Here we go again Fedfans. The start of another exciting adventure. Roger looked totally untouchable until 6-2 and 5-3 where he served for this match. It felt like Roger was back in his prime. His footwork was amazing and his defense was incredible at times. Harrison is a promising youngster with a bright future, but Roger was basically toying with him out there. In a sense it was boring, because it was total one way traffic. It may have gotten boring for Roger too, because he dropped serve. If you are as good as Roger it must be a struggle sometimes not to get too relaxed and lose your concentration. At break point Roger hit the ball close to the base line and someone in the crowd called it out. Roger stopped and it meant that he lost the point.
I thought that was a bit strange, given that it didn’t sound like a call from a lines person at all. Maybe Roger just lost his concentration a bit there, or maybe he really did think it was a call from the lines person. Either way Harrison had gotten a bit lucky, but he also did show some good fight to hang in there and get to break point. Many players would have just thrown the towel in at that point. Harrison then got lucky on two more occasions. One where a forehand from him tipped the net and fell over for a winner and one where the lines person called a backhand from Roger out which was clearly in. He was in a good position to win the point and I think it ended up costing him. Both points were important anyway and allowed Harrison to hang in there.
It looked like Harrison’s tenacity was paying off and that his luck was changing as we headed into a tie break. Personally I didn’t mind that it had become a bit closer, although as usual the Fedfans on my twitter timeline were blowing up. Roger then proceeded to get the break at 3-2 in the tie break with an excellent defensive lob. He also broke Harrison again at 6-3 to seal the deal. As expected from Roger 3.0(this will be how I refer to Roger post US Open from now on), he steadied the ship and didn’t let things get away from him. So I was happy with this performance. I think if the courts were faster it may have been easier for Roger to serve the match out at 5-3 as well. The slowness of these courts just allows players to hustle and hang in there for a little longer in the points.
It is now obvious that Brad Gilbert was talking nonsense when he said the courts will be faster this year. The outside courts may be faster but the courts that matter are still slow as hell. For this reason I am not a huge fan of the Miami event. I don’t know if the court surface is slower than Indian Wells, but the humidity slows down things even more. We know however that slow courts are not necessarily a problem for Roger. He did play some of his very best tennis at Roland Garros last year, although the balls that were used there was quite fast. I wonder if Miami is not the slowest conditions on tour. If that is the case it’s not necessarily the best thing for Roger. Like I said, I am not so sure Harrison would have been able to get back into the second set if the courts were faster.
But I need to see a few more matches from Roger before I really draw a conclusion. For now I am not going to expect too much of Roger here. What I mean by that is that I still fully expect him to make semis. But from there on I lower my expectations slightly. I had the same kind of expectations for Indian Wells and I was pleasantly surprised. But like I said I may change my mind after seeing a few more of Roger’s matches. I just don’t want to have any unnecessary expectations. The next match for Roger is against Roddick, and that should already tell us a lot more. In his current form Roger should normally destroy Roddick. If there is any more hiccups then my expectations will stay slightly lowered. Roger currently leads the head-to-head an astounding 21-2.
He needs one more win to give Roddick ostrich status, and you feel it is inevitable. Personally I don’t know of any other ostriches in tennis. This may even be the first in history. Interestingly one of Roddick’s wins over Roger came in Miami, and another one in Miami was a close three setter. Again that for me just shows that Roger is not very comfortable in the Miami conditions and that it is very slow. Roddick himself had a good 6-3, 6-2 win over Muller. He has been struggling of late but that win will give him some confidence, and I believe he likes the Miami conditions quite a bit. So Feddick 24.0 promises to be quite interesting, and not just because ostrich status is on the line. I would like to see Roger win this something like 6-3, 6-4.
Anything worse than that and I still won’t be totally convinced about his chances to win this event.