Hey guys, well what a match that was huh as Roger defeated Gilles Simon 6-1, 4-6 2-6 6-2 6-3 to earn his 900th career victory and move into the Quarter Finals where he will meet yet another Frenchman in the shape of Jo Wilfried Tsonga.
I predicted Roger would win this one in straight sets after his performance in Rome but yet again Simon proved a tricky opponent and one who can give even the GOAT a whole host of problems.
Fortunately though Roger dug deep and manned up when it counted here to come from behind despite the match looking as though it could slip from his grasp as Simon was zoning and playing more aggressively than I've ever seen him play. Let's take a look…
Quick Match Analysis
Like Rome this one started beautifully for Roger as he breezed through the first set breaking Simon's serve three times and it looked like a similar scenario to Rome was on the cards. After Roger bent a forehand around the net post I was pretty confident this was going to be another speedy match; I mean this shot was absolutely insane, he managed to curve a low ball flush around the post for a clean winner out of nothing. It doesn't get any better than that folks. GOAT forehand.
However even a JesusFed type like moment wasn't enough to stop Simon hitting back as he clearly had other ideas as to where this match was heading. Rather than playing passively in his normal style the Frenchman decided to take the match to Roger and played well out of his comfort zone, looking to hit winners and dictate play.
At 3-2 Roger had an inroad on the Simon serve but he fell over retrieving a ball on the backhand side and then he lost the plot, I'm not sure the fall did any sort of damage physically but it allowed Simon to dig himself out a whole and Roger seemed to lose a little bit of confidence in his game and was comprehensively broken in his next service game.
Simon went onto serve it out 6-4 and the match was all square much to the delight of the French crowd who were really getting into the match. It was a poor set to lose really from Federer's perspective as he'd gone from utterly dominating to being the one on the backfoot in the majority of the rallies.
The third set didn't get much better for Fed fans either as yet again it was Simon who was completely in the zone and looking like he was going to take control of the match the way he was playing as he broke to lead 3-2. I thought at the time to get back into this it was imperative Roger broke straight back and at 0-30 he had a golden chance but hit some tame shots and Simon held easily. Set over.
At 4-2 Simon secured the double break which was a virtual set point for him and despite a couple of shaky moments he served it out to take a 2 sets to 1 lead. Nervous times.
After dropping the third set Roger took a bathroom break and came out looking reenergised and up for the fight, at 2-2 he was staring down at 30-30 on his serve but he pulled off a sweet half volley forehand up the line and dug out the hold. This was a big big hold and I rightfully predicted he would break in the next game which he did to take a 4-2 lead. Phew!
Roger then held to lead 5-2 and finished the set on a real high note securing the double break to ensure he would serve first in the fifth and deciding set. This was a real bonus and meant he was the one putting pressure in Simon by holding his own service games. Momentum has shifted completely and Roger looked like he was in ascendancy.
The fifth set I thought was going to be a formality as Roger broke to lead 3-1 but when he missed his chance to secure a double break it gave Simon that little bit of hope and meant he was still in touch. Luckily though Roger had got back his supreme focus in this one and pulled out some real big serves when he needed them, most notably when serving for it at 30-40 when he hit back to back aces.
He then had to stave off another break point but did so with confidence and then sealed it on his second match point when Simon went wide with a backhand! Allez!
|Stats||Roger Federer||Gilles Simon|
|1st Serves In||64%||61%|
|1st Serve points Won||56/75 (75%)||65/98 (66%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||23/42 (55%)||28/63 (44%)|
|Fastest Serve||206 KMH||200 KMH|
|Average 1st Serve Speed||188 KMH||179 KMH|
|Average 2nd Serve Speed||153 KMH||140 KMH|
|Net Points Won||25/35 (71%)||15/28 (54%)|
|Break Points Won||6/14 (43%)||3/6 (50%)|
|Receiving Points Won||68/161 (42%)||38/117 (32%)|
|Total Points Won||147||131|
Another collection of solid match statistics. And just proves that when winners outnumber errors Roger comes through 😀 Allez!
Thoughts on the Match
For me personally this was a great match, mainly because Roger came through despite struggling in the middle part of it but also because it's one of those memorable matches.
Nobody is going to remember that Roger beat Somdev Devvarman in the second round but this one is definitely going to be a match you can look back on as it all the ingredients of a great match – high quality shotmaking, momentum shifts, fight, clutchness and the GOAT coming out on top in the end.
It's also historic as it was Roger's 900th career match win and also ties him as joint leader of all time wins at Roland Garros with 58 victories as well as keeping his unrivaled Grand Slam Quarter Final streak alive. Yet again getting his name in the record books even on his least favourite surface.
In terms of the match I was very happy with today's performance, I thought Simon played a great match for those 2 sets he won and really played in the zone which is something you don't normally get from him. I suppose Roger's level did drop after he tripped up but Simon was definitely coming up with goods and returning well in the third set and you can't say he didn't deserve to lead 2 sets to 1.
I think Jim Courier got it pretty spot on when he said Simon was really hitting the ball well but he thought Roger knew his level would drop and he'd be able to start dictating play again. That is pretty much exactly what happened as a couple of genius moments from Fed rattled Simon a little bit, that combined with the crowd been very pro Roger put him back in his shell and Fed took full advantage to look the dominant force on court once again.
What was more pleasing is that we saw glimpses of Roger 3.0 who hung in there even when his forehand wasn't firing and then got out of his slump to turn the match back on his racquet. Despite it being a bit of a roller coaster with a few nervous moments in the end the result was always going to be a Federer win and even though I got a little nervous when he was facing break points serving for it I knew he'd pull through which of course he did.
Even though this one was a little closer than perhaps it should have been it's been my favourite match of the tournament so far, it went 5 sets but wasn't physical in the slightest and like I said we got to see a bit of everything from outright genius to fight back ability which is always good to see from someone who isn't a natural fighter like Roger.
Predictions vs. Tsonga
Next up is the 3rd Frenchman in 3 matches for Roger and probably his toughest opponent yet in Jo Wilfried Tsonga. Tsonga has looked impressive in the tournament thus far and easily dispatched Viktor Troicki today in straight sets. I don't think he's been tested yet though or faced anyone of real note so although he's making smooth progress there's nothing to say he's in unbeatable form.
After today's match I think Roger will gain an awful lot of confidence from the manner in which he won and the fact he came from behind to keep his Quarter Final streak alive is a real boost for him here. This could mean he plays in the zone against Tsonga and if that happens there can only be one winner.
Tsonga is a dangerous player but he's not a natural clay courter and you get the sense Roger had his “off match” today so I'm feeling quietly confident about Fed getting this one done in 4 sets.
I give Roger the edge because Roger can beat him with his skillset, and Tsonga can also beat himself with the way he plays. That gives Roger two ways to win, against some opponents like Nadal he only has one way and it's even harder to execute against a leftie.
With Tsonga he can outplay him in all areas of the court, and he can also make him self destruct. I'm not saying Tsonga has zero chance but I think the odds are in Roger's favour here. If he plays well and serves well he has to come out on top of this one.
For Tsonga to win he has to play great tennis from start to finish and by that I mean serving bombs and finding the lines at any given opportunity, we know he's capable of that but I have a feeling Roger knows fully what to expect here and will use his superior skills on clay to overcome anything Tsonga can throw at him.
Tsonga will no doubt come out with an aggressive mindset and maybe Roger Rasheed has a trick up his sleeve in his game plan but I'm not sure what he can really do other than go for his shots and hope they come off. It can, and has worked in the past but on clay where Roger has such a versatile forehand in terms of hitting a wide array of angles and drops shots I think he can be the one who dictates play and not Tsonga.
I'll pick Fed in 4: 6-4 4-6 7-6 6-2. Hopefully I'm right but one thing is certain and that's we will find out either way. Allez!