Friday, 13 May 2016

Rafa v Novak in Rome quarters - Roger doesn't care

Not a good day for Roger Federer in Rome, both on and off the court.  The fact that 13th seed Austrian Dominic Thiem defeated him 7-6 (2) 6-4 wasn't a huge surprise considering Thiem's form this year and Federer's lack of match play and fitness doubts.  A finalist at this event last year, and a third round loser this year means a several hundred drop in ranking points for Roger and a slip back to number three in the world.  Ill timed as the next Grand Slam tournament is just days away, and the seeding difference is crucial. Of course it may be a moot point, given injury and variable form leave Federer more vulnerable at Roland Garros 2016 than perhaps at any Grand Slam event for many years.
Certainly his attitude off court hasn't improved, with his career record of failing to give credit to opponents enhanced when referring to his latest loss:

"This is like, 'who cares about the results here?'. It matters what comes now in the next couple of months," Federer told a news conference.

Again the arrogant self absorbed remarks from a man who never has given sufficient credit, notably where he has been beaten fair and square.  If he truly didn't care about this event then he should have gone elsewhere for the week and practised with others who felt the same way, leaving a space in the draw for someone who takes the Rome Masters seriously.

History will more than likely gloss over this unappealing side of Federer, but for those who follow tennis closely it will be sad to think that had he shown even an ounce of the grace of some of his contemporaries and fellow top players on tour, in giving due credit to others, his star could have shone even brighter than it has.

The positive news is all about Thiem who, with his win, will move up to his career high ranking of 13, and of more immediate interest contest a quarter final against Kei Nishikori, who dispensed with one of the remaining French players Richard Gasquet.

Outside Rogers world, some odd things happened in Rome on the way to constructing the four quarter final match ups.  Novak Djokovic lost the first set of his match against unseeded Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci 6-0.  Well it looked like the top seed but the shot making appeared more like that of a local junior.  The unthinkable surely couldn't happen and destroy the prospect of the only quarter final people really cared about - Rafa v Novak.  Rafa had already signed his part of the contract, finally putting Kyrgios away in three gripping sets 6-7 (3) 6-2 6-4.

The failing Novak facsimile was replaced by something a lot closer to the real thing a couple of games into set two,  and Bellucci began to struggle against this more efficiently operating version.  Djokovic escaped with a few scars and not a little embarrassment 0-6 6-3 6-2.

Tomas Berdych was called to Grandstand, the court upon which he was to play David Goffin, but he must have confused the message, because looking at the match score he didn't make it on time.  Goffin 6-0 6-0.  The Belgian will be the first real test for second seed Andy Murray in the quarters after the Scot dealt with another part of the French resistance Jeremy Chardy in straight sets.

Stan Wawrinka is reigning Roland Garros champ but is displaying the form of a chump. The forth seed's Roman holiday was ended by Juan Monaco in the third round, as was ninth seed David Ferrer's vacation, the Spaniard unable to handle his French opponent, unseeded lucky loser Lucas Pouille.  Lucas has been handing out upsets rather regularly and finally a top ten player has joined the list.
The unseeded quarter final between Pouille and Monaco guarantees that Murray or Goffin will face an unseeded semi final opponent.  The odds have shortened considerably for Murray to feature in another Masters final.

The women's draw lost another seed but only because there was a third round match between eight seed Carla Suarez Navarro and eleventh seed Timea Bacsinszky.  Current rankings of the two show Timea at 10 and Carla at 11, reflecting Timea's recent success and Carla's failure to defend points from last year.  Of course the latest rankings were released after the Rome event had commenced.

Carla began well, taking the first set 7-5, but Timea had the finishing power and won her way into the quarter finals 5-7 7-5 6-2.  She will play 3rd seed Garbine Muguruza after the Spaniard removed Jelena Ostapenko from calculations.

The other quarter final featuring seeded players will be Serena Williams (1) v Sveta Kuznetsova (9).  Serena battled hard against fellow American Christina McHale to win a first set tie break before comfortably winning the second 6-1.  Sveta won a tough encounter with Aussie Daria Gavrilova in three sets.  This quarter final will be the first match between the two since Sveta upset Serena in Miami earlier in 2016.

Irina-Camelia Begu will play Misaki Doi in one of the two unseeded quarter finals, while Madison Keys meets Barbora Strycova in the other.

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