With this win Federer makes his 24th straight quarter final at grand slam level. Yet another testament to his incredible consistency at the highest level of the game. Federer got off to a good start as he broke Wawrinka in the third game of the match, and he broke Wawrinka again as Wawrinka served to stay in the first set at 3-5. The start of the second set was not as good though, as Federer dropped serve in the opening game. He would have to wait until the eighth game to get the break back, when Wawrinka played a sloppy game. In other words he pretty much choked. Federer then improved his tie break record in grand slams to 91-36, proving just how mentally tough he is. The third set was no contest, as Federer broke Wawrinka two more times. With this win Federer improves his head-to-head record to 4-1 over Wawrinka, with the only loss coming last year in Monte Carlo.
There has been a lot of talk of Spanish players making it easy for Nadal when they play against him, and there is similar talk of Wawrinka after another loss to Roger. For me there is a clear difference however. Although Wawrinka gets tight against Roger, it is clear that he does not like losing to him, as evidenced by the racket smash by Wawrinka which got him a warning. In contrast, when a Spanish player loses to Nadal you get the feeling it almost makes them happy. Wawrinka isn’t nearly as in awe of Roger as the Spanish is of Nadal. And rightly so. This is professional tennis and you don’t want to do your opponent any favors, no matter who they are. To get back to Roger’s match, it is the same pattern we have seen from him for a while now. In the first set he plays with a certain amount of caution, as if he wants to build up a buffer before he begins to experiment a bit more.
He had this to say about using the drop shot:
Q. Another question concerning the dropshot. I have the impression you use dropshots more than before. My question is: Is it a choice you make match after match, or is it a game plan you have for the end of the tournament when the points are more and more important, therefore a dropshot could be a good weapon?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, not really, because as I said before, each player plays differently. Stan plays heavy balls, deep balls, long balls, and it’s difficult to have a dropshot against him. The best thing is to move around and then use your forehand. Sometimes it’s backhand, as well.
But the balls reach you differently, and today I used the dropshots quite a lot. But then you can sometimes try it three times and it doesn’t work. It depends. Mentally, then, you’re not in a good position to start the match.
So throughout the match I try and feel if it’s the right time to do it. I have to choose the right time. Not for the very first points of the game or the match. You can decide to have a dropshot at that moment, but to me it’s mainly about tactics.
I use my dropshots only when I’m convinced. You shouldn’t do it for the sake of it. Today it’s a lot clearer to me. This is it. It works well, and I’m going to use this against these players. I think it’s good.
I’m not so sure this will suffice against Nadal. We have talked about the importance of taking risk against Nadal to have any chance. He wasn’t convinced in the first set against Nadal in Madrid either and it cost him the first set. Playing cautiously at the start will get him many straight set wins like he has done so far, but we all know those wins mean nothing once he faces Nadal in the final. Then it is a whole new ball game. But Roger also have other things to think about like breaking Sampras’ record. I guess his thinking is that if he wins many easy matches and breaks Sampras’ record it will give him confidence and help him to be more relaxed going into the final. I suppose that is just as valid as throwing caution into the wind from the start and working on a game plan that would be successful against Nadal.
Roger now faces Soderling in a quarter final match which he simply can’t afford to lose. If he loses his semi-final streak at grand slams comes to an end, and he also forfeits the number one ranking, just two weeks short of breaking Sampras’ 286 weeks at number one. Having said that, I can’t see him losing this. He has a 12-0 head-to-head record against Soderling, and given what is at stake it’s just very hard to see the GOAT losing this one. Soderling’s pace of shot fits Roger like a glove, and he doesn’t have the ability to mix things up either. We have now reached quarter final stage at Roland Garros 2010, and the match ups is as follow:
Federer vs Soderling
Berdych vs Youzhny
Melzer vs Djokovic
Nadal vs Almagro
I’m favoring a Federer vs Berdych and Djokovic vs Nadal semi’s at this point. Berdych beat Murray in straight sets and I think he will prove to be too strong for surprise quarter finalist Youzhny. Djokovic should be too strong for Melzer, another surprise quarter finalist, and I can’t see Nadal having much problems with his Spanish minion Almagro. In all honesty, I have to admit that this year’s French Open has been a disappointment for me thus far. This is of course mostly due to the absence of Del Potro and Davydenko, the third and fourth best clay courters in the world(OK I suppose there is place for someone called Djokovic somewhere there as well). Put Del Potro and Davydenko in the place of Melzer and Youzhny, and things get considerably more interesting. It is good to know Roger won’t have to face either Davydenko or Del Potro in the quarters and semi’s though, knowing how close he is to Sampras’ record.
I guess you can’t have it both ways. I’ve even been tempted to think that Roger should lose on purpose if he makes the semi-finals. This is of course an absurd thought, but I’m getting a bit tired of Roger’s head-to-head with Nadal worsening because they keep facing each other on clay. And lets say he gets crushed by Nadal again like he was in 2008. That would give Nadal a boost again going into Wimbledon. But on the other hand I can’t resist the thought of Roger upsetting Nadal either. There is just too much at stake in the end. First of all there is Sampras’ record which Roger will surpass once he makes the final, and then there is the possibility of winning the calender slam if he somehow manages to upset Nadal. So you can see why I said it is an absurd thought. In the end Roger is a champion, and he will go for the ultimate glory.
May the Fedforce be with you.
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