Pretty weird match from Roger and not really how I expected it to pan out considering he's never even lost a set to Nieminen, I predicted a close 2 sets win but he ended up dropping the second set after cruising the first. But anyway, he's through to the quarter finals now where he will either play Andy Roddick or Radek Stepanek. I predict Stepanek wins that. Either way, I see neither opponent causing Fed too many problems.
Back to the match with Nieminen, Roger totally breezed the first set winning it 6-1. His first serve was at a lowly 56% but he still hit four aces and won 75 per cent (12 of 16) of his service points. After 24 minutes of regulation tennis, the wheels somewhat fell off in the second set – Nieminen broke in the first game and the fifth. Roger made a little comeback towards the end of the set after Nieminen showed some nerves as he tried to serve it out. Roger actually should have levelled at 5-5 but missed a total gimme after the Fin rolled in a stupidly slow serve that was in the middle of the service box. However, Roger missed and Nieminen took the set 6-4.
Final Set – Normal Service Resumed…
In the final set Fed did pick up his game, he quickly established a 3-0 lead hitting an insane backhand cross court winner on the return of serve that delighted his hometown crowd. The double faults of the second set were eradicated. The only real scare was at 5-3 when Roger was serving for it, he wasted a match point (he needs to stop doing that as it costs him against better players i.e. Djokovic US Open 2011 Semi Final) and then had to fight off a couple of break points himself. Ultimately though he did, and won the final set 6-3.
1st serve %
Winning % on 1st Serve
Winning % on 2nd Serve Serve
Break Points Converted
37 of 42 = 88%
15 of 36 = 42%
3 of 5 = 60%
Has to serve better
Overall, it wasn't a great match but Roger still came through. I think Nieminen is quite tricky to play against for 3 reasons really a.) he's a leftie, b.) he's pretty unorthodox and c.) he constantly hits the ball on the move – walking into shots and kind of surprising his opponent. The only disappointment was Roger's serve – I expected improvement from his first round win against Starace but it was actually worse. He's served more double faults in 2 matches than he usually does over the course of an entire Grand Slam. It's still early days as far as the tournament is concerned and even though he's not going to face a good returner unless he plays Djokovic in the final I still think he needs to improve it quickly for the WTF and heading into next year.
Everything else seems to be in order, the forerhand is working well and backhand seems solid enough. My only other criticism is there's a few instances where I feel he's got himself pushed behind the baseline and ended up playing tennis where he becomes instantly disadvantaged and 9 times out of 10 loses the point, I think on this indoor surface it would pay to come into the net far more often and he'd be able to end points much quicker. He does do it sometimes but it's more like it's a concious thought and not a natural reaction, which is why on important points he tends to forget. My idea would be to strap an electric shock device to his leg in training, and every time he should approach the net Annocone hits the button to set it off. He'd soon learn.