Well it turned out to be one too much for Roger. I really thought he was going to make short work of Murray, but it turned out to be the other way around. I actually overslept most of this match and I’m glad I did. Roger’s evil twin totally spoiled this one for me. As a former tennis player myself I can sympathize. It’s tough to play a match and your game just ins’t there. No matter what you do you just spray unforced errors all over the place. Nothing is working. On those days you have to try everything to get your game back, but sometimes it just isn’t there. I’m not going to be hard on Roger this time. I was hard on him right after the match, seeing how he can go from god mode to bum mode in less than 24 hours. It really is very frustrating. But if I am hard on him now I would actually be contradicting myself.
I said a while ago when Roger decided to work with Annacone that we need to give it some time. Considering what a confidence crises Roger was going through in the middle of the year I happen to think that things have actually been going pretty well. The first event back was Montreal where Roger avenged Berdych and beat Djokovic to reach the final. Then it was Cincy where he won the event and avenged Baghdatis. However, he did not face any top ten opponents there. At the US Open he avenged Soderling but came up short in the semi’s to Djokovic after having match points. At least he was back in grand slam semi’s though, even though he should really have won that match. And today he lost in the final of Shanghai, again to Murray. Even though it was a very disappointing performance in the final, the way he played up until the final was the best I’ve seen since he started working with Annacone.
There is cause for feeling hopeful. The matches against Isner and Djokovic in particular was the old dominant Roger. I think this event has been the highest quality tennis from him what we have seen since the Australian Open, bar the match against Murray of course. He just couldn’t put in one more great performance. In hindsight I was probably expecting a bit too much. Roger went though a big confidence crises in the middle of the year and it will take more time to get back to his very best. I feel he is getting very close though. Looking back, this year was a similar situation than in 2008 when Roger had mono. This time it was the lung infection. He was totally dominant at the Australian Open, after which his form took a serious dive. It had to be the trip to Africa and the lung infection. I don’t see how else his form could have taken a dip like that.
And if we look back to 2008, it took a long time for Roger to finally get out of that dip. Even after he won the US Open that year, he still struggled during the year end and lost in the final of the Australian Open in 2009. Only when the clay season started did we really see Roger get back to his dominant best. But at least the lung infection was not as bad as the mono and it won’t take as long to find form again. In fact I think he found his form this week. The loss to Murray in the final is a minor in the bigger picture. I think overall this was a very positive week. Roger has showed me that he is back to his best. He just needs to do it more consistently now. He has two events coming up now of which he will have a very good chance of winning in Stockholm and Basel. That will give him more time to work on his consistency, and when Paris and the Masters Cup comes around he will have a chance to test himself against the very best once more.
At the moment he can have wins over the very best, but he is not doing so consistently in one event. He couldn’t beat Soderling and Djokovic in succession at the US Open, and already he has been able to do that in Shanghai. The true test is to beat top four players in succession. He must be able to bring his A+ game in successive matches. This is what he needs to do to prove he is back to his best and to win one of these big events. It’s one thing to win a Masters Series event without facing top 10 opponents, but it’s something altogether different to beat consecutive top four opponents. If you look at Murray’s draw it has been a joke, which is why I don’t rate his performance very highly. Roger actually beat more good players. If he had Murray’s draw he probably would have won the event as well.
I’m looking forward to the Masters Cup because that will be the true test. There he will face quality opposition every match and there won’t be much of a chance for a drop in form. If he wins the Masters Cup it will really be good for his confidence. To sum up, I think it was a positive week for Roger and he is now close to being back to his dominant best, even though the final today was a major disappointment. Lets remain positive. I don’t want to believe the good times are a thing of the past, no matter how much the critics keep writing Roger off.