Well this was unexpected. Melzer went off the court after the first game today to get treatment for his back, yet he outplayed Roger in every department of the game. Melzer looked anything but injured. He really played as good as he can play, which is pretty darn well. He was hitting the ball hard from the base line, making hardly any errors, and he’s touch was exquisite, both drop shots and drop volleys. Roger just didn’t have the answers, getting broken once in each set. It was another sad sight if you are a Fedfan. There are a couple of things which made Roger lose this match, aside from the fact that Melzer was playing a blinder. That is the fact that Melzer is left-handed and the fact that Roger was 0/7 on break points. We know by now what kind of damage the left-hander Nadal has inflicted on Roger.
Melzer did similar things to Roger with his cross court forehand to Roger’s backhand. It just keeps Roger under a certain mount of pressure having to play so many backhands. But mainly I felt that Roger’s lack of mental fortitude showed by his 0/7 break point conversions. That is pretty much just unacceptable. Break points converted does unfortunately show a lot about a player’s mental toughness, and that is a part of Roger’s game that has not been good as he is aging. In Roger’s prime it didn’t matter that his opponent was in the zone on a given day. His level was so high that he would still win. But these days he needs to grind out wins when his opponents are playing that well, and I don’t see him doing that. If he had taken those breaks points he had in the second set it would have put doubt in Melzer’s mind, and he couldn’t just hit as freely as he was.
It is about pressure, and Roger just can’t seem to put enough pressure on his opponents in a close match. This is of course not the first time we have seen this. It happens time and time again, and it is highly frustrating to watch for me. It is just unacceptable to convert 0/7 break points if you want to get back in a match. You have to put doubt in your opponents mind when they are playing that well. You have to somehow throw them off their game. I don’t care if the wind was blowing either. It is the same for both players. The fact that Roger can’t win ugly is without a doubt something that bothers me. In his prime he never had to learn to grind out matches because he was so good. But now that he is older and has to learn to do it, it seems that he is failing at it. You can always think of excuses, but sometimes you just have to look the facts in the face.
My problem is that with Roger it’s kind of hit or miss. There is no in between. There is no ability to hustle and steal a match that he should have lost. Some players make a living doing that. How many times have Nadal come back from the edge in a match? It is because he has that ability to hustle and hang in there no matter what. Now that Roger is older and more exposed, we can see his short comings as a player. He simply doesn’t have that ability to grind out a match, and it is highly disappointing from a fan’s perspective. When things are not going his way on a given day he just loses. It is what it is. It’s certainly not a walk in the park to be a Fedfan these days. All we can do now is wait for that tournament where everything clicks for Roger. Other than that it is going to be pretty average viewing compared to the past.
I’m sorry if this sounds like a negative post again, but sometimes I just feel the urge to say things the way I see them and vent my frustration.