As I predicted Roger didn’t have much trouble with Russian Evgeny Korolev. It was pretty much one way traffic with the Russian really playing mindless tennis. His only tactic seemed to be to bash the hell out of the ball and hope Roger miss. This might have worked against a lesser player but against the master that is Federer it’s futile. Roger never even had to risk anything, all he did was keep the ball in play and the Russian would inevitably go for too much and miss. But I guess playing against Roger is a tall order and maybe he figured he’ll just swing away and hope for the best. Playing against Roger is no simple task and can make opponents lose their cool. Here is another special shot Roger played against Korolev:
What do you do against someone that has no weakness in his game at all? It’s a daunting prospect and for more then four years Nadal was the only one that came close to solving the problem, but that was mostly on clay courts. I guess if you play Roger you have to hope he has an off day or gets injured. His game is so complete that he will inevitably find a way to beat you, that is if his usual game doesn’t beat you. He’s got so much variation and I have a feeling if he came to the net more he would be even more dominant and for a longer time. This is clearly the case against Nadal in my mind. If he would be less stubborn at staying back and taking on Nadal at his strengths I’m sure he would do a lot better.
I can only hope he considers this before he goes into another match against Nadal, especially on clay and grass. Whatever the case may be I feel Roger would be happy with his performance once again, even if it was more like a practice match. He needed that practice because next up for him is Russian Marat Safin as I suspected. This is whole different prospect because Safin is the ultimate danger man. He won the Australian Open in 2005 and beat Roger in an epic five set macth in the semi-finals. Having said that the popular Russian is not what he used to be and if I have to make a prediction I’d say Roger wins in four sets. Roger has been looking good and as dangerous and talented as Safin is I don’t think he is capable of causing an upset here.
In other second round action Djokovic was in devastating from, dispatching of Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 7-5, 6-1, 6-3. He looked like the Djokovic that won the Australian Open last year and the form that he has showed at the start of the year is all but a memory. As I warned in my previous post Djokovic is not to be underestimated and he has become a serious threat with this victory. This could be a real test for Roger if he ends up meeting Djokovic is the semi-finals again, but also an opportunity to avenge the loss of last year when he was struggling with illness. David Nalbandian was upset today by Yen-Hsun Lu of China in five sets so the likelihood of Djokovic going through to the semi-finals looks even better.
It looks like he will meet Roddick who beat Xavier Malisse from Belgium in four sets today in the quarter-finals.The player that is most likely to meet Roger in the quarter-finals should he get there is Juan-Martin Del Potro. The Argentine easily disposed of Florian Mayer from Germany today. So it looks like a Roddick/Djokovic and Federer/Del Potro quarter-finals in the bottom half for the moment, but still some way to go. One other match that deserves a mention here is the veteran Fabrice Santoro from France who beat Philip Kohlschreiber from Germany in five grueling sets. The Frenchman is 36 years old and could hardly walk off the court after the match due to cramp.
In my mind Santoro is a legend of the game, with limited talent and physical presence he has done extremely well over his long career. This is his last Australian Open and beating a tough opponent like Kohlschreiber is one heck of a performance. He next faces Andy Roddick so that is a tough opponent but whatever the outcome Santoro has once again shown his worth. In the top half of the draw things are also heating up with Nadal winning easily and Murray winning after his opponent withdrew due to injury. Jo-wilfred Tsonga looked impressive in the first round winning in straight sets and so did Giles Simon who must love this surface. These two together with Gael Monfils, who also won easily, will be serious threats to Nadal and Murray in the top half of the draw. Things are heating up…