Huge win for Roger here as he came from a set and a break down in the final set to see off Juan Martin Del Potro 5-6 7-6(2) 7-5 to make the semi finals at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
It was one of those matches where he was always behind on the scoreboard, looking like it wasn't going to swing his way but Roger Fighterer managed to hang in there, dusted himself down despite throwing away his serve a number of times and turned around a three game deficit in the final set to take it 7-5. Check out how things changed around:
- 1st set: 5-1 down, loses it 6-4
- 2nd set: 3-1 down, wins it 7-6(2)
- 3rd set: 3-0 down, wins it and the match 7-5
Not ideal of course but seeing Roger fight back and defeat some of his own demons in doing so was pretty special I thought and in my opinion this is probably his biggest win of the year so far as for the vast majority of the 2 hours and 26 minutes it looked like it was the type of match that would sum up his 2013 but by turning it around it looks like the type of match that might define his 2014 instead, big difference.
Quick Match Recap
This match was a winner takes all shootout so I expected Roger to show his intentions early, what I didn't expect was a nervy, low intensity opening game where he got broken and then let Del Potro streak away into a 5-1 lead.
To his credit Roger showed he wasn't just going to give the set up fighting back to reduce Del Potro's lead to 5-4 but the Argentine fired down some big first serve bombs to take it 6-4.
Roger's record when losing the first set has been less than stellar this year and when Del Potro broke his serve again to lead 3-1 the outlook didn't look too rosy but yet again Roger put the misery of dropping serve so easily behind him to break back and level at 3 all. A few close calls followed but the Swiss finally started to play that bit more freely and the set ascended into a tie break.
Roger has the best tie break record of all time statistically and it showed here as he won it with some imperious serving when he needed it most, hitting an ace on his first set point to take it 7-2
As we've seen many times this season just as it looks like Roger has put momentum in his favour he hands over his serve tamely and true to form it happened again here with Del Potro breaking to lead 3-0 and put himself just 3 service holds away from the semi finals.
I read an interesting stat from TennisTV at this point that showed the number of times Federer has been broken in first 3 games of deciding set: 2008=61%, 2009=66%, 2010=68%, 2011=75%, 2012=80%, 2013=100%.
With stats like that against him it was always going to be more a test of his character and determination rather than his ability; and this time around they were both on a par as he hit back again to level at 3 all. The more the set wore on the better Federer looked winning some key points and rallies to really give himself confidence and play freely from the baseline when he needed to.
The decider carried on with serve until 5 all when Roger finally got himself in front with a decisive break of serve and he then served it out firing down a huge ace on match point to make his 11th Semi Final appearance at the Masters Cup in 12 attempts.
|Stats||R. Federer||J. Del Potro|
|1st Serve %||65%||59%|
|1st Serve Points Won||51/64 (80%)||39/60 (65%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||17/34 (50%)||23/41 (56%)|
|Break Points Saved||4/8 (50%)||4/8 (50%)|
|Service Games Played||17||17|
|1st Return Points Won||21/60 (35%)||13/64 (20%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||18/41 (44%)||17/34 (50%)|
|Break Points Won||4/8 (50%)||4/8 (50%)|
|Return Games Played||17||17|
|Total Service Points Won||68/98 (69%)||62/101 (61%)|
|Total Return Points Won||39/101 (39%)||30/98 (31%)|
|Total Points Won||107/199 (54%)||92/199 (46%)|
Shot of the Match
Usually he'd hit a tweener here but he wants to stay in the point so badly that he uses a squash shot to hit over his shoulder. GOAT.
Point of the Match
Again supreme defence from Roger here.
Thoughts on the Match
Like I said above this was a really big win, much bigger than the victory Federer got in Paris over the Argentine as it was a real test of his desire and determination. I enjoy seeing Fed win like this, we've gotten so used to seeing him outclass opponents that it didn't matter if he shanked a few forehands but these days he has to develop new ways to win and today was one of those them.
Side note: If anyone has a stat on how many times Roger has come from a break down in a deciding set to win then send it over, it will be interesting 🙂
For the vast majority of this one it looked like a typical Federer 2013 match, playing well in parts but chucking away important service games and then fading in the decider but this one broke the pattern. Roger did get drop serve at the start of the third but this time he still had something left, that energy to track down some balls, force Del Potro to make some errors and then piece everything together to play some quality tennis to get the win.
Really that's the only thing that changed, like all of Roger's matches this year it was a rollercoaster, up and down for both players, momentum swings, Del Potro's power vs. Roger's variety it's just that this time Roger took advantage of the chances he was able to create for himself which proves how determined he is right now.
I'm still on a mini high after the victory but I think this is the most satisfying win of the year for both the fans and Roger himself, the serve clicked when he needed in the breaker and he came out with a positive winners to unforced errors ratio. It all looked like it was going to end badly but somewhere Roger found the will to win, played much better as the match went on and like he' been saying all along it really was on his racquet by the end of the third set.
Of course it wasn't the peRFect match, it wasn't JesusFed, he still shanked plenty inside in forehands on big points but it was Roger Fighterer, hustling his way through, defending like his World Tour Finals hopes depended on it (oh wait they did) and getting a hugely important victory.
Predictions vs. Nadal
I think this one is a real tough one to call, on paper the indoor advantage goes to to Federer but I get the feeling Nadal is looking to win the World Tour Finals here to ensure he has it on the resume.
The courts are certainly in his favour in London compared to the indoor of courts of yesteryear so I think it evens things up quite a bit. I've seen some of his matches and he hasn't exactly looked dominant but I also don't think he's really been pushed. He's almost quietly got through and now might be ready to pounce.
One things for sure Roger will have to play a much more solid match today as Nadal has a completely different mentality to Del Potro, he will make you pay and put himself out of sight if you hand him cheap service games.
I'm hoping Roger has taken confidence from today's match but I also hope he isn't too spent emotionally, he did look pretty overjoyed with his victory much like his Olympic Semi Final win vs. Del Potro where he had nothing left for his next match against Murray.
I think Roger can win here but I know he will have to play at a higher level than he's managed all year so far, that's not impossible but it will be difficult especially so late in the season.
The serve will have to be imperious and he must show a lot of mental strength to keep Nadal at bay who will be fighting every single point. If he can dictate the points, convert his chances and hit more winners to errors then he comes out on top, if not then he's at least put in a good showing at the year end which gives us hope for 2014. Win win. Allez!