Patrick Mouratoglou

Falla battle good for Federer

Patrick Mouratoglou

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It has been a long time since we witnessed Roger Federer being forced to work hard in the first round of a Grand Slam. He was on the brink of defeat after being led by two sets to love, and down 0-40 at 4-4 in the third.

Then he trailed by two sets to one and a break in the fourth set with Alejandro Falla able to serve for the match at 5-4.

It is not an overstatement to say the man from Switzerland was an inch from flying home. But at the end of the day, Roger remains the winner.

Even if the margin between winning and losing was as thin as ever, he managed to find a way to do it. He is still in the hunt and this match might be a wake-up call to all. He may very well be the one lifting the trophy 10 days from now.

One always says one must overcome a match like this to win a Major.

It is not always true but we can find many examples to prove it.

Roger needs these hard-fought battles.

I personally believe he needs these kind of challenges, the ones where he is on the brink of defeat. I'm almost convinced his best chances come with tough matches.

It's true that he has not been playing his best tennis so far. He is clearly struggling with his confidence.

However, he is a great fighter.

He always lets his opponents know he will be there during the entire match and his record shows he has a great history of turning matches around.

What happened in the Centre Court against Falla? Was he sick? who knows?

Or maybe he was just having a bad day and the left-handed forehand of his opponent didn't allow him to win most backhand battles. He was unable to find the correct angles with his backhand.

But remember - he got out of this match with a win despite having an off day and he needs these battles to bring his A-game back.

Without a doubt, Roger is a better player today than he was before the tournament started.

I am convinced he needed to have a tough match to find his top motivation.

Looking back at what happened at Roland Garros, he had an easy draw before his match against Robin Soderling.

He was not able to play his best when he needed it. After this match he will be ready.

As for the rest of the field, there were no problems for Rafael Nadal and Soderling.

They are the form men of the moment. Nadal has his intensity and the
way he can move around the court, and Soderling has his powerful groundstrokes, which find full efficiency on grass. 

However, Novak Djokovic confirmed he is struggling with his confidence, which makes things difficult.

It makes things worse when your technique is not as good as it can be.

Nole has to find the serve he had before he hired Todd Martin, then work on his rhythm and the way he strikes his forehand.

Of course Andy Murray is going to fight hard in this tournament but we all know he is also struggling with his tennis. He is still searching for his A-game, looking for a strategy.

By having a complete game, he can choose what weapon to use and when.

Obviously Andy needs someone to guide him. But what I like about him is his ingrained fire.

He is very intense and wild. These are fundamental assets to build on.

On the women's side, early rounds show we will have to watch out for Victoria Azarenka.

If she remains fit, she will be very dangerous and could win her first Major.

Young Laura Robson had a good performance on the Wimbledon Centre Court against Jelena Jankovic, who got away with a win thanks to her serve.

Laura, 16, received a wild-card and warned us she will be a force in the future after showing great potential.

She tried her best despite playing her first match on Centre Court.

She was always stuck to the line, taking the ball early, and used her left-handed serve with great accuracy, which troubled the Serb.

What I like about her is she has a clear vision of her game. She will need time to consolidate on what she is doing well already.

Moving well around the court, find more intensity and firepower to her shots.

But make no mistake, it is not the last you hear from her.

Last but not least, I'd like to talk about players I'm in charge of: Yanina Wickmayer and Aravane Rezai.

They are among the best motivated players on the tour and I can only encourage you to come and watch them if you are living around London. 

Both give a lot on the court. There is always something happening when they are playing and that's what we are looking for in this sport.

Indeed, that's what I like the most. I was in charge of Marcos Baghdatis for 10 years.
Yanina and Aravane are like him in the sense they are giving their absolute best on the court, and know how to entertain.

They need time to find their best tennis but they already play with their souls. They give you emotions and force you to like them.

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