There was something in Roger’s interviews since he came to Shanghai that told me he means business, and today he did not disappoint. This was JesusFed. No doubt about it. I haven’t see Roger look this sharp since at least the Australian Open. He held serve to love in the first game in 47 seconds and never looked in any trouble throughout the match. This is as sharp as I’ve seen him. The forehand was absolutely lethal, hardly making any unforced errors from that side and clipping winner after winner. This was the Roger of old. He ended with 30 winners and 9 unforced errors. They don’t come much cleaner than that. The serve was reliable as always and Roger had little trouble in dealing with Isner’s massive serve. Also, Roger kept it nice and aggressive, always looking to put Isner under pressure. But really the thing that stood out was that lethal forehand.
Love the shirt. Almost identical to the court color. (Source)
He hit it high over net, yet very accurately. He didn’t go for more than he needed to either. It is that perfect balance of controlled power which is basically impossible to deal with. The most impressive thing to me is that this was his first match in 4 weeks, yet he looked like he spent no time away from competition whatsoever. This is like the Federer of old who has so much confidence in his own abilities that he doesn’t need matches to be match fit. Roger now plays against Seppi, who seems to have beaten Cilic and Lu in one day. Too much confusion for me. Anyway, Seppi should be a breeze for Roger. Then either Ferrer or Soderling will be waiting for him. And again, with Roger in this form I don’t see any of those two stopping him. I don’t want to look too far ahead but I think Roger will have a good chance to avenge his loss to Djokovic at the US Open in the semis here.
Nadal also had a convincing 6-4, 6-4 win against Wawrinka today. Who knows, we may even have a scarce Fedal final here. Either way, if Roger keeps up this form he’ll have a great shot at winning this event. I have heard a certain determination is his interviews that I have not heard from him in a while. It reminds me of that time when he said he can still rattle Nadal, and then went on to smash him in the final of Madrid. He said in an interview in Shanghai that he thinks it’s about time he shows he can still beat Nadal. He also said that he can still beat anyone on a good day and even dominate anyone. Well he made good on those words today when he dominated Isner. I have learned over the years that Roger doesn’t do much small talk. When he says something he means it. So I’m not really surprised he has come out looking this good.
As if Roger’s didn’t look good enough today, he slipped another tweener in there. It wasn’t a clean winner this time, but it’s amazing the consistency with which he makes these tweeners anyway. Here it is: