Roger Federer is through to the last sixteen in Paris after defeating Dominik Koepfer 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 7-5 in 3 hours and 35 minutes.
The victory sees Federer make the second week of a Grand Slam for the sixty-eighth time in his career, but this is sadly the first time he's done it without fans courtside, thanks to the French Government enforcing a non-sensical 9 pm curfew.
Federer will next face Matteo Berrettini on Monday after the Italian defeated Soonwoo Kwon in straight sets earlier in the day.
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and chose sides. Koepfer elected to receive.
The Swiss managed to frame his first three groundstrokes, but they all landed in, and he won the opening point en route to holding for 1-0. Koepfer responded with a confident hold to love, with Federer failing to put a return in play.
However, after holding for 2-1, Federer created his first breakpoint in game four. Koepfer saved it thanks to a first serve + forehand combo to make deuce and erased a second followed by an ace. The German then held for 2-2.
In game five, Federer had to save a couple of breakpoints and, like his opponent moments earlier, saved the first thanks to a first serve + big forehand.
Koepfer quickly levelled for 3-3 with a love hold, but Federer was soon back ahead with a comfortable hold of his own for 4-3.
Two more break points came the way of the Swiss in game eight and despite establishing himself in the rally on both of them thanks to Koepfer second serves, he made two sliced errors to let the German escape for 4-4.
A ridiculous angled stun volley at 30-30 helped Federer hold for 5-4, and he created a set point in the next game, but a missed passing shot before Koepfer held for 5-5.
An exchange of holds meant the set resulted in a tie break, and it was Federer who went up the first mini-break, coming up with a slick return to lead 2-0.
However, the lead did not last long as Koepfer recovered it before moving into a 4-3 lead. Federer managed to hold both his service points for 5-4, and an untimely double fault from the German gave Federer two sets points.
Koepfer saved the first on his own serve, but Federer converted the second, putting away a volley into the open court to take a close opening set that saw both players win 49 points each.
Into set two, and Koepfer found himself in trouble early at 30-40, but a tame Federer return landed beyond the baseline.
A second breakpoint followed after Koepfer had missed a game point, but a body serve jammed Federer on the return.
Fortunately, a third followed, and this time Federer came up with the goods, ripping a forehand winner to lead 1-0.
Federer held to love to consolidate the break, but he dropped serve to let Koepfer back into the set in game four.
A lapse in concentration from Koepfer handed Federer the immediate re-break, but the Swiss was equally unfocused, dropping serve again as Koepfer levelled at 3-3.
The German then held to take the lead for the first time, but Federer quickly levelled at 4-4.
At 4-5, Federer slipped to deuce from 40-0 up but recovered to level at 5-5, and a further exchange of holds meant set two also resulted in a tie break.
Koepfer was the man who got the immediate mini-break, but he relinquished it quickly as Federer levelled at 2-2.
The Swiss, however, could not find his serve, losing the next four points to slip to 2-6. Koepfer converted his second set point to level it at one set all.
After a lengthy bathroom break, Federer kicked off set three by dropping serve from 40-15 up. Koepfer held to love thanks to Federer's inability to find the court for a 2-0 lead.
Federer struggled to find much success from the baseline, the German maintained his advantage to lead 4-2, but in game eight, he became a little passive, allowing Federer to break back for 4-4.
Federer held to love for 5-4 to put the pressure back on Koepfer, but he held to level for 5-5.
Another speedy hold put Federer up 6-5, and then back to back double faults helped him create a set point, but Koepfer came up with some strong serving to force yet another tie break.
A forehand wide got the tie break off to a poor start for Federer, but he recovered the mini-break and captured another to gain a 4-3 lead.
The decision to pull the trigger on a low margin forehand didn't pay off as Koepfer got back to 4-4, but Federer came up with some brilliant defence to lead 6-4 and converted his first set point to move two sets to one in front.
Set four began with both players exchanging early holds, but Federer broke through when Koepfer went just wide with a backhand for a 2-1 lead.
Koepfer decided to manually check the mark then spit on the line, which left the umpire no choice but to issue a point penalty and meant Federer started game four up 15-0.
The advantage didn't help the Swiss, though, as he missed four forehands in the game top drop serve as Koepfer levelled for 2-2.
Two well-executed drop shots then helped Federer hold for 3-3. The pair exchanged holds for 4-4 before a love hold put Koepfer 5-4 in front.
Federer handled the pressure to hold for 5-5 and then came up with one of his best games of the match to break, firing some big groundstrokes to break, which left Koepfer rueing not putting away two smashes earlier in the game. Check out the hand skills from Federer to the second smash back in play.
The Swiss then served it out to fifteen to book his spot in the fourth round.
|Dominik Koepfer||Roger Federer|
|1st Serve||95/161 (59%)||101/158 (64%)|
|1st Serve Points Won||62/95 (65%)||69/101 (68%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||41/66 (62%)||33/57 (58%)|
|Net points won||21/41 (51%)||48/67 (72%)|
|Breakpoints won||4/6 (67%)||5/14 (36%)|
|Receiving points won||56/158 (35%)||58/161 (36%)|
|Total Points Won||159||160|
|Max Serve Speed||205 km/h (127mph)||197 km/h (122 mph)|
|1st Serve Average Speed||182 km/h (113mph)||174 km/h (108 mph)|
|2nd Serve Average Speed||161 km/h (100mph)||143 km/h (88 mph)|
Thoughts on the Match
Yeah, I mean, I wasn't sure after the second set how much was left in the tank, so you know, it was a good battle until then. I feel like I needed to maybe pace myself ever so slightly at that moment, especially emotionally, of not pressing too hard and wanting it too badly. So maybe just get a bit more mellow and relaxed about things and just go with the flow a little bit, let the experiment take over.
And then see how I feel letter, as I know in best-of-five-set matches you always have moments where you feel better and worse. Yeah, that's not the question really. The question is how do I feel about winning and not if I was worried to be honest.
It was very important for me, I certainly hadn't practised for three hours 35 minutes because that is obviously pushing it. I pushed as much as I could, as we thought reasonable. But this today was I think a huge step forward for the team, and all of us. I didn't expect to be able to win three matches here.
Playing without fans I knew was going to hit me at some point. It maybe benefits players like myself who are very focused when they go to practice. It wasn't easy tonight, was unique in many ways, but I'm happy I found a way. I was playing for all those watching at home on TV.Federer on his victory over Koepfer
Another great win here for Federer, and I was very impressed that he could find the motivation to drag himself through a match with zero atmosphere. This is the first night match in Paris I've watched in full, they are dreary, and I'm sure the players will feel the same.
If we take away the zero crowd aspect, which is uncharted territory, then Roger has not played a match like this since his comeback. By that, I mean a match where the conditions are slow, and he cannot find a way to hit through his opponent, who can seemingly track down every ball.
But like he's done many times before, he found a way to come through, and while it wasn't always pretty, he showed enough of the good stuff (like the skills to get that smash back at 15-15 in the penultimate game) to record his 365th match win at Grand Slam level.
So now we have two matches where he has played at a pretty consistent level, this time for over 3 hours, and he looked pretty strong throughout. There were a few periods where you thought his legs looked weary, but then he'd pick it up again, run around some backhands to rifle home forehands, and he won 21 rallies over 9 shots to Koepfer's 15 over the course of the match.
As for Koepfer, I have not seen much of him, and I was very impressed with how well he moves. Looking at the match stats, he won 1 less point, but he's ahead in virtually all other areas, so rarely was he outplayed. His backhand was also a very dangerous shot, plus he was full of running, so Federer had a tough time finding ways to break him down. On the flip side, he's not the most likeable on-court character with many obscenities and spitting on the line, which you can do without.
- Very good mental + physical effort
- Koepfer will run down everything but not well behaved on court
- Night sessions with no crowd are abysmal
Predictions vs Berrettini
I don't know if I am going to play. I have to decide whether or not to continue playing. Is it too risky to keep putting pressure on the knee? Is it a good time to rest? Every match I have to reassess the situation and see the next morning in what state I wake up and how my knee is doing. It may be even more true after a match as long as the one tonight. Federer on a potential withdrawal
Next up is Matteo Berrettini, who won his third-round match against Korean Soonwoo Kwon in straight sets.
The Italian has had an impressive clay-court season, making the final in Madrid, and I think he is the favourite come Monday.
Federer will be coming in after two fairly long matches and must surely be thinking he's extracted precisely what he wanted from Paris, so it's time to look towards what he can do on the grass.
Still, I wouldn't be surprised to see him win another match to make the Quarter Finals, but Berrettini has a big serve and forehand, and I expect him to be the fresher of the two.
What did you guys think of the lifeless night match on Chatrier? Predictions against Berrettini? Let me know in the comments.