Finally some more good news for Fed fans as Roger fought back from a first set breadstick and a break down in the second to defeat Tommy Haas 1-6 7-5 6-3 and setup a potential Quarter Final showdown with Rafael Nadal.
It wasn't a vintage performance from Roger by any means, in fact it was close to being a disaster for over half the match, but a blip from Haas allowed Roger to get back into it, start finding his range and eventually pull through in what I'd say was probably one of his best matches in a long while.
Quick Match Analysis
The first set was a disaster from Roger as his game completely fell to pieces, after saving a break point in his opening service game he then missed 2 break point chances of his own with weak returning before reeling off a terrible service game to get broken himself and fall 3-1 behind.
Haas then held to 15 with some more garbage returning from Fed allowing him to consolidate and then the Swiss's game took yet another hit as he lost serve for the second time and Haas served out the breadstick 6-1.
The second looked set to be a similar story with Haas returning like a mad man breaking Federer in the first game before moving into a 3-1 lead with yet more confident play.
However a love hold from Fed sparked some life into him and despite looking frustrated as Haas took a 4-2 lead he finally got the breakthrough in the German's next service game to level things up at 4-4.
At 4-4, 30-30 Roger got too passive and allowed Haas to step into the court to setup break point but then got excpetionally lucky when Haas made a very weak error allowing Roger to make deuce before holding to lead 5-4. Roger then squandered two more break points with some poor returning before holding to lead 6-5 and at the very least make a tie break out of it.
As it turned out the breaker wasn't required as the 6-5 game was where Roger finally managed to piece together his game; hitting over his backhand on a couple of returns and subsequently winning both points, he then came up with a great return on set point before sealing it with a delicate sliced drop volley that Haas was unable to track down. Game on.
The third set was always going to be quite cagey and yet again Roger wasted a break point on the Haas serve at 2-1 up only to find himself in trouble in the very next game as Haas stepped into the court on his second serve.
Roger saved it but then double faulted at deuce gave Haas a second bite of the cherry but he found 2 decent serves to hold which was pleasing to see under pressure.
Haas then leveled up at 3-3 with a 1 minute hold and it looked like momentum might be swinging in his favour but then at 4-3 Roger started making things happen for himself with aggressive returning before hitting a sick down the line backhand to setup break point which he took and then went on to serve the match out to 30 to get a much needed victory. Allez!
Not great reading, and although it's not listed here Roger only won 1 more point than Haas the whole match.
Shot of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
Well where to begin? As the old cliche goes, it was a match of two halves :D. The first half was Roger completely not at the races, making a ton of errors, looking like he didn't want to be there and generally stinking up the joint. The second was much improved with Fed finally looking to make the plays himself and not just waiting for Haas to clown up.
Like I said in the first paragraph this was definitely the best win Roger has had in a while and I think it's the first time since 2007 that he's come back to win a match after losing the first set by such a wide margin which is pleasing to see.
I'm not going to get carried away and suggest the match has sparked something good but it's definitely a confidence boosting win (or at least it should be, but recently you can't weigh Fed up, see the Simon match at the FO for example) and Roger's game did at least click towards the end of the match.
Haas played pretty well right up until the end too but like I said in my Kohlschreiber match review he does have a habit of rolling over in the important moments and had he shown a little more clutchness at 4-4 in the second he could easily have got the job done in straights. Fortunately he reverted to type, allowed Fed back in and he was able to take advantage so from his point of view he will be disappointed to lose the match from such a dominant position.
The main positive for Roger is coming from a set and a break down to win the match and pull himself together when he needed to. The first set was a disaster for him in terms of how he played; zero feel at the net, spraying it all over and returning like he was holding the racquet in the wrong hand so he'll need to correct that for the Quarters otherwise he might not be so fortunate to get back into the match like today.
The other plus is that he at least attacked on some of his returns and they paid off helping him earn the break at 6-5 in the second and again at 4-3 in the third. I think there were still many fragile moments and passiveness, but it does at least look like he is on the right path to getting back to the Fed type level we have come to expect over the years.
Roger is a much better player when he looks to take matters into his own hands rather than just let the match pass him by so it's imperative he plays like he did in the third set consistently. Today for instance in the first set you felt like you wanted to check for a pulse on the guy which he can't afford to do in a Grand Slam but he did eventually start to make things happen for himself rather than have it handed to him which is hopefully a sign of things to come.
All in all this should be a confidence boosting win and he's at the very least avoided slipping to #7 in the world which would have made bad reading, I'm still disappointed he reverted back to the Pro Staff but as long as he keeps winning that's more important and I can't argue with his choice too much if keeps doing jus that. Allez
Predictions vs. Nadal
So the Quarter Final matchup we expected to happen is here as Nadal defeated Dimitrob in 3 sets. I haven't seen any of the match or highlights but it looks like Nadal was too good in the end but at least Dimitrov was able to take a set off him and put him under pressure.
As for Fedal 31 I'm not overly excited about the match but I do want to see the outcome as this match will serve as a good barometer. Nadal has been playing exceptionally well post Wimbledon and hasn't lost on a hardcourt for a considerable amount of time so he's clearly the favourite.
It is of course typical how he is rising whilst Roger is slumping which will allow him to take advantage here. The Haas match may have given Roger some confidence but I don't think his game or his mindset are in the type of place they need to beat someone like Nadal.
Roger is still out of form in my opinion so I'm just hoping he can put in a performance that doesn't leave him feeling down about his game or even lower on confidence. I'd personally like to him go out and play out and out attack, even if he makes a billion errors I'll be happy as he at least tried something different. And hey it might come off.
Dull in 2 is my prediction but hoping for some Fed magic.