The last time Roger played doubles was last year in Basel believe it or not. The last time I can remember him playing doubles was at the Beijing Olympics when he won the gold medal with Wawrinka. I suppose he felt he could afford it after the lack of match play of late, and not the worst idea to get some much needed court time either. Federer and his partner, Yves Allegro, who he has played with before on many occasions, won their match 6-4, 7-6(4) today against two unknowns, and will next face the number 6 seeds Aspelin and Hanley. I like that Federer plays doubles because it is good for his volleys, something that he sometimes neglect in singles. Maybe that is part of his thinking as well going into the clay season; to play attacking tennis. He is obviously very fresh so I don’t see it being any problem for him physically.
I’m sure he would like to play more doubles, but his singles schedule just doesn’t allow it. It’s a good thing he got some court time now before his first match in the singles against Ernests Gulbis. Gulbis beat Baghdatis today, 6-2, 6-2. That is quite an easy winning margin, but I don’t think Baghdatis has seen much clay court tennis yet, if any, and he isn’t exactly a clay court specialist either. His strokes are too flat and lacks penetration on the slow clay. Gulbis on the other hand has played in Monte Carlo as well as Barcelona. In Monte Carlo he beat Roger’s compatriot Marco Chiudinelli in the first round, but lost to another Swiss player, Wawrinka, in the second round. In Barcelona he had a decent result where he lost to Verdasco in the quarter finals, but then again he didn’t beat anyone special either.
Sure Gulbis is not the easiest first round match for Federer, but that’s professional tennis and I’m sure Roger will be ready to fend off Gulbis’ challenge. A far as the head-to-head meetings go, the two have only met once earlier this year in Doha, which Federer won 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. That was a close match when Federer was still struggling with his form, but hopefully that won’t be the case again tomorrow. I can’t see why it would. Sure Roger has struggled in North America, but as we know, that motivated him to work even harder. Aside from the fact that he has always been successful when switching surfaces to the clay, it has been a new beginning for him the last couple of years. Lets hope that will be the case again. He only has this potentially tricky first round match, after which he will have a pretty easy time until the semi-finals.
Already the seed in Federer’s bracket of the draw, Sam Querry, lost today. The other upset today was when Juan Carlos Ferero was basically annihilated by little known Santiago Giraldo from Columbia. I thought Ferero would have a good clay season, so it’s been disappointing from him so far after losing early on in Barcelona last week as well. Talking of Barcelona, it was good to see Verdasco being more consistent for once by winning the title. That was after he made the final of Monte Carlo the previous week. It looks like he is finally starting to live up to some that huge potential he always had, when he beat Soderling in the final, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. I say this because Verdasco doesn’t normally have this kind of consistency. I saw some of his matches in Barcelona where usually he would have given up, but he found a way to win when he wasn’t playing his best, which is a good sign for him.
I always thought he has great potential to do well on clay, which is why I was so disappointed when he fell apart in the final of Monte Carlo. It will now be interesting to see how he fares in Rome. He is a fit guy, but surely he must be getting tired. I would like to see him do well again, but if he doesn’t the bottom half of the draw will end up being quite weak, with Ferero also out now. The top half have the best clay court player in the world and the best player period, as well as last week’s finalist Soderling. But for now all attention will be focused on Federer’s first singles match of the clay court season. It will be an important one to help him forget about the losses in North America, as well as to get his clay court campaign off to a successful start…
Roger was out shopping today with Mirka and his in-laws, while their mothers took the twins for a walk.
Nice scarf Rog old sport
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