Well this blockbuster of a match definitely failed to live up to the hype as Djokovic took out Federer in straight sets in 1 hour 40 minutes.
I had high hopes going into the match but after Roger dropped serve in the third game I just knew it was going to be one of those days. His timing wasn't quite there and he just looked very nonchalant throughout.
After Djokovic broke to lead 2-1 Roger soon relinquished his serve again and consequently lost the set 6-2. The second started a little brighter for Roger and he had a small opportunity at 3-2 where he created 15-30 on the Djokovic serve but was unable to make anything out of it. At 4-4 Djokovic broke and it looked like him serving it out would be a formality.
What happened next was pleasing to see, Roger suddenly started hitting the ball much better and played his ground strokes with more conviction that we'd seen all night. He broke back and then held to love to lead 6-5. If you'd just tuned at that point you'd think he'd finally got a foothold in the match, but deep down I knew it would be short lived.
Ultimately the tie break that ensued was pretty one sided, Djokovic was moving well all night and he took it 7-4 to seal the match 6-2 7-6.
Looking back the match stats were very telling, Roger committed 42 unforced errors and only hit 22 winners, he only got 49% of first serves in and won a mere 48% of points behind his second serve. On the plus side he was 100% on Break Point conversions :D. Overall it just wasn't the level of play we've become accustomed to over the last 7 or 8 months. I think fatique played a part as Roger has played a heavy schedule since Madrid and his desire to win wasn't as prevalent as it has been since the US Open.
Overall, I wasn't playing quite good enough,” Federer said. “I've played a lot of tennis in the last few weeks. Novak was looking fresh, he was better tonight. He really put pressure on me.
Conclusions to draw from the match
In the grand scheme of things I don't think this result means much. Roger has been on a great run and he's made a lot of hints that he has a few injury niggles. Playing Djokovic and Nadal back to back in a Masters 1000 tournament is a very tough ask and requires a lot of physical exertion which could only make any niggles worse. With the French and Wimbledon just round the corner losing last night may just have been a blessing in disguise. He can now recover physically and watch Nadal/Djoker battle it out in the Rome final, which could easily last 4 hours.
Like I said, there's no real takeaways from this match other than a flat Federer isn't good enough to beat a fired up Djokovic who's hitting big. The fact is since the AO Roger has won 2 masters 1000 tournaments and regained the number 2 ranking in the world. If you'd asked me that after last years US Open then I'm not sure that would have been my prediction.
I'm almost happy that this tournament is over. I had a major physical problem here in Rome but is improving with each passing day and so I'm relieved. I currently have two other little physical discomfort but to a lesser extent, so I'm happy to take a little break.
Predictions for the Nadal/Djokovic Final
This will be another slug fest no doubt, a true war of attrition that won't be pretty on the eye. As a Fed fan I wan't Djoker to win as it means Roger keeps the number 2 ranking but my head also says Djokovic is primed to win.
Having watched the the Ferrer vs. Nadal match yesterday I wasn't overly impressed with Nadal, he did fight well and retrieved great but that's nothing new. Yet again Ferrer blew so many chances, he had 7 break point chances in Nadals opening service game! After losing the set on a tie break he mentally disappeared and got bagelled, that must really annoy Ferrer how he's so wasteful, it was the exact same in Barcelona.
In last nights match I thought Djokovic was moving very well and dominating from the back of the court, he had Roger constantly on the defensive so I'm sure he will be able to do the same to Nadal. Whatever the outcome it will be close but I go for Nole in 3 sets, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2.