Turn around Tuesday lived up to its name for Andy Roddick, who avenged a Miami loss last year to David Ferrer, but for Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer, who had both lost to their foes in their prior meetings, it was more of the same.
Sharapova got an absolute ass-kicking from Serena Williams, showing again that Serena can show up and win just about anything she wants to when she puts her mind to it.
As for Federer, I guess Tiger’s not rubbing off on him. Two weeks after ending the Fed’s 41-match win streak, Guillermo Canas did it again yesterday winning a third set tiebreaker over the World No. 1. And this time Fed was playing some decent tennis.
First, you have to give a lot of credit to Canas. This guy was left for dead after getting busted for drugs a couple years back. He wasn’t allowed to play any events, or even attend them for a period of 15 months during his suspension. But he did his time, worked his ass off and now he’s back to giving players a lot of problems, especially Federer. Good for him.
And Canas doesn’t really do anything amazing. He doesn’t have any huge shots or a monster serve. He just gets the ball back, and with some good depth. That’s why I call Canas the Human Backboard. He makes you hit winners, because he’s not going to go for them himself unless it’s a sure thing. And against Federer, who’s fast enough to get a lot of balls back himself, Canas basically teased Roger into going for those winners or face the realization that the rally could go on for days.
As we saw last night, the longer to rally went on the more frustrated and impatient Federer became, and the advantage shifted to Canas. Canas just kept getting balls back and let an impatient Fed self destruct. Canas also served damn well and perhaps most importantly, really didn’t seem to be in awe of Roger like many other players are.
For Roger, it’s still not time to hit the panic button just yet, but if he doesn’t win Monte Carlo or Rome he might want to keep that thing handy. Let’s face it, no shame in losing. But losing consecutive tournaments to a claycourter on hard courts does not send a message of fear to the other dirtballers when your ultimate goal is to win the French in a few months.
My guess is the claycourters who play him at Monte Carlo are now not going to be in as scared of Federer as they would have been if Roger had won Miami. In fact, those guys should have signs stapled all over in the Monte Carlo locker room, “If Canas can do it on hard courts, I can do it on clay”. Heck, they should slap that slogan on their shirts, foreheads, racquets, bags, coaches, girlfriends, anything.
And you have to wonder, if Roger can’t beat Canas on hard courts, how the hell is he going to beat him on clay should they meet at Roland Garros?
Watching the Fed go up a break in the third set yesterday, I, along with pretty much everyone else watching, figured the deal was sealed. Roger was going to pull it out. But as soon as Canas got back on serve you could see the tension in Roger’s face.
Thing is with Roger, he’s so good and so much better than everyone else that he rarely gets into tight situations late in a match such as last night. When was the last time the guy was on the brink of losing a final set on a big stage? Last May in Rome against Nadal?
And I think that inexperience showed in that breaker as Fed tightened up a bit making a few too many unforced errors. And again give credit to Canas for being able to take advantage and close it out with that big serve at the end. A lot of guys would have folded at the start of that breaker.
So what’s up with Roger? Hard to say, but clearly this loss doesn’t help his cause in winning the French, and it may ultimately hurt it as these two defeats might give the other players some added confidence when having to face the mighty Fed on the clay this season. At least we get another interesting week of tennis, as Miami, like IW, is anyone’s title.
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