Indian Wells Rd 4: Federer Battles Through Bellucci 3-6, 6-3, 6-4

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.

Highlights:

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34 Comments

  1. Ruan, I am concerned with the match against Del Potro and I hope Federer can get through but Nadal will be waiting and if Nadal beats Federer that won’t be good for his confidence. Do you think Fed will pull this off and turn the tables? I have noticed that Roger has been a lot more clutch in this tournament than the previous tournaments, so I guess that’s a good thing. Why is it he always gets the toughest draws? I hope he can keep this momentum going all year.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah it’s not an easy road ahead Dave. It’s gonna be tough to beat Del Potro 4 times in a row and then Roger is up against his nemesis. The courts don’t favor Roger either. On the plus side like you said he is showing some good fight and clutch. He has a day off now and then he must take it to another level. Nadal will one again be a huge challenge, but that is part of the fun of it.

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  2. Federer still looks very pale, and the long matches are draining the energy out of his weakened body. Still he gets the wins needed to go deep into the tournament and finally face the big guns. He might win against Delpo, I’d say 50:50, and if he does, then Nadal will take him out. Because the game Nadal is playing so effectively is a physical game of endurance tennis, under which a less than 100% fit Federer will simply fold and go away. And even if he happens to fully recover and be totally fit, the slow courts will allow Nadal to run down every ball and bring it back into play, until the opponent tires, get impatient and hits the error. At this kind of endurance tennis, Nadal is by far the more potent player than Federer. The brutal noise of the drummer is louder than the fine touch of the pianist. I still choose the second as my favorite musician. Running, sweating, grunting and fist pumping on the tennis court is as appealing to watch as wrestling, I simply turns me off. So I accept that QF is the last possible hurdle Federer might get across, and then at the SF it’s the final station for him. Fine with me. And the thought of Nadal getting another beating in a final by Djokovic brings a smile to my face.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    That is great comment Chris. Hard to argue with it really.

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    Chris Reply:

    I won’t give Nadal the joy of spoiling my day. I don’t care about his h2h with Federer. I don’t give a beep about how many GS or titles or whatever he wins. I’m just all simply not interested in his kind of game. He does not inspire me at all. Let’s just assume that Federer would start to play like Nadal, adopt more aggressive on-court behavior, increase his physical part of the game, just to win against Nadal, but in the process become more like Nadal – NO THANK YOU. That would be so sad for tennis. I’d rather have Federer the way he is, a dancer not a runner, a magician not a boxer, a gentlemen not a bully. Even if it means that he loses every match he plays against Nadal.

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    veronica Reply:

    Yeah, Chris, I would be happy with QF or even if he loses to Delpo. It wouldn’t be because he didn’t try or he can’t beat them but it is because he is not fully 100% fit. Thus I don’t think he would lose his confidence even if he loses because he knows now that he is in a better position to challenge them than before. Nadal is very fresh after the long break he took and we all know too well how devastating a 100% fit Nadal can do. I think he will beat Djoko this time. ‘m very happy and proud with what Fed has done so far and I actually can’t wait for this tournament to be over so he can get a good deserved rest.

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    michael Reply:

    I agree Nadal will be a big hurdle. All courts are slow in our days but Indian Wells is bouncy too. It’s Nadal territory we have to accept that (since 2005 semi final or better). Hopefully Djokovic is strong enough to give Nadal the 8:0. Great Ball striker Nalbandian once was 2:0 in the H2H with Nadal (he gave him a bagel too). Then he spoiled a one set and 5:3 lead in Indian Wells 2009 I think. Since then Nadal has turned the h2h to 3:2. At least he knows how to beat Nadal.

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  3. I know my mind agrees with you guys but my heart wants more. I think Roger wants more too. This is the type of tournament where if Roger just WILLS himself into beating these guys here and Now, it can only get easier down the road. It’s only 2/3 sets so it’s not impossible to beat Nadal here. If he jumps ahaid in the first set like he has been doing as of late against Nadal, and somehow just keep it to win it.. then you never know. But again, Delpo first. I hope Roger gets well deserved rest today, and also some practice… If you heard from his interviews, he said that he didn’t get any practice between the 2nd and 3rd match so that could explain the slow start yesterday. But he knows his opponents now and it’s about execution. Like I said yesterday, this tournament reminds a lot of French Open 09. Roger has to push. If he wins here, great things are going to happen this year… Let the Tennis Gods decide though! :-)

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  4. Greetings to you, Ru-an, good to have you back in the swing of things. You know, I rely on your blog plus like the many comments that are made here, the BEST.
    Roger does amaze me the way he keeps fighting on from one match to the next even though he is not in the best of health. Agree with Chris, Nadal will be his biggest hurdle should Roger get this far. Nadal wants to get back to #1 very badly. He is very hungry. Am of the same thought, should it be a Djoko/Nadal final, hope Djoko wins. Ru-an, am very impressed with Raonic, a very nice young man with good manners on court, lot like our Roger. Hope he becomes one of the future young top tennis players.
    Kindly,
    Dolores

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  5. Hey ruan.NIce post.Its going to get interesting to see how Roger handles this situation of facing Delpo/Nadal/Djokovic in a row.I think his form is still very good and I think its that illness of his which is misleading us into thinking that he may not be that 1005 fit for taking down these guys.I still think lack of rest played a part in the Bellucci match.But the point we forget is that Bellucci is a lefty and the points are pretty much played to his advantage i.e going to Federer bh and then going down the line.So i think Roger is well prepared to face Nadal here than he was at Melbourne two months ago as he did not play a single lefty before facing Nadal.So I think Bellucci has given Roger a very good practice on how to handle Nadal and I think in this tournament Roger has been really patient in consturcting the points and has also converted his break points very well and its unbelievable how he is defending even though he is under the weather.These are good signs and I hope that he gives all 3 a beating and win Iw for a 4th time.

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  6. That day off is all-important. He will have more time to recuperate and practice.

    The Raonic match was mostly short-point tennis, which let him conserve energy.

    Thankfully his serve helped him put away Bellucci pretty quickly, because I don’t think he was in a condition to play too many long rallies. He essentially served his way through the third set (especially at that 4-4, 0-30 game) without putting too much energy into returning, waiting to pounce until Bellucci had the pressure of serving to stay alive. It definitely cut down on the amount of running he had to do.

    In the Masters these days he will have one less than inspired match. The Bellucci encounter was it, but he won.

    He is thinking clearly on-court again, no hesitation about what he has to do at the important points. He has found the balance between attack and defense.

    He really wants to win and beat Nadal and Djokovic and he’s put so much work into getting here, I hope he can fight his way through and prove the supremacy of his lovely all-court game against the physical monsters that now dominate tennis. I believe that beauty will overcome the beasts!

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  7. Roger fought back and Roger won! This is something that is really exciting in his game this year, Imagine the ripple that will go through the tennis world IF he should beat Delpo, Nadal and then Djokovic.
    I might be setting the bar high but what a ride it would be!!!

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  8. Roger won comfortably today, which I liked very much. Now hoping for a Nalbandian upset victory over Nadal here. Btw Nadal only has 3:2 record over Nalbandian so it’s not impossible.

    I’d rather see a Djokerer Final on Sunday than having to watch another grindfest tomorrow. We’ll see!

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  9. Fed looked *very* good today. Was helped out by the momentum-shifter bad call/hawk-eye break-down in game 1 which got to Delpo didn’t really shake off til he was down 0-3. But still Fed’s ball striking was fantastic, as was his movement, variety and, after the first game, his serve. Just great to see.

    Rafa’s been showing unreal form himself. So it’ll be very tough, for sure, if he comes through to the semi’s as he likely will. But D-Nal may be able, if not to beat him, at least dent his confidence. And I think Fed has a more than 50-50 shot against Djokovic in a possible final.

    Ideal scenario: Fed wins IW and then sits out Miami, letting a Murray who has something to prove win that one, beating Rafa in the semi’s. At that point, the battle for no. 2 seed heading into RG becomes intense.

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  10. Federer-Nadal XXVIII it will be! Federer was able to dispatch Del Potro handily, thanks to his fantastic play and a technological glitch which distracted Del Potro.

    Nalbandian was in a winning position but he caved to Nadal as expected and we have the dream semi.

    I have tickets to see it live and may the rain gods show mercy and hold off for at least a day! Go Roger!!!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Awesome Steve. Enjoy!

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    Jiten Reply:

    I am so jealous of you Steve! How lucky you are to be able to watch Fed live in person. I went to Wimbledon 2010 all the way from India to have a glimpse of our hero, but could not get tickets for the center court; had to watch him in the big screen from Murray Mountain (and see him lose against Berdych). I earnestly hope that you can experience a Nadal demolition by our hero a la London 2011 though everybody is fearing the opposite. The way Fed is growing in this tournament, I have a feeling we are here for a surprise. GO ROGER GO!

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    Chris Reply:

    I’m happy for you Steve, enjoy the experience for all of us!

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    MS Reply:

    I have a feeling that Federer may do it today for one of his very special fans who will be at the stadium ! Steve, hope you get to witness his victory over Nadal on a outdoor hard court after something like 7 years.

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  11. Guys,
    I don’t know about you but I am feeling very nervous about tomorrow. I feel that there is so much on the line! I think for both Federer and Nadal.

    If Nadal wins, he’ll establish himself as the only contender to Djokovich and it will diminish Roger’s chances of winning another slam greatly. It’s going to be very difficult. I know Roger can shake losses quickly and move on. I know also that he has played marvelous tennis in the last 6 months and he is so close. It is Nadal that is standing in the way! In AO, and now in IW. I know Ru-an said that here Roger can “get right what went wrong in AO!” But the way Nadal escaped again today will make it even more difficult.

    I also realize that it’s not really about the tactics. If Roger wants to win this, he has to just stay TOUGH, ignore Nadal stupid terrible sounds he makes and dig DEEP. He has shown it, and he can do it. I hope I see match similar to Madrid 09. It’s so much on the line. I hope Roger can push it against the Spanish grind fester. It will be mental and I hope Roger just holds tough. It won’t be easy. But he can do it.

    I won’t say more. I think you guys know what it will mean to Roger and to you if he wins. Go Roger!

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    Chris Reply:

    Why always make such a hype of these encounters, saying that “so much is on the line”, how crucial the result will be for the future, etc., etc.? Only to then lick all kinds of self-inflicted wound in the fan soul if Nadal gets the better of Federer, which he usually does. There is a 75% probability that Nadal wins this SF, despite being an inferior player, but because of bad match-up, slow court, mental edge, superior fitness, you name it. And if Federer happens to win for once, it won’t change anything to the overall history of this very one-sided rivalry, it would just be a little cosmetics to the h2h and a – much welcome – fortunate outcome for the rankings. I hope for Federer to win just like I hoped for Nalbandian to win against Nadal, a nice upset if it happens, but not really to be expected. Actually, from my point of view Federer has beaten Nadal in almost all of their encounters, but Nadal does not know when he is beaten. Unless most of the others, he does not go away and give the match to Federer when he is supposed to be knocked out. You can knock out Nadal as many times as possible in a match, but he’ll never stay down, he’s never counted to ten, after three seconds he is back on his feet and going for the next point. This fighting spirit is exceptional and makes him the Greatest #2 Of All Times in the history of sport. That’s what he is in my book of tennis history, the greatest #2 ever. The underdog, who spoils the party of the king of tennis, who just fights and fights and does not go away. The villain in the movie who, no matter how many times he gets shot or beaten, always stand up again and continues to spread his terror. It makes for great excitement and intensity on the court, and the career of Roger Federer would have been as dull as the dominance of a Michael Schuhmacher or a Lance Armstrong if it was not for this Spaniard. But Nadal is no #1 material, he is Brutus who stabs Cesar, but he is never a Cesar himself, because he falls short in so many other departments requested to be the King of Tennis, the Ambassador of this Sport. The way he jumps around the court at the beginning of a match reminds me the feeling of drinking 4 RedBull in a row, and there is so much monkey business in his entourage and his behavior, that he will always be that, the greatest number 2 of all times, but no GOAT material. Federer is the ultimate front-runner, Nadal the ultimate challenger. And for Federer, Nadal is his very personal ultimate challenge, the pain in his tennis mind, the problem he could not solve. Thank God for this, because how else could Federer still be so motivated to keep playing? Without Nadal, things would have got boring long time ago for RF.

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    WIlfried Reply:

    I basically agree with your comment and description of both players, Chris. Nadal will probably win this match against Federer,because the Indian Wells’s court surface heavily favors the defensive minded players and makes it more difficult for the attacking minded players. Because of this the importance of a possible Nadal win doesn’t have to be exaggerated in my opinion. It seems more important to me what Roger’s level and consistency will be, if he can keep the intensity during the whole match and keep it close enough; because a good performance will allow him to stay in this uphill movement where he has been in for 6 months now, despite a loss, where as a bad loss could take his toll on him, and put him in a mini slump.
    I remain optimistic though for the rest of the season, regardless of the outcome of this semi final between Federer and Nadal.

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  12. Nadal has simply shattered Federer’s claim of GOAT. Nadal isn’t the GOAT, but so isn’t Federer….and that is why Nadal was sent down on earth to let the mortals know , that the one who they consider a tennis immortal is a mortal. Nadal is a man , and so is Federer. Simply put, Nadal humbled Federer’s worshipers. Of-course these days, Nadal is getting his ass kicked by Djokovic which simply means that the whole GOAT debate is a load of crap.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    You say that Nadal shattered Roger’s claim to GOAT and then you say the OAT debate is a load of crap. For someone who the GOAT debate is a load of crap you sure sound serious about it.

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    Chris Reply:

    The GOAT debate is like the debate of who is the most beautiful woman / man on earth. Too complex a question for having objective criteria, it comes down to be a question of taste, and the choice therefore becomes subjective. I made my choice, and it’s not Rod Laver, despite his hardly ever to be broken 2 grand slams, because he’s not of my generation and I have never seen him play. To me it’s obviously RF, for his style on and off court, and his hardly ever to be broken records of consistency (i.e. consecutive SFs). The 16 GS is a record to be broken in the future, just like he broke the 14 of Sampras. By the way, I think RF has never claimed to be the GOAT. And he most probably never will, because this title does not exist in his mind. And that is part of his style, true humbleness in the face of history

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Couldn’t have said it better Chris. But lets not count him out against Nadal. He may just find a way to turn things around against Nadal yet.

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  13. I agree with you. To me, Roger just wants to get back to number 1! He wants to win more majors. And unfortunately, he has to go through these guys in order to do it. I don’t think that he gets satisfaction after beating Nadal, not as much he gets it after beating Djokovich for example. And Fed REALLY wants to get another crack at the Joker. But he was stopped by Nadal in AO and Nadal is in his way again. It’s funny isn’t it. Nadal usually beats Federer to just get beaten by Djokovic more and more. He doesn’t wanna give up already. 7:0 and still wants to face him. Fed is pissed after the two match points of the US open and wants revenge but now Nadal can’t let him. And Djokovich is like, omg these guys really are pissed at me do let them fight it out!

    I dunno. What I am trying to say is that a win tomorrow by Fed by itself won’t mean much but if he then beats Djokovich also it will be MoNsterous. Putting those guys down will be such a confidence booster. He can then just make SF in Miami and that’s it. Rest for a month and start again.

    But I mean this is supposed to be the new rivalry, right – Nadal vs. Djokovich. I would just love to see Fed put those guys bellow him just for tiny little bit. That should be the motivation.. Not personal vendetta vs. Nadal. Nadal is just in the way right now and must be thrown out. Simple, right. Let’s hope so! That’s gotta be the attitude though! Go Roger!!!

    PS. Btw I think Roger has far surpassed the careers of Michael Schumacher and Lance. I was also a big fan of them as well.

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  14. it will be difficult for roger to beat nadal but he very well can he will have to execute his game plan to perfection relentlessly.Nadal is looking good.
    The forecasted windy conditions will also favor nadal .. but fed is on a hot streak ….cant wait for the match it is sure to be fun. Hope the weather holds up fine and so does roger..

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  15. Lets face it chances are he will loose most likely. We have seen this movie again and again In AO2009, AO2011 there is no matter if court is fast, hard, soft, milky…its in his brain. If he has been to psychologist as Ruan has mentioned in previous posts and the current extremely high level is due to that he can win. His performance against Nadal though doesn`t depend on his winning streaks before meeting him!!!
    We all can recognize early how the match will finish after Nadal manages to break him for the 1st time, or after he couldn`t secure a break with a hold of his own serve.And somehow he gets affected if nadal makes un unbelieveable point from hopeless position.
    It`s all about the “balls” not his curent game.He showed tremendous improvement these last months in this department and he lost last time to nadal with little bit more respecful result but that`s not enough!!!lets hope he can surprise us with some new tactics.Positive thinking is important for him.We cannot help him with prayers.If he cannot win here on a 2-set format with nadal not played a whole month a quality player besides Nalbandian we must accept his not gonna make another slam unless he learnes to loose as a winner as Nadal did vs Djokovic. To be honest if nadal wins this i believe the rivalry with Jokovic will be reversed.There is a trend and nadalwent from hell back to almost winning in AO2012 so there wont be loss N8 as many of us want :-)

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  16. I will put a guarantee up here that, in fact, not only will Federer win today, he will beat Novak, and win Indian Wells. OK, maybe that’s a little overboard, but thats what I hope at least. G

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    Jiten Reply:

    I AM WITH GARY.

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  17. You know what, with the risk of making a fool of myself again and again, I’m going with you on this one. There’s just destiny about this. You don’t fight through illness, fight through difficult draw, make it here and just quit. Nadal is toast today! 18:10 will be the h2h!!!!

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