I really thought Roger would win this match. And after playing well for a set and half it looked like he would do just that. But I should have known better. The Roger of these days are not guaranteed to win any match, even if he is a set and a break up. After being a break up in the second he dropped serve. At 4-4 he was up 40-15 on Gasquet’s serve again, but failed to break. By failing to put Gasquet away, he allowed him to gain confidence. Then it was down to two tie breaks where Roger failed to impress. I say this again and again, but it comes back to Roger’s lack of mental fortitude. In the old days he would have put Gasquet away and it would have been an easy straight set victory. His lack of mental fortitude also showed in the tie breaks, where he used to have a very good record. If you look at his game itself there is really very little wrong.
It was a high quality match in which both players hit more winners than unforced errors. This is all a mental thing. He doesn’t have that killer instinct anymore which he needs to put players away. We have seen this time and time again. He is losing to players these days that he once owned. But that is just part of aging I guess. Another mistake that Roger made in this match was to go too often to Gasquet’s backhand, which is his strong side. Another mental mistake. In Roger’s presser he was still optimistic, as you would expect. He said that he is happy to have some extra days off before Paris, and that Gasquet has always been a good player. But optimism does nothing to obscure the facts. Roger’s lack of mental fortitude is clear for everyone to see. I really hoped he could make at least semis here and test Nadal again.
Now he hasn’t really convinced me that he is having a better clay court season than last year. He doesn’t go into Paris with an awful lot of confidence either. I don’t care about the extra days of rest that he has either. He would have been better off getting another couple of wins under the belt going into Paris. He is showing more vulnerability with this loss, which will not go unnoticed with the players. I don’t expect him to do better in Paris now than he did last year. If he gets past the quarters then great, but I’m not gonna allow myself to be disappointed again. And again, the problem is not that he is playing bad. His strokes and everything is fine. But as soon as someone shows up in the early rounds of the French Open that plays a particularly good match, I doubt he has the mental fortitude anymore to come through it.
I guess that is the difference between the old and the new Roger. When the old Roger ran into an opponent that was in the zone on a given day, he would still win. These days he just hasn’t got that confidence anymore. So I think Roger can make at least quarters at the French Open, unless he runs into an opponent who is on fire on a given day. Then his quarter final streak may even be broken. Elsewhere in the draw both Nadal and Djokovic had easy wins. It looks like another Nadal/Djokovic final. It is always disappointing when Roger loses, because it makes the rest of the event less interesting to view. With Roger’s lack of form these days, I am reduced to being interested in the demise of Nadal. I am now looking forward to another final with the two best players in the world, where hopefully Djokovic will take the silverware again.