In his 2nd round match in Doha, Roger Federer continued to display great tennis as he beat qualifier Grega Zemlja from Slovenia. It was a routine 62 63 win for the Maestro, and it wasn't as convincing a win as the one he had over Davydenko, but it was a very good performance nevertheless. Zemlja played decent tennis throughout parts of the match, but like his opening match, Federer was rolling on the serve and was in a complete state of relaxation. Roger took the first set easily, breaking twice, but in the second set it was a little bit closer, with the scoreline 4-3 until Roger turned up the heat and broke and then held easily to close out the match. With the routine win, Roger faces Andreas Seppi in the quarterfinals, against whom he has a perfect 7-0 record against, and hasn't even dropped a set (15-0) against the Italian.
The wind played a factor in the match, but as Roger has done so many times in his career, he handled it wonderfully and didn't let it affect his game. He served at a very high level and he made very few unforced errors. After the match, Fed said that he struggled with the wind early in his career (because they always played indoors in Switzerland), but as time went on he learned to adapt and became more patient in is approach to playing in the wind. It is quite impressive that Roger has become such a great wind player because you would think his game wouldn't suit up well for it. He plays with less margin for error than almost anybody on tour, and the wind factor should give him problems, but it does not. His serve is so accurate that he can place it even in windy conditions, and the pace in which he generates on his groundstrokes certainly helps him get past the difficulty of the ball blowing around as it's hit from one end to the other. At this stage in his career, Fed definitely loves playing indoors the most, but on a windy day outside, it must be nice to know that he can play comfortably and not worry about that particular element.
I also want to write about Federer's fitness. I noticed that he looked much fitter than he had in quite some time, and that can only bode well for him as he prepares for the Australian Open. In fact, if he has improved his fitness it could very well help him later in the Slams, where he has had a tougher time getting through to the final since the start of 2010 when he won his last major. It still amazes me that a 30-year old can look to be in better shape than most of the younger men on tour, but that just speaks to Federer's work ethic and how good of shape he really is in. I find that his fitness is sometimes a little underrated, and I am willing to bet he works the hardest off the court of any player on tour barring maybe Rafael Nadal.
In other action on the day, Rafael Nadal easily defeated Denis Gremelmayr 62 62. He won 33 of his 40 service points, but only converted four of fifteen break point opportunities. That was is slightly uncharacteristic for Rafa and surely he will not be able to squander that many opportunities in the later rounds if he wants to win. Tsonga also came through easily against Flavio Cipolla 76(8) 63. Jo hasn't won his first two matches as easily as he would like, but they are wins, so he will take them. Gael Monfils came through against Benjamin Becker 75 46 75 and finished out the quarterfinalists.
In the quarters, as aforementioned, Federer plays Seppi. Nadal plays Mikhail Youzhny, Tsonga plays Albert Ramos (Bogomolov Jr. was forced to retire in their 2nd round match), and Monfils will play Viktor Troicki. Expect Federer, Nadal, Tsonga, and Monfils all to win, but I would not be surprised to see Nadal and Monfils get tested. Youzhny is a player that can hurt Nadal on this surface, and Troicki is dangerous, but wildly inconsistent. Still, he could light on fire and catch Tsonga by surprise.
It was a good day of tennis, looking forward to the rest of the week.