Boom! Masterclass from Federer here as he snapped the Djokovic 28 match winning streak in Asia with a 6-4 6-4 victory in 1 hour 35 minutes.
Both players said they had to play their A game before the encounter but it was Fed who executed the peRFect gameplan. Dominating with his serve + forehand and then using chip & charge to pressure Djokovic on the big points.
A peRFect display against who guy who last lost in Asia in 2010 and it's Federer yet again who defeats him when he's been playing lights out tennis for an extended period.
Quick Match Recap
Djokovic won the toss and elected to serve; firing down a confident hold to lead 1-0.
Fed's 2nd serve was going to be important in this one and it was crucial he defended it well whenever he missed the 1st delivery. In fact Robbie Koenig pulled up the stat in commentary that if Fed wins more than 50% behind his 2nd serve then he goes onto win 83% of matches vs. Djoker. Interesting stat and it was evident from Fed's first game as he got pegged to deuce but went onto hold with some accurate serving.
Djokovic then held to 15 only to be matched by the Swiss as he levelled for 2-2. In game 5 Fed made his first inroads, creating 0-30 on the Djokovic serve. The Serb then hit a peach of a backhand (which was actually out but no challenge) for 15-30 to keep in touch. However Fed won the next point to setup 2 break points; converting his second with a lovely chip charge approach shot that was the peRFect length and drew the error from Novak.
Djokovic is one of the sports best returners and it was inevitable he came out firing in Fed's next game to try recover the break. The World Number 1 immediately had a chance too to restore parity but Federer hit a huge FH to make deuce then held for 4-2.
The Serb then had to fight off deuce on his service game but he held for 4-3. Pressure again on Fed but he delivered a memorable service game, winning it in 47 seconds, hitting 3 aces only to be denied a clean sweep by the tiniest nick from the Djokovic frame, 5-3. Djokovic then held to force Fed to serve it out, which he did with aplomb firing down an ace on game point to take it 6-4.
Into set 2 and Fed started where he left off, hitting 2 awesome backhands to create 15-40 on the Djokovic serve again converting at the 2nd time of asking to lead 1-0.
The break was soon consolidated for 2-0 before Djokovic held for 1-2. Fed then fire down another confident hold to lead 3-1. In Djokovic's next service game Fed had 2 more chances to secure the double break but the Serb played some clutch tennis. Coming up with an immense pass to make deuce and eventually holding serve. Huge hold.
At this point Djokovic was suddenly rising and building momentum but again Fed held firm, fending off a deuce game to hold for 4-2 before Djokovic again held to keep up the pressure.
With Fed serving at 4-3 he found himself in trouble getting pegged back to deuce from 40-0. 4 more game points came his way but Djokovic just wouldn't go away but here Fed stood tall, finally closing it out for a 5-3 lead.
Pressure back onto Djokovic and at 0-30 down it looked like his resistance was coming to an end. That became match point for the Swiss at 30=40 but the defending champion again showed what he's made of, saving the first match point with a superb serve and volley changeup and the 2nd with an ace forcing Fed to serve it out.
Could the GOAT do it? You betcha, winning the first point was a perfect start and he didn't back off any of his shots, closing it out with a sweet volley into the open court after another chip charge play. Allez!
|N. Djokovic||R. Federer|
|1st Serve %||69%||71%|
|1st Serve Points Won||32/53 (60%)||35/51 (69%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||13/24 (54%)||13/21 (62%)|
|Break Points Saved||8/10 (80%)||1/1 (100%)|
|Service Games Played||10||10|
|1st Return Points Won||16/51 (31%)||21/53 (40%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||8/21 (38%)||11/24 (46%)|
|Break Points Won||0/1 (0%)||2/10 (20%)|
|Return Games Played||10||10|
|Net Points Won||11/15||20/35|
|Total Service Points Won||45/77 (58%)||48/72 (67%)|
|Total Return Points Won||24/72 (33%)||32/77 (42%)|
|Total Points Won||69/149 (46%)||80/149 (54%)|
Thoughts on the Match
What a performance and most of all what a fantastic match to watch for Federer / Tennis fans. I know everyone has different tastes but if you can't enjoy the way Federer plays tennis then really you need help. I probably sound like a broken record but the way this guys plays the sport is just ridiculous and he makes the most difficult of shots look like child's play. It's even crazier to think he turned pro in 98 yet still produces this kind of Tennis in high pressure situations 16 years later. His execution against Djokovic today was just masterful; pretty much every groundstroke, every volley and every serve was both pleasing on the eye and hugely effective. That inside out forehand half volley he hits up the line time and time again off good Djokovic returns is beyond a joke.
6-4 6-4 makes it look like a routine win or somehow Djokovic wasn't at his best, but he played at a level today that would see him beat the majority of the top 10 comfortably. In this encounter though Fed's base level was just too high, he kept that consistency throughout and pressured when he needed to. Snuffing out any danger on his own serve with fearless hitting and zero hesitation; and whenever the moment presented itself on the Djokovic serve he didn't hold back either, coming into the net and forcing Djokovic to come out his comfort zone. It worked peRFectly too, Djokovic might have come up with some wonderful passing shots but Fed won the points at the net that mattered. It's now how many you win, but which ones you do win and that adage definitely held true in this match.
As for key key moments there were quite a few of them mostly in the second set. The first set was really about Fed playing at GOAT level, Djoker got off to a nice start but Roger hit top gear at just the right time. I think the break point that Fed converted set the tone of things to come, it showed Fed wasn't going to mess about at the back of the court – he was going to come in and play ultra aggressive and be the one forcing the issue.
The second set was again about Fed's aggression but also his mental toughness to not drop serve despite Djokovic pressuring him. In fact the Serb didn't have a single break point in the 2nd set, that's just credit to Fed's serving accuracy and his ground game backing it up to stay in control of the points. Just a joy to watch and his forehand was most certainly on today firing 11 clean winners.
Predictions vs. Simon
A bit of a shame this match wasn't the final really but the job is only half done for Fed as he now faces Gilles Simon in the final. Quite a surprise opponent really as Simon hasn't factored at Masters 1000 level since making the Madrid 2008 final. It's no fluke though as the Frenchman has been bang in form defeating Wawrinka, Berdych and Lopez en route to a final.
When you think of players you don't want Fed to face in a final there aren't many names out there. You usually think of Nadal, Djokovic and possibly Berdych but that's about it. However based on previous matches between these two Simon is probably one of the guys on the list. He's caused Fed so much trouble over the years; winning their first 2 matches and taking Fed the distance twice at slam level.
The H2H is now 4-2 in Roger's favour but I think he's going to have to play a similar type match today. He can definitely handle Simon more easily than Djokovic from the back of the court but I'd like to see him keep up the same attacking intensity he showed today. Getting drawn into long exchanges is Simon's bread and butter and it could make things unnecessarily difficult for Fed. If Roger can come up with some effective approach shots then it doesn't matter how good a retriever you are or how few unforced errors you make, you're not tracking down well placed volleys whether your surname is Djokovic, Bolt or Simon.
Keys for the match for me will be – for Fed not to get too casual like has done before vs Simon and to play in full on aggression mode. (I honestly think he gets bored playing the guy, a bit like the Murray matchup.) He's also gotta take advantage of Simon's weakish serve and just generally bully him around.
As for Simon I think he's probably looking forward to the match, he doesn't have much to lose and he knows he can trouble Fed on his day. It will also be interesting to see if he cracks out the lob to try make Fed think twice about coming in. From what I remember that's a shot he has in his locker, maybe it can be useful for him if Fed's right on top of the net.
I'm personally hoping for a Rome 2012 like match rather than an Australian Open / French Open thriller. Fed in 2. 6-4 6-4. Allez!