After having his match cancelled on Monday evening due to inclement weather Roger finally got on court yesterday afternoon and made a winning start defeating Grega Zemlja 6-3 6-2 7-5 to setup a second round tie against Argentinian Carlos Berlocq.
It was the first time we've seen Fed since his Quarter Final loss to Nadal in Cincinnati but as expected this was a routine match that he was able to cruise through without ever facing any sort of danger.
Quick Match Analysis
Roger went into this match with a 2-0 lead in the H2H, including a win at Rotterdam earlier in the year when he was clearly nowhere near his best, so this was always going to be an easy encounter and it pretty much followed the script.
As usual Fed wasted break points in Žemlja's opening service game which was a little disappointing but Roger's own service games were taking care of themselves allowing him to play freely on the return. Žemlja eventually handed him the break at 4-3 making some weak errors and Roger served it out 6-3.
The second set was more of the same however this time around it was some nice returning from Roger that got him the early break to lead 2-0 and then back to back double faults from Žemlja gave him a double break to lead 5-2.
The third set was always going to be a formality and in live chat (sign up it's real good fun) many fans were predicting bakery products.
It didn't quite pan out like that as by the looks of things Roger had gotten extremely bored due to the lack of rallies / matchplay and handed back his break of serve with a string of errors. Fortunately though he came back to life straight away at 5-5 to get back the advantage before closing it out comfortably to move into the second round.
|Stats||Roger Federer||Grega Zemlja|
|1st serves in||48/80 (60 %)||43/88 (49 %)|
|1st serve points won||41/48 (85 %)||29/43 (67 %)|
|2nd serve points won||21/32 (66 %)||18/45 (40 %)|
|Fastest serve||125 MPH||131 MPH|
|Average 1st serve speed||113 MPH||119 MPH|
|Average 2nd serve speed||92 MPH||94 MPH|
|Net points won||20/21 (95 %)||5/13 (38 %)|
|Break points won||5/11 (45 %)||1/3 (33 %)|
|Receiving points won||41/88 (47 %)||18/80 (23 %)|
|Total points won||103||65|
A very solid match from Fed, winners comfortably outnumbering unforced errors and some strong net play winning him plenty of points. Nice to see.
Thoughts on the Match
Overall this was a pleasing start to the tournament and Roger just played a solid match. The stats rarely lie and that's the definitely the case here as they prove he was by far the better player.
Žemlja on the other hand was very poor, serving 9 double faults and really looking clueless out there. With his poor play he kinda had a negative impact on Roger too as he almost sent him to sleep towards the end of the match.
Sometimes when you're playing an opponent who is really having a bad day you're not really able to test your own game or feel like you're being pushed; errors creep in and you almost feel a little sluggish on court like you'll be winning this no matter what happens.
It almost frustrates you in a way and you spend more time thinking I wish this guy could play a little better so we can rally and the fact Fed went straight to the practice courts after suggests this was definitely the case.
That's probably the sole reason he dropped serve in the 3rd set, he just wanted the match over and done with ASAP and dropped serve. It wasn't confidence related just a lack of focus and the main thing was he hit back pretty quickly and didn't get into any kind of trouble.
Where can improvements be made? I'd say Roger can make improvements in all areas of his game but that's not really a criticism or concern right now as I think he will get better the more matches he plays.
For a first round he looked solid, served well and took the initiative when he needed too. Still not quite clinical on break points or as aggressive on the return as he could be but we'll assess that as the tournament progresses.
Quick side note, as I said above Roger went straight to the practice courts after his match which was good to see, it proves Žemlja didn't give him the necessary work out he felt he needed (no rallies of any length) but it also shows he's committed to doing well at the USO and will put in the effort to make sure he's in the best possible shape / form to achieve that which I like.
Hopefully this is a sign he's not going to leave the tournament wondering and can't have any regrets in the form of “what if I'd practiced a little more” etc etc.
Predictions vs. Berlocq
Next up for Fed is clay court specialist Carlos Berlocq who I think will find it impossible to impose any area of his game on the match. They've only met once before, last year in Rome with Roger winning 6-3 6-4, so everything points to a comfortable straight sets Federer win.
This is only the second time Berlocq has made it past the 1st round at the US Open so he clearly struggles on quicker surfaces, he's lost in the 1st round of Wimbledon 6 times too so how can he do any damage? The answer is I don't think he can, he's just a solid player but will struggle to find any holes in Federer's game.
I suppose the fact he's matched his best performance at the USO at the age of 30 shows he might be slowly improving on hard courts and he'll have some confidence after winning his first career title this year in Bastad but I'm predicting Roger win this one in for the loss of just 5 games, you do the math 😀 6-2 6-2 6-1. Allez!
Roddick interviews Federer
Unrelated to the match but I thought this was a cool interview and worth a watch.
Roger also made some interesting comments in his post match presser about how he just plays for the love of the sport and many players are just in it for a means to an end. That comment is both true and can be interpreted in many ways especially by his rivals which I like 😀
Q. Is your passion as high as it's ever been?
Yeah, I think so. Clearly when you win everything, it's fun. That doesn't necessarily mean you love the game more. You just like winning, being on the front page, lifting trophies, doing comfortable press conferences. It's nice. But that doesn't mean you really actually love it, love it. That maybe shines through maybe more in times when you don't play that well. For me, I knew it, winning or losing, practice court or match court, that I love it. So I've been around for too long. Clearly when I had, you know, my two girls, I also wasn't sure right off the bat how it was going to be after that. Was I going to be able to play the same schedule? Was my love for the game as big? Were we going to be able to cope with the whole thing, having twins or not? Managed it totally fine. They were at the court today. I'm so happy to see them before and after the match. I'm in a good spot right now. I want to enjoy it as long as it lasts, yeah.
Final note– I launched live chat for the first time during the Žemlja match and it proved to be a great success, it was lots of fun chatting with other Fed fans throughout the match, sharing thoughts on Fed's level, how he's playing and also discussing other results / upsets at the USO so far.
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