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
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.
|Roger Federer||Steve Johnson|
|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|
|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)|
Thoughts on the Match
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
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.