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
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.
|G. Monfils||R. Federer|
|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%)|
|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
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 😀
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
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.