I know Roger is not the kind of person that seeks revenge, but this win felt pretty good after what happened at the French Open this year. It has to be said that the wind played a pretty big part in this match. When I saw how hard the wind was blowing I thought Soderling would have problems with his big swings and high ball toss on the serve, and that is how it turned out. Soderling struggled with his first serve and often took a lot of pace off it. He couldn’t hit those stinging ground strokes the way he would have in windless conditions. Roger on the other hand took advantage of the conditions and served especially well. He hit 18 aces and made 62% of his first serve which was very impressive in the blustery conditions. He also hit more than twice the amount of winners Soderling did from the base line.
But maybe the most pleasing stat was the break points conversion rate which was 5/6. This is something Roger has been having problems with and shows me that his confidence is up again. That said, the wins helped a whole lot. I’m not sure if Roger have figured this type of player out yet. There was several base line rallies where he went toe to toe with Soderling and tried to outhit him. For me this is a brainless tactic. But at the same time there were times when he did change up the pace with drop shots or slices. One thing that has become clear to me is that you can’t give these kind of guys any rhythm from the back of the court. A play that I noticed works well against Soderling is to hit the short backhand slice for which he then has to move forward and can’t hit an attacking shot from. Then from his reply Roger went hard up the line with his forehand.
This won him quite a few points because it breaks up Soderling’s rhythm. So the way I see it he must alternate between taking of the pace and really ripping it. This way Soderling can’t settle into any rhythm. Also hitting the drop shot and then following it to the net works well because Soderling doesn’t like being at the net. Roger started doing this in the third set and won the point almost every time. He also lobbed Soderling successfully after bringing him in. These are all ways of taking Soderling out of his rhythm instead of stubbornly going toe to toe with him from the base line which he just loves. And then obviously the serve was key which is more effective on these courts than on the clay of Rolland Garros. So in the end I think Roger would have won anyway, but the wind certainly made it easier.
At the beginning of the match there was some controversy when Roger challenged a call from a shot from him that was called out. It turned out to be in, and after Roger talked to the umpire the point was awarded to him, even though Soderling could possibly have gotten a racquet on the ball. This made Soderling mad and as far as I could make out he told Roger sarcastically ‘Do you want it?’ This incident seemed to put Soderling off and Roger broke in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead. That proved enough to bag him the first set. After this he also hit 12 consecutive serve winners in a row in his next 3 service games. At 2-2 in the second set Soderling was leading 40-0 in a service game and missed an easy overhead. That proved to be costly as Roger broke him in that game and held on to win the second set.
In the third set Soderling was more competitive and lead 5-3. It looked like Roger could lose his first set of the tournament, but he played another great return game to break back. Two games later he broke again, and at 6-5 he served it out to love with two consecutive aces to end it in style. It was a convincing performance, even considering that the win helped him. This will send a strong message to the rest of the field. He will now play against Djokovic who beat Monfils comfortably in straight sets. This will be the 4th consecutive year they meet at the US Open having met in one final and two semi-finals, all of which Roger won of course. Djokovic is playing well but I don’t see him upsetting Roger. He can get a set but that’s about it. If Roger keeps serving the way he has throughout this event this will be his 6th US Open title.
These courts just suits his game better than any other surface. He should really have had six consecutive title was it not for a lapse in concentration when he was up a set and a break last year in the final. There has been a lot made of Rafa’s serve of late. It is quite amazing how he has improved his serve speed and he has not been broken in the tournament so far. But on the other hand he hasn’t faced any really tough competition. As far as the aces go he is not even in the top ten while Roger is at number two. I don’t think the pace of Rafa’s serve would bother someone like Roger much. Even though Rafa’s serve is faster than Roger’s now, Roger still has the best serve, especially on these courts. It is just incredibly accurate and gets him many free points. Today Rafa will play against Verdasco. I’m pretty interested to see how that goes.
Roger attended Fashion’s Night Out two days ago (Source)
I hope Verdsaco can get off to a good start and really show some belief the way he did against Rafa in the Australian Open when they played that amazing semi-final. Rafa’s draw is almost a joke and I would like to see him tested once at least. I just hope Verdasco doesn’t roll over they way he often does against Rafa. As far as the Youzhny/Wawrinka match goes I find that hard to call. It has just started so I’m about to go watch. Just one more thing and that is that Brad Gilbert apparently said that Roger is out of the GOAT discussion if he loses to Rafa in the final. So basically he is saying the same thing as Agassi now. Amazing what these so called experts can come up with to suit their own agendas. This will just make it all the much sweeter if Roger wins this event, which you would think has a very good chance to do now.
Soderling with his usual entertainment: