This Federer is good. There is no doubt that Gulbis was a particularly tough test for the GOAT today, and he passed that test with flying colors. In the end the Federer genius would make the difference, because there wasn’t much to choose between the two. It wasn’t a promising start from Roger today it must be said. He won the toss and chose to return, possibly trying to avoid what happened against Wawrinka. It didn’t help much though as he dropped serve in the second game, and soon found himself trailing 3-0. With the way Gulbis was serving, there was no way for Roger back into the first set. I wasn’t too worried after Roger dropped the first set though. I knew he was still building confidence and that he lost serve because he was less than confident. He could always gain confidence as the match went along.
But the point is we have seen a new Federer this week, and he was going to fight through adversity. Having said that, when he dropped serve in the opening game of the second set, I did begin to worry. My concern wasn’t long lived as Roger breezed through the next six games, including three service breaks. What a terrific display that was. There was some of the usual Federer genius there as well. At one point Gulbis hit an almost unplayable backhand to his feet while at the net, but he calmly picked it up and made the ball drop dead over the net for a winner. It’s something you can’t teach. What I particlularly enjoy about Roger’s tennis at the moment is the way he mixes things up. He won 12/21 points at the net which isn’t a great percentage, but it’s the variation that matters. Slugging it out from the base line on clay won’t suffice.
Back to the match, and the third set was always going to be a competitive affair. Luckily for us fans, Roger got the break in the third game already, with a stunning backhand lob over Gulbis. From there on it would just be a case of holding serve until he got the W. That is easier said than done though, especially when it started raining just before the last game. The crowd was starting to move around and whistle as well, which didn’t make things any easier for the GOAT. But this Federer was not going to be denied. You can just sense it. He gets into a certain mode that it would take the end of the world to stop him. But the world didn’t end, and Roger got the famous win. It was a high quality match, definitely the best of the week. So far anyway. One thing that stands out is Roger’s break point conversion, which was 4/5.
Roger’s break point conversion rate is normally pretty dismal. This shows me how much the GOAT has tidied up his game and how confident he is feeling right now. The Wawrinka match was good, but this was better. Roger was actually pushed all the way by a very capable player. But as I said, it is just that extra bit of class that Roger brings to the table which pulled him through once more, hence the ‘outclasses’ in the title. The serve was working very nicely again, as Roger ended with a first serve percentage of 70. A Federer/Nadal final becomes a very real possibility now, with Nadal having won his match against Monfils with ease earlier today. Almagro beat Melzer, which means that he will now be facing his Spanish master in the semi’s. I don’t think there is much doubt in the outcome of that match.
Almagro will lose on purpose of he has to. He loves his master that much. The remaining quarter final is still being played as I’m writing this post. Ferrer just won the first set so I don’t think that there is any doubt that he will win either. This gives Roger a pretty tough opponent for the semi’s, but one I expect him to beat nonetheless. Ferrer has won the most clay court matches this year, so he is certainly no push over. But the Force is strong with the Federer we saw today, and Ferrer doesn’t have the weapons to get the better of him. Ferrer is just a solid player who will grind all day long. When it comes to talent, there is no comparison between him and Roger. I don’t care what surface it is, if Roger is playing well, he beats Ferrer. That simple. And I don’t think there can be any doubt after today that the GOAT is on.
Uncannily so, Federer has now played himself into form once more for a grand slam, and I keeps laughing at the doubters. Already I can’t wait for the next time they will doubt the GOAT. It doesn’t really matter what happens now in Madrid, because he is now ready for the French Open. But I have a feeling he will take the title once more. I think he will do so again beating Nadal in the final. And I think it is important that he does so as well. As he did last year, he needs to put doubt in Nadal’s mind before the French Open. If Nadal goes into Roland Garros unbeaten, I have a feeling he will be very hard to stop. Madrid provides the ideal opportunity for Roger to do just that. Nadal is not as comfortable on at the higher altitude, while Roger is very comfortable. Roger just needs to repeat what he did last year. Then things gets very interesting once more for the French.
Also, I don’t think it sits very well with Roger that Nadal has won more Masters Series title than him now at 17. Roger is on 16 and I think he wants to close the gap right here in Madrid. But a Fedal final is not quite a done deal yet. I’ll be looking forward to tomorrow’s semi-final action, as I’m sure you do. I have to say Madrid is by far my favorite clay court masters. Because of the altitude it is not as predictable as the other clay court events when Nadal is basically guaranteed to win. It would be ironic if Federer and Nadal were to meet exactly a year later in the same tournament, where everything changed last year. I’m sure Nadal desperately wants to make a similar change as Roger made last year. OK I’m stopping now. See you tomorrow!
May the Fedforce be with you.
Federer having a laugh during practice at the doubters.