Roger Federer's latest comeback is underway and he got the better of Alexander Zverev 6-3 7-5 in the opening match of the day at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. There was much speculation about Fed's participation and the fact he was scheduled at midday raised even more questions but the Swiss took to the court to record his 1,070 match win as a professional.
This match was the Fed's first since losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Monte Carlo in early April but he was able to shake off the rust and produce the all court tennis required to win through comfortably in 87 minutes. He'll now face Dominic Thiem in the third round who defeated Joao Sousa in straight sets.
Quick Match Recap
Zverev won the toss and elected to receive. Roger then kicked things off with a love hold before Zverev held to 30 to level. After holding to love for 3-2 the Swiss created his first break point at 30-40, sealing it with a drop shot return of serve. The break was consolidated to 15 for 5-2 and Fed created set point on the Zverev serve in game 8 which he couldn't convert. One break was plenty though as he served out the first set 6-3.
Set 2 started like the first with Federer moving up an early break to lead 2-1. This time however he couldn't consolidate as the German broke back. The scoreboard stayed level until 5-5, where after a super quick love hold Federer finally took his 4th break point of game 11 to lead 6-5 and went onto serve it out 15. Allez!
|R. Federer||A. Zverev|
|1st Serve %||56%||60%|
|1st Serve Points Won||27/33 (82%)||26/43 (60%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||18/26 (69%)||15/29 (52%)|
|Break Points Saved||1/2 (50%)||6/9 (67%)|
|Service Games Played||11||10|
|1st Return Points Won||17/43 (40%)||6/33 (18%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||14/29 (48%)||8/26 (31%)|
|Break Points Won||3/9 (33%)||1/2 (50%)|
|Return Games Played||10||11|
|Net Points Won||15/20||11/20|
|Total Service Points Won||45/59 (76%)||41/72 (57%)|
|Total Return Points Won||31/72 (43%)||14/59 (24%)|
|Total Points Won||76/131 (58%)||55/131 (42%)|
Shot of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
After not knowing whether Federer would step on court today things turned out pretty well as he played a very smart match; taking Zverev off the baseline constantly with slice and drop shots which completely disrupted his rhythm. Zverev will camp out there all day if he's allowed to but Roger mixed it up and ended points quickly to come through the match without ever really being tested. I also liked how he varied his return position in virtually every game which again put Zverev out of his comfort zone on serve, not knowing whether Fed was going to take it early or give himself more time to take a big swing.
The one question I have is – did Fed come in with that set gameplan or did he just play in a very kind of relaxed way as he had zero expectation and didn't want to over exert himself? The dropper is sometimes a desperation shot when you're out of ideas, but Fed was using it virtually every game to just kill points off after 1 or 2 shots. I'm not sure really, maybe both. He did look to be playing with some caution and in his post match presser he said he's unsure if he will play against Thiem tomorrow as he's ‘taking it practice by practice'. From what I've read he only gave the green light on today's match after his warm up so it's all very much up in the air. I'd guess he's somewhere around 75-80% fit but a little bit worried about going full tilt in case it flares up again and jeopardises Roland Garros or even some of the grass events. At least after today he has an idea of where his games at after another extended period out of competition post Monte Carlo so it's really been win – win regardless of what happens next. I'm just happy we have the man who is going to make tennis great again back playing 🙂
Predictions vs. Thiem
Next up is Thiem who saw off Sousa easily in straight sets. Roger crushed the Austrian in their first meeting earlier this year in Brisbane but things have changed quite a lot since then. Thiem has pedigree on clay and he's match tough, Federer on the other hand hasn't really factored on the surface since 2012 and doesn't have many matches in his legs. With that in mind it's tough to see how this one goes; the one thing Thiem needs is time on his shots – something which Roger isn't going to give him much of. Zverev was rushed quite frequently today so if Fed takes it early I can see Thiem having to defend quite often which isn't where he wants to be. If that happens we'll probably see something similar today but if Thiem can get the first big strike in then he'll be tough to beat. If he plays I'll pick Fed in 2.
Anyway – let me know what you thought of the match and do you think Fed will play tomorrow? It looks set to be another last minute decision.