Monday, January 17, 2011

Roger's Roster: Australian Open (Jan. 17-30)

Whoa: Roger makes an acrobatic volley during the 'Rally for Relief' on Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
Another year brings another tilt at a possible Grand Slam crown. Roger starts his quest for the 17th GS title of his career on Monday the 17th of January. He will open against Lucas Lacko of Slovakia and seems quite confident (as usual) about his chances.

Friendly Rivals: Roger and Rafa celebrate winning a point during the 'Rally for Relief' on Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
 The form that Roger has displayed from October last year has been devastating to say the least. The serve is smooth and accurate. The forehand is as sharp as a rapier. The backhand is a weapon once again with its quick flat,  heavy topspin and deceptive slice options. The volleys are crisp and executed beautifully (the man's skills are just out of this world). But, more importantly the foundation of his ethereal game, his nimble feet, seem to be enjoying themselves thoroughly as they dance all over the court leaving everyone spellbound. 

Bear Hug: The two buddies bond over a well played point during the 'Rally for Relief' on Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
 The whole world will be watching to see if King Roger can defend his crown... Of course he will! Let the games begin... 

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Smooth Week

Success: Roger with the trophy after a very good week in Doha. 

Roger won his 67th career title by beating Nikolay Davydenko 6-3, 6-4 at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in stylish fashion. He didn't drop a set all week and his play improved with every match. Roger felt that the new year had started quite brightly indeed: "There is a pleasure coming to this part of the world where I actually do spend quite a bit of time, and I've always had good friends here in Qatar. I love playing here, been successful here in the past. I thought the level of play was extremely high. I was very happy, from my side, I was almost flawless, and I was able to play offensive when I needed to, and when I wanted to it all worked out. So I'm really pleased with such a great final."

When asked about the upcoming Australian Open, Roger smiled, "I am not ready now. I will be when I get there. But obviously, the wins here will help me build my rhythm [in Australia]." 

Nikolay felt the Swiss was unplayable on Saturday, "He played very well. I have played him so many times and I know he was fast today. He gave me no chance. If I tried to play from the baseline, he was too fast. When he hit his backhand, then he was too good. I think if he can hold his form like this, he can be No. 1 again." 

(P.S. - The Maestro also presented a new-look tweener for everyone to behold in his first official match of the year against Thomas Schoorel!)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Roger's Roster: Qatar ExxonMobil Open (Jan. 3-8)

 Staying Afloat: Roger and Rafa kicked off the 2011 season by hitting balls on a court laid in Doha Bay.
Roger will officially begin his 2011 season in Doha at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open. This tournament will be his only real 'match practice' before the start of the Australian Open. As he ended 2010 with such flourish, all eyes will be on him to see if he can keep up that scintillating form. Roger himself is expecting fireworks in the coming weeks: “It’s a special Australian Open coming up. Me being the defending champion, Rafa going for his fourth so obviously the focus is going to be on the two of us. Tennis is really going to be exciting down in Australia. But there can be someone else coming and breaking through, like [Andy] Murray, [Novak] Djokovic and I'm sure they will give everyone a run for their money. You never know you could have a new Grand Slam champion. That’s what is good and tough about tennis in such tournaments where you have just a knockout system. I have to start Doha from scratch. Rafa is there again so it’s not going to be easy to win that one. We will see how it goes in Doha and then we have enough time to rest and get ready for the Australian Open. I hope I get some wins in Doha to boost my confidence.”

Light-footed: Roger during the recently concluded Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition in Abu Dhabi.
Commenting on his association with Paul Annacone, Roger remarked, “He is a great guy. We share a good work relationship. Obviously the key for me is spending a lot of time with him and travelling the world I need to get along well with my team and coach. That’s the case I have great harmony in my team. He has brought a few things to my game and I’m very happy about it.”

Let's hope that Roger plays well in Doha and is well prepared to defend his title in Melbourne! Cheers!