Phew close one here for the GOAT but he used his experience to see off an inspired Ivo Karlovic 7-6(8) 3-6 6-3 to make his 11th Basel final and setup a tie against red hot David Goffin who is 43-2 since Wimbledon.
Like I said in my prediction I fancied Karlovic to get a set but what I didn't expect was him to serve as well as he did. I knew going in Ivo was going to serve a lot of aces but in this one he managed 33. That's more than a sets worth of free points. Insane. As usual though Fed stayed calm under pressure and used the Basel crowd to his advantage to get the all important break in the decider and then never looked back.
Just another clutch display from the GOAT with some solid serving of his own in the first set breaker and a refusal to get frustrated when he dropped the second set. A very pleasing match and his fantastic record against huge servers continues!
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and elected to serve holding to love to kick things off. Karlovic held comfortably too before Fed reeled off another love hold to lead 2-1. In the next game the Swiss got his first sniff of a break as Karlovic slipped to 0-40 but some huge serving got him out of trouble. Not much Fed could do really as it was imperious stuff from the 6ft 11″ 35 year old.
The pattern of both players holding serve comfortably resumed until 4-4. Here Fed hit a first serve at 40-15 that was deemed an ace but Karlovic challenged correctly as the ball was out. 2 double faults followed as Karlovic made deuce. A couple of advantage Federer / deuce points later and the Croat had a break point of his own. Only a brave second serve that landed deep in the service box from Fed stopped him taking advantage. Roger then held for 5-4 and in no time at all it was 6 games all.
Tie breaks are a lottery especially with Karlovic but Roger had won 12 of 15 in their previous encounters making him the favourite. He started in sublime style too with an unreal pickup on the volley to lead 1-0. It was Karlovic however who got the first mini break but he couldn't hang onto it as Fed broke back. The scoreboard moved along quickly and Roger was he first player to have set point at 7-6 but he missed a makeable passing shot. The Swiss then had to save his own set point en route to moving 9-8 in front and he took the set by getting the ball in play off the return then firing a backhand cross court pass for a clean winner. Great start.
The second set was almost an action replay of the first with both players holding serve easily. Karlovic was especially impressive firing down 13 aces in total. The key moment in this one came with Federer serving at 3-4. The Swiss missed a routine overhead, got blitzed by a stunning Karlovic return, shanked a forehand and then another huge return flew past him as he was broken to 15. 2 costly errors and 2 brilliant shots by Karlovic cost him his serve and the set as Dr. Ivo closed it out comfortably 6-3.
The decider was always going to be close and it was all about Roger ensuring he took care of his own service games. It was tough as Karlovic was holding serve so quickly that Roger was always under pressure but as long as he kept his side of the scoreboard moving in the right direction you fancied his chances.
I was expecting a very late break of serve at the business end of the set but it came in only the fourth game. Suddenly after looking like he couldn't miss, the Karlovic 1st serve disappeared, Roger made 3 great returns to give himself 0-40 and with the crowd cheering every first serve miss from the Croat he fired down a costly double fault to drop serve for the first time in the match. I have to say it was a big choke really as he let the crowd disrupt him. Gotta give an A+ to the Basel crowd there as they gave Roger a huge boost and made the pressure on Karlovic tell.
Roger then consolidated the break to love meaning he'd won 12 points in a row and and had a 4-1 lead. Karlovic looked forlorn on the court and although he got back into the groove in his next 2 service games he didn't get a chance to get back on level terms as Fed served it out to love 6-3 in the third. Chumm Jetzt!
|R. Federer||I. Karlovic|
|1st Serve %||64%||74%|
|1st Serve Points Won||47/55 (85%)||53/63 (84%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||22/31 (71%)||12/22 (55%)|
|Break Points Saved||1/2 (50%)||3/4 (75%)|
|Service Games Played||15||15|
|1st Return Points Won||10/63 (16%)||8/55 (15%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||10/22 (45%)||9/31 (29%)|
|Break Points Won||1/4 (25%)||1/2 (50%)|
|Return Games Played||15||15|
|Net Points Won||20/26||11/30|
|Total Service Points Won||69/86 (80%)||65/85 (76%)|
|Total Return Points Won||20/85 (24%)||17/86 (20%)|
|Total Points Won||89/171 (52%)||82/171 (48%)|
Thoughts on the Match
Another enjoyable match and something different to the usual baseline tennis we get which is always good to see. Yesterday we got lots of nice shot making and rallies vs Dimitrov and today we got the battle of the serves and mental strength vs Karlovic. A nice mix up of styles and more proof of Fed's versatility and ability to beat all comers.
I have to say Karlovic must be annoyed not to win as he probably put on his best ever serving display vs. Roger with 33 aces but still couldn't get it done. Fed just finds a way to win these types of matches by hook or by crook. I've criticised Fed many times for wanting to win playing pretty tennis and nothing else but Fed 4.0 has ground out a lot of big wins by just doing whatever it takes. Today he used the crowd to spur him on and took advantage of Karlovic letting the the loud cheers throw off his rhythm on serve
Overall I thought Fed just did a great job of holding his own serve and not letting the pressure get to him. Karlovic was just firing down bomb after bomb but aside from that one sloppy service game in the second set Roger didn't blink once. He played a great tie break in the first and then took full advantage of getting the break in the decider. That's how you win matches – out aced but never outfoxed 🙂
Predictions vs. Goffin
Roger's opponent in the final is the bang in form David Goffin who saw off Nadal's conqueror Borna Coric in 3 sets. I watched some of it and it was a low quality match but Goffin came away the worthy winner as his experience told in the end.
Roger leads the H2H vs. the Belgian 1-0 but he surprised a few people in 2012 when he took a set off Fed at the French Open before losing in 4 close sets. He's only 5ft 11″ but he's a very good ball striker who takes the ball early. He sort of reminds me of Agassi in that sense as he's not a big guy but he can inject pace and rush players with his style. His serve is also effective too for someone of that height, I thought it was a weakness but he's served very well this week and I had him down to beat Nadal had they met in the semi finals.
I'm expecting Fed's experience to get him the title here though and as long as he puts Goffin under enough pressure I think he will crack. His serve has been good this week but if he misses his first delivery he will need to red line his second serve to protect it. I see that creating plenty of double faults for Fed to feast on and get himself in front when it counts.
Goffin will probably cause Fed some problems just because of his style of play so he might push him for a set but if Fed stays sharp then he has too much game for the young Belgian. I'm predicting a similar final to the one here vs Nishikori 3 years ago. Fed in 2: 6-4 6-2 althogh I think Goffin will break his serve at least once. Allez!