A sluggish match from the GOAT here as he defeated Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the third-round of the Australian Open. The victory sees Roger record his 300th Grand Slam match win of his career and he's first man ever to reach the milestone.
Rare milestone aside it was a low quality encounter from both players with Roger's serve and experience getting him over the line after Dimitrov again faded at the business end of the match. Next up is David Goffin who saw off Dominic Thiem in 4 sets earlier in the day.
Quick Match Recap
Dimitrov won the toss and elected to serve, holding after Roger pegged him to deuce. During the change of ends the rain began to fall and play was delayed for about 10 minutes whilst the roof closed and the courts were dried. On resumption Roger held to 30 and both players exchanged holds as the scoreboard moved to 3 all. In game 6 Roger took the level up a notch, setting up 2 break points with a majestic backhand down the line before pressuring the serve to force the error to break. Roger then held for 5-3, missed a set point in Dimitrov's next service game before serving out the set for 6-4.
Into set 2 and the level from both players dropped off a cliff with neither of them playing with any intensity. Dimitrov was doing more to force the issue though and he broke early to lead 3-1. Typically Roger had an immediate chance to break back but wasted the chance as Dimitrov held for 4-1. More break points came the way of the Swiss in Dimitrov's next service game but again he couldn't convert and Grigor held for 5-2; he then served out the set to love to take it 6-3.
The match was now a best of 3 shootout and it was Roger who made the first move – holding to 30 in an important first game and breaking to 15 to get a 2-0 lead. The break was consolidated to 15 and despite Dimitrov holding for 1-3 he didn't win another game as Roger swept the set 6-1, saving 2 break points at 5-1.
The trainer paid Dimitrov a visit at the set changeover for what looked like an elbow injury and his first serve speed dropped in the fourth. This allowed Roger to dominate things – holding his own serve easily in the third and breaking at 2-2 with a sweet backhand winner. The Swiss then saved break point en route to consolidating, failed to convert 3 more break point at 4-2 and then held to 30 for 5-3. Dimitrov was now consigned to defeat but he at least held to love to force Roger to serve for it which he did to 30 to close it out.
|Stats||Roger Federer||Grigor Dimitrov|
|1st serves in||69/112 (62 %)||76/126 (60 %)|
|1st serve points won||52/69 (75 %)||48/76 (63 %)|
|2nd serve points won||24/43 (56 %)||27/50 (54 %)|
|Fastest serve||204 KMH||210 KMH|
|Average 1st serve speed||189 KMH||186 KMH|
|Average 2nd serve speed||158 KMH||157 KMH|
|Net points won||29/40 (73 %)||17/25 (68 %)|
|Break points won||4/15 (27 %)||1/6 (17 %)|
|Receiving points won||51/126 (40 %)||36/112 (32 %)|
|Total points won||127||111|
|Distance Covered (M)||2306.7||2272.5|
|Dist. Covered/Pt. (M)||9.7||9.6|
Shot of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
A soporific match this one which isn't ideal at 5am UK time but Roger got the win which is all that matters really. Neither player produced their best tennis with Fed looking completely out of it in the second set but he regrouped quickly, got his first serve working and was ultimately too strong as the match wore on.
Winning when you're playing way below your usual level is definitely a positive to take out of this encounter and I think Roger played a solid first set, dropped of a cliff in the second with his footwork looking sluggish but picked it up in the third and fourth sets to get across the line. 4 out of 15 break point conversion not ideal but he served some very clutch stuff late on when he needed it and after winning the third set the match was never in doubt.
As for Dimitrov he looked to be suffering from some sort of elbow problem later in the match with his serve speed dropping off which gave Federer a lot more looks on the return. Prior to that happening though I don't think he reached the level of play he put in at Brisbane or ever really looked like he had the gameplan to win it. Perhaps it was one of those matches where both players play according to their opponents level and with neither of them feeling ‘on it' the quality suffered as a result. Conditions changed quite a lot too with the roof closed too so Roger has now played a night match, a day match in high heat and one under a closed roof with cooler temperatures which likely didn't help either man's cause.
These are the great matches to win, I tell you that, because you're not going to feel 100% great every single time when you go out there. But important is to win those matches maybe where you felt a little off almost sometimes. I kind of was out of it a little bit in the second set. I was able to bounce back and find a way. We'll see now how the conditions are the next round because Goffin can play very, very well. Got a lot of respect for him. Know him well. I think the conditions are definitely going to help or not help, depending on what it's going to be like.
Predictions vs. Goffin
Next up is David Goffin who defeated Dominic Thiem in 4 sets. Impressive win for the Belgian who had struggled with the heat a round earlier. Roger leads the H2H against Goffin 3-0 but the Belgian has caused him some problems in the past due to how well he strikes the ball on both wings and gets around the court. It will be very hard to hit through him if conditions are slower so Roger will need to come up with some good stuff from the back of the court and find creative ways to win points. Goffin reminds me a bit of Gilles Simon who of course played that epic 5 setter against Roger back in 2011 so it could be an interesting one.
I'll pick Fed to win but he'll need to pick his level up from today. Hopefully the Dimitrov match was his one bad match of the tournament 🙂