A drama free day today as Federer comprehensively beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4 6-2 to book his spot in the Shanghai Quarter Finals. A much improved performance from his one against Mayer yesterday night; any rust appears to have worn off as the Swiss hit 33 winners and didn't drop serve in the 1 hour 14 minute encounter.
As I said in my prediction Bautista Agut is a weaponless baseliner who can run down a lot of balls and that just doesn't cut it against Federer when he's moving well. The Spaniard hits solidly and flat but with minimum power and as soon as Roger controlled the baseline he was able to dictate virtually every point. Some of the shotmaking was top drawer and time and time again Fed came up with some sublime backhands and deft touches to delight the Chinese crowd. Who by the way are Federer crazy.
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and elected to serve; kicking things off with a comfortable opening service hold. A break point soon came his way in Agut's first service game after a glorious backhand smash but the Spaniard levelled for 1 all.
At 2-1 in front Fed then created 2 more break points for 15-40, setting them up after a top quality rally but again he played passively on the return allowing Agut to hold.
This pattern of play continued until 5-4 where Roger finally decided to take his opportunity, hitting a brilliant volley before Agut went wide with a passing shot. 6-4.
After the Mayer marathon it was important Fed got this one done quickly and he got off to a great start in the second breaking to lead 2-0, again hitting a crisp volley to win the first point.
He backed that up with a brisk hold and soon found himself 4-2 up. In the 7th game there was a brief moment where Agut threatened to break back but that was purely down to a shocking line call.
Fed played an absolutely brilliant point which he finished with a clean forehand winner. However Agut's ball was called out and he challenged. It was of course in and the point was replayed which was a tad unfair. Fed lost it, got slightly frustrated and let Agut fashion a break point chance. No drama here though as he snuffed it out with an ace before going onto hold and then breaking serve again to close it out 6-2 6-4.
|R. Federer||R. Bautista Agut|
|1st Serve %||70%||63%|
|1st Serve Points Won||32/37 (86%)||25/38 (66%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||8/16 (50%)||9/22 (41%)|
|Break Points Saved||1/1 (100%)||6/9 (67%)|
|Service Games Played||9||9|
|1st Return Points Won||13/38 (34%)||5/37 (14%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||13/22 (59%)||8/16 (50%)|
|Break Points Won||3/9 (33%)||0/1 (0%)|
|Return Games Played||9||9|
|Net Points Won||22/24||5/11|
|Total Service Points Won||40/53 (75%)||34/60 (57%)|
|Total Return Points Won||26/60 (43%)||13/53 (25%)|
|Total Points Won||66/113 (58%)||47/113 (42%)|
Thoughts on the Match
A peRFect performance after the ropey display vs Mayer last night and Roger played 10 times better over the course of the match. His volleys were sharper and some of his shotmaking is just a joy to watch. No other player comes up shots like his and some of his strokes today were unbelievably good.
Of course Bautista Agut played a big part in this as he doesn't possess any weapons to stop Fed playing his game. He's like a weaker version of Ferrer but with a slightly better serve. That doesn't get it done vs. Fed on hard courts.
Agut's flat hitting with no real spin lets Roger find find the groove smack bang on the baseline and step into the court whenever he hits a well struck groundstroke. Easy as 1, 2 ,3 really and Fed now leads the H2H 2-0.
Stats wise it's a bit of a clinic with Agut only having a single chance to break serve whereas Roger constantly made inroads on the Spaniards serve. Clean kill and into the Quarter Finals, can't ask for more.
Predictions vs. Benneteau
Next up is Benneteau who's been in a great form post US Open, making the finals in Kuala Lumpur only to lose his 10th straight title decider. Looks like Julien is destined never to win an ATP title but there's no doubt he's been playing well over the last 2 weeks.
The Frenchman beat Dimitrov yesterday in straights and backed that up with a win against Sock today making 81% of first serves. As we all know he's got 2 wins vs. Fed on indoor courts and caused him all sorts of trouble in the Wimbledon epic from 2012.
Based on that it won't be an easy match but I can't really work out why Fed has so much difficulty with Benneteau's game. It's not like has any outstanding shots so I can't really put my finger on it? Perhaps he is just able to up his game vs. Fed and play at a real high consistency. Margins are extremely small at this level so if he can eek out 10% more from of his game then he becomes a danger to most guys. He might choke when it comes to the crunch but he has made 10 finals which is a pretty good number so he can clearly play.
I'll back Fed to get it done in straights, assuming he moves well and can boss it from baseline then he has too much in the locker. Hopefully he returns well too from the start and puts pressure on the Benneteau serve. That should give him the breathing space he needs and make the Frenchman think about how he's holding his next service game rather than allowing him to swing free on the return.
Fed in 2. 6-2 7-5.