Apologies on the slowness of posting – I've been at Wimbledon over the weekend, sadly didn't see Roger play due to him being on court 1 and I was on center for the day. Slightly disappointing but I can't blame the tournament organizers as on paper Murray vs Gasquet looked like it would be a great match after what happened in 2008. Sadly, it was a total anti climax as Gasquet proved yet again he's useless in pressure situations. Throwing away the first set after he played great throughout in a breaker, then losing his serve at the business end of set 2 and throwing in the towel thereafter. So in hindsight Fed should have been on center but not to worry. So let's get onto Rogers two matches…
Federer def. Nalbandian 6-4 6-2 6-4
This was expected to be Rogers toughest test of the tournament so far due to Nalbandians clean ball striking & exceptional backhand. Athough it was straight sets, it lived up to that billing as the match required a solid performance from Fed to get the job done. I think he summed up Nalbandian perfectly in the press conference after the match, stating whilst Nalbandian might not win the tournament, he's more than capable of beating anyone in it.
The key for this match again was the Federer serve. He fired 14 aces in total against a player with a brilliant return game. The only real blip was when Nalbandian broke back in the first set to level at 3-3 but Fed broke again to take the set. The rest of the match is what I'd describe as testing, but relatively comfortable. Roger isn't stupid enough to take Nalbandian lightly – so he definitely made sure he wasn't just playing on auto pilot but by serving well, it allowed him the confidence to play pretty loose. Nalbandians style of play tests Fed without a doubt (beating Fed 8 times is testimony to that) – but Rogers full repertoire of shots proved too much and he ran out a 6-4 6-2 6-4 winner in 1h 46mins.
Federer def. Youzhny 6-7 6-3 6-3 6-3
I expected this one to be a routine victory for Roger – he went into the match with a 10-0 in the head to head – and despite dropping the first set on a tie break, it finished up being a relatively easy win.
Youhzny took the first set after Roger squandered a 4-1 lead in the breaker. I was slightly shocked when I checked my phone and saw that Fed lost the first set but despite that, I didn't really think it would effect Roger mentally or require him change his tactics – due to the fact he hadn't faced a break point and just lost a breaker against a player who is an out and out shot maker. The nature of Youzhnys game means he's more than capable of reeling off 4 or 5 points in quick succession. Roger is a seasoned enough pro to not worry about that, knowing he can only control his side of the net and him serving well means that it gives him the confidence and freedom to eventually create something on the Youzhny serve.
Would Roger have won the breaker if he'd taken a medical timeout immediately before it? Who knows. And fortunately we'll never find out.
The second set saw Federer up his game to seal it 6-3. Youzhny was playing pretty gamely and really playing some good stuff but just lacks the level to break Fed down. As if the H2H wasnt a big enough clue, it'd take a really really bad match from Roger for Youzhny to register a win. This is a matchup that lies solely on the racket head of Roger. No matter how well Youzhny plays, if Fed plays well – he'll win. I think Youzhny knows this too – he did show alot of determination but to me his whole on court demeanor looked as if he knew he'd lose the match eventually even if he was up 2-0, 5-0 and 40-0.
The third set saw Roger leap to a 5-0 lead – he was pegged back after Youhzny reeled off 3 straight games but took it 6-3.
The 4th set again saw some nice rallies, with both players striking the ball sweetly but ultimately Rogers ability prevailed and he took the match 6-3 in the 4th to setup a meeting with Tsonga in the quarters.
Fed vs Tsonga Predictions
Tsonga is coming into this match with some good form – he made the final at Queens and he's progressed through Week 1 of Wimbledon pretty serenely. But then again, so is Roger. And that spells bad news if you're a Tsonga fan.
With that in mind, I see Federer having way too much for Tsonga here. For sure he's capable of causing an upset (see his victory against Nadal in Aus 08 semi) but here I believe Federer has too much variety. Tsonga has a very one dimensional style of play – his game relies purely on power and hitting the ball big. If things aren't going well – his plan B is to try and hit the ball even bigger and thats it. That tactic can work, but it's highly risky and not always the right play. There's absolutely zero subtlety about him and this will likely prove his downfall against Fed.
I see Federer creating lots of opportunities in his return games (Tsongas serve is big, but I think Fed reads it easily) – and Tsonga constantly having to serve his way out of trouble which eventually will take it's toll mentally. This coupled with the fact that Roger will more than likely serve well, like he has done all tournament, giving Tsonga little opportunity to make inroads.
Fed has beaten him twice this year and also schooled him back in the Australian 10 semi final – if you watched this match you'll know that JesusFed turned up and make Tsongas game look like he was a local club player. So I'm going for a 6-4 6-3 7-5 victory for Roger in his 29th consecutive grand slam quarter final. Allez les Suisse!