ATP Masters 1000Mutua Madrid OpenRoger Federer

Federer Cruises Through in Madrid Clay Court Opener

The Swiss defeated a laboured looking Richard Gasquet 6-2, 6-3

Roger Federer's first clay court match since April 2016 lasted just 52 minutes as he breezed past Richard Gasquet 6-2, 6-3 at the Mutua Madrid Open on Tuesday evening.

The Swiss showed no signs of rust against his sluggish looking opponent, breaking Gasquet three times and cruising through his own service games without facing a single break point to move into the third round.

He'll next face Gael Monfils on Thursday after the Frenchman defeated Marton Fucsovics in three sets.

Quick Match Recap

Federer Madrid 2R Gasquet

Gasquet won the toss and elected to receive. A hold to fifteen put Roger up 1-0 and it was like he'd never been away from la terre battue as he broke immediately to lead 2-0.

Some slick footwork helped Roger consolidate the break for 3-0 to take full control. At 3-1, Roger found himself in his first bit of trouble at 15-30, but he hit back to back aces en route to holding for 4-1.

A love hold saw the score move to 5-2 and game eight saw the return of the drop shot, with two clean winners leaving Gasquet stranded as he broke again to take the set in 24 minutes.

With Gasquet looking laboured the match only looked to be going one way, however, the Frenchman did begin to find some of his trademark flare in the second set; holding to love to level at 1-1 and keeping parity until 3-3.

Game seven saw Roger hold to fifteen for 4-3 and in game eight he made his move, breaking to fifteen, again aided by a timely drop shot to lead 5-3.

In his first match on clay in three years, it wasn't unthinkable that some nerves would creep in when serving it out but he cruised through the game, holding to fifteen to win through in just 52 minutes.

Match Stats

  Roger Federer Richard Gasquet
Aces 7 1
Double Faults 1 2
1st Serve Percentage 53% 70%
1st Serve Points Won 78% (21/27) 68% (19/28)
2nd Serve Points Won 67% (16/24) 42% (5/12)
Break Points Saved 0% (0/0) 0% (0/3)
Service Games Played 9 8
1st Return Points Won 32% (9/28) 22% (6/27)
2nd Return Points Won 42% (5/12) 29% (7/24)
Break Points Converted 100% (3/3) 0% (0/0)
Winners 28 10
Unforced Errors 20 12
Net Points Won 67% (4/6) 100% (3/3)
Service Points Won 73% (37/51) 60% (24/40)
Return Points Won 40% (16/40) 27% (14/51)
Total Points Won 58% (53/91) 42% (38/91)

Highlights

Press Conference

Thoughts on the Match

Federer Madrid 2R 2019

I’m happy to be here. I’ve missed the clay court season for some time now so it was a great return. It’s sort of a special night for me to come back on the clay in Madrid. I must say I was actually very calm all day. Waiting for the match sometimes can be a bit of nerves come up because you have so long to think of the match. I only really started to feel the nerves when I started to talk tactics for the match against Richard – who has beaten me twice on clay. Practice is never quite like the match. When you miss a shot it affects you more whereas on clay every miss feels like it’s doubled. That’s why all of a sudden I was a bit nervous but two hours before the game these nerves went away. I played a good match. I’m happy I started well today, that helped as well. Federer in his on court interview

Super simple win for the Swiss Maestro here and like his matches in Miami he was able to get off to a flying start, assume full control early doors and then never look back.

All the pre-match noise was of course around Roger's comeback so you'd have been forgiven for not realising that Gasquet has only played one match this season. That happened to be last night in a tight two-setter against last weeks breakthrough player Alejandro Fokina so it was no surprise he came in looking a tad weary.

It looks as though the Frenchman has had limited practice time after undergoing a hernia operation in January, deferring his planned comeback in Monte Carlo to Madrid and even in the warmup he was grimacing with what I assume was muscle pain in the legs.

When the match started Gasquet looked sluggish moving to his left, wasn't really up for chasing lost causes and Roger was able to get on top from the word go.

Despite the easy ride, I thought Fed played some good stuff, a couple of majestic droppers helped him break and some Baryshnikov-esque footwork saw him rack up 28 winners with 13 coming off the forehand wing.

The return was in good shape too, making 92% of all returns (100% in the first set) so all in all the ideal comeback and a comfortable way to ease back onto the clay after his 3-year hiatus.

I grew up on this surface so I feel comfortable about that. I think Richard was also maybe a little bit hurt from his match yesterday, so it was nice seeing him back after so many months being away from the Tour with injury. I think for both of us it was a special match being back here in Madrid. The Crowd was great. It's been wonderful. I think, always in Spain, I've been well-received over the last decade or so just because of my rivalry with Rafa and all the other Spanish players, like Ferrer and so forth. So the people really know me. They followed my matches closely for so many years. They heard me speak, and they feel like they kind of know me. So then when I come to their markets, I think they appreciate it, and so do I. Full house, special atmosphere, so I appreciate it. More thoughts from Federer

Predictions vs. Monfils

Fed Madrid Practice

Next up is another Frenchman in the shape of Gael Monfils after he defeated Marton Fucsovics in three sets. From all reports, it was a typical Monfils match that saw him hurt his ankle on the fourth point, take a medical timeout early in the first set that he lost 6-1 only to hit back and win in three. 

Roger leads the H2H 9-4 and it's been 4 years since the pair met which was on clay at Roland Garros and Roger won in straight sets. 

It's one of the closer H2H's on Roger's resume and Monfils can certainly cause problems if he turns up and goes for his shots. His usual problem is that he goes ultra defensive allowing his opponent to dictate so it will be interesting to see how he approaches the match.

La Monf has had a reasonable start to the year winning Rotterdam but as has often been the case, he picks up injuries that prevent him from building up too much momentum during the season. This year he's been struggling with an ankle problem which I assume he aggravated today so is he fully fit? Who knows. Either way, it will be more of an examination for Roger than Monfils's fellow countryman managed in the 2nd Round so I'm looking forward to it.

What did you guys make of the comeback? As always let me know in the comments.

Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or tweeting about tennis I play regularly myself and use this blog to share my thoughts on Federer and tennis in general.

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93 Comments

    1. Clay break? What clay break?

      Very good start. As you say, next round should be more challenging.

      You’re not THERE, are you Jonathan, with your on-an-airplane snippet?

  1. Nice ease back in! Will need better serve stats in next match but great to see him back, and moving so easily on this alien surface! 😁
    Allez

  2. Oh well thanks Jonathan for the such quick recap! Rogers looks to be really enjoying himself and his game fits in with his confidence. Looks like he is going to go very far….
    Bravo Maestro!

  3. Two SHBH strokes of Fed equal to or better than a full match of Djoko I read from someone insightful !
    I slept on sofa to not miss it & then too tired to see more than the 2 strokes…hit the record button & felt h he will be fine …enjoyed the writeup now to watch it !
    Thanks for the writeup J and comments so far !
    We can all enjoy clay, Allez!

      1. Do you use some anti-spam software on your blog? If so, look there, if Katie was not automatically qualified to be always moderated. If so, you should be able to change it. I use Jetpack extension with Akismet as anti-spam app. Have had such cases.

  4. Clay is by far my least favourite surface. But today, with Fed and his magic, not so bad! Roger looked happy to be on the clay and moving well. Dropperer is the key.

  5. As I said, the clay is nothing special for him. Routine win, but I saw some sluggishness in his movement.
    I hope he improves as the tournament goes on.

    1. What didn’t you like about his movement?

      I thought he looked pretty sharp. Didn’t slide much but like he said, plays like a hard court.

  6. Enjoyed watching the match and I think for Fed it was nice to have a not so in form Gasquet on the other side of the net. So he can settled in to his match routine. However he needs to step it up next match.

  7. Yes, next match might be more of a thriller. But in fact we could enjoy Fed looking quite strong and relaxed, brilliantly shooting and enjoying. Second set though with a little too many errors for my taste, but I expect him to step it up when challenged more. Anyway, Richard showed bits of his brilliant art too, which was nice to see too.

  8. Wow match report already up, Jonathan? You watched the match at airport and uploaded the post after landed before going to bed?! You are a star or serious workaholic, but thanks 🙂
    Fast paced and no walkabout. Such a joy and super fun to watch when he plays like last night. That two wicked droppers in a row – beyond a joke! Love the match-up with Richard on clay, remember Davis Cup final.

    1. Thanks, I wrote it on my flight then published when I had a connection again. Worked out ok I think although not my favourite working environment up at 30k feet!

  9. It seemed as though he had never been away from clay.
    Looked super sharp.
    An excellent opening to his campaign.😊

  10. I loved that (short) match – swift legs, exquisite dropshots, great welcome from the crowd, two single handed BH players…

    In his post-match interview R. Gasquet said he has been impressed by Fed’s game yesterday.  “No doubt he can win Madrid. The court is almost as hard as a hard court, there is the altitude. Federer has everything to perform here. People talk about Federer : all his life he’s been playing on clay ! At Roland-Garros, no doubt he can reach the semi-finals”. (Translation by me from l’Equipe website).

    1. Nice & generous of Richie given their record etc and his career marred by difficulties, it was a pretty match thanks to them both !

  11. At times the match looked more like a workout. Gasquet looked tired and unmotivated. It will take a harder match to assess exactly where Roger’s clay game is. A nice warmup and that’s just about it…

    1. Right. Next opponent will not be tired or unmotivated. Both can run and make Federer run. Serve&dropshot will not be enough. Clay or not – next or at least over-next match will be a serious test and if QF, it will be ultimate test, be it Thiem or Fabio.

    2. Yeah impossible to assess Fed’s clay level from this match alone. Gasquet offered little, and like Fed said, the court is almost hard court like.

      1. Yeah, Madrid is known to be the fastest clay court. Which is reflected in the number of Rafa titles here.

  12. As always thanks a lot for the write up Jonathan!
    I loved your referring to Michail B. with your phrase “some Baryshnikov-esque footwork” – a truly amazing dance artist (by far the best in my opinion)…

    1. Couldn’t Nureyev give him a run for his money?
      I admit I don’t know a lot about the technicalities of Ballet,although I love it and have seen quite a few.

      1. Nureyev is dead since longer than Fed’s career 😉 Baryshnikov still alive, but 71 years old and they could only exchange autographs 🙂

      2. Not seen that much of either of them, TBH (never saw Baryshnikov dance until he’d given up the ballet for contemporary), but my understanding has always been that Baryshnikov was (by far?) the better technician.

      1. What about her? Great dancer, but given way too much credit by the British public – in a number of roles she was frequently outshone by various of her colleagues.

    2. We didnt live in Nijinsky era but he was seemed a genius (& went mad) but his freakish movements documented on jerky grainy film deserve the Peter Jackson restoration treatment so we could really see the the two comparatively ! Nureyev also may rival Mikhaïl for the best ? I love MB and he danced late in life so that’s a Rogeresque attribute too. Why I love Fed is largely for his balletic interpretations in his tennis and why winningbis lovely but he’s so enjoyable to see gracing any match !

  13. Looking forward to the F v M match,but I wonder if it will be televised as it is on court five.
    One thing I heard but found incredible,is that all the courts have Hawkeye but they are not ‘authorised’to use it!
    Meanwhile Nishikori struggling against the world number 105.

    1. Yeah it will be on Tennis TV. The outside courts are cool to walk around in Madrid, was my favourite spot.

      All clay courts have had Hawkeye on site for years for stats and TV. They just don’t use it for umpiring calls.

      1. The main reason is that the ball leaves a mark on clay, so that’s deemed enough for the umpire to make a decision from. And I assume they think it might cause disputes – the mark and hawkeye disagree for example.

        I think the other is that due to the undulation of the clay means a bit more tech and calibration is needed to ensure accuracy.

  14. In the presser, he did talk about back issues last year. Especially at the USO. He usually spills the beans long after.
    Doesn’t look like he will be playing Rome no matter what.

  15. Thanks for report, good start from Roger. I hope he won’t be as nervous, just stay focus and serve well.

    1. Didn’t seem too nervous last night. 1st match out the way along with all the hoo-ha about his comeback so can just settle into the tournament hopefully.

  16. Just watch the highlights, fed don’t slide so much doesn’t he? Or maybe he didn’t need it too much coz gasquet was slow than normal. Still roger gave a great performance.. what a great day for me:)

  17. It took Monfils three sets to get past Fucsovic and he has an ankle strapped.
    Perhaps not so dangerous after all🙂
    Still,not a good match up for Fed.
    Djere playing really well,knocks out DelPo.

  18. Anyway, Monf’s performance usually is entertaining – and unpredictable. H2H I think Roger has the benefit. Monf slashed him once (Fed’s own words) when Fed wasn’t quite recovered from the WTF back-injury. Most other matches were Fed’s, as far I remember. – And they played doubles together not long after, having fun.

  19. Only saw the highlights. From the sound of the racquet, Rog seemed to make good contact with the ball. Movement was just marvelous. Can only agree. We’ll have to see how this proceeds.

  20. Thanks Jonathan. Nice win to start off for Fed. I was so happy to realize he is back at 3 in the rankings again? Amazingly, the 3 old rivals are back together again … Go Roger!

  21. @Jonathan,
    Thanks for the explanation regarding Hawkeye.
    I suppose a source of contention is identifying the correct Mark.
    The most famous recent example being the contretemps between Goffin and Cedric Mourier ,which completely
    threw Goffin off his stride.But I suppose on the whole it is okay.
    The players seem to accept it anyway.

  22. Yes, that was quite the send off. And Verdasco won his match at the same time and was very emotional. I don’t know why people hate the Spanish so much….ok….maybe Nadal.
    Made me think of what Fed’s send off will be like. Yikes, sorry about that.

    1. Did you notice that they cheered Fed more than Nadal when they came on screen.In Madrid!
      I thought Sascha was charming too,absolutely no celebration of the win and kind words and embrace at the net.

  23. I think the send off for DF took more out of him than his many matches.
    How he managed to stem the tears, and maybe the fact that it lasted
    so long got him over the worst and he managed to laugh with his family.
    When Fed decides to call it can’t quite see this happening in Basel !!

      1. Wanda just thinking really about Basel And
        as Marc Petchey says Roger will never ‘R’ we
        can watch him on Youtube forever haha x

    1. You don’t really associate the Swiss with high emotion,but in my experience in Basle they were super
      excited.
      I hardly like to mention the R word but if it eventually happens I am sure that it will take place in Basle,
      where it all began.😊

  24. You wanted a nickname, Rog, but I don’t think you can escape from FedExpress when you deliver bagels on clay in 18 minutes

  25. And that’s why I watch him.

    Well done Fed. That was a bit of a nail biter. Congrats on the 1200th match win

  26. Around the 4th game in Set 3 it seemed that Roger switched up a gear. It got him a break back and nearly got an extra one if it were not for slightly long return at 4-4.
    Well done. Yikes. I hope the CEO did not noticed that I was watching the match on the iDevice…

  27. I’d be interested to know how many matches Federer has won in which he’s saved match points, anyone know?

    1. One of them was precisely against Monfils in the USO 2014 QF.
      He saved 5 of them, only to be swept on the SF by Cilic.

  28. The 1200th matchwin is in the bag and that against GEMS (both of them, one on court and one in the crowd) 🙂 🙂

    You go Goat, show them that fighting-never gonna give up-spirit 🙂

    Love you Goat 🙂 Soooo much…. too much 🙂

  29. Phew,like Rui I thought Fed was a gonner,so went out in the garden .
    Came back and he was winning the tie-break.
    Oh me of little faith.
    Seemed to become passive in the second and beginning of the third,but managed to find another gear.
    What a nail biter,but Monfils played very well in the second and third sets.
    Great match practice but hope it hasn’t taken too much out of him.

  30. Only caught the tail-end where he fought off MPs and then cruised through the TB. He definitely needed a dogfight like this to get his clay legs under him. Straight-set wins might be easier on our nerves, but what he needs now is tough battles where he has to eke out a narrow win by any means necessary. He fought like a lion–a good sign that he still wants it. If he’s fighting this hard just to get a third-round win, he’s clearly super motivated.

    Don’t know about his chances against Thiem. He needs to be playing his very best tennis to beat the Austrian, especially on clay. But we’ll just have to see how the chips fall.

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