Hey guys. Another solid match from Roger and he's into the final where he'll meet his old adversary Rafael Nadal who predictably got by Berdscat in today's other semi final.
Today's match wasn't the cleanest from Roger but he got the job done and played well enough when it mattered to progress in just under an hour and a half without really looking too troubled. There were a couple of moments where if Paire had composure he could have made his mark on the match but he ultimately fell short and Federer was able capitalise.
Quick Match Analysis
Like I've said in my past couple of posts the first game often sets the tone for the match, against Simon and Starace Roger fired down love holds but today he had to fight off two break points before holding.
That pretty much said to me this was going to be quite a tight match and Roger wouldn't be zoning in like he'd been doing most of the week. That turned out to be the case really as Paire started the match well, striking the ball very cleanly and holding quite comfortably.
It was tactically quite smart from Paire who kept stepping into the court once Roger chipped the return which allowed him to get on top in a lot of the points and hold serve easily.
At 3-2 Roger had 3 break points on the Paire serve but wasted them and then got broken himself in the very next game which was a little frustrating. However Paire isn't the most composed of guys on tour and dropped serve himself immediately before he could consolidate.
The break back was followed up by 2 convincing love holds by Roger and he went into a tie break that I think Paire could and should have won just he choked it away. He twice had the mini break advantage but made some poor errors and kept letting Roger back in. You can't keep giving someone like Roger multiple chances as eventually he will make you pay which he did as he sealed the breaker with a nice combination of shots.
The second set was quite similar to the first in terms of the level but it was Roger who got the break this time around as Paire hit back to back double faults to hand over the initiative. Again mental frailties from the Frenchman costing him dear. From that point on all Roger needed to do was concentrate on his own service games and make sure he held which he did with relative ease and served it out to love hitting his two nicest shots of the match in the process, a sweet lob and then a sick inside in forehand down the line.
Point of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
Overall another solid performance from the GOAT, there's no way we can expect him to zone in all the time and Paire was the perfect opponent to have a relatively off day against.
Apart from dropping serve once in the first set I thought Roger served very well again today and he was in control of the vast majority of his service games. The stats don't make the best reading in fact Paire's are arguably better but Roger won more of the important points and he still managed to get the job done in straights which was very nice to see.
There weren't many genius like moments out there tonight to choose from, in fact the match and crowd were quite flat for most of it but he still conjoured up some sweet forehands and was reliable with his overheads and net play which was good to see.
Predictions vs. Nadal
After Djokovic lost to Berdych, Nadal was always going to be Roger's opponent in the final if he was able to hold his end of the bargain. I watched Nadal's match today against Berdych and he looked to be in ominous form, granted Berdych is a mental midget and came in without any sort of gameplan which made it very easy for Nadal but he was moving very well. I also think the tight matches vs. Gulbis and Ferrer have helped him here quite significantly.
It's currently 19-10 in the H2H so Turkey status looms large for Roger and I do think he faces an uphill struggle tomorrow to come out on the winning side of the net, it's not impossible as we know he always has a chance but I think it's very slight. If you're asking for percentages I'm thinking only around a 10% chance he can win.
But anyway forget what chance I think he has, one of they key aspects for him to win his how much he believes in himself and that is going to be very important. Any moments of self doubt and Nadal will capitalise so it's important for Roger to play solidly and if he gets a chance to take it and not relinquish the advantage. That's easier said than done against Dull especially on clay but it's not out of the question as Roger is one of the few guys to have beaten him in clay finals before.
As for gameplan I think Roger just has to go for out and out aggression, he can't possibly emulate the way Djkovic breaks down Nadal so he has to try and recreate what Gulbis was able to do earlier in the week but take it one step further and maintain it over the course of the entire match.
He obviously knows his backhand is going to be targeted so changing up play and going down the line will be an important shot, I particularly like the chopped slice down the line and coming in behind it, it makes it difficult for Nadal to hit with top spin when the ball keeps low meaning he will make errors or leave a relatively easy put away.
The serve is again going to be important as he needs as many cheap points as possible and you always have to back him to create chances on the return so if he serves well then there is always a good chance he can come out of this match with the trophy which would be pretty epic.
Other than that it's going to be a case of staying mentally tough, moving well to run around his backhand and always being prepared to have to play one more shot. You can almost guarantee Dull will be running around like a maniac getting balls back so there's no point looking surprised when he pulls out a ridiculous get, you either have to be in position to deal with it or just say that was too good but next time I'm putting the rally to bed.
Whatever happens I'm quite looking forward to this one, usually Fedal matches have an anti climatic feel about them but this one could be quite good. Roger can play without pressure really as making the final here is a very solid performance and he's made a strong statement in this tournament and will surely be in good shape for the rest of the year.
The only thing I will say about Fedal is that it's just a shame that every time these guys meet in a final it seems to be always on clay, everytime Nadal makes a final on clay Roger is the guy who wins his matches to meet him, but whenever Roger is waiting in the final on a different surface Nadal can never keep his end of the bargain, he's either running scared and out injured or loses beforehand. No wonder it's a lopsided H2H, and Gaurav proved that statistically in his post about it here.
Anyway, here's hoping for a Goderer like performance and I hope you guys enjoy the final. Win or lose I'll be back with a post on it tomorrow. Allez!