You will see that Roger faces the winner of Isner and Kubot in his first match. Probably you would expect Isner to win that one. Isner made semi-finals in Tokyo where he lost to Djokovic, so he looks to be in decent form. If Isner wins he will be a test for Roger in his first match back since the US Open loss to Djokovic. It’s not exactly the first match you want after a four week layoff, but then again you can’t always expect to have them easy. I’d like to see Roger win this match, or else he would have gone all the way to the East just to lose his first match and his year end campaign would have gotten off to the worst possible start. If he wins his first match he will probably face Cilic. Cilic has been very disappointing this year and you would like Roger’s chances there. If he wins he will face either Ferrer or Soderling most probably.
Ferrer is in the finals of Beijing this week, while we all know how dangerous Soderling can be. Soderling hasn’t been in great form of late however, and was actually beaten comprehensively by Ferrer in Beijing. If Roger manages to get past that hurdle, he could face either Berdych, Djokovic, Monfils, or Roddick in the semi-finals. That is another tough section of the draw. I think Djokovic is going to defend his title in Beijing today and looks to be in good form still. So I think he is most likely to make the semi-final stage. This means we could have a potential US Open semi-final rematch with a chance of redemption for Roger. Looking at the top half of the draw, Nadal and Murray has got it much easier. With Murray nothing is certain these days, as he was destroyed again by Ljubicic in Tokyo. But you would expect Nadal to make the final again.
Speaking of the world number one, he won Tokyo today when he beat Monfils 6-1, 7-5 in the final. Even though he lost in the semi’s of Bangkok and barely beat Troicki in the semi’s of Tokyo, his win today still makes him the man to beat. Also, Shanghai is outdoors, so Nadal will be right at home. He has Davydenko in his quarter who actually has a winning record against him, but Davydenko’s injuries has cost him dearly. It’s a shame because he is the one guy who could really trouble the world number one. The other player who could trouble Nadal, Del Potro, is out until the end of the season after a failed comeback in Bangkok and Tokyo. It is now up to the rest of the top four to stop Nadal. Murray can do it on hard court if he is playing well and Roger and Djokovic also have a chance. But Roger has a lot of work to do if he is to make the final.
I hope the optimism and confidence he has shown in his interviews so far will prove to be the real deal. I must say I enjoyed the way he talked. When he says things like he can still beat anyone when he is playing well or even dominate anyone(adding that he is not trying to be arrogant), it makes me happy. Especially the part about not being arrogant. That shows me his is really up for it. It shows me he is hungry and really wants to assert himself once more. If Roger is harboring hopes of getting back to number one again then this is a good opportunity to really make up some points on Nadal. Next year from April to September Roger will have a decent shot at regaining the number one spot if he has good results. Nadal has 9000 points to defend during that period. To give you and idea of how fast things can change, Roger has only 235 points to defend between the Aussie Open and Madrid.
So I’d like to see Roger already start making up some ranking points now because he is currently about 5500 point behind Nadal. Finishing the year ranked in the top two will be another big motivation for him. He is playing two more events than last year and should be very fresh compared to previous years. I’m surprised that Nadal is playing so much on the other hand. It can’t be great for his knees and his body in the long run to do these three-week stints. But this is good news for Roger because Nadal will threaten him and his records in the years to come if he stays healthy. As far as when Roger plays goes, it will be either Tuesday or Wednesday. Like I said, this will be a test of Roger’s confidence but if he wants to dominate he must start dominating these smaller events again. He needs consistently good results in these events, not just in the slams. Make us proud Rog!
I just found an interview with Roger which LaRubia has translated on RF.com HERE. It’s a great interview and I’m always very grateful to the members at Roger’s forum for translating. I’m liking more and more what I’m hearing from Roger. He is confident that he can still beat Nadal and he feels it’s about time he shows he can still do it. He also talks about the Davis Cup and it is clear that he cares a lot about his country and he still wants to play Davis Cup. He says that he will talk with Stammbach and that they will find a solution. I just love how he makes what could be a very complicated situation seem pretty simple. For me it seems obvious that Davis Cup should be played every two years and not every year, like they do with the Ryder Cup in golf. That way it would be more special and it would put less pressure on the players with their schedules.