A big win for Roger as he came from a set down to beat Denis Istomin in Basel and move into the Quarter Finals. On current form Istomin was always going to be a test and it almost went badly wrong for Federer as had he not held serve at a key moment in the final set the outcome could have been very different.
Fortunately despite flirting with disaster he managed to turn it around in some style, playing a very solid 2nd and 3rd set to progress and hopefully give himself a much needed dose of confidence for his next match.
The most important thing again here is the win and points, especially when all his closest rivals in the race to London faltered with Berdych, Gasquet and Wawrinka all losing in the first round.
Quick Match Recap
Like the match against Mannarino, Roger started well firing down a love hold to kick things off but again at 2-2 he played a poor service game to get broken. It's unreal really how similar these things play out, he gets in trouble at 15-40, plays a sweet forehand to save break point and then hits the next one into the middle of the net to drop serve. Very annoying to watch, even more annoying for the GOAT 😀
Istomin has a reasonably big serve so the one break turned out to be enough for him to close out the first set as Roger couldn't take advantage of any of his 3 break point chances which was against disappointing. Lots of chances just not that consistency on the big points early on.
It was important that Roger took advantage of serving first in the second set and it looked like he would go up an early break when at 2-1 he created another break point chance but wasted it with a passing shot straight at Istomin who volleyed into the open court.
Luckily Roger broke the habit of dropping serve when he wasted break points himself and held before finally breaking Istomin for the first time in his next service game to lead 4-2 before holding to 15. That break proved decisive as he served it out the set 6-3.
At this point Federer had finally gotten himself into the match and looked like he was finding his range but yet again wasted a break point in Istomin's opening service game of the final set.
The next game proved to be key and clearly won Roger the match as he saved 3 break points to level at 1-1. It looked like the wheels were going to come off when he botched an overhead (when do you ever see that?) at love 30 but some weak play from Istomin combined with some steady play from Roger allowed him to dig out the hold.
Buoyed by holding a key service game it seemingly brought Roger's game to life as he broke Istomin to 15 in the next game, hitting a sweet backhand down the line in the process which is always a good sign. That injection of confidence from the hold allowed him to free up and he hit some really nice shots, mixed it up, played with a good margin for error, didn't pull the trigger from a daft position and it worked very well.
Importantly he consolidated the break with a love hold to lead 3-1 and as Roger grew, Istomin faded, missing a routine overhead to drop serve again which virtually handed Roger the match. 4-1 soon became 5-1 and although Istomin made Roger serve it out he had no problems in doing so sealing it with a serve & volley changeup 4-6 6-3 6-2. Allez!
|Stats||R. Federer||D. Istomin|
|1st Serve %||56%||64%|
|1st Serve Points Won||33/46 (72%)||38/58 (66%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||25/36 (69%)||15/32 (47%)|
|Break Points Saved||5/6 (83%)||9/12 (75%)|
|Service Games Played||14||13|
|1st Return Points Won||20/58 (34%)||13/46 (28%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||17/32 (53%)||11/36 (31%)|
|Break Points Won||3/12 (25%)||1/6 (17%)|
|Return Games Played||13||14|
|Total Service Points Won||58/82 (71%)||53/90 (59%)|
|Total Return Points Won||37/90 (41%)||24/82 (29%)|
|Total Points Won||95/172 (55%)||77/172 (45%)|
Shots of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
Another topsy turvy affair with Roger looking low on confidence for most of the match but finally showing signs of life when he needed to. I'm not sure what to make of the performance as it wasn't great but from the second set onwards he did find a level of consistency that we haven't seen for a while.
It was partially helped by Istomin's lack of mental fortitude but in these scenarios Roger has to take what he can get, I'm just happy he went from netting regulation forehands to actually finding winners off both wings and playing with a level of patience. His movement has looked spot on since Shanghai really and was the same again today so when things do click he does look much much better, it's just a matter of finding the confidence to ensure his execution is there too.
One area of concern is the serve still as he does keep getting broken and not winning many cheap points which I think he needs to just to give himself a buffer and a level of freedom. Had he not broken himself in the first set then I doubt Istomin would have got the breakthrough but he did and that cost him.
But like I said, it has to be a positive as he came from a set down to win when it looked like things were slipping away from him; saving the 3 break points was critical at 0-1 in the final set and that kind of kicked him into gear which was good to see.
Predictions vs. Dimitrov / Dolgopolov
It's a matchup that many of you have been waiting and Roger finally meets Dimitrov in the Quarter Finals after he beat Stepanek in straight sets. Dimitrov won his first title in Stockholm last week so his on a high right now and clearly can't be underestimated as he's beaten Djokovic and troubled Nadal this year.
I made this post thinking the Dimitrov match was a foregone conclusion but he must beat Dolgopolov first as he's not on the same schedule as Roger. I'm guessing he will do that as Dolgo sucks but we shall see.
Should Roger play Dimitrov it's quite difficult to predict the outcome of but Roger does have a habit of silencing younger guys that come with a lot of hype, there's certainly a lot of hype around Dimitrov and there's also plenty of comparisons of his game to Roger's so there's quite a lot at stake really for both guys.
“Silencing the Protege” , “Changing of the Guard” there's no doubt the media will be all over this whatever happens and probably have a list of pre determined headlines depending on the outcome. Hopefully Roger rises to the occasion as I'm not quite ready to see him lose to Dimitrov just yet 🙂
Logically Roger would have taken confidence from today's win but as we've seen many times this year a positive win often has no effect on his game, we saw it at the French, then in Cincy and again in Shanghai. Each time he's ground out a win from the brink of defeat but looked lifeless in his next match.
Hopefully that's not the case against Dimitrov as it could spell trouble but I think he might play well and it should be an exciting match due to how they both play. Although sometimes similar styles do cancel each other out which can't be ruled out either as they have never met in tournament play before.
Federer is much more match hardened than Dimitrov and of course better in all areas, other than the 1st serve in recent months so he has the edge on paper but in terms of form then you have to say Dimitrov is a step ahead.
I guess much depends on how quickly Roger can figure out Dimitrov's game, he knows he will play aggressively and has flare so if he stays patient like he did today and manoeuvres him around I can see him getting on top of things.
It's not a complete unknown for either of them as they did practise together earlier in the year in Rotterdam but that's of course nothing like a match. Although if Dimitrov watched Federer in Rotterdam vs. Benneteau he might just fancy his chances 😛
I'll pick Federer in straights against Dimitrov but it's not a given and should he play Dolgopolov instead I'm thinking routine. Allez!