Roger Federer is through the round-robin stage undefeated for the 10th time at the ATP World Tour Finals as he came from a set down to defeat Marin Cilic with a 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-1 ahead of Saturday's Semi Final.
The win sees the Swiss take top spot in Group Boris Becker and extend his hard court winning to streak to 13 matches dating back to Shanghai in early October.
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and elected to receive; fashioning three break points after a nervy Cilic start but he couldn't convert as the Croat held for 1-0.
Roger levelled for 1-1, and both guys began to go toe to toe from the baseline with some crisp hitting. From game 3 to 8 no player lost more than two points on serve but at 4-4 Roger held another break point chance but still could not break through. The set concluded with a tie-break.
With Fed having all the chances in set one, he fired down a double fault at 1-1 to hand Cilic a mini break and although he was able to level at 4-4 Cilic kept his composure to take the tiebreak 7-5.
Roger started set two in style, hitting three aces in a row en route to holding for 1-0. A breakpoint then presented itself on the Cilic serve, but again Roger couldn't capitalise. He then got himself in trouble of his own, having to save a break point after being 40-15 up. That seemed to help take his game up a notch, and at 5-4 he pinched the set when Cilic tamely dropped serve to 15.
Into the decider and Roger held to 30 before breaking thanks to a big run around return. The break was consolidated to love, and although Cilic came through a tough service game for 1-3, that was the last time he'd trouble the scoreboard as Fed's forehand started to make it's mark as he broke once more to take the set 6-1.
|Roger Federer||Marin Cilic|
|1st Serve||69% (64/93)||51% (50/99)|
|1st Serve Points Won||77% (49/64)||70% (35/50)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||66% (19/29)||55% (27/49)|
|Break Points Saved||100% (1/1)||67% (6/9)|
|Service Games Played||15||14|
|1st Serve Return Points Won||30% (15/50)||23% (15/64)|
|2nd Serve Return Points Won||45% (22/49)||34% (10/29)|
|Break Points Converted||33% (3/9)||0% (0/1)|
|Return Games Played||14||15|
|Return Points Won||37% (37/99)||27% (25/93)|
|Net Points Won||86% (12/14)||46% (6/13)|
|Service Points Won||73% (68/93)||63% (62/99)|
|Total Points Won||55% (105/192)||45% (87/192)|
Thoughts on the Match
It wasn't easy. I mean, look, it's a fast court. It's indoors. We've seen it now: when you miss a few too many opportunities, you can really pay the price at this tournament. So we've seen some swings of momentum in a lot of the matches this week. I think in the beginning I was slightly overaggressive in the first set on some crucial points rather than maybe being patient. I was able to turn that around late in the second set. Then just had a much better feeling in the third set. Maybe also Marin's level dropped, I'm not sure. But definitely was dangerous there for a while.
I think the above says it all with no further input required 😀 But anyway I thought it was the best match of the event so far for Roger as he came from a set down to move into the semifinals with a peRFect record. It would have been easy for him to play this one at half pace given it was a dead rubber, but he stuck around, and after saving the breakpoint in set two raised his level above Cilic's to come through at a canter.
Ok, it still wasn't the cleanest match where everything he touches turns to gold but he fought hard, and by set three he'd found the range on his forehand which helped him get into a positive on the Winner:Unforced Error ratio for the match.
On the flipside, the backhand is looking a little error prone, but I do think the ball gets onto you quickly here which is why we see high unforced error counts across most matches. Luckily his slice is ultra-effective when he hits it aggressively so there are plenty options for him out there.
Other than that the serve has been clutch all week too, and he faced just the one break today, so I think he's looking good ahead of the semi-finals. He's not pulling up any trees with his performances yet and seems a bit frustrated with some of his play and overall shot choice/decision making, but he's still winning and is now 14-1 vs Top 10 this season and on a health winning streak on indoor hard courts.
Predictions vs. Goffin
Next up is Goffin who crushed Thiem in Thursday's Group B second place decider. That's the result I expected as Thiem has looked all at sea here and Goffin has a pretty good indoor record.
Roger dominated the H2H against the Belgian 6-0 and their closes match was actually their first back in 2012 at the French Open. Since then Goffin hasn't been able to find any sort of success. He's said in press that he's going to try a different approach here in London but who knows what that will be. Everyone has a plan until they get hit in the face so if Roger can start with some early body blows I can't see Goffin posing too many problems. He'll no doubt have one eye on the Davis Cup too whereas Fed has potentially just six sets left to play in 2017.