because he comes so few times and ONLY on the back of a nearly unreturnable approach shot. I challenge him to serve volley 30 times in a match and get his percentage high. Or come in behind anything less than optimum approach shot.

    Great match, a past fading great against a new comer and future champion. The old one just prevailed today, but Raonic is going to make tennis interesting and make it beyond just the top 4 in the next 2-3 years..


    sraman Reply:

    I would also love to see how Raonic matches up against Nadal. I just hope Nadal does not get shielded in his future draws from Raonic.


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