Wow. What a day of tennis yesterday was. First an absolute masterclass from JesusFed and and then an epic three setter where Raonic outclutched Nadal. Just fantastic stuff. This is what Masters Series tennis at the highest level is all about. Roger continued on where he left off against Sock in the last round but lifted his level and brushed Birdshit off like he was just nothing, bageling him 6-4, 6-0. It was delicious to see and just showed that any decent version of Roger flat out owns Berdych. Up until 2010 Roger owned Berdych 8-1 after all. It was only when he started losing some speed and his level dropped that Berdych was able to take advantage. But even now at age 33 when Roger is on his game Berdych stands no chance.
Roger came out hitting with just a beautiful rhythm and dropped only one point on his first three service games, while Berdych was struggling to hold serve. So it was with the run of play when Roger broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead. When Roger served for the set at 5-4 he went down 0-30 on his serve but then played another one of those exceptional low volleys that left Berdych unable to make the pass, as Roger cut off his backhand at the net with a crisp forehand volley. He then won the next three points to wrap up the first set. But that point at 0-30 pretty much summed up for me what Fed 4.0 is about: a much improved net- and mental game. In the second set the flood gates just opened as Roger continued the master class to bagel Berdych.
Overall Roger just looked very calm out there and completely in the moment, hitting with superb rhythm and basically just doing everything right. The match stats reflect that too. The only thing lacking is a few aces but that is hardly a flaw. Of course Nadal was scheduled to play after Roger so I was feeling very good about Roger’s form before a possible meeting with Nadal. This was the chance he had been waiting for. Now Nadal just had to fulfill his end of the bargain and we would finally have our first Fedal meeting in two years. But as is almost always the case Nadal managed to avoid Roger when he was in as good form as he has ever been. This time however I don’t think Nadal tried to avoid Roger in any way.
I think Raonic was simply to good. Nadal was well on his way to winning the match after all after winning the first set 6-4, and having break points in the second set. But somehow Raonic just managed to hang in there, force the tie break, and outclutched Nadal to take it 12-10. What terrific entertainment that was and I gained a huge amount of respect for Raonic there already. The entire second set Nadal looked like the winner and yet Raonic just refused to accept defeat until he was the won who squared the match at a set all. Just terrific fighting and mental attitude. And he didn’t stop in the third set, even though Nadal was threatening to break again. He just hung tough until he was the one who got the break in the eleventh game and then he held serve for a 4-6, 7-6(10), 7-5 win.
It was a terrific scrap and I’m sure will make the top five list or something at the end of the year. Really I gained immense respect for Raonic here and even if Nadal was not in top form(which is debatable), I think Raonic deserves all the credit here. We have seen Nadal in this situation a million times and he comes out the winner 99% of the time. And I don’t believe any talk that he was tired or not moving well. He seemed damn fine to me when he was threatening in the second set to make short work of Raonic, as well as in the beginning of the third set when he was looking like the one who would once again take control. Raonic deserves every bit of credit he can get here. In fact to a large extent Nadal will be happy with his form in this match.
He has improved in leaps and bounds himself since Rio and I can see him being a serious threat in Miami and the clay season again, if not flat out dominant. In the end I am pissed that Nadal once again came up short when there was a chance for Roger to get a much needed win over him, but it is hard to regret a Nadal loss at the same time. And yes Raonic is a slightly easier opponent for Roger given his history with Nadal. So I am not gonna lose sleep over Nadal losing and I am very much looking forward to Raonic playing Roger. I think Roger is in immense form and I clearly like his chances. I like his chances to win the tournament in fact. But first things first. Raonic have shown that he is the real deal…
Above hot shot is clear proof that Nadal was making his usual unreal winners at crucial times. That unbelievable pass gave him the mini break to take a 5-4 lead in the breaker. Two serves for the match and yet Raonic refused to accept defeat. Respect!