Hi guys. I haven’t forgotten about you. It’s just been a hectic time. I am in Krabi for the Thai Songkran holidays and things have finally settled down enough for me to make a post. I was glad to hear that Roger took a wild card in Monte Carlo, an event he has skipped in the last two years. At first I thought he added the event to his schedule because he wants to make another serious run at the French Open to see if he can win his second career slam. After losing the 2011 final to Nadal it seemed like he kind of took the clay season less seriously. He had chances in that match to beat Nadal but failed for the fourth time against him in the Roland Garros final. In 2012 and 2013 he played only three events in the clay season.
So I was kind of hoping he was thinking of making another serious run at the French Open title, especially with Nadal looking fragile, but it is rumored that Mirka will give birth during the Madrid/Rome stretch. And of course Roger said he wanted to be present this time when Mirka gives birth so it looks like he added Monte Carlo to his schedule because he is going to miss some tennis. I am a little out of the loop with tennis at this point so correct me if I’m wrong, but this is the last I’ve heard. Of course the birth of your child is a big event and you can’t blame Roger for wanting to be present, especially since he missed the birth of the twins if I remember correctly. But at the same time it would have been nice if he played three events in the lead up to Paris instead of two.
I’m not saying he can’t make a serious run at the French Open now, but I’m not sure it will be enough if he only plays one warm up event to Paris. I just think Nadal is looking vulnerable and he has never won the French five times in a row. If there was a chance of him losing early again in Paris it would probably be this year. But of course Djokovic is also there and he desperately wants to win that elusive French Open and complete the career slam himself. He is back to his best after winning Indian Wells and Miami and I think this could well be his year at the French. He is also playing Monte Carlo and Roger is in his half of the draw. Of course Roger is back in the top 4 which helps him a lot with draws.
His draw in Monte Carlo is probably as good as it gets. He will play Stepanek in the second round who defeated Karlovic and then Janowicz if Janowicz gets that far. Janowicz have been poor this season, and so has Tsonga who he faces in the quarters if Tsonga gets that far. It’s more likely that Roger will face Fognini in the quarters, who defeated a very capable clay courter in Sousa today. If Roger’s recent form is anything to go by he should make semis anyway. Then of course Djokovic will be a very difficult opponent. A Nadal/Djokovic final would be interesting. Nadal probably needs the title more than Djokovic after he has struggled of late. He needs to resurrect his season on clay as he usually does, but I think Djokovic could make it difficult for him like he did in 2011.
Roger will play his first match on Wednesday.
Hi folks. If you read my comments you would know by now that I’ve been teaching English at a summer camp in Thailand for the last week. It’s been extremely hectic so I had no time for posting. I did try to follow some of the Davis Cup this weekend, even though my connection was way too weak to watch a proper stream. The Swiss were playing at home in Geneva and Stan was first up on Sunday as the Swiss number one against Kukushkin in the reverse singles. I guess it was not all that much of a surprise when Stan lost to Golubev in four sets given his recent form. This put the Swiss under pressure from the start. It was up to Roger to tie things up against the Kazakhstan number one Kukushkin, and he did just that by routining Kukushkin in straight sets.
Saturday’s doubles was therefor going to be an important match. Fedrinka was up against Golubev and Nedovyesov. I watched some of this match as my stream was half watchable, and I wasn’t exactly impressed with what I saw. Stan was struggling again and Stan and Roger seemed to be out of sync. Something didn’t feel right. I could not see much however so I’m gonna rely on you to correct me and fill in the blanks. I do know that at one set all Roger and Stan was serving for the third set at 5-3 and 30-0. Or so I heard anyway. If that is true then it was basically unacceptable to lose this match. But they did so in 4 sets. It was a real disappointing performance from the former Olympic gold medalists.
Swiss GOAT digging out the win for his country
But like I said something felt off to me and maybe the fact that Stan was the number one player instead of Roger had an effect. From Roger’s comments I always conclude that him and Stan are very good friends, but then I sometimes hear something different from Stan. In tennis there are no real friends anyway because you compete against each other. A lot of these so-called friendships are just appearances. That is why I don’t rate Davis Cup very highly. It is a team sport whereas tennis is an individual sport. You depend on others and you are not in complete control. I’m not saying that is necessarily a bad thing, but it is not how it works in tennis. So Stan and Roger ended up losing the match in 4 sets.
Once again the Swiss were under pressure and it was finally time for Stan to step up. To his credit he did just that, even though he dropped the first set. He then recovered to win the match in 4 sets. It was up to Roger again to set things right and he made it look easy with a straight set win over Golubev to clinch the win for Switzerland. He was never in trouble. He broke in the first set and got broken back only to win the first set in a tie break, and from there on it was smooth sailing. Once again Roger showed his class and I think it is fair to say that he is the real Swiss number one going by current form. His form is still very encouraging while Stan has been a disappointment since he won the Australian Open.
It doesn’t take much for Fedfans to get their expectations up, does it? People were already talking about a meeting with Nadal on my last post, while neither player were even in the semis yet. I can understand when they think Nadal would make the final, but not Roger. He has not passed the semis in Miami since 2006. That is a long time. And what is more is that he has lost twice to Roddick in Miami since then, someone he owned 21-3. That alone is enough to tell you that Miami is probably Roger’s worst tournament. The air is humid and the conditions are slow. Even in in 2007 when Roger was in his prime he lost to Canas in Miami, so losing to to Nishikori should be no surprise when Roger is well past his prime. Roger played well enough to begin with, winning the first set 6-3. The early signs that he was not quite at his best were there though.
Roger’s first serve percentage was 38%, which is almost shockingly low compared to his recent first serve percentage. Still he played well and I thought this would be a straight set win. But Nishikori was playing well too and began working his way into the match. This match reminded of the 2013 Roger where he starts of well, lets his opponent back in, and then loses control of the match. You can just feel how things are slipping away. There is an inevitability about it. That said, Roger did fight valiantly in the third set when he was down 15-30 on his serve at 3-4. He hit a backhand down the line winner which was probably right on the line, hit an ace, and then hit a winning forehand to hold serve. That was quite clutch and I thought he still had a chance after that, but then he dropped serve when serving to stay in the match.
But the key was really the second set. Roger was a break up twice, at 2-1 and 4-3, but on neither occasion did he consolidate. As if once was not enough doing it a second time is murder. So it wasn’t much of surprise when Roger got broken when serving to stay in the set at 5-6. Roger was the better player in the first set and probably in the second set too, but failed to go in for the kill. But even in the first set his first serve percentage was poor which showed early signs of a drop in form. In the end I think it just comes down to tiredness and the conditions in Miami. Roger was not even sure if he would play Miami, which is already a sign that he was feeling the strain. Also Miami just hasn’t been very kind to Roger, and the slightest drop in form against a player who is on his game on the day will cost him the match. It really should be no surprise that Roger lost here. So in the end for me the loss comes down to a slight drop in form from Roger due to tiredness coupled with Nishikori who played very well.
No it has nothing to do with having to play Djokovic or Nadal. He wasn’t even sure to face Nadal in the final and I’m sure he wanted another shot at Djokovic after Indian Wells. And should he have faced Nadal in the final he would have been up for that challenge as well. I am pleased overall with Roger’s performance in North-America. He actually won more matches than he did in 2012 and then there were the doubles in Indian Wells as well. Yes he did not pick up a title but I think his form was satisfactory. He said at the beginning of the season that he would only be back to top from again in April anyway. I think he is very close now but that physically he was not quite there yet in North-America. I sensed tiredness both in the Indian Wells final and against Nishikori. But having played all these matches would have already helped with that. Remember he did not play much in 2013 and it takes a while to get used to that week in and week out grind of tournament play again.
I think 2014 has gone very well so far. Better than we expected. I am actually delighted with Roger’s form and excited about the Davis Cup and clay court season. I think his form is right there and after a bit of a break he will be physically ready too. I was also very disappointed today to learn that Nishikori withdrew from his semi-final with Djokovic. I was looking forward to his match with Djokovic and he was physically just fine against Roger. When did he get injured? When getting out of bed? Anyway that means Djokovic is into the final and will play the winner of Nadal and Berdych who plays soon. A slightly vulnerable looking Nadal needed three sets to defeat Raonic while Berdych looked very good in his straight set win over Dolgopolov. I would love for Berdych to upset Nadal, even though he passes Roger in the rankings if he wins the event.
I actually think he has a chance to beat Nadal all be it a very small one, but that he won’t be able to beat Djokovic if he does so. I hope Nishikori’s withdrawal does not affect Djokovic negatively, because he must be on his game to beat Nadal if Nadal beats Berdych. I don’t want Nadal to win all the Masters and I don’t want him to find form again all of a sudden. I’d like to believe that Djokovic will have the better of him this season. And just as I am wrapping up my post I learn that Berdych has withdrawn as well. Quite incredible, but I guess from Berdych at least you’d expect that kind of thing. Probably tired of getting owned by Nadal and threw in the towel. So no tennis for me today and I will probably miss the final too as I’m going away this weekend. Oh well, at least Roger is now officially back to #4.
Gotta look on the bright side!