(Just a quick note to let you know that someone told me today that they are not able to view the reader comments on their Ipad with my new theme, and that I am working on the issue)
- Federer vs Schwartzman
So another nailbiter today as Roger scraped by Schwartzman 2-6, 6-2, 7-5. For the third time this week Roger played against someone with no serious weapons, and for the second time he struggled mightily. But at least he is winning. One of Federer 4.0’s main characteristics is his mental strength and ability to win ugly and grind out matches. The other one is, of course, his improved net game. So at least he is staying true to Fed 4.0 by grinding out wins against lesser opponents.
It’s not pretty, but a win is a win. I have already said if he wins the tournament he would have done his job. Schwarzman is 5’7” and, therefore, doesn’t have a single big weapon, but he has solid ground strokes and moves quite well too. Things were looking bleak when Roger lost the first set 6-2. Had he lost this match it would have qualified as one of his worst clay court losses to date, but fortunately he reversed the first set score and from there on it was just a question of waiting for Schwartzman to choke.
And Schwartzman did just that when serving at 5-6 in the third set to stay in the match. From 15-15, he made three straight unforced errors to hand the victory to Roger. That is what you call using experience to get the job done. Roger was clearly still struggling, but he knew if he hung in there long enough his lesser experienced opponent would probably fold. Also the fact that he was serving first in the third set did not hurt. Roger’s break point conversion rate was pathetic again and this time his first serve percentage was quite low too.
But against Schwartzman who he such a small guy that didn’t hurt him too much. I like the way Roger is still winning despite playing poorly. That shows me Fed 4.0 is still around. But he does need to win the title against Cuevas tomorrow for an 85th title. Like I said at the beginning of the week, that would cancel out what happened in Monte Carlo and give him a much-needed confidence boost going to Madrid. A title is a title. They all count. Cuevas is a good player though as he showed today by beating Dimitrov 6-2, 6-4.
- The Cuevas Factor
Another thing I said earlier this week was that Dimitrov probably won’t make the final, and he was once again very disappointing against Cuevas. Fame seems to be more important to him that tennis which is why I don’t have time for him. As for Cuevas, he is ranked 23rd and has won three titles, all on clay. They were all won in the last couple of years too. Roger has never played him before which make things a little harder. I saw some of Cuevas today and was quite impressed.
He doesn’t have any huge weapons either but he is a clay courter after all and he clearly knows what it takes on the surface. If Roger wants to win the title he is going to have to improve from his last two matches. He is now playing against a guy who has actually won ATP titles. I am looking forward to a good contest. I am expecting Roger to play better too after grinding out two tough matches. If he wins the title Fedfans can look forward to Madrid with renewed hope but if he loses he has serious problems.
- Kyrgios and Thiem
Finally, Kyrgios and Thiem was playing today in Estoril and Munich respectively. Kyrgios had another good win over Carreno-Busta and will play against Gasquet tomorrow for the title while Thiem had a disappointing 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3 loss to Melzer. I watched that match and Thiem lost the match in the first set tie-break. He led 4-1 with two serves to come, missed a sitter at 4-4, and double faulted at 5-5. A mental collapse that maybe has to do with the fact that he played his own countryman.
Thiem is usually mentally strong and playing your own countryman often creates a different kind of pressure. I’m not too worried. At least he got two clay court wins under his belt. He is still young and I have high hopes for him. Also in Munich, Murray has made it all the way to the final where he will play Kohlschreiber. So he could well win his first clay court title tomorrow and become a real factor on clay this year. I still don’t think he has a great game for clay, but he can surely have some good results and beat top players.
The is in your court.