Saturday, August 9, 2014

Roger's Toronto experience thus far

It's been quite a week so far for Roger Federer in Toronto.  It started out with a fun ball hockey game on the tennis court with some of the NHL guys.  Roger looked like he was genuinely enjoying himself in almost a little boy-like way, so thrilled when he finally scored a goal.

His first tennis match was against Peter Polansky from Canada, who said he had practiced with him numerous times, which was always quite laid back, but in a match situation he said Roger "right off the bat, the first ball he's trying to kill ya."  Being that Roger has been his idol and that he said it would make his career to be able to play him, I'm sure he meant it in the nicest way possible.

His second match against Cilic was tricky.  He managed to win the first set, however, and as the second set went on Cilic seemed to have moments of nerves where he would make multiple error, such as in the 4-5 game where Federer had six match points.  On several of these Cilic came up with some great shots or serves and saved them.  But there were also a few that Roger totally should have had, such as an easy closing volley that he put into the net.  Unfortunately these misses allowed Cilic to not only close out the game, but eventually the set.  As we know, however, Roger was able to get it done in the third.  

I was hoping, after that experience, that his match against David Ferrer would be a different story - that he would have it firmly set in his mind that he didn't want another situation like that to happen.  After taking the first set with some beautiful play and then getting up a break in the second, however, it's like his attention started to wander and he began making multiple errors (21 by the time the set was over) and he not only lost the break, but got broken again and lost the set.  At this point I really had no idea what was going to happen.  It wasn't like Ferrer was suddenly in control of the match; Roger was, whether playing well or badly.  Finally in the third, though, his concentration seemed to zone in again and he was able to tidy up the errors and create the winning shots that had given him the first set.  And, thankfully, he was able to close it out on his first match point.

Not only was the win important to get him to the semifinals, especially given the fact that Djokovic, Wawrinka, Murray and Berdych all went out early, giving him a great opportunity for the title, but especially because it was a special day for him - his 33rd birthday.  A cake was brought out on court, a special Lindt production which made me crave chocolate cake for the next hour.  He looked like he was enjoying it himself and was able to close out the day eating cake and being celebrated by his fans who love him.

He gets Feliciano Lopez as his semifinal opponent, who he has a 10-0 record against.  Hopefully history will repeat itself in this category, and hopefully with an easier win than his last two, as he has to be getting tired after these last two matches.  A trophy in Toronto would be a great way to close out his birthday week.

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