I don’t know what is more satisfying, seeing Murray lose before the final or seeing him beaten in another grand slam final by R0ger. But the latter is irrelevant as Murray wasn’t good enough to make the final, and that is probably a blessing in disguise for him. Had he made the final he might just have been blown away like he was in the US Open final last year, judging by Roger’s form today. Either way it was a telling win over the Scot by Roddick today. It was another fantastic day of action at SW19, with the quality of tennis once again being raised from the previous round.
Federer vs Haas
Very high quality match this I thought. Haas played very well indeed, don’t let the scoreline of 7-6(3), 7-5, 6-3 fool you. Roger was simply in god mode today, which is reflected in his best statistics thus far. The first serve percentage was at an exceptional 75%, and he won 89% of those first serve points and 81% on second serve points. The winners outnumbered the unforced errors by 49-15, and on net approaches he was 38/43, which is an 88% success rate. It was just an extremely convincing performance against a very worthy opponent. Haas was looking very dangerous from the start and I thought this could turn out to be a tough one for the five time champ. Yet like a boa constrictor he tightened his grip on Haas the more he struggled to get free. The closest Haas came to taking a set was in the first set tie break, but as we have seen Roger is very clinical when it comes to tie breaks these days.
In the first set there was a couple of ingenious backhand slice lobs from Roger. He actually hit that shot four times in the match and he made some incredible forehand cross court winners on the run as well. He also hit some very crisp volleys which was a sign that he was really feeling confident out there. It’s a part of his game that he doesn’t use much, unless he is feeling extremely confident. I hope to see him volley more because it is another very graceful part of his game to behold. In the second set at 5-4 Roger created a set point on the Haas serve, but Haas weathered the storm. At 6-5 Roger had another break point though, and this time he wouldn’t be denied. At 4-3 and 15-15 in the third set Haas got called for a foot fault on his first serve and it seemed to unnerve him, as he dropped serve.
At 5-3 Roger served out the match to love, putting an exclamation mark on another masterful performance. I must say Roger is getting better with every match, and he really looks lethal at the moment. Another thing that I probably don’t mention enough is Roger’s defense, which is one of the best in the game. His movement is still exceptional and he has incredible control on the run. I mean those slice lobs was really out of this world, two of which turned out to be winners. The forehands on the run was also incredible. Imagine hitting a shot that you thought could win the point for you, only to watch it come back for a winner! Haas said in his post match presser that Roger has no weaknesses, and that he thinks Roddick could possibly get a set off Roger in the final, but no more. I have to concur.
Roger in this form against someone who he has a 18-2 career record against, is now very close to a 6th Wimbledon crown and a 15th grand slam title! I mean seriously, how do you beat someone who plays like god? Roger has now made his 7th consecutive Wimbledon final, the first man to do so. He has also made 20 grand slam finals, beating the previous record of Ivan Lendl(19). It doesn’t stop there though. He has made 16 of the last 17 grand slam finals, and today was his 50th match win at Wimbledon. Should he win the title on sunday he will become the first man to 15 grand slam titles, and only the fourth man to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year. With 18 wins in a row he has now strung together his longest winning streak since the summer of 2007, and he is now ominously starting to look like the force he was before the bout with mono.
Presser: Just another great interview with Roger, I really enjoy his interviews. He is always so level headed, taking everything in his stride. I hope you are taking the time to read these interviews because it’s an important part of my post and there are many things in it that I don’t cover.
Roddick vs Murray
As has become almost a tradition at this Wimbledon this year, we had another classic encounter today between Roddick and Murray. It may not have been a five setter, but a very close encounter nonetheless. Roddick was the one who drew first blood when he broke Murray at 5-4 in the opening set. Murray hit right back however by breaking Roddick in the first game of the second set, and held on to take the second set by the same score. In the third set he had a chance to deal Roddick another decisive blow when he held break points at 40-0 on Roddick’s serve, but Roddick saved all three break points, the third one with a gutsy volley that left Murray stranded on the base line. For me this was a big turning point in the match.
If Murray had broken there he would have carried on the momentum of the second set, and would have been hard to stop. Yet Roddick somehow held on and he then managed to break Murray’s serve at 2-1. At 5-3 he was serving for the set but tightened up while Murray broke back. Great drama. Both players continued to hold serve until the tie break where they traded set points, Roddick finally taking it 9-7. In the third set Murray held a break point at 4-3, but could not capitalize. Murray managed to save one match point at 6-4 in the tie break, but Rodick finally advanced on his second match point, sinking to his knees in disbelief. As you can see it was another roller coaster ride with many twists and turns. It kind of puts into perspective how well Hewitt was playing as well.
But hats off to Roddick who now goes through to his third Wimbledon final and fifth grand slam final. He has really reinvented himself this year as I keep saying. His serve was once again exceptional, but he is now more then just a powerful serve. Under Larry Stefanki he has improved in all aspects of the game. He is really looking to rip those forehands now, and his backhand is much more solid then it used to be. Even his net game has improved, and of course he is physically in prime shape. Here is a nice article about how Roddick turned things around since the same time last year:
In the end maybe the pressure just got to Murray a bit, while Roddick really played a fantastic match. Murray will have his chances again, but I think this year was just a little premature for him to win the title and maybe his easy draw finally came back to hurt him. He still needs to deal better with the pressure and as long as Roger is around he will struggle to win the title for Britain. I mean if he can’t even beat Roddick how will he beat Roger?! I was kinda hoping Murray would make the final, but since Roddick beat him he must be the better player, and you want the two best players in the final. Sorry Muzza, I’m afraid The Empire was too strong for you this time around.
So we are finally down to the championship match, and another Federer/Roddick final it shall be. The Federer/Roddick rivalry has been quite one sided to say the least, but we know Roddick can’t be underestimated, especially not with the way he’s been playing throughout the championships. But judging by Roger’s form, Roddick will need all the confidence he can get to even stand a chance of winning a set.
I will be back with my final preview tomorrow. C0ngrats to Roger on his 20th grand slam final!