Normal service resumed here in the Sepperer rivalry as Roger avenged his Australian Open loss to the Italian by defeating him 6-3 6-4 at the BNP Paribas Open. Not a match that will live long in the memory as it was dominated by errors from both players as they struggled to acclimatise to the night time desert conditions in Indian Wells.
Despite the low quality it was the Swiss who made the best of things, serving well when he needed to and returning solidly to break Seppi 3 times across two sets and cross the line as the worthy winner in his first night session match of the week.
It absolutely was an opportunity right away to play him again and sort of erase it to some extent from the memory as the season moves forward. It's one of those matches you're happy you're through, and I was happy it was over.
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and elected to serve, holding to love thanks to Seppi making 4 unforced errors in a row. The Swiss then had an immediate chance to break but Seppi held to level at 1-1.
The South Tyrol native then made his own inroads on the Federer serve creating love thirty but Roger fired down some timely serves to hold. At 3-2 Roger again had break point but couldn't convert, making sloppy errors on the important points and allowing Seppi to hold. That patttern continued until 4-3 where Fed took his 4th break point of the set, breaking the Italian from 15-40 behind to lead 5-3. He then saved break point himself at 30-40 to take the opener 6-3.
With Seppi serving first at the start of the second Fed again had an immediate chance to break but failed to convert. However after holding to love he got the breakthrough to lead 2-1; probably the point of the match in this game too at 0-15 where Fed used a ton of variety to finally draw the error from Seppi.
It looked like it would be plain sailing after that but an untimely double fault let Seppi back in to level at 3-3. Fortunately though Seppi was right back at standard Seppi level and he handed Fed another break in his next service game. That one proved to be enough and despite seeing 2 match points pass him by at 5-3 Roger held to 30 to close it out 6-4 and score a pleasing win against his Australian Open conqueror.
|A. Seppi||R. Federer|
|1st Serve %||45%||61%|
|1st Serve Points Won||24/35 (69%)||27/36 (75%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||17/42 (40%)||12/23 (52%)|
|Break Points Saved||9/12 (75%)||1/2 (50%)|
|Service Games Played||9||10|
|1st Return Points Won||9/36 (25%)||11/35 (31%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||11/23 (48%)||25/42 (60%)|
|Break Points Won||1/2 (50%)||3/12 (25%)|
|Return Games Played||10||9|
|Net Points Won||3/7||8/16|
|Total Service Points Won||41/77 (53%)||39/59 (66%)|
|Total Return Points Won||20/59 (34%)||36/77 (47%)|
|Total Points Won||61/136 (45%)||75/136 (55%)|
Thoughts on the Match
So I'm still figuring out exactly how the court plays and the balls react. So that's why I'm very happy to be in the (fourth) round to give myself another opportunity to play in these conditions and hopefully move forward.
A real low quality match this one to be honest and not one that has a highlight reel worth watching. The night conditions are like sludge out there making it very very difficult to hit winners or play a brand of tennis that's pleasing on the eye. Even the crowd fueled on sugar filled soft drinks and additive ridden hotdogs were struggling for excitement so certainly wasn't easy for me at 2am to stay awake 😉
Numerous players have stated the balls are poor this week too which makes it hard to play well and is surely another reason for matches ending with sky high error counts and virtually empty winners columns. Seppi even said at the net during the handshake that “it was difficult to play well” to which Roger responded with “I know, the balls are ridiculous”. So it does look like for once it's not just Nadal moaning 😆
The pleasing aspect for Roger is to get the win and put to bed some of the bad memories from Australia. Obviously a Slam loss can't be undone by a win at a Masters 1000 level but will definitely help to some extent. He also keeps up the winning streak from Dubai and keeps himself in the tournament as it nears the latter stages. So far Fed has been struggling to find his range and in these conditions winners don't come easy so it's a huge adjustment from Dubai but he the more court time / matches he gets the better the chance of coming good at the right time. He managed it in 2012 looking sloppy against Bellucci and Kudla before winning the whole thing so no reason why he can't do something similar here.
Predictions vs. Sock
Next up is Jack Sock who defeated the Royal Bank of Agut in 3 sets coming from a set down to get the job done. These guys have never played before on tour but as you can see from the picture above they've practised together on a couple of occasions. That should give Fed enough intel he needs on what to expect.
Fed stated in the presser that he know's he is going to be “tough to beat” but that basically says to me the match is firmly on Roger's racquet. I don't know much about Sock other than seeing some of his doubles matches at Wimbledon last year but he hits with a fair amount of top spin, has a big-ish serve and clearly favours the forehand. I think he's kinda similar to Roddick in a way and we all know how the Federer matchup faired for him so I don't see Sock pulling off the win here.
I'm not actually sure who the conditions favour more, maybe Sock, playing at home on a familiar hard court, coupled with the slowness as it will give him more time but I figure Roger will just out manoeuvre him. I'll go one close set but Fed in 2. The only real concern is Fed's patchy level so far and generally looking frustrated with some of his shots against both Seppi and Schwartzman. Let's see if he can raise the bar later today to book his spot in the Quarters.
What do guys think? Will Roger sock it to him?