Well talk about a rollercoaster of a match. I thought for a good portion of it that writing this would be my last blog post on Shanghai but yet again Roger 3.0 had other ideas coming back from a set down to defeat Stan Wawrinka 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-0 and guarantee the Number 1 ranking for a little while longer.
After seeing Roger look fresh and ready in his match against Lu, today was a completely different story. He started slow, looked disinterested and almost like he was playing with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
With an 11-1 head to head record in Roger's favour I fully expected him to cruise through but in a match that lasted 2 hours Wawrinka will be extremely disappointed to not have won and really result was on his racket up until the third set.
The first set was completely uncharacteristic of the Federer of late as he struggled to make any sort of impact, after wasting 2 break points at 2-1 his game went AWOL and that allowed Wawrinka to grow in confidence and really dominate the play on both wings.
At 2-3 Wawrinka reeled off 8 points in a row to break and served out the set to take it 6-4. He'd played probably the best I've seen him play in a while, his serve was huge and he was just really going for his ground strokes, even when Roger replied with huge forehands Stan just seemed to be ready to go blow for blow and more often than not he drew the error from the Federer racket.
The second set started a little brighter for Roger as this time he got the early break to lead 3-1, it was like his game clicked for a moment and he hit some awesome winners but then went and handed it straight back, playing a casual half volley at deuce then then blazing a forehand wide. Wawrinka must have thought all his Christmas's had come at once and if he could just keep to a level then he'd take the match.
After failing to consolidate the break I did feel like this was just going to be one of those matches that got away but as we all know the Federer of this year has a different attitude when it comes to these types of encounters. Despite still nowhere near his best barring the odd flash of brilliance he managed to hang tough in the set, saved a break point at 4-4 which would have been a virtual match point and then took the tie break 7-4 to level up the match.
You have to say Fed had no real right to win the set, despite hitting the odd amazing shot he was still well below par and Wawrinka was the one in control. The breaker changed everything though and once Roger got into a lead he found that little bit of rhythm to take it into a decider.
The third was a total melt down from Stan and Roger found another gear to streak away taking it 6-0 with the loss of just 5 points. I guess Stan isn't the most mentally strong player and considering Fed practically handed the match to him on a plate and he didn't take it played on his mind.
Really this match just exemplifies the way Roger has played all year, he's managed to stay in matches, not get flustered when things aren't working and finds a way to win. Perhaps today he got a little lucky but he managed to fight when it mattered and once he could relax a little and play freely he took the game away from Wawrinka.
Overall it's a pretty tough loss for Wawrinka and you can't see him ever beating Roger after that, if Fed gives you a chance then you kinda have to take it otherwise it's coming back to haunt you. From Roger's perspective it was another great win, he came from the jaws of defeat to emerge victorious, secured the number 1 ranking and still has a chance of winning Shanghai. Sweet!
I never thought of something like this when I was a little kid, that's for sure,” said Federer. “I was just hoping one day my dream was going to come true to play on the regular tour, play Wimbledon, maybe become World No. 1 at some stage. So here I am at 300 weeks. It's pretty incredible. Probably one of my biggest accomplishments. I'm very proud of that record, no doubt about it.
Predictions vs. Cilic
Next up for Roger is Cilic whom he leads in the H2H 3-0 with their last match coming at the 2011 US Open.
Cilic is a bit of an unknown quantity in the men's game really, has he been around too long to be still classed as a rising talent? Is he still getting better? I don't know really but what I do know is some days he's good and other days he's terrible. Take the US Open for example, he looks in great form up until the Quarters and then chokes away the match after being a point away from taking a 2 set lead against Murray. Crazy.
Roger usually has one bad match in a tournament like this so hopefully today was just that and he's able to come out firing against Cilic. I think if Roger mixes up his play he'll likely bamboozle the Croat and he'll end up making errors and struggling with the pace of the ball.
I heard on Twitter some talk of muscle pain against Lu but I figure that's only natural after a short break from competitive play so I think Roger is getting it done tomorrow in straights.