Hello friends. I’m flying to Thailand in a few hours and I’m currently blogging from Cape Town International Airport. It was a pretty busy day for me getting everything ready, but I got to see Roger’s match this morning as it was played at a convenient time for me. I was pleased with what I saw. In the first two sets anyway. After that unforced errors started creeping in to Roger’s game again and I felt he was lucky to get the job done in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(4). Kavcic led 3-0 in the breaker and only won one point from there on, and it wasn’t due to brilliant play from Roger. It was mostly due to Kavcic choking. But Roger will take it and overall I would have to say it was a pretty good performance. I mean the first two sets was almost JesusFed level. Roger broke Kavcic in the opening game to set the tone for the match.
He broke once more and Kavcic only barely avoided the bread stick. In the second set he couldn’t avoid it however. But the funny thing is that that he never held serve in that set. He only broke Roger in the 4th game, raised his hands in the air, after which Roger resumed his domination. The overall stats look very good too. Roger’s serve continues to impress as he served at a very high first serve percentage of 76, while he delivered 11 aces and 0 double faults. Definitely it does look like the new racquet is having a good effect on his serve which is a promising sign. And I said before it looks like it also gives him some extra pop on the ground strokes. There were several positives to take from this match. Roger was more aggressive on the return and it paid dividends. He was also intent on coming to the net more.
It seems that Edberg is already having an effect. Roger hit some very nice backhand down the line winners too. And amazingly Roger was better than 50% on break points won, 50% being a pretty good yardstick for break points converted. Anything better than 50% is good. So Roger did indeed put in a more efficient performance compared to his first round. He did start with the unforced errors in the 3rd set but I can’t be too critical. It’s after all still a work in progress. I have a bit more hope after this performance. Not necessarily in terms of the Australian Open but maybe a little further down the line there is hope that Roger can have some big wins again. The first two sets once again just proved to me that the game is still there. It’s just a case of steadily building up confidence until everything comes together.
It’s early days in terms of the changes Roger has made too. We should give him some more time. But certainly I think the new racquet and the new coach are changes that over time can have a significant effect. Roger’s draw has also opened up slightly with Verdasco losing to Gabashvili in 5 sets. Tsonga and Murray however both had straight set wins again and still looks to be on course for a clash with Roger. Tsonga plays Simon who had yet another brutal 5-set match with Cilic today after winning 16-14 in the 5th against Brands in the 1st round, so he must be utterly spent. I can’t see him put up much resistance against Tsonga. Murray play Lopez next, and unless Lopez can come up with the upset Murray will almost definitely make quarters because his 4th round opponent is Klizan or Robert.
So even making quarters will be a challenge for Roger, but he has to beat Gabashvili first. We will see how that goes. We know these days Roger is still unpredictable. The question is whether he can find a certain amount of consistency during the Australian Open. For that to be the case he must make at least quarters. Having another good match against Gabashvili and then falling apart against Tsonga won’t show much progress. I think he needs at least one win over a top player and Tsonga is that if he keeps playing the way he has been playing. But ideally I want to see Roger make semis here. Lets not forget the draw isn’t set in stone either. Aside from the fact that Roger has to keep winning the other guys have to as well. If Murray gets upset for instance it drastically improves Roger’s chances to make semis.
And even if Murray makes quarters he is not back to his best yet I think. Even Nadal’s chances to make semis is not guaranteed. Del Potro did lose today and his draw has opened up some more, but upsets are always possible. Monfils is already a very talented player who is in good form. We will just have to see. You know you are probably gonna see a pretty mediocre performance at some point from Roger. I just hope it is later rather than sooner. So in the end today was a good day for Roger but it’s still a work in progress and I’m certainly not getting my hopes way up like some people. For me it’s just about progress and building something. I’m not expecting miracles. I think the conditions are decent for Roger this year. It looks faster. Also Roger played against Kavcic indoors.
Maybe if the weather stays as hot as it has been they will close the roof again which could possibly help Roger. He likes playing indoors after all. I just want to see something positive coming out of the Australian Open for Roger. I’m clearly not expecting him to win the title but if he can make semis or even quarters while losing another close match to Murray it would show progress. Making semis would certainly show progress, never mind how he gets there. Not that I want to see him lose to Nadal in another slam match, but it’s too early to think about that. Next is Gabashvili who Roger only faced once before in the 1st round of Wimbledon 2007 and got a routine straight set win over. This is 2014 however. New ball game. Well I will arrive in Bangkok Saturday morning and I will probably not be able to see Roger’s match.
I won’t be able to watch the rest of the tournament either because I will be busy with an intensive English teaching course. So probably no more blogging from me for the Australian Open either. It’s unpredictable and I don’t really know what to expect. We will see. If I don’t blog at all I’ll keep my eye on the results and highlights and communicate with you in the comment section. Things started looking a little better today. I think we just need to be patient and keep the faith. The game is still there but the confidence building process must continue…