Sorry to say, but I might have been mistaken when I said Rafa was looking vulnerable. Today he was at his devastating best again, making short work of Lleyton Hewitt, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1. In the second set it looked like Hewitt would put up a fight after coming back from an early break. He came back from 0-2 to win three games in a row, but Rafa was quick to snuff out any hopes of a comeback by the Australian. This is part of what makes Rafa so good, he is great at quashing any hope that opponents have of coming back into the match. Once he gets ahead he is deadly. The only person that ever came back from two sets to love down to win the match against Rafa is Roger. Who else?! That was in the final of Miami in 2005 and if I’m not mistaken he was also a break down in the third.
At Wimbledon last year he also came back from two sets down against Rafa to even the match at a set all but you always had the feeling he was gonna come up short in that one. Anyhow Roger is Roger and Rafa is a very good front runner. After a shaky performance in Madrid and start to Roland Garros he now seems to be back to his very best. On the other hand Roger was looking vulnerable again against Acasuso. Roger must now set things right with a solid performance against Mathieu, he can’t afford to show any more weakness. Suddenly things are looking different again. If Rafa keeps playing like this he will be very hard to stop again. What is more is that David Ferrer has gone and lost to Robin Soderling, which will give Rafa an easier match in his next round.
Today Fernando Gonzalez still looked on course for the semi-final spot that I predicted. He also snuffed out any hopes that the Frenchman Josselin Ouanna harboured of his home crowd rallying behind him, winning 7-5, 6-3, 7-5. He will be facing Victor Hanescu next who upset another Frenchman Gilles Simon in straight sets. And if he wins there he will be playing the winner of Andy Murray and Marin Cilic for a place in the semi-fnals. You have to say he looks very good for a semi-final spot now. I don’t see him losing to any of those players. Andy Murray was 5-1 down in the first set against Janko Tipsarevic today and a break down again at 6-5. Yet Tipsarevic choked and subsequently withdrew after losing the first two sets.
Fernando Verdasco overcame his compatriot Nicolas Almagro 6-2, 7-6, 7-6, and he now faces Nicolay Davydenko who beat Stanislas Wawrinka in four sets. That should be an interesting match but I stick to my prediction of Verdasco prevailing. So it looks likely that we will have a Rafa vs Verdasco and Murray vs Gonzalez quarterfinal in the top half, with Rafa and Gonzalez probably going to the semi’s. As I said I’m hoping for a clinical performance from Roger tomorrow and I expect one. He doesn’t want to give Mathieu any hope who will have the home crowd advantage and he must send the rest of the field a message as well. With Rafa back to his dominant best I just want Roger to make the final and put up a good performance, whether he wins or loses.
With Rafa is this form the French Open title once again looks like a tall order for Roger, but lets not give up hope just yet. I still believe that Rafa must be feeling more pressure this year then any other year being on the brink of breaking Borg’s all important record. We saw what happened to Roger when he was about to break Borg’s Wimbledon record. I believe records are meant to be broken but those records are there for a reason and they are not easy to break. We’re only half way to the final still and hopefully Rafa will get tested and show some vulnerability. And hopefully Roger can also really lift his game and keep being creative on the court. I almost forgot to mention Djokovic who also finished his match off in straight sets today and still looks good for a semi-final spot.
Looking at the draw I don’t see any matches that looks particularly promising tomorrow but then again Roger is playing. Nuff said!