It's not often I make 4 posts in 1 day but seen as though Roger has just seen off Vasek Pospisil in 3 sets and the final in Basel is tomorrow afternoon I thought I'd get this one out of the way.
I think most fans thought Dimitrov was going to be the real test this week but instead it turned out to be the Canadian who put up a very brave fight which required Roger to really dig deep and grind out the win which was very pleasing.
A lot of fans hate matches like this, they are close and often don't produce the greatest of tennis, they just want Roger to win easily without breaking a sweat but I actually enjoy wins of this nature. It shows a different side to Roger that we aren't used to seeing, one where he must get in the trenches a little bit and find a way through.
Today was a prime example of that, he played well in the first set but then sort of faded, lost interest and found himself in battle. Whatever he tried didn't really seem to work and that allowed Pospisil to get back into the match. There's no doubt Roger should have served it out easily at 5-3 in the second set but he failed to and then had to find a way through. It wasn't the cleanest match, nor the best to watch aesthetically but finding a way to win is the main thing here.
You have to remember that Roger is still very much in a slump right now, some people seem to think that one victory against Dimitrov immediately means he's back to Prime Fed level; it just doesn't work like that, Dimitrov was a stepping stone to rebuilding confidence just the same way as Pospisil was today.
Quick Match Recap
Roger was quickly out the blocks in this one breaking Pospisil in his second service game before playing a dreamy service game himself to lead 3-1. It looked at this point as though he was about to zone in but he took his foot off the gas ever so slightly and had to show good composure to dig himself out of 0-30 before holding to lead 4-2. At 5-3 Roger got another break of serve like he did vs. Dimitrov yesterday to take the first set. Great start.
I thought the double break meant Roger would take this one in straight sets and after firing down a couple of love holds early in the second he broke Pospisil for the third time in the match to lead 5-3 however the Canadian hit straight back and held to make it 5-5. It was a bit disappointing to see Roger not serve it out when he'd looked so far untroubled on serve but to be fair Pospisil played well and took advantage of the situation when he could have easily just folded.
5-5 became 6-6 and Pospisil dominated the tie break from the start taking a 5-3 lead before reeling off the next 2 points to level at 1 set all. Again it was a bit of a disappointing tie break from Roger, he just looked a little flat and not quite switched on for it.
The third set was always going to be a test for both guys and as I expected it turned into a pretty scrappy affair, this time around Pospisil got first break when he broke to lead 3-1 only for Roger to hit straight back and break to love.
I think that game woke him up a little to be honest as he played poorly on his own serve but then out of nowhere put together 4 sweet points to get back on serve. The two important games then came at 3-4 where Roger had to save break point with a clutch second serve and then at 5-5 where Roger finally got the break after a lengthy service game.
It was the break that won him the match and he definitely did it the hard way, wasting some chances before Pospisil put a forehand long on after saving 3 break points. Serving it out this time went to plan and Roger booked his place in the final. Allez!
|Stats||R. Federer||V. Pospisil|
|1st Serve %||56%||42%|
|1st Serve Points Won||44/60 (73%)||37/50 (74%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||26/47 (55%)||30/68 (44%)|
|Break Points Saved||2/4 (50%)||6/11 (55%)|
|Service Games Played||16||17|
|1st Return Points Won||13/50 (26%)||16/60 (27%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||38/68 (56%)||21/47 (45%)|
|Break Points Won||5/11 (45%)||2/4 (50%)|
|Return Games Played||17||16|
|Total Service Points Won||70/107 (65%)||67/118 (57%)|
|Total Return Points Won||51/118 (43%)||37/107 (35%)|
|Total Points Won||121/225 (54%)||104/225 (46%)|
Shot of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
Like I said above I think this was a good win, I saw a lot of tweets saying this was a really bad match from Roger but I don't really see it like that, sure he didn't exactly play lights out but he still got the win and I thought Pospisil played pretty well too. Roger had to dig deep to beat a guy who's had a great tournament, you only have to see how he took out Dodig, a very accomplished player to know he's a threat.
The problem when you win 17 slams is that the focus is always on Roger and never on his opponent, everyone thinks that every point is determined by how he plays, like no matter what the opponent comes up with, it's always Rogers fault he lost the point. But the match I saw showed Pospisil coming up with some real nice shots and defending very well, he is able to generate good pace even at full stretch which made it tricky for Roger. He was often caught trying to come forward but then having to take a step back to avoid getting burned on the pass.
Probably the only negative is failing to serve it out when he had the chance, had he gone onto lose then this would have been a painful blow but because he managed to get the win then it's almost forgotten.
The serve was pretty decent today but the return kinda disappointing in a few games, Pospisil has a good serve and Roger wasn't really sure what the best play was, chip, retreat into the crowd almost and give himself time. Neither of those worked a whole lot especially on the second serve. He'll need to do better vs. Del Potro there for sure.
Prediction vs. Del Potro
So tomorrow we get a repeat of last years final with Roger going head to head with Juan Martin Del Potro for the title.
I think Del Potro is the favourite on current form so we may get a repeat of last year where he won in 3 sets. Federer actually played well in last years match, losing in tie break in the third set where he just wasn't able to produce his best despite having quite a lot of chances and half opportunities earlier in the set.
I'm not writing Roger off here because Del Potro wasn't exactly convincing against Roger-Vasselin today so he might be tired physically / mentally after Shanghai giving Fed that little bit of an advantage.
There's no doubt Fed will need to play much better than he did today though, we'll need to see a lot of variety and ability to boss points. All Roger's success against Del Potro has been when he's been able to move the Tower of Tandil around and stay in the points. Probably my favourite match between these 2 recently was their meeting in Dubai 2012 where Roger took everything Del Potro had on a super quick court. I've included the highlights below, a really good match where Fed came back from 5-0 and 6-2 down in the second set tie break to win it. The point at 6 all is insane.
One of my concerns is that Fed is way off that level in the video above right now, everything was spot on back then, the serve looked to have more pop and more leg drive and his movement was pretty incredible. And I feel Del Potro has improved a little since then too so it will be a tough ask for Roger. Hopefully he's right up for it though and the crowd are with him, then anything is possible.
What are your predictions? And don't forget to rate the match vs Pospisil below 🙂