As I’ve said before, Father Time is untied and undefeated. He’s got a perfect record. Not even the great Roger Federer is going to beat him. And we saw evidence of that today when JW Tsonga simply overmatched and overpowered the once great Federer during a 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 win that, at times, seemed more like funeral than a Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Tsonga played well – I’ve seen him play better – but Federer just doesn’t have it (right now) against the very best in the sport. At least not on a consistent basis.
If he gets a great draw like he did this week, Roger can still work some magic, but his days of dominating are officially in the past. And the days of him even beating guys like Tsonga, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray in best-of-5 set matches are slowly coming to a close as well.
Federer lost in straights to Djokovic at the French last year. He lost in straights to Murray in the Olympic gold medal match. Then lost in four to Tomas Berdych at the US Open. And this year lost in five to Andy Murray in the US Open semis.
They are not bad losses by any means, but Roger’s just not beating them anymore. It’s now June and Federer has a grand total of one top ten win thus far, that being Tsonga in five at the Australian. Otherwise, the guy has become a second level player who needs a good draw to go far. And that’s how he even got to the quarterfinals: playing two qualifiers and a guy who just won a 5-setter.
let’s be honest, that’s where we are with Roger. It was coming – it happens to everyone – I just didn’t think it would hit this fast.
That said, there’s still life in Roger and I’m not here to shovel dirt on him. He can and will still surprise from time to time and maybe, if he makes some changes – equipment, workout, practice – and make some luck there’s a chance he’ll still improve upon 17.
But today, what I saw was Tsonga beating your standard journeyman. That simple. Nothing more, nothing less. That’s the reality.
As for tomorrow, I think both matches are pretty straight forward.
Novak Djokovic v. Tommy Haas
Like Tommy Robredo, I think this Tommy’s time clock is also about to expire. The 35-year-old Haas has had a fantastic week reaching his first French Open quarter. He toughed out that epic against John Isner on Saturday, and Monday squashed a lackluster Mikhail Youzhny in the fourth round.
Today, though, he’ll play an ultra-determined Novak Djokovic. Not only is Novak eying a first French Open title, which would give him a career Slam, he also wants to do it for his former coach, Jelena Gencic, who passed over the weekend and avenge his loss to Haas in Miami.
I’ve said since Indian Wells that Djokovic isn’t the same, lethal player he was a few years ago. But I think he’s now got some extra inspiration that’s going to factor in, not just against Haas but down the road this week.
Haas is playing great, and all credit to him, but does he really think he’s going to walk away with a French Open title beating Djokovic then Nadal then maybe Tsonga or Ferrer? Nope.
So this week Novak purely needs this win more. We saw it with Grigor Dimitrov who beat Novak in Madrid. Djokovic easily tore him apart on Sunday. I think Djokovic gains similar revenge tomorrow against Haas.
The pick: Djokovic in three
Rafael Nadal v. Stan Wawrinka
While Djokovic plies his trade on Lenglen, 7-time champion Rafael Nadal will be holding court on Chatrier against Stan Wawrinka. The important stat line in this one is that in nine career meetings against Nadal, Stan hasn’t won a single set (0-19, 0-9 in matches). Now the “Other Swiss” is asked to win three on Rafa’s favorite surface and on his favorite stage. And that after playing a five-setter.
Like Djokovic, Rafa’s hasn’t quite been on song this week. He should improvement Monday though I believe he’s vulnerable. However, I just don’t think mentally and physically, especially after that 5-set win over Richard Gasquet, Stan can deliver the knock out punch. Had Stan not had a thigh issue and not just played an emotional 5-setter, I might give him a better chance.
Stan’s a great player but more often than not in these types of matches he comes up just a wee bit short. We saw that in Australia when he lost 12-10 in the fifth to Djokovic. And he’s lost in five on several other occasions in Slam play. Rafa also took care of him in the Madrid final last month, and I think that’s what’s going to happen again tomorrow.
Rafa’s going to tested here, but in the end his record will shine through.
The pick: Nadal in four
ESPN and Tennis Channel once again have the tag team coverage.
WEDNESDAY FRENCH OPEN SCHEDULE
Court Philippe Chatrier 2:00 PM Start Time
Jelena Jankovic (SRB) v. Maria Sharapova (RUS)
Rafael Nadal (ESP) v. Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI)
Court Suzanne Lenglen 2:00 PM Start Time
Maria Kirilenko (RUS) v. Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Novak Djokovic (SRB) v. Tommy Haas (GER)
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