Most impressive Stan, most impressive. Yesterday when I saw a strange tweet from Stan I wasn’t sure which Stan would show up today. Too many times have I seen ‘Stan da friend’ lose the plot against Roger in big matches, the most recent one in Rome where he inexplicably choked/tanked. So it was nice to see ‘Stanimal the animal’ coming out today, pounding serves, forehands, and backhands from the get go. It really is a breathtaking sight to watch him pummel the ball like that.
- Opening Set
In the beginning I thought Stan was being a bit predictable with his shots because Roger kept reading where he was going to hit. But that was probably only early nerves because soon he broke Roger to love in the fourth game with a blistering backhand pass. At 2-3, there was a long game where Roger had at least two break points, but Stan was mentally solid and held serve. Then at 5-4 came the moment of truth for Stan as he served for the first set and again Roger had a breakpoint.
But again Stan was rock solid as he played a terrific point to save it. Finally, he won the first set with a forceful forehand up the line which forced the error from Roger. The important first set was in the bag.
- Second Set
In the second set, you would have expected a comeback from Roger, but Stan just kept plowing through the court with brute force. At 3-3, he hit another blistering backhand pass on the opening point of Roger’s service game. Then at 30-30 he pounded an inside-out forehand winner to set up breakpoint. He then played a very smart point to break as well, doing enough to force the error from Roger. At 5-3 where you would expect Roger to at least make Stan serve out the set, Stan took the initiative and broke again to go up two sets to love.
- Final Set
The final set was the closest and at least Roger was able to push it to a tie-break. And against this Stan it’s actually quite difficult to do. The deeper they went into the third set the more the tension built, until it reached its peak at 6-6 and the tie-break ensued. You knew this was it. Was Stan gonna stay solid and close it out, or was he gonna choke like he usually does against Roger and allow him back into the match? Judging from the first point, it was going to be the former.
The first point of the tie-break is always important and Stan held his serve with a very well played baseline point. Then at 2-2 and Stan serving Roger was pushing hard to get the mini-break before they changed sides, but Stan played another very solid baseline point that ended with him ripping one of those glorious one-handed backhands down the line for a winner. After they changed sides Stan got the break after hitting a forehand on the line which was initially called out.
Roger couldn’t control the ball so when the call was corrected he lost the point. Stan held both serves to take a 6-3 lead, and at 6-4 he played another terrific attacking point to get the straight-set win.
- Closing Observations
I’m sure Fedfans are tired by now of hearing how Stan pounded Roger off the court. But if they liked Stan simply because he was Swiss and Roger’s friend, this loss shouldn’t bother them much. The celebrity worshipers who only care about kissing Roger’s ass don’t actually care about Stan. The true test comes when he plays against Roger, then they all of a sudden expect him to throw in the towel or he is a traitor and they hate him. For that kind of fan, I have no sympathy.
They are celebrity worshipers which have nothing to do with tennis and I want nothing to do with them. With that out of the way, I am happy with Roger’s French Open performance. I said I would be happy with quarters or semis so I stand by that. The usual suspects will insult him and write him off, but what do they expect at this point from him on clay anyway? The two most important things he needs on clay right now, his movement, and forehand, is not what it used to be.
Due to age he changed racquets and adapted his game for faster courts. His serve, backhand, and net game have improved while his forehand paid the price. And yet he still improved his clay court game from last year as well as his French Open result. Today he just got beaten by a player who can hit anyone off the court when he is playing well. That’s it. He can take a lot of positives to the grass court season where he will be a much bigger threat. As for Stan, I am really proud of him for coming out of Roger’s shadow.
Too many times in the past did he have this inferiority complex where it looked like he felt it was a sin to try to beat Roger. Today in the third set even when the crowd was starting to act like hooligans again, shouting out when Stan was serving and loudly cheering Roger on, he held his nerve as if it was nothing and just took the match away from Roger. When he plays like this and he has his head screwed on right he becomes almost unbeatable, like we saw at the 2014 Australian Open.
- Nishikori Folds Against Tsonga
Stan now plays Tsonga who defeated Nishikori 6-1, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, and that will be a very winnable match for him. Nishikori folded under the pressure of the French crowd and his serve remains a huge liability because where other players can get free points off it in pressure situations, he can’t. Tsonga did well to take the initiative in the fifth set anyway, but I expect Stan to defeat him. Stan talked about the French crowd in his presser after the Simon match and he said it was peanuts compared to the Davis Cup in Lille.
He is immune to this crowd and it won’t bother him in the least against Tsonga. I think he will win and make the final. With the Djokodal quarterfinal tomorrow and the likeliness of those two playing another five set thriller and exhausting each other, I am starting to like Stan’s chances for the title. And don’t forget that the winner of Djokodal still has a semi against probably Murray to look forward to which could be another marathon. So whether Nadal or Djokovic makes the final, Stan can definitely win his second slam here.
I believe he could even hit Nadal off a clay court. He is that brutal of a ball striker. It is just a question of keeping it together mentally, and all throughout these championships he has looked rock solid in that department. It was the same in Melboure last year and there he defeated both Djokovic and Nadal, blasting Nadal off the court in the final. Personally I would like the Djoker to finally make it this year, but I’m not gonna complain if Stan wins it either, provided the Djoker at least defeats Nadal.
- The Blockbuster Djokodal Quarterfinal
Ok so this post is already getting very long and I have already said some things about this match in my last post, but I have no choice but to preview it some more. It’s basically the match of the decade so far. The stakes are massive and in the mean time there is load shedding scheduled in my disappointing country for tomorrow which means I’m gonna have to drive to another town probably just to be able to watch it. I already missed Nadal’s loss to Soderling due to a power out here in 2009 so I’m not gonna let it happen again.
If Nadal loses tomorrow I want to see every second of it. That said, I’m not getting my hopes up. He is probably the favorite. He is 6-0 against the Djoker at the French and he’s only ever lost one match there in ten years. You just know he is going to play as if his life depends on it. Not that he doesn’t usually, but he is gonna fight extra hard here. He knows how much is on the line and he is unbelievably clutch unfortunately, while the Djoker has on the odd occasion folded under the pressure.
For that the 2013 Djokodal semi-final is enough proof. I think most people as well as the bookies has the Djoker as the favorite, and with all my heart I hope he wins, but I just can’t call the Djoker the favorite with everything I’ve seen. Time and time again people, including myself, say this is finally the Djoker’s year, and time and time again Nadal finds a way to prove them wrong. In short – I will believe it when I see it. Until then Nadal still has to be the favorite probably.
Hopefully by saying this I am jinxing Nadal, but I don’t know. I will say that this is the Djoker’s best chance to defeat Nadal at the French, but now he also has the baggage from the past to carry. If only Roger had not beaten him in 2011 I’m 99% sure he would have defeated Nadal in the final. But it is what it is. He is now back to similar form, but he also has Becker in his camp and an improved serve and net game. Those things will already make a difference. He just has to play attacking tennis when it matters.
That may be the key right there. When a big moment comes he must not allow Nadal to take the initiative with attacking tennis. He must take the initiative himself. I’m sure Becker also helps in that regard. Whatever the case may be, this match is absolutely massive and the result can have far reaching consequences on the GOAT debate. This is not necessarily either player’s last chance to win the French, but it could be. I think whoever loses may be done winning the French, but the winner will not necessarily win the title this year.
Even though the winner may be too beaten up to win the title, at least they will have the satisfaction of having beaten their bitter rival, and they could come back next year to win it. The loser may just be too broken to come back to do it next year. I think there is an equal amount on the line for both. I am nervous just previewing the match. The winner may well not win the French Open, given the unique draw, but both badly need to win the match regardless. May the best man win and may we see a new French Open winner this year.
The is in your court.