Halle Rd 2: Federer def Stebe 6-3, 6-3

Hi there. This may have been the fist full match of Roger I’ve watched in a year. It’s been a busy time for me to say the least. Roger was ok in this match, and it is too early too draw any serious conclusions. He comes off the back of a straight set loss to Tsonga, who lost in straight sets to Ferrer, who lost in straight sets to Nadal. It’s tough to have a lot of confidence after that, but like I said Roger is not targeting the French any more, and this is a new surface and a new beginning. This was the first time I saw Stebe play and he looks like a pretty talented player. He is a 22-year old lefty ranked 166 in the world. He seems to be pretty good in all areas of the game but doesn’t have any huge weapon like a big serve. Roger got the the early break and a second break to take a 5-1 lead. Stebe then held serve and at 5-2 Roger failed to serve out the set.

This showed a lack of confidence. But we have seen Roger fail to serve out sets for some time now. At least he broke Stebe in the next game to win the first set, so we will give him the benefit of the doubt. In the second set Roger got the break early on again but Stebe was playing better. At 4-1 Roger had a break point and I was hoping for a bread stick, but Stebe came up with an ace. Roger then set up another break point with a nice forehand winner, and this time Stebe saved the break point after a big serve and an attacking forehand. At 5-2 and 30-15 on Stebe’s serve Roger had another chance to put pressure on the Stebe serve, but he missed his favorite inside out forehand. Then on match point at 5-3 and 40-30 Roger served a double fault. On the next point Roger missed a regulation forehand down the line and Stebe had a break back point.

Don’t be mad at me, but I was almost hoping Stebe would break so that I could see more tennis. However Roger came up with a first serve which Stebe missed into the chair next to the net, almost decapitating the ball boy in the process. Two points later Roger finally took advantage of his match point. So in the end there was much room for improvement, but at least Roger got it done without any drama. It was anything but a sharp performance. Had he served out the first set at 5-2 and made the forehand at 5-2 in the second set the score would have been 6-2, 6-2. But like I said at least there was no drama and a win is a win. Roger will now play against Zverev who he played once before in Rome in 2009 and defeated 7-6(3), 6-2. The draw has worked out well for Roger because Janowicz could have been a dangerous opponent.

Roger has some more time now to build his confidence against a player that doesn’t hold a serious threat to him. Zverev is a decent serve-and-volley player but doesn’t have a big game like Janowicz. It should be another nice match for Roger to get some court time and work on all his shots. I’d like to see an improvement from his first round. He needs to be sharper and win the match as easily as he can. No more donations and freebies. I have already said that winning Halle is important for Roger’s chances at Wimbledon and the rest of the season. It will just take some pressure off him to win that first title of the season and give him that winning feeling back. Monfils also won his second round match today and tomorrow we will find out whether Gulbis or Haas joins him in the quarters. Youzhny beat Nishikori today and I won’t be surprised if he makes the final.

Finally Gasquet will be in action tomorrow as well against Melzer. Roger will be in action again Friday. Looking forward!

Highlights:

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15 Comments

  1. Well, Ru-an, I must say you are more than at per with Nadull the way both are going. Simply unstoppable over the past few weeks. Blogs are just pouring in. Not juicing,no? LOL!

    I was not very impressed with Fed’s play yesterday. I have feeling Fed is still carrying some minor niggles. Both this match and the doubles earlier with Hass, he has not been moving like his usual staff. Did you notice him wearing the black staff under his shirt? Probably the back issue has not completely settled yet. But I am sure, with more matches under his belt, he will be just OK to have another shot at the Wimbledon. COME ON ROGER!

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    V Reply:

    I couldnt watch the match here in India.ESPNSTAR suck big time

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    Jiten Reply:

    I have subscribed to tennistv.com where I have been able to watch the live streams without any hitch.

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    Katyani Reply:

    Hi V, why don’t you try watching on your laptop, via Google and then Streamhunter. I watch the matches like that.
    Katyani

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  2. Hi Ru-an, keep those articles coming. Love to read them.

    Yesterday I thought I would be home in time for the match, but of all the days I had a traffic jam, so I was just in time for the second set 5-2. But those two last games, what the hell??
    Why does Roger want all the balls into the crowd, or he hits a hard shot and it is so hard that it goes out.
    He did it at 5-2 and the serving for the match, which was even worse. Almost got broken.

    He takes pleasure in making us nervous as hell.

    Ps: Don’t worry about him getting broke when he serves for the match. To be honest it does happen a lot to Rafa too. Saw it maybe four times this year (also at Rome).

    Ru-an, do you think that there is something wrong with Roger? He seems to enjoy all off court, but not when he is on court to play the match. Last year (and before that) he wanted to win, but he also enjoyed the match, the thrill of competing.
    I don’t know, it seems that he does not enjoy it that much. Maybe because of all the losing??

    I don’t know why he is not coming all blase out this year, afterall the Great Uncle Toni said that he had less pain than Rafa, that he was not a favourite at RG and that he did not want to do a lot more to win than Rafa.
    What does Roger need more to keep him fueled up for a win? Afterall, the Great Uncle Toni just gave him a lot of reasons to go for it and prove him wrong.
    But all Roger does is give him reasons to be right.
    He needs to get in his fighting spirit to prove that man wrong. Last year he had three goals, this should be his goal for this year, to prove that “loser” wrong, not to prove him right.

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    emi Reply:

    Mr. Toni Nadal is not a “loser”.

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    Katyani Reply:

    Emi, I am not proud of the fact that I call someone a loser. But in my eyes he is. Why does he need to talk about Roger like that? Can’t he be just happy with his nephew’s greatest comeback in the history? Why involve Roger in it? Why only Roger? Rafa has great respect for Roger and Roger has great respect for Rafa. That is very obvious. But his uncle has no respect for Roger. That is also obvious. Can’t he not be just happy his nephew is playing extremely good and is feeling fine and is competing and winning? Why the dig at Roger? No need for. Hence the loser comment.

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    veronica Reply:

    Yah, Katyani, I can’t explain it. Let’s wait a couple of rounds more. If he doesn’t do a little better, then I think there is more happening with Roger than what meets the eye. But Ru-an, thanks for keeping the posts coming. They really brighten my day. After this not exactly inspiring match from Roger, I do draw some comfort from reading your post. I like that although you are Roger’s worst critique, you give Roger lots of room and you make things easier to digest/accept.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I’m glad my posts brighten your day Mirka. I just try to keep things honest. But at the same time I want to create some positive energy. I do feel Roger needs to win this title though. Anything less would be a pretty big disappointment to me.

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    Pryzm Reply:

    Could it be that Roger is just doing a little experimenting when he has a comfortable lead?

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  3. Lol, Jiten! Yeah, I agree with you. How else is Ru-an so Nadal-like, so relentless?!! Haha! Yes, Jiten, my worst fears maybe confirmed. I think Roger is carrying injuries; his back and maybe some small niggles. In his matches this year, I try to explain it away and look at other explanations but it keeps coming back to injuries. But I really hope I am WRONG! Although he has the most efficient playing style, he has always turned up to play; his body must now be feeling it. We talk about how fit Haas and Serena are in their 30’s but those guys miss quite few years on the tour. I hope Roger could still squeeze one last slam in Wimby or USO this year despite a less than 100% body. We’ll see. We need to go round by round; really can’t tell much about anything regarding Roger these days.

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    Jiten Reply:

    Yes Veronica, I have been thinking on the same line over the past few months (why not, after all I am your long lost twin brother, LOL!) as well. If you observe him closely, nothing seems to coming spontaneously these days, you could clearly see the efforts explicitly. Well, the effort has definitely been there; all those shots which are very pleasing to our eyes come only after all those endless, relentless hours of practice. However, the efforts used to elude our eyes earlier, which were hidden under the sheer elegance of his shots. Of late, I am observing a lot of grunts not only in his second serves, but also in the first serves as well. As somebody in this very blog noticed earlier, one can see some swings in his forehands time to time, which is very unlike Federer. But on the positive side, I wonder whether I am the only one to notice this or not, his backhand seems to be improving while the other shots in his armoury is slowly depreciating. I am sure those 1000+ matches in the circuit have begun taking their toll on his body. But hey, he is Roger Federer! All he needs is some confidence; he has to tell himself that if somebody can win his 8th Wimbledon, it is only Roger Federer, not anybody else. COME ON CHAMP!

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    Bharata Reply:

    Yes that’s exactly right i think. I notice him grunting with effort on the first serve now (not just the twisting 2nd serves). We have to accept that after all these matches there is some wear and tear.

    What is worrying is that with the back issue (didn’t realize he was wearing the back brace thing again – bad sign) he loses a few mph off the serve. The result is a lot fewer cheap points and I’ve noticed his service games are much tougher against good players now. Last year he served very well in those last 2 matches in Wmbledon.

    Those cheap points really make a difference between winning and losing for him…

    Hopefully he comes out tomorrow with a good match..

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  4. I agree, I believe Roger is having issues with his back. His movement on and off the court isn’t the same. Some matches this year, his back (or whatever it is) seems fine. The movement and shot making are like his old self. Then he comes up with poor performances. To me it’s a worry, a reoccurring problem. If things don’t improve, I see Hass holding up the trophy in Halle.

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  5. Yes, Jiten, Bharata, you could clearly see the efforts in his play and the amount of grunting he’s done this year is, I think, equivalent to the total grunting he has ever done in his career! lol! As Sue commented, his back (or whatever) is a reoccurring problem; in fact it has always been a reoccurring problem but it just might have reach a stage where it reoccurs more often, doesn’t go away, and is harder to manage. As Sue says, Roger is so inconsistent. Some matches he seems so fine and back to his magical self. Then all of a sudden, he sprays balls all over the place. Actually, we have sort of seen this kind of performances from him in the period after AO 2010 right till after USO 2011, where he can be so erratic or disinterested and you cannot explain his losses. But this year, it is even more pronounced. But I hope it is just a transition year, a slump year (because Nadal is on the rise as per Ru-an’s theory of Roger and Nadal taking turns to rise/fall) and that next year would be closer to 2012. I think we should be able to draw better conclusions after Halle what is really going on with Roger.

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