Another hard fought victory for Federer at the Garanti Koza Arena as he defeated a dogged Diego Schwartzman 2-6 6-2 7-5 to move into Sunday's final. Like the Gimeno-Traver match yesterday Roger was again tested by a solid, hard hitting opponent who knows how to get about a clay court very effectively.
Ultimately though the Swiss was just that bit stronger in the home straight and as the match wore on he played at a higher level to get the job done. Not ideal playing back to back tough three setters ahead of tomorrow's final but winning is all that counts and Roger is now on a 3 match winning winning streak on clay 😛
Quick Match Recap
Schwartzman won the toss and elected to receive, getting off to a great start breaking to lead 2-1 and securing the double break at in game 7 to take a 5-2 lead. The Argentine then served out the set to 15 to take it 6-2. A very impressive start from DSS who came out and looked to red line his game at any given opportunity.
Set 2 required an immediate response from Federer and he almost made it, creating 2 break point chances in Schwartzman's first service game which weren't converted. However after wasting another break point at 2-1 (hitting the ball out the stadium) he finally got the breakthrough on the next one to take a 3-1 lead. That was quickly consolidated and at 5-2 Roger broke again to love to level the match up.
Schwartzman put up some similar resistance in their French Open encounter last year but then faded and I expected the same here, however he refused to back down in the decider, saving break point in his opening service game and then creating two break chances of his own at 2-2.
Roger saved those however and that's when the odds swung in his favour holding comfortably thereafter to keep himself in front on the scoreboard. The Swiss failed to convert his first match point at 5-4 but finally got it done to take it 7-5 when Schwartzman missed a forehand down 15-40.
|R. Federer||D. Schwartzman|
|1st Serve %||53%||56%|
|1st Serve Points Won||34/44 (77%)||42/57 (74%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||23/39 (59%)||18/45 (40%)|
|Break Points Saved||3/5 (60%)||8/11 (73%)|
|Service Games Played||14||14|
|1st Return Points Won||15/57 (26%)||10/44 (23%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||27/45 (60%)||16/39 (41%)|
|Break Points Won||3/11 (27%)||2/5 (40%)|
|Return Games Played||14||14|
|Total Service Points Won||57/83 (69%)||60/102 (59%)|
|Total Return Points Won||42/102 (41%)||26/83 (31%)|
|Total Points Won||99/185 (54%)||86/185 (46%)|
Thoughts on the Match
A good old fashioned clay court dust up this one where both guys played at a high level and really tested one another. For all his limitations (5ft 7″) Schwartzman has a very good attitude on court – he'll chase absolutely everything down and his style of play can rush his opponents into making mistakes. He started the match extremely confidently too; striking it big off both wings and taking advantage of any short Federer replies. That style of play deservedly got him two breaks of serve and won him the set 6-2.
I don't think Fed started too badly but he wasn't quite free flowing from the word go and Schwartzman's style of play is ripe for punishing lackadaisical play. However it was always unlikely that Federer wouldn't raise the bar the longer the match went on and he managed to do that in set 2, not facing a single break point and looking more solid at the back of the court in some of the longer rallies.
The decider was much closer than I anticipated but the key turning point was when Roger saved break point with a stunning backhand down the line winner, easily the shot of the match and although Schwartzman didn't go away it dialled up Federer's confidence a notch and he eventually pulled away in the 12th game to break serve and win it.
So a pretty impressive win I thought, no doubt some will ask why he's having to dig deep to get passed Schwartzman but he played like a guy with nothing to lose and left it all out there. The crowd knew that too, chanting Diego! Diego! as he left the court. The win here is probably more of a positive one than yesterday's as Roger's level looks to have gone up, still very difficult to see him being a real factor on clay as it's tough to put the ball away but he's heading in the right direction and like he said in the on court interview when asked why he was having problems “Well I'm still here so…” 😆 .
Predictions vs. Cuevas
Next up is Cheesy Cuevas who defeated Grigor Dimitrov 6-2 6-4 to make his second clay court final of the year (W. Sao Paulo). Roger hasn't met the Uruguayan before so he doesn't have too much intel on this guy. I'm not even sure if they have practiced together before so he could be a complete unknown to Fed.
I don't know much about him either but he's very much a clay courter and performs well on this surface. His single hander stood up very well to Nadal in Rio earlier this year too so I think he'll be a fairly tough proposition for Federer tomorrow. Clay court specialist, good off the ground and hovering around his career best ever ranking.
Aside from his opponent the big question for Roger is will back to back three setters influence the outcome of tomorrow's match. Roger got off to a bit of a sluggish start today and he can't really afford to do that in the final. Best of 3 can slip away very quickly and if you drop the first set it's not easy to reign an opponent back in.
I think Fed will probably get it done as Cuevas is definitely the sort of guy who will give him plenty chances even if he's playing well from the clips I've seen. It happened in Rio where he won the first set against Nadal but let him back in before wilting and getting bageled in the third set. Fed in 2 set for me.
What do you guys reckon?