Well it's finally here, the first slam of the year and Roger started it in the best possible manner – a comfortable straight sets victory in the night session on Rod Laver Arena.
There's not a whole lot to report on the match, all I can say is that Kudryavtsev was a lot better than I expected. It was his Grand Slam debut and I thought he approached the match in a good way – he basically went for every shot going if he had an opportunity, and he hit some classy winners that left Roger scrambling on the baseline. On the flip side, he committed 42 unforced errors, so couldn't find the balance between aggression and playing the percentages which was ultimately his downfall.
Roger raced through his service games early on, only dropping 1 point I think in the first set. And although he put a lot of pressure on the Russian getting to 30 on his serve numerous times, he managed to fend them off and keep himself in it. It looked as though his resistance was broken when he was serving at 4-5 as he slipped to break point, but saved it and held to reach 5-5.
I actually thought the first set was heading for a tie break, but at 5-6 Kudryatsev was finally broken to love and dropped the first set. From there on in it was relatively plain sailing for Roger. The Russian, who has had a couple of injuries in the past picked up another and needed treatment on a groin problem midway through the second set. Roger took advantage and put his foot on the gas to cruise through 7-5 6-2 6-2.
I'm always excited,” said Federer on returning to the Australian Open. “I felt it actually walking down that Walk of Champions, getting out on court and feeling like, you know what, I have good intensity and I am really excited to see the Aussie crowd. I was anxious to find out how I was going to play, how my opponent was going to play me. I was really excited and a little nervous actually going into it, which was a good feeling to have. I'm looking forward to the other matches.
There are plenty positives to take from the match – Roger served great, hit the ball sweetly and showed no signs of the back injury that made him pull out from Doha earlier in the month.
Elsewhere in the Draw
The most anticipated 1st round match, between Australia's Grand Slam Hope, Bernard Tomic, and Fernando Verdasco lived up to the hype and went all the way to five sets in crazily hot conditions in the day session. I didn't watch the match, but it looks like a trademark Fiasco Choke. He was leading 2-0, got pegged back and then lost it in the 5th. From other reports the hot conditions made both players struggle towards the end but Tomic ending pulling it out the bag. If you're a Federer fan it's good news that Tomic is getting pushed to 5 sets early on as they're potential fourth round opponents. There's no way you can win a slam with matches going the distance early on. Maybe 1, but any more and you have nothing in reserve for the second week should you need it.
Nadal also cruised through his match, although he was sporting knee strapping after supposedly being close to withdrawing. I'm not sure if it's true, as we've seen this type of gamesmanship from him before, acting as though he's on his deathbed only to come out firing on all cylinders. However, his knees are prone to injury on the hard courts due to his taxing game style as we saw in 2010 and 2011 against Murray and Ferrer respectively. So really this all bodes well for Federer who would meet Rafa in the Semi Finals.
My thoughts on Nadal and Davydenkos Criticism of Roger
It's pretty likely the media has blown this out of proportion and much of what has been said is lost in translation, however, from what I gather both Nadal and Davydenko have said that the tour is too long and Roger doesn't speak up about it because it doesn't effect him and he only cares about himself.
I find that pretty rich coming from Nadal, who only 2 months back wanted a 2 year ranking system, which basically voids the chances of any other players breaking into the the top 10 and sustaining it. So really, he only ever thinks of himself.
Now he wants the tour trimming down, its worth noting he didn't bring this issue up in 2010 when he played every tournament under the sun to rack up rankings points and he had probably his best year on the tour.
From what I've seen Roger bases a lot of his decisions on what is better for the sport, and how overall decisions effect the rest of the players ie Top 250, not just the top 4. Whilst he has to be selfish to an extent, otherwise he wouldn't be a 16 time slam champion, when it comes to executive decisions like this, he's the most selfless on tour. Reducing the schedule makes it a lot harder for other players to rack up all important ranking points, so really Nadal is slating the process that actually propelled him to the very top of the game.
Davydenko's comments are ridiculous too – “Because he don’t want … any problems. He’s nice guy. He’s winning Grand Slams. He’s from Switzerland. He’s perfect” Just sounds like sour grapes to me from a guy who has won ZERO slams. The last time I checked Davydenko is the sort of player who needs a boatload of matches to get himself into form, yet now he too feels like he's beeen overplayed.
When you look at the life of a tennis player, they get to play in some of the nicest locations across the world, and get paid a ton of money for it. It's hardly a difficult life, and whilst they have all worked hard to get there, when they complain about something like this, then it's definitely difficult to relate to.
To read more on the Fedalydenko rift – check out the following:
PS. I've also added a review based system to match reports which I'll be using from now on to judge Roger's matches out of 5 stars. I think I've put in the best criteria to judge on, but I may tweak it!