Round 3 day at Rome was a mixed bag of comprehensive wins, hard fought losses, nail biting moments and one withdrawal. Thankfully for us, Roger Federer was in the first category. He defeated Gilles Simon, 6-1, 6-2 and is through to the Rome QFs.
It was 62 minutes of gorgeous tennis. In my mind Roger was clinically efficient in the first set and more of an artist in the second. The first set took 23 minutes with Roger’s only ‘flaw’ being his 1st serve % which was at 55%. It didn’t matter however as he won 81% of his 1st serves and 77% of his second. Simon gave him only two break point opportunities and he seized them both. In the second set, the 7th game was key with Simon fighting off 4 break points before Roger finally took the game to go up a double break to 5-2. He served it out with a love hold and aced at match point to wrap it up. Roger had more errors in the second set but it’s because he began to play and experiment with his shots. As he himself said in the post-match interview, he used his full arsenal of shots and most of them worked beautifully. Time and time again he used his drop shots to make Simon scramble to the net. He had gorgeous volleys and laser like forehands and backhands from the back of the court. Roger kept flirting with the lines and corners and winning almost every time with Swiss precision and showing us the never-ending depths of his talent.
Roger will next face the mercurial Polish star Jerzy Janowicz who took out Tsonga in Round 2 and Gasquet in Round 3 and is hungry for another top 10 scalp. He is a big guy, with big game and one who moves surprisingly well for someone his size. As Federer said in his interview, he hasn’t played Jerzy before and his breakthrough was in Paris Bercy last year which Roger didn’t play. I think he will not underestimate Jerzy one-bit. He might need time to get used to him in the first set but, provided we still see Federer in his current form, he has far too much variety to let Jerzy settle into a rhythm. It is absolutely crucial that Roger serves as well as he has so far, and not get broken so he can focus on Jerzy’s service games instead. I keep thinking of consistency being the key factor for Roger this year, he needs to maintain his high level and if he does this today, I think he will prove too difficult for Janowicz to handle. Fingers crossed that the Roger of the past two days also shows up today.
One interesting comment from Roger before I end this post. In his interview Roger was asked about whether it would make a difference if he was seeded #2 at Roland Garros and he simply said ‘no’ with a smile and I was laughing. I totally agree, because he could still get Rafa in the SFs at the very least and then Novak in the SFs. And as he pointed out, they all need to get there first and this year has already been a somewhat shaky year in my opinion for the top guys so who knows what will happen 10 days from now. For now though, we are still in Rome, so strap your seat-belts on, we’re in for another exciting match tonight at 9pm, local time. Allez Roger!