Another win for the Swiss Maestro in Melbourne as he booked his spot in the third round with a 7-5 6-3 7-6(3) win over American Noah Rubin.
I expected a routine win here but Rubin pushed Federer all the way and can count himself unlucky for not extending the match to at least four sets. The qualifier who came through five sets in round 1 had the upper hand from the baseline throughout the 2 hours and 3-minute encounter and couldn't convert any of his 3 sets points in the third set.
Quick Match Recap
Rubin won the toss and elected to receive, winning the first point of the match on a net cord. Roger then reeled off 4 points in a row to hold.
In his opening service game, the American slipped to 0-30, but any signs of nerves were soon put to bed as he reeled off some crisp ground-strokes to hold. In game six the Swiss fashioned 0-40 but failed to convert and went on to miss a further break point as Rubin leveled for 3-3. However at 6-5, having just dropped 6 points on his serve Roger was able to break through, breaking to 15 to take the set 7-5.
The second set followed a similar pattern with Roger serving well but struggling from the baseline to make an impact. The breakthrough this time around came in game 6, the Swiss again breaking to 15 for 4-2. He then had to save a break point on his serve for 5-2, and he went on to take a two set to love lead.
The third set seemed like it would be a formality but a string of errors saw Roger drop serve. Rubin consolidated to love for 3-0 and Roger, after a short exchange with his box, let out a few expletives in frustration with his inability to keep the ball in the court.
With the break, Rubin had full momentum, and by game seven had only made one unforced error in the set as held for 5-2. The American then had his first set points in Roger's service game, but the Swiss somehow held and managed to take advantage of a tighter looking Rubin to break back. He then leveled for 5-5 and the set progressed into a tie-break.
I'd always back Fed in a breaker, but with the way he was hitting the ball it looked wide open, fortunately, his serve hit the spots and at 4-3 he won both return points before sealing it 7-3 to move into the third round.
|Match Statistics||N. Rubin||R. Federer|
|First Serve % In||57/102 (56%)||67/112 (60%)|
|Win % On 1st Serve||36/57 (63%)||55/67 (82%)|
|Win % On 2nd Serve||28/45 (62%)||25/45 (56%)|
|Net Points Won||7/13 (54%)||24/29 (83%)|
|Break Points Won||1/6 (17%)||3/8 (38%)|
|Receiving Points Won||32/112 (29%)||38/102 (37%)|
|Total Points Won||96||118|
|Distance Covered (M)||2129.4||1944.6|
|Distance Covered/pt. (M)||9.9||9.1|
Shot of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
A tough day at the office this one but another win in the bag which is the most important thing. I thought Federer would be able to force the issue against Rubin but the American is quick, went for his shots and served well to make all three sets tightly contested.
I think Roger served well as he usually does which made the difference in the end, but during the rallies, he looked poor. He seemed a bit lazy on the footwork, in particular on the forehand with less precise steps we typically see. That caused him to be late to the ball on the run, and make plenty forehand errors. So whilst he played ok and did well not to drop a set in the end, he was not able to construct points that well or play aggressive tennis on his terms. Against someone like Rubin that's not the best of signs, but you can make the argument if he can win in three playing averagely after six months out it's not a bad thing. It's just whether he can take his game up a notch when he needs to and we're about to find out.
Predictions vs. Berdych
Next up is Berdych who defeated Ryan Harrison in straight sets. Harrison had a set point in the second-set tie-break winning four straight points from 2-5 down, but the Czech came through unscathed.
Roger schooled Berdych in Melbourne last year but based on what we've seen of him this year this will be a tougher match. Federer's serve has so far been his lifeline, but from the baseline, he's been relatively weak, and he will need to take his level up significantly to compete with Tomas.
Berdych doesn't have the footspeed of Rubin, but he has easier power and has beaten Federer in slams before. Both times you could say when Federer's movement wasn't quite there – Wimbledon 2010 (thigh problem) and the US Open 2012. He's not moving brilliantly based on today's match either and if can't turn backhands into forehands and is having to hit on the run then Berdych will fancy his chances. I think it's fairly open as Berdych isn't exactly in the form of his life but his flat hitting on a quick court might give him the edge, I'll pick Berdych in 4 tight sets.