Without a shadow of a doubt the best match of the season so far, I'd always been optimistic that Federer could win this match and he did just that! From the very first game right through to the Ace down the T in the 4th set tiebreak that sealed the win, the level was unbelievably high.
As I discussed previously, the first set held so much importance in deciding the outcome of the match, and it seemed Federer knew that too – he came out all guns blazing and broke Novak first game. Only to get broken straight back. The intensity in the 1st set was crazy, both Fed and Novak were hitting the ball so cleanly on both wings, Roger did an amazing job of moving Novak around and throwing in enough variety to keep the Serb guessing. He then produced 2 clutch serves when 5-4 and 15 – 40 down to level. From then on, it was only fitting that the first set resulted in a pulsating tie break, and the fact Federer was serving with total precision definitely worked in his favour. And he took the tiebreak 7-5.
The momentum was with Roger as he swiftly progressed into a 3-1 lead in the second set, and sealed it 6-3 with relatively few problems. The third saw Djokovic hit back and race into a 3-0 lead, he took that set 6-3.
As if the match hadn't already hit heights that the French Open hasn't seen for years, its arguable the 4th set was played at an even better level, both players fired countless winners. It looked like Novak was going to take the match into a 5th set when he broke to lead 5-4, but Roger upped his level to break straight back with a crunching forehand into the open court after Novak had saved 2 of the 3 breakpoints. The tie break that followed saw some serious clutch serving from Roger, and he sealed it with an Ace. A fitting end.
Few people had given Federer a chance heading into the match, and to be honest, it was understandable, Djokovic has been playing on another planet since his Davis Cup final win last year. But the Swiss once again proved he can never be written off at Grand Slam level. He managed to move Djokovic around the court masterfully, mix up his game which somewhat nullified the power of Novaks backhand. Everybody thought Rogers backhand would be tested and tested, and although he hit it well, he managed to come over it and slice it to create angles that meant Djokovic couldn't pressure it for a sustained period of time. Perhaps the key to him winning this match, was his ability to call upon his first serve on the maximum pressure moments. He served countless aces to save break points finding all corners of the service box. Total clutch serving.
The intensity, the french crowd backing Federer all the way which created a great atmosphere, and the outcome means this is definitely my favourite match the year so far.
Can Fed beat Nadal?
It will be a tough match, but surely Roger must be heading into the final more confident than he's ever been before at the thought of facing Nadal. With the crowd on his side, his serve and backhand down the line firing on all cylinders, I just hope he can ride the crest of a wave and stop Rafas moonballing with some classic tennis.