Hey all, Roger's 2015 season is up and running and it started with a hard fought victory against World Number 153 John Millman at the Brisbane International. It was Fed's first competitive outing since the Davis Cup final in November and he was required to dig deep, coming from a set and a break down to win through 4-6 6-4 6-3 in two hours and two minutes.
Millman came into the match a huge underdog but soon found his feet, striking the ball firmly and consistently from the back of the court; giving Fed zero time to really out manoeuvre with his forehand or dictate the points. That saw him drop he first set and fall 1-3 behind in the 2nd but he dug in, upped his consistency and got more aggressive to hit back before breaking twice in the decider to book his spot in the Quarter Finals.
Quick Match Recap
Millman opened up proceedings and Roger had an immediate chance to stamp his authority on the match with a break point which was missed with a wild forehand. Millman went onto hold and that gave him a nice shot of confidence which he used to his advantage with some quality hitting from the back of the court.
The Aussie brought up to break points of his own when leading 3-2 but Roger stamped them out with some clutch serving. The Swiss twice then made deuce on his Millman's serve at 3-3 and 4-4 but he dropped the opening set when after saving 2 set points he missed a drive volley at 30-40, 4-5.
Winning the opener gave Millman even more of a boost and in the second he was seemingly all over the court. No real space for Fed to work with and he was the player looking rushed on the baseline which is unusual territory for him. Millman's attacking style worked perfectly for him as he broke to lead 3-1 and get himself in sigh of the finish line; but Roger hit back immediately with some stylish play, notably the backhand winner on the second deuce to break back.
Failing to consolidate took the wings out of Millman's sails somewhat and Roger then came up with a top drawer volley at full stretch to break again to lead 5-3. Millman did have a break point back chance at 4-5 but Roger closed it out to take the match into a decider.
Getting back on level terms put the match firmly in Roger's favour and he began to play with more freedom in the third after; moving his level up a notch and getting more time to setup the points how he'd like them. Millman didn't go away though, again coming up with some great hitting and consistency from the back of the court until 3-3. Here Fed finally got the all important break; perhaps buoyed by an incredible around the net post shot in the previous game. 4-3 soon became 5-3 and with Millman serving to stay in the match he was again broken to 15, drilling a forehand into the high part of the net. Game, set, match, Federer.
|Roger Federer||John Millman|
|1st Serve %||59%||64%|
|1st Serve Points Won||37/50 (74%)||44/72 (61%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||19/35 (54%)||20/40 (50%)|
|Break Points Saved||9/11 (82%)||9/13 (69%)|
|Service Games Played||14||15|
|1st Return Points Won||28/72 (39%)||13/50 (26%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||20/40 (50%)||16/35 (46%)|
|Break Points Won||4/13 (31%)||2/11 (18%)|
|Return Games Played||15||14|
|Total Service Points Won||56/85 (66%)||64/112 (57%)|
|Total Return Points Won||48/112 (43%)||29/85 (34%)|
|Total Points Won||104/197 (53%)||93/197 (47%)|
Thoughts on the Match
A clutch mental display here from the GOAT which is a positive sign heading into the new season. We saw Fed show his competitive nature throughout 2014 and it was on show again here in Brisbane. Coming from a set down in a best of 3 is always tough but to recover a break in the 2nd set too is testimony to Fed's resilience and ability to grind out the win. He was arguably the lesser player for most of the match, making 21 unforced errors in the opening set but he won some of the important points by hook or by crook and came through the test.
I don't think he played badly either, it was just a combination of Millman really taking it to him and forcing the issue from the back of the court combined with some natural rustiness or feel in the groundstrokes. Remember Fed had break points in the very first game so it could have been a rout had he converted. As it turned out Millman found his feet after the early hold and he was clearly feeling confident playing on this surface in his home state. That was always going to be tough to contend with and Roger did a very good job keeping himself in the match when things did look to be slipping away. Big plus point I reckon and always a confidence booster to win the first match of the season whatever the means or level of performance.
Predictions vs. Duckworth
Next up is James Duckworth who took out Gilles Simon in his opening match and then overcame Jarkko Nieminen, saving a match point to book his spot in the Quarter Final. Roger played Duckworth at last years Australian Open, winning comfortably 6-4 6-4 6-2 and I predict a similar affair tomorrow.
Millman's success in Brisbane today came from very good movement and crisp hitting from the back of the court and whilst Duckworth can hit a big ball he doesn't possess the foot speed or same consistency from the baseline. Roger will be able to move his opponent around easier and slip into a groove where he isn't being rushed on the baseline. Only one winner if that's the case.
Fed in straights: 6-4 6-2.