Here we go again. It’s Roger Federer v. Andy Roddick, round 18. The Australian Open semifinals. Ding, ding!
Federer of course has dominated Roddick winning 15 of 17 including all six Slam contests, but I hear this time it’s different. Or is it?
In recent meetings each time Roddick’s run into Fed he came into the match with an alleged new wrinkle which would make the difference against the Swiss. More aggression, solid net play, improved backhand, better court positioning, more mono, etc. This time we hear Roddick’s ready to take down Fed because he has…wait for it…LOST WEIGHT!
Roddick’s certainly looking slimmer and fitter, and he seems to be moving around the court better, but is that really enough?
I do give Roddick a slim chance against Federer, I always do, because if the American can get on a massive serving roll he can rip through just about anybody. And he did beat Rog in their last meeting, though the health was a question mark for the then-World No. 1 for that encounter, so that should help his confidence level.
Andy’s also been playing well this week, but of concern to me are his results. I already mentioned his easy draw but what’s alarming was his early performance against Novak Djokovic. Yes, Roddick was the fitter guy and he absolutely deserved the victory. But in that first set I thought Roddick played much better than Novak but he still lost the set. Granted the Serb elevated his play in the tiebreak but prior, Roddick really wasn’t making much of an impression on Djokovic’s serve. Not a great sign.
Under the lights, with the roof shut I think should help Federer more than Roddick. Fed lost his only two sets in the daytime but at night he’s been perfect. And the last thing he wants to do is lose to Roddick being this close to Pete’s 14. So I think Fed gets it done tonight pretty comfortably.
Tomorrow we get a pair of Spanish lefties with Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco. Going into the tournament I thought someone would pick off Nadal – namely either Richard Gasquet or Gael Monfils – but those meetings never happened and Rafa successfully returns to the Australian Open semifinals without losing a set for a second straight year.
Nadal owns Verdasco winning all six meetings and 15 of 16 sets. So it’s going to be a big ask for Fernando to follow in the path of past Aussie Cinderella finalists like JW Tsonga, Fernando Gonzalez, Rainer Schuettler, Arnaud Clement, etc, and get to the final. Against just about any other opponent I’d take Verdasco based on that history, but not against his buddy Nadal in this situation.
About the only unfortunate aspect of these SFs are that they are on at 330am ET. Thank God for tape!
As for the women, I still like Serena beating Safina in the final.
And I read a lot of talk about Serena fitness and the roof closure. My thought is first hat unless it’s raining or snowing it’s ridiculous to close the roof once the match has started. If it’s open at the start, leave it open. Simple.
Regarding Serena’s fitness. Sure, she doesn’t look like the fittest cat out there, but she wins, she finishes and she’s plays on a women’s circuit which doesn’t place the same premium on fitness as the men’s game does.
I do agree that Novak should have played at night, but he didn’t. As I sad before that’s bad luck. But it still doesn’t mask the fact that Novak was virtually drained after only on an hour of play. That should be embarrassing to him or to anyone trying to defend a Slam title.
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