Boom! Another match adding to the Federer legacy here as he fought back from 2 sets to love down for the ninth time in his career defeating Gael Monfils 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 in the US Open Quarter Finals.
What's even more impressive is that he saved 2 match points in the fourth set, which marks the first time he's ever won a match at slam level after facing them. 33 and still and still adding the achievements to his tennis scrapbook. I'm not really sure how he managed it though, but with a bit of a luck and well struck forehand he staved them off and after that he never looked back, playing at his highest level of the match in the fifth to close it out in style. Special stuff from the Swiss Maestro.
I can't argue he was aided and abetted somewhat by the Frenchman's mental lapses but when it mattered most he was clutch and didn't give up the game when many other players would have folded. It's also been a while since I've seen Roger check out of a match mentally only to find a way back into before going on to win it.
Quick Match Recap
With a full house on Ashe the Swiss started with a love hold and then forced Monfils to save 2 break points in a nervy opening service game. However Roger's good start was soon countered by Monfils, who was striking the ball cleanly and was able to break to lead 3-2. That proved a decisive break and the set soon went the way of the Frenchman 6 games to 4. Strange set really but one where Fed didn't do enough to win it as he wasn't the aggressor and aside from game 2 created zero opportunities to break.
The second set then started in terrible fashion as Roger was broken, playing a joke of a dropshot on break point to donate Monfils the game. Roger completely checked out the match mentally here, all because at deuce he hit a serve he thought was in, but Ramos insisted it was out. He was then broken and argued with Ramos during the change of ends.
Never a good sign when he's pissed off and although he did have a chance to break back Monfils held and Roger looked like he had zero interest left in the match. Again no more chances came his way as Monfils dictated play with his serve / forehand and broke Roger again to take a 2 set to love lead. Huge trouble for Darth Federer as he looked completely out of ideas.
The third set was always going to be about whether Monfils could maintain his level and whether or not Fed could actually make a match of it. Winning the third wasn't going to swing momentum for Roger but it would give him a platform to give himself a shot at the comeback.
It started peRFectly too as he broke Monfils and quickly consolidated to lead 2-0. That lead was soon eradicated though as Roger came in behind a shocker of an approach shot to drop serve at 2-1.
An immediate response was needed and luckily we got it as Fed broke again using the chip charge on break point to take it. This was one of the first big moment in the match as it showed some of the Edberg effect and reignited Fed mentally. Roger was overall playing badly from the baseline but he pulled off 2 scrappy-ish volleys to break when he needed it. It was the style of old that Edberg used to win 100's of matches; come in on a bit of a gamble, hustle the net and see what happens.
That break revived Roger and he held his next 3 service games to take the set 6-4. Game on and into the fourth which was of course the key set. To win Roger was going to need to resist Monfils's hitting and not blink on his own serve. Could he do it? It didn't look overly promising at the start I must say as Roger had to save a break point in his opening service game to level at 1-1.
Monfils is well known for his hot and cold type play and that came to the fore in game 3 as he was broken making some telling errors only to break back instantly with some heavy forehand hitting. That break put Monfils back in the driving seat as he was again serving first and was soon up 5 games to 4.
Enter the biggest moment of the match as serving to stay in it Fed slipped down to 15-40, hitting a terrible forehand at 15-30 which made it look like curtains. Somehow though it wasn't the end as he saved both of them, one a little fortunately off a drive volley where Monfils' reply drifted long and the other with a sweetly struck forehand down the line for a clean winner. 5 games all.
The missed match points unsettled Monfils badly and although he did hold a game point he fired down back to back double faults to get broken before Roger served it out to 15 to take it into a decider.
Heading into the fifth and momentum had changed big time, Roger found a second wind on serve and Monfils had gone back into his shell. When that happens there can only be one winner and Roger broke the Frenchman in his opening service game. 2-0 soon became 4-1 and Roger got the all important insurance break as Monfils faded quickly. Roger on the other hand was in the ascendency, riding high on confidence he fired a forehand drive volley winner from below waist height for 5-1 and although Monfils forced him to serve it out he did so with aplomb to take it 6-2 in the fifth; allowing Monfils only 11 points in a 27 minute final set. Allez!
|Stats||Gael Monfils||Roger Federer|
|1st serves in||98/157 (62 %)||86/151 (57 %)|
|1st serve points won||64/98 (65 %)||65/86 (76 %)|
|2nd serve points won||30/59 (51 %)||37/65 (57 %)|
|Fastest serve||137 MPH||130 MPH|
|Average 1st serve speed||114 MPH||117 MPH|
|Average 2nd serve speed||98 MPH||94 MPH|
|Net points won||17/23 (74 %)||53/74 (72 %)|
|Break points won||5/15 (33 %)||6/13 (46 %)|
|Receiving points won||49/151 (32 %)||63/157 (40 %)|
|Total points won||143||165|
Thoughts on the Match
I still thought the finish line was far for Gael. I knew I could play better tennis. I got off to a good start, so I was actually feeling alright, but then when I was down two match points, that’s when I wasn’t feeling so great anymore, I thought, ‘This is it. This is last point, man. Just go down fighting, don’t miss an easy shot and let him have it. It’s fine.
But I served well and stayed in the match and somehow turned it around. I felt great in the fifth, though. I was really starting to play better and better as the match went on, and that’s a great feeling.
So where to begin? The positives are coming back from match points down is a pretty huge deal, it should give him a ton of confidence ahead of his next match and self belief in his ability to get it done under pressure. The next positive was stamina, as Fed seemed to get better as the match went on, by the fifth he was moving much much better and although it wasn't a brutal encounter he held up very well whereas Monfils faded. Just an all round impressive victory that proves Fed is able to win matches in so many different ways. Here he was like a misfiring car in the first couple of sets but just stuck around and eventually got into a high enough gear.
The negatives? The tournament is still nowhere near won and Fed will need to play much much better if he wants a chance of winning #18. But I'm pretty sure he already knows that.
Fighting back in such fashion was hugely impressive but I have to point out that Monfils outplayed Fed in the first 2 sets and very nearly won it in the fourth. When you're the GOAT all the emphasis is on your own shots rather than the opponent but Monfils did a very good job of stifling Roger at the back of the court. He did so by pulverizing his forehand, taking all Fed's time away and by generally been an ass on court.
Feigning an injury, having full blown conversations with himself, taking ages between changeovers and constantly stopping Fed on serve by holding his hand up were all part of his act. Pure gamesmanship but it worked in his favour and very nearly won him the match. Not pleasing to see really but that's how he operates. I don't think Cilic is that sort of guy but a certain Serbian definitely is. Something to watch out for if they both make the final.
The gamesmanship type play coupled with Fed's forehand not clicking plus the wind made it hard to build rhythm and every time Fed sort of had half a chance early in the match he'd struggle to pull the trigger with anything meaningful.
From my point of view I'm just glad he got it done, the outlook was bleak in that fourth set when down match points but he pulled it out the bag; something which makes staying up till 5am for all the worthwhile 😆
Predictions vs. Cilic
I'm looking forward to playing Marin, He’s a great guy. We had a tough, tough match in Toronto. I think I needed nine match points to close him out and beat him at midnight, 6-4 in the third, so we know what to expect.
So next up is Cilic and he is arguably going to post a bigger test than Monfils did last night. Cilic has been bang in form over the past 2 Grand Slams and he's really hitting the ball huge. He's done well at the USO before but his game is more rounded these days and he definitely has the weapons to cause Fed problems. As we saw with the match in Toronto, Fed definitely can get it done but it's not going to be plain sailing.
In some ways Cilic is similar to Monfils as he has a big serve and a monster forehand but I don't think he covers the court or makes Fed play the extra ball as well as the Frenchman. That definitely works more in Fed's favour and it should mean he can come into the net more often and not have to hesitate. I guess we'll see what happens come Saturday, more urgency needed from Fed in the first set though and he definitely can't afford to get pushed around by Cilic from the back of the court.
I'll pick Fed in 4. 6-4 6-2 6-7 6-4. Allez!