Woeful start from Roger today, getting broken in his first service game on the third break point. However to his credit he broke right back in the next game. It was a shaky start from him today, going 0-30 down on his serve again at 2-3. He hung in there though and at 5-5 he was rewarded with a break after a bad game from Roddick and after he served out the first set. In the second set the serves kept dominating until 4-4 where Roger had three break points and on the third break point he had a great chance to break and virtually end the match but totally mishit a routine backhand passing shot. This resulted in the second set going to a tie break. Roger got off to a good start getting a mini break on the very first point.
At 3-2 and serving he played a nervous point though, missing another routine forehand. And at 3-3 Roddick played an inspired point to go up a mini break. Roger got the mini break back however but at 5-5 he served a double fault to lose serve yet again and that cost him the second set. All credit to Roddick for fighting but it has to be said Roger looked very fragile mentally. In the third set it was good to see Roger play some solid tennis. Still when serving for the match and 40-0 you would expect him to take at least one of the match points, but it went back to deuce first before Roger could close out the match. This just kind of summed up for me where Roger is at this point in terms of mentality. He looks very fragile out there mentally still and gives opponents all kinds of chances to get back in the match.
So not a convincing performance from Roger in my opinion. First he started out the match looking shaky and then when he had the chance at 5-4 in the second set to put Roddick away he couldn’t capitalize. You get the feeling that the Roger of old would have gotten this done it two comfortable sets, but his lack of confidence made this one go the full distance. At least the third set was a pretty convincing display, one has to look for positives. Other positives are that his winners outnumbered his unforced errors by seven and he served more then double the amount of aces then Roddick did, which is an achievement in itself. But it has to be mentioned Roddick had a better first serve percentage then Roger who was in the high fifties which is something we have seen a lot from him recently.
He definitely needs to improve his first serve percentage if he wants to have a chance against better players then Roddick. But that is also something that comes with confidence and I have the feeling he needs to get a couple of wins over the top four to make that happen. Looking at the net points he won 11/11 so he could have been more aggressive in that department also. Elsewhere in the draw it’s great to see Ivan Ljubicic make the quarter finals after having made a small comeback on tour of late. He is one of the nicest guys on tour and a great credit to the game. Currently he is playing against Djokovic and I wouldn’t mind seeing him winning, but you have the feeling Djokovic would have a better chance of taking out Rafa in the semi-finals should Rafa beat Verdasco.
Verdasco was impressive in his third round win over Juan Monaco, winning 7-5, 6-2. I like Verdasco’s talent and his results have been very consistent this year but I have doubts about his mental abilities. He doesn’t seem to be great under pressure and therefor I have my doubts that he can beat Rafa. He did really well in the Australian Open against Rafa, but I almost feel like that was a one off event. He just seems a little mentally fragile to me. But I would love to see him put up another great fight against Rafa and I am looking forward to their match nonetheless. Looking at Roger’s upcoming match it will of course be against the winner of Murray and Juan-Martin Del Potro. They are pretty equally matched on clay and it should be a tight one.
So whoever wins there will be an equally tough match for Roger. They both have pretty solid base line games and Roger would have to step it up to have a chance. As I said he would have to improve on his first serve percentage and I would like to see him come to the net more often as well. Both these guys are solid from the ground and if Roger gets into long drawn out base line rallies his ground strokes may break down again. In any event he should be thinking ahead against a possible match up with Rafa in the final and he shouldn’t wait until then to to start playing attacking tennis. He should already put it into practice before he faces Rafa if he wants to have a chance. He can either decide to play like he did against Roddick from the base line and risk losing, or he can decide to start implementing a more attacking game plan and risk losing as well.
But at least if he wins playing attacking tennis he will have a lot more confidence going into a possible match against Rafa. If he is being true to his word and he is in fact thinking about winning the French Open then he should really be looking at the bigger picture and employ an attacking style of play.
Prediction: If Roger serves well and plays attacking tennis he wins in straight sets. If his first serve percentage is below 60% again and he is content to fight it out from the base line he loses in three.
Update: Del Potro def Murray 7-6, 6-3. Come to think of it I think Roger will be happy with result. Murray is obviously a difficult opponent for him and he disposed easily of Del Potro at the Australian Open so I’m sure he’ll fancy his chances. The Gods seem to be smiling on Roger in this tournament. Also Rafa beat Verdasco 6-4, 7-5. Disappointing stuff from Verdasco after being up 4-0 in the second set, but then again I expected something like that. Now Djokovic only has to take out Rafa and Roger will really start drooling over the prospect of his first title this year. Allez Rog!