Hey guys, we're underway on the green grass of Westphalia and Roger decided to kick things off with a roller-coaster match as he defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6(8), 3-6, 7-6(5) to move into the last 16 at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle.
This was always a tough opening match on paper for the Swiss and so it proved with Kohlschreiber winning the battle of the forehands for the most part but falling short in the final set breaker when it mattered most. The German who played the better tennis in sets 2 and 3, managed to win just his second set off Federer in 9 meetings, saved two match points in the third set and was up 5-3 in the in the tie break but Roger's serve got him out of trouble winning 4 points in a row to take it 7-5 in the decider.
Quick Match Recap
Roger won the toss and elected to serve, kicking off with an ace and holding to love for a 1-0 lead. Kohlschreiber then held to 30 but 3 games later he dropped serve and Roger moved into a 4-2 lead. In trying to consolidate the Swiss's serve went AWOL, missing all 8 in the game and after an unfortunate slip at deuce Kohlschreiber broke back.
Back on serve and both players traded back to back holds to send the set into a tie break. This was a topsy turvy one to say the least, Roger holding the mini break but giving it back before then having to save 2 set points at 5-6 and and 7-8 respectively before taking the opener 10-8.
Into set 2 and both players looked confident on serve; quick holds were the order of the day with the scoreboard moving onto 3 games all in no time. In game 8 Roger was rightfully aggrieved at a slow Kohlschreiber challenge which turned out to be correct; this annoyed him doubly considering in the previous game he fired down an unreturnable serve that had to be wrongfully replayed. The argument with Umpire Cedric Mourier spilled over into the changeover and Kohlschreiber then took advantage to break for a 5-3 lead before serving out the set 6-3.
A one set shootout was now a reality and Roger kicked it off with an impressive love hold. The Swiss then pulled off a behind the back lob en route to creating a break point but the German held. At 2-2 it was Kohlschreiber's turn to have a break point but Roger saved it in style with a big serve before holding. No more chances came the way of either player until 4-5 with Kohlschreiber serving; here the German slipped to 15-40 but landed a forehand bang on the baseline then fired down a huge serve to make deuce before holding.
Shrugging off the disappointment of not converting match points isn't easy and Federer got himself in trouble in game 11 giving Kohlschreiber another chance to break serve. It was again saved with a timely first serve and Roger held for 6-5 before Kohli held to force a final set tie break.
Into the breaker and Roger kicked it off with an ace. He he then came up with an awesome forehand at 1-1 but Kohlschreiber pulled off a fantastic get that clipped the netcord to keep it on serve. The German then got the mini break with a brilliant return and then moved into a 4-2 lead; but again couldn't keep the advantage, going long with a forehand. Parity didn't last long for Roger though as he again handed over a mini break to slip to 3-5. At 5-4 Kohlschreiber had 2 serves for the match but after an awesome rally that Roger won for 5-5 Kohlschreiber played a poor dropshot followed up by a tame lob and match point down netted a return to hand Federer the win. Phew!
|R. Federer||P. Kohlschreiber|
|1st Serve %||72%||64%|
|1st Serve Points Won||63/78 (81%)||50/69 (72%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||13/31 (42%)||26/39 (67%)|
|Break Points Saved||3/5 (60%)||3/4 (75%)|
|Service Games Played||16||17|
|1st Return Points Won||19/69 (28%)||15/78 (19%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||13/39 (33%)||18/31 (58%)|
|Break Points Won||1/4 (25%)||2/5 (40%)|
|Return Games Played||17||16|
|Net Points Won||23/37||9/11|
|Total Service Points Won||76/109 (70%)||76/108 (70%)|
|Total Return Points Won||32/108 (30%)||33/109 (30%)|
|Total Points Won||108/217 (50%)||109/217 (50%)|
Shot of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
Where to start with this one huh? Too close for comfort you might say but in the end a very important win for Federer. It reminded me a bit of last year's opening Halle match with Sousa which went to the wire and also had some similarities with the match against Mayer in Shanghai. Had Kohlschreiber showed a little more composure in the breaker he could have quite easily run away the winner but Roger held his nerve and used his first serve to keep him in it before crossing the finish line.
After playing pretty good in the first set (barring the failure to consolidate the break) I thought Fed's level dropped just a tad but that was partly down to Kohlschreiber really finding the range on his forehand and starting to dictate more points. The German played the better stuff in sets 2 and 3, and although Roger had 2 chances to seal it at 5-4, Kohlschreiber will be pretty annoyed with himself to lose the tie break from 5-4 up with 2 serves to win it. I guess that's why he hasn't beaten a top 10 player since Gasquet in Rotterdam 2014 and the same reason he couldn't put Murray away in Munich last month despite having chances.
As for Roger well not vintage but he gets the job done and wins his first match on grass of the year which is always an important milestone. I don't think he played poorly either, bit scrappy in some areas (2nd serve points won is pretty feeble) and some tentative movement caused by several slips, but he was facing a guy that is former top 20 material and whom he played in the final here in 2008; that's definitely not an easy first round opponent coming in off a 3 month clay stretch.
Anyway Fed's next match will be on Wednesday against either Gulbis or Stakhovsky and I think we'll know more about his grass form after that one is done and dusted.
Predictions vs. Gulbis
Next up is Gulbis who defeated Stakhovsky in straight sets yesterday. Gulbis has had a torrid year so far winning only 3 matches and I can't see things getting much better for him later today.
His game has drifted off in the last 12 months or so and he's dropped from a career high 10 to 86 in the world. He of course has 2 wins against Roger, notably as last years French Open, and has some pedigree on grass taking out Berdych at Wimbledon in 2012 and Tsonga in 2013 but those are his only results of note on this surface and I expect Fed to win comfortably in straight sets. Fed in 2; 6-2 6-4.