I don’t know about you guys but I am a little astonished by what happened yesterday in Madrid. The day after Nadal loses to his favorite whipping boy, Djokovic goes and loses to Tipsarevic. And in straight sets of all things, 7-6(2), 6-3. Who would have come up with such a plot?! But a nice one it is anyway because now Roger has an open road to the title. It doesn’t come much easier than not having to face any of the top four players on the way to the title. But Roger still had some work to do after Djokovic lost. He did lead Ferrer 12-0 in the head-to-head, but as we saw with the Nadal/Verdasco match it doesn’t guarantee anything. Knowing that Nadal and Djokovic is out of the draw brings is it’s own kind of pressure.
But he seized the moment and put in yet another clinical performance. It wasn’t the most exciting of matches. It was mainly a great serving performance from Roger, with 7 aces, 78% first serves in, 86% of first serve points won, 90% of second serve points won, and only losing only 6 points on serve. It really doesn’t get any better than that. The surprising thing is that Ferrer hit more winners than Roger, but he also made many more unforced errors. Having beaten a very consistent player like Ferrer 13 straight times is and impressive record in itself. The problem for Ferrer is that he just doesn’t have the weapons to cope with Roger. Roger on the other hand has so much to hurt Ferrer with, and on this occasion it was mostly the serve.
I have learned to appreciate Ferrer much more than I used to, but the fact is he has never won a Masters Series event or made a slam final. It just shows how important weapons are in today’s game. His mental toughness and fitness is a kind of weapon, but it’s not enough to reach the very top of the game. You need at least one very good shot like a serve or a forehand. In Roger’s case he has one of the best serves and forehands ever. But lets get back to the bottom half of the draw. Del Potro beat Dolgopolov as I expected and he did so quite comfortably 6-3, 6-4. Berdych on the other hand destroyed Verdasco 6-1, 6-2. Clearly Verdasco was a spent force after his win over Nadal. For him that is like winning the calender slam so I guess it’s understandable.
So it will be Berdych vs Del Potro in the bottom half and Roger vs Tipsarevic in the top half. Del Potro leads the head-to-head 3-1 with Berdych and I would have to give him the edge again here. I don’t think it matters much for Roger who he faces if he makes the final. He has been on a good winning streak against Del Potro though so that may be the most comfortable opponent for him. As far as Roger’s match goes he leads the head-to-head with Tipsarevic 4-0. He only lost sets in one of their matches and that was that five set thriller at the Australian Open in 2008 when Roger had mono. Tipsarevic is a top ten player these days however and he played a great match against Djokovic. But in the end you have to think that Roger will get the job done.
There is now a great opportunity for Roger to go ahead and snatch this title, and in the process keep his incredible year going while at the same time passing Nadal in the rankings. I said in my last post that Roger will pass Nadal if he makes the final but he has to win the event to do so. Since Djokovic is out that provides a fantastic opportunity for him to do just that. Then I don’t think there is much chance of Nadal passing him in Rome again, which means he will be second seed at the French. There is a lot of exciting stuff going on now, but there is some work left to be done here. Roger will play at 19h00 local time. If he keeps his good serving up and keeps Tipsarevic on the run I don’t see any reason why he won’t be in the final come Sunday. ALLEZ!