Where did that come from?
Those were my three responses after Mr. Federer quickly obliterated Juan Monaco 61 62 60 in the 4th round of the US Open on Monday night. I came into the match knowing that Roger was never going to really be threatened by Monaco like he was by Cilic a round earlier, but this was a whole new level of domination, a performance that mirrored the performance we saw when Roger murdered Juan Martin del Potro 63 60 60 in the Australian Open quarterfinals.
The match itself started at 11:51 pm local time, among the latest matches ever to start on Arthur Ashe stadium (if not THE latest, I'm not quite sure), and from the very first game you could immediately tell Rog was in no mood to stay on court for very long. The day on Ashe had seen competitive matches between Pavlyuchenkova and Schiavone, Serena Williams and Ivanovic, Tsonga and Fish, and Wozniacki and Kuznetsova, and it was extremely clear that the crowd was tired from the long day (the lines outside Ashe before Woz got on were huge). In Fedbusiness fashion, he quickly rushed out to a 5-0 lead before wrapping up the set 6-1. The second set was more of the same domination, although Monaco was a little more competitive, and the third set was child's play for Roger. He made Juan Monaco look like an amateur, and let's not forget, Monaco was a former top 15 player and even gave Roger a tough two set match in Miami earlier in the year. He was no Carlos Berlocq (ahem Novak). Simply put, this was a masterful performance from the ultimate Maestro, and he is in fine form heading into his must-see quarterfinal match with - DUN DUN DUNNNNN - Jo-Willy Tsonga!
Evaluating the match from a tennis perspective, there was nothing wrong with Roger's game. He was sharp on his serve, lethal on his groundies, and brilliant on returns. I have never seen Roger return like that before in my life. Monaco may not have been serving at his best, but Roger was hitting over every backhand return and smashing it deep in the court. It was brilliant to watch. His forehand was also on fire, and he hit his inside-out and inside-in forehands equally effective. When Roger is flowing like he did in that match, nobody can stop him. When he is serving like that, not even Djokovic can do well on the return. When he is hitting the ball as crisp and clean as he was in that match, and using his vast combination of serves, groundies, returns, volleys, and half-volleys, he is unstoppable. Roger Federer showed at 30 years old, he is still the most dominating player in tennis when he is at his best. It was wonderful to watch, and being so late, I am glad Roger got it over with fast. But boy, it was sure fun to watch Roger play his beautiful best.
PS - Brad Gilbert was going on and on about Roger hitting 4 aces in matches. I remember many - Shanghai 2007 vs Nadal, an exhibition with Pete Sampras in Asia a few weeks later, vs Tsonga in Montreal this year, and the French Open 2009 against Sod, though that was in a tiebreak where he hit 4 aces on 4 serves. Speaking of 4 serves, Roger won his service games at least 3 times by hitting 4 serves and winning all 4 points without having to hit a groundstroke, which if you think about it, is absolutely remarkable. It shows how lethal (and underrated) his serve is when he is rolling.
Whew, I'm done with Roger for now. Time to summarize the rest of the day.
Tipsarevic got by Ferrero in a tough 4-set match. I have come to really enjoy watching Tipsy play, and how big he can hit the ball at his size. He makes it to his first ever quarterfinal, where he faces his countryman Novak Djokovic, who got by Alexandr Dolgopolov 76(14) 64 62. The first set was magnificent and Dog really had a chance to take it and change the outlook on the match. But Nole prevailed like the champion he is and made it through easier in the 2nd and 3rd sets. Looking at the QF, to those who say Janko will roll over for Novak, I disagree. Janko has worked his entire life to get this far in a Slam, and he will give Nole everything he has. I expect a 4-setter.
Tsonga vs Fish was entertaining even with the wind, and Jo prevailed in the end after coming back from two sets to one down. A marvelous match but at over 3 and a half hours long and 5 sets, one has to wonder how Jo will recover to play Roger on Thursday. But more on the Tsonga/Federer match another time.
Looking ahead to the bottom half 4R action:
- Nadal vs Muller should be compelling, and Gilles is a tough opponent that really challenges the best players in these kinds of matches. With Nadal ailing physically, who knows how Rafa will be in this match? He could cramp up again on court and be forced to retire for all we know. Gilles has a great chance to make something happen, but the smart pick is Nadal and that's who I'm taking in 4 tight sets.
- Murray vs Young should be entertaining but Murray should win in straights. He is too experienced now to let Young upset him on a big stage like this. Andy needs to prove the loss to Young in Indian Wells was a fluke.
- Isner vs Simon will be a battle of wills. Server vs Returner. Attacker vs Pusher. Who will prevail? It will be close and it depends on if Isner can win many free points as to how the match goes I think. If Simon makes Isner play he is in trouble. Simon in 5.
-Roddick vs Ferrer is the match of the day, and Andy will want revenge for the Davis Cup loss. I take Andy in 4 tight sets, setting up a quarterfinal with Rafael Nadal for all intents and purposes.
Have a great day, thanks for reading, and I hope you all enjoyed the Federer Demolition Derby. It was a fun show to watch when the Maestro is playing as God-like as that.