Hey guys, yesterday I posted a Federer Fan story by Shannon Whitaker from Cincinnati that reported from the Federer Monfils match.
Little did I know that there was going to be 3 more to post sat in my inbox this morning. They cover the Murray, Raonic and Ferrer matches so here they are!
Federer Defeats Murray in Straight Sets
Well again it was a late late night for Roger. I am a bit disappointed that he is on the night match ticket here in Cincinnati again after the situation in Toronto. Especially with the schedule for Saturday when Roger will hardly get on court until nine pm, match done by midnight, and hopefully finals Sunday, but I am getting ahead of myself and that is not the Roger way…never envision the match ahead, focus on the one in front of you….
So, to the notes from my Iphone last night …. It was a beautiful night for tennis. No wind, about 75 degrees F, totally clears sky and a packed mostly pro-Roger house. Right of the bat Roger had Murray on the defensive. Roger earned about 6 bp chances in the first two Murray service games but didn’t convert any. It would have been such a leg up for Roger to break from the get-go but it was not to be. Roger came out with an attacking attitude again but early on was missing his last shot to win the point. He had great point construction, moving Murray around, the different spins in play was incredible, but then Roger would miss a volley long or a shot wide and Murray fended off the pressure for his holds. It was disappointing, but bp’s come and go for Roger as we all know, and he shakes off his lack of conversions so I figured I better too. The good news after the Monfils match was that Roger was serving better right of the bat. Higher first serve percentage and good variety. I always feel confident that when Roger can hit that great serve up the T anytime he wants it’s going to be a good serving match. The quick holds and pinpoint serving gave Roger some breathing room and kept the pressure on Murray despite the bevy of break points chances Roger let slip by.
Finally at Murray’s 3rd service game, Roger broke for a 3-2 lead. Huzzah! Murray’s camp was to the right of me and of course the grimaces and the chatter and the dare I say, whining, (yes!) began. Shooting them dark looks and cursing. Amelie M is not in Cincy so the barrage was directed at his long time hitting partner and physio. So quintessentially Murray. Anyway, Rogers next serving game to consolidate the break was a bit nervy to start going down 0-30 but Roger had two solid approaches and volleys and he closed out the game at the net and went up 5-3, good recovery and hold!
As I mentioned this match was all about spin. I was low and close to the court and I wrote spin-o-rama in my notes. I don’t think the rotation of the ball is picked up that well by tv but there was a different look on every ball. It seemed like a game of tennis ball limbo at times; both Roger and Andy seeing how low the ball could go, while applying spins of all sorts, and still get over the net. Murray started in set one with very inconsistent serving, hence the many bp opportunities for Roger and Andy was a step or two slow when getting up to the ball. Roger was moving well or “Betterrer” shall I say, while Murray seemed in motion. When Roger served out the first set he had a big fist pump and the crowd cheered loudly for him.
Set two began with a difficult hold for Roger, going down love 30 and first two points his serves were not good. He got his serving “riddum” back though and produced a solid hold for game one, set two. As Roger continued his service games his first serve percentage did drop a bit but the major difference for me was that Murray began returning better. Reading Rogers’ serves better, Murray’s balls were coming back much more quickly onto Roger and if there was anything short up the middle it was gobbled up by Andy. At the 3rd game, Roger serving, Roger missed two volleys, one out and one in the net and got behind in the game and Murray broke for 2-1. Figuring Roger had already broken Murray once, I thought no big deal stay calm and carry on but no; Rogers’ level of play began to dip just as Murray finally seemed to get the hang of things on court. The returns from Andy were solid, catching Roger off guard and Murray started painting the lines as Roger had done in the first set. So another break and things looked like third set here we come with Roger down 4-1.
Roger really needed a solid serving game. Murray was 8 feet behind the baseline just doing his thing keeping the ball in play. Roger held firm to the base line, not giving an inch as is his stubborn way. Roger just seemed to put his head down at 4-1 and said “it’s time to go to work. It might not be pretty but let’s get this done”. And he did. He had a solid hold for 4-2 and then started just a bit to change tactics. As in the Cilic match in Canada, Roger began backing way up on some returns and then rushing right up to the baseline for the rally. It began to work. Murray had served well in the second set so far but in game 6 his serve went away and it was 0-30. Roger got another second serve and he pounced on it, ate it up and drew an error from Murray, it was great to see, and it was 0-40. 15-40 then another 2nd serve from Murray and it was a break and 4-3 Murray game score.
Roger kept working, working, and working. There were some pretty points but more just head down as I said and Roger wrestling the momentum back into his corner. The spins on the ball, the chess game movement, each player fighting to control the points ramped up. Poor first serving again in the critical 7th game opened the door for Roger and he began painting lines once more, stretching out Murray, and drawing errors. Roger broke again to even the score at 4 all. I vaulted out of my seat with my “Betterer” shirt on shouting loudly for Federer. “Allez!” It was great!
Roger had to fight for his next service game. He got behind on points early with some errors but he pulled himself together and served out the last two points well. It was a good battle back from the deficit and Roger put the pressure squarely back on Murray’s shoulders right away 5-4 Roger. Great poise by Roger, he seemed determined not to play set 3 and he went inside himself and had tremendous focus. Murray went up in his 4-5 service game quickly to 30-0 and then it was 40-0 and a quick hold. 5-5 second set.
I didn’t make a lot of notes the next service game for Roger but I did note one point Roger dropped a shot so low as Andy came into the net that Murray couldn’t dig it out. Shoelaces or maybe Roger was aiming even lower, it was a great shot by Roger just dipping over the net and dropping fast. So then it was 40-30 Roger and a great serve up the T closed out the game for 6-5 Roger.
Murray up to serve and he started stepping into the court more and pounding the ball, gathering all the fight he could. Roger responded well and countered to get the score to 30 all. Roger got a second serve look when the score was at deuce but nets it. Next point is Ad Murray but Roger hits an excellent drop shot and Murray gets up to it but Roger steps into the volley and passes Murray by with a sharp volley. First match point for Roger Murray serves to Roger’s back hand, Roger shoots back and Murray nets the next shot so it is game set and match Roger with the second set being 7-5. After squandering so many break point chances in set one it was great to see Roger convert many in set two and on his first match point break opportunity to win. I was most impressed with the resolve Roger showed to fight back from a 1-4 deficit. Breaking Murray for the match win was a convincing and resounding punctuation mark at the end of the match. There was no question on the court or in the stands who was the better player physically and mentally that night; Roger on all counts.
Federer Schools Raonic in the Semi Finals
Again it was another beautiful night for tennis. The ladies match went on and on so Roger and Milos didn’t hit the court until about 10:30. The skies were dark, there was a light fog around the lights from their heat and the stadium was packed. Everyone was ready for a great match.
My two cents were that for Roger to win he needed to have a good serving night. And right on cue he served up the first game of the match boom boom boom boom love hold. Not to be outdone, Milos fired back some missiles of his own but overall as he said in his presser his first serve let him down throughout the match. He missed too many first serves and gave Roger too many opportunities to break. Roger took two service games to get a read on the Raonic serve and then he was off to the races. Roger showed his hand early, his attitude was: “ I am here to play and I am coming at you”. He was mixing spins, aggressively attacking the net and serving with pin point accuracy. He was fearless, truly fearless and it was fantastic to watch. Raonic never really got his feet under him with the pressure Roger put on him and did not perform up to his billing.
After an early break by Roger, Milos fired back with a love hold for 4-1. Roger started baiting Milos to come into the net only to drop his next shot right at the big Canadians’ shoelaces. Fantastic. Another love hold by Roger and he was up 5-2. Hitting his spots and serving it hot.
Mr. Variety Federer came to play. Starting the 8th game with Milos serving, Roger hit a dropper just over the net. Roger kept coming forward and with more success due to greater control this match versus previous matches. Roger hit very few volleys out tonight and was confident and aggressive coming in. Despite being behind in the Raonic service game Roger fought back to deuce. A microcosm of the match that game was when Milos fired a 142 mph rocket for an ace and then the next serve made a costly error. At deuce Roger gets just enough of his racket on the return for the ball to get over the net. Milos rushes in but bungled his shot and hit it high and Roger had closed into the net and hit a winner volley and earn a set point. Milos double faults the set away and Roger gives a big fist pump as he walks to his chair.
Second set Roger serves first and goes down 0-30 right off the bat, Milos starts nailing some groundies and puts the pressure on Roger. But Roger fights back and serves the game out with an ace up the T. Milos fires back with a love hold. Again, Roger has a tight service game but the point of that game was when Roger on a second serve does the old serve and volley and catches Milos totally by surprise. Milos is so caught off guard he hits the next shot into the net. Roger closed out the game with a flourish hitting a high backhand smash, yes Milos, that just happened!
Milos was still struggling with his first serve in the second set giving Roger freebies and second serves. Milos goes from 40-15 to deuce in his next service game but Roger misses his first bp chance by hitting a center court ball out. Milos closes out the game and we go to 2 all.
At 2 all Roger hit a fantastic serve down the T and after a good return Milos rushes the net but Roger hits such a low shot back it literally hits right in front of Milos’ feet. It was a fantastic shot by Roger. Another good serve for 30-0 but Milos finds some returns and the game goes to deuce. Roger hits a great body serve and Milos hits it out; Roger closes the game for 3-2. Milos holds next despite a low first serve percentage and it’s 3 all.
Roger needs a solid hold to stay in front but goes down 0-30 after a cracker return from Milos and Roger missing a shot. Roger has a great serve to go 15-30 to 30 all and another good serve gets him to 40-30 and another great serve gets him the game to hold.
4-3 Federer. In the 8th game Milos serving, Roger gets behind right away but claws back from 30-0 to deuce to 40-30 to deuce again. There were several challenges in this game, one on a serve and one on a return but Roger kept working away and was rewarded with an Ad Federer and break point. Roger hit a good backhand return but Milos countered with an even better shot so it was back to deuce. A good serve was matched by Roger with a good return. Milos hits to Rogers backhand and heads into the net while Roger stretches for the shot. Roger comes up with a great passing shot down the line. Ad Fed again. Lots of pressure on Milos and his first serve is out. The second serve is a high kicker to Roger’s backhand, he is on his tip toes and it is almost bouncing over Roger’s shoulder. Again, Roger gets just enough of his racket on it to push it down the line for a winner and a break! 5-3 Roger.
Serving out the match, Roger goes down 0-15 after a great rally. The next serve goes up the T which had been a dependable point getter all night. Milos hits the return into the net for 15 all. A good serve and Roger comes in and boom puts the ball away for 30-15. Roger gets his next serve in but nets the shot in the rally so 30 all now. Roger goes to the serve up the T and Milos returns out. First match point was not to be, but at the deuce serve Milos again nets the return and it is match point 2 for Roger. Roger closed the match with a great serve and volley, hurray!
It was a strong performance by Roger against a dangerous opponent. Roger came out with an attitude “you will have to go through me to get past me” and Milos was not up to the challenge. It was a masterful performance with great shot making, pin point serving and aggressive net play. Bravo Roger and off to the finals again!
Federer Makes it Sixinnati
Match day today was hot and humid; quite a change from the drier weather most of the week. The air was soupy and the clouds were low, gray and glowering at times. The weather report was not favorable, big storms to the south but the weather held and despite threatening skies the rain held off for the match. The crowd was decidedly pro Roger. David was greeted with polite applause but Roger got a loud and excited roar.
David played a really well. He was hitting big shots, deep groundies and painted lines often. He tracked down drop shots from Roger that lesser players would have succumbed to. He came into net, hit solid volleys and served overall pretty well. As the score line in the second set shows David was aggressive and wasn’t willing to step aside and give Roger the title without a fight. You have to admire that given the totally lopsided head to head between the two of them.
Roger came out swinging as well though. First set he served well and picked up his attacking mode from the Raonic match. David hit some excellent passing shots that took Roger to school down the line and cross court leaving Roger to lunge and swing with futility. Under the tutelage of Stefan though, Roger kept coming in and coming in. Despite the lost points he didn’t stop. Sometimes serve and volley, sometimes second serve and volley, sometimes dropping the ball short or short angled. I have to admire this rediscovered aspect of his game and the commitment Roger showed all week on aggressively taking the net whatever the results. Overall, it was definitely a more positive strategy than a negative one and in every match the aggressive Roger coming in made the opponent think twice and often miss when they saw him charging in.
The second set was a weird affair. Roger was so off it was hard to believe and it was totally out of nowhere. At one point he almost took out the umpire with an errant backhand that he was so ready to clock but it went startlingly wide. The serve was gone the ground strokes deserted him and the crowd was taken out of the picture. 6-1 Ferrer; it just took the breath out of you. Roger tromped off to the bathroom for a bit of a conversation in the mirror I figured. “You are not going to lose to David, not today or any day”, “You better pick up the pace here Roger or you will be sitting in the bridesmaid area again”, things like that you know.
When Roger came back on court the spine was tall, the eyes were stern and he seemed more settled in his commitment. His serve reappeared and he started hitting his shots. Thank goodness! The set took on a totally different tone and one David was not feeling good about. The scoreboard pressure was back on David to produce more magic and it just wasn’t there for him to conjure anymore. Roger took control and broke and he never looked back. The end of the match was a bit anticlimactic with two back to back hawkeye calls. On match point Roger waited on the baseline across the court from me watching the tv screen for a call on a groundstroke of Ferrer’s and when it showed that David’s shot went long Roger raised both hands above his head and shook them in celebration.
The ceremony was presided over by Roger’s good friend Mary Jo Fernandez and was punctuated by a visit from Roger and Mirka’s twin girls and Roger blew kisses to them while he waited to get the trophy. As Mary Jo announced Roger as the winner and 6th time champion Roger and 80th career title Roger slapped the tops of his thighs with excitement and anticipation. Roger remarked that his girls will be glad he got the “big trophy” this week rather than the “little one” they remarked on last week after losing the finals to Tsonga! He also said he didn’t know how long he would continue to come to Cincinnati which was a sad thing to hear especially for us who love this tournament so. After his interviews he walked to a balcony overlooking an adoring crowd and waved with the trophy in hand. I was waiting with some RF.com members at the players exit and after one of the more reasonable waits of the week Roger came out to sign and greet the crowd.
He was so happy, beaming with smiles and full of excited chatter. He came right to our encampment and we greeted him with heartfelt congratulations and cheers. He signed he took pictures and asked us if we had been too hot waiting for him with the humid weather, so thoughtful! It was a very fun time together and he was generous with his time and many of us wished him the best for the US Open. Roger then began to wend his way down the barrier and then across the walkway and up the other side. Fans were waiting, trying to be patient but there was also great excitement. When he finished his duties on the other side from us he walked away from my friends and I to the exit. As he hit the gates the crowd shouted a congratulatory cheer and Roger turned and waved right back at our group and said bye. It was a peRFect week.