Well as I hoped for Roger was over his rust today and actually put in a master class performance as he routined Agut 6-4, 6-2. I was slightly worried in the first set as Roger failed to convert on several break points again and I felt that he wasn’t taking enough chances on the Agut serve. But sure enough he took the initiative in the nick of time at 5-4 as he ripped two forehand winners and successfully chip-and-charged on the first set point to win the first set. Roger then got the break in early in the second set to take a 2-0 lead and held serve to open up a 3-0 lead. At 4-2 and Roger seemingly cruising to victory there was an incident where Roger hit a winner but the line judge called the shot from Agut out which happened to be in. It was a very unfortunate call because Roger lost the replay and almost his serve, but it would also have been the point of the match had the line judge not made an error.
Roger had to face down break point in that game and had he lost it the consequences could have been disastrous. But Roger is just very solid in the mental department these days as he held serve and broke in the next game for a confidence boosting win. The match stats were very good and like I said the only flaw if there was one was the missed break point opportunities in the first set. The serving and net play from Roger was exceptional. Next for him is Benneteau who we know can be a tricky customer. Certainly I am not underestimating him but if Roger plays like today it should be another straight set win. Djokovic reversed roles with Roger today as it was his turn to get involved in a three setter against Kukushkin, eventually prevailing 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Like Mayer yesterday Kukushkin was in the zone but in the end Djokovic was just too solid. Judging overall Djokovic is probably looking slightly better than Roger.
He got past Kukushkin with less drama than Roger got past Mayer with and Thiem was playing much better than Agut. But it’s close anyway. I just think the conditions slightly favor Djokovic if we are gonna have a Djokerer semi, but you are certainly not gonna count Roger out. He was after all the last guy to beat Djokovic in Shanghai back in 2010. But we are not at semi final stage yet and Djokovic still has to beat a resurgent Ferrer and Roger a tricky Benneteau. Both Ferrer and Benneteau had impressive wins today as Ferrer came back from a set down against Murray and Benneteau routined Nishikori’s conqueror Sock in straight sets. I think Djokerer will both be tested but unless something strange happens both should come through relatively easily. In the bottom half Berdych and Lopez had routine wins over big servers Karlovic and Isner respectively and it looks like it will be between them who makes the final.
I hope it’s Lopez but you certainly can’t count out Youzhny and Simon either. Well it’s nice to see that Roger capitalized on his narrow escape from yesterday and that he opened up a bit of a lead between him and Nadal in the rankings already. Now of course I want to see him make semis to open up a bigger lead and make it unnecessary for him to play Paris. Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t mind seeing Roger in Paris but it may be better for him to take a longer break before the all important Masters Cup and Davis Cup. I wouldn’t think that trying to get the year end #1 ranking will enjoy priority over these, but who really knows what Roger is thinking. He may play Paris even if he makes semis in Shanghai. But for now the first priority is beating Benneteau and making semis in Shanghai. Then we can have another classic Djokerer encounter and Roger can decide after that what he wants to do next.