ATP Masters 1000Roger FedererRome Masters

Federer Makes Solid Start at Internazionali BNL d’Italia

Back to winning ways on the red stuff for Federer as he defeated Pablo Cuevas 7-6(3) 6-4 to move into the third round in Rome where he'll face big serving Kevin Anderson.

This one was a rematch of the Istanbul final just 2 weeks ago and in many ways a very similar match; Roger played solidly throughout and Cuevas just made a few too many errors at key moments which prevented him from making it truly competitive.

The only question I have is: Y U NO DO THIS IN MADRID ROGER?

Quick Match Recap

Federer Cuevas Rome 2015

Cuevas won the toss and elected to receive; Roger opened up things up with an impressive love hold to lead 1-0.

The Swiss then took the first point on the Cuevas serve but the World Number 24 reeled off 4 points to hold. Both players then continued to trade routine holds until game 8 where Roger created a break point chance to move up 5-3. Cuevas saved it though and they again traded holds before the set headed into a tie break

Roger's tie break record in 2015 has been abysmal and it didn't start too well for him here either; ballooning a forehand long on the opening point but he hit back to recoup the mini break with an exquisite volley. That instant recovery set the tone for the bester and Roger streaked away with it, hitting a ridiculous squash shot retrieval forehand on set point to take it 7-3.

In the Istanbul final Cuevas made the second set competitive and he again dug in here, saving 2 break points at the start of set 2. At 1-1 15-15, Roger received a warning for ball abuse after he sent a ball out the stadium thanks to missing a routine volley. Fortunately it didn't negatively impact his game because at 2 games a piece he came up with a genius backhand pass for 0-15 and at 15-40 Cuevas missed a routine overhead to hand Roger the break. That miss from the Urguayan proved to be decisive and Roger consolidated the break before going on to take the set 6-4.

Match Stats

  P. Cuevas R. Federer
Aces 5 8
Double Faults 0 0
1st Serve % 55% 61%
1st Serve Points Won 26/39 (67%) 33/36 (92%)
2nd Serve Points Won 22/32 (69%) 15/23 (65%)
Break Points Saved 3/4 (75%) 0/0 (0%)
Service Games Played 11 11
1st Return Points Won 3/36 (8%) 13/39 (33%)
2nd Return Points Won 8/23 (35%) 10/32 (31%)
Break Points Won 0/0 (0%) 1/4 (25%)
Return Games Played 11 11
Winners 19 32
Unforced Errors 21 21
Net Points Won 6 14/20
Total Service Points Won 48/71 (68%) 48/59 (81%)
Total Return Points Won 11/59 (19%) 23/71 (32%)
Total Points Won 59/130 (45%) 71/130 (55%)

Thoughts on the Match

Federer Defeat Cuevas Rome 2015

A solid first match from Fed and it was important to return to winning ways after the early loss in Madrid. I think his game was still patchy especially on the return but his serve was untouchable throughout and Cuevas didn't create a single break point.

Fed was able to produce some magical shots as usual but they tended to get followed up cheap errors; take the stunning backhand return that he followed up with a shocker chip into the net off a second serve that that I think would have gotten him to 30-30. That needs cutting out as it prevents the build up of pressure on his opponents serve. I liken it a bit to cricket, if a batsmen is under pressure you have to keep it up, one bad ball that goes for four and he has released the shackles. If you're hitting a 2nd serve and you see a return dumped into the base of the net you're breathing far easier. You can get away with it against Cuevas who isn't a big server or a guy with big weapons but against a lot of the top guys on clay it can be costly.

But it's still early days and overall it was a tidy enough performance for Fed, he gets the win, records good stats in all columns against a solid clay courter and he's still in the draw which is obviously all that really matters. Interestingly he hit more backhand winners than forehand winners too – good or bad? You decide ๐Ÿ™‚

As for Cuevas, he was reliable for the most part but at a key moment in the tie break to get back to 4-5 he missed a very makeable shot which cost him. Then to get broken in the second he botched a routine overhead. Had he been that bit more clutch it could have gotten far more interesting but those misses allowed Roger to keep him at arms length throughout.

Predictions vs. Anderson

Anderson Rome 2015

Next up is South African Kevin Anderson who moved into the 3rd Round after Kohlschreiber retired with an elbow injury down three love in the first set of their encounter. Hard to say who would have come through that one had Kohli been fit but Anderson's the guy still in the draw and he should provide a good test for Fed.

After all he has a huge serve and powerful forehand that can trouble all comers, it's just a question of whether he can hold it together mentally to actually make it close. Roger leads the H2H 2-0 and both wins were relatively routine so I expect similar tomorrow. There is the transition from night session to day session which could be a little tricky but Fed has been practising enough in similar conditions to what he will get tomorrow so he should be fine.

If Anderson isn't having a great day on serve it could well be a rout; or if he plays lights out then I think it's close (possible tie breaks) but Roger still comes away with the win. Fed in 2. 6-4 6-4.


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. By looking on highlights only, very hard to say Roger has fearsome FH…most of winners coming from BH…Hopefully his FH cylinder starts working on forthcoming matches….. Very Nice to watch when single handers playing though….

  2. Rog had several chances to break – as you say a great shot to put him in position to break was then followed by a shank or miss on a winnable shot, but if we didn’t have the TB, there would not have been the magical shot to win it. The other eye-popping shot was the first point after 2 all in second set – just WOW! Only Feds can produce this type of shot – how did he do it? Seemed like a flick of the wrist – genius. And it’s those magical shots which make us love him. ๐Ÿ™‚

    His serving was exceptional so unless Anderson can get close to his best %, I agree with your prediction.

  3. So agree! Why u no do this in Madrid? Big difference for me was that he looked very lively, had high energy throughout. I even liked that he got a warning, shoes he was right in it! Some exquisite touches, and impressive serving added to good movement will see him thru Kev. I wld really like to see him play Fog but I think it will be Tomas….

    1. Well he was quite vocal against Kyrgios too? Talking about clowns in the circus ๐Ÿ˜† no ball abuse though.

      Fog never seems to back up decent performances back to back, Berd will likely just over power him.

  4. Thanks for your quick report Jonathan! ๐Ÿ™‚ Nice stats as you say – I might wish for the 1st serve % to be even higher, as it is sometimes, but some of that is down to the opponent getting balls back.

    Seemed to me Fed was running around the backhand quite a bit, which was pulling him WAY off to the side – including on that set point for the first set. It was uncanny that he was able to get back across the court at all, but he was wildly lucky the crosscourt stayed on the line. So interesting observation that he had more bh winners.

    Given that he won the match, I loved the point Cuevas won in the second set – oh, you want to hit a drop shot that bounces sideways out of my reach? I can do that to you too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Don’t think Anderson has the all-round clay court game Cuevas has, though as you say if his serve is on that could be tricky in & of itself. As always, much depends on which Roger shows up. So far, the Roger in Rome seems to be moving well & improving in his execution. Think your prediction sounds very reasonable.

    Some nutty results elsewhere in the field today – Simon retiring with something wrong with his NECK, after being very competitive & losing his 1st set on a tiebreak? Tsonga taking Goffin to 3, then getting BAGELED in the last set? Fognini over Dimitrov- omg. (I think I may even have called that one on my Tiger predictions, not sure!); & Troicki still in it – think his best ever ranking is just outside the top 10, looks like he’s serious about getting back there.

    Pietrangeli is sure a pretty court…

    1. No, no, wasn’t Tsonga who got bageled, I’m mixing up my matches, sorry. He just failed to convert match points. It was Dimitrov who got bageled in the 3rd in that wild Fognini match.

  5. Great to see Fed make it to the 3rd round this week! One match at a time. I hope he can make a run. Also, great to find this site where there are lots of other RF fans. There are so many Fed haters on other tennis sites.

  6. Solid Start. Fed has arrived in rome with a purpose. A SF result here woild be great anyway. Although I dont see him going beyond the semis , he has nothing to lose.
    Djokovic vs Murray Semi s will be ome to watch out for. Nadal Should make it to the finals atleast. And whether or not federer will be playing monte carlo next year would depend on his results here in Rome. But I have a feeling that Federer will surpass our expectations for a deep run at Roland Garros.

  7. Watching this match, you would never know that Fed’s best shot is his forehand. Some great bh winners. Onwards and upwards.

  8. It was a solid performance by Roger. I found it a little worrying though that he missed quite a few forehands. Something to be improved on his way to the final!

    1. Yeah I agree, his forehand cost him Wimbledon really, along with the return. Was really good in Dubai this year so hope it starts firing.

  9. Welcome back to blogging ways, Jonathan. Glad you had a good break in Spain.
    “The only question I have is: Y U NO DO THIS IN MADRID ROGER?” – Aww so true! But no No-Fed fan story?

    Great start for Fed, with some magnificent point constructions. It was high quality, entertaining match, I thought, as both guys showed lovely skills. Strong serving day as well as sharp at the net. Loved watching BHs.

    1. If I can think of anything useful to write I will do ๐Ÿ™‚ I didn’t make any notes or anything while there so it’s hard enough to recall the matches I even saw ๐Ÿ˜†

  10. Aaaaaaand Andy decides now is a good time to withdraw with fatigue. Sorry, I recognize these guys need to rest, and he wasn’t sure if he was going to play when he got here, but decide before the start of play. Preferably before the draw. For Pete’s sake. Give one of the other dudes a chance to play.

  11. Alison, I think it was you? – We had an exchange on an earlier thread about the impact of the kids on his travel arrangements (I was actually wondering if they had decided to try to give the girls a few months of more traditional classroom time) – Roger actually addresses this some in his interview w/ Marianne Bevis (she always asks great questions. And takes great pix too, she has some phenomenal “Fed jumping shoes” shots):

    1. Ah nice article, hadn’t seen it. Madrid is a hectic city depending on where you stay. Rome too I guess. So makes sense to stay home when it’s only a stonesthrow away anyway.

  12. Missed Roger’s first match but glad he got a W there. A little gutted that he lost to Krygios at Madrid, played poorly at crucial points. If he goes deep, I am happy as I have absolutely zero expectation here ๐Ÿ™

  13. Copied over from the “wrong” page:

    What on *earth* was that?! โ€œRoger makes solid start at Roma, then decides thatโ€™s *way* too boringโ€, or something?! โ€œRoger does Djokovic-like walkabout in set 2โ€ณ? Looking forward to reading your report, J, since I only had the scores to go on.

    J, if you want to delete my other entry, feel free!

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