I've been away over the weekend so unfortunately didn't get chance to post on the Harrison and Roddick matches, I've now managed to watch both in full so this post will simply be my take on the matches and how I saw them. I'll start with, as you'd expect, Roger's first match against American Ryan Harrison.
Federer vs. Harrison
As expected Roger got through this match with little trouble, it could, and probably should have been by a wider margin but some strange points and some misfortune made the scoreline a touch closer.
The first set was Roger playing total free flowing tennis. He had Harrison completely where he wanted him and was really just going through the motions. Harrison is capable and has some talent but I don't see him being a threat at the top level – he is really just your typical American hard court player. Roger rates his second serve however, so I maybe proved wrong.
Roger won the first set 6-2 without seemingly breaking a sweat. The second looked to be heading the same way and Roger served for the match at 5-3 but got broken. It was pretty weird, the way Roger played to slip down to 15-40 was poor and then on break point, he mistakenly didn't play a ball that was called out by a member of the crowd. I don't think he can have any complaints – really it was his own fault and I can only put it down to a lack of concentration.
Harrison upped his level after that and really showed some good fight to take the match into a tie break, his fight however was shortlived and Roger rolled through the tie break taking it 7-3.
I felt like I had to win the match like three times at the end, so I was relieved to come through. Beating against an American in America is always a big deal, because this is where they usually play their very best.
I was pretty pleased with the way Roger played, he moved really well and was basically carrying off from where he left off after his win in Indian Wells against Isner. The only notable difference was the speed of the courts they were much slower. I read on Twitter that Brad Gilbert heard they were playing much faster, that looked a bad call from where I was watching. Apparently only the outer courts are playing quicker and the stadium court is as slow as ever.
That to me seems flawed, all courts in the grounds should be designed to play as near as possible to each other. Making the show courts slower just reeks of money i.e. creating stupidly long rallies so that people spend longer in the grounds and more on food & drink.
Roddick upsets Federer
After defeating Harrison, Roger setup a meeting with his old rival – Andy Roddick. Heading into the match I thought Roger would come through pretty comfortably. He was 21-2 in the H2H and Roddick has been losing to every man and his dog over the last few months so an upset seemed unlikely.
The first set was basically just both players trading service holds, if you had to pick one man to win it you'd say Roger looked the more likely when he got into the rallies. With no great surprise the first set headed into a tie break, usually these favour big servers but Roger always seems to come out on top against Roddick. This time however he didn't. At 4-3 Roddick, Fed played a forehand approach shot on the move and then was unable to put away a slightly tricky overhead. He really should have made it but it gave Roddick the mini break he needed and he duly took the first set.
The second set was a total turn of events when compared to the first, Roger sprung to life and started returning the Roddick serve with ease, he broke him 3 times and took the set 6-1 to level the match. Roger changed up tactics slightly and started coming into the net more frequently, it paid off as Roddick was deep behind the baseline and struggled to get anything meaningful on his own returns.
The unfortunate thing about not being able to watch the match live was I already knew the result before I watched a recording of it, had it been live I think I'd have banked on Roger winning the third set comfortably. He had all the momentum and created break point chances at 1-0 but couldn't convert.
After saving the BP's Roddick went into overdrive and started playing high risk tennis (something he should do more of), he played aggressive and really caught Fed off guard. He broke in the next game and went onto seal the match hitting 3 consecutive booming first serves.
I feel like I lost against a former No. 1. That's how it felt, not that I lost against a guy ranked 30 in the world. That ranking is not real, so it was a tough second round. I knew that in the start, and particularly here in Miami where I lost against him in the past. So I was aware of that, and I didn't underestimate Andy at all.
Federer press conference after Roddick loss
Don't read too much into the loss
After watching this match I have to say it's impossible to read too much into it. If it had been over 5 sets, Roger would have won. If it had been played on a different surface away from Miami, Roger would have won.
To get upset about the loss or feel like Rogers run has come to an end isn't worth it. The fact is, Roger still had plenty chances to win the match, he had break points, he created plenty opportunities. All this on a slow sticky clay like hard court against a guy playing in the zone tennis and playing his best match for a long time.
I also have to pay respect to Roddick, he somewhat thrives in Miami and it gives him a new lease of live. He served great and didn't beat himself up after losing the 2nd set 6-1 which would have been understandable. He held firm in the final set and played as aggressive as I've seen probably since he beat Murray at Wimbledon in 2009. In other words, he deserved to win.
Yeah. Maybe 30 matches for the season. Just feeling like it's taken its toll a bit, which is normal. But I've played more tired in the past, so this was not the most tired I have ever been, but you just start to feel it a bit. I didn't just get the lucky break today that I got in Indian Wells. And, yeah, I mean, I regret missing those opportunities and giving myself maybe a chance for tomorrow. Then you never know how things all of a sudden turn out in the tournament. Yeah, it is what it is tonight, and I'll deal with it the way I always have.
Overall I am not downbeat about this loss in the slightest, it actually could prove to be a blessing in disguise. The last thing we need is Roger burning himself out before the next 2 grand slams. He's never had an easy ride in Miami so we really had no reasons to expect this tournament to be as successful as the last 3 he's played. Yes he lost his 16 match unbeaten run but in the grand scheme of things it's really irrelevant. I'd personally rather see him win Wimbledon rather than chase down number 1 collecting as many points as possible.