ATP Masters 1000Indian WellsRoger Federer

Federer Defeats Johnson to Setup Nadal Clash in Indian Wells

A fourth round clash against Rafael Nadal awaits Roger Federer as he defeated Steve Johnson 7-6(3), 7-6(4) in the final day session match at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

The Swiss dropped just six points on his first serve in the encounter, and while Johnson forced two tie-breaks, it was Roger who had that little bit extra when needed to come through in 1 hour and 34 minutes.

Quick Match Recap

Federer Steve Johnson Indian Wells

Johnson won the toss and elected to serve, he was quickly up 40-0, but Roger made it to deuce before the American was able to hold.

The Swiss quickly levelled, and it was evident after the first few games breaks of serve were going to at a premium. A 61-second hold put Fed level at 2-2, and the only real drama came with Roger serving at 4-5 30-30 where he came up with two quality overheads to avoid facing set point.

With return points hard to come by the set went into a tie-break, and it was Roger who showed he had a bit more game. Despite having a 1-3 W/L record in tiebreaks this year, the Swiss moved up an early mini-break with some well-placed returns and went on to take it 7-3.

Set 2 saw Roger fail to convert four break point chances in game two but after that; the set played out just like the first. Both guys serving well with no further break points available, and it resulted in yet another tiebreak.

Like the first, Roger was the first to go up a mini-break but he couldn’t keep his advantage this time as Johnson recovered both times after falling behind. However at 4-5 with the American serving Fed came up with a brilliant defensive slice to set up match point which he converted to book his spot in the fourth round.

Match Stats

Roger Federer Steve Johnson
Aces 12 3
Double Faults 4 4
First Serve Percent 60% (47/78) 67% (56/84)
1st Serve Points Won 87% (41/47) 77% (43/56)
2nd Serve Points Won 58% (18/31) 54% (15/28)
Break Points Saved 0% (0/0) 100% (4/4)
Service Games Played 12 12
1st Serve Return Points Won 23% (13/56) 13% (6/47)
2nd Serve Return Points Won 46% (13/28) 42% (13/31)
Break Points Converted 0% (0/4) 0% (0/0)
Return Games Played 12 12
Winners 32 16
Unforced Errors 29 30
Total Service Points Won 76% (59/78) 69% (58/84)
Total Return Points Won 31% (26/84) 24% (19/78)
Total Points Won 52% (85/162) 48% (77/162)
SABR 100% (1/1) 0


Thoughts on the Match

Federer Indian Wells Third Round 2017

I try to see it really as another opportunity to build upon something for the rest of the season. So regardless of Australia, winning or losing, I’m going to try to go out there and try to play free again. I think it’s really important. I’m really happy that I got my energy back, because in Dubai I was actually still quite tired. I feel like tomorrow if I move well I will definitely have a chance against Rafa.

A decent win here against a solid opponent. I thought Roger moved well throughout (that backhand slice in the breaker was quality), served solidly and was the better player on the big points. Looking at the numbers he’s ahead in all areas so no real questions marks over the win. Four double faults is the only real standout number which is quite high for him, but he still didn’t face a single break point.

I suppose you can say he didn’t return serve that well, but the ball was flying which made it tough. In the tie-breakers though when Johnson took a little bit off his serves to make sure they landed Roger came up with some aggressive returns when it would have been easy to play conservatively, and I think that got him over the line. All in all a good day at the office and he’s looking in decent shape ahead of the fourth round.

Predictions vs. Nadal

Fed Nadal Indian Wells 2012

Next up is Nadal who defeated Verdasco in straight sets. Like I said in my draw preview post I rate this match as 50/50.

We all know the H2H, but I’m basing things on the fact they have one win each against each other in Indian Wells, so it’s tough to pick a clear favourite.

Conditions kind of suit both guys in a way – it’s a slow-ish court that takes spin which Nadal loves, but when it’s hot the ball does fly through the air which helps Federer.

So it’s probably going to be the typical tale of the two – Federer playing offensive and Nadal making him play one more ball. It should be interesting to see how both guys approach some of the mini battles – how will Federer return Nadal’s serve? And what sort of approach will Nadal take on the return – will he try to step up the court and play more from the baseline or stand back? Either way should be a fun match, Nadal is the betting favourite, but it’s a coin toss for me.

What did you guys think of the match and what are your predictions vs. Nadal? Let me know in the comments.


Editor of Perfect Tennis and a big fan of Roger Federer, I've spent countless hours watching and analysing his matches. Alongside playing the sport, I also enjoy writing about the tour, rackets, strings, and the technicalities of the game. Whether it's breaking down the latest tournament results or discussing the latest gear innovations, I'm always eager to share my insights with fellow tennis enthusiasts.

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    1. Second time meeting.. Atleast this time no pressure whatsoever….I agree that it’s probably return of serve going to be deciding factor…

      Also catched bit of DelPo Novak match last night, impressive what DelPo can do with almost nothing backhand…

      Two more blackbuster…ticket holders must feel so lucky..Is matches today?

  1. Error count will have to come down against Rafa unless he hits double the winners… don’t know what he was thinking on some of his approaches either. Fingers crossed for three in a row at any rate!

  2. At least Feds figured out the weakest shot on the other side. Not that he didn’t know in advance that Johnson’s backhand exists with the sole purpose of putting the ball back in the court…
    Steve served very well, too, except for the shaky start of set #2. But in the end, yeah, Fed’s bigger recipe book dictated the outcome.
    Against Nadal, well, I haven’t seen much of him, so I’ll go with the 50:50, too.
    Anyway, after that epic AO final, the sport feels a bit deflated, as if we were trekking up the Kilimanjaro after planting a steel flag on the Everest summit.

    1. Yeah that combined with the odd results we’ve had this year – Murray flopping a bit, Nole out of sorts it does feel a bit flat does the tour. Needs Kyrgios to win a M1000 πŸ˜‰

  3. Rafa made sure he got (a longggg time) into Roger’s head….. now…. it is time to return the favour. Roger has to beat him so he can get in Rafa’s head and make him doubt himself. If I remember correctly, Rafa beat Roger at IW 2013 (when Roger was at his low), but I think STILL Roger did have a chance back then…. so… he has to beat him. Did do it already twice with the big one at AO.

    Come on Goat, lets get into Rafa’s head for a change πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  4. Thought Fed was alright. Made some bad errors at the tail end of the second, but it was never really in doubt for me as he always seemed in control. Looking forward to the Nadal match, I must say.

    1. Yeah in the breaker that forehand was a bad miss, missed an easy volley too. But didn’t let it derail his game. Johnson leaked a few forehand errors too on the big points.

  5. Wasn’t the IW 2013 match the one (of maybe 4 that year) where Roger was suffering badly with his back? I’d really like him to set the balance right again here.

    Very tough that the second half have to play again (and generally tougher matches, too) today, though πŸ™

    1. Well I’m sure Rog is in good condition, he can handle it as well as Rafa! I very rarely predict, but throw a dare this time: Roger wins in 3 sets…

    2. Yes, Alison. After AO 2013, his back started to give him problems. I think that he recovered when Paris-Bercy came.

  6. Yes, Alison, the 2013 match was with Roger playing with a bad back. He injured it earlier in the tournament. I don’t think he should have even played but perhaps he was thinking of the fans, ticket sales, etc.

    The ball does fly here especially during the day. By the time they hit the court the shade will be probably creeping across the court. The ball does sit up forever so lots of time to return a drop shot.

    I saw Nadal play Pella. His forehand was firing but his game did look a little shaky at times. I think the outcome of this match all depends on how Roger plays. Needs to keep up the pressure and serve well.
    The IW 2012 match…one of my all time favs.

    1. Yeah Pella went up an early break didn’t he. Fiasco had some chances too but Nadal has made fairly nice progress. 2 finals in 2 events for him as well, fancy he has to convert one into a title at some point.

  7. Solid win for Fed no doubt. I dont know about him I am still riding the wave :p.
    Though Roger seems BAU with his indian wells build up so far, again he isnt even close to his best (if we were to compare his Aussie Open campaign) but this is where I expect him to step it up and play as well as he could against an improved Rafa.
    Though I ed like Federer to beat him again – it doesnt feel like the same hurdle it did prior to 2014. Rafa since 2015 hasnt been the same player mentally tbh even if his current results are on the contrary. He needs to step it up big time as we head towards the clay court.
    My heart has always been on the maestro’s side, somehow my brain seconds that today. I expect Federer to win in 2 tight sets here (though it wouldnt matter if he didnt tbh). P.s I am pretty contended for now.
    Talking about the other side of the draw- its a joke really after Muzza being taken out.
    Looks like Novak is closing in on his range – but we’ll see if thats true or does Mr Nicholas Kyrgios gets in his head. ??

    1. Yep, heart says Fed will win.

      But I don’t want him to just win, I want him to crush Nadal…like 61 62 or even 63 60.

      Break any self belief Nadal has got back against Fed.

      I really want him to surpass Djoker’s ATP title win record. Missed a big chance in Dubai.

      Murray is a joke #1.

      In a way, this is exciting time. Djoker and Rafa on the slide irrelevant of their current results. New gen coming through and Fed is on the rise again.

      Now we just need Wimby and us fans are in dreamland !!

      1. Wouldn’t it be a bit boring? At least for Fed, I’m afraid, – he likes to be challenged. I would be satisfied with 64, 67(5), 62. Enough to be superior, and excitement about rivalry saved.

      1. Fed is not beating Rafa 00.

        That’s awesome though.

        This is not the AO and the ball is sitting up higher and longer – Nadal’s favorite.

        He was smacking the living crud out of the ball yesterday.

  8. Tough in a 2/3 compared to 3/5 match. More room to play with in a 5 setter.

    1st set is imp even if Fed is to win in 3.

    Rafa looks fav on paper.

    Then again, if Fed just swings hard on both wings, it should be an easy win. There are more chances of him landing them in than out.

    I think he should go for it and play his game.

    I remember that in early days, since he knew he was so good, he used to try and beat opponents at their own games. He said it in his interview a while back as well. He would serve and volley against those whose natural game is serve and volley. He would play baseline against baseliners.

    This is where he went wrong with Nadal and tried to play Nadal’s game.

    He should play his attacking tennis and mix up the pace and that’s his best tennis. That is more than enough against ALL of the field.

    1. True, he tried to beat Nadal at the French from the baseline.

      Anyway, interesting to see who wins after the AO. Nadal going to be extra motivated.

  9. Hey Jonathan, I think you have the Indian Wells, Arizona weather posted.

    Indian Wells, Cali is stinking hot. 35 C or more.

  10. Fed not looking as sharp, but at least he won two tie-breakers here after two forgettable ones in Dubai.

    Rafa too not looking sharp. Verdasco mostly finds a way to lose against Rafa, even if Rafa is not at his best.

    I get a feeling that the Fed-Rafa match will be a straight set affair. Whoever takes the first set will win the next.

    Rafa will be more motivated for this match after the AO. After watching both today, its anybody’s game.

    1. Yeah 3-3 for the year now πŸ™‚

      I’ve not seen any Nadal, guessing he improved from his 2nd round though but Fiasco is always a liability, double faulted I think on BP in second set?

  11. Fed can beat Rafa, if he is going to play attacking tennis. TBH, for Fed it’s not a matter of the game,but rather a matter of the mental side. If RF is relaxed and unleashes a sharp and aggressive game, I can see him beating Rafa in 2.

      1. Yeah, but at times it can be a thing of sensation. Losing 1st set because sensation is bad, but then if you find your sensation, you can probably turn things around. We will see.

  12. Since Some mentioned Fed’s tommy I’ve had my eyes fixed on that – sure, there is a small happy belly to be seen hopping around πŸ™‚ Is it the amount of porridge at breakfast? Still looks good on him, as everything else πŸ™‚
    – My impression is that the rest of him also looks happy and relaxed. He did crazy brilliances in 1. set in the game 4-5, and other good ones as well. I stick to my prediction: Fed wins 2-1 today (to night in Europe) after a lot of fun has happened.

  13. Thanks Jonathan for a good recap of the match. Roger looked still a bit rusty but he moved well and served well. At IW, it will be a bit difficult to unleash his new BH πŸ™‚ . I agree that if Roger plays his normal game with a decent execution of, he should pass rafa.

  14. I hope he will better than yesterday! Thought he lost some important points and didn t react for opponent service. Let s will see!

  15. Solid match by Roger, I felt Roger didn’t really tee off on his shots consistently. Maybe is due to some rust or just lack matches. Its going to be tough to call this match, I still give slight edge to Nadal 55/45 considering he has played more matches than Roger.

  16. Hi3tory vs Nadal.
    You want to see this kind of level when you wake up at 5.50 in the morning to watch them play (India).

  17. Hey guys, Satan lost, Rafa lost and Goat won. Good day at the office πŸ™‚ I had a great time at Livechat and…. who the hell is this Nishioka who is beating like all the top players???

  18. Can’t wait for your post in fed and nadals match.. Fed was killing it!! beautiful performance!! yay!!!

  19. Wasn’t that unbelievable? If Fed can keep playing at even close to that level he has a great shot at winning IW.

    1. Am a little in awe of Kyrgios’ fiery shooting though. Will be exciting to see what answer Fed has to that. (Well living in Europe I still am looking forward to the replay of Roger’s Rafa demolish – maybe his answer to Nick’s and other’s gunning was evident to watch there already? – cannot wait!)

      1. Actually, I’m rather annoyed: I’d wanted to see Roger play Novak in their current states!

        I’m wondering whether Roger is still playing better against players whose game he knows well, as he indicated at the AO. If so, what will it mean that he’s only played Kyrgios once before?

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