ATP Masters 1000Cincinnati MastersRoger Federer

Federer Fends Off Monfils to Make Cincinnati Quarters

Another tough match in Ohio for the GOAT but another big win as he defeated enigmatic Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-4 4-6 6-3 to move into the Quarter Finals where he'll face Andy Murray.

Roger has played a string of 3 set matches in the last 2 weeks and he couldn't buck the trend last night as Monfils pushed him pretty hard before the Swiss finally got over the line in 1 hour and 48 minutes.

So far in this hardcourt swing Fed hasn't been able to steamroll his opponents like he did in his prime but he's winning matches by staying mentally in the moment and playing point for point. This is very pleasing to see as it shows he's still up for the fight on any given day. He's also holding up well physically after a hectic schedule which just shows how much work he puts in during the off season and his training blocks.

Quick Match Recap

Federer Disgust

Three unforced errors and a tame volley later and Roger found himself down an immediate break which was the worst start imaginable. A reprieve presented itself in Monfils's opening service game but Roger couldn't convert and Le Monf held for 2-0. However a speedy love hold meant the Frenchman was serving again just minutes later and this time Fed took full advantage, moving in behind a shortball and hitting a punishing forehand to level at 2-2.

With Monfils's early work undone he fired down a double fault to drop serve again and Fed was into a 4-2 lead. Like we've seen in a couple of matches lately he again failed to consolidate, firing down a double fault of his own to hand the break straight back in disappointing fashion.

Both players then exchanged holds as Roger steadied the ship for a 5-4 lead before breaking for the third time in the set to take it 6-4. Topsy turvy to say the least and one that featured 5 breaks in just 10 games.

Into the second set and Monfils really decided to turn up the heat on his groundstrokes which casued Federer a whole world of problems. The Frenchman saved a break point at 1-2 and then began to pile pressure on the Federer serve.

At 3-3, Fed found himself down 0-30 and in deep trouble. Monfils then hit a shot that was called out, Umpire Carlos Bernardes discouraged him from challenging but hawkeye later proved the ball was in. 15-30 should have been love 40 but Roger dug in to reel off 3 more points to hold for 4-3.

It looked like that could be a big moment in the match but in Roger's next service game he ran into yet more trouble, this time dropping his serve and throwing his racquet in disgust. Monfils then held to 30 to level the match. A low quality set from both here and Gael made just 47% of first serves.

Third set shoot-outs at Masters 1000 level are always difficult to call but with Fed serving first he had a marginal advantage. It was nearly wiped out in his opening service game though as he again had to save a break point with some clutch play. 2 more break points came the way of Monfils at 1-1 but Roger pulled off another great escape to lead 2-1. A huge hold here that ultimately won him the match.

Roger had been quite vocal all match, throwing his racquet, arguing with Bernardes over a challenge and at 3-3 he spanked a ball straight out the stadium in frustration. Strangely that seemed to elevate his level as he pulled off a stunning slam dunk smash on the next point en route to holding then broke to lead 5-3 playing the best return game I've seen in a while. Serving it out wasn't an issue either, as a couple of serve and volley changeups won him cheap points as he closed it out 6-4.

Match Stats

G.Β Monfils R.Β Federer
Aces 7 4
Double Faults 8 5
1st Serve % 49% 60%
1st Serve Points Won 29/45 (64%) 37/52 (71%)
2nd Serve Points Won 22/46 (48%) 18/35 (51%)
Break Points Saved 5/9 (56%) 3/6 (50%)
Service Games Played 14 15
1st Return Points Won 15/52 (29%) 16/45 (36%)
2nd Return Points Won 17/35 (49%) 24/46 (52%)
Break Points Won 3/6 (50%) 4/9 (44%)
Winners 27 34
Unforced Errors 35 33
Net Points Won 07-Dec 26/44
Return Games Played 15 14
Total Service Points Won 51/91 (56%) 55/87 (63%)
Total Return Points Won 32/87 (37%) 40/91 (44%)
Total Points Won 83/178 (47%) 95/178 (53%)


Thoughts on the Match

Federer defeats Monfils Cincinnati

I thought I returned pretty well tonight… much better than I have in my previous matches. That's really what kept me calm throughout the match. I tried to come forward because the conditions are quite fast here. I think that was a good tactic out here tonight.

Another impressive win from Fed here and he keeps finding ways to win matches that are easily losable if he wasn't fully committed to the cause. I think it's safe to say this was definitely an improvement on the Tsonga and Pospisil match too in terms of overall level. Fed did much better at returning the Monfils serve and he is still moving fantastically well. I thought his legs might not be the freshest but he had plenty of running in them last night when he needed them. He can also jump about 10 feet in the air for a smash, not bad for an old man πŸ˜€

He also played much better in the extended rallies, winning 8 more points than Monfils in rallies between 5-9 shots and 4 more in rallies over 9 shots. Both wings didn't break down under pressure which is a good sign. That will be key against Murray.

I guess from a fans perspective the most pleasing aspect is that Fed is battling his opponents and winning this year. When he had the back problem last year leaving it all out on court wasn't really an option as he couldn't do what he needed to. This year he's fit and is dogging it out. Clearly the competitive fire is ever present and I think that gives him a legitimate shot at any tournament he enters especially if his game catches fire. This guy is easily the most talented player in the game so if he can fuse JesusFed levels with that will to win then he is tough to beat even at 33.

Predictions vs. Murray

Federer Murray Aussie Open

I'm happy for him that he's playing [well] again. He was close against Tsonga last week… could have had a run there. That's why I know the danger of this match tomorrow. I think it was a huge match for him to beat Isner. Those are the kind of matches you need to win to get going again. I know I'm in for a tough one.

Next up is Murray who saved match points to beat Isner and record one of his biggest wins in a while. After having a decent French Open Murray's form tailed off again after he was dimissed by Nadal in the Semi Finals. It's been a tough 12 months for him really after surgery but I think this win will do his confidence good and he is definitely a big danger for Fed.

In 3 set matches on hard courts Murray has always proved a handful and they've met twice in Cincinatti, the score tied at 1-1. It looks to be playing a little slower this year than it will have in 2009 (Fed win) and 2006 (Murray win) though and I think that favours Murray's playing style.

I give Fed a 50/50 chance of winning this one. He's had plenty matches which is a good thing in terms of USO prep but could be a negative for this particular encounter as he'll need to be physically on tip top form.

Top level Fed schools top level Murray but it's not always as simple as that and their matchup is a weird one sometimes. Federer, see's Murray as a bit of a spoiler who just grinds, or at least he used to based on remarks over the years. That has meant he played matches like he thought Murray didn't deserve to be even on the other side of the net :lol:. Perhaps his view has changed since Murray joined the Slam Winners club though so there's probably some more respect.

I'm interested to see how the net play works out too here, as Murray will be the best passer he's played in a while. It wasn't peRFect vs. Monfils but it still won him plenty points. I remember Roddick tried to employ a net rushing game against Murray once in Doha and it backfired miserably. Clearly Fed approaches and volleys way better than Roddick but he will still need to pick his spots well.

Win or lose I don't think this match will be too big a deal for Fed as he will have a very good idea of where his game sits ahead of Flushing Meadows. A win gives him a good shot at the title, but a loss won't really hit his confidence too much I don't think unless it's a real ass whooping which I can't see.

I'll pick Murray in three. 6-4 2-6 6-4.


Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or writing about tennis I play regularly myself and have a keen interest in tactics, equipment and technicalties of the sport.

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  1. I cannot reiterate what a champion and warrior this guy is on court. He looks let weary and tired and frankly isn’t playing consistently well and is bound to (in my opinion) come up short in a match here in Cincy but he keeps fitting for wins rather than resting for the USO. I think he’s trying to find that one match he plays really well and it’s the way he wants but he still hasn’t found what he’s looking for. He’s really a champion’s champion.

  2. I have to disagree with your predictions as murray is in terrible form. I do think that it will be in 3 sets but an advantage to roger as he’s been in much better form but murray can take advantage of the fact that federer has been playing 4 three setters in 2 weeks. Hopefully fed comes out on top 7-5 3-6 6-4

    1. Maybe, I just feel like Murray’s win from match point down could allow him to kick on. Matches like that can do wonders for a players confidence. Of course I want Fed to win but the result isn’t going to be a USO deal breaker for him.

  3. So more wins now than in all of 2013. 30 HC Wins. Now the 10th cons. Hard court tournament where Roger has made the QF or better…… This guy is impressive πŸ™‚

    This is the first time you actually are picking Fed to lose since 2012 FO SF v. Novak huh? (I could be wrong lol). But Fed has said this match doesn’t matter. Hopefully Roger can pull of Top 10 win #10 and level the H2H tonight. I think if he wins tonight, he will FINALLY win the final! Good thing is the SF are day matches (both of them). Murray is a dangerous opponent, but Roger can beat him if he plays aggressive and returns well.

    But Roger has more wins than anyone this year, has made the most finals this year, is the most consistent this year, and these 3rd set wins clearly show his mentality.

    Jonathan, what is happening to Novak?! :p

    1. Could be, just a feeling I had but I think it’s a coin flip really. Fed hasn’t been playing amazingly well and Murray is the type of guy who exploits that. If you look at when Murray has beaten Fed, it has always been when Fed’s overall level has been below par.

      Djoker has given up on tennis and become a member of One Direction. He is more bothered about the celebrity lifestyle these days. Needs to get his house in order before USO starts. I think he will bounce back though.

      1. So funny Jon about Novak. Now when he will become a father, maybe he and HIS dad will have more respect for the way Roger (and Mirka) handle tennis life with family life. But I do agree with you, Novak will bounce back at USO. I don’t think he will win it, but he will get far…

      2. No excuses for Novak though. Roger got married and then schooled Rafa on clay in Spain, went on to win the French Open, break the record with the epic Wimbledon win over Andy Roddick, and then won Cinci…..

        So Rafa is announcing his USO decision Mon/Tue… What do you guys think?

  4. Its Really Nice to see Fed more vocal and quite animated. He clearly has the desire to win even after so much tennis. I think he was more frustrated himself on second set (especially after he had missed some chances)….Also we shouldn’t forget Monfolis played serious and way better tennis after second set…Its Nice to see Fed finds way….

    As far as Murray, I think Fed started to give him bit more respect after 2012 final…I hope Roger can comes thru though not sure how much fresh he is still…..I really wish he gets 22nd Masters and 18th GS this year…

    1. Yeah I think 2012 was prob when he stopped stopped the sly digs. Was funny stuff though, because British Media sort of treated Murray on a par to Fed even though he had won zero slams so I think Fed just thought let’s restore some sense to this debate. Like when Murray was favourite for Aussie Open one year and Fed psyched him out πŸ˜†

    1. Interesting stat, I didn’t know the MPH number, although of course I know Murray’s 2nd serve is a joke, has been his whole career. I think the match will depend on how well Federer takes care of Murray’s weak 2nd serve. He needs to dictate play on it.

      1. The thing is that the poor Murray’s second serve goes against the poor Federer’s return.

  5. Great Review as usual Jonathan. Saw some of the match on ESPN2 late. Was very impressed with the Slam dunk. Thought the legs would have been too tired for that. Betterer Federer is also a Leaperer. I see you give him a 50/50 chance Jonathan. I am so hoping he can pull this one off over Muzza.

  6. Jonathan, how can you start a match recap with “Three unforced errors and a tame volley later…”?

    You had me scrambling up and down for an actual start.

      1. Your first paragraph starts “Three unforced errors and a tame volley later…”.
        Later than WHAT? There has to be a starting event as a reference for something to happen “later”.
        Just thought it was a weird way to start the paragraph.

  7. Oh, Stan, what have you done???!!!

    Didn’t see Roger’s match, but got out of a very late bath to find it at 6-4 4-6 2-2 or whatever it was, and decided I couldn’t stand the stress!

  8. Interested to see, bearing in mind the comments last week, that Cincy is playing the middle of the draw first today, not top *or* bottom. So obviously it’s not obligatory to have all the top half play before all the bottom half πŸ™‚

  9. Hi all,

    Nice article as allways Jonathan.
    I just saw the first set and then fell asleep, as I was feverish.
    The break in the first game did not worry me. Another 3 setter did.
    Anyway, I saw the highlights and Roger is moving pretty well.
    I think Murray might have it easy if Roger comes to offten to the net and Fed’s BH really worries me.
    What do YOU say about the BH????
    Its quite refreshing to see the fighting spirit in Roger, but I’m a bit concerned because in the last 2 weeks he kinda had to grind it out.

    I feel as Roger is there to bring the best in his opponent. Think about it. He “helped” Hewit win Brisbane, Stan win his first Masters 1000, Djokovic winning Wimbledon and now Tsonga.

    Maybe he will “help” Murray now.

    I hope not. I really want Roger to win Cincy. Or lose it if that will make him win the US Open.

    Thats all from me. Have a nice one and ALLEZ ROGER FEDERER!

    1. Hey Tilas, your comment about Roger “helping” opponents win is a GOAT remark πŸ™‚ Sometimes I wonder the same. They should be “grateful” to Roger. He is in the final to win for himself and ends up making the opponent win πŸ™‚

      This will sound very stupid, but I am going to say it anyway…. Rafa has 27 ATP 1000 titles. If Roger won the 3 finals against Novak, Stan and Jo Willy, he would be at 24 !!! And if he would make the Cincy final and win, he would even be on 25 πŸ™‚ Hey… a girl can dream right?? Ah, anyway, still possible to make the difference in titles less….

  10. Great volleying and clutch serving gets Roger the win. A big boo to you for picking Murray over Roger πŸ™‚
    I think it is possible since Murray has owned Fed in the best of 3 for the last few years on hard courts. All the same, I’m picking Roger to win in 3. Hopefully, he will keep our stress levels down by winning in 2. πŸ™‚

  11. Can barely keep up with the fast and furious pace of Feds matches, even when they go to 3 sets! And then you throwing out great reviews in a daily basis! Gd work both!! Take note Nadull of the 16 second average between points!!!
    Fed clearly in overdrive in this game, hugely adrenalised in a very hot and sweaty atmosphere, he was not going to lose and I am hoping he can bring that tonite!
    Bizarrely I thought his ground game was better than his volleying altho loved the Lebron smash!!
    As he said still not getting enough free FH points with the new stick, work in progress but he came over the BH much better.
    Realistic re Muzza who will be totally up for this after AO. There has always been a bit of needle here!
    Allez Fed, hope you can come thru in 2 sets. Anymore tonight and Muzza’s legs might hv more in them! But I always hope for Rog!

  12. Hey guys, just want to say 3 things about Roger:
    1) Isn’t it funny? Last year around this time the tennis pundits were saying Roger would maybe not even be in the top 10 or even top 20 this year. Now he is nr 3, has maybe even a chance to become nr 2 if Rafa keeps falling down….. If Novak keeps this disinterested attitude towards tennis… who knows…. could Roger be even nr 1 at the end of the year πŸ™‚
    2) I love that he is more vocal now and grinds matches and wins “ugly”. He has been perfect for more than 10 years, now even he is aloud to be less perfect. No more Mr Nice Guy. He has played (and is still playing) beautiful and magical matches. Now if winning means grinding and playing ugly, then I would say, go for it Roger. Winning solves everything πŸ™‚
    3) Can you remember last year?? Whenever there was a rally over more than 4 shots, you would know for sure that Roger would lose it. NOW…. he is winning a lot of rallies of 20 or even 27 shots. That for me is the best thing that has changed since last year πŸ™‚

  13. Oh, forgot to say, nice post Jon. I agree with you, 50/50% chance for both. Andy looks scary scary good, but Roger is not some push over, could end up beating Andy. Anyway… will be 3 sets who ever wins it…. Hopefully Roger. If Roger ends up losing tonight…. he better win USO πŸ™‚ I also think USO will be between Roger and Andy. So Andy can have Cincy as long as Roger can have USO πŸ™‚

      1. Uhm… yes Ajay, didn’t you notice that I was talking about Roger πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
        Oh come on, give me a break, Andy is so difficult to beat. He runs after every ball, gets it too and makes a winner. I get just tired of seeing him play, let alone how it must be to actually play him πŸ™‚

        But what about our guy?? 4-1 down and STILL winning the 2nd set. And again…. I keep repeating this…. people actually wanted Roger to retire last year because he was losing a lot.
        Trust me, the dude will play on till he is 40 or older. You know the male Date Krumm πŸ™‚

  14. Come on Jonathan, admit you knew it was Federer in 2 but you didn’t want to say it…
    I read it in your blog mind…!!!
    Waow!!! Roger, just Waow!!!

  15. Waaa… what on earth happened there? Last time I looked (I was busy trying to do some work) Fed was 1-4 down in the second, and then he comes back to win? Did Andy choke? Get injured? Oh well, guess I’ll just have to wait for Jonathan’s report. ‘Night, folks …

      1. He was better than good. His ground strokes were very very solid for the most part. Returned a high percentage of serves, came out in front in baseline rallies of all lengths- short, medium and long, some fabulous defence. Apart from a game or two of poor volleying and a service game lapse, it was a great great match.

  16. Oke guys, really happy that Roger won. Deserves this title soooo much. But again…. almost same situation at Toronto. Roger has the last SF at 9 o’ Γ§lock English time, which means if he wins…. still not a full day to recover for the final….. And somehow…. I can see Benneteau making the final…..

    Come on Roger…. 2 matches to go and then you have a full deserved week off. If for some reason you lose, no worries, you have been SO great this far….

  17. He is playing second at night tomorrow in the semis. His first match here was a day match.And the next two night.Toronto masters anyone ??

  18. Didn’t see the match but Fed beats Murray in straights. Impressive result. Weird tournament. Wawrinka falls to Benneteau and Robredo out after ousting Djokovic. Hope this isn’t catching for Fed. Consistency needed to make it all the way..

  19. Federer’s defeat of Murray, No. 9 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, also makes him the first player in history to win 10 matches against Top 10 players in 10 different seasons.

    He is leading this year with 10-4

    If Federer started to win (almost) everything on 2003 (11 years back), it means within 2003-2014, only 1 season that he was not won at least 10 matches against Top 10 (perhaps 2013?). And still there are some people saying that Federer can only win on weak era. Pffft…

    Come on Roger!

  20. Murray in 2013 exhibition: “What’s with the Federer shirt?”
    Jimmy Carr: “What? He’s a great player”
    Murray: “Not anymore he’s not”

    2014 Head to head: Fed 2-0 Murray


  21. His match against Le Monf is a weird one to say the least. I manage to catch replay, found that Roger made a few weird mistakes but he manage to get 1st set under his belt. 2nd set mostly he was the one who blinked first, nearly wanted to smash his racquet. Then he goes on pissy mood in third with classic I am GOAT who hates Hawk-eye – Challenge I said. The manner he said it, such a boss. Overall happy that he dug deep and get a W. I am quite impressed with his mental of late and he manage to get his BH in order minus some weird mistakes overall its a good match. Just not too happy that he schedule in evening match though…oh Roger.

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