Not a bad result in the end, was it? Dropping a set was never going to be ideal, unless of course Roger came back to triple bread stick Granollers for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 victory. This morning I was woken up by my cat at the window wanting to come inside, and that was just after Roger dropped the first set. So my first thought was here we go again. But after seeing the way Roger came back in God mode in the last three sets I was very satisfied. Not that I watched much. My connection was really bad and I had to go to work anyway. Then later I caught the highlights and loved what I saw. This was of course a day match and there was a rain delay at 2-5 in the first set. When they stepped back on court Roger lost only four more games. Roger said in his presser that the wind affected him quite a bit and that the conditions slowed down when they stepped back on court too.
Also Granollers was playing very well at the start. So I think the combination of Granollers’ high level, the wind, and the fact that it was Roger first day match is what cost Roger the first set. Obviously when they came back on court things changed drastically. Granollers couldn’t keep up his high level from before the break and the wind had died down. Roger lost sets against players who were in the zone when he was in his prime too, so this is not a setback for his US Open chances in any way as far as I’m concerned. If anything his form in the last three sets makes me believe more that he can win the title. But it’s way too early to seriously start thinking about that anyway. The match stats for Roger was very good. I don’t see any weakness there. It is good to see Roger making no double faults again because lately there have been some of those creeping into his game.
I think after the break Roger started using his slice and variation very effectively to make things difficult for Granollers. It was just an overall master class with destructive serving, ground strokes, and net play. I mean to triple bread stick a player like Granollers who is top 50 and who has won four ATP titles takes some serious doing. That right there is enough to believe that Roger is back to his best and a serious threat for this title. I don’t want to get ahead of myself but the early signs are promising. Roger said in his presser afterwards that he felt ‘very explosive, quick’. And if you need evidence see the opening point at 1-1 in the second set. Just unbelievable speed and racquet head control from Roger to hit the winner. So everything seems to be working well. I felt like in Toronto and Cincy Roger was playing well but everything hadn’t clicked yet.
Some days his forehand was slightly off, some days his volleys, and maybe other days his backhand. But I feel the title in Cincy just made everything click, and although I haven’t watched a full match from Roger at the Open yet I sense that everything is working well at the same time. Both the backhand and forehand are looking good to me. That is why I so desperately wanted Roger to win Cincy, because it just gave him that winning feeling and edge back right in the nick of time. He also said in his presser that he now feels very comfortable on the hard courts so that should give you another indication. It was an interesting presser overall. Roger gets asked about his level now compared to his peak from 2004-2007 too. He says that his serve and volleys have improved, but that he doesn’t have the same confidence he used to have.
God mode: ON
That confidence aura in his peak I have talked about before and yes confidence is maybe the single most important thing in professional sport. But either way I think it is just terrific what Roger is still doing at this stage of his career. Never mind if he is a better player or not. To me that is besides the point. I just find it fascinating how he adapted over his career by relying more on his serve and improving his net play. He is not as quick as he used to be and he doesn’t have the same stamina, so making those changes was smart. Also changing his racquet and hiring Edberg was big. Roger now plays Bautista-Agut who I have probably said enough about by now. I just don’t rate the guy very highly and if the way Roger ended the match against Granollers is anything to go by he will smash Bautista-Agut.
I mean this guy doesn’t even have a zone level like Granollers did in the first set. The only possible way that Roger can drop a set is if he really sucks. Much has been made of Bautista-Agut winning two titles(not three as I’ve been hearing) this year, but they were Mickey Mouse events and the highest ranked player he beat was Fognini who has zero weapons himself and a nutcase. If Bautista-Agut plays someone with serious fire power, like we know Roger has, then he stands no chance unless that player has a bad day. We know tennis is an unpredictable thing but it’s really hard seeing Roger losing this. Elsewhere Dimitrov won after getting bageled in the first set by Goffin. At a set all and 4-4 in the third set Goffin double faulted on break point and that cost him the match. Dimitrov held serve and bread sticked Goffin in the fourth set.
I was actually disappointed because I am not quite sold on Dimitrov yet. I didn’t like the way he celebrated in Toronto after Anderson made a massive choke and I don’t like the fact that he is dating Sharapova. But that’s just me. He now plays Monfils for a place in the quarters against the winner of Roger and that guy with the long name. Monfils made short work of Gasquet who was once again a big disappointment. That should be an interesting match and chances are that it will be a long match and they tire each other out, which of course would play into Roger’s hands. Especially if he makes short work of the guy with the long name. Then Berdych won easily against Gabashvili as I expected and he looks to be right back on form out of nowhere. I guess he heard he was in Roger’s half of the draw.
He now plays Thiem who had a very good straight set win over Lopez. I like this Thiem. He has a sweet one-handed backhand and I’d rather support him than Dimitrov. He looks like a humble guy too. The match between him and Berdych should be interesting and I hope Thiem wins for various reasons. The big upset was Simon who defeated Ferrer in four sets. You would think that helps Berdych’s chances to make semis. It’s just crazy how Berdych all of a sudden started playing well now that he is in Roger’s half. But you could also say he was due a good performance. I sure wouldn’t be surprised if he makes semis now, but he still has to deal with Thiem and possibly Cilic, which will be tricky opponents. Anyway I don’t care if Roger has to go through Bedych and Djokovic to win the title. It would just make victory all the sweeter.
Smilerer, or Autographerer? Lol!
So we have reached the round of sixteen and today there will be a blockbuster line up which includes Djokovic vs Kohlschreiber, Murray vs Tsonga, Wawrinka vs Robredo, and Nishikori vs Raonic. A great day to be at the grounds if you are in New York. The match that is creating the most interest is probably Murray vs Tsonga but I think they will all be good. The matches are actually tough to call aside from the first one which you would expect Djokovic to win given the form he has been in. I would like Tsonga to win as he would pose a bigger threat to Djokovic I think. I wouldn’t mind Stan winning either as he could also pose a threat to Djokovic if he catches fire. As for Raonic and Nishikori I’d like to see Nishikori win. I’m getting a bit tired of Raonic’s serve botting. Happy viewing!
The sick speed and control:
Post match interview:
First of all it was nice to see the real Darth Fed back with black shoes and black socks. And this time The Force was strong with him as there were no lapses in concentration or third set tie breaks in a routine 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory. The Michael Jordan ‘exho’ was fun and all but it was time to get down to business and make the night his own again. I got up once more for this one but this time my stream was very poor and I had to leave early. It was only when I caught up with the highlights on Youtube that I could get a feel for what was really going on. And again I found myself delighted and impressed with Darth Fed’s play. He has just looked the part so far and I’m sure the title in Cincy did his confidence wonders. Again his backhand was looking like prime level and there were some more moments of pure genius that could only be done by someone who had mastery over The Force.
I mean Darth Vader himself would have been proud. The return at 5-3 and 0-30 was particularly impressive. It reminded me of the return from Darth Fed off a 140 mph monster from Roddick also at the US Open. But this was better in my opinion. Darth Fed off the stretch on his backhand off a 142 mph bomb from Groth, and then the control to just block it back for a scorching winner was ridiculous. Many people will call it luck, but luck explains little. Roger pulls off impossible shots with regularity and calling it luck makes little sense. Then at 5-4 and 15-0 in the second set comes the point of the match where Darth Fed pulls off another miraculous shot where he lobs Groth for a winner on the stretch. The control is just something to marvel at. Finally at 1-1 in the third set and advantage to Groth Darth Fed pulls off another wonderful lob and follows it into the net to finish with a volley winner.
Those were of course not the only moments of brilliance from the mighty Darth Fed but just some I thought worth mentioning. This was the first time I caught a glimpse of Groth and he does indeed have a very powerful serve. The fact that Darth Fed won in straight sets without the need to enter a tie break shows once more that he is probably the best returner of big serves in the world. He just has a lightning fast eye and he blocks those returns back with sublime timing and precision. Groth isn’t just a big serve though. The rest of his game is pretty good. In the first set Darth Fed got the break in the seventh game and at 5-4 he served out the first set to love. Then in the second set Darth Fed had the ideal start as he broke in the opening game, only to get broken right back. As I didn’t watch the match I can’t really comment on how Darth Fed got broken but I don’t see it as a big deal.
What matters to me is that he broke again which he did in the tenth game this time. Darth Fed is the one that then got broken first in the third set in the sixth game, and this time he was the one that broke straight back. I thought that at least this set could head into a tie break but at 4-4 and game point against him Darth Fed hit a terrific little backhand angled chip return winner that got him back in the game, and on break point Groth double faulted. Darth Fed then served out the match to 15 with an ace. I realize I didn’t see much of the match but I still feel there is a certain confidence about Roger’s play that I haven’t see in a very long time. There just seems to be a certain crispness about his strokes. His still backhand looked fantastic and his forehand looked great too. He hit some terrific inside out winners on that side.
He was back…
The serve was in fine shape as always and the winners almost doubled the unforced errors. And this time the break point conversion rate was good. The returns and volleys were great too. For a second round match this was just the performance you would have hoped for. Roger got the match done in under two hours and there were no scares of losing a set. So no mental or physical stress and no unnecessary energy expended. Roger will next play Granollers and not Karlovic as many a Fedfan feared, which was why I picked Granollers as a possible opponent for Roger for the third round in my draw post . Granollers did a good job of beating Karlovic in five sets. Granollers and Roger have played twice before, both times in Dubai and both times with Roger getting the routine win.
I don’t expect anything to be different this time around. So once again Roger’s draw has worked out well for him knowing that he won’t be up against the massive serve of Karlovic, but Granollers deserves to be where he is and shouldn’t be underestimated. As for the rest of the draw Fognini tanked against Mannarino so he is already gone, and Mannarino will play Bautista-Agut to find out who faces the winner of Roger and Granollers. Monfils and Gasquet both had straight set wins too and their meeting in the next round could be interesting. Then Dimitrov and in form Goffin had easy wins and their meeting could be one of the highlights of round four. My countryman Anderson had a good win over Janowicz too and I am happy for him after what happened in Toronto where he choked big time against Dimitrov.
Entertainerer was back too!
He plays Cilic now though which won’t be easy. Then Thiem took out his friend Gulbis in five sets and will play Lopez for a place in the last sixteen. Finally in the bottom half Berdych is still alive, all be it only just after a five set escape against Klizan. Berdych should have gained confidence from that win and now faces Gabashvili. So you would expect him to make fourth round at least, but then he could face Lopez who he has a 4-6 head-to-head record against. Ferrer is probably still the favorite to come through in that quarter of the draw but it is pretty open. It could be any of Berdych, Lopez, Cilic, or Ferrer. Or maybe even a surprise semi-finalist. Then in the top half Djokovic is still at his lethal best as he first swept aside Mathieu 6-1, 6-3, 6-0, and then Querrey 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. Also Kohlschreiber removed a danger for Djokovic in Isner, so things are all of a sudden looking much better for Djokovic.
He is now the biggest threat to Roger winning #18 in New York for me again, although I guess Tsonga or Murray have their own plans. Murray has not looked particularly impressive so far though and he could lose to Tsonga, even though he possesses a 9-2 head-to-head lead over Tsonga. Tsonga won his last two matches in straights after dropping a set to Monaco in the first round, while Murray has dropped two sets against lesser known players. So I am slightly favoring Tsonga in what should be a fourth round highlight no doubt. Other than that Stan had a walk over over Kavcic and will now play the seasoned veteran Robredo who keeps impressing after defeating very promising youngster Kyrgios in four sets after dropping the first set. I watched a big chunk of this match and after being very impressed with Kyrgios early on he faded away in the end.
Darth Fed’s defensive lobbing was a feature of his play
I missed the point but according to Jiten Kyrgios missed an easy overhead at 4-3 and break point in the third set, so it seems his inexperience cost him the match there. No doubt he is a huge prospect for the future though. He has a terrific serve and all court game and he looks very confident and clutch too. He just needs to mature a bit still from the looks of things. So Robredo now faces Stan which should be another very interesting fourth round encounter. Finally Raonic vs Nishikori is another fourth round match to look forward to. The top half have shaped up nicely but Djokovic does look like the favorite to come through it at this point. It looks like Roger will have to do it the hard way if he is going to win #18 here. But Djokovic still has tough matches ahead in the next few round so who knows.
Highlights: The return is at 1:47, the point of the match at 4:03, and another great defensive lob at 5:04.
Yet another amazing lob:
Hi folks. Roger is safely into the second round of the 2014 US Open, but with more difficulty than expected. I tried to watch the match but my laptop wouldn’t pick up my wi-fi network, so I didn’t see much. From the highlights and other sources I gather that both Roger and Matosevic played very well, other than the third set mental slump from Roger. From what I saw Matosevic played much better than I thought he would, but from what I saw Roger played really well too. He was up to his old brilliance with one or two unbelievable shots, and his backhand looked to be back to peak level. In many ways he looked like the Roger of old, which was very encouraging and positive. As I expected the title in Cincy boosted his confidence, and I am liking his chances to win #18 here even more.
The problem is Djokovic clearly can’t be written off either, but more about that later. I don’t think the relatively close scoreline of 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4) for a first round is anything to worry about. If Roger didn’t slip up in the third set this would have been a routine win, and like I said from what I saw Matosevic was actually playing really well. The first two sets were routine with a break for Roger in each, and in the third set Roger broke again to take a 4-3 lead. From what I hear there was then an incident where Matosevic looked up to Roger’s box where Michael Jordan was sitting and shouted ‘I want to be like Mike!’ Personally I find that funny but apparently Roger did not as he got distracted and handed the break back to Matosevic. They headed into a tie break which thankfully Roger won relatively easily.
Never turn your back on a Federer tweener…
As this was a first round match not much can be concluded from it as usual and I won’t make much of the fact that Roger handed back his serve to Matosevic after having broken. The score really should have been 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, but the tie break could have been a good thing in the end to help Roger sharpen his mental game. The important thing was not to drop the third set and there he was successful. The first round is just a settler and this match had more of an exho feel about it with Jordan being in attendance. Roger even pulled off another epic tweener. He hit it after the lob from Matosevic was out, but what made it epic was that he hit Matosevic right on the butt after Matosevic had already turned around. That was really entertaining and Jordan had a good laugh about it. It really was a treat to have the basketball GOAT in attendance, even though I didn’t see much.
From a personal standpoint Jordan is one of my biggest sports idols. I was watching the NBA playoffs when I was in college in the States and Jordan won the sixth title with The Chicago Bulls. I remember very well that lost shot he took to win the championship for The Bulls. Anyway it was nice to see the two GOATs finally meeting and of course Jordan was a huge idol of Roger when he was growing up as well. In conclusion the match with Matosevic was very positive for a first round. Roger would not have been on his mental game yet but the breaker in the third will put him in a good mental state for his next match. Also I loved the overall impression I got from Roger. He just looked very confident and relaxed out there, exactly what I expected and hope for. Now to get back to Djokovic.
The two GOATs sat down for a chat
I felt that he was not necessarily gonna be much of a factor this year in New York and said that he could lose before the final. Sure it is still possible, but I was just reminded what a dangerous and quality player he is and that the early losses in Toronto and Cincy could have been just the wake-up call that he needed before the big one. Sure Djokovic have only won the US Open once and he just got married, but he is way too dangerous to write off. The danger is there that he can do to Roger what he did to him at Wimbledon if they both make the final which would be kind of devastating, but it is way too early to worry about that. As far as the match stats go for Roger the serve stats were top notch and the overall stats were good, aside from the break point conversions which are too early to mean anything.
Roger will play Groth next on Friday who he has never faced before.
Ps. Roger and Jordan did a shoe promotion thing for Nike so Roger was wearing a pair of Air Jordans for tennis. I thought they looked pretty nice but I much prefer Darth Fed with the black shoes and socks.