Rome Rd 2: Federer def Tsonga 6-4, 6-2, Nadal Struggles

I didn’t see much of this match but it seems that Roger played well. He broke once in the first set and picked it up in the second, breaking two more times. Tsonga had his chances to break back as he ended with a 0/7 break point conversion rate. Roger on the other hand was probably above his average with a 3/7 break point conversion rate. Roger was struggling to close out the match at 5-2, squandering 3 match points before he won. Tsonga is not a giant on clay but this was a convincing win nonetheless. I like what I saw. The main thing was that he kept his good from up which saw him take Nadal to three sets in Madrid. He will now play Gasquet who won his first two matches with ease. Roger holds an 8-1 head-to-head record over Gasquet, having lost the one match on clay. Despite that I don’t see Gasquet being a problem for Roger.

The big news of the day was the Nadal lost the first set against journeyman Lorenzi. That didn’t look like the Nadal we know. It looks like his confidence definitely took a hit against Djokovic in Madrid. He also seems tired. That is no surprise given how much he is playing. Again I can’t help wondering why he didn’t leave out Barcelona from his schedule. He did it last year and he went unbeaten in the clay season. Now he has tired himself out while his confidence took a hit as well. This is the event where he will be the most tired, and Roger has to try and take advantage of that. But even if he gives Nadal just another tough match it will tire him out some more. Djokovic on the other hand looked good, winning easily in straight sets. I think Nadal is gonna get beaten in Rome again. He got lucky with the draw as usual, with Ferrer having withdrawn.

Having to play Ferrer, Roger, and Djokovic in succession would have been a tough ask given the condition he is in. If I have to make a prediction I’d say Nadal will lose to Djokovic in the final again, with an outside chance of losing to Roger in the semis. If he does happen to lose, it won’t be good for his confidence going into Paris. If he loses to Djokovic then Djokovic’s ownage of him will increase. If he loses to Roger he will appear even more vulnerable. All of this makes this clay court season much more interesting than previous years. The second half of the season has certainly picked up, thanks to Djokovic. I am now looking forward to the next time Nadal loses. To go into Paris with a lot of confidence he will need to win Rome. If not, his confidence will take another hit, and it may turn the scales in Djokovic’s favor for Roland Garros.

I am really hoping that Nadal doesn’t win in Paris this year. This would help to stop all this GOAT talk about Nadal, because then he won’t even be the GOAT on clay yet, having not equaled Borg’s 6 French Open titles yet. We are now entering an interesting period of the overall tennis picture as well, because if Djokovic beats Nadal at the French Open, it will be the changing of the guard. Djokovic could start dominating and Nadal won’t even come close to Roger’s slam count. As always, things can change fast in tennis. But we are not there yet. Lets see what happens in Rome first, an event which could prove to be pivotal in this clay court season.

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13 Comments

  1. Ruan, I would love it if Nadal fell to Roger here but if not Djoko will probably get the job done. However, I think Paris will be another story: Nadal always seems to boost for the slams, even getting stronger throughout the fortnight. Remember how lacklustre Nadal was at Toronto and Cincinnati before the USO last year, and then the performance he pulled out to annihilate Djokovic – admittedly not the player he is today – in the final in NY? He and Uncle Toni always seem to find a way, against all expert prediction (like his astonishing comeback after his titanic match against Verdasco at the AO in ’09.) But after his first match yesterday, Rome looks to be up for grabs by either Roger or Djokovic.

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  2. Things do change fast. On one hand, it’s hard to imagine Nadal losing in the FO or on clay in general. On the other hand, if someone told me 6 months ago that Nadal would lose in 3 straight masters finals I would probably laugh (and all of them to Djokovic…).
    As you mentioned, Nadal is in real trouble. He is tired and his confidence a bit low but he knows he can’t lose to Ferrer/Federer/Djokovic cause it will make it even worse. If those three do make it and face him, there’s a good chance he will have at least 2 difficult and long matches. It wil take its toll in the near future.

    The bottom line – it is very difficult keeping the #1 ranking for a long time. It is very stressing to come back year after year and defend those points. Especially for Nadal who doesn’t like to be the favorite, who always plays down his chances, it must be hard going to every event and be expected to win. It just give us another opportunity to appreciate Federer’s amazing career.

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  3. Isn’t there another way of looking at this? It could prove counter-productive for Nadal to win this event. As you wrote in your post, Nadal has played a lot of tennis in recent weeks. Wouldn’t winning in Rome contribute to his fatigue, assuming, of course, that he is not a doper. And I feel that the only thing that can really dent his confidence right now is another loss to Djokovic, and no one else. I could be wrong.

    Roger played an efficient match and played the big points really well. That said, the errors still worry me. 26 of them in a two-set match lasting 80 minutes = too many. Tsonga was a little out of sorts and that is probably why it wasn’t a tougher match.
    But I expect him to improve.

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    Babel Reply:

    I think Borg won six French Opens, Ruan. Cheers!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I keep thinking Borg won 6 Wimbledons and 5 FO. What stupidity!

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  4. I tot Nadal already got 5 FO, just 1 behind Borg. Nvm that, I somehow wish Roger can win his 2nd FO though that is way impossible. Nadal steamrolled past his spanish minion Lopez as usual. Probably 4th Nadal /Djoker final again this Sunday.

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  5. I thought Roger played very well against Tsonga despite the errors. Roger looks hungry and I wouldn’t be surprised if he defeats Nadal and goes head to head with Novak and possibly winning. I have noticed that now the deeper Roger goes into a tournament, he gets a little better and better. Nothing would make me more happy than to see Novak lose to the same man he lost to before his winning streak began. That would help Federer a lot going into the French. Federer vs. Djokovic on Sunday.

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    Dave Reply:

    I had to open my big mouth didn’t I. Federer lost against Gasquet

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  6. What was Rogers longest win streak and what year was it in? I was just curious. Somebody told me his win streak was in 07′ at 35 wins straight, please correct me if I’m wrong.

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  7. Well, Gasquet was not impressed by Roger’s 8-1 H2H. The loss shows once more than Roger doesn’t really “own” anybody anymore. The turning point was when Roger dropped serve while leading with a break at 4-3 in the second set. I sensed Roger was going to lose. He went too often to Gasquet’s strength, his backhand, and got burned. From that game, Gasquet lifted his performance and played like he believed he could win. For Roger, both tie-breaks (in the second and third sets) showed a lack of confidence and conviction. The shanks reappeared and his fate was sealed.

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  8. Not much positive to say. He simply failed to close Gasquet out when he had the advantage. On the other hand, Gasquet had beaten him before, when he was #1 in the world, and then too on clay.

    Gasquet is extremely talented, perhaps as talented as Federer, his problem is consistency. Every so often he will play an amazing match and this time Federer was on the receiving end. I remember he had Murray on the ropes at Wimbledon and RG, only to blow a two sets to none lead on both occasions. But in best of three sets, a two set lead is enough to win.

    I just hope Federer can make at least semis at RG. Early round upsets like this one will be far less likely in the best of five format. But at the moment he’s probably not in good enough form to win the title.

    He must have full confidence in his game plan to have a prayer of winning. That I have not seen so far this season. He seems to be a little unsure what he wants to do out there on court. I think that is due more to the adjustments he is attempting to make, than anything else.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah no chance of winning the FO. Semis for him would be like winning it at this point.

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  9. Here’s Djokovic’s doctor, Igor Cetojevic, a “nutritionist,” blowing kisses to Djokovic during the final. I believe Djoko is getting sloppy and greedy. At least Nadal would cycle down on occasion. Suspicions are very much aroused. And his in-your-face demeanor is not helping him. Strange that Uncle Toni almost seems a class act compared to these clowns. And Djokovic’s father with the “streak” on his T-shirt. Oy vey. As someone said Nadal and Djokovic are turning tennis into the WWF.

    I do think these two could self-destruct. Roger is still the best clean tennis player in the world.

    http://pds22.egloos.com/pds/201105/16/74/c0021374_4dd08014b5d39.gif

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