“Step aside youngster, your time will come. But it’s not now“. That was the mythical GOAT’s simple but clear message to Dimitrov tonight in Basel. There was no hesitant start this time, aside from going down 0-40 on his serve in his first service game. That ended up being a key game in the 1st set. I wouldn’t call the start from Roger hesitant, but Dimitrov did look like the more confident of the two in the first half of the set. I would rather call it a slow start from Roger, because in the 7th game he broke Dimitrov after holding his own serve to love. Then at 3-5 with Dimitrov serving to stay in the set things got away from him, as Roger broke him again to win the first set. So definitely there was a momentum shift in the 1st set from the 6th game onward. I thought Dimitrov getting broken a second time in the 1st set was a bad sign for him.
After looking like the better player at the start he should at least have made Roger serve out the 1st set, but dropping seve again was a taste of what was to come. At first Dimitrov looked like he would come back and level at a set all, after breaking in the 3rd game of the 2nd set. It was a loose game from Roger after he had a 30-0 lead and it included 2 double faults. Things then went according to serve until Dimitrov served for the 2nd set at 5-4. Dimitrov caved in mentally once more as he played an average game and missed an overhead badly on break point. Serving to stay in the match at 5-6 he went down 0-30 on his serve as well, but at least this time he held serve to force the tie break. In the breaker he dropped his first service point and was always playing catch up from then on. At 1-3 in the breaker Roger came to the net and Dimitrov missed a backhand pass which pretty much sealed his fate.
Back in the flow
He then made an unforced error on the forehand to change sides at 1-5. He held his next serve but Roger was in no mood to mess around as he sealed the deal by winning both service points, ending Dimitrov with a service winner. I liked Roger’s no-nonsense and focused attitude in this match. It wasn’t his best but you would not expect that at this point. He is still in a confidence building phase. But there was a sense of urgency which has been absent for most of this year. Of course the fact that it is indoors and that he is playing at home doesn’t hurt. I have been stressing for some time now how important the indoor season is and that it is not too late for Roger to make an impact in 2013, while others have even suggested that he should call it a season after Shanghai. That would have been suicide as far as I’m concerned.
There is still much to play for this season. To sum up today’s match I will say that Roger was mentally the superior player and wanted it more. He showed that by fighting back from 0-40 in his opening service game and by getting the break back in the 2nd set. Dimitrov on the other failed to capitalize when he had Roger down 0-40 and then faded away in the second part of the 1st set. He should also not have dropped serve when serving for the 2nd set. Dimitrov is obviously a very talented player and an exciting prospect for the future, but Roger’s vast experience and sense of urgency saw him through here. It has been a good couple of weeks for Dimitrov and he will learn from this match against Roger, but Roger was superior in every area today and he is not yet in the mood to pass the torch. Simple as that.
Still the king
Roger now plays Pospisil for a place in the final who had another good 7-6(11), 6-4 win over Dodig today, and he looks like another promising youngster from Canada. I saw a few points today. He has a pretty big serve, a pretty big forehand, and he can play at the net as well. Definitely not an opponent to take lightly. If Roger makes the final he will officially have qualified for London, and that would be a nice way to head into Paris as there would be no pressure. By the way the Paris draw was made today and Roger will play the winner of Anderson and Youzhny in the 2nd round. So once again a lot to play for in his next match and he takes a 1-0 head-to-head record into the match with Pospisil. In the top half Del Potro’s impressive run continues and he will face Roger-Vasselin for a place in the final.
It feels good to be a Fedfan again.