Hey all, a great week in Paris has drawn to a close as Roger lost in 3 sets against Djokovic to bow out in the semi finals 4-6 6-3 6-2. I said in my last post I hate the term positive loss but I'm not too downbeat about this one, a win is of course always the best outcome but Roger now heads into a London with an extra days rest and a firm idea of where his game is at.
Yet again he showed signs of looking close to his best in the first set, serving with authority and moving well like he's done since Basel but unfortunately as the match wore on Djokovic got his consistency back to the level we expect and Roger just went a little flat which cost him.
You can't afford to have a lull against the best returner in the game as he will make you pay and that's exactly what happened here. Roger just didn't have that sharpness on his serve towards the end of the match so even though he was getting into the return games he was always finding himself under pressure which caught up with him.
Quick Match Recap
As we've seen all week Roger started brilliantly getting a break point chance in the very first game and although he didn't take it he then held to love before breaking Djokovic in his next service game coming out on top after a 26 shot rally on break point.
Roger then managed to consolidate the break and despite being in every Djokovic service game he couldn't secure the double break and had to serve it out at 5-4; this turned out to be a marathon service game with Roger saving 4 break points before finally holding to close out the set.
It was great to see him respond well to the pressure and he came up with some huge forehands when he needed them most. Usually we've seen Roger fold under pressure this year but in the first set he seemed to play better on the big points.
The second set looked like we were in for a real treat as Roger broke Djokovic in his opening service game but this time handed it straight back, it didn't feel like too big a blow at the time but clearly he needed to hang onto his serve there to keep momentum.
The break back really allowed Novak to get back into the match and gave him that little bit of confidence he needed which got him another break to lead 5-2. Roger wobbled slightly yet managed to dig out the hold for 5-3 but he couldn't stop Djokovic serving it out to level the match.
After seeing Roger fade in the second I wasn't overly confident for the third set and my fears were realised as Djokovic broke to lead 2-1 and then again to lead 5-2 which was just too much for Roger to claw back.
I'm not sure what it was but Roger looked a step slower in the third set, not like he was feeling it physically or anything but just not quite as intense as we saw earlier in the match. It was afterall his 9th match in 12 days so he's played quite a lot of tennis in the last 2 weeks and might be feeling a tad mentally tired especially after digging deep a number of times in Basel & Paris.
|Stats||R. Federer||N. Djokovic|
|1st Serve %||66%||65%|
|1st Serve Points Won||40/59 (68%)||43/60 (72%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||12/30 (40%)||17/32 (53%)|
|Break Points Saved||6/10 (60%)||3/5 (60%)|
|Service Games Played||13||14|
|1st Return Points Won||17/60 (28%)||19/59 (32%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||15/32 (47%)||18/30 (60%)|
|Break Points Won||2/5 (40%)||4/10 (40%)|
|Return Games Played||14||13|
|Total Service Points Won||52/89 (58%)||60/92 (65%)|
|Total Return Points Won||32/92 (35%)||37/89 (42%)|
|Total Points Won||84/181 (46%)||97/181 (54%)|
And here are the first set numbers so you can see what changed as the match wore on:
Quite a big drop in Roger's level but credit to Djokovic who hung around, he never goes away these days which makes him incredibly dangerous, probably the best returner in the game right now too so any lulls and you're down a break.
Point of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
Overall I think this was another good day at the office for Roger, no doubt he hates losing (especially to Djokovic) but I don't think this one bothers him too much and he clearly has more confidence in his level of play than he's had all year.
It's the first time he's played Novak since 2012 and he was able to outplay him for that first set which is a very good sign. Obviously for one reason or another he couldn't keep it up and things slipped away pretty quick in the third which is a tad disappointing but not the end of world.
It says to me there's there's still plenty work for Roger to do to get wins against these guys but I think he's doing enough of the right things out there that if he stays healthy and keeps working hard the results will definitely come.
From the week in Paris I think Roger will have gotten a good idea of his level and in a way today was great preparation for London. Had he won he'd have played almost every day for the last 2 weeks which a big ask. Obviously Nadal lost to Ferrer but Roger wasn't to know that and playing Djokovic and Nadal back to back would have been brutal here to the point it would almost have written off his World Tour Final chances.
I said in my prediction that if the winners outnumbered the errors then Roger would win and that's one of the most telling stats above along with the overall drop in 1st serve % as the match wore on. Usually when Roger can keep the winners in a positive, even if it's just by one or two he's coming out on the good side of things.
The one thing you can't afford to do against Djokovic is have a lull in your game; you have to play with the same level of intensity throughout the match and I think from the second half of the 2nd set onwards Roger wasn't doing enough of the right things which let Djokovic get his range on the groundstrokes and settle into a comfortably rhythm.
Post Match Press Conference
The order of play for London is now out and Roger will have his chance of revenge as he faces Djokovic on Tuesday evening. It gives him pretty much 3 days off so he should be ready for it whilst Djokovic will be fighting it out with Ferrer tomorrow which will be a significant workout.
Live chat will of course be on for the World Tour Finals so make sure you sign up if you haven't already. See you Tuesday 😉