Gulbis Destroys Berdych on His Way to First Slam Semi

Hi, folks! It’s been a couple of days since I posted, but I am back with a vengeance for the conclusion of this very exciting and absorbing French Open. There have been some interesting stories in this French Open, among others the rise of Gulbis and the return to form of big four-member Andy Murray. Of course, the rise of Gulbis have not exactly been something Fedfans appreciated, but at least they can take heart from the fact that Roger lost to someone who won his next match. And it wasn’t even close. Gulbis made short work of Berdych routining him 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. With this win, Gulbis had his best result in a grand slam yet, bettering his previous best by one round which was at the French Open in 2008. After showing a lot of promise early on, Gulbis has disappointed. He always possessed the talent but lacked the dedication to fulfill that talent.

It has only been in recent times that he has become more dedicated and more consistent as a result. In a sense, Gulbis’ success makes me feel better about his win over Roger, because as I said in my last post Roger should by all accounts have won that match and I was regretting it somewhat. If Roger won the second set, which clearly he should have, then he may have beaten Gulbis in straight sets. Or at most in  four sets. So it shows me that Roger is on a good level and had it not been for the lack of matches due to the birth of his children, he could easily be the one facing Djokovic in the semis now. But in a sense I am happy it did not work out that way. If Roger was in the semis he could have made life very difficult for Djokovic again, which wouldn’t have been good for Djokovic before he faced Nadal in the final.

Roger already saved Nadal once. I didn’t want to see it happen again. Not that Gulbis will be a walk over, but it is his first slam semi and I think Djokovic should win the match relatively comfortably. I can see the match going to four sets at most with Djokovic on the winning side. If it was Roger he could have pushed Djokovic to five sets, which would have tired him out before a final with Nadal. I think everything happens for a reason and works out the way it should. I am now totally fine with Roger’s loss against Gulbis. He lacked matches and struggled from the start of the tournament. With the relatively early loss, he didn’t spend a lot of energy and he can now go straight to grass and start getting ready for the big onslaught at an eighth Wimbledon title. I get excited just thinking about it.

Coming of age

It would be the coolest thing ever if Roger wins his 18th slam at Wimbledon, and in the process become the record holder for titles at the most prestigious tournament in the world. It would pretty much etch his name in the history books as the undisputed GOAT. Somehow it just seems right and meant to be. But first it seems meant to be that Nadal’s reign at the French Open will be ended by Djokovic this year. If Nadal fails to win the French Open this year and Roger wins Wimbledon, then the GOAT debate is effectively closed in my opinion. But there is a long way to go for that to happen. Let me get back to the French Open fourth rounds first which I left out in my last post because I wanted the whole post to be about Roger.  Nadal’s cakewalk draw continued when he faced the worst player left in the draw in Lajovic.

I watched some of that match and Lajovic was atrocious. Nadal won easily 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 but wasn’t overly impressive. Djokovic’s 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 victory over the home favorite and 13th seed Tsonga was much more impressive. Murray played Verdasco who had been having a decent tournament. Verdasco had more than enough talent to beat Murray but the mental midget that he is he lost in straight sets, 4-6, 5-7, (3)6-7. Now onto the quarter finals where Nadal played Ferrer and won 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, 6-1. Again Nadal was showing some signs of vulnerability as he dropped the first set to Ferrer. I started watching just as Nadal won the second set, after which I quickly switched over to the Murray/Monfils match when I saw the Ferrer’s demise was inevitable.  Ferrer even admitted afterwards that he threw in the towel after losing the second set.

Pathetic really. Why he would go and admit that baffles me. Now everyone knows he is a quitter. I mean who quits after a set all, but to go and admit it is even worse. So I switched to Murray’s match and what I saw was that Monfils was coming back into the match after losing the first two sets. He ended up winning the next two sets and Murray looked frustrated and in danger of letting the match slip through his fingers. As the fifth set began the light was fading badly and Murray was frustrated that play was not stopped to come back the next day. I thought it would count against him as the momentum was on Monfils’ side, but Murray bageled Monfils in the final set winning 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 1-6, 6-0. Only Monfils would go and lose the final set 6-0 after having the momentum and the crowd on his side, which is why he is not slam winning material.

Quietly confident

The last quarter final which I have not mentioned was the one between Djokovic and Raonic, and it was another clinical performance from Djokovic who won 7-5, 7-6(5), 6-4. He is really looking extremely impressive. He will now face Gulbis who he holds a 4-1 lead against in the head-to-head. I’m convinced this is where the road ends for Gulbis. He has done very well to get this far and he has no doubt made progress, but I don’t think there is any chance he can upset Djokovic. The same goes for Murray against Nadal. Murray has convinced everyone that he is back to his best, but I don’t see any way in which he can defeat Nadal. Murray is not a top tier clay court player. He is very competent on the surface when he is playing well, but compared to the rest of the big four he is well behind on clay.

The 2014 French Open winner was always meant to be between Djokovic and Nadal, and as you may have guessed I am still firmly believing that Djokovic will win it this year. But, of course, nothing is set in stone and both Djokovic and Nadal still has to win their respective semi-finals. I think both matches will definitely be worth watching and I will certainly try to. Both Djokovic and Nadal have dropped one set during the tournament now and they are both looking very good. Judging by the score lines they are looking equally good for the title, but one must remember Djokovic had a tougher draw and I have seen some subtle signs of vulnerability from Nadal. Let’s see if Nadal shows any more signs of vulnerability in the semis, and if Djokovic can continue his very impressive form.

Ajde Nole!

 

Posted in French Open, Grand Slams.

37 Comments

  1. Hi Ru-an, Can you work out if Fed will still be number 4 next week, or will Ferrer have more points?

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Ferrer lost a lot of points after last year’s final and now quarters Nicole, so Roger is well ahead of him. Roger is #4 in the live rankings, while Ferrer is #7 http://live-tennis.eu/ Looks like it will probably be between Roger and Murray as to who is 4th seed for Wimbledon, as Roger defends Halle and Murray defends Queens. Wimby also does their own seedings so who knows.

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    Ajay Reply:

    Murray is confirmed to be number 3 seed and Roger number 4 seed.And Djokovic is number 1 seed and Nadal 2nd seed.All these are already confirmed with their present points.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Ajay, good to know!

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  2. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! There is nothing to add to the perfection of your post Ru-an. You should frame that post and put it on your wall. Yes!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Haha thanks Eric! It’s great to see someone appreciating a post that is not centered around Roger!

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  3. Well, I am a tennis fan first. Roger is my favorite player. How many times can you possibly be right in one post. So many. This is why I come here, for how clearly you see the game as a whole. This is one of the most exciting slams in a while with great stories and drama. I can’t wait for the next matches. Love it!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well I’m glad you found my blog Eric. Not only are you a nice guy but you can appreciate my blog like no one before. And only because you have a good knowledge of the sport yourself. I won’t lie, I do think that my knowledge of tennis is vast. Sometimes I feel like I know everything there is to know about tennis, and that I can’t get anything wrong. But it takes someone who knows a lot about tennis themselves to really be able to appreciate that, and that is where I appreciate you so much in turn as a reader. It’s great to see that you are a tennis fan first too, and then a fan of Roger. That is the kind of reader I want reading my blog :-)

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    Eric Reply:

    Thank you Ru-an. Even great drama in the first women’s semi today. Fun stuff!

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  4. This post has lifted my spirits a bit after the loss Sunday. Federer at 32 lost to an in-form player, and in fact, could easily have won in 3 or 4. I am still disappointed with the poor 5th set as it’s a bad trend. But, looking forward to fast, low bouncing Halle!

    ‘Pathetic’ is the exact word to describe Ferrer after the 2nd set…but I still believe in Murray. Murray’s problem is that he plays to his opponent’s level, but against Nadal that could be a good thing. Against Monfils it nearly cost him the match. They met in the 2011 SF, with nadal winning easily. (Strangely, I felt 2011 was FEderer’s best showing against Nadal at RG).

    Murray is not an accomoplished clay player, but he can be quite stubborn. If he doesn’t slip into negativity he could steal a set or two off Nadal – at least soften him up a bit…

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    rahan Reply:

    “pathetic” is indeed the right word.

    IMHO, he should seek some advice from Sharapova.

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  5. Hi Ru-an! Well how wrong was I on my last comment huh? Roger was in a winning position as I thought he would be. I certainly didn’t anticipate the attitude Roger showed during the match and that’ll be the key to his chances at Wimbledon.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m with you when it comes to the excitement! However, we need to see the calm assurance that he showed in Melbourne this year if he is to cement his place as SW19’s greatest champion. Even before ‘that overhead’ Federer certainly was not his usual ice cool self. I was concerned even before he missed those set points. But he can do it, spending time with his family will be a nice breather and he’ll definitely make a charge!
    Now I don’t respect Gulbis yet because as you say he lacks the dedication. But it’s not too late to rectify things, again as you say he is making improvements. The fact that I’m saying “as you say” is a compliment to your writing. Keep it up! It’s great to see more posts Roger or no Roger.
    As a tennis fan I was hugely disappointed with David Ferrer. Lost a lot of respect for him really. I hold the guy as an example of how far you can go if you just give everything you’ve got, and he has done that brilliantly throughout his career. I was surprised to see he just gave up, it just sucks. He’s the last guy I would have expected it from and it saddened me since I’m a fan of his. Anything can happen in tennis ANYTHING (just see the Monfils-Murray match for reference) so to not keep fighting was a real shame. Bad form David!
    Great post, at the moment Djokovic is in pole position, we’ll see if he is by this time Sunday!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Tom and you are right that anything can happen in tennis if you keep fighting. I lost a lot of respect for Ferrer too, but than again I was never a big fan.

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  6. Hey Ru-an, great article. Now that Roger is gone, I am rooting for Nole. But to be honest, also because he deserves it so much. He is a nice guy and a terrific player. Sometimes I don’t like the things he does, but he makes me laugh a lot and I do like him a lot (not on Roger-level ofcourse…). But something says me, he should better win RG this year or he may never have a good chance again.

    And… I have to set something right with you. When you said you rather want Roger to have an 8th Wimby than a 2nd RG, I have to be honest, I didn’t quite get it. I mean, ofcourse having an 8th Wimby puts him ahead of Sampras. But I thought, what is more important than beeing the first to have won all slams twice (before Rafa gets that…). For me personally, I wanted Roger to win RG more than Wimby.
    But then Mats Wilander said something very wise too. He said winning RG is difficult, but somewhat easier than winning the other slams and….winning RG is a goal and winning Wimby is a dream..
    So… I am convinced. Now I want Roger to win Wimby more than RG.
    RG will always be there, even if he is the second person to win all 4 twice. But, come on Roger…my hope is you win Wimby the 8th, 9th and 10th time :-)
    Go Roger :-)

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  7. This it it. Djoker has to deliver now. If he messes up as he did twice last year then the Fed slam record is gone. We need Nole to use the momentum he has built since that heartbreaking loss to Dull in USO13, four straight wins, and deliver a knockout blow to Dull’s hopes of the slam record. Fed winning wimbledon and anyone but Nadal winning USO would almost seal it. I think if Fed can just somehow get to 18 or 19 then he has put the record beyond Dull’s reach. These next few days at RG are critical. Then halle (which rog has to win for confidence) and wimby could decide the GOAT debate forever. So nervous, and it all hangs on Nole for the moment :-(

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    Ru-an Reply:

    We can’t expect Djokovic to always save Roger’s ass, but I am just happy that Roger won’t be there this year to save dull’s ass.

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  8. Hey!!! I saw your post on facebook said Birdshit but on the site it says Berdych. What’s up with that? Change it to Birdshit or Berdshit…please…

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Haha it was Birdshit at first but then I changed it back. I could have left it at Birdshit but I guess I felt I’ve always tried to be somewhat professional with my writing. On twitter or forums I call him Birdscat.

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  9. Regarding Ferrer: many players dread the physicality of facing Nadal–he makes you run and run, and he hits with such heavy spin and brute force that it’s exhausting to try to deal with his ball and hit it cleanly, and people don’t want to put themselves through that for three or four or five or six hours, so they give up mentally. Not because they can’t fight, but because they don’t want to put themselves through the sheer agonizing monotony of it all. Only someone mindless (i.e. Nadal himself) could handle playing the same endless rally two or three hundred times a match.

    We all know Murray will never miss a chance to choke it away against Nadal (and then say he didn’t in the presser). There are a shockingly large number of people who still believe that he’ll eclipse Federer and Nadal and come into his own as a dominant champion at the top of the game, but fact is the only times he’s won a Grand Slam, he didn’t have to face Federer and Nadal. The one time he beat Federer in a major he then lost to Djokovic. The two times he beat Nadal in a major he lost to Federer. So far, he’s just there to pick up the pieces when Federer and Nadal falter.

    He’s never made a clay final and I don’t think he’s about to start now. I’m sure he’s more worried about grass at the moment. With Federer out of form last year, he was able to establish himself as the top grass-court player (he would have been in 2012 as well, if not for Federer) and I’m hoping that this year Federer can mount a comeback and surpass the venerable record of Sampras and Renshaw and stand alone as Wimbledon’s greatest champion.

    Djokovic is playing very well and has a real chance of victory here, but it’s far from certain. In 2011 he was seeing the ball like a watermelon, everything he hit went in. He didn’t put a foot wrong for 9 months, it took Federer’s very best tennis to stop him at RG and nothing else could do it. He’s playing better than he was last year but is he playing as well as he did during his annus mirabilis? He’ll need shots like that miracle return he hit to stave off match point in USO ’11 in order to beat Nadal.

    The pressure of completing the Career Slam will also weigh on him. This isn’t like the Rome or Miami finals, which, though important finals, were more straightforward by comparison. There’s so much more at stake, regardless of what he says to the press. He’s 27, he won’t have that many more chances, next year he’ll be a husband and dad so it’ll be even tougher. Can he join the elite company of Federer, Laver, Agassi and Nadal? It’s not so easy, not even for a great champion like Djokovic. He’s already faltered once with the finish line in sight. Let’s hope he can get into the final and then take care of business once he’s there.

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    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Steve, great comment. I so hope Nole wins RG. Not only to save it from Rafa winning it, but honestly, because he deserves it himself. He has been one of the best players for a few years and since USO 2013 he has been the best player. But like I also said in a earlier comment, he HAS to win RG this year, otherwise I am afraid he won’t get such a good chance again.
    Roger and Mirka made it look too easy that you can have both a family and succesfull tenniscareer, but I think in the beginning Nole will struggle with it. Yesterday at Game, Sets & Mats he was talking about fatherhood. It was so heartfelt. He is so proud to be a dad and the way he talks about Jelena, wow, just wow. I really applaud them, Nole beeing in his prime, and still, not beeing afraid to have a family. I really hope Nole wins RG. Go Nole, I will be rooting for you, not because of Roger, but because you yourself deserve to win.

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    Katyani Reply:

    Oh and about the “cold” vibes between Roger and Nole… maybe them beeing a dad at the same time will create “some kind of a bond” between them. Maybe Nole and his parents will now have some more respect for Roger (and Mirka) when they see Nole and Jelena going through the same…

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    steve Reply:

    I am glad to see that Djokovic is embracing marriage and fatherhood too, Katyani. I don’t think Federer and Djokovic are buddy-buddies but I don’t think they are “cold”. There are many players Federer isn’t friends with, it would be hard for him to be friends with them all. They’re courteous and professional, that’s all one can ask.

    Federer had some issues with Djokovic’s parents and perhaps didn’t care so much for his imitations of other players, but I think they are past that now.

    It helps that Djokovic’s parents have toned it down a bit from the days where his dad would wear a T-shirt with a picture of his son on it.

    What Federer really thinks of Djokovic, I doubt we’ll ever know. I don’t think he will do the fashionable and conventional thing and write a tell-all autobiography–not even a dry one like Sampras’, which told the reader absolutely nothing about what made the guy tick.

    My suspicion is that Federer will keep it all to himself and leave us all guessing. It’s not in keeping with his character to spill his guts in public. He wants the focus to be on his tennis or whatever he happens to be doing, not gossip. Of what relevance, ultimately, is his personal judgment of Djokovic? Maybe he doesn’t like the guy’s fashion sense, or finds his laugh grating, or saw him pick his nose once and then eat it. Are these things worth telling the world? I dunno, it just seems too trivial to merit writing down for public consumption.

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  10. Hey Awesome Aussie, where are you?? Dutch Dynamite is missing you :-)

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    Veronica Reply:

    Gosh, Katyani, Ru-an and others, how do you all keep it up?!!! This has got to be the best FO for a long time! I’m zombie like! Murray fizzled out and Djoko was lethargic in latter part of his match. Not good signs as anything short of 100 percent is not gonna get it done against the beast. I do fear Djoko does not look 100 percent. But I’m hoping for a repeat of USO where he won against Nadal with a back injury. The injury actually caused Djoko to play more aggressive and precise tennis. I sat through a whole Sharapova match the other night and gosh, what a PAINFUL experience! It was agonising to say the least! I don’t get it how she is so popular. Of course her will to win is unmatched and much admired. Besides that, nothing else. And is she a tennis player or not, can’t even get in a serve!!!! I hope Halep puts her out of her serving misery tonight!! Now Halep is a player worth watching. So intelligent, smooth and a delight to watch. Bouchard too. No wasted energy or time, no drama, just do their jobs. What a pure breath of fresh air these two girls are bringing to WTA!! On side note, Gulbis learnt his lesson by not getting MTO against Djoko though he was clearly hurting. I thought that was class of him. Ru-an, another class post this one and the last. Love the captions, especially about Roger being pissed!!! Hahaha! Dunno about you guys and I continue to have hopes for Djoko but mentally , I’ve already prepped myself to witness a 9th biting!! Ugh, ugh ugh!! AGONY!!! Common Djoko, Just.Do.It…..and save us all from hell, AMEN!!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi Mirka!! Been missing you! I wouldn’t worry too much about Djokovic getting fatigued vs Gulbis. It was hot and I think he was suffering from a cold. I’m sure he will be tip top after a day’s rest. Agree totally about Sharapova. I don’t like her much tbh, and I hate her grunting. I would never watch a full match of hers. And yes her serve is a joke. Gotta be optimistic about Djokovic’s chances.

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  11. Are any of you guys in America? Isn’t it disgraceful how they split up the tennis coverage and make it so difficult to watch all the matches? Drives me a little batty. At least espn has gotten control of most of it but the weekends are a real pain when the broadcast networks get involved. Grrrhh…

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  12. Hmm,

    Well maybe that actually was Murray’s best… and I don’t mean that in a critical way. It just seemd that Nadal overpowered him so easily. He (Nadal) always seems to look stronger as a tournament progresses, and the weather was just perfect for him today.

    I just hope that Djokovic’s apparently more difficult semi will keep his level of play tuned to a higher pitch for the final! When his game is on, he plays tennis just about as well as it can be played.

    (Please) Go Djoker!

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    Alex Reply:

    I worry when I see Nadal playing as well as he did today, but something has got to give on Sunday. Ruan was right with most of his predictions so far except that even he didn’t predict a straight sets win for Nadal today. Sometimes on this court it is just impossible for some players to play their best due to the conditions and the surface which suit nadal’s game so well. Federer knows this all too well (2008 final I think it was). I actually believe that both players go into the final in top form on Sunday. The difference will be in the mental department. Djokovic holds the edge thankfully in that sense. He just needs to stay focused. We’re all counting on Novak to slay the monster once and for all!!!

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  13. I’m not as worried about nadal’s great form as I am about something I noticed with djokovich today. I think half way through that match, Novak was really fighting not feeling well. Looked to me like he had an upset stomach or something. I wonder if he’ll say something about that in his press conference. Maybe staring into the sun messed w him. I don’t know but I’m sure I saw it. Good news is he’s got a day off.

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    Eric Reply:

    And by the way, all I meant by the Nadal side of that is, it’s the finals at Roland Garos, Nadal is going to play fantastic. I believe if Djoko is at his best he will win, but if not, he doesn’t have a chance. A days rest is big.

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  14. Ummm, this is sounding pretty wimpy, don’t you think????

    Amid hot conditions caused by a broken arena air conditioning system in San Antonio, Miami Heat forward LeBron James had to come out of Game 1 of the NBA Finals due to cramps.

    I didn’t see the game but sure sounds like a regular day at the office for tennis players. Plus, you can’t just come out of the game and let your teammates win it for you like LeBron can. :-)

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  15. Djokovic feeling ill and fatigued :-( Cant bear to watch on Sunday, nothing sickens me more than the sight of Dull with yet another slam trophy :-( how many times can this guy get lucky? Its ridiculous…..

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  16. Haven’t seen any tennis this past week but today saw Nadal just power past Murray. I wasn’t surprised that Nadal won but he made it look so easy! Novak will have to be on his toes to stay and hopefully win against Rafa. I think Roger is right and that Rafa is exactly where he wants to be. It’s amazing that he always manages to lift his game. much as I don’t like him it chokes me to say I admire his sheer determination.

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