As you can see Roger did decide to play Rome in the end, as he said after he lost in Madrid that he wasn’t yet sure if he would. I’m glad to see he did decide to play. It would have been strange if he did not play after planning such a full clay court schedule and then hardly playing any matches before the French Open. He didn’t exactly get the easiest draw again. Here it is:
We already know Cuevas can play on clay. Anderson or Kohlschreiber is not that tough and you’d expect Roger to get through that. Then Berdych is the second toughest guy to get from seeds 5-8 after Nishikori, but the way he is playing right now he is almost the same level as Nishikori. And of course we know Berdych has been a difficult opponent for Roger in the past. As I’ve told a reader, making semis here would be an achievement in itself for Roger. In his current form, you’d have to believe he has a decent shot though.
A Fedal Semi-Final?
Since Fedal is in the same half there is a possibility they will meet in the semi-final, the same as Madrid. But I was skeptical that they would play in Madrid and they never did. I am slightly less skeptical than I was in Madrid, but Berdych could easily defeat Roger. Nadal, I expect to make semis, given he is again in Stan’s quarter. Nadal has Isner in his third round, but the clay in Rome is probably too slow for Isner to have a chance. As far as I’m concerned the Fedal rivalry is dead anyway.
It had its moments…
There is nothing left to see there, and I don’t think Roger would be particularly keen on playing Nadal. This was probably the kind of draw he did not hope for after deciding to play Rome. But it is what it is and he now has to make the best of it. At the very least he should try to win two matches to get some more wins before the French. Beating Berdych would be a confidence boosting win too. So he really should try to make semis after the form he showed in the Istanbul final and in Madrid.
Overall Thoughts on the Draw
I’m not particularly impressed with this draw. You have Fedal in the same half again and then you have the Djoker and Nishikori in the same quarter, together with Kyrgios. Why is Nishikori not in Nadal’s quarter? Or Berdych? Or Ferrer? Or Kyrgios? I guess the winner of the Djoker and Nishikori will win the tournament, but you can’t count Nadal out either. But what happens in Rome could also depend on what happens in Madrid, which is what I will get to next.
Nishikori Looking Lethal in Madrid
Now an update on what has been going on in Madrid and Nishikori just smashed local favorite Ferrer 6-4, 6-2 in a masterful clay court performance. It was delightful to see how he looked in complete control with the rampant Madrid crowd behind Ferrer. In the second set, it looked like he was toying with Ferrer as he broke serve twice. I like Nishikori’s on-court demeanor too. He seems very confident and mentally strong, and nothing phases him too much.
The semi-final line-up tomorrow is a good one because Nadal will play against a renewed Berdych while Nishikori will play against a renewed Murray. Both Murray and Berdych have gotten their acts together this year after struggling in 2014. Murray is second in the ATP race and Berdych is just behind him in third place. As I predicted, Dimitrov folded like a cheap tent against a Nadal who is still not impressing, losing 6-3, 6-4. Then Berdych had quite the impressive victory over Isner after losing the first set, winning 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(1).
The final set tie break was especially impressive. I like this version of Berdych much better and he actually has a chance of beating Nadal tomorrow. It won’t be easy against the home crowd, but Berdych seems much better mentally lately, and of course he got that straight set win over Nadal in Melbourne this year. He was also impressive in the Monte Carlo final against the Djoker. It looks like his coach Vallverdu is doing a fine job. Given the altitude which favors his big-hitting game he must surely have a very decent chance of winning tomorrow.
I gotta say I’m quite happy with what I saw today. Nadal may have had a cakewalk draw so far but if Nishikori makes the final he will have two more very tough matches. Like I said Nishikori plays Murray who had quite an impressive 6-4, 7-5 win over Raonic himself. Murray is suddenly a real factor on clay, but I’d still have to go with Nishikori. Either way we have two very good matchups tomorrow and if Nadal is gonna win this title at least it looks like he will have to deserve it!