We're up and running in Indian Wells and Roger made a solid start defeating Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2 7-6(5) to move into the 3rd round.
It wasn't the prettiest match to watch but I thought Roger was the worthy winner and did well to hold off Mathieu's late charge.
It could have been a cleaner match from Federer's perspective I think but neither player had much rhythm. That sort of disrupted Roger on serve and the whole match was a bit stop start. Anyway let's take a look…
Quick Match Recap
This one started with a nervy opening service game from the Frenchman as he fired down two double faults to drop serve cheaply. Getting broken first game can often set the tone for the match and this was a real gift.
From there on nothing much happened as Roger served well and held all his service games comfortably. It looked like he was able to find the spots on serve and Mathieu never had a realistic chance to break back.
At 4-2 the Frenchman's serve again went missing and Roger broke for the second time before serving it out 6-2.
The second set looked to be starting in the exact same fashion but 5 unforced errors from Roger in the game allowed Mathieu to hold.
Mathieu then saved a break point at 2 all but Federer finally got the breakthrough to lead 4-3 before holding to take a 5-3 lead.
The Swiss then had a match point on Mathieu's serve but couldn't take it as the Strasbourg native held on to force Federer to serve it out.
That went badly, as seems to be the case lately, as Roger dropped his own serve for the first time in the match.
5 all was soon 6-5 Mathieu and at 0-30 on Federer's serve it looked like we could have had a decider on our hands.
In true Fed-style though he dug himself out of that game with big serving to force the tie break.
By this time Mathieu had got himself into the zone and was creaming his backhand deep into the court. He'd looked out of ideas for most of the match but in the blink of an eye he had Fed scrambling and unable to boss the rallies.
With his backhand firing Mathieu immediately went up a mini break to lead 3-1 before Federer reeled off 4 straight points. 5-3 then became 5 all with the next 2 points on the Federer serve. He dropped one of them but then capitalised on a Mathieu second serve to rifle a forehand winner into the open court to take it 7-5. Job done. The key shot was probably the whipped forehand on the run Federer hit at 0-2 in the breaker, had he gone down 2 mini breaks it would have been tricky to claw them back (check 7.35 in the highlights).
|P. Mathieu||R. Federer|
|1st Serve %||53%||61%|
|1st Serve Points Won||25/38 (66%)||32/38 (84%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||17/34 (50%)||12/24 (50%)|
|Break Points Saved||2/5 (40%)||1/2 (50%)|
|Service Games Played||10||10|
|1st Return Points Won||6/38 (16%)||13/38 (34%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||12/24 (50%)||17/34 (50%)|
|Break Points Won||1/2 (50%)||3/5 (60%)|
|Return Games Played||10||10|
|Total Service Points Won||42/72 (58%)||44/62 (71%)|
|Total Return Points Won||18/62 (29%)||30/72 (42%)|
|Total Points Won||60/134 (45%)||74/134 (55%)|
Thoughts on the Match
A solid start I think, not vintage or great to watch but he did pretty well to ride out the storm when Mathieu was coming up with the goods.
Mathieu seemed to find his game from nowhere and began to pound groundstrokes which caught Roger off guard. I thought he got a little passive when it was at the business end of the second set and that cost him. He was always on the backfoot in the rallies and having to defend hoping to draw an error rather than pressing to force it.
Edberg looked a little disappointed he didn't close it out first time of asking so I'm sure they will discuss that in their post match talks. I thought he should have returned a little more aggressively and tried to get on top from the first ball strike after the serve. Chipping and then starting at neutral worked in Mathieu's favour as he is quite good at moving his opponent around.
But anyway, can't complain too much as Roger dug deep to hold at 5-6 with some clutch first serves and came back from a mini break down to win the breaker. Another decent display of hustle and mental toughness to grind out the win.
Predictions vs. Tursunov
Next up is Dmitry Tursunov who defeated world class pusher Juan Monaco. He's 0-3 against Federer and by making the 3rd round has matched his best ever performance at Indian Wells from 2009.
Based on those stats I don't think there's much to worry about for Fed fans as Roger is better in all areas.
Tursunov is a solid opponent though so Fed would be daft to underestimate him and just has to stay sharp to get the job done. I've not seen him play this year but his best result was making the Semi's in Sydney. Since then he's lost to Dimitrov in Rotterdam and Rosol in Dubai.
I'm still not over Henman losing to this guy at Wimbledon about 10 years ago so I hope Fed can dish out some bakery products. Tursunov can definitely mix it but he can be quite erratic even from game to game and I think Fed will just be able to take advantage of that. Although if the ATP had rankings for humour he'd be right up there:
Fed in straights 6-4 6-4.