Getting better isn’t he? This was as close to a JesusFed performance as I’ve seen in a long time. I was gonna call this a JesusFed performance until Roger missed opportunities to break Mannarino at 5-1 in the 3rd set and hand out another bakery product. Roger was looking really good out there but he just could not finish the match like JesusFed would. It doesn’t matter though. Roger wants to play a little better with every match and that is what he has been doing. If he keeps doing that JesusFed will show up in the next match and we may even see a God-like performance against Nadal. He would certainly need that if he wants to beat Nadal. But still a long way to go. First things first. I did not like Roger’s outfit, even though I loved the way he played. The color of the shorts for his evening outfit is a big fashion blunder.
I comment on this because I have a good sense of style and I like wearing stylish clothes myself. Roger has always been great in that department, but the outfit was a disaster. The shorts could have been either white or black. Both would have worked much better than the ugly blue he had on. It just didn’t work at all with the shirt. But the way he played was far more important. Roger set up a break point at 2-1 with a beautiful backhand pass on the rise, which he converted with a forehand return winner that only caught the edge of Mannarino’s racquet. That was one of the features of his play; the way he looked to attack the serve. That is something that I have been talking about a lot and it’s good to see he is changing his mindset on it. Case in point the backhand return winner he hits on the first point at 4-1 in the 1st set.
I just love the way he stepped into the backhand. Yes it is Mannarino and it was a second serve, but it is the intention that matters. I thought Mannarino was playing as well as he could, but still losing the first set by a break took the wind out of his sails a bit, while Roger just stepped it up a notch and bageled him in the second set. I knew this was going to just about be a good practice session anyway. Mannarino doesn’t have any weapons to bother Roger. He is also left-handed which may have helped Roger with a possible Fedal quarter final ahead. Other than the forehand of Nadal that goes cross court into Roger’s one-handed backhand, the lefty slice serve on the ad court is very awkward as well. That is a very difficult serve to make an aggressive return off of. It keeps getting away from the backhand of the right-hander all the time. I noticed that again against Mannarino, but it is the same for the right-hander serving to the deuce court against the left-hander.
From the front the outfit doesn’t actually look that bad
I’m trying not to keep bringing up the potential Fedal quarter final because it is not a reality yet, but I can’t help thinking he needs to use that slice serve on the deuce court against Nadal by slowing the serve down and getting it out really wide to Nadal’s backhand. There is really nothing he can do to that serve but chip it back, and then Roger has to be waiting at the net for the put away volley. Anyway the bagel in the second set tasted sweet. Roger was putting on a masterclass out there while Mannarino was a spectator. Another thing that I was very impressed with was Roger’s volleying. He just looked to feel the ball very well out there on the volley. He didn’t rush any volleys and just looked very relaxed and confident in that area. Good signs. The stats also reflects Roger’s masterful net play because he was 19/24 in the fore court.
In the 3rd set Roger continued his brilliant play and the 2 points he plays at 30-40 and deuce at 1-5 was brilliant. The forehand winner was as good as he hits them while the same goes for the angled backhand winner. Roger then had match point but missed the easy forehand down the line. I think he missed another match point there with a wild shot, which is why I could not quite award the JesusFed performance. But a very encouraging performance nonetheless. The first serve percentage was a solid 57% while the break point conversion rate of 6/14 was solid again too. It makes a big difference when he actually takes initiative on the return, doesn’t it? I don’t want to get overly excited about this match however, because he played against someone who is more like a good practice partner than an opponent.
I mean he just hits everything back nice and flat and doesn’t do anything to take Roger out of his comfort zone. I do however sense a difference in Roger since Cincinnati. Things are starting to click again, and the hunger is back. Roger now faces Robredo who is from his generation and who he has played on 10 occasions and never lost to. So judging from history at least this should be another win for Roger. Robredo is another player who doesn’t have much to hurt Roger with. He is basically just a solid base line grinder. He had a good 4 set win over Evans in the last round, who may not have been a bad opponent for Roger since he is more of an attacking player. But Robredo is much more experienced so probably a better test for Roger at this point. It will be another opportunity for Roger to sharpen his tools for the quarter finals.
Things are looking up
Robredo will be solid from the base line and provide the opportunity for Roger to sharpen his attacking game further with an eye on a possible meeting with Nadal. He will clearly need to be at his attacking best against Nadal and Robredo will offer a bit more resistance than Mannarino. Robredo doesn’t have a huge serve either so there will be more opportunity for Roger to really jump on his second serve especially. Hopefully it will be a JesusFed performance so that he goes into the Nadal match with maximum confidence. There are no guarantees though so we will just have to wait and see. Nadal had a tougher time against Dodig winning 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, but Dodig is a tough opponent and have beaten Nadal before. Nadal won’t face Isner either because Isner lost to Kohlschreiber. Isner had break points in the 4th set but his camp pissed Kohlschreiber off and made Kohlschreiber play better.
If I was Isner I wouldn’t be very happy with my camp for not being able to shut up. Kohlschreiber is a dangerous opponent but he has the same problem as Roger against Nadal with the one-handed backhand. But it wasn’t like Isner was going to beat Nadal anyway. That was just a hopeless prayer of Fedfans who doesn’t believe in their own player. As far as Murray and Djokovic goes they are both sailing smoothly through their draw and raising their game for the US Open as expected. Hewitt of course caused one of the biggest upsets when he defeated Del Potro and he won today as well. This means Djokovic will potentially have an easier quarter final while Murray will have to deal with Berdych who is looking very good himself. Either way the big 4 is looking the best and it just feels good to say that after Roger’s struggles this year.