I only watched the first few games of this one and then had to get my sleep. It didn’t look good. Roger got broken early on and really looked out of sorts, making a bunch of unforced errors. Apparently this went on throughout the first set because Roger got broken again serving at 3-5 to lose the first set. But as was the case against Raonic, Roger quickly steadied the ship as he broke Bellucci in the first game of the second set, and then broke him again as he served to stay in the second set with an unbelievable defensive lob which forced the error from Bellucci. In the third set it was more close. At 4-4 Roger went down 0-30 on his serve and then served four straight service winners. That provided the momentum for him to break in the next game.
So in the end this looked like a combination of a slow start, some good fighting, and impressive serving. I don’t know how much his illness is affecting him or if he is even sick anymore, but it was nice to see him tough out another win. You can’t play your best every match anyway, and sometimes you just have to grind out the win. I think this is something that has been different about Roger of late. He has that motivation and passion back which have been lacking over the last two years. I don’t know where it went but it is great to see it back. If it is there then Roger will have a great chance at winning another slam. If it was there the last two years I’m sure he would have won at least one more slam. But it is good to see it back anyway.
Love this photo
The other thing that must be considered is the surface speed of Indian Wells, which isn’t very fast. That may also be a reason why Roger is struggling a bit more. It seems to me that these courts are similar to the courts in Melbourne. It is funny because Roger now has the same draw that he had there too, as in Del Potro, Nadal, and Djokovic. This is like a second chance for him to put things right that went wrong in Melbourne. Del Potro has been playing well, and even though Roger has beaten him three straight times since the Australian Open, he is too dangerous to be counted out. It is another tough road ahead for Roger but I think he is motivated and ready. Yesterday Djokovic was tested by Andujar as well but came through comfortably in the third set.
A funny result yesterday was that Almagro beat Berdych 6-4, 6-0 after Berdych didn’t want to shake his hand after their match at the Australian Open. It looks like Djokovic will easily win the top half of the draw since Murray departed in the second round. The bottom half is a lot more interesting where Roger plays Del Potro and Nadal plays Nadalbandian, who pulled out a great escape against Tsonga after Tsonga was serving for the match in the second set. I love watching Nalbandian and it was great to see him get a big win. Nadal on the other hand easily beat a disappointing Dolgopolov in straight sets. I don’t think Nalbandian will beat Nadal but it will be a good match to watch anyway. Roger has a much needed day of rest today before he starts his tough remaining road to the title.