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
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.
|P. Cuevas||R. Federer|
|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|
|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
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 🙂
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
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.