- Federer vs Monfils
So much for the promising start to the clay court season. Our resident oracle Veronica predicted it and so it was. Personally I thought Roger was just picking up where he left off in Indian Wells but I couldn’t have been more wrong. This was the Roger from the Australian Open, letting himself down when it mattered. He played a poor game to get broken to 15 at 4-4 in the first set. In the second set tie break he led 5-3 with a serve to come and then collapsed again to lose the next four points and the match 6-4, 7-6(5).
Low first serve percentage and too many unforced errors
On the fist point at 5-3 in the tie break he made a lame backhand unforced error. On the next point he made a lame forehand unforced error. Monfils then forced the error with a first serve. And back on his own serve facing match point he made another lame forehand unforced error. So really he has no one to blame but himself and it is unclear why 4.0 disappeared again. Maybe our oracle Veronica can shed some light on it for us. I guess since Nadal is back on his favorite clay it is now time for Roger to fall again.
- Nadal vs Isner
They always alternate like that, and not surprisingly Nadal won the next match against Isner in three sets, 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-3. And Ironically it was Isner who was the one who collapsed in the tie break when he had set point at 6-5 on his own serve. You would usually bet on Isner to win that point with his big serve, but Nadal asked the question and Isner dumped a forehand into the net. And who knows if he had won the first set, given the final scoreline, he could well have won the match.
It seems to me like the balance is swinging again in Nadal’s favor in the seemingly never ending Fedal saga. But make no mistake about it, they are both losing ground. Even though Nadal won today he still looked very vulnerable. He is not a lock for the French Open as he was in previous years. I know it’s early days but he is not the force he used to be and many players are starting to smell blood. Can he win the French Open a tenth time? Of course! But it is not as set in stone as it used to be.
- Elsewhere in the draw
Djokovic continued his bid for a second Monte Carlo title today with a 6-4, 6-0 drubbing of Haider-Maurer and now plays Cilic who defeated Tsonga in straight sets. Nadal now plays Ferrer in a quarter final repeat of last year after Ferrer needed three sets to get by Simon. That will be another tough test for Nadal. In the bottom half Berdych plays Raonic and Monfils plays Dimitrov who destroyed Stan 6-1, 6-2. I watched the first set of that and saw that Stan was tanking, so I went to meditate.
I don’t know what Stan’s problem was but that was a very strange match indeed. He wasn’t trying to win at all. It just looked like he was coming out for a casual hit and getting out of there as fast as he can. But at least Dimitrov is winning some matches again and the bottom half is now wide open. The top half is probably between Djokovic and Nadal but I wouldn’t write Ferrer off. He beat Nadal last year when Nadal was playing better so he definitely has a shot.
- In conclusion
It was a tough day in the office for Roger and quite to the contrary of what I felt like yesterday, this was a discouraging performance from him. It was one of those performances we have gotten used to over the years where he doesn’t show up mentally. You will remember after Melbourne I feared that we may have seen the end of 4.0, but then 4.0 came right back in Dubai and Indian Wells with very encouraging performances. And after the Chardy match I thought he was still around.
But now he put in another Melbourne-like performance and I am wondering if 4.0 is disappearing again. Nadal was still not featuring strongly in North-America but now that it is clay season you expect that to happen. So that could have an effect on Roger too. I hope we will not see Nadal continuing to rise now while Roger goes back to being mentally absent in matches. Luckily Roger plays a packed clay court schedule and he will now probably play all of Istanbul, Madrid, and Rome.
No one beats Cilic 12 times in a row?!
As for Djokovic some people have asked the question as to whether he should play in Monte Carlo after doing the difficult Indian Wells/Miami double again, while others have called him burned out. And yet he is still bageling opponents and looking as good as ever. My view was that he should play Monte Carlo even though he may be slightly fatigued. Mentally he will still be fresh because he is winning. If he can just hold off Nadal in Monte Carlo then he can take a two week break and come back fresh for Madrid and Rome.
Nadal is still struggling with confidence and if Djokovic just skipped Monte Carlo he would have given Nadal almost a free pass to the title. Now Nadal has to deal with a much tougher draw and even if he gets by Ferrer Djokovic can try to stop him himself. So I definitely think Djokovic should have played Monte Carlo and I don’t think he is anywhere close to being burned out. Even if he loses in Monte Carlo it will be due to some physical fatigue and wouldn’t mean that he is burned out.
The is in your court.