Unfortunately, the third-round blockbuster match I wrote about yesterday ended up being a giant buzz kill as Juan Martin Del Potro yet again is sidelined and chose to retire pre-match before facing Rafael Nadal. Here is hoping to a very, very quick recovery to Delpo.
All eight quarterfinalists have now been found, and looking at the names, Roger Federer vs. Robin Söderling and Novak Djokovic vs. David Ferrer seem the most interesting. I would also be eager to see how far Brazil's long-standing hope Thomas Belucci can make it after a convincing win over Andy Murray. Rafael Nadal seems a lock in the semis as he's facing Michael Llodra.
Federer will be looking to avenge his French Open defeat at the hands of Söderling last year. He holds a commanding 15-1 record over the Swede, but do not led that mislead you. Federer is not exactly looking stellar and Söderling is no longer a walk-over for the Maestro. But let's get back to the topic of the article.
David Ferrer provides an interesting challenge for the so-far unstoppable force of Novak Djokovic. Ferrer is a clay-court specialist that likes the grind. The longer the match, the better. He's had a phenomenal clay-season so far with a 13-2 record, making the finals in Barcelona and Monte Carlo only to lose to Nadal. He won Acapulco in February, beating Nicolas Almagro in the final. Moreover, he leads Djokovic 3-0 on clay.
Though he did not take a set off Nadal, he presented a fair challenge and got five breaks in their four sets. I've said before that I do not consider him a threat to Nadal on clay as he lacks the firepower to present a consistent challenge, but I must also give the man some credit and admit that he has come as close as anyone this year, safe Murray.
In other words, this is the first really good clay guy that Djokovic is to meet this year, so it provides a good chance to gauge his level.
If his third round is anything to go by, the Djoker's level is nothing short of stunning. He absolutely steam-rolled world No. 29 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in their 52 minute encounter. The Spaniard is no novice on the red clay, but Novak did not allow him many chances. The score was 6-1, 6-2, but other stats are more telling:
In eight service game, Novak lost just two points, both behind his second serve. That's a 94 percent winning percentage behind his serve. As he took care of 77 percent of Garcia-Lopez second serves, the result was pretty much a given.
If Novak serves like that again, Ferrer will have a more than difficult time breaking him. That is most likely not the case the other way round as Novak is the best returner in the game and Ferrer probably is the worst server in top ten.
I mentioned he broke Nadal five times in four sets already. Well, Nadal broke Ferrer ten times in those four sets.
Madrid is admittedly easier on the server due to the altitude and faster play. Yet, don't expect that will help Ferrer to be the one ending Novak's streak. My guess is Novak in straights.