Another clean sheet for the Swiss here as he eased past Kei Nishikori 6-3 6-2 to put himself on the brink of qualifying for the Semi Finals at this years ATP Word Tour Finals.
Just like the Raonic match Roger was never really in full flight but played smart tennis when he needed to and again capitalised on a high error count from his opponent to record another straight sets victory. The win cements his spot at the top of Group B and he now only needs Raonic to win a set tonight in order to qualify for the knockout stages on Saturday.
Quick Match Recap
Roger won the toss and elected to serve holding to 30 before Nishikori levelled for 1 game apiece. Nishikori's return had proved a potent weapon against Murray 2 days earlier and it gave Roger something to think about here too as he had to save 2 break points in game 3 before holding to lead 2-1.
If there's one area of Kei's game that's attackable right now it's his sub par serve and Roger broke through with some punishing 2nd serve returns before consolidating for a 3-1 lead.
The Swiss then had a shot at the double break but Nishikori held for 2-4 to keep in touch. Smart serving was the order of the day though for Roger and the single break proved decisive as he served out the first set to take it 6-3.
Into set two and Roger again went up an early break courtesy of some more good returning before holding to take a 3-1 lead. Being a set and a break up isn't uncharted territory for Fed against Nishikori but a repeat of Mimai wasn't on the cards for Japanese here and he couldn't find a way back; double faulting at 2-4 giving Fed virtual match points.
With Fed serving at 5-2 it looked like there could be some late drama when he slipped to 30-40 but some clutch serving saw him make deuce and he won the next two points to seal a t 6-3 6-2 victory.
|R. Federer||K. Nishikori|
|1st Serve %||58%||54%|
|1st Serve Points Won||27/34 (79%)||19/28 (68%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||14/25 (56%)||11/24 (46%)|
|Break Points Saved||3/3 (100%)||4/7 (57%)|
|Service Games Played||9||8|
|1st Return Points Won||9/28 (32%)||7/34 (21%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||13/24 (54%)||11/25 (44%)|
|Break Points Won||3/7 (43%)||0/3 (0%)|
|Return Games Played||8||9|
|Net Points Won||7/17||4/7|
|Total Service Points Won||41/59 (69%)||30/52 (58%)|
|Total Return Points Won||22/52 (42%)||18/59 (31%)|
|Total Points Won||63/111 (57%)||48/111 (43%)|
Shot of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
I think with my game, I have the capability of really making him feel uncomfortable, mixing it up,. But it's not always possible. He's shown in the past when he gets the upper hand against any player from the baseline, he's very difficult to beat. Today for some reason he couldn't get it done. Maybe I was playing too well defence and offense, mixing up my serve good enough… It was really important to take advantage of the fact that I was feeling really good, and then maybe he was struggling a little bit today.
Another steady away performance here for Roger and he's won both his Round Robin matches without really having to do much other than keep the ball in play and take charge of the point when he needs to.
He's definitely been aided by some error strewn performances from Raonic and Nishikori respectively so it's hard to really assess his overall level. From what I've soon so far I think Fed is playing pretty good but doesn't quite have the rhythm he'd like from the back of the court; fortunately he's defended his second serve well enough and put in some nice 1, 2 punches behind his well placed serves to get enough cheap points to avoid any hiccups.
It's also hard to say whether this court really suits his style; Roger said it was slower than Paris, whereas Murray said it's faster so which is it? In the on court interview Annabel Croft asked Roger if he'd like to come in more but the surface was stopping him doing so, he agreed that it was and he can't come in at much as he would like. However in the Sky Pad he said the court does give him plenty options in terms of what shots to play whether he comes over the backhand or slices it. So based on that it looks like it's just a trade off – can't play the Fedbergian attacking style he'd like but it does give him options to use the slice and other tools in his armoury to set points up that draw errors rather than hit out and out clean winners. There's more than one way to skin a cat as they say but which way will be more effective should he take on Djokovic at the weekend is debatable, I'd pick the Shanghai Method if I had to choose but I'm not sure he can really play that game on this surface…
Overall though you can't have too many complaints, winning 2 matches vs. Top 8 opposition without dropping a set or being broken. His serve has been great under pressure and although his first serve wasn't quite firing today he did defend his 2nd serve well against a solid returner like Nishikori who looks to press forward whenever he has a chance to step in.
Predictions vs. Murray
Next up is Murray who is taking on Milos Raonic in just under an hours time. That's a crunch match and it will either mean Murray's playing to qualify from the group or he's already out and is only playing for pride when he takes on Roger on Thursday.
It's 11-11 in the H2H between the two but Roger has definitely had the upper hand in their last few meetings winning at this years Australian Open and in Cincinnati a couple of months ago. Roger has also dominated in London, defeating Murray twice in the group stages in 2009 and 2010 and in the semi final in 2012.
Murray looked very out of sorts vs. Nishikori on Sunday so if he plays anything like that I think Fed will get the job done with ease. However if Murray can actually take it to him and serve properly for a change then it should be a lot closer and could go 3 sets.
I'll pick Fed to win in two 7-6 6-4. Let me know yours in the comments below 🙂