After my last post there is something I have to set right. You know I am always very optimistic about Roger, but after I saw him play in Doha and losing for the second time in a short period to someone he has owned in the past, I lost heart. It was not just the fact that he lost, but the way in which he lost. After Roger’s match against Gulbis in the quarter-finals, he was complaining about the cold and the fact that he had some problem with his right arm. Also against Davydenko he was rubbing his arm as if something was wrong. That could also explain why he was hitting his backhand so badly, because I have never seen it that bad. Thanks to one of my readers who reminded me that Roger was having problems with his arm in the match against Davydenko.
I guess I want Roger to win the Australian Open so badly that I started thinking with my emotions and not my head. The thing with Roger is that he never uses excuses, and that is one of the reasons we like him so much. Remember the beginning of last year where I speculated endlessly what was wrong with Roger, only to find out after his return to form that he had a back problem? This is the way of the GOAT. He does not make excuses. He only waited until he was playing well again before he let the cat out of the bag. I suspect the same thing is going on now. I don’t see it being as much a problem as it was last year though. I don’t think there is any serious injury. It’s more a case of Roger getting a little older and taking more time to warm up, and the cold weather in Doha didn’t assist him.
Apparently he has said in Blick, which is a German website, that he is happy to be in the heat in Australia now, and that he is optimistic about his chances. If this was just a question of the weather and not being able to warm up, then this will certainly be no problem in the heat Down Under. And if he had a strain on his arm, then he has enough time now to sort that out before the first major of the year gets under way. I guess I was blinded by my disappointment, but there is no way Roger can play as badly as he did against Davydenko without having a physical problem. Therefor I’m feeling optimistic about Roger’s chances again. We have seen Roger winning majors before after not being in great form in the run up to the event, so the loss against Davydenko is all of a sudden not that big a deal.
Roger’s supreme fitness and experience in the majors has to now make him one of the favorites to triumph Down Under once more. I said in my previous post that I think the top four favorites are Roger, Rafa, Davydenko, and Del Potro. I will narrow that down to Roger and Rafa now. Both their fitness over five sets and proven track record in the majors has to tip the scale in their favor once more. Rafa has to be up there with Roger because he is after all the defending champ, and he showed he is close to his best again in his match against Davydenko. Also the slower court surface Down Under helps him a lot. It just gives him that extra time to run down the ground strokes of the powerful hitters, and he has more time to hit those spinning forehands.
Del Potro and Davydenko will still be serious threats I think, but neither of them is as experienced over the five set format as Roger and Rafa, especially in the heat Down Under. I think Roger will be working hard now in Melbourne and when it’s time for the action to start, he will be ready. I expect him to step it up once more for the major, and come semi-final time I expect him to be there too. From there on things will start getting interesting. He could really face anyone of the top 8 except Rafa. I don’t care who it is. Whether it be Del Potro, Davydenko, Djokovic or Murray, he would still be my favorite to make the final. Can we finally have another Fedal dream final? I would love to see that, with Roger overturning the result of last year. Having said that, the gap seems to be closing between Fedal and the rest of the field…