Revenge is sweet. This was not quite JesusFed but a very good performance it was nonetheless. Roger thoroughly avenged the Wimbledon and Montreal losses. Tsonga was not as impressive as in those two matches, but only because Roger raised his game and didn’t allow Tsonga into the match. At Wimbledon Roger also won the first two sets and Tsonga had no hope. But then Roger dropped serve and Tsonga got a confidence boost. This time he did not make that mistake. I stand by my earlier comments that Roger was to blame for the Wimbledon loss, and I don’t agree with those who said that Tsonga just started playing better and that there wasn’t much Roger could do. When you have a guy down two sets to love you gotta finish him off, and we have seen too often in recent times how Roger allows an opponent to come back into the match.
Last night there was a hunger and a drive to finish Tsonga off which we have been missing. Tsonga kept threatening to come back but Roger was not going to allow it. The first signs of this was early on when Tsonga broke Roger back after the rain delay. When the players first came on Roger got the early break to take a 2-1 lead. Roger went down 0-15 on serve and the first rain of the day started. Since rain was predicted for the day and it did not rain all day it was not really a surprise when it started. It was a pretty long delay but thankfully there was lots of time left and the rain ceased. It would have been a real shame if the match was rained out, in which case Roger would have lost his advantage over the bottom half of the draw. When they came back on court Roger quickly went 40-15 up, but then to my great annoyance lost serve.
It seemed that he let the rain break get to him and he lost his early momentum. Just what he didn’t need. But thank God he got the break again to take a 5-4 lead and held serve to win the first set. In the second set Roger got the break again to lead 2-1, and then got an insurance break to lead 4-1. Tsonga got one break back however and was threatening to get back in the set. But at 5-3 Roger broke Tsonga again to win the second set. Roger was back in the position he was at Wimbledon with a two set lead. Everyone was looking for Tsonga to mount another comeback. At 4-3 in the third I was calling for Roger to break again which would have effectively ended Tsonga’s hopes. As if Roger heard me he proceeded to break Tsonga, but only after wasting several break points. This time he was not gonna let Tsonga off the hook.
Once again Roger’s serve was pretty much the key, as he had a 72% first serve percentage. Roger had one more unforced errors than winners, which shows he wasn’ quite in JesusFed mode. But the real key was his attitude I feel. It is that attitude of wanting to win at all costs and not letting anything break his concentration. Despite his immense talent and skill I feel this is the most important factor for him to be successful. This is the factor that has been missing in the latter part of his career and the reason for him having some key losses in my opinion. People keep going on about tactics and changing his game. There is no problem with that and it’s all good. He does need to make some adjustments as he ages and the pack catches up with him. But all too often I have felt in his losses that he goes away mentally and the hunger and drive is not quite there anymore.
Roger is so talented that if that drive is there then his game is still better than everyone. We saw it at the French Open and we are seeing it at the US Open. So although I feel that tactics can play a roll, I think the mental mindset is the main factor. He did not have problems with power players in his prime did he? And we saw what he did to Tsonga last night. Roger will now face Djokovic in the semis as we expected. I have no doubt that Roger can be victorious. I feel like Roger is playing near his best again and when that was the case he was always able to beat Djokovic. Djokovic is on another level these days though and I do feel like JesusFed will have to show up again. That would be the level he showed against Monaco. Roger did not need to play his absolute best against Tsonga so I was happy with his level.
But he needs to lift it a notch to beat Djokovic I feel. Tipsarevic took a set off Djokovic before he had to withdraw in the fourth set. All the more reason Roger could beat Djokovic. I feel like Roger will play the level that is needed to beat Djokovic. He just seems to be back in that ‘major mindset’ where he is able beat whoever he needs to. I have already said that JesusFed level is better than anyone, even Djokovic 2.0. We need no more proof of that than the French Open semi this year. My prediction is that Roger will win it in a close four set match again. In the bottom half Nadal and Murray both won in straight sets, while Isner and Roddick won in four sets. The quarter finals of the bottom half is getting played today, while the semis is being played tomorrow. With all the rain the final has once again been postponed to Monday.
This means the bottom half of the draw is having to play three days in a row, while Roger and Djokovic don’t even have to play two days in a row. This is clearly a big advantage. As if Roger is able to make the final he will have an advantage. As far as today’s matches go I am definitely going for Nadal and Murray to win. Nadal looked in better form in the quarters as he man handled Muller. He is starting to look more threatening and the match with Roddick will tell us more about his form. So I am not making any predictions for who will make the final in the bottom half just yet. Anyway if Roger beats Djokovic he will have an advantage over whoever makes the final to face him. It’s great to see Roger in yet another slam semi, but I’d really like to see him win this one. I feel he has a great opportunity here.
If he can beat Djokovic at the French he can definitely do so at the US Open where he has been more successful. This will be the fifth time Roger and Djokovic meets in New York in five years, with Roger having won three of the last four meetings. If Roger beats Djokovic he will be 2-1 against him in slams and remain the only guy who has beaten Djokovic this year. There is a lot at stake.
Post match interview: Roger was asked about the schedule and the rain and he made the point that there needs to be more of a cushion towards the end of the week. The semis and final on two consecutive days was never a good idea. The least they need to do is get rid of ‘Stupid Saturday’. Roger also said that a roof may not be necessary, but I think he was just being nice. I think a roof for a grand slam is becoming standard these days. It is clear that something needs to be done anyway.