Whoa, Roger Federer almost needed 5 sets to get past Robin Soderling on Wednesday night! Fed already had the first two in the bag, 6-0, 6-3, when, suddenly, Soderling went bombs away. The next two sets went to tiebreaks, with Soderling up 6 points to 5 in the final breaker before Fed squeaked by. A little too close, but Fed fans can take comfort: Roger wasn’t broken for the entire match and he hit 28 aces. Not counting those amazing and amazingly well-timed serves, Roger hit 38 winners to 26 unforced errors. Really, that ain’t bad.
Being the Federer Freak that I am, I was actually worrying that Roger was winning too easily during the second set, a la the 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 quarterfinal he won against Del Potro at the Australian. Ever since that tournament, I’ve been superstitious about Roger serving up the double bagel before a final. Yes, I know that’s ridiculous, but it’s true.
Here’s Fed’s take on what happened:
“I had dream tennis there for a while in the beginning. I was able to dominate like I’ve never done that before against him. Then, you know, he started to get better, started to serve better. He got — you know, he got better, sort of more confidence from the baseline, and then it was more difficult to stay with him.”
As for Soderling, you have to admire his mental fortitude. He’s steely - doesn’t whoop, or flex, or thump or bump or do anything at all to pump himself up – but something cold and treacherous still swirls below the surface.
Or maybe you buy Soderling’s simpler explanation: “After the first two sets I was thinking, you know, I can’t do worse than this. “
But Federer found a way to do better, and is through to his 22nd consecutive major semifinal. This figure is so mind-boggling, so untouchable, that I’m starting to value it more than the Great #15.
Roger tried not to be too impressed with himself:
“It’s not important (the record 22 straight major semifinals), but it’s nice to have, let’s put it that way. It’s something I never ever aimed for, that’s clear, but it’s probably one of the greatest records that I’ve created in my own personal career.”
Yeah, you know, it’s one of the greatest things he’s ever done, but geeze, it’s not that big a deal. Like the time I beat one of my really smart friends at Scrabble. Yep, just like that.
Novak Djokovic also needed four sets in his quarterfinal match against Fernando Verdasco. Nole lost the second set but found his game as the match went on (and Nando’s strained belly began to ache.) Nole’s earned his first appearance in a major semifinal since last year’s US Open, where he lost to Roger Federer. Rematch!
The biggest story of the US Open is over, now that Melanie Oudin lost to Caroline Wozniacki on Wednesday night: 2-6, 2-6. All credit goes to the 19 year-old Caroline for playing the veteran to Oudin’s ingenue, even though it was the first major quarterfinal of her career, too.
There’s no shame in losing to the No. 9 seed, but young Melanie was still disappointed:
“For me, I wanted to win more than anything. Losing isn’t good enough. But then, I mean, that was right after I had come off the court. I really think about it, and I really have had an incredible two weeks I should be proud of myself.”
You should be Melanie – you done good. And personally, I’m a little relieved that Oudin didn’t make it any further for the very selfish reason that I can’t take another “Cinderella story” reference. (Honestly what’s the connection? It’s not like she’s holed up with some evil step sisters. And Adidas, not singing mice, supply her with plenty of tennis clothes.)
Caroline Wozniacki was asked a Dumb Press Conference Question! And she had a smart answer:
Q. And real boyfriends, how many do you have?
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I don’t have any real boyfriends right now, so ‑‑ and usually I keep to one.
She’ll face Yanina Wickmayer next, who beat Kateryna Bondarenko to become the second unseeded Belgian semifinalist in the women’s draw, along with Kim Clijsters. Sheesh, tennis is weird.
In the good news/bad news category, ESPN2 is showing doubles and it’s really entertaining. Unfortunately for the US Open, the Bryan Brothers lost to Paes/Dlouhy on Wednesday. But the 4th-seeded Williams sisters did get through and will play in the semis on Thursday.
If the weather cooperates, the men will finish up their quarterfinals on Thursday: Del Potro vs. Cilic and Nadal vs. Gonzalez. But the forecast is not looking too hot (or dry.)