We're underway in Melbourne and Roger kicked off his Australian Open campaign with a comfortable straight sets victory over Yen Hsun Lu to move into Wednesday's second round. Taking centre stage in Evening session on Rod Laver Arena the Swiss defeated his experienced opponent 6-4 6-2 7-5 in 1 hour and 53 minutes.
The win was Roger's 1001st at this level and he's bidding to reach the Semi Finals at Melbourne Park for the 12th straight year. On tonight's showing I think he has a decent shot of doing that but there's still a long way to go so best not to get too far ahead of ourselves 😉
As with most 1st rounds for the top seeds this was relatively one sided throughout. Fed was in cruise control for the opening two sets but in third Lu upped his level and Roger had to weather the storm for a few games before breaking decisively at 5-5 and holding serve to setup a clash against Simon Bolelli in the 2nd round.
Quick Match Recap
Roger said in his pre tournament press conference that he had played great in practice over the last 2 days and he was out the blocks quickly in this one; creating 4 break points in game one but failing to convert. He again held a break point in game 3 before Lu held to lead 2-1.
At 2-2 the Swiss finally got the breakthrough and then held for a 4-2 lead. One break proved to be enough and at 5-4 we probably got the point of the match before Roger served out the set to love.
The second was a similar story, with Lu again holding his serve until 2 all before Roger broke serve and then held for 4-2 hitting an epic volley in the process. This time around Fed managed to get the insurance break and quickly moved into a 5-2 lead. Lu had 2 break back points to cut the deficit but Roger fired down some clutch serves to take the set 6-2.
With Roger dominating the two opening sets at a canter the third was to be a much closer affair as Lu upped his level on serve and applied pressure on the return whenever he got a look in. Roger had to save two break points at 0-1 with some good play under pressure and the Chinese-Taipei native looked untroubled on serve.
At 3-3 Lu had to save his first break point of the set before holding and the scoreboard soon ticked over to 5-5. Here it was time to strike a hammer blow and the GOAT delivered, breaking to love easily, almost making it look like he'd been testing things out throughout the third set and decided enough was enough; he then served it out to 15 to take it 7-5. Nice!
|Stats||Yen-Hsun Lu||Roger Federer|
|1st serves in||56/97 (58 %)||57/83 (69 %)|
|1st serve points won||35/56 (63 %)||49/57 (86 %)|
|2nd serve points won||22/41 (54 %)||16/26 (62 %)|
|Fastest serve||202 KMH||206 KMH|
|Average 1st serve speed||188 KMH||188 KMH|
|Average 2nd serve speed||156 KMH||162 KMH|
|Net points won||2/6 (33 %)||30/43 (70 %)|
|Break points won||0/4 (0 %)||4/14 (29 %)|
|Receiving points won||18/83 (22 %)||40/97 (41 %)|
|Total points won||75||105|
Thoughts on the Match
I think he started to serve better in the third. I think conditions slowed down a bit. Because of the coolness and the night coming in, I felt it was hard to generate stuff. It became a very interesting third set. Gave me, I think, a lot of information. Instead of sort of just steamrolling through him he really made it tough for me. I don't want to say I got lucky to not be broken early on in the third, but he was playing some really good tennis. I started to mix it up and trying out things because I had to, I felt, towards the end of the third. Started to serve better myself again towards the end of the match. I adjusted to the conditions, because it did play different at 7:00 than it did at 8:30. A drastic change, in my opinion.
A routine first round here to be honest and I thought Fed played some pretty good stuff. Definitely worth watching the highlight reel as he came up with some top notch net play, an around the net post winner and a couple of majestic drop shots that left Lu looking puzzled. Good stuff and pretty much on cruise control throughout. The stats make good reading too and he definitely served well from start to finish, barring 3 double faults which fortunately didn't cost him. Perhaps a tad lucky to not go down a break in the third but he staved off the break points with some clutch play. Other than that the only real negative was a fair few forehand errors from shanks, probably to do with lack of timing / rhythm though so no big deal.
In terms of conditions the surface looks to be playing medium fast from what I saw on TV, not easy to put the ball through the back of the court but possible with the right combination of shots. Interestingly Roger says the conditions changed quite drastically from 7.00pm to 8.30pm and the court slowed up which gave Lu more time from the back of the court. Not ideal for him so I think his net play is going to be hugely important this tournament, we saw some great plays tonight where he closed off all the angles and used his reactions to cut off good passing shots so more of the same required on that front.
Elsewhere in the draw no real upsets other than maybe Gulbis losing to Kokkinakis in 5 sets depsite having 4 match points. That guys a joke though so no real surprises, he's always a disappointment in Australia and it doesn't look like it will change anytime soon. As for Nadal he crushed Youzhny in straights earlier in the day; I expected a closer match but I've watched the highlights and Youzhny is a shadow of the player he was, now he was never a world beater but his legs have gone and so has his pace on the groundstrokes. Nadal just bossed every rally from the back of the court and it was easy pickings for him. Good win for his confidence so he could be a threat now but he's far from tested.
Predictions vs. Bolelli
As I predicted in my draw post Bolelli is the man waiting in the second round after he defeated Juan Monaco in 4 sets. The Italian clearly has too much for a defensive baseliner like Monaco and came through comfortably.
Roger has a 3-0 H2H Record vs. the world number 48 and is yet to drop a set in any of their previous encounters. The most recent meeting between the two was at the Davis Cup in Geneva after last years US Open and it was a close tie where Roger's experience prevailed to win 7-6(5), 6-4 6-4.
Unlike Monaco the Italian definitely has weapons in his game and his forehand is his best shot. That's something Roger will need to aware of as Bolelli becomes dangerous if he can bring that shot into play. I think with the way Fed's serving he should be able to come through this one handily in straights 6-4 6-4 6-2. There should be some decent rallies too as both guys go for their shots and hit with one handed backhand; hopefully it will be a good watch.
See you guys Wednesday in Live Chat!