Well in the end the score I predicted was only one set off. I predicted Roger would win 7-6(5), 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-2, and he ended up winning 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-2. So I got three sets right and one wrong which was pretty damn good I thought. But like I said score prediction is mostly luck and I will quit doing that while I’m still ahead. Of course it was another brilliant display from Roger yesterday. He has made this so-called brutal draw look like a walk in the park, not dropping a set in the first four rounds. On his way he beat a tricky Frenchman after not playing competitively for a month, a dangerous Davydenko while playing within himself, and the two most promising youngsters in the sport. Yet the toughest is still to come. Raonic only managed to win one game more than Tomic did, which is amazing in itself.
I thought the scoreline against Raonic would be closer simply because of Raonic’s huge serve, yet Roger still managed to break his serve three times and twice in the tie break too. The big difference between the match with Tomic and the match with Raonic was the amount of break point opportunities Roger created, and the percentage he won. Against Tomic Roger won 3/16 break points(19%), while against Raonic he won 3/7(43%). Obviously against Raonic Roger was gonna have to be more clutch on break points if he wanted to avoid dropping a set. Given the size of Raonic’s serve he was also going to create less break points, so it was key that he won a high percentage of them. In that sense I would say Roger played better against Raonic. It was two very different opponents, and how well Roger did to adjust his game accordingly.
Again he made sure he took care of his own service games by serving another high first serve percentage of 64%. He also won an incredible 90% of first serve points and 75% of second serve points, dropping only 12/78 points on serve. Utter dominance on serve. Raonic didn’t see a single break point. I think that was the key in beating a very awkward opponent in straight sets. By comfortably holding his own serve he put the pressure on the Raonic serve, and took his break opportunities when they presented themselves. It was just a very tight performance. Winning this comfortably without dropping sets is more important than you may think. It saves precious energy that he will need later on and it puts the fear into his opponents, knowing that they are coming up against a ruthless Federer.
It’s not an opponent anyone wants to see across the net, including Murray and Djokovic. But let me get back to the match against Raonic quickly. Roger was already pressuring the Raonic serve when he had two break points at 3-2 in the first set, but could not convert. At 5-4 he produced another break point and came up with some very solid backhands in the following rally, finally forcing Raonic into a volley error to take the first set. Roger’s backhand is something I have been very impressed with during these championships. It has just been very solid, and at times even a weapon. In the second set things were always going to be closer and there weren’t any break points that I am aware of. The inevitable tie break followed. It was a very decisive Roger in the tie break. He took care of his own serve and when the break opportunity presented itself at 3-3 he pounced.
He made no mistake with the backhand pass after a short approach from Raonic. It was a beauty. Then at 6-4 after another shortish approach shot from Raonic Roger made another beautiful passing shot, this time on the forehand side. I loved the first pump and ‘Allez!’ that followed. Roger knew he had his young opponent on his knees again. Raonic’s resolve was all but broken. In the third set Roger broke twice more and that was all she wrote. It was an absolute masterclass in how to beat a big server. Roger just tightened things up in all departments. Two more very impressive stats was the winner to unforced error ratio of 34 -12, and the net points won of 14/15. Roger also served 14 aces and made only1 double fault. So statistically Roger could not have played a better match. It was pure peRFection.
Next up for Roger is Tsonga who beat Gasquet in four sets. The head-to-head is 8-3 in Roger’s favor and I can’t see Roger losing the way he has been playing. It has been utter peRFection so far and Tsonga must already be worried. Yes Tsonga is a dangerous player but Roger has been so ruthless that he stands very little chance indeed. The big match of the fourth round was Djokovic against Wawrinka. Stan almost pulled off the win, Djokovic winning 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7(5-7), 12-10. Stan served for the second set and at break point in the 5th set he apparently hit the line and won the point, but the ball was called out by the line judge. Stan asked the umpire Molina about it and he confirmed that it was out. Stan didn’t challenge. Unbelievable. Yes it was a terrible call by Molina but how do you not challenge on a point like that?
I don’t even know what to say. It’s terrible from both Molina and Stan. In the end Djokovic was just the more clutch player. I mean he is exceedingly clutch as we have seen time after time. Now here is the thing. People are already saying Djokovic is beatable because of this match. But if anything this match proves just how difficult he is to beat. It’s not always about winning easily. Look what happened with Roger against Benneteau at Wimbledon. He scraped through and ended up winning his 17th slam. Getting through a match like that can give a player huge confidence. And you better believe that if Roger faces off against Djokovic in the final he will be extremely clutch once more. I’m not saying Roger can’t beat him. No. I’m just saying that the match against Wawrinka shows just how good he is if anything. The match point in that match was unreal as well.
Unreal defense from Djokovic and then coming up with the winning pass. If Roger and Djokovic faces off in the final you better believe it will be something unreal. Both players look unbeatable. So far for Roger it has been peRFection. Nothing less. I see him cruising past Tsonga and maybe dropping a set against Murray on his way to the final. Or who knows, Tsonga could surprise and finally take a set off Roger, while the match with Murray could be a marathon. Either way I think Roger will be in the final. Same with Djokovic. Djokovic will face Ferrer if he beats Berdych tonight, after Ferrer came back after Almagro was serving for the match in the 4th set. Just amazing fight and clutch from Ferrer once more and you gotta feel for Almagro who is now 0-13 in the head-to-head with Ferrer. This was his one big chance to beat Ferrer and to make his first slam semi, but he blew it.
Murray beat Simon as well, in the most disappointing 4th round match. Simon said before the match that he has very little chance of beating Murray and then got schooled 6-3, 6-1, 6-3. Absolutely pathetic attitude from the Frenchman I thought. If that is gonna be his attitude why even bother showing up? I just hate that kind of defeatist attitude. Murray’s cakewalk draw continues when he faces another Frenchman Chardy in the quarters. Too bad for him because having it that easy while Roger has it so tough may well come back to haunt him in the semis. My countryman Anderson lost in straight sets to Berdych which was disappointing from him, especially since the 3rd set tie break went to 15-13. So later tonight the second semi-final spot in the top half of the draw will be decided when Djokovic faces Berdych.
I can’t see Djokovic not winning. So I think it will for sure be a Djokovic/Ferrer semi in the top half, and then a Roger/Murray semi in the bottom half. It has been a very exciting Australian Open so far with some great matches and the best is yet to come. Allez Roggggggggggggggggg!
Shot of the day: