A hugely impressive win for the GOAT here as he took out Tomas Berdych for the loss of just ten games, winning 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in a mere 90 minutes.
Roger hadn't impressed at all in his two previous rounds but produced a bit of a masterclass to dominate the encounter and win through without having to face a single break point.
I predicted Berdych in 4 in my Rubin recap, but Roger applied pressure from the word go and never allowed Berdych to get into the match converting 4 of his five break points and hitting 40 winners to 17 unforced errors. An absolute clinic no other way to describe it.
Quick Match Recap
Berdych won the toss and elected to serve, kicking off with a love hold and showing off his lower ball toss courtesy of coach Goran Ivanisevic.
Shades of last year's Wimbledon semi-final appeared when Roger hit back to back double faults from 30-0 up in his opening game, but he held and from there on in it was like the Federer we know as produced some dazzling shot-making to break and hold for 4-2. Berdych was looking dazed and confused and when a net cord gave Roger a double break for 5-2 the set was over as the Swiss took it 6-2.
The Czech needed to find a response in set 2, but he got off to the worst possible start, struggling to deal with Roger's slice and injections of pace as he was broken to 30. Federer consolidated to love, hitting a ridiculous drop shot that left Berdych reeling. In game four he hit probably the shot of the match with a clean backhand winner when moving backwards that even drew a look of disbelief from Goran to lead 3-1. The one break of serve proving decisive as he served out the set 6-4.
Into set three and after serving slightly better towards the end of set two, Berdych faltered, hitting a double fault at 15 all, and two backhand winners from Federer at 30 all put the Swiss up a break. With Roger's serve finding the spots he held for 2-0 and swept through his next four service games to take the match 6-4 in the third with zero hiccups.
|Match Statistics||T. Berdych||R. Federer|
|First Serve % In||51/81 (63%)||41/70 (59%)|
|Win % On 1st Serve||43/51 (84%)||39/41 (95%)|
|Win % On 2nd Serve||9/30 (30%)||17/29 (59%)|
|Net Points Won||8/18 (44%)||20/23 (87%)|
|Break Points Won||0/0 (0%)||4/5 (80%)|
|Receiving Points Won||14/70 (20%)||29/81 (36%)|
|Total Points Won||66||85|
|Distance Covered (M)||1391.1||1171.2|
|Distance Covered/pt. (M)||9.2||7.8|
Thoughts on the Match
So I didn’t expect it as such, to be honest, especially not this kind of a scoreline, especially not having to save no breakpoints, just always rolling on the serve. That was a big surprise to me. I think it was a great mental test for me to see if I could stay, you know, in the match point for point, keep rolling. I was able to do that. That’s where I’m just really happy that I was able to deliver that.
The first clinic of 2017 and it came in only Roger's third competitive match of the year. You can't ask for much more than that 😀
After not looking great in his opening two rounds Roger hit the ground running in this one, served impeccably and gave Berdych the run around from start to finish. I thought Berdych might be able to impose his power on what's said to be a quick surface but Roger never let him get on the front foot, in fact, there was not a single break point for Berdych or a single deuce game in the entire match.
Anyway, no real point looking into what specifically Federer did well as it was just one of those days where everything clicked into place. Just watch the highlights, it's more fun than reading this 😉 He clearly sees the ball big, get's the early lead and plays on instinct after that. Once on a roll, it seems like he is fifty moves ahead of his opponent and no shot is off limits. Take a look at drop shot where he's running backwards, who else even thinks to play that never mind pull it off? 😀
As for Berdych, he, of course, has the reputation of falling short when it matters, which I suppose is true based on his results against the elite (37 sets lost in a row vs The Big 4) but I don't think he played terribly, just a bad day all round for him. Roger played so fast, game him no rhythm and effectively took the racquet out of his hands. Before he knew it he was down two sets and a break with just over an hour gone. Tough for anyone to fathom.
Predictions vs. Nishikori
Next up is Special K, that nice kid as Roger put it 😀 (he's 27). He defeated Lukas Lacko in straight sets without too much trouble, and after getting pushed to 5 sets in his opener, he's looked solid enough.
You'd expect Kei to offer a lot more resistance than Berdych as his movement is leagues above the Czech's but I'm not sure which way this one will go. I thought today's match was a 50/50 shot even though I picked Berdych in four but I had no idea Federer would play as well as he did. He took his game up to a whole new level so if he plays anywhere near that against Nishikori it's going to be an entertaining match.
It's an entirely different matchup of course with Kei being a better returner and much quicker, but I still think it favours Roger. Fed will need to serve well like today, mix it up (check out Dan Evan's slice backhand causing Cilic and Tomic so much trouble) and take his opportunities that inevitably come on the average Nishikori serve. Again I think it's 50/50. I picked Fed to lose last round, and he won, so maybe I should make Nishikori the favourite in this one too. Kei in 5.