Hey all, just enough time to squeeze in my Indian Wells final post before Miami starts and it was another successful tournament for Fed.
Not the result he would have wanted of course but he backed up his performance from Dubai with some more stellar tennis and there is definitely more to come.
As for the final itself it was extremely close and the result boiled down to a couple of points plus Djokovic hitting a purple patch towards the middle/end of the match.
Any final you lose 7-6 in the third is bound to hurt a little bit but I don't think Fed can leave with too many regrets. On another day or a quicker court he most likely gets out of that one on the winning side so it's a positive match in my opinion. Bit of a weak tie break when he'd been mentally great up until then but I think Djokovic made it difficult by hitting with a lot of depth and serving accurately. Let's take a look at the match…
Quick Match Recap
As I expected Roger started the match brilliantly holding to 30 and then breaking to lead 2-0. The chip charge move he made at deuce was peRFectly executed and had Novak somewhat bewildered.
With Djokovic being the best returner in the game you always expected him to create some chances but he couldn't even create a single break point chance in opening set.
At 4-2 he had 30 all but Roger hit the slider out wide into the deuce court then boomed one down the T. It was just extremely clutch from Roger who served out the set to love 6-3 without every really looking in danger.
As far as dream starts go this was it as Roger hit 74% of first serves with 12 winners to 9 unforced errors. Novak didn't get a look in.
The second set was always going to be about whether Fed could maintain his level and what Djokovic would do. Would he up his game or let his shoulders slump like he did briefly against Isner?
As it turned out Fed went off the boil and Novak started to improve. At 2-3 Roger serving the Serb started to return better and it felt like he was slowly finding his form.
That came to fruition in Roger's next service game as a lucky lob landed on the line and Roger went wide with an inside in forehand to fall 3-5 behind. Poor choice of shot here and a very low percentage one at that.
Fed then had half a chance in the next game with a 0-30 opening to break back but Djokovic composed himself to take it 6-3. The numbers in set 2 reversed with Federer only making 54% of first serves and hitting 5 winners to 11 unforced errors. Unfortunately for the Swiss he let his level drop and that allowed Novak to find a way in.
Third set and with momentum on Novak's side it was a crucial opening game for Federer. I thought when he played a ridiculous dropshot on game point and then faced a break point the winner of it would decide the outcome of the match. As has been the case all week Roger was extremely solid and refused to back down hitting some massive forehands to hold for 1-0. It was a huge hold under big pressure.
I thought that could have been crucial but he just couldn't shake Djokovic off and in his next service game he again faced break point. This time he couldn't fend it off missing with an inside out forehand. It was a bad miss considering he didn't need to paint the line but as always it's fine margins.
Both players traded holds until 5-4 when Novak had the chance to serve for it. As we know all players get tight when serving for a match and Fed used that to his advantage here, mixing it up and drawing Novak into the net to break back to love. It was another great show of determination from Roger and it's definitely a good sign he's digging in right till the end. No looks of resignation, he goes point for point and backs himself to turn things around.
He followed up the break with a love hold which meant he'd won 14 of the last 15 points to lead 6-5. Momentum had shifted here but Djokovic steadied the ship to hold to 15 and force the tie break.
It was a disappointing return game from Roger at 6-5 as I figured he'd just go for broke on returns to pile on the pressure but it was pretty passive. Fair play to Novak though as he served smartly to take it into a shootout.
Into the tie break and Roger immediately went down a mini break. He had a chance to level things quickly but played a timid lob that he had way more time to execute. 3-0 soon became 5-1 and Djokovic was virtually out of site. A forehand error handed Roger one mini break back but then he missed a regulation forehand of his own to give Djokovic 4 match points. He saved the first on his own serve with an ace but Djokovic wasn't to be denied closing it out 7 points to 3 to take home the trophy.
|Roger Federer||Novak Djokovic|
|1st Serve %||63%||65%|
|1st Serve Points Won||45/64 (70%)||47/62 (76%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||21/37 (57%)||17/34 (50%)|
|Break Points Saved||4/6 (67%)||1/3 (33%)|
|Service Games Played||15||15|
|1st Return Points Won||15/62 (24%)||19/64 (30%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||17/34 (50%)||16/37 (43%)|
|Break Points Won||2/3 (67%)||2/6 (33%)|
|Return Games Played||15||15|
|Total Service Points Won||66/101 (65%)||64/96 (67%)|
|Total Return Points Won||32/96 (33%)||35/101 (35%)|
|Total Points Won||98/197 (50%)||99/197 (50%)|
Thoughts on the Match
A positive week with a disappointing end is the best summation I can give. Definitely not a step back for Roger as I think he showed his tennis is right up there and he has way more to come for the remainder of the season.
The final was great viewing and if Roger hadn't made a couple of key errors then he could have been holding the trophy quite easily. Those are all ifs and buts though so I think credit must go to Novak, he is a handful on any surface but especially on these slow hard courts where he can do what he does best.
As soon as he started to return better that's when the match changed. Roger couldn't get the cheap points on serve any more as it was impossible to serve through the court.
That meant he was always staring down at 30 all scores and having to dig deep just to hold serve. That is physically and mentally draining so I think that pressure eventually led to the forehand misses / unforced errors which let the match slip away. It wasn't like those misses just came out of nowhere and were mental meltdowns, it was continuous pressure from Djokovic that eventually had the desired effect.
In the end the tie break was a bit of an unexpected bonus and I thought Fed was going to pull it out the bag but Novak toughed it out; hitting with great depth which made it difficult to dictate or to claw back the deficit. It would have been epic if he'd managed to win the breaker looking back but it just wasn't to be.
Can't say I was disappointed for longer than 30 seconds with this one as it's just the way tennis works especially at the top of the game. Easy to say he should have made that forehand to not get broken in the final set or played sharper in the breaker but I'm sure on another day he will as he's giving himself chances and putting himself in a position to win which is the most important thing. Last year we wouldn't have even got close to a final set breaker 😉
Next Stop Miami
Looks like Roger is going to play Miami and the draw is out. Here's his projected opponents:
- R1 Bye
- R2: Karlovic
- R3: Verdasco
- R4: Gasquet
- QF: Ferrer
- SF: Djokovic – Murray
- Final: Nadal
Full draw post coming soon 😀