Another solid performance from Roger today. Once again nothing out of the ordinary but enough for the win, which is of course all that matters in the end. The first set was pretty impressive with the one break of serve. In the second Gonzalez found a second wind after smashing his racket to pieces on the court. I don’t think Roger played much worse really, Gonzalez is always a dangerous opponent that plays with a certain amount of flair. So he was always gonna have a chance at winning a set. But to win the match against Roger you actually have to sustain a high level throughout which is the reason Roger was the most dominant tennis player the world has ever seen.
Roger can sustain a very high level of play throughout a given match where other players can only do it in patches. So in the second set Gonzalez came alive and got the break to take the second set. The start of the third set was always going to be important for Roger and he got the break early. From there on it was going to be a tall order for Gonzalez to recover and he got broken once more before the end of the match. Even though Roger lost the second set he seemed to improve as the match went along which is a good sign. One thing that wasn’t particularly good today was his serve, he only made 51% of first serve. Taking that into account he played a pretty good match, because he usually relies quite heavily on his serve.
Next up for Roger is the match I was expecting and hoping to see which is the one between him and Fernando Verdasco. Verdasco was also a three set winner over Philip Kolschreiber from Germany. I can’t see that Roger would have lost a set against Kolschreiber but nonetheless Verdasco isn’t to be underestimated at all. He has been a different player of late and have the weapons to give Roger a serious run for his money. He is another Spanish left hander like Rafa but one feels in this case the Spaniard wouldn’t have the mental edge on the Swiss but rather the other way around. I just think Roger will have the mental higher ground against Verdasco.
But having said that it should be a very interesting match and Verdasco remains a dangerous opponent. This match will be good preparation should Roger win it because he might come up against another tough match up for him in Andy Murray should they both go through. Roger may well have the toughest draw in the tournament come to think of it. But maybe it will work in his favor if he just keeps improving with every match. Now lets look at what Roger needs to do to beat Verdasco. Roger leads the head to head series 2-0, but that wouldn’t be of much consequence as Verdasco has been a different player since the latter part of last year, which was after those matches were played.
To beat Verdasco Roger would have to serve well first and foremost, better then he did against Gonzalez that’s for sure. That will set a nice base from which he can then dominate. If he allows Verdasco to get into the points and start hitting those big ground stokes he will make it hard on himself. He’s returns and ground strokes will need to be solid to compete well in base line rallies and going to the net won’t hurt at all. Too often I have felt Roger doesn’t utilize that part of his game enough. I don’t think Roger will have the same problems he has when playing Rafa just because Verdasco is left handed, but hitting his backhand well will certainly help.
What Roger does so well is that he takes the ball early and he plays very fast. This won’t give Verdasco the same amount of time as he has against the other players to hit that big forehand of his. Murray is through to the quarter finals as well after Tommy Robredo withdrew against him after trailing Murray 6-2, 3-0. Murray next plays Ivan Ljubicic who I am very happy so say beat Igor Andreev after saving 5 match points. Ljubicic is one of the nice guys of the tour and used to be a top ten player so good to see him doing well again. In the top half of the draw the Djoker is already through after beating Stanislas Wawrinka in two tie break sets.
The other fourth round matches in the top half of the draw still needs to be played so I might update you on that later. For now all the top players seem to be doing well and the matches are getting more and more interesting. A bientot!