ATP 500Dubai Duty Free Tennis ChampionshipsRoger Federer

Federer Makes Flying Start in Dubai

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

Federer Backhand vs Becker

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.

Match Stats

  R. Federer B. Becker
Aces 5 1
Double Faults 2 3
1st Serve % 62% 55%
1st Serve Points Won 26/31 (84%) 21/34 (62%)
Winners 24 11
Unforced Errors 11 12
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

Federer Stepanek

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.


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. And I read the whole article before posting as well! I think I got lucky because I saw your video on Youtube whist searching for the highlights. πŸ™‚

      1. Yeah, Federer is back πŸ™‚ really enjoyed the match even if I missed MP :-/
        Third time lucky maybe Anna?? πŸ˜‰

      1. Yeah saw the highlights later.
        Got to see the lob tweener live though πŸ™‚ could barely breathe! Pure genius in motion!!

  1. A lightning quick recap as Fed’s match today, well done Jonathan.

    Absolutely agree with this: ‘it’s a simple equation: Fast courts + Federer = Tennis at its best.’
    …and yes such a joy to watch πŸ˜€

  2. Good start from Federer but i will keep the same politic adopted in the Aussie Open, round by round, game by game, without thinking further. About today’s match didn’t watch the whole thing but as the Anchorman says “Well that escalated quickly” πŸ˜€ Beautiful lob tweener! volleys looked awesome (Edberg effect). All Federer needs is to keep building the momentum of the good Aussie open he made. Allez!

  3. Can’t begin to tell you how extraordinarily refreshing it was to watch today’s match after the depressing Rio final last night. I was moved to send him a tweet thanking him for reminding me that proper tennis still exists. Was beginning to think I might just as well give up tennis and take up boxing instead – as a spectator of course. That tweener was quite something. I keep going back and watching it again. His movement across the court was just a joy to see. I’m a happy bunny tonight. Well we all are I think.

    1. My sentiments exactly! Well said Rita and smooth post Jonathan! I was so lucky, had an appt on the Apple store, they held me up, was able to watch whole match live!!! Loved that whole game at 2-3 2nd set! Just had everything we love about his game!

    2. What is an appt on the Apple store? Like an appointment to see someone at one of their outlets?!

      Moved very well I thought, looked quick and slick. Maybe he should take up boxing…

      1. Meeting to sort out the daughter iphone!! So watched the whole match live! Must remember that for next time!!

  4. Pretty solid stats after a long break and absolutely loved his tweener lob. Awesome start for the Maestro, let’s get it going Roger!

  5. Yeah great win from Roger, so good to have rid of that 2013 feeling that even in early rounds Roger is going to have problems and we can begin to return to the 2012 attitude: right, Roger is pretty much a lock for the semis, we’ll see how it goes against Djoker, rather than: Becker has a good game and Federer will have to play well to beat him, then looking ahead he has Stepanek who is always tough, that kind of attitude we had in 2013. Now we can for the most part watch the early round matches without any mini heart attacks.

    1. Well, I wasn’t watching Roger’s matches that closely this early in 2012, so maybe I’m still in “tense 2013” mode, but I was reminded of how beautifully Roger was playing in round 1 of Wimbledon last year and how quickly that went south, so like Guilherme I’ll stay a bit cautious for the time being πŸ™‚

  6. Fifteen? lol Roger’s volleys seem to have a different look to them. So enjoyed watching him play. Boom, the match was over.

    1. He was just in one of those casual type moves. Some of his approaches were pretty daft but he it was one of those days where he makes the impossible look routine.

  7. Well worth the wait indeed. A vintage Federer performance, I’m looking forward to his possible match up with Djokovic. That tweener was ridiuclous

  8. I agree that his volleys were a beauty, but the commentators said something that I totally agree with: Several times, Roger just charged into the net without taking a split step. Now that may work against backer, but if he doesn’t have that balance against the likes of Djoker, he’s gonna be a sitting bird. I really think he needs to use technique rather than only his skill to do this πŸ˜›

    1. Yeah, that seemed a bit lazy at times. Some of the few hiccups in the game. Just like the two double faults in one service game where he just couldn’t buy a first serve to save his life (and in the two cases not even a second). Worried a bit about the slow closure of the match, why, why the drama? πŸ™‚

      Else, there was a lot to love. The transition game, the aggression, loved the volley right before the tweener just as much as the lob itself. That was such a quick reaction.

      The opponent of course was not really up to it yesterday. Becker was completely overwhelmed in the first set and only in the second did he at least find the strength to go out with some dignity.

      1. I agree, the reflex volley was a thing of beauty. But would he have been in that position had he split stepped? πŸ˜‰ I’ll forgive him on that, we got to see a beautiful tweener again πŸ˜€

    2. Yeah he is very casual on volleys. In fact his technique isn’t exactly great, just plays them like he doesn’t give a shit which actually makes it better to watch.

      Don’t think Edberg was there, apparently he’s back for Indian Wells. I think there is a Champions Tour match this month so he will be playing that.

  9. Great start from Fed, so great to see him back on court! A really solid start, he was really ready from the get go. And really nice Fed was scheduled on the very first day, no need for saving the best for last πŸ˜‰

      1. Yes, but the only problem is I donΒ΄t look sharp at all πŸ˜‰ How much would you give to be able to play like Roger, just for one day? How great that would be and how aweful it would be to return to your own game again πŸ™‚

      2. Mark, I remember reading a short story with essentially this premise – I’m wondering if it was Kurt Vonnegut? – only it was with a singer. There was some kind of little gremlin involved. The singer sang absolutely perfectly for one performance. Then they could never sing again, because they couldn’t bear it – they were never able to return to that place of perfection.

        It may have been a variation on “be careful what you wish for” – it’s been years since I read it, but clearly it made an impression.

      3. ThatΒ΄s a good point Thinker πŸ™‚ But none the less if I got the offer I would take it with out a doubt πŸ˜‰ And then regret later maybe πŸ™‚

  10. Hi Jonathan loved the post and your choice of best shot – all is right with my world once Federer steps on court and reminds us all what we are missing I cannot bring myself to watch Murray or Dull so really pleased to have him back onwared and upward

      1. So dreary! The fact that Nadull only hit one winner in first set and that was prob an ace really sums up the defensive moonballing and lack of creativity!

  11. Hey guys, what’s up?? Wow. Roger. Just wow. Love your comments about him. And the haircut does not look that bad either. I did not even notice until it was over. He still has his curls. I think he cut it shorter on both sides.
    But… guys…. Roger looks so so so so so so handsome !!! I only saw the last part. He was moving very well.
    Did have trouble closing the match. But guess what? Rafa TWICE hot broken at Rio when he was serving for the match. Ofcourse he still won, but it happens to them all. Even Novak, Rafa and Andy.

    Hey Pablo, how are you??

    1. Hey Katyani,

      Roger had a haircut?!? πŸ˜€ I must admit I didn’t even notice which is a good thing of course. As long as it’s not too short as in 2013 short, it’s fine imo.

      1. Hey Ute, I love everything about Roger, but that “2013-haircutt” is a BIG no no !!!
        He should never repeat that again….

  12. Hey Jonathan, I laughed like six times when I read this sentence (GOAT sentence) !!!

    “On his day Stepanek is a wily opponent on his day but if he beats Roger here something went wrong.”

    I am still laughing. Sometimes you can say something so funny….

    Ps: Jonathan, about the tweener and some shots. I love when Roger makes a tweener and then the opponent tries exactly to do the same and fails !!!
    Also, just asking, but is there any of Rafa’s shots where you would go “wow”???
    Can you remember atleast one shot like that? I cannot. I cannot recall any of Andy’s shots beeing like that. Maybe Novak has one or two, but Roger is really the only one who invents shots that writers write articles over or end up on YT.

    1. I just wondered about the same when watching one of the many ‘best shots’, ‘amazing shots’ or ‘Federer Top Ten’ compilations on Youtube today. I tried to find something similar from Nadal, but couldn’t. Some unreal passing shots or otherwise great angles from defensive positions, but nothing magic that people would shake their heads and smile in disbelief. Nothing you’d watch several times in a row for sheer pleasure. I saw some clips named ‘Nadal best rallies’, but did not bother to watch them. I found some brilliant stunt shots from Monfils, but they looked kinda dangerous for an injury prone athlete. And I just miss Andy Rod, his pressers were as delicious as the trick shots of Federer making him throw the racket. And I really like how Djokovic smiles and applaudes some of the cool stuff from Federer. It reminds you that it’s a game after all. Nadal made us forget this sometimes, nothing playful in his style

      1. I don’t really like the way Novak applauds. Find it bit weird in a pro game. I know he means well but it jars with me, and it comes across as slightly forced!

      2. I like it that he makes the effort. Granted that sometimes it seems like he’s having to make himself do it – understandable when you’ve just been bested with some creative play. That seems more… difficult for him, to me, than forced. Something he wants to practice and get better at. I like that he’s decided that he wants to recognize his opponents for their great shots. It would be annoying, I think, if he did it all the time – but it doesn’t seem to me that he does.

      3. Interesting, I never saw anything wrong with Djokovic’s applause after a great point from his opponents, together with this WTF smile. Of course he is not genuinely happy for his opponent, he is absolutely pissed about it, but I somehow think he admits that he just got outplayed and shows respect to his opponent, while hoping to pay back with the next point. Anyway, if I compare this with the killer look of Nadal and all his fist pumping, I find Djokovic adorable!

      1. I agree. Good shot. Although, disagree- nobody ‘learnt’ from him. But given, great shot.

        Poor Djokovic has been at the receiving end of some nasty tweeners.

      2. Yes, good shot. I sit corrected (I would stand corrected but I’m just too tired!). It’s just lacking that little flip over the net at the end which was so funny.

      3. The first time I ever saw that shot was Edberg. Was he the first, or was there someone else before him?

      4. Looked like a sensible comment until we got “all players learnt from it”. Is there anything Nadal hasn’t done? Some people say he invented Tennis TV and taught Robbie Koenig how to commentate but I don’t know if there’s any truth in that.

      5. I meant he was the first to improvise that shot, since that I have seen quite a few of these shots.

      6. James Blake has a time machine, he saw Nadal play this shot in 2011 then transported himself back to 2008 where he decided to use it against some Swiss guy -

      7. Pablo ItΒ΄s an amazing shot! But what I think is equally as good is Nadals footwork to run around the backhand to hit the forehand, these small guick steps are so quick! good stuff!

        And Jonathan, good one πŸ™‚

    2. @Katyani There are plenty shots that Nadal has played that make you go wow but it is a different sort of wow. More along the lines of how did he manage to get that back. In my opinion most of Nadal’s impossible shots come from when he’s miles outside the court or been running sideways for 40 shots in a row and still makes the final ball. It is pretty incredible how he can defend and keep tracking balls down.

      Roger’s are more something out of nothing, they are created solely on his racquet. I mean check that Tweener he played against Schoorel once just nonchalantly for a clean winner. Too good.

      1. Nadal’s career is plenty of genius shots, the link I posted it is just an example. But I agree is a different kind of wow. Roger’s shots are more beautiful, Nadal’s shots are more epic.

      2. How can you say that Nadals shot r epic but Feds r just beautiful. The only thing Nadal does good is his defence shots which he gets back from a mile backof the Court. And while running across he does the banana shot down the line. Which he can only do this because of the strings hes using. If you want to see incredible shots just like what Federer does. Have a look Borg running shots and he did unbelievable shotswwith a wooden racquet. And he did topspin on his shot. This is why the true greats prefer Federers shots than a headless chicken running all day long and hitting the Tennis ball with heavy topspin and playing with the repeated monotonous style. And you Pablo call that ‘Epic’

      3. I think Nadal’s obsessive disorder must help with tracking everything down. Most players lose concentration occasionally but he never seems to. A perfectly natural, so not unfair, advantage he has – just as Federer’s innate talent and athleticism is a natural advantage.

  13. Hey guys, a fun question. What is better, the tweener Roger made or the shot he made with his racquet when he played doubles against Dimi??? Remember that one???

      1. Thanks Jonathan, much appreciated! Roger reminds me here of the Roadrunner cartoon, same defying of laws of physics, same smirk πŸ™‚

      1. Oh no, the doubles one was far better. Roger does tweener all the time. The doubles shot, I did not even know was special until the crowd cheered and I saw Mahut’s face and the commentator was laughing…

      2. Yeah I agree with Katyani, we’ve seen the tweener heaps of times, but has anyone ever seen a player execute a smash-lob-dropshot that bounces back on the same side before Roger?

      3. In terms of the actual point/rally, the Dubai tweener wins, but I think the smash-lob-dropshot was a more insane ending result.

      4. It was a framed shot though. Can’t be classed as a great shot in that regard. It’s like hitting a volley in off your shin at football.

  14. Hey guys, and one serious question I really would like to know the answer to:
    After Roger’s match the commentator said that “Tursonov was the poor man’s Roger Federer”.
    What does that mean? Is that a compliment or dig at Roger or Tursonov?? Is there a history there??

    1. Compliment to both I think. He’s saying they have relatively similar games, but Roger has that “something” more that Tursunov doesn’t have.

    2. It is neither really, it’s just saying that Tursunov is like a cheaper model of Federer. He’s good but not quite at Federer level. To some degree like Dimitrov, although he can break that mould. I’d put Kohlschreiber in a similar sort of position but he’s slightly different.

  15. Yeah the big guy can’t catch a break can he? Out early at AO, now retiring with an injury in Rotterdam, I certainly hope it isn’t serious. I like Del Potro because he is one of the only guys who can beat Murray, Nadal and Djokovic by doing something different. He is the only one with a forehand with enough power and yet consistent enough to push them around for long enough to beat them. No amount of defending can stop a 110mph forehand winner. I once saw him (on TV) hit a forehand winner at 118mph. I think his fastest ever was 122 (didn’t see it though, just read about it) and the record is James Blake’s, at 125mph. But no one can regularly hit 100-110mph forehands as often and as accurately as the Tower of Tandil.

    1. I think it sounds serious. A recurrence of his wrist injury. I like him too and think it’s a shame he has so many problems. What I like about him has nothing to do with tennis. It’s the fact that whenever he plays a tournament where he has to hold the hand of a child going onto the court he always takes time to talk to the child and make them feel part of it. Not many of them do that.

      1. Hey Rita, you are so right. In fact, Delpo is the only one who also smiles to the child and looks a few times to him or her. The others don’t do that. I like him too. I love his innocence. He is like a big child. But one thing that bothers me about Delpo is that in between playing points he can act like an old man. If only he could stop that or not do that so often…

      2. He has no luck. Right now he is prob facing another surgery and that wld mean another yr of rest and rehab. Needs a break! Feel for him! So we are potentially looking at a Berdshit Fed final! Revenge!! Although contrary to what I thought Berdshit has started the yr pretty damn well! Pity I can’t bear him or how he plays! A complete turn off!

      3. Hey Susie, I felt bad for Berdych that he did not win a title in 2013.
        Well… now he has. And seriously, although I like him, he better not defeat Roger !!!
        Come on Roger, please let us not wait till Halle for you to get rid of Mac Enroe’s curse….

    2. I like Del Potro too, funny guy and well liked by the other players. Seeing him smash Nadal was good too. Shame he is a little too one dimensional, only has 1 way to win a match, which when he clicks is awesome but if not it can go badly wrong.

  16. For Jonathan. … First of all thanks for the quick upload on Federer. I saw the post yesterday but I was going to comment, I think I would of been the 9th comment. So a top ten finish! !! Lol. But I was diverted elsewhere and completely forgot. Anyway back to Tennis I saw highlights and I thought Federer played really well. A good solid start, we just need him to build on this and hopefully a semi final match with the Djoker. But that’s still far away. He definitely seems to have a much better aura than 2013 season. Fantastic tweener lob!!! and great volleys. Lets hope now he does what he needs to go deep and maybe be in contention for the trophy. He would of already had a title if he didn’t mess up in Brisbane, but that’s done and dusted. Hopefully he can make ammends in Dubai. Come on Roger !!!!!!!

    1. Yep he needs a title to get back up to top 4! Will be seeded 8th both IW and Miami unless he wins here and in IW. Here’s hoping Ferrer continues to slip up!

    2. I don’t think it matters much from a draw perspective whether he’s 1-4 or 5-8. 5-8 just end up in the opposite side of the 1-4 quarters. 8, of course, is precariously close to 9, which COULD make a difference.

      I am also anxiously awaiting that 78th title and the breaking of the tie with JMac!

      1. Quite a gap between 8 and 9 but he has a lot to do if he is to climb back up at least to 4 which is my goal for him this season. To be honest though all he cares about us winning titles so one match at a time. Ferrer seems a little up and down for sure. I think Andy actually will get stronger and stronger as he plays his back in. Delpo, if wrist needs surgery then he will be in free fall again. Berdych? Yep, much more confident start. Big question mark will be Stan as he has taken a vv long break and will be v rusty next week. Fed needs to pounce now!

      2. Ah, ok, I follow you now. And Nadal’s not here of course this week, & will be in upcoming weeks. You’re right, a good opportunity – almost as good as Brisbane, cough cough. Hopefully his improvements will have settled in – looking good so far, see what happens in the next match.

  17. So what’s all about this International Premier Tennis League that is offering Nadal 1.1 million per night to play some matches? Apparently several other players have already signed up and Federer has shown no interest to join.

    1. Run by Bupathi along the lines of the Indian based premier league cricket whereby bids are made for each player. Not sure how it works but all about the money! Difference is that the tennis is between certain fixed dates in Dec I think. Show biz tennis, and they will all be knackered! Vika and I think Aggie also signed up for the women.

    2. Hey Conal, you can read more about it here:

      Sure sounds exclusive huh? Anyways I’m not too fond of the idea. Also it runs for a MONTH! and these players are complaining about having shorter seasons πŸ˜†

      But like the first article said: “The IPTL has had a troubled gestation but one tennis insider said last night that “Although the players are still sceptical, nobody wants to miss out on a possible money spinner, so a lot of them are putting their names down for Friday’s reveal. When the money starts being paid into their accounts, that’s when they will start believing that this concept is for”

      1. Yeah, it’s just for the money, eh? I hope Federer doesn’t make a decision to join. This whole ‘scheme’ sounds a little fishy to me πŸ˜‰

      1. Yeah he did. But I don’t think he’s going to end up playing in this considering it’s multiple matches spread over the course of nearly a month. The matches are also played in different countries as well. What if he wants to do a training block during the off-season? Also he’ll probably want some family time too πŸ˜›

        [Show biz tennis, and they will all be knackered! ]
        I agree.

      2. And besides I’d rather Roger just play a week long exhibition in South America than he play in this league. Like Simon said, the whole thing also sounds strange to me.

  18. Conal, I haven’t heard about that. I feel bad for Delpo. He just might have an injury prone career. Looking at the rankings…could Delpo, Murray and Ferrer be on the downward slide? Berdych seems on the up but can be unpredictable. It will be interesting to see who is in the top 10 by the end of the year.

    1. A little unfortunate, because I saw he win the Sydney title this year live. He has potential to win slams, but his injuries derail his chances πŸ™

  19. A little unfortunate, because I saw him win the Sydney title this year live. He has potential to win slams, but his injuries derail his chances πŸ™

  20. Oke. I didn’t see the whole match. Only from the second set 2-3. What to say. Great he won. But….. this is not going to work against Berdych and certainly not against Novak.
    BUT… he fought through. Made a lot of mistakes. I think he lost his concentration a lot, but in the end Roger also needs this kind of matches. Stepanek is a good volleyer so Roger also got a good “workout”.
    Now…. against Rosol??? How will that go??? Come on Roger…..

    And… is Stepanek really 35??? He runs like a 23 year old….

    Well Jonathan, if Roger would have lost to Stepanek, something would be really wrong….
    Cannot wait for your take on this…

  21. Don’t know how you guys can stand to watch – I’m hyperventilating just checking the live scoring update at tennisearth.

  22. I saw the whole match. I can’t explain it: Even though he lost concentration, missed massive chances in the 2nd ad 3rd to close, DF’ed like 4 times,- it still does not look like 2013. There is something about his footwork and his shot making – maybe even his speed – that just don’t engender the trepidation watching him the way that his play in much of 2013 did. It was a close match, but maybe even strangely, I never really doubted the way I would doubt matches last year – even ones he pulled out in the end.
    Yeah he has to ay better as the tourney proceeds – yada yada yada – true. But Stepanek was also redlining it in the 2nd set. Couldn’t keep that up.

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