Hi guys, I was not going to make a post today as this is my working weekend, but I feel like I let you down when I miss a match post. So I decided to make a quick one. Not that I ever make a quick one. I always say I will but then end up making a detailed post. I guess I just like doing things right if I’m gonna do them. Roger was scheduled to play last today, which meant that Djokovic had already lost 6-2, 5-7, 4-6 to Berdych before he went on court. I was really surprised about this result, given that Djokovic was 6-2, 5-2 up and served for the match at 5-3 in the second set. Unreal. One of my readers remarked that Djokovic would tank Rome to save energy for the French Open. But I thought that was unrealistic given that Djokovic lost in his first match in Madrid and had already beaten Nadal in the Monte Carlo final.
It’s not like he had already played a lot of tennis in the clay season. I don’t think this was a tank. Why would he go up 6-2, 5-2 just to lose the match? It would make no sense. From what I hear Berdych hit the zone at that point and started hitting the lines. Djokovic became defensive and waited for Brdych to miss, but that never happened. Well we all know how destructive Berdych can be when he enters the zone. He becomes extremely difficult to stop. He is like a juggernaut that removes everything in his way. And I don’t believe for one second that Djokovic would not have given 100% effort knowing that he would have another shot at Nadal before the French Open. I was really disappointed by this result because I desperately wanted to see him beat Nadal again. Not only for Roger’s sake but for the sake of Nadal losing.
The match stats have been top notch all week
Anyway the fact that Roger went on court last meant he already knew that he would probably have to face Nadal in the final should he go that far. I wondered whether it would affect his mental state against Janowicz. But I don’t think it did at all. Roger ended up beating Janowicz 6-4, 7-6(2). It was the first time I had a look at Janowicz and he was pretty impressive. The fact that Roger got the job done in straight sets showed me that he was 100% focused out there. At 4-4 in the first set Roger held serve to love, and then proceeded to break in the next game to claim that first set. In the second set Janawicz hit right back though, as he broke Roger to 15 with a scorching forehand return winner in the opening ame. He was back in the match and he consolidated in the next game to take a 2-0 lead. Janowicz then held serve until 5-4 where he served for the second set.
He couldn’t close the deal though as Roger played a classic clay court point to break serve. Roger was back in the second set and in control of the match once more. He then had match point on Janaowicz’s serve at 6-5 but missed an easy return off a Janowicz second serve. It was tie break time. Roger’s highly underrated return game then came to the fore as he broke Janowicz several times to win the breaker 7-2. It was another clinical display from Roger against what I thought was a pretty impressive young talent. Janowicz has a big serve but at the same time a good all court game, and he moves well for a tall guy too. I think he has a promising future. Anyway it was nice to see Roger school him after he called Roger arrogant. Clearly the youngster still needs to learn his place, even though he seemed in awe of Roger before and after the match.
In awe of greatness
Roger now plays Paire, who has been the surprise of this event. Paire easily disposed of Granollers in the quarters, and if you remember he was Roger’s first round opponent in Melbourne this year. That was the only time I saw him play and he looked pretty decent, even though Roger pretty much destroyed him. Roger looks to be back in similar form, and as long he is not worried about facing Nadal in the final this should be another straight set win. And I don’t think he will tank this time either. I think he wants to make his first final of the year, even if that means becoming Nadal’s turkey. Nadal plays before Roger again tomorrow so Roger will know who he faces in the final if he wins. I guess Berdych upsetting Nadal is not entirely out of the question, but highly unlikely anyway. The most likely result here is another Fedal final with Nadal winning yet another clay title.
I am pissed off at Djokovic for losing today and at Berdych for being in the zone again, but that is just how tennis goes. You can’t always have it all your own way. It is not the worst possible scenario for Djokovic going to Paris either. Losing to Nadal would have been worse for instance, and now he will have expended less energy before trying to win his first French Open. I would just have liked to see him beat Nadal a second time before the French, which would have given him even more of a mental edge. You would think that all this tennis would tire Nadal for the French Open, but the guy somehow never tires. I am fine with a final result for Roger here, even if it means becoming Nadal’s turkey. I am just pleased with the way he played this week. Once again impeccable match stats today, and his first serve percentage has been as good as it gets all week.
It will need to be that good if he is to have any chance at all against Nadal in the final. Not quite there yet though.
Hi guys. I have to make this quick. I was really happy to see Roger meet the minimum requirement I had set for him by improving on his result in Madrid. And the convincing fashion in which he did so pleases me even more. He wasted no time in dispatching Simon 6-1, 6-2 to progress to the quarter finals. A lot of Fedfans think Simon is a bogey opponent for Roger but I was never convinced. The two losses to Simon came in 2008 when Roger took a slump after getting mono and Simon had his best season to date. Then at the Australian Open Simon took Roger to 5 sets but Roger still won. I don’t see how all of this makes Simon a tough opponent for him. I think today Roger debunked that myth by allowing Simon only 3 games. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect after the impressive form he showed against Starace, although I was encouraged.
Again I couldn’t watch the match, but the match stats are similar to his first match. Maybe the winner/unforced error ratio wasn’t as good as in his first match, but the first serve percentage was very good again, the volley stats were impressive, and the break point conversion ratio was the same. He was hitting a lot of drop shots as well. Maybe that was the reason for Simon’s many unforced errors. The detractors will claim that Simon played badly, but Roger’s variety can really mess with a player’s rhythm. When you have to keep running forwards and backwards for drop shots it can mess with your rhythm. I am not saying Simon did not play badly, because I only saw the highlights. I am just giving a possible explanation for Simon’s many unforced errors. People often assume a player played badly because of the scoreline, and in the process fails to recognize that the opponent made play badly.
Whatever the case may be, I am just happy that Roger is looking really motivated out there. I think he has reached a point now where he wants to prove something. He had a dry spell after Melbourne and in Madrid he disappointed too. In Rome the draw was more favorable, and has become even more favorable after Gasquet, Del Potro, and Murray all lost today. Amazing. After today I am allowing myself to think about the final. But before he gets there he still has to win his next two matches. It won’t fall in his lap. He now comes up against Janowicz who had an impressive three set win over Gasquet, and beat Tsonga as well. Janowicz is an upcoming youngster who I don’t think I have ever seen play. I do know that he has made some less than flattering comments about Roger, and that is something I don’t appreciate. Especially from someone who is new on the scene.
So I hope Roger teaches him a good lesson tomorrow. If he beats Janowicz he will play against the winner of Paire and Granollers. Paire is the one who beat Del Potro. Del Potro’s inconsistency continues, whether it be due to metal walkabouts or injury. Not that I mind, because he is a dangerous player. I think Roger’s chances of making the final is pretty damn good now, and he realizes he needs to make this one count. He hasn’t been in a single final this year, and that has to concern him. Making a final will make him feel a whole lot better, especially in Rome which is one of the two Masters Series events he has never won. In the top half Gulbis gave Nadal a big scare when he won the first set 6-1, but then Nadal came back with his typical never-say-die attitude and won the next two sets 7-5, 6-4. The most striking stat about this match was that Gulbis hit 53 winners against Nadal’s 13, yet somehow still ended up losing the match.
It goes to show how important it is to play the percentages. That is Nadal’s speciality. He just makes himself incredibly tough to beat because he gives you nothing. He puts all the pressure on you to come up with the goods, because you know he is not gonna make many errors and give you any free points. Even if a player is in the zone like Gulbis probably was, it is most of the time still not good enough to get the win. He is just incredibly tough to beat because he makes you take all the risks. We have seen this many times against Roger. He makes a player go for more and more until they go for one too many. He now faces Ferrer again and will surely win yet again. Djokovic plays against Berdych and I am pretty sure he will win too. So I am already looking forward to the Djokodal semi. Rome is shaping up to be a very interesting one indeed…
Howdy folks. Well I’m happy to report that Roger 3.0 was back in Rome. Or Roger 4.0? Ha! Just kidding. I think it’s enough about the different versions for Roger for now. I’m just happy to see him play like that. I didn’t see the match but from the highlights and what I’ve read in the forums, this performance looked better than 3.0 level even. This looked more like Goderer out there. Don’t you just love being a Fedfan?! Just when he puts in a disappointing performance in Madrid he comes up with a masterclass like that. I guess when he heard Nadal was not in his half and that Nadal would probably have to deal with his nemesis before he can make the final, really psyched him up. When he got to Rome he was motivated and hit the practice courts hard. And it paid off today. That is the advantage of having Djokovic around.
He is the only guy that can take Nadal out of the draw on clay on a regular basis. Roger may not be crazy about Djokovic but he is lucky that Djokovic is around or Nadal would already have been on 14 slams. The fact that Nadal is not in Roger’s half means he can just concentrate on the final and there is a good chance that he won’t have to face Nadal in the final. Incidentally Rome is one of the two Maters Series titles Roger have not won yet. It’s a nice fantasy that he can do it this year by beating Djokovic in the final, but we are very far from that happening still. It was a demolition job from Roger today. Starace is a decent clay court player from Italy and he had the home crowd on his side. But Roger gave the home crowd very little to cheer about and effectively took them out of the game. It was clinical stuff.
The match stats are as good as they get. The winner to unforced error ratio of 35/8 is almost unheard of, while the 75% first serves is highly impressive as well. I also like the frequency with which he approached the net, winning 15/20 points in the forecourt. This looked like prime level Fed, and it was good to see after his performance in Madrid. It had to be this good to show me that he really can go far in this event. It shows urgency and that he wasn’t happy with his performance in Madrid. Having said that, this was only one match against a pretty average player. We will see how he backs this up in his next match when he faces the winner of Youzhny and Simon. Youzhny defeated Haas which removes a potentially very tricky opponent for Roger. But Youzhny himself and Simon can both be very tricky opponents.
So it’s too early to hype Roger up and expect he will make the final now. The only thing I can really say about this performance is that it was encouraging. To make the final Roger still has to win three matches, and that is not guaranteed. Not even winning his next match is guaranteed. The draw has somewhat opened up for Roger with Haas losing and Dimitrov as well, but if he wins his next match he will probably play Gasquet or Tsonga, who will be no pushovers either. Roger has not been in great form after the Australian Open and I am not expecting him to all of a sudden play the world on fire. He also lost pretty badly in Madrid and I am not going to accept he is all of a sudden back to 3.0 level judging from one performance. Roger 3.0′s main trademark was his consistency, and since the Australian Open Roger hasn’t been anywhere close to that level of consistency.
I like the new haircut, especially if it results in more performances like today
If he does make the final I don’t think it will all be straight set wins either. He will probably be tested along the way, when he will have to show that he still has that drive and motivation that can get him through the close ones. It has to be said that his draw is pretty favorable though. No Nadal, no Djokovic, no Berdych to deal with. If he plays at 3.0 level it is almost a given that he will make the final. Whatever the case may be, I feel like this is a good opportunity to make his first final of the year. That would offset his performance in Madrid nicely and give him confidence for the French Open. The clay season is somewhat stale from a Fedfan point of view though. Lets say he does make the final in Rome, where does that leave him for the French Open? There is always the Nadal factor to consider. I think it’s pretty certain that Nadal and Djokovic will be in different halves of the draw.
This means Roger has to face either one of them before the final. The only way I feel Roger would have a real shot at the French would be if he is not in Nadal’s half and Nadal is in Djokovic’s half. I don’t see Roger ever beating Nadal at the French. It’s a nice fantasy but extremely unlikely. Djokovic must take Nadal out before the final for Roger. And like I said they will probably fix the draw so that Djokovic and Nadal is not in the same half. So I’m not sure how all of this affects Roger’s motivation, although he did say in an interview in Madrid that it is not all about the slams for him. Maybe he is really motivated to finally win this illusive Masters Series event. Either way there is a long way to go. First of all I want to see Roger improve on his Madrid result by winning his next match. That is the minimum requirement. From there on it gets better with every win.