Still, it WAS immediately after the little fall he sustained in the previous game on Dent's serve where he tried to return a backhand slice which he didn't anticipate. I'd never seen him fall before and watching him fall broke my heart in all sorts of ways, and it probably rattled him enough to cause him to lose focus in his service game. Hence the 8 break points. Because he didn't face a single break point after that.
I'm worried about the low first serve percentage (50-something) in the first set and the uncomfortably high number of double faults in the whole match. He served 4 double faults today, and he used to serve like 4 double faults per year back then. The bright side is, his first serve percentage shot up considerably in the second, and his fourth double fault also came in the second set. Not sure where he disappeared to in the first; maybe he was distracted by that fall, maybe not. If I could get a dollar for every single occasion on which the multitude of Roger fans around the world try to guess at what's causing his shoddy tennis, I'd be filthy rich by now!
It was an interesting match though. Dent is the classic serve-and-volley player and you don't get to see much of those lately, barring the likes of Radek Stepanek and Michael Llodra (whom I've never seen play before). I don't like watching Stepanek because his celebratory antics annoy the living crap out of me (Google 'Stepanek worm' and you'll see what I mean - he does this stupid worm motion when he wins a match. WTF) but it's always interesting watching Roger play him because, like the match with Taylor Dent, I love seeing how Roger tries to pass the volley wall at the net. Unlike the modern ball-bashing, backboarder game that the likes of Nadal, Murray, Simon, and to a slightly lesser extent, Roddick possess, watching Roger play a serve-and-volleyer feels more cerebral, as if you can see the clockworks in his brain turning as he tries to figure out how to win the point. It's about winning the point, not losing it when your opponent waits for you to miss. It's real tennis - two players pitting their skills at each other, both going for the kill, trying to use what he knows to really win the point on his racquet. I'm sorry, even though I'm not, but I just really have zero appreciation for the defensive style where the player waits for the error instead of finishing the point off himself. This is also why I love watching Roger play: he's such a complete, all-court, offensive/defensive player that half the fun in watching him play is to see how he tries to win the point. Sometimes, especially in the earlier rounds of a draw, he sits back and waits for the error if he doesn't feel like putting too much into an easy match; other times, like today's match when he's facing a serve-and-volleyer, he tries everything he can to win the point. And because of the nature of his opponent's game, he had to come up with some great passing shots that Dent can't get to - and he did. Over and over again. My favourite was definitely the extreme cross-court passing winner that went from one corner of the court literally to the diagonal corner, barely skidding off the right angle of the corner. Freaking awesome winner.
I also loved Roger's hustling at break points/deuce. People say Nadal works hard on the court and never gives up a single point, but Roger plays it smart and only goes all out for important points that he feels he has to win. This is why he could play at the top of the game for 237 weeks with no serious injuries - he paces himself well, doesn't expend unnecessary energy, knows what points to fight for and which ones to let go of. He's such a smart player, and he makes it all look so damn easy but when you start playing tennis, or attempting to play tennis, you realise just how damn difficult it really is, what he does on the courts.
I'm really happy that Dent made it far enough in his draw to meet Roger. This match has really made me appreciate Roger even more. I love his attacking tennis so much because it's so wonderful to watch. It's so exciting, and when he hits an out-of-this-world shot, it quite literally knocks the wind out of you. The same goes for all attacking tennis but I especially love Roger's because I'm obviously biased towards him. Um, haha.
All in all, it was a pretty solid match. He could've played better, but he also could've played much, much worse. I'm looking forward to his quarter-final clash with my darling Andy Roddick...and speaking of which:
The match is at 9 AM tomorrow. I have class at 9 AM tomorrow. I'm going for this one because I'm doing my paper on the topic of tomorrow's class. I am so pissed off. The one time Roger gets a night match, it has to be on a Thursday morning. OMG. I want to die.
I was really looking forward to the evening match because it means I can sleep and wake up early, instead of 1) not sleeping; or 2) sleeping like two hours and ruining the rest of my day by waking up at some ungodly hour to watch tennis. But SHIT. Why does it have to be Thursday? OMG. Why why why? I'm soooo tempted not to go for class. It's the same class I've been skipping 'cause I find it quite useless. I can't imagine how the quality of the class would go up anyway so why go at all? Go, obviously, because it'd save me the trouble of reading the materials in any great detail; but knowing how the prof induces me to switch off every single time I attended his classes, I'd probably have to read the stuff in great detail anyway.
ARGH. WHAT IS THIS SHIT. I'M SO UPSET. THE LAST TIME ROGER PLAYED ANDY, I ALSO HAD CLASS. THE ROGER/ANDY MATCH-UP, MY DREAM MATCH-UP, DOES NOT LIKE ME VERY MUCH AT ALL.
Lastly, I hope to high heavens Roger wins this tournament. I really, REALLY do, and I hope he wins by beating Nadal. The first time Nadal beat Roger was also in this tournament 5 years ago; it'd be sooo fitting and poetic for Roger to win his first Masters Series since 2007 and first title of the year by beating Nadal at the tournament at which their rivalry first started.
Well, I can hope all I want; Roger has to believe he can. And I hope he does, because his tennis? There's just absolutely nothing like it.