Well where to begin? The peRFect day for Fed fans as Roger cruised through his opening match against Hanescu in 69 minutes and Nadal crashed out in straights to Belgian Steve Darcis.
I'll of course start with the GOAT who made a great start to his title defense and picked up where he left off in Halle looking completely at home on the grass and brushing aside his opponent 6-3 6-2 6-0.
Federer Match Report
There's something just so fitting about Roger opening up play on Centre Court for the first day of Wimbledon, the grass is so pristine, it almost just feels like tradition and it's even better when he starts playing well from the very first game. Of course he did just that which yet again set the tone for the match as he kicked off with a love hold and a ridiculous reaction volley on game point to get the crowd going early.
If Hanescu wanted to keep Roger on his toes then he had to dictate on serve but he got broken to 15 in his first service game despite not missing a first serve, yet again Roger's underrated chip return on grass doing the damage.
Roger then consolidated the break immediately and held serve to love twice to move 4-2 in front, Hanescu managed to get his first point on the Federer serve in the 7th game but it was short lived and Roger served out the set with consummate ease to take it 6-3.
The second was more of the same as again Hanescu lost his opening service game, it was extremely disheartening for the Romanian as he was making a high percentage of first serves but Fed was picking them and returning with interest – very nice to see if you're a Fed fan and this will be required much later in the tournament where if he meets Murray he will have to return aggressively especially on the second serve.
A single break was enough to win the first set but Roger went one better this time, securing the double break to lead 4-0 with bakery products looking imminent. To his credit Hanescu reeled off 2 service games to spare his blushes but he couldn't make any sort of impact with his returns so it was just a case of making the scoreboard look respectable as Roger took it 6-2 to move into a 2 set lead.
The third set was always going to be one sided, Hanescu had no idea how to touch the Federer serve and was by now making up the numbers. Again he got broken first game to give Roger the advantage and this time around Fed was in no mood to give Hanescu any freebies, hitting some sweet shots and an epic lob to move into a 5-0 lead before serving it out with ease to get his first bagel at Wimbledon since he defeated Alejandro Falla in 5 sets way back in 2010. Allez!
Federer Reaction Volley
It's been in the new recently about Gulbis saying that the top guys are boring and give the same answers everytime. I agree, but jeez, they get asked the same questions everytime. Take that last question – what's the strongest and weakest parts of your game? Who is that clown?? Shocking question.
Thoughts on the Match
Well what else can you say other than the peRFect start to the tournament? A complete statement match from Roger here as he really played well from start to finish. All areas of his game clicked and he was particularly impressive on the return.
Hanescu has a big serve and forehand but as Tim Henman rightly pointed out before the match he is the type of player that needs time to setup for his groundstrokes and the one thing you won't get from Federer on grass is time.
This proved to be the case today as Roger took it to his opponent, dictated with the forehand and as soon as he got the opportunity to step into the court and control the rally he did just that. It was a great display of grass court tennis really and you can't ask for anymore.
First rounds are often routine and you can't read too much into it, but with the way Roger played it just proves he's the GOAT and THE undispited Grass GOAT, he makes it look ridiculously easy and even though the match was done in little over an hour there's no way you'd go home feeling disappointed as he is just so fun to watch.
I mean look at the match stats, Hanescu served at 85% first serves for the match and got bagelled in the third set. Insane!
|Victor Hanescu (ROU)||Stats||Roger Federer (SUI)|
|52 of 61 = 85 %||1st serves in||39 of 56 = 70 %|
|26 of 52 = 50 %||1st serve points won||35 of 39 = 90 %|
|3 of 9 = 33 %||2nd serve points won||14 of 17 = 82 %|
|125 MPH||Fastest serve||125 MPH|
|108 MPH||Average 1st serve speed||106 MPH|
|94 MPH||Average 2nd serve speed||91 MPH|
|8 of 22 = 36 %||Net points won||21 of 25 = 84 %|
|0 of 0 = 0 %||Break points won||6 of 8 = 75 %|
|7 of 56 = 13 %||Receiving points won||32 of 61 = 52 %|
|36||Total points won||81|
Nice reading 😀
Nadal Crashes Out to Darcis in Straights
Onto the big news, and for the second year running it involves Nadal who failed to defend his 2nd round points as he crashed out to World Number 135 in straight sets. I watched most of this one and Darcis played an unbelievable match from start to finish, after winning the first set I thought he was going to think it was job done like Daniel Brands at the French and choke but he kept on playing. Such a nice surprise :D.
To say he got it done in straights (7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (10-8) 6-4) is really quite an achievement, this was a tight match and 1 or 2 points made the difference. Darcis should have broken multiple times in the first set but it ended up going to a breaker where he lifted his game and played attacking tennis to take it, Nadal served for the second set at 6-5 only to get broken and Darcis once again came out on top after wasting several set points in the breaker.
I was shocked to say the least, usually guys choke against Nadal due to his relentlessness but this guy just kept coming back for more and even though he wasted chances it didn't really effect him which was great to see.
The talk of the town will of course be Nadal's knees as it always is after he loses, was he struggling? I'd guess yes judging how he was moving but the scoreline and the commentators insistence of bringing it up every 30 seconds just exacerbate it and make it sound like a bigger problem than it really is. We should hear from Nadal how bad the knees are, not the commentators.
You gotta remember when Fed lost to Berdscat at Wimbledon in 2010 he had thigh trouble but the talk was all about decline and how Berdych was a real contender to win this slam (he lost with a whimper to Dull in the final). So I'm not sure why they have to treat players differently.
Also side note, really poor interview from the BBC with Darcis after the match when the second question he was immediately asked was “did you target his knees?” His look said it all and I thought that was exceptionally poor journalism and shows a complete lack of respect or understanding of top level sport.
For me this match just proves Nadal isn't a natural grass court player in the slightest, so he's done amazingly well to win 2 Wimbledons but in reality he is a 1 trick pony that can only really play on clay so it was about time somebody took it to him again and found him wanting. Everyone thought Rosol was a one off last year, but it's happened back to back to now on the same surface. Darcis turned out to be the man and he played a fantastic match, he's done little of note on the tour but this a big big scalp that will live long in the memory.
To be honest even if Darcis didn't beat him today he'd have struggled to make it through the first week when the grass is lush and fast playing his type of game so I guess our worries as fans were unjust and it's pretty likely Fed would have schooled him here. 5 matches could have made a difference though and gotten him used to the grass but with how he played today there's no way Dull was beating Fed here.
Of course this has now thrown the draw wide open with several players queuing up to take Nadal's quarter final spot, this has given Roger a path to the semi finals now too and there aren't too many scary names, Janowicz's name is getting thrown about as a tough 4th round but can big guys really do that well on grass? I'm not sure, Kraijeck was one but many of them do struggle.
I'd expect if he makes it to the second week for him to play Murray in the semi finals as he looked solid today, although Becker made a lot of errors in and amongst hitting some nice winners. The Murray hype has started on the BBC though so you'd think he's already in the final after his win today which is rather amusing.
Predictions vs. Sergiy Stakhovsky
Next up for Roger is the Ukrainian, Sergiy Stakhovsky who he has a 1-0 lead against in the H2H from Dubai back in 2011. I think this one will be a nice test for Federer, he won't need his absolute best but he will require a high level as Stakhosvky has a fairly clean hitting game with a decent serve.
He's also won a title on grass before so this surface isn't alien to him as he won Hertogenbosch in 2010 as well as winning the doubles at Halle the same year. I think hard courts are his best surface though so Roger's variety and grass court game will cause him plenty of problems here.
If Roger returns serve well and stays aggressive then there's only one winner and I'll pick Fed in 3; 7-6 (4) 6-4 6-4. Allez!