As predicted Roger won through in straight sets against his relatively unknown opponent – Santiago Giraldo. In my US Open Draw post I think I said he was a leftie, turns out I was wrong. But my prediction of the scoreline was pretty close, I said if Roger dropped more than 8 games it would be a disappointment – he dropped 9 so I'm not going to moan about that. However, as one sided as the scoreline appears, I don't think it was a very well played match.
Roger played pretty poorly throughout the whole match if I'm honest and managed to play some pretty poor shots when he needed to make good ones. Giraldo is a mug server so Fed instantly managed to latch onto his second serve and hammer some agressive returns in at the Colombian toes – which is exactly what I have been wanting him to do so that was definitely a positive to takeaway.
The match started at a pretty low tempo, Giraldo was serving at 25% first serves during the first set allowing Roger to establish a double break and a 5-1 lead. However, when serving for the first set Roger managed to get broken, let Giraldo hold and then get broken again to love to put the set back on serve. This is hardly instilling me with confidence for the later rounds – we've all seen what happens when you throw big first set leads against top players i.e. Nadal in the 2011 French Open final. Giraldo let him off the hook, top 10 won't.
The second set was more of the same – exchanging breaks, pretty much poor tennis all round. A few nice touches from Federer here and there but ultimately he was hitting errors more often than not. To his credit he did pick up his level in the 3rd set and did seem to play more consistently and find some rythmn as the match wore on. But as if the crowds lack of enthusiasm wasn't a big enough sign this wasn't the sort of tennis night 1 of the US open wants on display. So Roger will definitely need to up his play should he face Tomic or Cillic in round 3.
1st serve %
Break Points Converted
7 / 18
This should feel very different to the Australian Open and it doesn't. I don't think it's really what tennis needs
In his press conference, Roger said the courts were playing very slow and they were similar to Melbourne, it's difficult to ascertain on TV whether or not it looks slower than Montreal or Cincinnati, but I'll take his word on that. I think the tournament organisers put more sand in the court mix which makes the surface rougher, slowing the ball down so the fans get long drawn out rallies. I have to say, is that what true tennis fans want? Long drawn out baseline slugging? I know I don't, the beauty of tennis is seeing players hit winners and play aggressively, not hug the baseline and wait for an error.
The whole idea behind playing slams on 4 different surfaces surely suggests they should all play very differently so they're a true test of a players all court game. Some will be fast, others slow. Making them all play similarly ruins the game. We've already seen how Wimbledon has gotten slower over the years, now it seems Flushing Meadows is suffering the same fate. What fun does a slow hard court provide? I hope someone with common sense steps in eventually and makes the decision to make the surfaces faster, and play differently.
My verdict on the Match
On the whole, not great. Although I've taken positives in the fact Roger obviously read my blog post on what he must do to win another slam and tried out my suggested tactics. He made a conscious effort to play aggressively, showed some desire to get to the net, although generally his volleying was pretty poor and he netted some real regulation shots that should have been put away. It's too early to start making predictions on the tournament, and it's rare that a first round match determines how deep a player can go. So at least he's thinking of trying new things and testing out his game, maybe he knew he could get away with mistakes against Giraldo so it was the perfect time to practice. I guess we'll never know.
Predictions for Federer vs. Sela
As I predicted, Sela got past Belluci but only in 5 sets. I think Belluci picked up an injury of some sorts, so he may have been in a position to win the match. I see Sela being an easy opponent for Roger, even if he plays at the level he played against Giraldo, he will still likely run out a straight sets winner. I think his level will actually go up a notch for this one – so I'll plump for a 6-4 6-2 6-2 win.
Elsehwere in the Draw
There were no real upsets in the other first round matches that have been played so far. Home favourite Mardy Fish crushed Kamke in straight sets, Cilic got past Harrison in straight sets, I watched a bit of that match and to say he's supposedly the next American tennis sensation with a bundle of talent – I wasn't impressed with Harrison in the slightest. The guy plays with an attitude problem and just reminds me of every other American college jock player.
Tomic won in straights, and he'll now face Cilic, with the winner of that likely to face Federer in the 3rd round, that one looks a good matchup on paper. Stepanek beat Kolschrieber in straight sets, he's a potential 4th round opponent for Roger should they both make it. Berdych and Gasquet both recorded impressive wins as well as Dolgopolov who could put in a little run here.
Earlier today Tsonga proved too strong for Lu, and Djokovic won after Irishman Conor Niland retired whilst 5-1 down in the second set, he lost the first set 6-0, so that pretty much sums up that match. Easy for Novak and gives his shoulder even more rest. The only other match of real note was Troicki bottling yet another match to the guy that nearly beat Fed in the first round at Wimbledon in 2010 – Alejandro Falla. Troicki seems to lose every tight match he ever plays – you could literally make money off this guy betting on him to lose when he's got match points.
Nadal is on the night match tonight against Golubev who I think has one of the worst records on tour this year so that will be a demolition job. I guess Roger next plays on Thursday, hoping it's a day session so I don't have to stay up late again to watch him shank a few balls around.