Rome Draw – Federer and Nadal in Same Half Again

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  • Federer Decides to Play in Rome

As you can see Roger did decide to play Rome in the end, as he said after he lost in Madrid that he wasn’t yet sure if he would. I’m glad to see he did decide to play. It would have been strange if he did not play after planning such a full clay court schedule and then hardly playing any matches before the French Open. He didn’t exactly get the easiest draw again. Here it is:

  • R1: Bye
  • R2: Lorenzi/Cuevas
  • R3: Anderson/Kohlschreiber
  • QF: Berdych
  • SF: Nadal
  • F: Djokovic/Nishikori

We already know Cuevas can play on clay. Anderson or Kohlschreiber is not that tough and you’d expect Roger to get through that. Then Berdych is the second toughest guy to get from seeds 5-8 after Nishikori, but the way he is playing right now he is almost the same level as Nishikori. And of course we know Berdych has been a difficult opponent for Roger in the past. As I’ve told a reader, making semis here would be an achievement in itself for Roger. In his current form, you’d have to believe he has a decent shot though.

  • A Fedal Semi-Final?

Since Fedal is in the same half there is a possibility they will meet in the semi-final, the same as Madrid. But I was skeptical that they would play in Madrid and they never did. I am slightly less skeptical than I was in Madrid, but Berdych could easily defeat Roger. Nadal, I expect to make semis, given he is again in Stan’s quarter. Nadal has Isner in his third round, but the clay in Rome is probably too slow for Isner to have a chance. As far as I’m concerned the Fedal rivalry is dead anyway.

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It had its moments…

There is nothing left to see there, and I don’t think Roger would be particularly keen on playing Nadal. This was probably the kind of draw he did not hope for after deciding to play Rome. But it is what it is and he now has to make the best of it. At the very least he should try to win two matches to get some more wins before the French. Beating Berdych would be a confidence boosting win too. So he really should try to make semis after the form he showed in the Istanbul final and in Madrid.

  • Overall Thoughts on the Draw

I’m not particularly impressed with this draw. You have Fedal in the same half again and then you have the Djoker and Nishikori in the same quarter, together with Kyrgios. Why is Nishikori not in Nadal’s quarter? Or Berdych? Or Ferrer? Or Kyrgios? I guess the winner of the Djoker and Nishikori will win the tournament, but you can’t count Nadal out either. But what happens in Rome could also depend on what happens in Madrid, which is what I will get to next.

  • Nishikori Looking Lethal in Madrid

Now an update on what has been going on in Madrid and Nishikori just smashed local favorite Ferrer 6-4, 6-2 in a masterful clay court performance. It was delightful to see how he looked in complete control with the rampant Madrid crowd behind Ferrer. In the second set, it looked like he was toying with Ferrer as he broke serve twice. I like Nishikori’s on-court demeanor too. He seems very confident and mentally strong, and nothing phases him too much.

The semi-final line-up tomorrow is a good one because Nadal will play against a renewed Berdych while Nishikori will play against a renewed Murray. Both Murray and Berdych have gotten their acts together this year after struggling in 2014. Murray is second in the ATP race and Berdych is just behind him in third place. As I predicted, Dimitrov folded like a cheap tent against a Nadal who is still not impressing, losing 6-3, 6-4. Then Berdych had quite the impressive victory over Isner after losing the first set, winning 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(1).

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Brutal hitting

The final set tie break was especially impressive. I like this version of Berdych much better and he actually has a chance of beating Nadal tomorrow. It won’t be easy against the home crowd, but Berdych seems much better mentally lately, and of course he got that straight set win over Nadal in Melbourne this year. He was also impressive in the Monte Carlo final against the Djoker. It looks like his coach Vallverdu is doing a fine job. Given the altitude which favors his big-hitting game he must surely have a very decent chance of winning tomorrow.

I gotta say I’m quite happy with what I saw today. Nadal may have had a cakewalk draw so far but if Nishikori makes the final he will have two more very tough matches. Like I said Nishikori plays Murray who had quite an impressive 6-4, 7-5 win over Raonic himself. Murray is suddenly a real factor on clay, but I’d still have to go with Nishikori. Either way we have two very good matchups tomorrow and if Nadal is gonna win this title at least it looks like he will have to deserve it!

  • Highlights

The is in your court.

Posted in Masters 1000, Rome.

14 Comments

  1. Mostly agree with everything again but I do feel we are underestimating the importance of a Fedal match. I know it is no longer considered the main match and I also I feel the same way. But why I do feel it is important is because it is the ultimate test for Roger: playing Nadal on clay. And that will serve him very well for the French Open and actually for Wimbledon as well. Because if he is going to win Wimbledon he probably has to go through two of Murray/Djokovic/ Nadal and he is going to be able to do that only if he is playing clutch tennis and Nadal forces people to play clutch. In the end I really do think Federer should try to make the semis and at least keep his end of the bargain. As far as Madrid is considered you were spot on. For Nadal ro win he has to play some good tennis. Berdych and Nishikori are definitely right there behind the big four and Nishikori just smacked Ferrer of the court. Now this guy looks like Federer’s real successor because he has some real talent. And like you predicted Dimitrov folded like a cheap tent and I almost want to him to disappear till the time he gets his act together. And Murray is looking like he is slowly hitting peak fitness and come Wimbledon I actually think he might be the second favorite behind Djokovic. Federer has some serious work to do in the next month or so to come to Wimbledon with confidence.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Wow, you are fast! I couldn’t agree more about Roger making semis to face Nadal. But will he be up for it? That remains the big question. He will probably play Berdych and if his heart is not 100% in that match with the prospect of facing Nadal he is not winning it. I’m still not convinced he wants to play against Nadal. He may say so, but sub-consciously I don’t know. Hopefully, he makes semis in Rome and face his ultimate test. The other problem with that is that Nadal likes playing Roger and beating Roger gives him confidence. Also, it is slow clay and Roger’s chances would be very slim to win. In fact, I’m not sure I want him to face Nadal there.

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  2. Ru-an, I think it’s the first time I’m seeing you use the word ‘like’ in the same sentence which has Berdych in it. :-) I’m sure the Berdych fans who follow your blog will approve. Anyway it does look like Berdych is finding his game much better with his new coach. He always had this potential but since choking was also an integral part of his game, it was not getting utilized, especially against the top guys. He is playing as well as he ever did, maybe even better than AO this year. Although it’s on clay and on Nadull’s home turf, Berdych has a really good chance today.
    As far as Rome draw is concerned, at least this time Roger has relatively easy draw till QF. If Nadal fails to win Madrid, he might lose early in Rome as well, to the likes of Isner, although it’s very unlikely.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Ha right, Nakul. But I don’t hate players for the sake of hating. There is a reason I hated Berdych. He’s always had the talent, but mentally he didn’t keep it together. Looking forward to today’s matches!

    [Reply]

    Dolores Reply:

    Well, it ended not the way I like it, Nadal is on his way to victory?….unless, Murray/Nishi could stop him. We shall find out tomorrow. Am totally with you on Nishi, Ru-an, like him, too.
    Best,
    Dolores

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Nadal is on his way to victory if Murray wins for sure. And right now Murray is in the lead.

    [Reply]

    Dolores Reply:

    …..and so it is, Ru-an, Murray/Nadal tomorrow. Hate to see the trophy getting bitten….

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah looks like he will bite the FO trophy for a tenth time Dolores. Can’t wait!

    [Reply]

    Jiten Reply:

    You may be wrong Ru-an this time. In the Madrid final, Dull was pathetic. I have never seen him shanking so many balls from both the ends. But Oh yes, I am still keeping my fingers crossed. After all it is FO!

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    Ajay Reply:

    Murray seriously deserves credit. He played some awesome tennis.

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  3. Nadal looked pretty scary by the end of that match against Berdych. Djokovic bettere be ready for Nadal come the French Open because I doubt anyone else is going to step up.

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  4. So how many times can one get lucky? Not this time. Congratulations Murray. Ru-an, apart from tennis, what do think about the anorexic ball ladies in Madrid? I find it very weird. Most of the times while chasing the balls, the balls beat them. :-)

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  5. Wow! Contrary to all expectations, Andy Murray has beaten Nadal on clay for the first time!

    Now Nadal’s really going to feel a lot of pressure going into Rome without any clay Masters titles, and he’ll be super-desperate to win and stop the rot before Paris. Hope Federer’s game is up to snuff, the matchup issue will put him at a disadvantage, even if Nadal’s confidence is wavering.

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  6. Congratulation to Murray for an unprecedented win and to all Fedfans for getting the opportunity not to see the trophy bitten. What a sight to behold!

    [Reply]

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