The moment we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived, Roger has played his first match since the devastating loss against Rafa in the Australian Open final. It was a decent display, but nothing more then that. But one wouldn’t expect anything out of the ordinary from him after being away from the tour for six weeks. He would have been playing some practice sets but there is nothing quite like the real thing. And it showed, Roger was quite rusty at times, missing some regulation forehands. He was good on serve though, winning 33/36 points on his first serve and never facing a break point. On breakpoints he converted one out of a total of three.
It has to be said Roger looked shaky on the return of serve, something that is usually quite solid from him. This is a concern as he next faces huge serving Croat Ivo Karlovic who won 23/24 of his first serve points yesterday in beating Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4, 6-2. Roger has a 6-1 head to head record against Karlovic but lost their last meeting at the Masters Series event in Cincinnati in a third set tie break. So unless Roger wants to go to another third set tiebreak, which I strongly discourage, he will have to return a whole lot better. I don’t think it’s a match that Roger will particularly look forward to and neither do I. It’s a pretty tough match coming from a six week break.
Karlovic is the type of player that won’t give Roger any rhythm. At least Roger seem to be serving well and as long as he holds serve he will be in with a shot. But I really hope he returns better against Karlovic, don’t know if I can stand another third set tie break. The other top four player that was in action is Andy Murray who played against Albert Montanes from Spain and won 7-5, 6-3. Of course Murray is also coming back from an illness which the doctors could not diagnose until now. Montanes is a pretty good player and broke Murray in the first set only to give the break back with a double fault to level the scores at 4-4. The Spaniard also double faulted on set point for Murray. So in the end the nerves got the better of the Spaniard and I would say Murray was pretty lucky to come through this one in two sets.
Another match that interested me was Fernando Verdasco who beat Brazilian Thomaz Belucci 7-5, 6-1. As you know Verdasco lost in a sensational match against Rafa in the semi-finals of the Australian Open but has since been out due to injury. So a good return to the tour for him as well and he next faces Richard Gasquet from France who look to be in good form after dispatching fellow countryman Michael Llodra in straight sets 6-4, 6-0. This should be an interesting encounter and should produce some impressive shot making. Both of these players are great talents but Verdasco have matured mentally, whereas Gasquet is still desperately lacking in the mental department. Therefor I pick Verdasco to win this one.
Speaking of Verdasco, his maturity has a lot to do with the fact that he has moved out to Las Vegas where he is now training with Darren Cahill, Andre Agassi and Gill Reyes. He has become much better physically since training with fitness guru Gill Reyes and that would have a lot to do with the way he has matured. Having guys like Cahill and Agassi around could not have hurt either of course. So this brings me to the next question. Why is Roger not training at in Las Vegas? Surely that is almost the perfect solution. Now I know I said i wouldn’t undermine Roger any more in my previous post but this seems like an almost ideal solution for his coaching problem.
Apparently he spends a lot of time in Los Angeles which isn’t far away from Las Vegas, why not take the private jet and fly out to the desert? I mean you have the likes of Verdasco and Agassi to train with and Cahill and Reyes to train you, it doesn’t get much better then that! You are surrounded by a group of people that can support you and bring out the best in you. In Cahill and Reyes there is guys that can get him in peak physical condition and help him with tactics to beat Nadal. Then he has got another Spanish left hander like Rafa to train with and of course Agassi who has done it all before. Once again I can’t help wondering if it is Roger’s stubbornness and pride that is hindering him from taking advantage of this incredible opportunity.
This could help him fulfil basically anything that he wants to achieve in the game. As always Roger I don’t want to tell you what to do and I don’t know your exact situation, but if you are reading this please do consider. After all I’m just saying this because I want the best for you and for you to break all the records