Well it wasn’t to be guys, but I am still happy with Roger’s indoor season and proud of him for persisting and eventually finding some form. It didn’t culminate to the point I had hoped for, but in hindsight it’s too much to ask to set right in three weeks what has been going wrong since the Australian Open. The fact that 2012 was such an emotional and draining year meant that 2013 was always going to be a bit of a lull, and then on top of that there was the back injury which really messed with Roger’s confidence. His confidence reached an all time low post Wimbledon. In Cincinnati he started fighting back, and although he suffered two more very tough losses to Robredo at the US Open and Monfils in Shanghai, he did very well to end the year on a relative high with his results in his last three events. I was hoping he could defeat Nadal, but the Del Potro match had taken a lot out of him.
In the end it was just one match too many. It has been a busy three weeks for Roger and the match against Del Potro must have been incredibly tiring. Something similar to last year when he beat Del Potro in the semis at the Olympics and then had nothing left against Murray in the final. Maybe the confidence also weren’t quite there yet. Where this occurred to me most was when he missed a forehand down the line on break point at 3-2 on Nadal’s serve in the 1st set. It wasn’t a regulation forehand but it is one that a confident Roger would have made. That was probably the most important moment in the match, because after that Nadal started gaining the upper hand. At 4-4 and 15-15 Roger hit the most ridiculous of slice approach shots that sat up right in the middle of the court on Nadal’s forehand. As expected Nadal drilled the passing shot for winner.
Nadal won the next point and at 15-40 he drilled another forehand winner to break serve. With Nadal serving for the set in the next game Roger went up 30-15 on his serve and then won a 30-shot rally with a forehand winner. It was probably the point of the match and it was encouraging to see Roger win it. He then also broke back after a Nadal forehand sailed long. The encouraging signs didn’t last long however, because Nadal hit an extremely accurate forehand winner at 15-15 in the next game to create another small opening for him. He went up 40-15 again and broke again after Roger hit a forehand into the net. This time Nadal made no mistake as he served out the set to love. At this point I wasn’t sure whether he lost the 1st set due to fatigue or due to lack of confidence. So I still had some hope that he could fight back.
But I should have known he was tired because his footwork lacked an extra step which caused him to make several errors. Roger then got broken in the 5th game of the 2nd set after dumping a regulation forehand half way into the net. He finally got broken again at 5-3 to lose the match 7-5, 6-3. So in the end a pretty comfortable win for Nadal and the first time he beat Roger indoors. There were encouraging signs at the start of the match and I thought Roger could win, but after he missed that forehand on break point it was all over. In the end it was probably a combination of not being quite confident enough yet and tiredness. Or maybe just tiredness? It’s hard to say. Either way he was comfortably beaten and I am still happy with the way the year has ended. The Del Potro match was the key one.
That is where Roger convinced me that there is yet life left in the old war horse. People may not understand why I make such a big deal of that match or why I wanted him to qualify for the semis so badly. It comes from experience and intuition. I know that some matches are more key than other looking ahead and I know which ones. Also I don’t expect people to agree. I believe the one with Del Potro was key. How much life there is left in Roger we will find out next year. But I have no doubt there is something good left. I am excited about 2014 as a fan. I think it will be a lot better than 2013. Roger will also be helped by the fact that he won’t have many point to defend. He ends this year at #6 and I think next year he could get back into the top 4. Then his draw become easier as well. He needs to start getting back into slam semis now from where there is always a shot at the title.
He should seriously consider a bigger, more powerful racquet and a change to his fitness as well. I don’t think he is fit enough and I don’t think he has enough power. Bulking up in the upper body like I previously suggested may cause him to gain too much weight which wouldn’t help his speed and endurance. Therefor he should change to a bigger, more powerful racquet that gives him more margin for error from the base line. Physically he should do an Agassi or a Haas. Gil Reyes made Agassi run hills all day and he did a lot of gym work too. He was in the best shape of his life in his 30’s. I feel like Roger tires too easily, like for instance like he was against Nadal just now. Roger plays one tough match and he is finished in the next match. It happened in Paris against Djokovic too. He is not winning any more slams like that.
Sums it up pretty well zzzzzz
You have to win 7 best of 5-set matches in two weeks. You can’t afford to be physically and emotionally spent after a long 5-setter. Look at how Djokovic keeps going. He won Paris and plays three 3-set matches in London. Yet he is fit as a fiddle against Stan in the semis and schools him 3 and 3. These guys don’t get tired and neither can Roger afford to if he wants to win another slam. And like I said he is getting hit off the court by the big hitters. Maybe not so much indoors but on the slower outdoor courts I think he definitely does. Roger started gaining confidence with his old racquet again and didn’t experiment again after the US Open like he said he would. So I don’t think he would change racquets again because he is stubborn like that. But I thought I’d mention it anyway because I think it may be a good idea to change.
I definitely think he should get much fitter though. And of course he needs to take care well of his back. Tonight is the final between Djokovic and Nadal which I will be watching. I think Djokovic will win. I hope he does anyway. I’m not quite satisfied after Roger made semis. I still want to see Nadal denied the Masters Cup. Or lets just say I want to see Djokovic win it…
Ps. I added a contact form to my blog which you can find on the top bar. So after 5 years of blogging you now have a proper place to contact me. Better late than never, right?