Too good from the GOAT here as he once again got the better of Grigor Dimitrov in Basel defeating the Bulgarian 7-6(4) 6-2 in 1 hour 29 minutes.
A high quality encounter throughout we saw some top quality serving from Dimitrov but some all round genius from the Swiss as he saved 4 set points in the first set at 5-6, came up with some brilliant defensive plays in the tie break and then cruised home in the second. Easily his best tennis of the week and he's now in the semi finals where he will play Ivo Karlovic later today.
Quick Match Recap
The first set was dominated by serve with both players serving smartly when they needed to. Roger did have a break point chance in Dimitrov's first service game but the World Tour Finals hopeful took the pace of his first serve which surprised Roger and he went onto hold.
Both players traded comfortable holds until Dimitrov progressed into a 5-4 lead. There had been no real inroads for either player on the return other than Fed creating a 30 all chance at 2-2. In fact by the time Roger had levelled for 5-5 he'd lost just 2 points on serve which was imperious stuff.
With Dimitrov serving to ensure at least a tie break he found himself in trouble but Roger missed a makeable backhand pass at 30 all. The Swiss did however get his second break point opportunity later in the game but Dimitrov dug deep to hold.
Then came the game that probably won Fed the match. It started badly as he botched a volley then sprayed a forehand wide to slip to 15-40 giving Dimitrov 2 set points. With Federer 4.0 though you get clutchness guaranteed and he played a sweet forehand for 30-40 then came up with a 2nd serve ace to make deuce. Dimitrov wasn't done though and a brilliant return gave him another set point, Fed saved it before facing another set point which he saw off with an ace before holding to force the breaker. High quality stuff under pressure.
Into the breaker and Fed got off to a great start taking the early mini break. His intensity and ability to get the ball back from defensive positions seemed to surpris Dimitrov as he was rushed into making mistakes. Those mistakess saw Fed move into a 4-1 lead and despite giving one mini break back he found 2 good serves when he needed them to take it 7-4.
Dimitrov's resolve was starting to wain after the loss of the first and after holding an important first game Fed broke the Bulgarian for the firt time to lead 2-0. Hitting a sweet backhand down the line at 15-30 and then breaking after another superb point. From that moment on Fed was able to serve his way over the line, keeping his base level high and never giving his opponent a look in. Dimitrov's frustration grew and as the set wore on he looked to be all out of ideas.
He did manage to make 30 all at 4-2 to give himself some hope of a comeback but Fed served back to back aces to hold and then broke him for the second time to seal the deal. Correctly challenging on match point when a Dimitrov forehand went long. First time he's ever done that?
|R. Federer||G. Dimitrov|
|1st Serve %||57%||61%|
|1st Serve Points Won||31/37 (84%)||32/45 (71%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||18/28 (64%)||13/29 (45%)|
|Break Points Saved||4/4 (100%)||4/6 (67%)|
|Service Games Played||10||10|
|1st Return Points Won||13/45 (29%)||6/37 (16%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||16/29 (55%)||10/28 (36%)|
|Break Points Won||2/6 (33%)||0/4 (0%)|
|Return Games Played||10||10|
|Net Points Won||20/31||5|
|Total Service Points Won||49/65 (75%)||45/74 (61%)|
|Total Return Points Won||29/74 (39%)||16/65 (25%)|
|Total Points Won||78/139 (56%)||61/139 (44%)|
Thoughts on the Match
I thought the level was high throughout for both of us. I think Grigor served very well in the first, he didn't give me very many opportunities. It was a tough end to the set, with me saving set points and then the tie-break stayed close at the end, but I'm very pleased to come through there. I think overall it was a very good performance and I played my best tennis of the week so far.
Too good from the maestro here and he showed all his class when he needed it. I picked Fed in 2 and he delivered nicely playing extremely clutch at 5-6 to save 4 set points and then playing the better tennis in the breaker when he needed to.
Yet again he served very smart and was always coming forward when he had the chance. Step in, take on the drive volley, get to the net, all very attacking play that rushes the opponent and draws them into mistakes. Fed's backhand was also on song and any cross court back hand to backhand rally went in his favour. He has more power than Dimitrov on that wing and also a shorter swing. Once Fed got on the front foot Dimitrov had no real answers.
As for Dimitrov's display I thought he played very well in the first and served exceptionally well. He mixed it up on serve, using the body serve on a couple of big points and taking pace off to throw Fed off a bit. Smart stuff that got him some important points. Ultimately though he got outclassed by a guy with more options in his game and a better knowledge of the dimensions of the court. Fed's forehand is just so versatile that Dimitrov didn't really know what to do. There weren't many places he could go to on the court that brought him some respite and every time he put in a short ball Fed stepped in and finished at the net. Too good 🙂
Predictions vs. Karlovic
Next up is Karlovic who's had a very good year this year in terms of consistency and he is now back to 31 in the world. He's also served 1000 aces this season for the first time since 2007 and fired down 19 in his quarter final win against Benjamin Becker.
Always a tough player to face as he has one of the best serves in the game thanks to his height and repeatable motion. Indoors arguably makes it even better too as there are no elements at play so he's a tough opponent.
For most guys that's not something they want to play against but for Fed he's said numerous times he relishes the challenge as it's something different. Remember he started his career in the late 90's where grass was still somewhat dominated by big servers like Phillipousis, Kraijeck and Sampras etc so he has a lot of early experience against guys who's serve was an out and out weapon.
As a result of that he leads the H2H with Karlovic 11-1 and has won the last 5 meetings without dropping a single set. His sole loss came at Cincy 2008 where we know Fed's game wasn't great that year and he'd just lost to Simon in Canada the tournament previous. Fed's met Karlovic once in Basel before too back in 2007 where he got it done in 2 close tie break sets.
I think Karlovic might get a set here which makes him a danger but I'm not sure he has the belief he can beat Federer when it comes to it. Fed in 3: 6-4, 6-7 7-5. If he puts enough returns in play that force Karlovic to volley up on the ball it could even be straights. We'll see. Allez!