Well another routine win for Roger which has been pretty common of late. Just pretty clinical stuff with no drama. A huge change around from last year where drama was basically the main theme. With Edberg as his new coach, a bigger racquet, and his health back, Roger have completely reinvented himself in 2014. The question is now whether Roger of 2014 is better than Roger of 2012. I think it is too early to say, and if the past is anything to go by then each new version of Roger is a little worse than the previous version. It’s after all natural to decline with age in tennis. I think the one area Roger have improved in is the mental department. But physical decline can’t be stopped and neither can the competition be halted. The one thing that seems to have improved as well is the fact that Roger is more clinical.
In 2012 Roger had quite a few tough three setters. That goes hand-in-hand with mental fortitude of course. It’s still early days like I said, but up until the final in Indian Wells Roger didn’t drop a set, and so far in Miami he hasn’t either. The amount of titles won so far compared to 2012 is irrelevant because Roger did not play Rotterdam this year, and he lost in the final of Indian Wells in a final set tie break to Djokovic. In Miami 2012 Roger lost in the third round to Roddick and now he has already done better by reaching the fourth round, and he is looking good for a semi-final spot at least. That’s why I say it is too early to tell which version is better, but it won’t be easy to reach the level of consistency of Fed 3.0 again. Of course Roger won a slam and became #1 that year again, and for that you need a lot of consistency.
The early signs are not bad though. I just think it’s great that Roger is playing as well as he is at nearly 33 years of age and giving us another encore if you will. It’s inspiring to see how he reinvents himself by making changes to his equipment, coaching staff, and schedule. The new coach and equipment have made and especially big impact I think. With Edberg there is a certain calm about Roger. They have great chemistry, like they were destined to be a team. As for the racquet you can almost say the same thing. I think the bigger racquet head has definitely improved Roger’s serve and consistency from the ground. I am just excited to see which surprises this next chapter in Roger’s career have in store for us. To get back to the match with De Bakker it was another rock solid serving performance and overall the stats were impressive.
Roger broke in the forth game of the first set in a game which included a terrific forehand passing shot from Roger. In the second set Roger broke in the opening game and at 4-2 he hit another one of those jaw-dropping shots that left the crowd gasping. It came off a full-blooded smash from De Bakker which Roger anticipated to perfection and then just blocked down the line with sublime timing and precision. It was another one of those strokes of genius that will make the scores of Federer highlight videos on Youtube. At 5-3 Roger broke again for good measure to wrap proceedings up. Another very encouraging performance in the slowish conditions and Roger now plays Gasquet who routined Roger’s quarter final opponent in Indian Wells, Anderson, 6-3, 6-4. Gasquet has been good in Miami and definitely is not to be taken lightly, but in Roger’s current form I like his chances.
The head-to-head stands at 11-2 in Roger’s favor. Elsewhere in the draw Dimitrov lost to Nishikori so we won’t have a Federer/Dimitrov quarter final. Dimitrov is the more talented player but Nishikori looks like the better match player at this point, because Dimitrov collapsed at the business end of both sets of the 7-6(1), 7-5 loss. Roger is likely to play Ferrer in the quarters if he beats Gasquet, which would be fitting as Roger will most likely pass Ferrer in the rankings this week. Elsewhere Nadal destroyed Hewitt 6-1, 6-3 and is obviously looking to improve upon Indian Wells. I’m sure he will too and make at least semis here. Then it is up to Stan if he is there to stop Nadal again. Stan needed three sets to defeat Gimeno-Traver though and it is yet to be seen if he can make semis.
Obviously he would like to improve on Indian Wells too. Then Murray looked good in a 6-4, 6-1 win over Lopez, and will now play Tsonga who fought off Baghdatis 7-5 in the third. That is potentially and interesting encounter but I would give Murray the edge. The winner will probably play against Djokovic who plays against Robredo after Djokovic had a walk over in the third round. If Murray finds some good form here he could potentially trouble Djokovic in the quarters which is what I am hoping for. Despite the slow conditions in Miami I am hoping Roger can make at least semis. A final and a semi would have been a pretty satisfying result in North-America, even though you would have loved for Roger to win a title. In the end it is just great to have Roger back healthy and I’m excited to see how this year unfolds.
I was gonna make a post about the video below last week but something came up. There is something just so special and poetic about seeing these two legends hitting with each other. In his playing days I was a big fan of Edberg and seeing him hit with and coach my current favorite it just really cool and I spent more time watching the video than I do watching any highlight reel. Edberg is now 48 but still looks in great shape and still hits a mean ball. That backhand is a thing of beauty and the same goes for those volleys. I love how easy they make it look and the effortless power too. I almost had tears in my eyes watching these two legends and favorites of mine hit together, and I feel like they are almost destined to win another slam for Roger. The partnership feels destined for sure. Excited about the future!