Hey all! Roger's tournament is underway and it couldn't have started much better for him as he cruised through with a routine 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 victory over young Frenchman Benoit Paire.
I expected Roger to be pretty rusty after he chose to play no warm up tournaments but to be honest he looked to be on form from the outset. Paire offered little resistance either so rust or no rust there was only going to be one winner.
Federer was able to break in the first game, save 2 break points in the next and take the first set comfortably. Paire will have been nervous prior to the match and then to get broken first game plus waste break points back will have shaken him mentally. French players tend to be very mentally weak so to be honest there was probably no way back for him after that even though it happened so early on.
The second set started a little brighter for Paire as he served 2 aces on the trot to hold and take the first game; once again though Roger kept his level just above the Frenchman's and broke for a 2-1 lead and then held to love before serving out the set 6-3. Cruise control.
Federer broke to open the third and by this point Paire was completely done. He actually played like a mug after that; choosing to put in stupid hawkeye challenges, attempting ridiculous between the legs shots and trying to hit everything at 100mph. I thought it was kinda daft really but I guess he had to at least try something different, even though it looked more half hearted than anything meaningful. Roger of course took it in his stride and was all business just applying more and more pressure.
Paire finally held at 4-1 and actually had a break point of his own but couldn't convert and Roger closed out the match to comfortably move into the second round where he'll meet Nikolay Davydenko who beat Dudi Sela in 4 sets.
I heard a few people say Paire was disrespectful by trying silly shots, I agree to an extent but really I think he was just clueless out there so had to try something out of the ordinary. His quote after the match sums it up:
It's tough. I don't know what to do against him,” the Frenchman said. “I don't know (how to handle) his serving or his returning. For me, I can do nothing.
Paire is world number 46 and supposedly one of the brightest prospects on tour but to say he has no clue just shows how far ahead the guys in top 4 and even top 10 to an extent really are compared to everyone else.
Federer on his match with Paire
I started with the early break, and then saved a few break points, and then had the lead ever since. So obviously when you're in the lead, you feel better, you feel less pressure, you try a few things to see if those works and then you have options up your sleeve.
I'm obviously very happy with this first round match, so total control. He can be a tricky opponent, you know, but I guess his playing style doesn't disturb me that much overall. I'm happy I was able to play a clean match out there today.
Overall I thought this was a pretty perfect start from Roger. Paire didn't play well but I don't think a test is really what's needed just yet, they need to come in the later rounds or just before the start of the second week.
Fed served well, hit some good ground strokes and never really looked trouble so it's hard to say if there's anything he needs to specifically improve on. Perhaps the best thing he can do is just keep progressing through the rounds, conserve his energy and hopefully bring his A-Game when it counts.
There's been no upsets in the draw as of yet as both Djokovic and Murray had similar matches to this one, both winning in straight sets. None of the top seeds have fallen and everyone I expected to win has done so far.
Tomic made it through comfortably too and he plays Daniel Brands who beat Martin Klizan. I think Brands will put up more of a fight than Klizan would have done so it could be interesting. I expect Tomic to win though and he'll most likely face Roger; but that's not a guarantee just yet so we'll wait and see.
Predictions vs. Davydenko
Next up for Roger is Davydenko, these two last met in Rotterdam last February where Roger prevailed in 3 sets before going on to take the title. It was one of my favourite matches of last year as it epitomised Roger 3.0 and to an extent was the match that got his 2012 season rolling after his defeat to Nadal in Australia.
Roger leads the H2H 17-2 and it's been a very one sided rivarly to be quite honest. Davydenko won both of his matches in the space of 2 months back in 2009/10 but Roger has won the last 5 meetings making him clear favourite. Davydenko troubled him back in 2010 in Melbourne where he was a set and a break to the good but I can't see it happening this time.
He might be on a bit of a mini resurgence making the final in Doha again but he always plays well there and I think Roger knows his game too well to slip up here. There might be a close set in there but I see Roger crossing the line in straight sets again 7-5 6-2 6-4. Allez!
I had a very close match with him in Rotterdam last year. I should have won in two; ended up being 4-4, 0-40 in the third. I was very close to losing. Next thing you know, nobody talks about it. I went on to win the tournament and nobody talks about Nikolay.
So it's nice to see him playing well again. And if I do play well against him, you're aware that he is a top player who can do a lot of damage. I better be well prepared and play well.
Over to you, did you enjoy Fed's first match on Rod Laver and what are your prediction for the Davydenko match?