French OpenGrand SlamsRoger Federer

Federer Overcomes Del Potro in 5 Sets

Boom! Where to start? This match looked like it was curtains for Roger after he fell two sets behind playing some very mediocre stuff only to hit back and overturn the deficit for only the 7th time in his career winning 3-6 6-7 (4/7) 6-2 6-0 6-3.

The first two sets were really all about Del Potro, he came out hitting a seriously heavy ball in damp, slow conditions. He was constantly able to keep Roger on the defensive by consistently hitting the casing off the ball on both wings. I liken it to when Roger lost in Paris to Robin Soderling, also in the Quarters, in 2010. The conditions were similar and so was the way in which Roger was getting overpowered and making costly errors.

Roger lost the first set without making any sort of impression, he struggled for rhythm, served poorly (only making 48% of first serves) and made 13 unforced errors. It was a poor set by anyones standards but it certainly wasn't the worst he's ever played that's for sure. Of course my twitter timeline had the usual cries of injury which again I find ridiculous, Roger had barely started playing before everyone was claiming his serve lacked zip, he wasn't tossing the ball as high as usual and he wasn't moving well enough. I am sick of reading all this conjecture during Rogers matches, until he explicitly states an injury is hampering his play then we shouldn't assume anything. One person starts it and then everyone treats it as golden, yes I know he had troubles in Madrid and Rome but the only facts we have to go on are that he says he is fine and after seeing him go 5 today I'm not going to believe otherwise.

Back to the match and I genuinely thought the second set was the key to the match, if Roger didn't win it I really thought it was over for him. After Roger broke serve I thought he may just have turned the match in his favour but he played a total clown service game to hand it straight back. The tie break was once again Del Potro hitting big and Federer making uncharacteristic errors. (Something which he's been prone to all week). A big point at 5-4 in the breaker saw Roger scream shut up to crowd after someone called ‘out' in the middle of a rally, this threw his focus and he lost it 7-4.

At 2 sets to love down I have to be honest I thought the outlook was bleak, Roger hasn't come back from 2 sets down since he beat Falla at Wimbledon in 2010 (I do think that stat is flawed because how often does Roger loses the first two sets??) and in reality he wasn't playing well enough to do so in my opinion but the third set was where everything changed.

In my review of the Goffin match I talked about whether or not Del Potro's knee injury would factor, now for the opening 2 sets it had zero impact but almost in the blink of an eye the Argentine began to look uncomfortable. His movement around the court was suffering along with the pace on his first serve.

This also coincided with Roger playing far more aggressively and taking the game to Del Potro, perhaps sensing he could end the points much quicker he began to stamp his authority on the match. After taking the 3rd set with some clinical play he upped it again in the the 4th was as Del Potro failed to register on the scoreboard.

The decider wasn't all plain sailing though, after Del Potro gave up half way through the 4th it was obvious he was saving himself for one last hooray. In grand slam matches it's often the case a player gets a second wind and one boost of adrenaline can be enough to play through the pain barrier. Roger faced 2 break points in his opening service game, only to save both of them with first class forehands.

After he'd warded off the danger he crucially broke to lead 3-1 with a trademark forehand down the line. That was the end for Del Potro, you always worry when Fed is in these scenarios because he's not a natural born killer and has been known to let advantages slip but a 4-1 defecit for an injured Del Potro was virtually unassailable.

Was this match all part of the Federer Masterplan?

For the opening 2 sets Roger played very defensively, he absorbed a lot of Del Potros ground strokes and most points ended either in an error or Del Potro hitting one big ball too many.

But did Roger play this type of tennis on purprose? In the early stages he rarely used the slice and hit big top spin backhands constantly. He also refused to come to the net, both in play and behind his serve. In other words Roger didn't attempt to keep any of the points short. Now was this a conscious decision to take Del Potros legs away? Or was it simply Del Potro playing at a high level?

It’s clear that it helped me he wasn’t in the same kind of form and he searched perhaps for the winner earlier in the rally.

I'm not sure really, I heard Mark Petchey say he thought Roger played the opening 2 sets like he did to drain Del Potro, I'd like to think that because it sounds cool but Roger was very frustrated early in the match and last time I checked he hadn't been to the Andy Murray School of Drama and Play acting so I'd assume his shouts to the crowd and anger were genuine.

In the end I just think it was Del Potros knee injury catching up with him and Roger finally finding his range enabling him to play a more free flowing style of tennis that allowed him to find his rhythm and take the match away from Del Potro. The pleasing sign for me was Roger looked as fresh as a daisy after 5 sets whereas Del Potro, perhaps understandably looked like he'd done 12 rounds with Tyson.

Federer Del Potro Warm Reception

I play a great match, even the third and fourth set. He start to play much better than in the beginning of the match and I feel his ball more in the baseline. He put me to run a lot in the third and fourth set. He made better match than me after the second set. I don’t have any chance to win until the first game in the fifth set when I had break point. He play well points and he take the opportunity in the fifth set and he win.

Predictions vs. Djokovic

Well we have a repeat of last years epic semi final with Roger taking on Djokovic for the 26th time in their careers.

The Djokovic match on Chartrier was crazy, Tsonga outplayed Novak for most of the match, had 4 match points but still couldn't pull through. Credit to Djokovic because he played all those match points fearlessly, it's tough to know what Tsonga could have done differently apart from the 1 forehand error he made. Perhaps he played them too timidly but Djokovic played them with pure aggression.

I can't see this match being as good as last years as so far both players haven't found top form (that's not to say they won't in the semi but I find it unlikely), I also don't think Djokovic is playing that well either, he's had to dig deep to reach the semis against Seppi, a guy who's outside the top 20, albeit in form, and then against Tsonga, who I'd say that clay is his worst surface.

On the flip Roger hasn't found top gear either so it's not going to be easy for both players. Currently I'm unsure on who I think will win, as usual it's a heart and head thing. Of course my heart says Roger and my head is unsure. I did think before the tournament Roger would lose to Djoker, but just like I was last year now I'm not so sure. In my prediction last year I said Roger would win and it worked so I'm sticking to that system and saying Roger wins in 5 sets. Perhaps not so objective, perhaps a little blind worshiper like but I'm a fan so who gives a shit. Allez!


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. was waiting for your review.. was a cracket (Esp the 4th set).. I like Delpo.. but, its Roger’s night in Paris tonight.. I would like to think one point different though. If you tune in the match 3rd round, at the end of the first set the commentator mentions ‘in the same stage one year before Roger would lose, but for the past six month he hasnt’ . the commentator was mentioning about coming from a set down to win. Maybe its the plan of Paul (I wish). coming from a set down, reading the opponent’s game, being patient and striking at the rite moment.. I hope this plan will work on Djoker and Nadal.. 🙂 Allez Roger.. FO is yours..

    1. Hey Ramesh,

      Cheers for commenting! Didn’t here the commentator say that but guess it’s a good point, he does have a lot of resolve these last few months!

      Today was touch and go man, first 2 sets he was out of it but as soon as he won the third you just knew he’d be coming back to win.

      Hope he can do the business against Djoker, it will be tough but we do have last year as all the evidence we need to know he’s capable.

  2. Tsonga deserved the win (after Fed, is my favorite player, and it makes me quite sad that he couldn’t convert those match points, or win the tiebreak).

    I’m not so confident about the SF match, I believe Roger can win if he plays like he played the 2nd half of the match vs Delpo (FINALLY! Some 2012-Fed!!).

    His Roland Garros form wasn’t so good until that moment, but in that moment we saw that Federer who defeated Rafa in IW, or Berdych in Madrid.

    I really hope he can show that form vs Nole…

    I think this match can go either way…

    IDK… GO KING!!!

    1. Yeah Tsonga is pretty fun to watch, his game is poor on clay though so I’m not surprised he lost despite having those 4 match points. I’d have liked to see him play Fed though in the semi’s the crowd would have been electric I’m sure.

      The SF for me is a coinflip, I want, hope Roger to win but Djoker is always tough to beat. The prospect of a Fedal clay final hardly excites me either.


  3. I think I whispered about injury after one of your reports. Perhaps after the Unger match but I changed my mind pretty quickly. I think Roger has just found it hard to find his rhythm. For a reason I cannot work out. I think it would be crazy to believe Federer had a plan to go behind. Very crazy. But it did take him a while to solve the puzzle. He seemed to try to out-hit Delpo at first which was never going to work. It was only when he started to mix up his game with slice and angles that the tide started to turn. He played a perfect 3 sets and took full advantage of an ailing opponent, which is harder to do than people would think. I hope that the nature of this victory will help spark to life what has been, thus far, a lacklustre tournament for Federer. In terms of form, this has been the worst Grand Slam he’s played since Wimbledon 2010. But yet he’s in the semis. He’s got into the habit of winning this year which I think is a factor in his win today. Let’s hope the habit continues vs Djokovic.

    1. Hey man,

      Yeah but I think after that Ungur match it was kinda justified, he’d said he had injuries in Rome and played like crap for two opening rounds. But after seeing him make the Semi’s I don’t see him lookig hampered.

      I think its like you say he’s just struggling for rythmn which has been the case all tournament. He did come good towards the end of the match though so hopefully turned a corner on that front.

      Hope he can beat Djoker too but it’s gonna be tough.

  4. Yesterday was totally frustrating in the US – to see max 40 minutes of Federer/Delpo, over and over on Tennis Channel. what is this scheduling QF matches back to back. It seems ridiculous. I know they wanted to show Djok/Tsonga, but they could have shifted a bit somewhere during the day/evening to show part of sets 3-5.

  5. The same thing happened to me. They showed only a small part of Fed’s match and the rest Djokovic. I was hoping they would show the rest of the Fed match in the evening, but no.
    Why the organizers plan both quarter-finals at once makes no sense and benefits no one esp. the fans.

  6. Hi All. I think that the Federer/ Djokovic match tomorrow will be one of highs and lows, it is extremely unlikely that we will see the same standard as 12 months ago.Djokovic is under enormous pressure to try to get to the final and thus be in a position to achieve probably the very hardest accolade in mens tennis: to hold all four slams at the same time. History does not lie and that is why so many greats, past and present, have been unable to achieve it.I give the nod to Federer tomorrow and if so, believe he will take the match to Nadal in Sunday’s final with Roger winning the first set but then capitulating to the butt-picker.If Djokovic should get to the final it will take a gargantuan effort from him to beat Nadal and if he should somehow manage to do so I think all tennis fans would agree that it would be one of the most monumental achievements ever achieved in mens tennis…

    1. Hey Paul,

      Great comment and you could be right on the highs and lows. Theres been plenty peaks and troughs in all Rogers matches this tournament. And in fact Djokers too as he’s played poorly in spells.

      Although, perhaps they may cancel each other out and play unbelievable for the course of the match. Who knows.

      I’m finding it hard to pick a winner, I said Federer in my post but that’s a little bias of mine as you’d expect. Both players should be confident after coming through in 5. It’s gonna be tough that’s all I know.


  7. I really don’t know about tomorrow’s match. I have no clue! Roger can either play bad like he did in Rome against Djokovic or brilliant like he did last year at this same stage. I will 100% be watching it live and I will hope and pray that Roger will come out on top. I think that if he wins, it will give him enough momentum for Wimbledon. We know Rafa will win here but Wimbledon is a different matter. And If Nole wins, lets see if he can make 10 consecutive GS finals and win 16 GS in 7 years let alone beating Rafa!

    1. Me either Chris, it’s hard to pick! Fed can win though that’s not in doubt.

      Nadull is looking unstoppable though, giving Ferrer a beat down.

  8. Too bad Roger couldn’t keep his #2 ranking going into FO. He could be playing Ferer and Nadal and Djokovic would be slugging it out. Wouldn’t that have been nice.

    1. Yes, that will be much better, Nadal’s getting Murray or Ferrer all the time in the semis in the past three slams, no challenge at all!

      Roger vs Novak.

      What Roger must do to win.
      -1st serve must be very consistent.
      -Be less conservative on break points (4 out of 25 converted last year).
      -Reduce unforced errors.
      -Attack by coming into the net more, Djokovic will win more points from the baseline (shown above in statistics).
      -Do not rally too long with Djokovic on the baseline, as he will most likely be overpowered.

  9. A terrible match from Roger (I’ve watched the first two sets). Forehands were flying all over the court, some amateur mistakes at the net, a below average first serve %. I should have seen that coming, considering he has struggled from the very start of the tournament. Hopefully he can wake up in time for the grass court season, starting with Halle (although anything but a win in Wimbledon would be disappointing for fans and him (at least it should be to him)). He has played well in non slam tournaments this season, but his slam performances have been very disappointing since the FO 2011. I don’t know what to think, really. (especially considering his recent Wimbledon history).
    Nevertheless, I wish him the best of luck.

    1. Hey Leon,

      Yeah man it was bad, I’ve mentioned Halle in my post, it is almost must win.

      Hopefully he can turn the style on at Wimby too.


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