Very solid performance from Roger here as he played on Hisense arena for the first time in 10 years and immediately found it to his liking defeating Blaz Kavcic 6-2 6-1 7-6 (7-4) which was his 70th match-win at the Australian Open in his record-breaking 57th consecutive Grand Slam. More numbers that defy the odds from the GOAT.
With the extreme heat policy in effect it meant the roof was closed and Roger came out the blocks firing on all cylinders and completely outplayed his opponent for the vast majority of the encounter. The only real time it wasn't all about Roger firing off winners was when he dropped serve in the second set and ran the third a little closer than it needed to be. Regardless of those minor blemishes it was a very solid performance and one that hopefully signifies he can reach the business end of the tournament.
Quick Match Recap
There's much more to talk about from this match compared to the Duckworth one and that's mainly because Roger came out with a super aggressive mindset which meant the match was much more high tempo and rhythmical.
Strangely Roger elected to receive at the coin toss, perhaps he knew Kavčič was vulnerable early from their Dubai training sessions but whatever the reason it worked as he broke immediately. That was followed up by a comfortable hold and some epic volleying brought to you by Fedberg™ saw him take the first set 6-2.
The second set was more of the same with Roger dictating every play, returning serve very well with lots of mix up – slice, drive, chip it was like he had a lot of time here and was clearly seeing the ball pretty big. The only blemish was getting broken back after going up a break, especially when he played an epic point to save the first one. Of course it's always the reaction afterwards that matters most and Roger hit 4 clean winners to break back immediately before going on to seal the second set 6-1.
By this point I thought Roger was going to run away with it like a freight train but his level just dropped ever so slightly which coincided with Kavčič finding the consistency off the ground and the higher 1st serve % that he'd been looking for.
That meant he fared much better in the third set and it was actually a very close affair, in fact Kavčič will be disappointed with himself not to have won it after going up 3-0 in the tie break but Roger composed himself well, won 2 key points to get back to 3-2 which rattled the Slovenian and allowed Roger to take it 7-4.
|Stats||Blaž Kavčič||Roger Federer|
|1st serves in||61/99 (62 %)||58/76 (76 %)|
|1st serve points won||32/61 (52 %)||45/58 (78 %)|
|2nd serve points won||18/38 (47 %)||9/18 (50 %)|
|Fastest serve||202 KMH||208 KMH|
|Average 1st serve speed||181 KMH||180 KMH|
|Average 2nd serve speed||142 KMH||151 KMH|
|Net points won||4/13 (31 %)||23/29 (79 %)|
|Break points won||1/2 (50 %)||6/11 (55 %)|
|Receiving points won||22/76 (29 %)||49/99 (49 %)|
|Total points won||72||103|
Point of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
Yeah, I mean, it was a good match, you know. I'm happy on a hot day like this, you know, I got through because it's going to change from the next round on for us now, even though it's going to be hot tomorrow apparently.
So, yeah, it was a good first two sets I thought. I played really aggressive and it worked out. Third set I think he was more consistent. He served better.
In the process, it got closer. You know, I'm happy I got it done in three.
No complaints what so ever about this match from me, I thought it was great to watch whether you're a Federer fan or just a neutral. It had a little bit of everything and the fact is when Fed plays all court tennis there's nothing better out there to watch; you get to see so much variety and skill plus witness his opponent, a solid top 100 player look bamboozled by it all which makes it even better.
Like I said above the only real blemish was getting broken and finishing the match at a canter rather than a gallop. I'm not too fussed that the third wasn't as high a level as I'm pretty sure it was just Roger deciding to coast over the line rather than any sort of fatigue or inconsistencies in his game.
By the same token I'm not getting carried away with the win either and making him a cert for the semi finals, you only have to go back to the USO where he schooled Mannarino only to get comprehensively whooped by Robredo in the next round. So one good match doesn't guarantee anything but I do hope it's a sign of the sort of tennis we can look forward to going forward.
Stats wise it's probably his cleanest in a while, I know the unforced errors count is quite high (although ~50% of them came in the 3rd set) but that's not really a concern for me as winners outnumber them comfortably. Serve wise he was spot on again and managed to convert 55% of his break points which is a big improvement on his last 2 matches.
The return also seemed to hold up better, I'm not totally anti-chip return but the fact is if he keeps doing that it's too predictable so it was good to see some variety on that front with lots of full blooded returns as well as blocked ones giving Kavčič a lot to think about. It is all about trying to keep your opponent guessing and that definitely worked well for him today.
And before I forget I just wanna add a little note about his defensive work, I thought today he chased down a lot of balls and that helped him get more into the match, in fact you could say the better he defends the better he attacks as it just feels like he's in every point. Movement was definitely a big plus that's for sure.
So my perspective? I think as a fan you can be confident about what you saw today but have to keep things realistic, Kavčič wasn't playing pressure tennis for most of the match which really allowed Roger to get into his comfort zone and get his shots off. To start winning big matches it's going to be about how he plays when he's out of his comfort zone so I'm not raving about a Fedberg revolution just yet or giving the new racquet saviour status. I'm just gonna enjoy the match for what it was, a high quality encounter with the desired end result, now it's onto the next one where both players start at zero 🙂
And before we look at the next round just a quick recap of elsewhere in the draw, the top half has all gone to plan really and has so far been uneventful, strange things happen but Djoker looks a cert for the final based on his level and the draw.
The bottom half is where we're seeing more action with Del Potro crashing and burning today at the hands of Bautista-Agut. I did warn you guys about Del Potro's weak record in Australia and even if he were to make the Quarters he'd be getting schooled by Nadal on this surface but he wasn't even able to make it that far. Time to hit the practise courts for the Tower and find different ways to win matches other than blasting his way through.
Tsonga is looking impressive so far and I still make him a minor favourite vs. Roger should they meet, nothing to do with H2H or who I think is better, just gut feeling. I reckon Fed has to take it up a level there to win which I know he can do, just a matter of whether he does or not. Murray is playing himself into the tournament based on his results (I've not seen any live play), although today his opponent was 5-1 up in the third but lost it 7-5 with Murray winning 23 points in a row I believe to seal it. Credit to Murray for clawing it back but if that's not a typical Frenchman choking I don't know what is.
Predictions vs. Teymuraz Gabashvili
Next up Roger faces Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili who thanks to the number 1 choker in the sport, Fernando ‘Fiasco' Verdasco managed to get past the 2nd round of a Grand Slam for the first time since 2010 by defeating the Spaniard in 5 sets.
I saw none of the match but I did see some of the scoreboard and it looked a typical Verdasco encounter where he blows multiple chances and then folds when it counts. This guy is unreal to be honest as he has slam winning talent but just no way of ever crossing the line even against way lesser opposition.
I don't want to do Gabashvili a disservice but he's never been past the 1st round at the Australian Open so for Verdasco to lose here is criminal. However I'm not complaining as I'm pretty sure this makes it slightly easier for Roger.
Unlike Duckworth and Kavčič, Roger has had the luxury of playing Gabashvili before way back in 2007 where he swept him aside comfortably at Wimbledon in the first round. I'm expecting the same here too and I'll go with 1 close set as I think Gabashvili will be confident after his 2 wins and will likely be able to hustle quite well. He did manage to get 9 games off prime level Fed on grass which was quite a feat back then and I ought to mention the fact he beat Roddick in straight sets at the French Open too so he's not going to be a total pushover.
I'll pick Fed in 3: 6-4 7-5 6-2. Allez!