A pretty interesting day of tennis, it was in Melbourne. Not one that ended very well but at least Roger won his match in four sets after weathering and early ground stroke tornado from Bolelli. I expected Roger to win comfortably, but I forgot to take into account that Bolelli has some dangerous and esthetically pleasing ground strokes which can do a lot of damage when working. They were working very well for a set and a half but then the mental fortitude and overall quality of Roger 5.0 came through. Of course, there was some concern from me after Roger lost the first set but I was not panicking yet. I knew if he steadied the ship and won the second set he could still get the job done in four sets. At 3-2 in the second set, Roger had a chance to break but messed it up, after which I became a little more uneasy. Luckily he broke at 4-3 after a sublime backhand half volley up the line and then served out the set at 5-3.
The ship had been steadied, but I had to go to work. I thought the momentum had swung and that Roger would probably win in four sets from there but you can never be sure, so I was pleased when I came back to see that Roger had won the last two sets with ease to complete a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory. The match stats were actually very good from Roger and it shows that he was playing well while Bolelli was just exceptional in the first set. Roger’s serve was especially good while his break point conversion rate improved from his first round. So I definitely don’t see any need for concern that he lost the first set. You are going to come up against players playing out of their skin in slams, but the difference is you have five sets to work with and very few players are going to play at a high enough level for long enough to beat Roger 5.0 over five sets. We know that one player who can do it is Nadal.
I joined Nadal’s match when he was leading 5-3 in the third set after they split the first two sets. I thought he would for sure win the set and the match, but then Smyczek gave me hope when he broke back at 4-5 and won the third set in a tiebreak. Only to lose in five sets after taking one of those desperate defensive lobs from Nadal out of the air instead of letting it bounce, resulting in him getting broken to trail 5-6. And, of course, Nadal was not going to lose from there as he grinded out a 6-2, 3-6, 6-7(2), 6-3, 7-5 win. So I am pissed off with Smyczek for drawing me into the match and giving me hope only to watch him screw it up in the end. But I was pretty sure that was going to happen towards the end of the fifth set anyway. Once it went the distance and it came down to who wanted it more there was only going to be one winner. What also pissed me off is that the female commentator kept making injury excuses for Nadal when it looked like he could lose.
Severer in full flow
I just can’t believe how many people buy into his injury bullshit after all this time. He has them so brainwashed that they are already lining up the injury excuses for him in case he loses. I mean it’s like he controls the minds of the weaklings. Like the Jedi in Star Wars does. Well, he doesn’t fool me. He has been playing the underdog like he usually does and has his usual ‘injury problems’ to weaken the minds of the gullible, but when push came to shove he was moving as well as ever. That lob for instance that he threw up and Smyczek screwed up was basically a winner and against 99% of players he would have won the point. Yet Nadal got there and made a good enough defensive play to win the point. As for how far Nadal will go I am still not making any predictions. He could lose in the next round or win the calendar slam. Far as I’m concerned he is completely unpredictable so I won’t even try.
Many people have now already decided that he will make the final. Definitely that is a possibility, but Nadal has been pretty inconsistent in Melbourne over the years and he comes off a string of losses to very low ranked players. Even though he won in the end he did some things we have never seen from him before. For instance, he served double faults on breakpoints on three occasions. That is extremely unlike Nadal. The fact that he grinded out the win is an ominous sign and can indeed give him renewed confidence, but can he really just blast his way open into the final after having such a confidence crises? I’m not sure even Nadal can just overcome something like that so fast. I mean it was a different story in 2013 when he came back so successfully. He was out of the game for seven months and made a new beginning. He also started out on clay.
Now he has the baggage of six successive losses before Melbourne to lower ranked players. To me, the fact that he grinded out this win definitely does not mean that he is now back to full confidence and that he will make the final. But don’t take my word for it. I almost never get it right when it comes to Nadal. Given his unpredictability I won’t be surprised if he wins the tournament, but he could lose before the quarterfinals too. I just think you need to win some matches to get confidence back. Even Roger won some matches in the indoor season of 2013 before he made semis at in Melbourne after that confidence crises in 2013. But we will see. Nadal now plays Sela who, of course, defeated a potential problem for Nadal in Rosol. When you are lucky you are lucky. You wouldn’t think that Sela with limited weapons and a one-handed backhand could be a problem for Nadal, but then we thought the same about Smyczek.
As for Roger, he plays Seppi who defeated Chardy. You can say Roger is lucky there too because Chardy was the one with the big game who could have been a potential threat. Seppi possesses no serious weapons and it is just hard to see him posing any sort of threat to Roger 5.0. If I had to make a prediction I would say Roger will win in straight sets because unlike Bolelli Seppi doesn’t have the ability to hit opponents off the court for a set, even if he is in the zone. Since I expect Roger to beat Seppi I will allow myself to sneak a peak at the fourth round where Roger will face the winner of Jaziri and Kyrgios, who defeated Karlovic in three sets. So we have a potentially interesting fourth round between Roger and Kyrgios, but now I have already said too much. Elsewhere Murray had an efficient straight set win over Matosevic while Dimitrov needed four sets to get past Lacko.