Happy new year folks! I hope the new year brings you everything you dreamed of personally and as Fedfans. I am personally very excited and optimistic about the new year, and not just as a Fedfan. As you know I’ll be off to Thailand soon and the furthest East I’ve ever been was India, so I’m quite looking forward to experiencing something new. I am also looking forward to the year as a Fedfan. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to blog. Things are still a bit uncertain in that regard. But I’ll definitely be following Roger’s progress. Judging from how Roger ended 2013 and how he started the new year we will see a very different Roger in 2014 than we did in 2013. Today Roger looked very sharp against Nieminen for a first match of the season. I was grateful to find a stream because someone on my blog said there are no streams for Brisbane.
I liked the new attire from Roger and of course he came out with the new racquet as well. I’m still not sure which racquet Roger is using and whether it is the same one he tested in Hamburg and Gstaad. I’d imagine it is a bigger head anyway, something like a 95 or a 98. It seemed to give Roger a little extra pop out there on his ground strokes, although it is hard to tell with the naked eye. The court was playing pretty fast too, which makes it even harder to tell. But the idea of the new racquet is to give Roger some added power and consistency from the base line when facing the likes of Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, Berdych, Del Potro, Tsonga, etc. So hopefully a difference will be noticed in that regard as time goes by. Power has a lot to do with confidence and footwork as well. When you are confident and move well you hit the ball harder too.
And as far as footwork and confidence goes Roger looked like a different player altogether today compared to the injury plagued, low confidence player he was in 2013. It was a new beginning and Roger played like it was a new beginning. Nieminen himself played very well but Roger was in an unforgiving mood. He got the break in the 5th game after Nieminen was 40-0 up. It was enough to win the first set 6-4, and in the 2nd set Roger hit his stride and broke again in the 1st and 3rd games to take a 4-0 lead. I’m not sure but he may have had a break point in the 5th game as well, but either way Nieminen held serve and avoided the bagel. Roger then held serve two more times to win the second set 6-2. It was a good serving performance from Roger as he hit 9 aces, no double faults, and made 61% of his first serves.
That one-hander looking as gorgeous as ever
Can we conclude from these stats that the new racquet will improve his serve? Not really but it might. There were some nice base line rallies in this match where both players were taking big cuts at the ball. Roger hit his usual fair share of mishits but that is just a part of his game these days. As long as it doesn’t happen too often it’s not that big a deal. Roger looked to be approaching the net with some intent too. Not always successful but at least he seems to be working on something there. According to Cilic, who beat Dimitrov in the 2nd round, the Brisbane courts were perhaps the fastest outdoor courts he can remember playing on on tour. There are some rumors that the courts in Melbourne will be faster too in which case approaching the net more could be a good tactic for Roger.
It’s good to hear that the Brisbane courts are pretty fast anyway. Fast courts are definitely something that is lacking on tour. If Roger is to have a chance against the likes of Djokovic, Murray, and Nadal in Melbourne the courts will certainly need to be faster than the last few years. Just maybe the tide is swinging in his favor again as far as the court speeds go. We will see. Playing with a new racquet at a different event is the right thing to do at this point anyway. Roger’s schedule is also out now and it looks pretty standard. The main differences from last year is of course Brisbane instead of Doha, and then Roger left out Rotterdam while he added Miami. That’s a pretty interesting move. Rotterdam is indoors and fast while Miami is outdoors and slow. You’d think he could possibly pick up more points at Rotterdam, but I’m not against the decision.
Miami is after all a big Masters Series event, and even though it is slow as sandpaper it is not impossible for Roger to do well there if he is feeling confident. Also it’s nice for the fans that they won’t have to wait for such a long stretch between Indian Wells and Madrid to see Roger play again, although there will be quite a long stretch now between Melbourne and Dubai. It’s a very standard schedule, with Roger playing all the slams, Masters Series events(sans Monte Carlo), the ATP 500’s in Dubai and Basel, and the ATP 250’s in Brisbane and Halle. I think it’s a good schedule, and of course Roger can still adjust it if he feels the need. Even though it is just one match Roger’s back was just fine today. His back will only really be tested when he plays best of 5 set matches in the slams however.
We will have to wait to see how that goes but the early feeling is that the back will be less of a problem in 2014. Roger would have learned from his back problem in 2013 and he won’t play again if it is bothering him, thereby making the problem even worse. He would have done a lot of work on it too and I am positive that he can keep it under control in 2014. It is important for Roger to stay fit and go deep in the slams this year. And to go deep in the slams he must also do well outside of the slams. Winning Brisbane would be the ideal start as I have previously stated. Roger next plays singles on Friday against the Australian Matosevic, but he will be in action tomorrow in doubles. He is playing doubles with Mahut and they upset the #1 seeds in the first round! Tomorrow they will play against Dimitrov and Chardy.
That win in the doubles would have given Roger some nice court time and a little boost in confidence before his match with Nieminen. It is good practice for his volleys too. I think it may be a good idea for Roger to play some more doubles. That is if his body allows him to. Maybe this week he can win the singles and doubles in Brisbane. Long way to go though. I’m just glad the tennis season is back and that Roger is looking good. I’m looking forward to the tennis for the rest of the week and to keeping you updated. Roger and Matosevic have never played before. Matosevic beat Benneteau in the first round and Querrey in the second, both in very close 3 set matches. So I’m sure he will provide Roger with a test. Well this was quite a long post for a routine first round win. I guess Roger is giving me a lot to talk about!