Sony Ericsson Open 2012: Previewing Roger Federer's Draw Rounds 2 to 4
The second Master's series event of the year has already kicked off at the Sony Ericsson Open.
The first Master's series event, the BNP Paribas Open, was won by Roger Federer in straight sets over John Inser.
Federer was also able to defeat his greatest rival, Rafael Nadal, on an outdoor hard court for the first time since 2005.
The Swiss Maestro has found his confidence once again. Last week, he put the entire tour on notice.
Last year Novak Djokovic was able to follow up his victory at the BNP Paribas Open with a Sony Ericsson title.
Federer has managed this great achievement twice in his career, most recently in 2006.
For Federer to win the title this week, he will need to play as well as he did last week in California. If he is able to keep up his recent form, then he will be one of the favorites
The draw does not look easy for Federer, but he will be favored in every matchup until a possible semifinal clash with Djokovic.
Now, let's look forward at what the draw may hold for Roger Federer in his first three matches.
2nd Round: Ryan Harrison
Federer's first match will be against a big-hitting American upstart, Ryan Harrison.
Harrison was able to overcome Potito Starrace in three tough sets, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4.
These two met at last years Indian Wells tournament with Federer prevailing 7-6, 6-3.
The courts at the Sony Ericsson play a bit slower than those at Indian Wells, a point Federer made at the tournament last year.
The slower court favors Federer as Harrison's best chance to beat Federer will be with aggression and to fill up the stat sheet with winners.
The draw has done Federer no favors here, this isn't an easy second-round match. Harrison is not a player who will allow Federer to get inside his head prior to the match.
Roger will have to outplay the young American, which is something Federer should be able to do.
Prediction: 7-6, 6-2
Why: Federer is playing too well at the moment, and will be focused on producing a good result. Throughout his career Federer has shown the ability to control matches against the younger players on tour. After a tight first set, Roger will find his game and break the Harrison a time or two.
Round 3: Andy Roddick
If Federer is able to get past Harrison, then his most likely third-round opponent will be someone with whom he is very familiar, Andy Roddick.
There is a chance that Giles Muller could beat Roddick in their second-round encounter. Their match certainly appears to be one that will be decided by at least one tiebreaker. I'm going to give Roddick the benefit of the doubt against Muller, and will assume he will be Federer's opponent in the third round.
Federer owns an amazing 21-2 record against Roddick. Based on the latter's recent form, it would be a surprise to see Federer lose this match.
These two met in the quarters of this tournament in both 2008 and 2009. In 2008, Roddick was able to beat Federer, one of his two wins against Federer. The following year, Federer was able to exact revenge by winning the match in three tight sets.
Roddick's big weapon is his serve, as it always has been. Unfortunately for Roddick, Federer usually has an amazing read on Andy's serve. This neutralizes Roddick's biggest weapon. From the baseline, these two players have always been in different classes, with Federer far outclassing his American opponent.
Prediction: Federer 6-3, 6-4
Why: Federer has always owned Roddick. Now, Roddick is declining while Federer is showing few real signs of decline in his game. In my opinion, Federer is as big of a favorite in this match as he has ever been against Roddick in a best-of-three match. I would be shocked to see Roddick pull the upset.
Round 4: Gael Monfils
Gael Monfils is seeded 14th this week, and is Federer's most likely opponent in the fourth round.
Monfils is one of the most athletic players on tour, but has struggled with consistency.
These two players have met seven times throughout their careers, with Federer leading the series 6-1. It should be noted that half of Federer's wins against Monfils have come on the clay at Roland Garros.
Federer will have to play a strong offensive match against the Frenchman because he plays superb defense.
Monfils has the ability to beat Federer, that cannot be questioned. Unfortunately for Gael, having the ability doesn't always transfer to results.
For Monfils to win this match, he will have to stay aggressive in his service games while returning well.
Prediction: 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 Federer
Why: Monfils has the ability to push Federer, he beat Nadal in straight sets earlier this year, but I don't think he will be able to take two sets from Federer.
Monfils has only won two sets from Federer in his career, both of those being in the match he won against him. I see Gael getting a set here due to his excellent athleticism and defense on this slower hard court.
At the end of the day, Federer should be able to control the pace of the match from the baseline. Adding that with his dominance on serve should lead to Federer earning a spot in the quarters.