Impressed yet? I am. Very. As much as I still believed in Roger I didn’t know he had a performance like this left in him. I have always said to you that I believe the game is still there. That it is a question of getting it together mentally. Of finding the pure hunger and desire to make good on the game that is still left. But no doubt there were times I doubted my own words. I thought Roger has good tennis left in him but not this good. I mean you expect that with age he declines. And no doubt he has. But this may be one of the best performances of his career. Yes it’s not a slam and it’s best of three but that was simply mind blowing tennis. Going into this match I definitely thought Djokovic was the favorite, although an upset is always possible. Probably Djokovic would win in three sets I thought.
So when in the first game the two played one of the best points of all time probably and Djokovic won it, I lost even more faith. Djokovic was serving and Roger looked like he was up for the fight, taking almost complete control of the point. But unbelievably Djokovic found a way back in and won it. I thought this dealt a mental blow to Roger, seeing how hard it was to win even one point. I mean Djokovic destroyed Bautista-Agut in the second round, and he looked in unbelievable form at the beginning of this match. He then broke Roger in the next game and surged ahead 3-0. This was looking all too familiar. To Roger’s credit he did well to limit the first set to one break and lose it 6-3. The turning point came in the second set. I think it was at 2-2 probably. I thought Djokovic was going to break for sure but Roger showed massive balls the way he held serve.
Then in the next game he went up 30-0 on the Djokovic serve, after which incredibly rain broke out. It was just a short desert shower though and the players actually stayed on the court while it passed. Roger came back and broke serve, and importantly he consolidated the break. Huge shift in the match. That little passage of play showed me how strong the desire for winning still was with Roger. I didn’t know if he was still that hungry. It changed the entire complexion of the match because from there on Roger made it look pretty routine, winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. Are you kidding me? Making it look easy against peak Djokovic at age 32? I almost want to laugh. The guy is so good it’s unreal. I mean we have known that for a long time but he proves it again and again. His talents know no limits.
This is certainly the best I’ve seen Roger play since 2012. Maybe the best I’ve ever seen him play. I’ve always been very positive about Roger but this surprises even me. No doubt it doesn’t hurt to be healthy. Ever since Cincinnati last year Roger have been rebuilding after a dismal 2013, and now here in Dubai 2014 it comes full circle. In all honesty I did say on a few occasions that the lower you fall the higher you climb, and given how low 2013 went this performance proves my statement 100% correct. 2013 was the lowest Roger ever went, so it would only make sense that he went higher than ever in 2014. This performance had that kind of feel about it, crazy as that may sound. Since when does Roger beat peak Djokovic 6-2 in the third? Maybe the French Open 2011 performance matches this one but the final set was not 6-2.
It was 7-6. Of course the surface was very different. This is one of the fastest courts left on tour, and clearly it doesn’t hurt Roger when he faces the base line grinders on faster courts. I’ve said this countless time as well. He is the attacking player that takes the initiative so of course faster courts would help him. Just a shame the god damn ATP does nothing about the slow courts. Anyway this man is so talented he can probably beat the grinders on quicksand. 32-year old Roger is fighting a lone battle out there against the rest of the big 4 who are all young and base line grinders and he is still beating them on today’s slow conditions. Phenomenal. The head-to-head with Djokovic is now 17-15, instead of 16-16. So at least Roger stays in front in the head-to-head with one of his major rivals. Well we have waited a very long time for this performance and finally we have been delivered.
It was a long and arduous road but worth the wait. This is what makes it worth it to be a Fedfan. Roger doesn’t just make good on your hopes, he surpasses them. He breaks new ground. He wows you. Up until this point I still found it hard to make out where Roger’s next slam would come from. But after this performance I now firmly believe he can win another slam, and probably will. Just very exciting and inspiring stuff. I don’t want to go overboard here. I know this was just one match and consistency is the key, but I feel this match justifies my excitement. It really was a God-like performance. Roger now plays one of his difficult opponents in Berdych in the final. A sixth Dubai title is not a foregone conclusion, but I like Roger’s chances here. He is just in brutal form and if he plays anything close to the way he played against Djokovic he is a certain winner.
The man, the myth, the legend…
I think Roger will probably seize his chance here. It’s been a long title drought since Halle last year and he wants it bad. Never mind Berdych standing in his way. A sixth Dubai title would be another phenomenal achievement and give Roger some much needed ranking points as well. Berdych himself has been on a high of late, but my vote still goes to Roger. Well I hope you guys have really enjoyed this win from Roger and feel inspired like I do. This is for the ones who stayed true and kept believing during the hard times. I was just made aware again today of the enormous power of belief. Through all this time Roger kept believing despite countless naysayers and critics. He believed he had the game left and that is all that mattered. And we couldn’t have had a better demonstration of unrelenting belief when Roger came back from a set down for the first time against Djokovic today.
Belief conquers all.
Highlights with crazy point in first game: