Guten Tag! So Hamburg is under way and Roger made a winning start with is new 98 square inch racquet defeating Daniel Brands in 3 sets; 3-6 6-3 6-2. It's the first time he's played Hamburg since 2008 so it was nice to see him back there as it's been the setting for some great matches including one of his rare wins over Nadal on clay.
It was also great to see him make a winning start with a new piece of kit, which is apparently a custom frame that Wilson have designed especially for him and not the Blade 98 as many people thought.
I actually think a win was almost imperative in his first match here so I'm very happy; losing your first match back with a new racquet could have been a psychological blow. It would have been very easy for him to blame the racquet for the loss and treat it as a failed experiment before quickly changing back to the 90sq” Pro Staff but now he's tasted victory with it he surely has to persevere.
Quick Match Analysis
The match itself was pretty straightforward, Brands played better in the first set but Roger played much better in the next 2, simple as that really. It started nicely for Roger as he banged down 3 aces in his opening service game which was a nice start with the new racquet and despite having quite a few 30 all's and deuces on the Brands serve he was the one who got broken first at 3-4 before Brands served it out easily.
It wasn't a great set but at the same time it wasn't a disaster, Roger played ok, just a really poor game to drop serve and with Brands only needing 1 more game he was hard pressed to break back. But I wasn't worried anyway, the more court time the better right now.
After dropping the first set, I fully expected Fed to get it done in 3 and he did exactly that breaking early in the second and taking it 6-3 before then breaking Brands twice in the decider to run away with it 3-6 6-3 6-2.
No real highlights as such, some nice touches and angles slices that are clearly still going to be a factor in his game despite the change in racquet which is good to see. Still plenty shanks too but that's always going to happen 😉
Thoughts on the Match
I'm pretty happy with this to be honest and can't ask for more. Ok he dropped a set but I don't think that's a big deal in the slightest, if anything it's probably better that he did. He had to come from behind in his first match which is always a nice way to win especially when in his last match against Stakhovsky he couldn't turn around the 2 set to 1 deficit.
Like I said above, anything but a win here would have been a disaster so I'd have taken a win anyway he could get it, be it a flukey net cord at 7-6 in the third set breaker or pulling away comfortably 6-2 like he managed to. I just think it was important to start winning immediately with new equipment as it would have been so easy to lose and let the change play on your mind.
I also thought Fed played pretty well in parts too, he was a little rusty which is understandable but hit some nice winners and defended quite well off both wings with the defensive full stretch sliding slice and the squash shot forehand to keep himself in plenty points. The first serve was solid as usual and 3 out of 6 break points is going to get the job done in most matches.
Did the New Racquet Make a Difference?
Truth be told I have no idea 😀 as it's simply too early to tell, I actually tried to not pay too much attention to it during the match as I know I'd have ended up convincing myself that he was doing something differently be it hitting the forehand bigger or using the topspin backhand more when in reality he wasn't. All I know is everything was in working order.
I didn't really see any noticeable differences as to how he was hitting the ball and it looked like he had all the same attributes as ever, playing with plenty deftness, slice and skill like he always does. The only thing you can say is that he wasn't as full blooded on some of the shots as usual but I figure that's only natural.
You also have to remember that Brands isn't the sort of guy the racquet change was needed or designed for, he's a first strike kind of guy with a big forehand and it's not like Roger has been struggling in the second round of ATP Masters 250 tournaments so there wasn't much to read into. If Brands was 10-0 in the H2H and suddenly Roger beats him comfortably then maybe the racquet was the difference, as of right now it's impossible to say and the win is all that matters.
As for the racquet, I think it will come into it's own as the season progresses and we get to the big time tournaments in Montreal, Cincinnati and then New York. The main thing right now isn't whether we see a difference in play or better returning it's just important he wins some matches; I'm just happy that he has embraced the change and is giving it a go.
Yet again he's done something Sampras could never do and gone away from a racquet that won him 17 slams. That is a big decision but as usual the GOAT doesn't take half measures when it comes to his career and staying at the top for as long as possible.
Federer Discusses His New Racquet After Defeating Brands
Predictions vs. Hajek
As usual the draw has changed from the predicted match ups as Jan Hajek defeated Enersts Gublis in three sets. This is obviously a much easier match up for Fed as Hajek can't pose too many problems. They've never met but Hajek is lying down at 140 in the world and has never won a career title.
After the beating Brands, who is quite a talented player with weapons, this is a peRFect second round match for Roger and I figure he can take some risks here on his groundstrokes to see what happens. With Brands you have to be a little more careful as he's got a game and a serve that can hurt you quickly.
Hajek can clearly play too but I don't think he's ever beaten a top 10 player and I don't expect that to change so predict Federer in straights 6-2 6-2. Allez!