I must admit I was relieved to see the end of this match. At a set all and 1-5 the situation looked very bleak indeed for Roger. It reminded me of the Australian Open match which he played against Thomas Berdych. He just came out today not looking into the match. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why this happen, the best I can do is assume we will see one bad match per grand slam from Roger these days. One match where he will give someone a chance to upset him. Even though he was in trouble in the first set tie break he got through it, but even then he wasn’t looking into the match. He just seemed disinterested and unmotivated. He seemingly lost his serve out of nowhere at 5-5 in the second set and Acasuso held his nerve to serve out the set at 6-5.
He just looked to be getting the better of Roger from the base line and it didn’t look like Roger was interested in doing anything about it. So when Acasuso broke him twice to go ahead 5-1 thing were looking desperate. At that point I had pretty much given up the third set and hoped Roger would be able to somehow get back in the match. But Roger only needed to break once and that would be enough to make Acasuso doubt himself. Roger just found another gear, which was so lacking up until that point in the match. After Roger broke the second time Acasuso was obviously seriously starting to doubt himself and from there on it was smooth sailing for Roger. So in the end I have to say Roger only really showed up after being 5-1 down in the second set.
These kind of tough matches isn’t necessarily a bad thing though because you get a lot of confidence from coming through them. It’s obviously not ideal to be a set all and 5-1 down but if you can escape it gives you self belief. One thing I was pleased to see was that he was mixing it up quite well. The drop shot has now become a very important shot in his arsenal on clay. So even though Roger seemed to have a mental lapse in this match there is a lot of good things to take from it. The fact that he came back from 5-1 down showed great fighting spirit. You are not going to feel at your best every day, so on these days you must be willing to fight. These clay courters can become a handful when you start rallying with them form the back court because they hit a heavy ball and with little margin for error.
Roger on the other hand plays with more risk. Therefor it is essential that he keeps the point short and change things up. When he went down 5-1 that is exactly what he did, he served big, went for winners and came to the net. I don’t think we will see this kind of mental lapse from Roger again in the tournament. It seems like it’s something he started doing at the Australian Open in 2008 when he went into five sets with Tipsarivic, and ever since it has become a bit of a bad habit. So I doubt he will give us another scare like that. If you are anything like me you’ve had your fill of scares by now! The good thing about this comeback is that Roger didn’t wait until he was two sets down before he fought back like against Berdych. Does that show an increase in confidence since Australia?
Roger’s first serve percentage was 71%, which is another encouraging sign. Ever since Madrid he has been serving well and it is a sign that he is confident. Then the winners to unforced errors was 72-45, which is almost surprisingly good. On the net approaches he was 35/48, which is a big improvement from his previous match. So looking at the stats it was a quality match from Roger. For his one bad match you would have to say it was a pretty good match. Next for Roger is the winner of Paul-Henry Mathieu or Pablo Andujar. It looks like it will be Mathieu as he is two sets and a break up. They have met on three previous occasions and Roger won them all in straight sets. I don’t want to make too many predictions but I expect Roger to give a more clinical performance this time around and hopefully win in straight sets.
But more importantly I hope he can continue experimenting and work at changing things up. Everything considered I am happy with Roger’s match today and I think things will only get better from here on.
Ps. As you can see I have been making some changes to my blog and I apologize for any inconvenience. I might experiment some more so please be patient. I changed the template again after some people were complaining about the last one. It didn’t seem to be working with Internet Explorer. If the current template is still giving you problems please let me know.
Presser: Here is Roger’s presser after the match. He says the conditions was slow which made it hard for him.I must say the conditions struck me as very slow.