A nail biter of a match here as Roger saved 4 match points en route to defeating Stan Wawrinka 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(6) in two hours and 48 minutes at the ATP World Tour Finals. Few expected this one to be so close considering the form Roger has shown all week but Stan had the upperhand from the baseline throughout and Roger has to count himself very lucky to come through in a match filled with drama.
Easily the best encounter at this weeks tournament and one that had a bit of everything – hard hitting, nervous tension, poor umpiring, crowd involvement and match point wasting! With the win Roger has a shot at clinching his 7th end of season title but it won't be easy with Djokovic waiting in the final after he defeated Nishikori in 3 sets earlier in the day.
Quick Match Recap
Roger won the toss and elected to serve holding to 15 before Stan levelled for 1-1. Stan did a great job of putting returns in play vs. Berdych earlier in the week and he started well here too, breaking Fed before consolidating to lead 3-1.
The Swiss Number 2 then claimed an insurance break to lead 5-2 and although he was broken trying to serve it out he did so at the second time of asking to take it 6-4.
Roger had been far the weaker player throughout the first set and the second was always going to be about whether he could stick around and make something happen. Serving first he soon progressed into a 3-2 lead but couldn't convert 2 break points in game 6 and then had to fight off deuce to lead 4-3.
At 5-5 Roger fired down a love hold to put the pressure on Stan and at 0-30 he missed a routine overhead to get broken to love as Roger took the set 7-5. A big collapse from Wawrinka who had again been the better the player from the back of the court but showed frailties when the pressure was on.
Set 3 saw Roger with the advantage of serving first but he relinquished it tamely, getting broken to 15 in his opening game. He was not helped by some poor umpiring from Cedric Mourier; at love-love Stan hit a backhand well wide that was called out but Mourier tamely overruled it, Roger didn't hear him and only realised when the score was at 0-40.
Stan consolidated to 30 and soon found himself up 4-2 courtesy of some crisp hitting from the baseline. At 3-4 down Roger again had 2 break points but couldn't convert as Stan held firm to put himself one game away.
Roger held to 30 for 4-5 and then came Stan's chance as he had 40-30 on his own serve but failed to convert. 2 more match points came his way in a lengthy deuce game but his strategy of serving and volleying didn't pay off as Roger broke back to level for 5-5.
Wawrinka then had 2 break points of his own for a chance to lead 6-5 but Fed held and although Stan's first serve was missing in action he levelled to force a final set tie breaker.
The breaker started well for Fed, going up an immediate mini break to lead 2-0 before being pegged back. At 4-5 down Stan won his next two service points to give himself a 4th match point, Roger saved it with a big first serve and then came up with a beautiful net foray to lead 7-6. Stan was in desperate need of a first serve but couldn't find it and mid rally Roger floated a backhand slice deep onto the baseline, followed it in and hit a beautiful stop volley to take the match 7-6(6) in the third. Heart breaker for Wawrinka, sigh of relief for Fed.
|Roger Federer||Stan Wawrinka|
|1st Serve %||53%||38%|
|1st Serve Points Won||41/57 (72%)||38/47 (81%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||29/51 (57%)||36/76 (47%)|
|Break Points Saved||3/6 (50%)||6/9 (67%)|
|Service Games Played||17||17|
|1st Return Points Won||9/47 (19%)||16/57 (28%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||40/76 (53%)||22/51 (43%)|
|Break Points Won||3/9 (33%)||3/6 (50%)|
|Return Games Played||17||17|
|Net Points Won||24/37||21/39|
|Total Service Points Won||70/108 (65%)||74/123 (60%)|
|Total Return Points Won||49/123 (40%)||38/108 (35%)|
|Total Points Won||119/231 (52%)||112/231 (48%)|
Shot of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
Quite a weird match this one and one that was exhausting to watch so who only knows what it was like to play. I feel like Stan should have won quite easily with the way he was playing but his first serve didn't land in the key moments and his decision to serve and volley on 3 of his match points proved not to be a wise move. Hindsight is always 20:20 though and if he'd stayed back and blasted 3 backhands long then we'd all be saying he should have tried a serve and volley to close it out instead 😆
As for Roger he didn't play a great match in terms of his shotmaking but he was sharp mentally and that proved the difference in the end. In fact I give him 10/10 for his mental display but perhaps only a 6/10 for physical. He looked pretty laboured out there for most of it with another low first serve percentage and he only hit 3 forehand winners in the entire match, 2 of which were when he was facing match points. I'm not really sure whether it was Stan not allowing Fed to do what he wanted to do, or Roger just not being able to do it himself.
Difficult to tell really however Twitter was full of commentary about Roger's back playing up in the tie breaker and a few of you have commented on it here. I honestly don't know if it was an issue, you can see him grimace at 7-6 when he bends over to return but its hard to say really. We know for certain he's not going to mention it any time soon especially with the Davis Cup coming up so I doubt we'll find out so it's all just conjecture at the minute.
Either way spending close to 3 hours on court isn't ideal ahead of the final showdown with Djokovic and I think it's the 3rd longest match at the World Tour Finals ever. Nadal and Murray played a similar match in 2010 that ended with a third set tie breaker and Nadal was definitely fatigued for the final against Roger the next day. I can see something similar happening here after this encounter which was both physicalyl and mentally draining. The semi finals being 6 hours apart isn't ideal either if you play the night match but to be fair Fed did have Friday off and he does have till 6pm today to be ready.
Predictions vs. Djokovic
Advantage Djokovic here I think, his match finished 8 hours earlier than Fed and was the easier the 2 as he served up a bagel in the third set vs. Nishikori. Not an impressive match from him though and Nishikori should have broken at the start of the third. Djokovic let the crowd rattle him and Nishikori showed that if you take the ball early you can dominate him from the baseline. Just a few too many errors from Kei and he admitted after he played the opponent and not the ball. Had he converted his break points I think he'd be in the final as Djokovic wasn't at his best.
As for the final I think for Roger to win he's going to have to be physically 100% and play some of his best stuff. If he can play at a very high level and get the crowd involved he has a decent shot at getting it done. We saw a Pro Nishikori crowd get under Djokovic's skin as he wants to be loved by them but it just doesn't happen for him. The support for Roger tonight will be electric too so it could be a factor, after all he's been the biggest entertainer in the game for the last 10 years and even for those with short memories or new to the sport he's provided the most exciting match this week. That's going to put 99% of the 17,000 in his favour 🙂
Crowd aside, if he plays passively against Djokovic and keeps floating in groundstrokes like he did vs. Stan I think he'll get out manouvred from the back of the court and it won't end well. The good news is Djokovic doesn't possess Wawrinka like weapons so he will let Fed play more from the back of the court. First serve needs to land more regularly and cheap points are a must. I'm just hoping for a good match and not a one sided affair.
Head says Djokovic in 2. 6-3 7-6(4).