Not an ideal start from Roger today, losing serve in the first game. Overall a solid enough performance for his first match though. Moreover there is still a lot of room for improvement. But like I said it’s his first match and Roger would still be settling in and getting used to the conditions. In the first game of the match he showed the attacking intention I was talking of but when he got broken he understandably reverted back o the base line. I say understandably because you obviously don’t want to get broken again. But once Roger was a set and a break up I would have thought he would try to play like he did at the start again, but he kind of settled for something in between.
The thing with the courts at Roland Garros is that it is so slow, and it’s obviously a lot harder to play the way he did at the altitude in Madrid. The commentators made some comments about Roger’s game plan which I thought was pretty accurate. They said he should send out a message to the rest of the field and Rafa that he he is going to play all out attacking tennis this year and really go for the title by doing something different. It’s pretty obvious that he can’t just do what he did in previous years. If you look at the trend he has been struggling more and more against Rafa in the final. I know Roger is not as stupid as to think he can win by doing the same thing, I just think it’s tough for him to come out in his very first match and suddenly play a different game.
I’m sure he just wanted to get the win behind him and make a solid start. But now that he has settled in and got some confidence I expect him to get back to offensive mode in the coming rounds again. He simply can’t afford to wait until the semi’s or final before he starts changing something. He must practice going to the net more while he is playing opponents which he is still expected to beat pretty easily. If he waits until the he meets Djokovic or Rafa it could be too late. It’s obvious he is not so confident doing it at the moment so he needs to practice it. He is gonna have to accept that it will make things harder for him at the start but he should be thinking about winning the title, not about winning the early rounds as easily as he can and then losing in the semi’s or finals.
I fully realize that what I am suggesting is much easier said then done and it’s easy for me sitting here while Roger has to make it happen under pressure out there. But I think you can follow my logic. It’s about coming out of his comfort zone while the pressure is not yet that big. If he cannot do it against lesser players it will be even harder to do against Djokovic or Rafa. We all saw what happened in last years final. By the time Roger realized he had to change something he was already in trouble and he was just not comfortable with the attacking game. So he got blown away. It must be said again that Rafa wasn’t looking very convincing today in a 7-5, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Marcos Daniel, and I continue to sense a vulnerability in him this year.
However that doesn’t mean Roger can afford to relax. He still needs to work at a different game plan. We know Rafa can beat Roger on slow clay even when his not at his best. Roger has five more matches before a potential final match up with Rafa. It’s even possible that Rafa can lose before the final, but once again Roger can’t hang his hat on that possibility. Five best out of five set matches is a lot of court time for Roger to perfect that offensive game plan and put Rafa under even more pressure then he already is. The good thing for Roger is that he continued his good serving and exquisite drop shots today, so he is two thirds of the way there. Now he only needs to be successful at the net. The first serve percentage was at 68% which is very decent. The winners to unforced errors 38-29, which again is very decent.
So all in all you have to say a pretty solid performance. He just has to work at that net play. I’m just a little concerned with the way he came into the net today, he seemed to lack conviction and belief. Therefor he ended winning 14/29 points at the net, just a 48% success rate. So definitely a lot of room for improvement there. If he is going to change things up and go to the net he better do it with conviction and belief, or else he might as well not do it. But I’ll keep believing that today was just to get a solid start and that Roger will keep changing things up as the tournament progresses. Next for Roger is another clay court specialist, Jose Acasuso, who won his first round match in four sets.
Roger leads him 3-0 in head-to-head meetings and all three matches was played on hard court. Acasuso is a pretty good clay courter but so far this season he has disappointed. I expect a similar scoreline from today but like I said I hope Roger plays with some authority at the net. Roger’s press conference or match highlights is not out yet so keep a look out as I will post it here soon as it becomes available.
Ps. I added the chat room in the right sidebar in case anyone fancy a chat during Roger’s matches or any other time, just drop me a line. I was chatting with one of my readers today so come join us if you want. Lets all cheer for Roger together!
Update: Just as I finished my post Roger’s presser became available. You can find it at the link below, I might just say a few words about it later.