I listened to the match and just watched it when I got home. I heard all about how great Roger was and that Murray was no where but I wanted to see for myself.
Roger was impressive, we really haven’t seen him like this against top players for a long time but a few key things seem to favour him right now that makes this result good but not a proper test. We are going to have to wait until Federer takes on Nadal in the semis to see what all this really means. I still favour Nadal and I’ll tell you why.
The obvious advantage Federer has is that Andy is playing his first slam after back surgery in September. In fact this was the first real test since then and that is what I saw. Murray couldn’t time the ball properly the first two sets. Making silly errors he normally wouldn’t. That could be down to Rogers prowess but I’m inclined to put it down to a lack of match fitness.
I had the same problem in a match last night. I’m getting over a few injuries myself so I’m holding back and taking my time. I’m not playing much and feeling my way back. So I haven’t played any serious competitors for a couple of months, until last night. I’ve been doing well in matches with friends. Getting a real timing but this match was different. The pace, tactics and general feel were intense. Exactly what I need to get my game back but a real lesson. Shots I can normally bank on I struggled to make and I kept mistiming.
It happens to everyone and that’s what I saw with Murray. Only in the third set did I feel he started getting some timing and thus confidence. That’s when he went toe to toe with Roger throughout the set. Getting broken and then breaking back. Something like the Murray we’re used to. Eventually winning the set.
Rogers new attitude
On the other hand Roger played the tour finals. Reminding himself he can still perform against the tours best. Making it out of his group giving him huge confidence to go with his new attitude, racquet and coach
I do think Roger played above the level we’re used to seeing but I also saw chance after chance that a match fit Murray would have taken, changing the feel of the rally and out come of many.
Taking this further Mats Wilander mentioned how Fed was constantly going down the T with his serves instead of his favourite slider out wide. Mats said it makes sense to keep Murray guessing and saving his best serve until key points. Against Tsonga Roger served as usual with his slider any chance he got.
I wonder if there was another reason. In an earlier interview Murray explained that his surgery addressed a problem Murray had with high balls to his backhand. I assume it’s the type of delivery Nadal specialises in. That seems a better reason for Fed to go down the T to Murrays backhand in the deuce court. I didn’t check where he went in the ad court so I may be wrong but this is another important reason Fed could take advantage of Andys current weakness. Something that won’t be there in the next slam they meet.
The Statistical story
Another way to interpret the result though is through previous stats. A Quarterfinal on Federer’s Racquet by Heavy Topspin is an excellent insight into the lopsided match up between Andy and Roger.
In the end it is an interesting match. I just hope that Andy benefited from being pushed and wasn’t hurt. Thought, strangely I’m glad he lost because he can now recover properly. He goes quiet during the clay court season so he should be properly ready for Wimbledon and carry on with his career.
The resurgence continues
Roger on the other hand. That story is still continuing and poses a very interesting situation. How often is it that Rafa has everything to lose and Roger everything to gain. As it stands Rafa simiply cannot allow Roger to win. How he deals with that pressure is an exciting prospect.