ATP 500Dubai Duty Free Tennis ChampionshipsRoger Federer

Federer Kicks Off Dubai Defence With Win Over Youzhny

Roger Federer made a winning return to the ATP Tour after his 4 week hiatus defeating Mikhail Youzhny for the sixteenth time in a row 6-3, 6-1 in the 1st round at the Dubai Duty Free Championships.

After the loss to Seppi at the Australian Open Roger hasn't played a competitive match so his form was unknown coming in but he shrugged of a slowish start to run away the comfortable winner against the man he beat in the final here 8 years ago.

In doing so Roger now leads the H2H against the Russian 16-0 and by serving 8 aces he has moved to a career ace count of 8,985, Just 15 away before the hits the 9,000 mark which only Goran Ivanisevic, Ivo Karlovic and Andy Roddick have managed previously. Quite astonishing really as all 3 of those guys have (or had) huge serves which gave them a big advantage. Fed only serves around 114-121 mph (around 10 mph slower than the 3 listed) but his placement is unrivalled.

Quick Match Recap

Federer Forehand Dubai 1st Round 2015

Youzhny won the toss and elected to serve, holding to 15. Roger then had to fight off deuce in his opening game and throughout the opening games it was Youzhny who had the upper hand in most of the exchanges, striking the ball cleaner off both wings.

The Russian soon moved into a 3-2 lead without been tested on serve however at 3-3, he lost the opening point on his serve for the first time which then saw him slip to 15-40. Roger wasted both break points but had a 3rd chance which he would have taken had it not been for a poor line call which meant a point had to replayed even though Youzhny was unlikely to win it. Luckily it made no difference as the replayed point ended with Youzhny hitting a backhand just long to drop serve after an extended rally.

That one break put the wind in Roger's sails after a relatively sloppy start and he broke again at 5-3, winning 4 games in a row to take the first set. Pretty much the tale of the H2H between these too.

Into the second set and Youzhny unravelled like we've seen many times before. Double faulting at 0-40 to slip 2-0 behind. With Roger now moving freely and more at home with the conditions he began to strike the ball with much more confidence and broken again at 4-1, aided once more by a Youzhny double faut at 30-30 before he served it out in style; hitting a gorgeous volley at 30-0 and then sealing the deal with an ace down the T.

Match Stats

  M. Youzhny R. Federer
Aces 0 8
Double Faults 3 2
1st Serve % 44% 63%
1st Serve Points Won 9/20 (45%) 26/31 (84%)
2nd Serve Points Won 14/25 (56%) 9/18 (50%)
Break Points Saved 3/7 (43%) 0/0 (0%)
Service Games Played 8 8
1st Return Points Won 5/31 (16%) 11/20 (55%)
2nd Return Points Won 9/18 (50%) 11/25 (44%)
Break Points Won 0/0 (0%) 4/7 (57%)
Return Games Played 8 8
Winners 9 27
Unforced Errors 20 18
Net Points Won 4/11 5/11
Total Service Points Won 23/45 (51%) 35/49 (71%)
Total Return Points Won 14/49 (29%) 22/45 (49%)
Total Points Won 37/94 (39%) 57/94 (61%)

Thoughts on the Match

Fed Volley Dubai 1st Round 2015
Could have won more points at the net…

“I think it was close in that first set. I think we were both trying to find our range. I'm happy I didn't start to play too careful after it, because it is tough to play here in Dubai with the quick conditions. After that, I think I started to return much better. Serve got a bit more consistent. My half volleys were getting better. I was able to get the set and the break, and then that's when you can bring it home.”

Pretty good start here for the GOAT and I thought he played solidly from start to finish. Considering he hasn't played in 4 weeks it didn't take him too long to get used to the fast conditions and start taking the upper hand when he had the chance.

It was obviously a good job he has such a reliable serve in the early exchanges when Youzhny was threatening to get the break but we've seen Roger struggle numerous times early in Dubai in the first round; losing to Murray in 2008 and struggling against Jaziri a couple of years back so I wasn't really worried about the shanks / poor timing in the early part of the match.

Looking at the stats Roger will definitely need to win more points behind his second serve as the week goes on and I'd like to see him win more points in the forecourt. 5/11 isn't too bad of course but would be nice if it was a touch higher. But no real insights to gain from this one as Youzhny's resistance faded pretty quickly once Fed got the break in the first set so we'll know more about Fed's level when he takes on either Garcia Lopez or Verdasco in the next round which should be a tougher test.

Predictions vs. Verdasco

Next up is Fernando Verdasco who defeated Guillermo Garci-Lopez in straight sets. Not the result I expected really as GGL has been in pretty good form. Verdasco is of course mercurial talent so can give anyone a game on his day and like I said in my draw post, this is the first time he's played in Dubai for a number of years so will surely be keen to go on a decent run and justify the decision for switching from the clay of South America.

Roger has never lost to this guy and I don't really expect that to change tomorrow. Roger usually just bosses things against this particular left hander and capitalises on Fiasco's tendency to donate games with double faults and cheap errors.

Probably for the Spaniard to win he'd need to summon something like his 2009 level and really flatten out his forehand when he gets chance. By the same token Fed would need to hit 2013 levels or have a really bad day at the office.

Could be a reasonably close match but Fed in straights. 6-4 7-6(3).


Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or writing about tennis I play regularly myself and have a keen interest in tactics, equipment and technicalties of the sport.

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    1. Oh yeahhhhhhhhhh!!! Title no. 3!!

      The funny thing is that for the first time in almost 5 years, I didn’t realise that there was a Federer match today until I saw a post from Jonathan on facebook. I thought that the match was tomorrow!!

    2. I think a lot of people were the same, when does Fed ever play the first Monday of a tournament that isn’t a slam or Basel?

      I only thought to look at schedule when Thinker said on the draw post that he was playing Monday. Could have easily passed me by otherwise.

      1. Can you imagine if the entire peRFect tennis community took a hiatus today? Viewership stats would’ve plummeted. πŸ™‚

      1. Yeah. Plus I’ve been taking notes from Eldrin’s victories. I noticed that in the last one he beat me to the podium by writing ‘Me’ instead of ‘first’. Apparently in the upper echelons, even the smallest margins make a difference. GOAT!!! :p

  1. This is what we like to see! He’s moving well, speaking positively, looking good in orange/turquoise/neon yellow (?!). (I think I’ve changed my mind about the non-existent collar, it should be turquoise to match the shoes, & the shoelaces should be neon orange instead of neon yellow, which while it matches the ball has nothing to do with any part of the rest of the outfit.)

    Interesting that he apparently checked into a hotel to get himself into “tournament mode”. A solid start.

    1. A turquoise blue collar on an Orange shirt? I can’t think of anything worse πŸ˜†

      I was thinking this year we should do Secret Santa on peRFect Tennis, this is what I have bought you in advance – πŸ˜‰

      Didn’t know about the Hotel part, makes sense I guess, bet it wasn’t an ibis budget one πŸ˜€

      1. LOLOL!!! Ah, Jonathan, I love it!

        Only because of the turquoise shoes.

        Bet you’re right on the hotel!

    2. I just watch a replay since I missed it.
      I don’t know maybe it is because of Federer wear it or it is actually good, but all the color combined together seems ok. Nothing is matching with each other (except the reflective and the tshirt), orange, grey, light blue, green, white with black nike logo, but it looks good together.

      Anyway great post (as always) Jonathan.
      And great start from Federer

  2. Match can be summed up as follows!!
    1st point Shankerer
    Match point Acerer

    Good start, youzhnys fast start allowed Fed to find his length and rhythm and then his confidence to hit out once Youz had faded!

    Personally I think he will play GGL

    Outfit! Love the shirt, still undecided on these satin stripes on the shorts..

    1. Me too as he is in good form.

      I don’t like the outfit a great deal, shorts with a stripe is a no for me. Looks cheap. Shirt is ok but just bang average in terms of stuff Nike has put out before. Won’t be making any top outfit lists.

      1. Well we were both wrong! Can’t believe he is playing Fiasco!! Hoping he gets to 6-0 H2H! Needs some Race points…..
        I see that Stakho or Marco in with a chance of making the QF!!
        Coric making most of his LL!!
        Hoping Rafa loses in BA as well!!

      2. Yeah surprising result! Maybe the higher bounce favoured Fiasco but who knows. He can beat anyone if he plays to the level he is capable of.

  3. Yes, slow start but ran away with it after first break. Sad to see Youzhny fading so badly. But a good first match for Feds. Seppi knocked out by Gasquet so we don’t have to worry about those stats! πŸ™‚

    Shirt colour looks OK on Feds, but that stripe down the shorts – gaah!

    1. Yeah I thought Seppi might pull it out the bag after he won that tie break 7-1 but Gasquet pulled through, Can’t see Gasquet troubling Fed on this surface if they meet, no way he can play so far behind baseline like usual and have success.

      1. I watched *some* of the match – thought the same. Can’t understand why Gasquet hasn’t realised after all this time that playing *that* far behind the baseline is not going to win him the big matches; when he comes to the net he wins the point more often than not – does he never re-watch these matches and think ‘duh’. He should have finished Seppi in two. He had several MPs in that last service match – hopeless – and tiring.

      2. Just where he feels most comfortable I guess. Even if he did try push up, prettty sure when it came to crunch he’d end up going back there.

  4. Good to see Fed play again after the Aussie miss. I agree with you Jonathan, the blue shoes with yellow laces are way off. Who in his team said yes to that. On another note Mikhail seems to be heading for retirement. I feel sorry for him

    1. He’s had a good career, 10 career titles, top 10 player, good runs at Slams. Definitely not something to feel sorry about, sure he has enough rubles too πŸ™‚

      1. I have been busy celebrating Chinese Lunar New Year, non stop eating and drinking. I will be back in Roger’s next match πŸ™‚

      2. Dippy, get ready to put on a lot of weight because this is the year of the GOAT


        Happy Chinese New Year!

  5. Hey Jonathan, been a while happy new year man!! ^^ So good to see Fed after what feels like an age since Melbourne and Andreas Seppi..! He was a little rusty but that didn’t last, very impressive as usual from Rog’! Strange outfit though, orange shirt is really cool and goes well with the grey shorts but what the hell’s the story with the shoes… Keep it simple, white shoes with salmony-orange laces and swoosh would be classy!

    1. Very belated πŸ˜‰

      Agreed on the shoes white all the way, along with white shorts.

      He wore the Yellow one for the doubles today, works slightly better with the shoes.

  6. Hi Jonathan

    Glad he got that one under his belt – always a worry when he has not played for a few weeks. Love the shirt – woud prefer the shorts without the shiny stripe down the side and why o why blue shoes why not grey and orange – come on nike get a grip. Hopefully he can get number 7 in Dubai.

    Surprised he signed up for the doubles with Lammar and not Marco – unfortunate that they drew the number 2 seeds – can we ask for a miracle!!

    On a different note Nadal lost in semi’s at Rio!! when are all the commentators going to start saying he should retire – had my rant – sorry. Love your blog as always

    1. Strip is tacky on the shorts, makes them look like they came off a market stall in dare I say, Istanbul? πŸ˜†

      I heard Chiudinelli is injured hence the Lammer partnership. Looks like the second set breaker was close, few set points missed but Rojer and Tecau are pretty good.

      1. Yay, the site remembers me!

        So, Stauffer tweeted that DC first round is going to be headed by Yann Marti because top 3 Swiss players won’t be there, Chiudi not having recovered from his surgery yet. Such a shame, given that they’re defending champions (I never thought this time last year that I’d be writing that!). Oh well, hoping Stan and Roger will come through in the summer and save them from relegation.

      2. Doubles was insane, from what I could see. Roger keeps his appalling BP record even in doubles, it seems. Shame – they ought to have managed to make it 3 sets, at least.

  7. Does anybody remember or seen AO’s Kia drive video that players were fooled by Fed’s fake retirement news a couple years ago? Can’t find it on YouTube anymore though, recall Youzhny looked sad saying something like “never beaten Roger and wanted do it once”. He had a chance but sadly gone for ever…?

    Good start for the year of GOAT! Glad he wasn’t as rusty as he could be. I’m just pleased to see him play despite the mishmash outfit, yuk πŸ˜‰

    1. The Kia drive video that players were fooled by Fed’s fake retirement news is from the French Open. The video is still there. If you search under Roger Federer Retires? Players Reaction, you will find it. Dimitrov’s reaction was the best. He looked like he was going to cry. Youzhny’s reaction was funny as well. Fabio was like, “Who said that?”

    2. It’s not Kia for the French. Peugeot this one.

      I think it’s kinda obvious that this is pure acted out. Like that news is going to pass them by. The only impressive part is that they managed to keep straight faces for the most part.

  8. ‘Shawarma’walk for Fed. Deja vu for me, though it was quarters vs Youzhny I think and then Gasquet in semis though this time around its Round 1 and Round 2. How the talented have fallen. Windy weather here in Muscat and also in Dubai. Hope ‘windfall’ for Fed for the 7th time.

  9. Thanks, Jonathan once again. Just don`t like the fit of the shorts. Too long in the crotch and don`t like the stripe. Tacky like Vegas. And blue shoes with green laces. I think Nike employees must be colour blind.

    Otherwise good to see Fed back. BTW, he said he has pretty well mapped out his schedule til middle of 2016. Wonder what his plan is after that. Dont want to think about that quite yet.

    1. Yeah strip is tacky, looks cheap cheap.

      Hadn’t heard about his schedule plans, will be interested to see which ones make the cut and which ones don’t.

  10. Thanks Jonathan, I think the number of aces remaining for Fed to hit should be 15 not 5 as written unless of course I have forgotten how to add :).Please confirm.
    As for Fed’s play on Monday, I actually got to know from the atp website and with that, I checked the draws and lo and behold….. I then missed the match because I calculated time difference wrongly!!! What a day !! I ended up watching the replay though.
    For Fed’s outfit, it kept my mind busy throughout the entire match, trying to see how the combination would work outside a sports outfit and to see how much of it I can add on without looking mad πŸ™‚
    Well, he plays tonight, let me see if I can meet up with that match.
    #fingers crossed

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