Hey everyone, apologies on the delay on this post, the time difference screws me over a little as the matches finish late and I have to work during the day so can't always get them done.
Anyway onto last night's match where Roger struggled through against fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-5 in two hours and 20 minutes.
It was a terrible match from start to finish to be quite honest, the level was poor from both guys and Roger blew a golden chance to put it to bed when he served for it at 5-4 in the second set only to get broken to love.
I'm not sure what was up with Roger but he was mojoless out there for most of the match, sluggish, lacklustre, not his normal self call it what you will but he was lucky to come out of this one and as usual StanCHOKE played his part with some really poor play when he had chance to steal the initiative.
First Set – Sloppy
After waiting an eternity for the WTA match to finish I was hoping Roger would come out and play like he did against Istomin. First game, he got broken to love 😀
It was a shocking start and I don't recall Stan having to win a point, he just had to watch the shanks and serves fly into the tramlines and he was up an early break. Fortunately Wawrinka is one of those guys that can't seem to step out of Roger's shadow even when he's in good form and he handed the break straight back with a string of errors.
Roger then got his act together to hold and broke in the very next game to take a 3-1 lead. The second break proved to be enough and he served out the set 6-3.
I'm hard pushed to remember anything of note happening other than thinking Fed wasn't at his best, not really moving great and thinking he was pretty fortunate that Stan was equally as bad.
Second Set – Wawrinka Extends the Match
The second started a little brighter for Roger compared to the first as at 1-1 he broke Stans serve albeit quite luckily with a net cord. At 3-1 Wawrinka had 2 break points back but Roger turned it up a notch to hold and went on to lead 5-4 and serve for the match.
Like his very first game of the match he was broken to love, somewhat reminiscent of the Berdych match in Dubai but at least he didn't have match points this time around.
The breaker was pretty even with both guys exchanging mini breaks freely but it was Stan who got the set points on the board and Roger fired down a double fault to allow Stan right back into the match.
Third Set – Federer Creeps Over the Finish Line
By this point I was half asleep and not quite sure what to expect, Roger wasted 5 break points in Stan's opening service game and then relinquished his own serve in the very next game. Talk about following the usual Federer script.
It was actually the most entertaining game of the match as Roger had a mini meltdown with Umpire Fergus Murphy after he was denied the opportunity to challenge. Basically he hit a serve and then missed the follow up volley but wanted to challenge the serve as he thought it was out (which it was) but the Umpire insisted he'd played out the point.
I thought the Umpire was probably right to be honest, Federer had a point it was a natural reaction but he didn't really attempt to stop play. Either way I had flashbacks to the 2009 US Open Final incident with Jake Garner and we all know how that ended up.
Fortunately this melt down was short lived as Roger broke straight back yet again, I'd like to say through genius but he just returned marginally better and Wawrinka kept messing up.
At 4-4 Wawrinka had another break point but Roger saved it and with Stan serving to stay in the match at 6-5 Roger setup two match points at 15-40 and sealed it when Wawrinka made another error.
Today it was extremely close again. Okay, I should have maybe closed it out in the second set, but he did well to stay in it, at the end, I don't know what [got] me through. Maybe it's the experience or maybe [I was] a bit more calm in those moments. I'm not sure. Today I think I was a little lucky to come through it in the end.
Shot of the Match
Oil painting of a backhand 😛
Thoughts on the Match
Overall I think Roger was pretty lucky to get out of this one as the winner. He was way below part throughout, didn't look to be moving great or really have much confidence going for his shots. In fact he was pushing / moonballing at some stages which wasn't fun to watch.
I guess the positives are he still managed to come through when it looked like he could be heading back to Switzerland for a 2 month break off the back of another painful loss.
As for the reason to his sub-par performance I'm not sure, is it the back that's causing him problems? He didn't really move or serve fantastically well so it's likely there is some kind of lingering problem that means he can't really play his usual game.
It's extremely tough to play with an injury as it plays on your mind and makes you doubt all the time. That would explain the lapses in concentration and lack of consistency in his game right now. Since the Istomin match he's not been at the races. Whether it's the back or something else there is definitely something effecting his motivation and skill level on court. One minutes he's on, the next he's off. Quite annoying to watch but we just have to deal with it for now.
Predictions vs. Nadal
Well the Quarter Final everyone wanted and expected has arrived after Nadal beat Gulbis in 3 tight sets, I didn't watch it but by the scoreline and stats it was pretty close with Nadal only winning 2 more points than the Latvian.
As usual Nadal is playing down his chances for this one but I make him slight favourite based on the tournament so far. I said in my draw post I give Nadal the edge just because of how he plays and I'm still thinking along those lines.
If Roger plays like he did against Dodo Dodig and Wawrinka then he's pretty much toast as Nadal will eat that up all day long. Obviously if the Federer who destroyed Istomin turns up then Nadal could get blown off court like he did at the o2 World Tour Finals in 2011. It's somewhat in the balance I suppose. It all depends which Roger Federer turns up and if he can play without any sort of back problem hampering him.
If you think about it, that's probably the better scenario to be in, knowing that the match can be determined by how well you can play because your top level is higher than your opponents. But of course Roger's margins are much smaller so he's got to continually land the ball on a 50 pence piece almost to keep ahead.
Both guys are coming into the match with a few question marks over their heads and whilst Nadal hasn't exactly been impressive he's definitely the sort of player who can grind out matches whereas Roger isn't naturally that type of guy.
I figure this match will go 3 and whoever wins the first set takes the match. Having just watched the Fed vs Wawrinka highlights again I was perhaps a tad harsh of Fed's performance (still wasn't great mind) so maybe he does have something in the tank for tonight. We'll find out, allez!
Finally I'd just like to say thanks to everyone who commented on my previous post about the Dodig victory. I won't name names but you know who you are. There were some great comments and discussion on that post and with over 170 comments its a record for the blog which is pretty cool so thanks! 🙂