Roger Federer is into the Mercedes Cup final after defeating No. 4 seed Nick Kyrgios 6-7(2), 6-2, 7-6(5) in a tight three setter which featured yet more tiebreaks between the pair.
The win guarantees that Roger will return to the top of the ATP Rankings on Monday when the rankings update and more importantly he's given himself a shot at winning his maiden Stuttgart title by making his first final in Baden-Württemberg in three attempts.
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and elected to serve, kicking things off with a love hold. Kyrgios has been rock solid on serve this week but had to save break point en route to levelling at one game all. Roger quickly held for 2-1 and in the opening exchanges, he seemed to be nullifying the Kyrgios serve nicely.
At 4-3 Roger had his second chance to break after a double fault from the Aussie but he held and the set progressed into a customary tiebreak.
Into the breaker and Kyrgios got in front early, moving Federer around the back of the court to lead 3-1 and he was soon up 5-2. Roger needed to land two clean blows on serve to keep close but couldn't find his first serve, Kyrgios taking advantage pulling off a great dig to get the second mini-break and run away with it 7-2.
Set two saw Kyrgios start with a hold to 15 but in game three his game went off the boil, firing back to back double faults to drop serve. Roger consolidated for 3-1 and in game seven Kyrgios again slacked off, double faulting at deuce as Roger broke for 5-2 before serving out the set to 15 to force a decider.
With Kyrgios seemingly giving up the second set it looked like Roger might be able to take charge but with the Canberra native serving first he upped his game to fire down some big first serves to look untroubled. With neither player able to fashion a break point the set looked destined for a tiebreak and we soon got there as Roger held to love at 5-6, dropping just 6 points on serve in the entire set.
The tie-break had lottery written all over it but given Kyrgios's tendency to crank up his serve I made him a slight favourite and he again got off to the better start showing off great wheels to snatch a mini-break for 2-0. However, Roger recovered it immediately with a slick return to set up an inside-out forehand. A clinical serve and volley then put the Fed up 4-3 and after Kyrgios netted a forehand at 4-4 the Swiss had the set on his racket, only to blaze a forehand long.
Another timely serve and volley allowed Roger to get back in front at 6-5 and he sealed his first match point, coming up with a smart flick past Kyrgios at the net to move into the finals.
|Roger Federer||Nick Kyrgios|
|1st Serve||63% (54/86)||71% (79/112)|
|1st Serve Points Won||85% (46/54)||73% (58/79)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||75% (24/32)||48% (16/33)|
|Break Points Saved||0% (0/0)||50% (2/4)|
|Service Games Played||16||16|
|1st Serve Return Points Won||27% (21/79)||15% (8/54)|
|2nd Serve Return Points Won||52% (17/33)||25% (8/32)|
|Break Points Converted||50% (2/4)||0% (0/0)|
|Return Games Played||16||16|
|Service Points Won||81% (70/86)||66% (74/112)|
|Return Points Won||34% (38/112)||19% (16/86)|
|Total Points Won||55% (108/198)||45% (90/198)|
Thoughts on the Match
I'm very happy, very relieved. I thought it was a tough match like I expected against Nick. We've played so many breakers already, I'm losing count. It was close. It could have gone either way, naturally. But I'm happy I got it and get back to World No. 1 next Monday, so it's very exciting. And I've got another final, so it's great news.
It would mean a lot to me to win Stuttgart, no doubt about it. I'm really excited to play Milos. He's in great shape again. It's nice for him, and I hope we can play another great match and I'm really excited to be in the final here.
Big win here for Roger coming from a set down to make the final and recover the Number 1 ranking. I don't think it was the most enjoyable match we've seen between the pair but like all the other previous encounters it was extremely close and could have gone either way.
From Roger's side, he played a solid opening set, finished it with a poor tiebreak, then took advantage of Kyrgios going walkabout in the second and in the third he played that bit steadier like I expected to come through. It would have been easy for him to think it wasn't his day when Kyrgios fired that sweet pass for 2-0 in the breaker or when he fluffed the forehand at 5-4 to set up match point but he kept his cool and hung in there mentally to win the last point.
Other than that not much to say, some fun points, but mainly about the serve. I thought Kyrgios looked sharp too so he will be a handful for Murray in his comeback match. His serve is a huge weapon with no real difference between first and second deliveries and his backhand looks to have improved too. He can be a bit too vocal out there which grated on me a bit today but Fed seemed to actively avoid getting drawn into any of the tom foolers and maintaining his focus certainly helped him get over the line.
Predictions vs. Raonic
So next up is Raonic who beat Pouille in straight sets. I've not seen any of the Canadian this week but he's been serving huge from all accounts. Like today, it's going to boil down to just a few points here and there. Fed needs to take care of his own serve and try to make it athletic out there on the return. The more running Raonic does the better and Roger will need to use his blocked + slice return to get Milos into awkward positions on the court. Expecting more tiebreaks…
What did you guys think of the win? Predictions against the Raobot? Let me know in the comments.