Sod lasted three sets. I could only manage one.
With everything that was being said about the wind in the build up to this match (that is if you can bring yourself to think of Caz/Domi as a build up), both Sod and Fed weathered(!) it well….too well. Far better than anyone had any right to expect.
With Sod displaying all the timing and shotmaking that’s made him a factor at any Slam he now enters but, above all, exhibiting, once again, the movement that simply doesn’t make scientific sense for tennis’s very-own 4 x 4 off-roader.
And Fed doing all of that….and serving as well as he has all year too.
All the same, you don’t get to entertain big ideas of making the semis of a Slam, any Slam, against any player, even the best ever performing at his best ever, without putting the ball back in play. I don’t care how well they’re serving.
Which is what Sod was unable to do in Fed’s final two service games of the first set. That happens to be when I switched off (were the subsequent two sets substantially different?).
That’s 8 straight uncontested points off serves that, however well-placed or unreadable they might have been, weren’t nevertheless aces.
Never mind the points deficit that creates, consider the mental wreckage and the subsequent tone that kind of momentum-shift sets for the remainder of the match.
It seems a big ask given how well Fed was serving (86% 1st serves won, 5/6 break points converted). It’s also exactly the kind of “small thing” Sod will need to improve if we’re to entertain any serious notion of him having regular success against the big boys.
A much easier ask then might be to serve more than only two aces over three sets: for someone as adept as Sod that’s simply inexcusable.
Not that any of this would have substantially altered the result. I’ve learnt to treat the appearance of Fed’s half volley winner off the baseline as a sign that he’s hit top gear -it’s disrespectful of relativity itself.
But if we’re honest, Fed can’t actually be relied on to produce those kinds of performances with the regularity he once exhibited.
Which begs the question whether or not he’s given over the best part of himself to this event already.
Personally I think not. But then neither do I believe he’ll have to play quite as well as last night to get past Djoko who, for all his confidence and form coming into this, can only be too aware of the kind of threat a Fed in this form poses.