Happy New Year! And with it we get straight back into tennis with Roger making a winning start at the Brisbane International defeating Jarkko Nieminen 6-4 6-2 to move into Friday's Quarter Final.
Having not seen Fed play since the World Tour Final loss to Nadal I had no idea of what to expect of him or the new racquet but he came out razor sharp, had some serious pop on his groundstrokes and played a very clean match to say it was his first competitive outing in well over a month.
I was also very pleased with how quick the courts were playing, the ball was really flying out there and it was good to see some first strike tennis being played for a change.
Quick Match Recap
Both guys started this one at a frenetic pace, in fact I don't think we saw a rally over 10-15 shots in the first few games, just 2 guys going for their shots and looking to take the initiative at the earliest possible moment.
At 2-2 Nieminen looked like he was about to hold to love but then a sweet lob, a nice chip charge play from Federer followed by an unforced error saw him pegged back to deuce, that became break point and Roger took it in style by maneuvering Nieminen around the court with his forehand.
Nieminen had an immediate chance to break back but it was soon snuffed out with more strong serving and big forehands as Fed moved into a 4-2 lead. Both players then traded holds before Roger served it out comfortably to take the opener 6-4.
The loss of the first set seemed to frustrate Nieminen and he went from playing aggressively in the first set to completely red lining his game in the second. Had it come off he may have made a contest of things but Roger managed to break him immediately before holding, breaking again and then saving two break points to take a 4-0 lead.
It looked like bakery products could be on the cards but Nieminen finally managed to pull out 2 service holds but it was nowhere near enough as Roger served it out to love to take it 6-4 6-2 in 1 hour and 8 minutes.
|Stats||R. Federer||J. Nieminen|
|1st Serve %||61%||56%|
|1st Serve Points Won||27/34 (79%)||21/35 (60%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||14/22 (64%)||14/28 (50%)|
|Break Points Saved||4/4 (100%)||1/4 (25%)|
|Service Games Played||9||9|
|1st Return Points Won||14/35 (40%)||7/34 (21%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||14/28 (50%)||8/22 (36%)|
|Break Points Won||3/4 (75%)||0/4 (0%)|
|Return Games Played||9||9|
|Total Service Points Won||41/56 (73%)||35/63 (56%)|
|Total Return Points Won||28/63 (44%)||15/56 (27%)|
|Total Points Won||69/119 (58%)||50/119 (42%)|
Point of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
This one was a dream start really for both Federer and his fans and I'm not sure you can ask for more. Movement was spot on, groundstrokes looked very powerful, he still showed great touch and most importantly played very aggressively. He also served very well and just looked to be a lot more confident in his play, no hesitation or not quite going full blooded on shots which I think was quite a surprise considering it was his first match. I expected some rust but there wasn't any.
He also dispatched a very handy opponent in straight sets, I know he leads the H2H with Nieminen 14-0 after today but he is a very competent player (made QF's at 3 out of 4 slams) and has 2 titles both of them coming in this part of the world on similar surfaces at this time of year. Unfortunately for Nieminen he seems to peak around January but by running into the Fed-express he had no real chance.
Predictions vs. Matosevic
Next up for Roger is Australian Marinko Matosevic and the two have never played before. I think this will be a good test as like Nieminen, Matosevic is a good player, has a big forehand and a fairly decent serve. He was the Aussie number 1 for most of last year and had a decent win vs. Verdasco at Monte Carlo so he knows how to play.
However I think this record in Australia is very poor and by beating Benneteau in the first round here it was his first ever win down under. Facing Federer probably won't be too exciting a prospect for him and I can only really see Federer winning in straight sets.
It should be another fast paced encounter with both guys going for their shots but if Roger hits the spots on his serve he will be able to create enough break point chances to come through unscathed. Fed in 2: 6-4 6-2.