Bad weather in Miami affected the match and dragged out the first set much longer than would've been otherwise. Andy got the early break in the third game of the first set, after which it started to rain. The players went back to the locker room and promptly came back on court a few minutes later when the rain stopped (apparently, it was hot enough in Miami for the court to dry quickly). For some reason, Andy completely lost his concentration and got broken when he was serving to consolidate his break. He was pissed off about something and after dropping serve, he immediately went to his chair, then started arguing with the empire about something. I couldn't catch all of what he was saying but it had something to do with the rain and how the umpire couldn't feel the rain or something. Whatever it was, Andy was seriously annoyed and used language that made the commentators apologise in case anyone at home was offended. As usual, I didn't catch the swearing. How unfortunate.
The first set really dragged - it went on for an hour and a half. I was kind of dying; much as I loved watching Andy, I wanted to watch Roger more, and Roger's match was immediately after Andy's. It also really didn't help that Andy played really defensively, standing really far behind the baseline and waiting for Tursunov to make the error. The first set didn't always fall according to Andy's gameplan; he had two set points at 6-4 in the tie-break but lost them both. He looked like he was on the verge of losing the first set (which would've severely upset me!) when Tursunov had a couple of set points of his own, one of which was on Andy's serve, which Andy quickly erased with one of his signature super-fast serves. Eventually, Andy's patience prevailed - Tursunov started making more unforced errors, especially on the big points (like, you know, a set point), and Andy finally won the first set.
I don't even remember how the second set went so I won't bother talking about it. It was largely uneventful anyway. Tursunov basically faded in the second and handed Andy the match. Good news, of course, for me, because 1) I wanted Andy to win, obviously; and 2) it meant the match ended quickly enough for Roger to take the court at an hour that wasn't ungodly. Good stuff.
Federer def. Kiefer 6-4, 6-1
When Roger and Kiefer got on court, it started to rain. The match was delayed for a bit as they went back to the locker room, and during that time, the lovely broadcasters decided to show highlights from last year's quarter-final match between Andy and Roger.
Would've been great, right? Except that match was the second match that Andy won over Roger in a grand total of, what, twenty encounters? And you know me - I hate watching Roger lose. I was tempted to switch the channel, but figured that I wasn't going to watch this match ever, but was rather curious as to how Roger lost it, so I stuck around for the highlights.
It reinforced further why I hate watching tennis highlights. It gives me more questions than answers, like how in the world Roger got down 0-40 on his serve in the deciding third set, how in the world he was behind 1-4 in the first set tie-break. The highlights reel only told me half the story of what happened that caused Roger to lose, not the whole picture - and this is why I find it utterly pointless to watch highlights. It gives me no context, no backstory, just the climax without the build-up which makes the climax awfully anti-climatic and befuddling, even kind of senseless. Call me neurotic, but things like how Roger lost those three straight points on his serve are awfully important to me.
I guess the bright side is, at least it told me that 1) he didn't lose in straight sets (which I would've found out online anyway); 2) he made some great passing shots; and 3) he brilliantly saved two match points before Andy fired another one of his trademark Super Serves on his third match point. Also, knowing that Andy's win over Roger was an anomaly more than anything else made me appreciate Andy's reaction after the match. He was overjoyed, even teary-eyed, and although Roger wasn't falling over himself congratulating Andy at the net (Roger hates losing - duh), he still looked pretty sincere when he shook hands with and congratulated Andy. He probably knew the better player won, although of course I wouldn't know because I didn't - and won't - watch the whole match.
Anyway, good for Andy then, but he's fallen back to the general pattern of losing to Roger. Which is great for me. I love watching Andy's serves; he's the only player with the serve as his trademark that I like watching, because his serves, when they are in and spot-on, are really phenomenal. Even some of his faults are pretty great to watch. Unlike people like Ivo Karlovic, though, he has a pretty solid baseline and net game to back up the superb serving, which is why his matches are relatively interesting to watch despite his tendency to play defensively.
But still, he's no Federer - both in terms of his talent and innate ability, and how much I care about him. I definitely adore Andy, but I'd obviously be in Roger's corner in a match-up between the two of them. Andy can beat everyone except Roger - obviously. So yeah, it's certainly convenient that Andy loses to Roger so much, so that I can like Andy in peace. People like Gilles, who's won Roger in his previous two matches with him, I can't like in peace because when I think of the fact that Roger has lost to him twice, I start to like him a little. Irrational, right? I know. Whatever, I don't care.
ANYWAY, on to the Kiefer match.
I have one major thing to say: OMFG ROGER YOU SERVED UNBELIEVABLE.
I honestly cannot remember the last time he didn't open a match with a first serve fault. I really can't. I also cannot remember the last time I watched a Roger match in which he made a whopping 80% of his first serves, if I ever did (that is, in real time, since US Open 2008). That is just PHENOMENAL. Absolutely AMAZING, and it made me so happy especially after all the issues he's had with his back, and his poor serving at Indian Wells and the Australian Open final (in which his first serve percentage was like, 35? Damn sad. But he still took Nadal to five sets. He's brilliant). It was Vintage Federer: consecutive aces, powerful serves that alternately hit down the line and went out wide, serves on which Kiefer could only feebly get his racquet. When Roger's serving so well, his service games just go by in a flash, literally less than a minute. And his second serves, too: one of them went wide again after a wide first serve that hit the net, and oh my god, the spin on that serve, and the kick on that serve, it was unbelievable. I couldn't even believe what I just saw. And another one, a really short serve down the T that he packed with so damn much spin that it spun away from Kiefer, who just stood there, expecting the ball to go to him. This is what people raved about when they raved about Roger's second serves. The kick on it, the spin on it, when it's on, it's virtually unreturnable. He wasn't serving like that against Murray in Indian Wells, and certainly not against Nadal at the Australian Open. It makes me wonder what makes his serving go awry in such important matches when it didn't fail him before. Perhaps it's the back, but I won't bother speculating 'cause it won't get me anywhere. All that matters, for the purposes of this entry, is that he served unbelievable today, and it was just such a relief and joy to watch.
Apart from that, the match was pretty dull. Kiefer basically did himself in with his multitude of unforced errors. Match point was freaking anti-climatic. Kiefer was down 0-40 and 1-5 on his serve. I wanted Roger to win already so that I could sleep so I didn't mind too much if Roger won 6-1. But I wasn't expecting him to convert his first match point. I expected Kiefer to put up some semblance to a fight...BUT NO. Match point was a Kiefer forehand/backhand (I forgot which) that went straight into the net - the third shot of the "rally".
WHAT THE FUCK! It's also damn sian when Roger wins too easily. I'm glad he won easily, but ugh, his opponent was just no match for him. The only good things about the match were Roger's on-fire serving, an awesome return of serve winner that he ripped off a Kiefer first serve, and the passing shots he made when Kiefer lumbered uncertainly to the net. Oh, and Roger actually returning serves instead of just blocking them back. And him using his topspin backhand instead of slicing every single damn backhand like how he did against Murray at Indian Wells. When he stops slicing his backhand, it means he's more confident with his backhand, which is great; I have this theory that, once he perfects his backhand once more, he'd beat both Nadal and Murray with ease, since the two of them, Murray especially, spend 80% of their matches attacking Roger's backhand. Seeing Roger go for the backhand instead of copping out with a slice was absolutely great, and I don't think he made an unforced error off the backhand wing at all. Which - wow, seriously, wow. I read fan reports on his site that he's been practising his backhand a lot, especially the low ones. clearly, it's paid off! I hope it holds up during the important Nadal/Murray matches too.
Also, my telepathic communication with Roger totally worked on two occasions:
1. Roger was down 0-15 at 4-3. I told him through telepathy, "Time for an ace Roger!" And next thing I knew, he whacked an ace down the line. It wasn't much of a firing, but it was an ace anyway. HA! (He then double-faulted following that ace but whatever, I'll take what I can get.)
2. Kiefer hit some approach shot or volley and ventured towards the net. From my mind to Roger's: "ROGER PASS HIM!" And lo and behold, Roger hit a wonderful passing shot that left Kiefer stunned at the net and looking behind him helplessly.
If Roger listened to me more, he'd win his matches with ease. Totally, right? I know.