First, an apology. I couldn’t do a final Indian Wells post. It always takes me a while to get my groove back for writing after a Roger Federer loss but this time it unfortunately coincided with my non-tennis life. I had an intense week of work right afterwards, and considering I was getting up at 3am for the Indian Wells matches the week before, I was severely sleep deprived but work never allowed me to make it up… till now. For the first time in over a week I had a good night’s sleep and I am feeling ready for a new tourney and a bit of writing too, so here I am 😀
This post will be split in two because I can’t start the new tourney without closing out the previous one. So I’ll start with what I’ve learned from Indian Wells.
- Roger served very well this tourney. He didn’t drop a set till the final. This is especially good news considering how slow the court surface is. Despite Dubai having a faster surface, he had lacked rhythm there. In Indian Well, his serves were spot on except for the final where he got broken in the 2nd and 3rd set. Even then, after each break he recovered well.
- The new racquet is holding up nicely so far. After Dubai, Roger was pleased with it on the fast(er) surfaces he had played on this year, but wanted to see how it would perform on the slow courts of Indian Wells. I think the results speak for themselves. There may still be some changes made to the racquet but I’m sure they will be small. At this point I believe we can safely say we won’t see the older 90 in. racquet making an encore.
- It took Novak playing the best he has played since the first few rounds of the Australian Open to take out Roger. In the end, Novak won one more point than the Swiss. What impressed me about the Maestro was how he never stopped believing and amazingly broke back while Novak was serving for the match. Yes, he played a bad tie-break in the end but I don’t think the match would have gone this far in 2013.
- Since Basel 2013, Roger has reached the SFs in 3 tourneys, finals in 3 more and won a title. In that time-period i.e. from mid October 2013 to mid March 2014, no one in the top 10 has been as consistent, not even Rafa or Novak. From having such an inconsistent 2013, my biggest take-away thus far is Roger’s consistency. His staggering career was made possible because of his consistency and it’s wonderful to see Roger enjoying very good form across months and across tourneys.
- Everyone knows this by now but I will mention it because it’s the most tangible sign of progress: Roger moved up 3 spots in the rankings and back into the Top 5 for the first time since August last year. Finally the top 5 looks more complete don’t you think? 😉
Onto Miami now, a tournament he skipped last year. Several points to watch-out for here too:
- The racquet will get tested again. Miami is probably the most humid out of all the tourneys the racquet has seen this year. That, combined with the clay-like slow court makes the conditions very heavy. It favors grinders and long baseline rallies. The bigger head size should help Roger more in these types of situations than his previous racquet. We shall see.
- As outlined above, the conditions in Miami are sluggish and thus not favorable for our champ. In fact he hasn’t won in Miami since 2006. In addition, he has already played a fair bit of tennis this year, going deep in every tournament. As such, I do not have high expectations of him in this tournament though of course it would be wonderful indeed if he reached yet another SF or final. I guess what I mean to say is, I will be sad if he loses early but not devastated (hopefully).
- Fedberg is back! Stefan was not there towards the end of Indian Wells and Luthi never does this American swing, meaning Roger finished the tourney sans coach (though he spoke with both over the phone before the final). But Stefan flew to Miami as Roger was finishing up his run at Indian Wells and the two already look like they are having a great time. In fact, Roger took him along to the Moët & Chandon party! Just before Miami, it was announced that after the initial trial period of 10 weeks, Stefan and Roger have agreed to extend their partnership for the rest of the year which is great news indeed! 😀
- There could be a potential shift in the rankings if Roger reaches the QFs. If he reaches the QFs, then Ferrer would need to win the title in order to still be ranked #4 after the tourney. Ferrer has finalist points to defend while Roger has none. Who knows, maybe Roger will end the tournament back in the top 4 again! There are a lot of variables at play though so I’ll take it match by match and point by point.
- Roger will play the Davis Cup QF tie back in Switzerland after the Miami tournament and then he’ll take time off the tour again for a month. So I plan to enjoy every Miami match as much as possible before the hiatus kicks off 😦
Well there you have it – some thoughts on Indian Wells and Miami. His first match is in a few hours where he will face off against Ivo Karlovic. Their H2H is 10-1 in the Swiss’ favor but it’s been over 2 years since they last played at the 2012 Australian Open. Roger generally does well against big servers but Karlovic is on a whole other level if he gets his service rhythm going so he’s going to be tricky to say the least.
Before I leave, here is a clip of Roger’s Miami preview interview and a video clip of the Moët & Chandon party. And I am leaving you with a picture posted by the Maestro himself on his twitter account that is guaranteed to make you smile! 😀 Good luck tonight Roger!
***Photos from http://www.zimbio.com/ – First is from the press conference in Miami (I love his expression so I had to include it!), the second is from the Moët & Chandon party and the last one is obviously from Disney World! ***