If you don’t know by now, Roger is playing his first round match tomorrow against Peter Luczak of Australia. He will be the second match on Court Phillipe Chatrier after a women’s first round match. Given that play starts at 11 am, it means he will begin his match at around 12-1230 pm. He has left this message for his fans before his match:
Of course play started today, and there has been some pretty good news for Roger already, because Ernests Gulbis retired in his first round match against Julian Benneteau after trailing 6-4 6-2 1-0. It’s a shame that he had to retire, but apparently he was being outplayed in the first two sets anyway.This is disappointing for Gulbis fans who would have had hopes of him making at least the fourth round. I thought Gulbis had made a lot of progress of late, so it’s a bit surprising to see him being outplayed by someone like Benneteau. I also thought Gulbis would make the quarter finals and possibly give Roger a tough time, so this is great news for Fedfanatics. The favorite to make the quarter-finals out of that section of the draw must be Soderling now, who had a pretty impressive victory over a Frenchman called Recouderc, 6-0, 6-2, 6-3.
I think Soderling would be less dangerous for Roger because Roger has such a good record over Soderling(12-0), and he beat him handily in last year’s final. Roger’s possible second round opponents, Falla and Tipsarevic, was also in action today, and Falla won that one easily 6-1, 6-2, 6-3. But lets get back to tomorrow’s match. Roger and Luczak have never played before. Luczak is ranked 71, and in the four times he has played at the French, he has only won one match. So suffice to say I expect a straight set victory. The other match that I will be looking forward to tomorrow is Gasquet vs Murray. Brad Gilbert, who is a tennis genius, has written an interesting piece about that match:
Then there is another very interesting article in which Andre Agassi talks about Nadal and Federer. Agassi had the following to say about Nadal:
“It’s like climbing Mt. Everest with bad weather trying to get over the line with Nadal in a three-out-of-five set match on clay,” Agassi told FOXSports.com. “Certainly Robin Soderling shocked the world by upsetting him last year, but this year he’s far and away the favorite.”
Of course he is 100% correct. To beat Nadal is going to take a monumental effort this year, especially with guys like Del Potro and Davydenko not playing, and Soderling not being in his side for the draw.
“On clay I would have had to play on the edge against him and play lights out and that’s not the way to play tennis. It’s about calculated risk and he’s going to make you take some crazy chances because the alternative is to get moved around court like you are on a string.
“Roger has the skill set to do it and if I’m coaching him I’m telling Roger that on clay he has to assume a level of risk. The one shot that Federer has that I haven’t seen him use that effectively against Nadal is when he flattens out his forehand. He moves around his backhand to hit the inside-out forehand and takes one of the those new-age swings where the ball lands low and bounces away, but Rafa preys on it. If he can flatten out his forehand like Soderling does when he runs around the backhand, the speed of that ball is what going to give him progress in the point, not direction and spin. I know Roger has that shot, I just haven’t seen it quite as much as he should use it.
“Eventually what happens when they play is he tries to beat Rafa with his backhand because Nadal eventually gets over there and gets onto Federer’s backhand and if Federer tries to move around to hit a forehand, he gives up a lot of real estate.
Agassi obviously knows his tennis. He is basically echoing what I have been saying for ages now. For Roger to beat Nadal he has to take risk. Period. That is the single most important thing that Roger has to have in mind when he steps onto a clay court with Nadal. The way he stepped out against Nadal in Madrid in the first set was unacceptable. That was the kind of mentality he showed in previous French Open finals and that is simply not going to suffice. If he is to beat Nadal he must play a high risk game and flatten out his forehand like Agassi suggested. You don’t ever want to play a high risk game, but against Nadal you have to do that. The reason Soderling beat Nadal was because he played the match on his terms. Soderling does not fear Nadal, which is the same attitude Roger has to take if he is to have any chance at all of upsetting Nadal at Roland Garros.
May the Fedforce be with you.
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