A masterclass performance by the master. I can’t stress enough what an impressive win this was. Karlovic is one of the giant killers of the tour because he almost has an unfair advantage with his height and huge serve, but he was once again denied by the Swiss genius. And it would have been sweet revenge for Roger having lost their last meeting. Roger could hardly have played a more perfect match. He won 94% of his first serve points and on the return he was another player then in the second round. Like I said in my previous post I was a little worried about this match, especially after Roger lost his doubles match with Yves Allegro 6-2, 6-0 against the Bryan brothers.
But it was a clinical performance by Roger, not giving the giant Croat as much as a sniff at an opportunity. When playing a guy like Karlovic it can be a nerve wrecking experience because you know with his big serve you will only get so many opportunities and if you take them you will be sent packing. Or what is worse you will play a good match and still lose. This is quite possible because the Croat just serves to big for you to break him and when the tie break comes he is in a favorable position with his big serve. It takes someone with the genius of Federer to actually pull of a straight set win when Karlovic is in this form. Some shots that Roger came up with was just out of this world and there was a consistency to his game that is very encouraging indeed.
For Roger to be is this kind of form after a six week break and just one competitive match under his belt is really good to see. I was hoping he could just continue with the form he showed at the Australian Open but this might have been even better. Just such a tight and clinical performance. The break seems to have done Roger well and he looks hungrier then ever. I now have to say he has a very good chance at winning the tournament. This form could not have come at a better time for Roger. I feel he needs to make a move in one of these Master’s Series events and win it. Last year he didn’t fare so well and therefor there is points up for grabs for him here.
With the clay court season not far away which is Rafa’s kingdom this could be the points he need to start an assault on the number one ranking. Who knows he might even win both Indian Wells and Miami, the double he used to do when he was still dominating the tennis world. Now that would really put the cat among the pigeons. However I will hope for at least one of these Masters Series titles. That would put him in a position that he can really make a run at the number one ranking come the grass court season. The perfect scenario would be he wins back Wimbledon and in the process takes back the number one ranking which he lost at a similar stage last year.
In fact he lost it during the American hard court season after Wimbledon and maybe this will be the time that he reclaims the number one spot again this season. Rafa is after all quite a distance ahead of him in points at this time. OK I’m getting a little carried away, I’m just so excited after Roger’s performance yesterday, I expected him to scrape through but he put up a clinic. Next up for Roger is Fernando Gonzalez, who looked in devastating form himself in defeating James Blake 7-5, 6-1. If Roger keeps up this form though I can’t see anyone beating him, least of all Gonzalez. Actually Roger has a tough draw, because if he wins against Gonzalez there is a good chance he will play against Fernando Verdasco who was also in awesome form making short work of Richard Gasquet 6-3,6-2.
Verdasco is one of my favorite players together with Roger and he will sure take some stopping. In fact he put up a better fight against Rafa in Australia then Roger did in that sensational semi-final match. So that will be a block buster match should they both advance to the next round. Elsewhere Andy Murray won just as easily over Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-3,6-2. Should Roger go through to the semi’s he will most likely meet Murray which will be another mouth watering prospect. As you can see things are starting to heat up in the ‘fifth major’ and I feel confident that Roger can pull off his first win at a Master’s Series event since 2007. He’s got a long way to go though.