Well worth the wait wasn't it? As Roger breezed past Benjamin Becker 6-1 6-4 in little under an hour to move into the second round. It was imperative he got off to a winning start here and I now back him to make the semi finals where he should face Djokovic.
The court in Dubai has always favoured Roger's attacking style and when he is able to find the middle of the racket out there it's a joy to watch. Fans got a little bit of everything today and it's a simple equation: Fast courts + Federer = Tennis at its best.
To get the job done in a shade over 60 minutes was a clinical performance and the Swiss is now 38-5 in Dubai as he bids for his 6th title. Statistics wise he won 76 per cent of his service points, served well and broke the German's serve 3 times en route to victory. Oh and he also hit a tweener lob which was worth the admission fee alone. What more can you ask for?
Quick Match Recap
Roger set the tone for this one early making several moves to the net in the first game as he held to lead 1-0. A few crisp groundstrokes and a Becker double fault later he was up 2-0 and in control of the match. Dropping serve early was never a good idea if you're Becker as Fed is one of the best front runners in the history of the sport.
That lead soon doubled as Roger moved up a double break to lead 5-1; serving it out was routine and a serve & volley behind his second serve got him a set on the board in just 22 minutes.
The second set was more competitive as Becker upped his level to stay competitive but with Roger vaporising his forehand and serving well the German had no chance to get back into it.
In fact at 5-4 in the second set Becker had only managed to win 8 points on Roger's serve. Fed made hard work of it in the final game facing a break point but a big forehand followed by a Becker netted return it was game, set & match Federer.
|R. Federer||B. Becker|
|1st Serve %||62%||55%|
|1st Serve Points Won||26/31 (84%)||21/34 (62%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||12/19 (63%)||13/28 (46%)|
|Break Points Saved||1/1 (100%)||1/4 (25%)|
|Service Games Played||9||8|
|1st Return Points Won||13/34 (38%)||5/31 (16%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||15/28 (54%)||7/19 (37%)|
|Break Points Won||3/4 (75%)||0/1 (0%)|
|Return Games Played||8||9|
|Total Service Points Won||38/50 (76%)||34/62 (55%)|
|Total Return Points Won||28/62 (45%)||12/50 (24%)|
|Total Points Won||66/112 (59%)||46/112 (41%)|
Thoughts on the Match
I'm extremely happy with today's match, coming out and playing free tennis like that right off the bat is a good feeling. I know probably Benjamin has been doing a lot of travelling back and forth, Australia, Europe, America, back to Dubai, back for Indian Wells and Miami, but you've got to take advantage of that. I have been here for some time. I had a good preparation. I'm happy it paid off thus far.
The best way to sum this one up is a great start. I expected some rustiness or some settling in time but Federer was able to strike cleanly from the word go. Those who were courtside got to see some great shotmaking from both sides of the net and the tweener lob was just the icing on the cake.
Some of the volleys he made on the stretch impressed me and one that sticks in my mind was the one to setup his 1st match point. Just too good to be honest and a real showcase of this guys incredible talent. Making. it. look. easy.
As usual he wasn't able to serve it out without at least some drama but that's just part and parcel with Fed these days. Nothing is ever simple and you can guarantee his first serve will be M.I.A when closing out a match. Fortunately he ripped a FH winner on break point and got the job done 3rd time of asking.
So yeah, very impressive performance and hopefully we get the same on Wednesday. It looks like he's been working hard in practise as his footwork was spot on which is all down to conditioning and doing the right drills day in day out. Moving well is one of the keys to him playing at a high level so it's all good news so far.
Predictions vs. Stepanek / Russell
I don't see either Stepanek or Russell being able to cause Fed any problems here. He's 12-1 and 1-0 in the H2H against those guys respectively and neither opponent has the game to trouble him.
On his day Stepanek is a wily opponent on his day but if he beats Roger here something went wrong.
As for Russell he's won 0 career titles and is nothing more than a solid top 100 type guy. He'll give Roger a game but Roger has far too much here.
Whoever he plays I'll pick Fed in straights: 6-3 6-2.