Total cruise match from Roger here as he swiftly progressed into the Madrid Quarter Finals seeing off Frenchman Richard Gasquet in straight sets.
After battling past Raonic yesterday evening it wouldn't have been stupid to think tonight's match against the talented Gasquet was going to be equally difficult. As I predicted though Roger clicked from the offset was was able to break Gasquets serve 3 times in a very convincing victory.
As usual Gasquet showed glimpses of his shot making ability but was unable to produce the consistency and hitting required to beat Roger. The writing was pretty much on the wall from the very first game, Roger opened the match with an ace and never really looked back.
He played with variety from the outset and the dropshot was in action as early as the second game, a crazy reflex volley soon followed and Fed was quickly up 3-1 after breaking comfortably. As soon as I'd seen Fed hit that volley I knew the match was going to be plain sailing. It's almost as if he needs 1 JesusFed moment and then everything else just falls into place and he really can do no wrong. After facing the customary break point on his own serve after breaking he went onto clinch the first set in just under half an hour. Very comfortable.
The second set was almost identical, Roger broke Gasquets opening service game, led 3-1, secured the double break and went onto serve out the match to win 6-3 6-2.
Takeaways from the match
I thought Roger played a lot more solid today, one can argue that he matches up far better against Gasquet than he does Raonic but from what I saw Roger struck the ball far more cleanly.
Of course Gasquet doesn't possess the serve or power of Raonic but in todays match Roger was timing better and was able to dictate play from the baseline. His forehand had a lot more zip on it and he managed to create some great angles that pushed Gasquet way outside the lines.
His serve, just like last night was on top form, and as I tweeted, I believe that the one litmus test of when Roger is playing well is when the inside in forehand consistently lands inches within the line wrong footing his opponent and tonight it did so on numerous occasions.
Predictions vs. Ferrer
Roger leads the head to head with Ferrer 12-0. They last met at the ATP World Tour Finals in London which was a very one sided affair.
There's just something about Ferrer's game that makes it a great match up for Roger. He doesn't have any stand out weapons, he's just consistent and so far that has never been enough to get the job done. I think tomorrows match will be quite tough for Fed however, Ferrer is playing some good stuff (he made the final in Barcelona before losing to Nadal) and is on his preferred clay surface. Albeit being blue and fast.
I still see Roger winning though, his return of serve will be important as that's the one area Ferrer is relatively weak. The Spaniard is great at defending from the baseline so I'm sure the variety and guile Roger is able to bring to the court will be enough to see him over the line. I'll go for 2 close sets 7-5 6-4.
Verdasco Upsets Nadal
Although this is primarily a blog about Federer I still like to discuss other matches in the tennis world, and when his biggest rival gets a beatdown from Fernando Verdasco, the guy he's whooped on every surface for the last 7 years, then it deserves to get a mention.
Verdasco has been a total pigeon for Nadal over the years, consistently getting bagelled (Monte Carlo Final, disaster) and always seems to lose without too much of a fight. There's only really one match where Verdasco looked like beating Nadal and that was at the Australian Open in 2009, but since 2005 he's lost all 13 matches against Rafa. Going back to Aus 09, that is actually one of my all time favourite matches, I actually thought Verdasco was a slam candidate after watching it 😀 needless to say he hasn't gotten anywhere close since. But anyway, it was about time he got one over his fellow countryman and he's now well on the way to turning his 13-1 H2H deficit around. Well not quite, but it's a start.
It now means Roger won't have to face Nadal in the final which I guess makes it somewhat easier as the other half of the draw is now completely wide open. Of course a semi final against Djokovic looms which will be a tough match but so far the Serbian hasn't been playing great. Although as I write this he's just seen off Stan Wawrinka in 2 sets so he's improved from his 1st round match.
My Thoughts on Blue Clay
I've seen a lot of people moaning about blue clay saying how dangerous it is, how slippy it is and that it shouldn't be allowed. But I just don't get it?
As of yet, nobody has slipped over or gotten injured as a direct result of it and to be honest I'd say the grass courts in the first week of Wimbledon are more of a hazard.
Nadal has once again moaned about it saying that if it stays blue then he won't be playing Madrid next year, I'd have preferred it if he voiced these concerns prior to losing as currently it just looks like sour grapes. (Or just a clever PR stunt as instructed by the tournament organiser Ion Tiriac hmmm!)
At the end of the day tournaments have to make money to survive and the best way to do that is to make them more attractive to the people who buy tickets and to the TV companies who buy the rights to the matches. By doing something different and out of the norm Madrid has got something unique which nobody has seen before and I think it's pretty cool. You get to see the ball better too and it just looks more pleasant on the eye than the red stuff.
Despite all the talk of it being bad for tennis, the fact everybody is talking about blue clay and I'm even blogging about it means it's done its job pretty well!
I'll be back tomorrow with a write up on the Fed vs. Ferrer match. Hasta manana!