Indian Wells Rd 4: Federer def Harrison 7-6(4), 6-3

Sorry I didn’t make a post about the Chela match but we had a power out all day. There was not much to say anyway. Roger faced an opponent who he liked playing against and won easily 6-0, 6-2. Harrison was a completely different story though. He had beaten Raonic the day before in three sets in an impressive display. I always thought this would be a test for Roger. But in the end I was pretty impressed with Roger. To come through in straight sets was a good performance. He broke Harrison late in the first set, but he kept going down 0-40 on his serve and Harrison got the break back to force the tie break. Roger played a solid tie break and got the break half way through the second set and held on for the win. In the second set we saw some traces of JesusFed, especially in that last game.

Roger will face his compatriot Wawrinka in the quarters who upset Berdych in three sets. I prefer Wawrinka over Berdych to face Roger anyway. Djokovic had a second consecutive 6-0, 6-1 win in his match against Troicki and is still looking very impressive. I still think Roger will have a hard time against Djokovic if they meet, and it now looks like they will do so. Djokovic will play Gasquet who upset Roddick and I can’t see him losing there. In the top half Nadal didn’t look that impressive to me against Devvarman and he may struggle against Del Potro in the semis which looks like the likely scenario now. That is a potential match I’m looking forward too because we know how Del Potro have given Nadal problems in the past. The important thing is that it looks like Roger will make semis now which is what I hoped for in this event.


Roger Federer

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  1. Federer twice served for the first set, but he got broken both times. Those breaks were due as much to his first serve vanishing, including a couple double faults, as anything Harrison did, though Harrison did play and compete very well, even saving three match points on his own serve.

    Fortunately Roger’s first serve reappeared in the tiebreak and in the second set.

    Federer had some problems timing the ball, that may have been partly due to the tough, unfamiliar opponent, partly due to the nighttime conditions, which are a little cooler.

    So far this year he has struggled when playing at night. But at least I didn’t get the sense that he was trying to force the issue prematurely, as he has been in the last few tournaments. He was playing with aggression, but more the pace you would expect for a slower surface and with more spin.

    He did come forward quite a bit and hit some good drop shots. Harrison is pretty good at net, but when he had to hit more than one volley the point usually went to Federer.

    Wawrinka is in great form, dispatching Davydenko, Cilic, and now Berdych, so he will be quite tough. Of course he already knows Wawrinka’s game so he will not have to figure his opponent out on the spot as he had to with Harrison.


    ed Reply:

    Fair enough, Steve, but, for me, it was another teeth-on-edge-where-has-Roger-gone match. Slower court? Night match? I don’t buy that, though I’ve heard others say the same thing, trying to figure out what happens to Roger’s concentration. for it’s his concentration, isn’t it, that’s at issue? Is part of this that, like Rafa, he underestimated his Q opponent? Too much soccer play, his two previous Q opponents (Who creates these draws? Can anyone on this blog explain that to me? I’d love to know.) and too little focused attention led to Rafa’s unfocused, send-it-in-by mail performance, until he finally woke up to the work he had to do. Anyone who says that Roger won–as opposed to the young but stupendously talented Harrison–losing this match wasn’t paying attention. And anyone who saw the match last night saw Roger’s frustration with his own performance–and, match by match, he cannot stop himself from showing his upset at the way he cannot play at a consistently high level. The profound thing to me is that it’s only in this phase of his career when he’s no longer consistently on-fire with his incomparable talent, when the pack has all but surpassed him (note that “all but…”)that he’s become, more like all of us, more fallible, more unpredictable, more human that we see beneath the light and get glimpses of the man himself. It’s a tremendous shock to our need to find someone exempt from our failings, but its shifts our attention from Roger’s tennis to Roger himself, to someone who is not above the human drama but now embodies it.


    steve Reply:

    True, Ed. There are some geniuses who are wretched human beings. Fortunately for us fans, Federer is not only a genius, but also a remarkable human being.

    He’s faced the constant media opprobrium regarding his supposedly imminent demise with a great deal of grace and equanimity, and while still remaining open and youthful in spirit.

    He is the most heavily scrutinized and criticized tennis player ever. When he stumbles the knives come out more mercilessly than they do for anyone else. It would have been very easy for him to become sour and cynical after the kind of treatment he has received after his losses, and to retreat into his own shell. Even if he gave half-assed, dour, sullen performances for the rest of his career, he would still make millions of dollars and people would still watch him (though not as many). He’s that good.

    But his appetite for the game remains as sharp as ever and he maintains his emotional openness and vulnerability. He cries publicly (sometimes when he wins, sometimes when he loses); he might be the only man I know who can do so while remaining totally dignified.

    True, sometimes he gets annoyed, frowns, yells in frustration, berates himself, makes a waspish or irritable crack. But somehow this only contributes to his overall appeal.

    The authentic and the spontaneous are in short supply in this world.

    Most of us are pretending to be something we’re not: so people will like us, so we can get ahead in our jobs, to avoid strife among our family or friends, or (most often) because we’re not honest with ourselves and prefer to cultivate a more flattering self-image.

    But Roger Federer seems to be one of those very rare individuals who is exactly what he appears to be. He isn’t fronting. He’s himself, always–a marvelously complex human being engaged in great struggles. That’s why I find watching him so compelling.


    Veronica Lee Reply:

    Steve, spot on and marvellous comments. I couldn’t have said it any better. Rog is the only man who loses it and yet is so dignified. I love his crying especially in the AO 2009 and I just couldn’t understand why people criticize him for that. I wouldn’t change that for anything. When he says he is good, he means exactly that : he is good. Not false modesty, not ego, just the truth. Sometimes he takes me aback with his brutal honesty and I wish he is not so honest because in doing so, he opens himself up to more criticism, more scrutiny. He has the innocence and freshness and vulnerability of a child and the dignity, positive and fair thinking and judgement of a man. Sometimes he makes me feel like a mother, I want to protect him from all the judgements/hurt people inflict on him when he is vulnerable; other times I am in awe of him when he is so smooth and wonderful with how he handles everything in his life. He is one in a million. And I hope and pray he will never change and never ever allow the excruciating scrutinys and criticisms to get to him.


    Ed Reply:

    Amen, Steve. Before the Harrison match, Roger said, sensibly, that he’s young, he has nothing to lose and everything to gain, and that, though he hadn’t seen him play, he knew he was talented. The match Harrison played certainly validated Roger’s thoughts. The biggest pressure Roger faced, I think, is that he was expected to win. Now that’s almost always the case (certainly, by Roger’s fans, that’s always the expectation, increasingly, these days, always the tense hope). But hasn’t that always been HIS expectation? Isn’t it that self-belief that empowers, that completes, his physical skills (timing, coordination, eye, a solid core: that whole package)? So why, in this case, and why, recently, has that self-belief been so shakey? If we want to see that self-belief in action, look at Novak, who seems unbeatable these days. It’s for sure that he will not beat himself. And, look, at Rafa, who refuses (the only word I can come up with to match what I see) to lose. I don’t know the answer to that. But what I see is Roger developing new skills, the drop shot, the very short cross-court angle. And, with Harrison, just getting the ball back to the kid to put the pressure on him to keep returning. So, Roger’s trying to figure out what to do now. But something’s left him–I’m not sure what to call it: perhaps “mindlessness” is what I’m looking for, that condition of being totally present–you see it in Rafa almost all the time; increasingly you see it in Novak. Why this is occurring opens up a world of speculation that I’m not, at the moment, interested in pursuing. But it’s turned watching Roger into a drama of expectation, being frustrated from expecting, not daring to expect, being elated but not trusting one’s own elation: if this is what I (and, I assume, so many other of his fans experience), and if Roger has half the self-knowledge that we credit him with having, what, then, does it now feel like to be Roger Federer?


  2. Next Stan.Roger has good feelings and I know there are still much more magic on his racquet.
    I think he can beat Djoko this is sport and it is not that long ago that he did just that(London2010).
    He´s in a winning mode .Keep the fire burning! GO ROGER!!!


  3. I think it was a good match of Federer. Unlike matches against players he had already played before, he was very concentrated from the beginning of the match. He played very good in the 1st two games and then, he got too confident so he took a slumber for the rest of the set. We should get used to it – unless it’s comes easily he doesn’t have the drive anymore to destroy his opponent (like Djokovic), he’s been there a few years ago. The problem appeared of course was when he needed to wake up to close the set and couldn’t. However, you could feel that he knows he’s going to win and that he didn’t lose his confidence. That’s a good sign for me because against Djokovic we saw Federer losing his belief the moment he got broken. Anyway, from the tie-break on, he was full awake and finished the job with style. Good luck tomorrow, it’s not going to be easy and Wawrinka will try to put a better performence than USO2010.

    I also watched Nadal’s match. He too was over confident and it took him some time to get his shots in place. I have to say that he impressed me when he was on – he approaches the net more often (following a good forehand) and used the dropshot several time. If he continues like that I’ll have to start watching him playing… ;-)

    Harrison vs. Raonic was a very entertaining high-level match. Was it a preview of the USO2015 final???


  4. Hurrah Del Potro is through and he didn’t even have to play! Is the luck starting to turn for Del Potro? And maybe it’s starting to turn against Nadal! I’m not moaning about the draw anymore- if Nadal can beat Del Potro to get to the final then fair play to him. He’d only lose to Djokovic in the final anyway (if he beats Federer which to be fair we are all expecting)!! At least he has Warwinka next and Roger usually beats Stan the man. Come on Roger!


  5. Why is everyone, on this blog and anywhere else, expect Djokovic to win this tournament? Am not quite with this decision, is there no chance for Roger to beat Djoko…..why not????


    Ru-an Reply:

    Its mostly due to the last two results Dolores. Djokovic beat Roger in s slam and then trashed him in Dubai. Its not indoor season anymore and the slower conditions now suits Djokovic. Therefor its very hard for me to see Roger beat Djokovic. Unless Roger suddenly hits JesusFed mode and trashes Wawrinka in straights its very hard for me to see Roger beat Djokovic.


  6. Everyone’s suffering, Dolores, from some combo of:
    (a) shock, trauma, (or, if you’re liking it, euphoria) from Djokovic’s two wins over Roger this year, given that both were straight sets and the second in particular emphatic – basically giving them a permanent significance rather than what they are, the latest in an ongoing series of ups and downs b/t the two where one “owns” the other and then vice versa;
    (b) totally memory loss about the fact that the last three times before that, from October through December last year, Fed beat him three in a row, including two straight-setters, one of which was the ATP London semis where Fed’s victory was more lopsided than either of Nole’s recent two wins.
    Now of course, everyone will explain away the fall wins and give much more credence to the Jan/Feb losses. This is just another instance of giving too much weight to the most recent past. Like when in early Jan, in the afterglow of Fed’s demolition of all other top players in succession at ATP London, all the talk was about Fed perhaps getting to 20 slams.

    Me? I think Fed’s gonna beat Nole in three sets – in large part b/c this time it’ll be Fed who’s match tough while Nole’s had a cakewalk (unless Gasquet proves tough).


  7. “.. to someone who is not above the human drama but now embodies it.”

    Steve, your analysis of Roger’s last match was insightful and entertaining reading.


    steve Reply:

    Thanks, Neil, but I think you are giving credit to the wrong person, for it was Ed who wrote the comment you’re quoting.


  8. Its very unusual for Roger not being able to close out the 1st set. He got tentative but he did play brilliantly during TB and 2nd set. Its still a worrying trend. Night play used be a walk in the park for him but now it has been become his archilles heels instead.


  9. Its strange how after winning just 2GS djokovi is being tipped to be #1
    I think roger will defeat djoko this time.
    Its hightime he did


  10. What we don’t see in Roger:

    “.. that condition of being totally present – you see it in Rafa almost all the time; increasingly you see it in Novak. Why this is occurring opens up a world of speculation that I’m not, at the moment, interested in pursuing.”

    The elephant in the room, Ed. Roger in his prime may have been able to vanquish the elephant but not now – I suspect it’s gotten too big.


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