Round 1 of Rotterdam has been a roller coaster ride so far. To put it frankly, most of my predictions, like most of yours I’m sure, have gone out the window. Seeds were scattered all over the place as seeds 3, 7 and 8 fell on the first day with seed 6 being ousted in the second. Out of 4 qualifiers and 3 wildcards in the draw, 3 qualifiers and 2 wildcards made it through to round 2.
Out of this topsy turvy line-up, Dimitrov, Benneteau and Simon, all in fine form, have made it through to the QFs already. All remaining round 2 matches will be played today. Local wildcard entry Sijsling-the-Tsonga-Conqueror will take on Klizan, for a chance to face off against Simon; Baghdatis, who took out Paire will square off against Gasquet, who in turn, defeated Troicki in straight sets. The winner will challenge Dimitrov for a spot in the SFs. Qualifier Bachinger, who defeated 6th seed Seppi in straight sets will look to go deeper in the tournament by defeating Nieminen. Nieminen obliterated Goffin in round 1 with a double bagel win. The winner of this match will face the winner of Juan Martin vs. another qualifier Gulbis. And lastly, Benneteau awaits the winner of Thiemo De Bakker, the local who won against Youzhny and Roger Federer. Speaking of Federer…
In the last round 1 match at Rotterdam, Roger took on an opponent he played only once before. Zemlja started strong, not committing too many errors. Meanwhile it took time for Roger to get the feel of the court and his returns were a bit shaky with some shanks here and there. He had to save a couple of early break points in his second service game of the first set. After that however, the Swiss quickly turned it around breaking Zemlja’s serve and then consolidated to go up 4-2. From that point on, there was no looking back for the Maestro; he held serve easily and breaking Zemlja once more for good measure to take the first set 6-3.
Federer’s first service game of the second set went to deuce but that was all Zemlja could muster. Even though he equalized at 1-all, that was to be the last game he would win. Federer’s return found its range and he created beautiful artistry on court. He read Zemlja’s serve perfectly and made him run all over the court forcing him to make errors left and right. Meanwhile, Roger’s serve held up quite well and his movement on court was a joy to watch. He dug out impossible volleys at the net and hit wonderful inside-out forehands and running forehands crosscourt like nobody’s business. In 58 minutes Federer won 6-3, 6-1 and moved to the second round. Here are the match stats. Today at 7:30pm local time, Federer will face Thiemo De Bakker, a local wildcard entry. They have only met in the Davis Cup last year when Roger won in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. I predict Roger to take this one in 2 sets, though based on the way the Rotterdam draw has misbehaved so far, perhaps it’s best that I refrain from such proclamations. Tune in tonight for some tennis, some magic and some Roger!