Tough encounter here for the Fed Meister but he's well and truly in the habit of winning as he defeated Jeremy Chardy 7-6(5) 6-7(5) 6-4 to move into the third round at the BNP Paribas Paris Masters.
Not one of Roger's cleanest matches and it was clear from the first few points that he wasn't in synch with the court speed change from Basel. His timing was off and he allowed Chardy to really dictate with his forehand as the ball just sat up nicely for him. Fortunately as the games went by he got more into it and began to adapt to the conditions which eventually got him over the line. A nice combo of confidence and mental strength from the GOAT to see off a heavy hitting Chardy and keep the race for #1 very much alive.
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and chose to receive. Chardy held to 15 with some big first serves doing the damage and then found himself up a break after Roger netted a tame backhand to drop serve.
Chardy's crisp ball striking continued and he soon found himself 4-1 up with a break point chance to extend his lead to 5-1. Fed however pulled off the hold and at 3-5 he broke Chardy when he served for the set.
The Frenchman then had a second bite of the cherry in Roger's next service game but wasted 4 set points and Roger held to level at 5-5. Chardy was then broken to love and Roger had the chance to serve out the set. I didn't anticipate many problems with that as momentum had shifted but Roger double faulted on break point and a tiebreak ensued.
Chardy's French mental strength came to the fore here as he double faulted on the opening point and Roger soon moved into a 3-2 lead. Chardy recouped the mini break at 4-6 down to get back on serve but a wild forehand on his next service point gave Roger the opening set.
Into the second and Roger had started to find more rhythm and a better idea of how to play the conditions. That translated into much more comfortable service games and Roger soon lead 5 games to 4 with neither player creating a break point chance. In the 10th game however Roger had 2 match points courtesy of some insane defensive work but couldn't convert. Mainly due to Chardy going big on his forehand and getting slightly lucky.
The missed match points meant Chardy held and 5-5 soon became 6-6 for yet another tie break. Roger had won his last 11 tie breaks dating back to the Toronto and again he got up an early mini break to lead 3-1. However this is where his run ended as Chardy hit back to recoup the mini break. At 5 all Fed came up with unreal defence to stay in a point but then missed a backhand wide gave Chardy a set point which he converted with a huge inside out forehand.
That meant for the third match in a row between these 2 players a deciding set and Fed got off to a good start, breaking Chardy to lead 1-0 finally converting on his 4th break point of the game.
Chardy had an immediate chance to level but Fed fired down an ace before holding to lead 2-0. The Swiss should then have broken Chardy's serve at 3-1 to put the match to bed but again couldn't convert, taking his break points to 1 from 8 for the set.
With Fed leading 4-3 Chardy missed a routine volley at 15 all to give himself a 15-30 chance, big choke really and that spelled the end for him. He did however force Roger to serve it out but the GOAT obliged, doing so to love, taking it 6-4 in the third.
|J. Chardy||R. Federer|
|1st Serve %||61%||59%|
|1st Serve Points Won||54/72 (75%)||55/72 (76%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||23/47 (49%)||27/51 (53%)|
|Break Points Saved||9/12 (75%)||7/9 (78%)|
|Service Games Played||17||17|
|1st Return Points Won||17/72 (24%)||18/72 (25%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||24/51 (47%)||24/47 (51%)|
|Break Points Won||2/9 (22%)||3/12 (25%)|
|Return Games Played||17||17|
|Net Points Won||25/39||29/42|
|Total Service Points Won||77/119 (65%)||82/123 (67%)|
|Total Return Points Won||41/123 (33%)||42/119 (35%)|
|Total Points Won||118/242 (49%)||124/242 (51%)|
Thoughts on the Match
Another tough one for Fed for here against this hard hitting Frenchman but like I said at the start Roger is on a big winning streak right now and that helps him close out tight matches like you wouldn't believe.
Chardy has a habit of taking him the distance in best of 3 so this is a pleasing win considering he was on the brink of losing the opening set. It's also put Fed in front in the Head to Head after Chardy's victory in Rome earlier this year tied them at 1-1.
Obviously it wasn't the greatest level from Roger out there but the conditions are vastly different to Basel. The court looks to be slow, sticky and high bouncing which is a big adjustment from last week. The change threw Fed's rhythm completely in the opening set and he struggled to generate pace on the ball which allowed Chardy to wallop his forehand at will. Fed looked like a fish out of water in the first set to be honest and only thanks to Chardy cracking at the first sign of pressure allowed him to get back in it before taking it in the breaker.
Once Fed did take the opener he got better as the match wore on, playing the conditions much better and finding more rhythm from the back of the court. Not really too sure what he changed, if anything, looked to me like he just got more used to the bounce of the ball and how it was coming onto the racquet.
He should have definitely closed it out in straights with the match points but somehow Chardy managed to get out of a hole, his forehand is perfect for this type of court as his takeback and racquet preparation are so expansive that on a quicker court he's often rushed. Here he can wind it up and tee off without any worry, that saved him on the match points really as he just went for his shots which is credit to him.
Aside from the win the other positive is some more court time for Fed meaning he will now be more in tune with the conditions. I'm guessing that London will be more like Paris than Basel so this will be useful preparation. That's a shame though in some ways as there's zero fun in seeing Roger hit a peRFect forehand that gets tracked down easily by an opponent. Some shots tonight that looked like they were clean winners all day long seemed to hold up in the court. Maybe it's the TV angle but it sure does look slow.
Predictions vs. Pouille
Next up is French qualifier Lucas Pouille who took out Karlovic in the first round and then defeated Fognini earlier today. Fognini was 5-2 up in the second set but yet again self destructed losing it on a tie break 😆
Back to the first round for a moment and I think one of the main takeaways for the tournament is Pouille defeating Karlovic in straight sets and breaking his serve three times. On a surface like this the return can be more important the serve and that doesn't bode too well for Fed in my opinion. He'd have to flog himself to death on a court like this if he runs into a hardcore grinder like Djokovic or Murray. Not impossible he wins of course but I think his odds seriously go down especially as he's played a ton of Tennis and is surely prioritising London. We'll see anyway, maybe he can surprise after winning yet another tough opening match just like in Shanghai and Basel 😉
Onto the match with Pouille and I haven't ever seen him play, I just YouTubed one of his challenger matches and he looks pretty standard. From his results clay appears to be his best surface but it doesn't look like he has any standout weapons. Chardy's success today came from his heavy forehand so unless Pouille can dictate from the ground I'm not sure he can really cause too many problems. Fed in straights. 6-4 6-4.