I never expected Roger to have much trouble today, and neither did he. In the first set he was nothing special though, until he hit an exceptional clutch passing shot on set point in the first set. After that he became more relaxed as his genius was on full display. When Roger plays like he did in the second set, he is just a joy to behold. It is like he has infinite options. He looks like he can do whatever he wants with a tennis ball. The match stats are impressive as well. Roger’s serve was very impressive as he hit 11 aces and made 70% first serves. That is good to see as his first serve percentage has been a bit low of late. He also hit 33 winner and made just 13 unforced errors. At the net he was 12/18 and he converted 2/4 break points. You rarely see a much cleaner match than that. Stepanek is one of the rare serve-and-volley players on tour, which makes him an awkward opponent.
Especially on these fast courts. So it is understandable that it took a while for Roger to find his groove. He just struggled to make passing shots in the first set, until set point. From there on it was just brilliance. So there is no sign of tiredness from Roger yet. There was however a slight injury scare towards the end of the match when Roger twisted his ankle and grimaced. He seemed fine afterwards though. I seriously doubt it’s anything serious. Next up for Roger is Jurgen Melzer who beat Ferrer today. I don’t see Roger having any problems with him either and I’m already looking towards the semi’s. There he will hopefully face Murray. He will however not face Djokovic if he makes the final, because Djokovic was upset by local favorite Michael Llodra today. I think Roger has mentally damaged Djokovic with his wins over him of late.
He looked mentally tired against Llodra. Not to take anything away from Llodra, who played a fantastic match. But it’s good to see Roger has tamed Djokovic after losing to him at the US Open. He seems to do this to his younger rivals, like he did to Murray in last year’s Australian Open final as well. It took Murray about six months to get over that loss. It is just amazing how Roger keeps owning his younger rivals who is now in their prime. After the US Open the haters was thinking that surely now Djokovic has finally gotten the old man off his back. Big mistake. Djokovic looks mentally drained, and I wonder if he will make the semi-finals at the Masters Cup now. I hope Roger can do something similar to Murray now if they should happen to meet in the semi’s. I hope Murray makes the semi’s because these conditions, coupled with Roger’s form of late, makes Roger the heavy favorite in such a match as far as I’m concerned.
Roger has now lost twice in a row against Murray in Masters Series finals, so I’d say it is about time he sets things straight before London. Then he can do so once more at London perhaps, which would give him a nice edge going into the Australian Open next year. As I said, Roger will now face Melzer who he has a 2-0 record against after facing him at Wimbledon and the US Open this year and beating him in straight sets both times. Melzer will like these conditions, but either way this will probably be another straight set win for the master. The faster Roger can get off the court the better.