Just over 48 hours after Roger took down the title in Madrid we're back up in running in Rome. This is probably my least favourite tournament behind Monte Carlo and after enjoying the coverage in Madrid it feels like we've gone from nice and fast blue clay that's good to watch on TV, to shit, slow, red clay that's hard to see the ball against.
All the talk after Madrid was whether or not Fed would turn out in Rome, I actually thought he may withdraw after hinting he needed to see how his body felt in his on court interview after the final, especially with the French and Wimby just round the corner.
But anyway, as you can probably tell from the title of the post, Roger decided he was fit enough to play after practicing this morning and feeling no ill effects. I was pretty indifferent to whichever decision he made as from what I've seen over the years he tends to make the right call. After he confirmed he was playing I figured he must be injury free and everything was just precautionary with a few niggles after playing 5 matches in 5 days.
Back to the match against clay court specialist and number 38 in the world, Carlos Berlocq. As with most 2nd round encounters for Roger it was relatively easy (ok exclude Raonic), he played solidly throughout and came through in just under 1h10m.
Because the conditions in Rome are totally different to Madrid I thought it may take some time for Fed to adjust but it didn't seem to have an effect as he came out on top form, breaking instantly and taking the first set 6-3.
Although the first set was cruise control, Berlocq did start to find some rhythm towards the end and had 2 break points to get back on serve. Roger soon snuffed them out though and took the set down.
With Berlocq improving the second set was much tighter, Roger broke early but was pegged back almost instantly as the Argentine began to string some nice plays together. His resurgence was shortlived though as at 4-4 Roger made a move, taking his second of 3 break points and serving out the match with ease.
The match stats made pretty reading as Federer won 18 of 23 points at the net and hit 24 winners compared to Berlocqs-13. It was also clear he had much more in the tank as he won 12 of the last 15 points before sealing it 6-3 6-4.
Predictions vs. Ferrero
Next up for Roger is veteran Juan Carlos Ferrero whom he holds a 9-3 record against in the H2H and hasn't lost against since his French Open winning days of 2003. Surprisingly all 3 of Ferrero's wins have come on hard courts and Roger leads on clay 3-0 with their last meeting on the surface being at the Hamburg Masters back in 2007.
So far in Rome Ferrero has been rolling back the years beating Kevin Anderson and Gael Monfils comfortably to make the third round. From reading the match reports he was 2 breaks down in the 1st set against Monfils and a break down in the 2nd before coming back to win in straights. Pretty impressive, although it may be more due to Monfils playing like an absolute clown than Ferrero brilliance but credit where credits due.
Despite his 2 impressive wins I think Roger is taking this one down in straight sets, he's beaten Ferrero in Rome before in 2003 when he made the final and I see this one being a relatively easy match.
I suppose if you're looking for a balanced argument then you can say that Ferrero is a good fighter and he's won in Rome before, which by the way Fed is bidding to do for the first time, but I just don't see him having enough in the tank to pull off a result tomorrow hence why I'm opting for a 6-2 6-4 win in favour of Roger.
Roger’s Interview on Sky Sports
Here's a snippet of Roger's interview on sky sports after the match, again typed up at lightspeed by @wimby88.
Federer Interview Transcript
RF: Well mentally it's not a problem I basically decided this morning if I was going to play here or not just because I wanted to leave it open, even tho I did read from some press that I decided yesterday which wasn't the case.. So this was a decision I rarely take a few hours before the match to see how things go to see if I have any big problems I felt good enough to play today I'm happy I did it was a tough match against Berlocq conditions completely different from Madrid so its nice to get the win here.
Q:What exactly was the problem that would have maybe made you pull out?
RF: Just some physical stuff that's just been lingering for a Few days now, I just don't want to over play on it and wait to see how things turned out to be, I've just got to be aware that the summer is really long so. If this were to be the last tournament of the year it's not even a question because I'm going to be playing even is every single day for the next 3 months I must be smart with the decision making so I really had to make sure I was basically 100% fit if i was going to enter this tournament.
Q: Roger is it important u stay ahead as 2 ahead of the draw for the French open?
RF: Erm…No not for me, I always look at the long term and what's ahead you know I guess the rankings will be determined during the USO, I think it's going to be decided in the QF/SF and some other tournament victories not in a if I play here in a QF or finals if I assume rafa will be in the semis or win it so number 2 or 3 doesn't really matter it's great to move up in the rankings that's for sure then moving down but I'm just happy I won madrid and I'm playing well and that's kind of what I look at right now.
Oh and on a final note for those interested you can Rogers full press conference here: http://www.menstennisblog.info/2012/05/federer-rome-press-conference-wednesday.html but before you do remember to subscribe to my blog below to get my posts delivered via email.
Photo Credit: Simon Shawcross