Well, that was about the kind of start that was needed from Roger if he was going to have a chance at winning #18 at SW19. Roger looked quite impressive in a 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Lorenzi. The break point conversion rate was poor again but other than that it was a very solid performance. If this was the second round I would be concerned about the break point conversions, but since it is first round I will let him off the hook. Everything else looked good. The serve was top notch again with 70% first serves, 9 aces, and only one double fault. The forehand was looking lethal at times and there was some nice backhand down the line shots as well. The returning, movement, and volleys all looked sharp as well. The break point conversion rate I expect to improve in the next round so this is as good a start as you could have asked from Roger.
The problem is the form of the rest of the top four. They are all looking awfully good too. Of course, an important match was the one between Nadal and Klizan, and I paid special attention to that. Nadal ended up winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, the exact same score he beat Klizan at the French Open with last year. In doing so, Nadal reached his 700th career singles win while Roger is currently on 957 wins, closing in fast on the 1000 milestone. Watching the first game of the match Klizan went up 40-0 on Nadal’s serve right off the bat and I thought the upset was on the cards again, but Nadal held serve with his usual tenacity. Klizan did, however, win the first set, and I was impressed with his game. He looked exactly like the kind of player that could upset Nadal because he had a big game and he was left-handed like Nadal.
The 2:1 winner to unforced error ratio were impressive as well
He looked mentally good as well because at 4-4 and 40-30 he pulled a huge psyche job on Nadal when Nadal had a second serve on break point down. Klizan moved way over to the middle of the court and left a big space open out wide, inviting Nadal to go to that side. It clearly confused Nadal as he double faulted and handed the break to Klizan, something you would never see under normal conditions. Klizan was also clutch at 5-4 and 30-30 when he went for a big second serve and pulled it off. It was exciting stuff, but Nadal broke almost immediately in the second set and then it was one-way traffic. Klizan could not keep up his level from the first set and went away mentally. It was depressing and disappointing after he had my hopes up. I have already said the first round will probably be Nadal’s biggest test.
And he did extremely well under the circumstances. I can now easily see him winning the title again. That said, I don’t give him a better chance than the rest of the big four. In my opinion, they all now have an equal chance of winning the title, which makes this a very interesting year at Wimbledon. After Nadal’s match, I was kind of disappointed and depressed, but then I decided just to enjoy the tournament as a whole. I still think Nadal is the favorite against anyone else than the rest of the big four, and I think he will make semis. But from there on it’s anyone’s title probably. I know I have said that Roger’s chances against Nadal is slim, but I don’t even want to look that far ahead. I just want to enjoy this highly fascinating tournament and not get caught up in expectations and hopes.
It was the black, not the gold
It’s not necessary to look ahead to the semis even because there are many other potential exciting match ups. In the top half of the draw, Murray already destroyed his second round opponent today and he is looking very sharp as well. Dimitrov is currently on and serving for the match right now. He is looking very good too and is my dark horse of the tournament. I obviously don’t think he will win it this year, but he can cause a big upset or two. He is drawn to play Murray in the quarters which is a mouth watering prospect. Then Djokovic destroyed his first round opponent as well and was looking just as impressive. It was good to see how well he is bouncing back after the French Open disappointment and he looks as desperate as anyone to prove himself by winning the title.
Each one of the big four desperately wants to prove something here, and they are all looking awfully good. Roger is playing again tomorrow against Muller after Muller took out Benneteau. Roger has played Muller three times and leads the head-to-head 3-0. Muller is a big server who can be a challenge on grass, but of course I expect Roger to get through in his current form. Nadal now plays against Rosol who he lost to in 2012. A lot of people seem hopeful that Rosol can do the impossible again but in my opinion that is like hoping lighting will strike twice in the same place. Rosol won’t be in the zone again and Nadal never gets upset consecutively by the same player. It is more likely that Nadal will utterly destroy Rosol. Well, I am off to watch Djokovic vs Stepanek.
Should be very interesting!