Another night session victory in Dubai for the GOAT as he defeated Fernando Verdasco 6-4 6-3 in exactly 1 hour to book his spot in the quarter finals where he'll meet Richard Gasquet.
Not vintage Federer in the opening exchanges as Verdasco had a 4-1 lead in the first set but Federer regrouped winning 20 points in a row (5 love service games) to snatch the first set 6-4.
After the trademark Clownando Fiasco implosion it was plain sailing for the Swiss and although he did drop serve in the second set when up a break he cruised home 6-3 with some stylish play.
Quick Match Recap
Roger won the toss and elected to receive. Smart move against someone who has a habit of double faulting but Verdasco got off to an absolute flyer, holding to 15 and the breaking Federer from 30-0 behind to lead 2-0.
During the first 5 games you got to see what kind of talent Verdasco possesses, he hit some thumping forehands, dropped some big serves and dominated every area of the game. During the 14 games after that though we also got to see how easily he goes off the boil and ultimately loses.
At 4-1 he had the first set completely in control, but at 4-2 0-30 the crowd disrupted him slightly and he got broken back to love. Roger then reeled off 16 points in a row, to go with the 4 he'd won in the game previous to steal the set 6-4. Insane really from Fiasco but Roger definitely did take his chances and went through the gears once he got back on level terms. The defensive point at 0-15 4-4 sticks in my mind as the nail in the Verdasco coffin.
Into the second and Fed won his 6th straight game, breaking Verdasco from deuce but then failed to consolidate as the Spaniard levelled. It made no difference though as a he got a second chance at 2-2 which he took before reeling off a love service game to lead 4-2. No late drama in this one as Verdasco then made a double fault at 3-5 15-30 before missing a wild forehand to hand Fed his spot in the Quarter's.
|F. Verdasco||R. Federer|
|1st Serve %||53%||70%|
|1st Serve Points Won||17/28 (61%)||24/28 (86%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||10/25 (40%)||7/12 (58%)|
|Break Points Saved||2/7 (29%)||0/2 (0%)|
|Service Games Played||10||9|
|1st Return Points Won||4/28 (14%)||11/28 (39%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||5/12 (42%)||15/25 (60%)|
|Break Points Won||2/2 (100%)||5/7 (71%)|
|Return Games Played||9||10|
|Net Points Won||4/6||7/12|
|Total Service Points Won||27//1253 (51%)||31/40 (78%)|
|Total Return Points Won||9/40 (23%)||26/53 (49%)|
|Total Points Won||36/93 (39%)||57/93 (61%)|
Thoughts on the Match
Another solid display here from Federer and he came up with some really nice shots throughout both sets. Verdasco caught him cold in the first few games as he came out firing off both wings. That approach didn't allow Fed to settle or find any rhythm, kinda like the Youzhny opening exchanges except Verdasco hits a bigger ball and has a flashier game.
However Fed kinda just stuck around and waited for a chance, he finally got the opening in a Verdasco service game he needed and took control after that. Nothing much to see at all other than a Fiasco implosion and Fed keeping his base level where it needs to be to get the job done.
The stats make good reading and 70% of first serves is impressive. I wouldn't read too much into getting broken twice as a.) it's a fast court b.) the first break was Verdasco red lining and c.) the third break was just Fed taking his foot off the gas for a split second. Net play also came into the mix quite often which is always good to see and Fed hit some pretty sweet volleys, especially in the 3-2 game in the second set which he held to love in about 60 seconds.
Looking pretty solid so far and winning which is all that matters 🙂
Predictions vs. Gasquet
Next up is Richard Gasquet who saved a match point en route to beating Bautista-Agut in 3 tight sets. I didn't watch but RBA had a break in the third set so probably should have got over the line.
This is the second three set match Gasquet has played on the spin here in Dubai so he should have plenty rhythm coming into it which is the only real negative for Federer as he's not really spent much time on court himself. If Gasquet can strike clean from the word go and keep it up for the entire match then he probably has a reasonable chance of scoring a win but I think it's highly unlikely. The gung ho tactic worked for both Youzhny and Verdasco early doors but they simply couldn't keep up the sustained firepower. Can Gasquet? Probably not.
Fed obviously has a huge mental advantage here too after the Davis Cup victory last year in the fourth rubber and his comfortable lead in the H2H also works in his favour. As long as he serves decent and dictates from the baseline then Gasquet will struggle to create enough pressure to really trouble him. Fed in straight sets for me. 6-4 6-2.