For some reason I had it in my head that Roger would play today, so I missed this match. I think I have a pretty good idea of what happened though after gathering information from different sources. But feel welcome to correct me or add anything that I missed. Roger played very well in the first set but in the second set his level dropped somewhat. He won the first set 6-2 after getting two breaks. In the second set he also went a break up and served for the match at 5-4, but then played a poor game to get broken. We saw this a lot from Roger last year, but I thought Roger was clutch in the breaker to come back from a break down and win it 7-5. That’s the big difference between Roger of last year and the current Roger. Of course you are not gonna be at your very best in every match.
The main thing is to win regardless, and Roger has been doing that well of late. Like I have said before the main difference is in the mental department. The motivation and will to win is there which allows him to get many wins, which in turn results in confidence. And confidence is probably the most important thing in tennis, or in life for that matter. So as far as I’m concerned nothing went ‘wrong’ in this match, even though I didn’t see it. The match stats are still good aside from the winner/unforced error ratio. Roger made quite a few errors on his backhand side, which is probably because of the different court surface in Indian Wells. It’s probably quite a bit slower than in Dubai and higher bouncing, and that of course is not ideal conditions for Roger’s backhand. The winner to unforced error ratio shows me that this was an ugly win.
Still good in the break point department…
And that is what we want to see from Roger when he is not at his best. The ability to get the job done no matter what. The only thing that is of minor concern is the fact that the courts are pretty slow and high bouncing, especially if Roger has to face Nadal again. It’s very disappointing to me that the courts have been slowed down so much these days. It gives a definite advantage to Nadal in the Fedal rivalry. But of course people don’t mention this when they talk about how lopsided the rivalry is. That said, Roger did beat Nadal here in 2012. So it surely can be done. Of course last year Nadal all of a sudden became a hard court monster, and I suppose if he reaches that form again it could be a problem. But Nadal has to get by Murray in the quarters first while Roger has to get by Stan.
Talking of Nadal, he scraped by Stepanek today in his usual never-say-die manner after losing the first set to win 2-6, 6-4, 7-5. It seems like Stepanek continued the good form he showed against Roger in Dubai, but the poor guy can’t get a win given the quality of the opposition. He did have a good win over Istomin in the first round it has to be said. As for Nadal you have to respect the way he always seems to find a way to win. He just does it time and time again, like that match against Andujar in Rio. If it happens that often it definitely does not come down to luck, as some extremist Fedfans would have you believe. Anyway Nadal doesn’t seem to be in great form which is to be expected after what happened in Melbourne. He also recently said that the loss against Stan hurt more than the marathon one against Djokovic in the 2012 final.
Roger stepped up his game in the outfits this year too. Loved it!
So it’s tough to know what will happen going forward in Indian Wells with him, but you know he can be dangerous when he scrapes through these close ones. That’s why I said I don’t know yet what to expect from Nadal for this year. Usually he would slump in this situation, but you can’t be sure. He now plays Dolgopolov who I thought actually played very well against Nadal in the Rio final, so who knows what he can do. On a good day he is definitely a dangerous player that can potentially upset Nadal if Nadal is not at his best on hard court. Stan also won 6-3, 7-5 against his tricky first round opponent Karlovic. From what I hear he played very well and no doubt he would be a very tough opponent for Roger in the quarters. The courts probably suit him better than it does Roger too because he likes slower conditions and long base line rallies.
Roger next plays Tursunov against whom he leads the head-to-head 3-0. Last but not least, Roger played doubles with Stan on Friday and beat the 6th seeds 6-2, 6-7(4,) 10-6. I watched that match and even though Roger started poorly in the final set super tie break he came up with some good stuff to help him and Stan progress to the next round where they will face Gulbis and Raonic. I thought they would play today but it looks like they will play tomorrow which would mean Roger has to play singles and doubles on the same day. I hope playing doubles won’t catch up with him physically at some point but I’m sure he knows what he is doing and it could help his singles game too. It will also help the Swiss Davis Cup chances that him and Stan is playing doubles together. I’ll talk to you again on Tuesday, hopefully with some more good news!