A relatively routine victory for Federer here as he defeated big serving Kevin Anderson 6-3 7-5 to make the Quarter Finals at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia where he's looking to lift the title for the very first time.
Up until 5-2 in the second set it was looking like an impeccable performance but Roger switched off just before the finish line and was broken twice when serving for the match. Fortunately he regained his composure to break serve himself and serve it out 7 games to 5 at the third time of asking.
Quick Match Recap
Anderson won the toss and elected to receive which was a strange choice. Federer then held his opening game to 15 before breaking Anderson instantly for a 2-0 lead. Roger set the tone for this match pretty early – using the dropshot to exploit Anderson's subpar movement and also going in behind to wrong foot the 6ft 8″ South African.
The break was soon consolidated by Roger for 3-0 and despite Anderson starting to find some range on his first serve he couldn't muster more than one point in any of his remaining return games as Roger closed out the set 6-3.
Anderson required a solid start in set 2 but he was broken again in his opening game, this time from 30 love up to fall 1-0 behind. Roger again consolidated quickly, hitting a genius backhand at 30-15 en route holding for 2-0.
At 2-4 Anderson had to save a break point at 30-40 but couldn't fight off the second as he slipped to 2-5 down which was virtually unassailable, or so I thought 😆
However whilst serving for the match inexplicably got broken from 40-15 up, serving a double fault on break point to let Anderson back into it. The South African quickly held to 15 and again broke the Federer serve with some nice returning to level at 5 games all.
With the wind in his sails it looked as if Anderson was going to take the set into a tie break at the bare minimum but after a double fault on the opening point and two sloppy mistakes he dropped his own serve which allowed Roger a third chance at serving it out. This time he made no mistake, doing so to 15 to book his spot in the quarter finals.
|K. Anderson||R. Federer|
|1st Serve %||68%||63%|
|1st Serve Points Won||30/41 (73%)||28/37 (76%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||6/19 (32%)||12/22 (55%)|
|Break Points Saved||4/8 (50%)||0/2 (0%)|
|Service Games Played||10||11|
|1st Return Points Won||9/37 (24%)||11/41 (27%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||10/22 (45%)||13/19 (68%)|
|Break Points Won||2/2 (100%)||4/8 (50%)|
|Return Games Played||11||10|
|Net Points Won||5/6||5/12|
|Total Service Points Won||36/60 (60%)||40/59 (68%)|
|Total Return Points Won||19/59 (32%)||24/60 (40%)|
|Total Points Won||55/119 (46%)||64/119 (54%)|
Thoughts on the Match
I had to adjust and react differently in today's match than yesterday's match, it was so different, because it's Kevin and his amazing serve. There's only so much you can do on the return games. The first thing was not to get frustrated, because I was not seeing where he was serving. But thankfully, I got off to a really good start in both sets. From then on, I could relax almost. I was able to break him four times, which was a really good effort in the quick conditions here in Rome.
Almost a peRFect performance from Roger in this one as he basically gave Anderson a lesson out there, using all his variety to cause the South African a ton of problems. In fact the only blemish is that he completely switched off at 5-2 to let Anderson get back to 5 all; looked like a case of his mind already in the locker room because he was cruising over the line without ever looking troubled. Not a huge problem as he broke again at 5 all but by that point Anderson had managed to get himself back into it when he shouldn't have been allowed to.
Aside from the lapse though it was a clinical display from Fed and Anderson must really hate the match up; Roger throws in a ton of low bouncing angled short balls and Anderson just can't seem to handle them, struggling to pick them up, getting himself out of position and then struggling to ever recover in the rally. Even though Anderson's serve is dangerous if Fed gets it back he can play well within his comfort zone during the rallies and just keep things on his terms. The South African isn't a strong returner either so Fed has a ton of breathing room on serve; hence the free flowing play and drop shots played at will. Check the highlights above for a handful of sweet drop shots and back to back backhand smashes.
Predictions vs. Berdych
Next up is Berdych who saw off Fognini in a third set tie breaker which was quite impressive in front of a hostile crowd. Berdych played a very clutch third set breaker against Isner in Madrid and he followed that up again today against the Italian. So far he has had a pretty good year and he looks to have improved a bit in the mental department, still far from the best but he's making the latter stages at pretty much every tournament he plays and is now ranked at a career high #4.
The last time the two met Roger schooled Berdych in Indian Wells but most of their recent encounters have been very close and they've split their last 4 meetings on tour. Roger leads the H2H comfortably 13-6 but the Czech is definitely capable of doing some damage with his heavy game and his self confessed love for the matchup which he thinks favours his game which gives him that added dose of confidence.
Based on form and past meetings it is very hard to predict, usually when Berdych faces Nadal or Djokovic it's a virtual walkover but against Roger he tends to play at a better level purely because the matchup suits him more.
I think if Roger plays how he did in Indian Wells and uses his skills to drag Berdych around the court then he can get it done in two tight sets. However if Berdych can take charge from the baseline and not have to come out of his sledgehammer forehand + cross court backhand bubble then it could get tricky for Fed especially in what he described as fast conditions. I'll pick Fed to get it done in two sets.