anotherlongshot (anotherlongshot) wrote,

(Rome 2009) Federer d. Karlovic 6-4, 6-4

In my opinion, any over Karlovic that doesn't involve a tie-break (or, worse, two tie-breaks. Or three tie-breaks) is a good win. Karlovic is known as The Tree because of his massive, imposing height. Standing at 6'10" (6"10'? I think it's the former right?), he undoubtedly has the advantage when it comes to the serve - as a result, he holds the ATP record for the most number of aces served in a match. It's a little over 50. Yes, 50-something aces in one match.

The problem with watching a Roger match with Karlovic (because I won't watch any other kind of Karlovic matches) is that it's mind-numbingly boring when Karlovic is serving well. Roger was fortunate to get the early break in both sets and all he had to do was to take care of his own serve - which he did pretty well - and try to sneak into Karlovic's service games and sniff out a few break points, or just one break point. Roger had a set point in the first on Karlovic's serve - which Karlovic quickly snuffed out with an ace.

And that, basically, is his schtick. If he's serving 3 aces in a game, you're not gonna break him - and so I think it was great that Roger broke him one set each and took the match comfortably. If it'd gone to a tie-break, or two, or THREE tie-breaks, it would definitely have been super laborious and I would just die of boredom. Because Karlovic is a one-trick pony - he serves. Really well. And that is all. His massive height also impedes his movement a lot, much like Yao Ming who's probably one of the most overrated NBA players ever - because of his height, he's a little less agile than most centres, and in the matches I've seen him play in, he's just lumbering around below the net, maybe trying to grab rebounds but being unable to because he's just not fast enough.

Same with Karlovic. He just couldn't handle Roger's power-packed, crisply-angled forehands (and wow, Roger, your forehand was ON today!). An inside-out forehand from Roger comes in Karlovic's direction, away from him, to the ad court, and he's standing somewhere in the middle of the court - and all he can do is stand there and watch as the ball bounces away from him. Yet another forehand winner from Roger Federer, and it's not really Karlovic's fault that he's so tall, such that he can't move as quickly as the other guys.

But then, he makes up for it with his serving. But whoever thought merely serving well, without the groundstrokes to back it up, can win you matches, let alone tournaments, should get his/her head checked. Maybe you can at the club level; but on the pro circuit? You can win maybe your first round matches in a compulsory event, but if you want to look for titles, seek out the lesser tournaments. You're not going to sniff at anything in the tournaments where all the big boys come out to play.

In any case, I said the same thing about Karlovic when he played Roger in Indian Wells, and I'm saying the same thing again. I don't see any difference in his game today as compared to Indian Wells: Big serve, out-aced Roger (15 was it? to Roger's 1 - and Roger's lone ace came really timely, on match point. I love him!), but completely broke down when it came to the groundstrokes. Even his volleys weren't that sharp. His backhand volleys looked okay, but more often than not, when Roger's trying to pass him, he'd just hit the ball out. Or Roger would just hit the ball directly at him and he'd hit it out.

So yeah, Karlovic isn't a good test for Roger. I don't think he's a good test for anyone, to be honest. Still, Roger played pretty okay today. He almost messed up his opening service game where he faced break point at 30-40, but he cleaned that up, and after facing two more break points in the first set and cleaning THAT game up perfectly, he pretty much coasted on serve. And that's even when he wasn't serving that great, as compared to the way he used to serve. Two double faults is a bit worrying, as is the 58% first serves, but well, he did what he had to do. A few times I felt he was at a practice session or something; some of the slower second serves, and the slower forehands, they felt like he was practicing.

Anyway, I'm glad he won comfortably. Now, I hope Stepanek loses to Lopez later because I have zero interest in watchign Stepanek. They repeated the Rome quarter-final last year where Roger made a shocking exit when he lost to Stepanek, and I watched the first set when I chanced upon it just to see why he lost. I thought maybe he played crap, but he actually played really solid. He had like three love service games in a row, and served much better in that set than he had in much of this year.

But he still lost. And he lost in two tie-breaks. I didn't watch the second set (was too tired and couldn't stand watching Stepanek's annoying victory antics) but in the first, Stepanek outplayed him just a little bit, and it was enough to get the job done. That pissed me off, especially when I finally saw the Mono Mark that all the fans freak out over when it looked like something was appearing on his face. It was this round pimple-looking thing on his cheek (forgot which side) that was somehow related to his mono; whatever it is, I was irrationally pissed that Stepanek outplayed Roger. Especially when I think he's a lesser player than Roger - duh.

So yeah, I hope Lopez wins, though it's unlikely. Stepanek has mad volley skills, but gosh, he is unpleasant to look at. I can't believe Martina Hingis actually dated him once. Seriously.
Tags: roger federer, rome masters, tennis

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