Monday, January 21, 2013

Squeaking vs. gliding through

The match of the tournament so far definitely has been the 5 hour nail biter between Djokovic and Wawrinka, not just because of its length and scoreline (which ended 12-10 in the 5th) but because of the high intensity in level of play for the full 5 hours.  Stan started out on fire, breaking the #1's serve over and over again to win the first set 6-1 and start the second set also up a break.  It looked like he could end up with a pretty quick two set lead before reality closed in, his level dropped a bit, and Novak upped his game.  Though Djokovic went on to take the second set and then the third, the impressive part was that Stan kept fighting through the entire 5 hours, never giving into discouragement, and he continued to pressure Novak with sizzling winners firing from his racquet.  It really looked like it could go either way through that long 5th set, but as in so many cases champions seem to have that tiny bit extra that pulls them through these pressurized moments.  I was very disappointed for Wawrinka that after such a hard fought battle both physically and mentally, that he wasn't able to come away with what would have been a huge upset win against the three time Aussie champion.  In spite of not earning the win, however, I believe he certainly earned much respect in the locker room for pushing Novak Djokovic to the brink of defeat in the Round of 16.

The only man left in the tournament who still hasn't lost his serve after four rounds is Roger Federer.  It was agreed pretty much across the board that Roger had the most difficult draw of those favored to to be holding the trophy at the end of the fortnight.  He put on another clinical display of great tennis in his fourth round match against Milos Raonic, a dangerous player who has taken a set off him at each of their prior three meetings.  Not even facing a break point the whole match, he served great and and was once again able to keep his unforced error count extremely low.  Interestingly, he has faced very different types of players in each of the rounds so far and has had the answers for every one.  Obviously things can change a lot from one match to the next and he will undoubtedly have his hands full with Jo Wilfred Tsonga.  Fed fans have to be pleased, though, with how sharp he looks so far, including his great movement around the court.  With 35 consecutive quarterfinals in majors now, he continues to add to his impressive record that sets him so far apart from all others.

And finally, I'm glad that Roger is taking care of his back playing in the cool conditions.  I loved his post match interview with Jim Courier where he claimed the undershirt was because he needed to take care of his big muscles underneath.  And his comments about his skinny left arm being such a threat were hilarious.  Great to see him so relaxed and enjoying himself. 

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