Federer looked much better overall against the Frenchman than he did against the Canadian, although Gasquet was much easier competition. He had also made the final of Estoril last week so he was playing on short rest. Still, this match was all Federer, and predictably so. The Swiss Master always plays incredibly well coming off the heels of a tight match, and this one was no different.
Next up, The Fed will play David Ferrer, whom he holds a 12-0 record against. Ferrer saved a few match points to beat countryman (and one of my favourite players) Nicolas Almagro in a 10-8 third set tiebreak. Ferrer has been a guy that has never truly given Roger any real trouble, but clay is his best surface, and he did push Fed to three sets in Madrid two years ago. If Roger is on his game though, he should win in the end. Ferrer has played a lot of tennis this year and Fed seems to be comfortable on the blue clay movement-wise, so I do not see him losing.
The biggest upset of the day, by far, was Fernando Verdasco defeating Rafael Nadal for the first time ever, 63 36 75. He had previously gone 13 matches without a win, but as the saying goes, "nobody beats Fernando Verdasco fourteen times in a row." It was a back-and-forth match right from the start, and it was as if neither player wanted to win. There were many breaks for both guys. In the end, Nadal lost 5 straight games from 5-2 up in the 3rd set and lost very uncharacteristically.
|Happiest moment of his life? Maybe.|
After the match, Nadal cited that he would not play in Madrid next year if the courts remain blue. I can almost guarantee he would not be saying the same thing had he not been taken out in the 3rd round and went onto, say, win the event. Of course, the blue clay has been criticized a lot by many of the top players, but the bottom line is that everyone is playing on the same court, so Rafa can't really use it as an excuse when other players are flourishing on the new colour (say, Federer, del Potro, Verdasco....).
Rafa's early exit opens up his half of the draw for Juan Martin del Potro to quietly sneak into the finals, which he seems likely to do. He manhandled Marin Cilic 62 64. In other action, Djokovic edged Stan Wawrinka 76(5) 64, Berdych destroyed Monfils 61 61, and there were many close three set matches; Janko Tipsarevic beat Gilles Simon 76(3) 57 61, while Alexandr Dolgopolov upset Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 75 36 76(2).
It looks very likely we will see a Federer vs Djokovic semifinal. The quarterfinal matches are as follows:
(1) Novak Djokovic vs (7) Janko Tipsarevic
(3) Roger Federer vs (5) David Ferrer
(6) Tomas Berdych vs (15) Fernando Verdasco
(10) Juan Martin del Potro vs (16) Alexandr Dolgopolov
In my view, this is Federer's tournament to lose now. Djokovic has not looked like the same player since the Australian Open in my estimation, and I honestly think Roger can beat him. Delpo would be his biggest threat of a potential finalist, and even though Roger has not lost a set against the Argentine in their past 5 meetings, the big man is very dangerous, and Fed knows that.
I am thinking way too far into the future though. Roger has one thing on the mind right now, and that is getting by David Ferrer, who is not one to take lightly (not that Roger ever takes anyone lightly, he is too professional).