Well I didn’t say for nothing that we are seeing a new Federer in my last post. After all this time of following Roger as a fan it is not hard to notice these things anymore. I picked up a certain confidence from him in his last match, despite the fact that he should have won the second set on his first match point. Stan Wawrinka was always going to be a tough opponent, but you wouldn’t say that judging by the ease at which the world number one disposed of him tonight. It was actually a shaky start from Federer, dropping his serve in the opening game. But after that he played almost the peRFect match. You really can’t find much fault with his performance. He broke Wawrinka straight back, and broke again in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. In the second set it seemed like Roger was really getting to Wawrinka as his level seemed to drop off somewhat.
Roger had a chance to break Wawrinka again at 4-0 in the second I think, but at least Wawrinka avoided the bagel. I was a bit surprised by some Fedfanatics on Twitter who mentioned the fact that Wawrinka was not playing well. As if that is the point?! The point is that Federer is back. You hear some Fedfanatics complain about how terrible Roger’s form has been of late, and then when he finally gets it right, all they can focus on his how badly Wawrinka played. Fact is Wawrinka was not allowed to play well by the GOAT, and it clearly took it’s toll on him mentally as well. It’s no secret that Wawrinka does not like living in Roger’s shadow all the time, and when he starts losing to Roger he tends to get down on himself. But unlike the Spanish players, Wawrinka does not give up when playing against the best player in his country.
“It’s something that’s tough for us Swiss guys,” Federer said of playing a countryman. “We’re not used to it like the French or Spanish or Americans who play their own countrymen every other week. It happens maybe two or three times a year. So to come out and beat Stan on his best surface, and playing so well, is a great feeling and I’m obviously very happy.”
Either way, this was just too good from the GOAT, and I didn’t think I would be saying it this early, but I dare say, Federer is BACK once more. And no one could be happier about that fact than me. Again, he has silenced the doubters. I think there can be little doubt now that he will be ready and peaking at the French Open.
“That’s why there’s no reason to get over excited. I won the French Open last year, not out of luck or because I had a good draw or anything, I had to play great tennis. That’s why I know I can do it again and I played so well in Australia that I’m going to enjoy this clay court season.”
Again he is just echoing what he said in the press before Madrid. People always seem to doubt him. Yet he always delivers. It wouldn’t even surprise me if he wins Madrid again. It looks like things are clicking in the nick of time for Roger again, as they always do for the slams. You may point out that this is just one win over someone that wasn’t playing great on the night, but I know better than that. I have followed the Federer long enough to know there is reason to be excited. It was a clean match from Federer in all aspects. The serve looked smooth again, the forehand was working just fine, and he actually outclassed Wawrinka, who has a great backhand, in the backhand department. I really think Roger loves the conditions in Madrid and it’s a great warm up event for him before Paris.
I love how he is mixing his game up as well. He is approaching the net enough to keep his opponent guessing, and he is using the drop shot very effectively too. I think since last year he has the game plan now to do really well on the clay, and even to beat Nadal. He just seems to have found that peRFect balance of mixing it all up. If he is confident enough to execute his game plan he is very hard to stop. If he serves well, play attacking tennis, and mix things up with the drop shot, he has a very good shot at defending the French again I feel. In the past against Nadal he was way too passive. He was just basically slugging it out from the base line with him, which was brainless. We’ve been through that before. I just think if he can play attacking tennis and mix the game up with drop shots he’s got a much better chance at beating Nadal.
And besides, I don’t think Nadal is what he used to be. He has done well this clay season, but hasn’t been pushed much. The furthest he’s been pushed was by Gulbis in Rome, who incidentally Roger has a date with in the next round. Having watched Nadal so far in Madrid, I just think he is very beatable. It just takes the right player on a given day to beat him. Someone who plays without fear like Roger and Soderling did last year. It looks like Nadal will make it to the final again, and the way Federer is going right now, he will probably be there too. He now faces Gulbis who he obviously respects a lot:
“He has a tremendous serve. He hits tough spots incredibly well on both sides of his service he can reach any box with incredible pace and accuracy. It makes him a tough player on either service. But on clay he has a bit more time with his shots here and he can go for a bit more. He’s done really well in Rome and has been confident, so I hope I can get him back.”
Roger lost to Gulbis in Rome, so this will be a chance for revenge. There is no doubt Gulbis is a great talent, but if Roger plays well he shouldn’t pose to many problems. I would really like to see Roger beat Gulbis, just so that he doesn’t get any ideas. And besides, I feel good about Roger for this tournament. If he beats Gulbis, then it looks like he will play Ferrer, who I think will be too good for Murray. But lets just focus on the Gulbis match for now. Gulbis has been playing very well of late, so it will be another test for the GOAT…