Roger's campaign is underway in Halle and he got off to a shaky but overall good start defeating Joao Sousa 6-7(8) 6-4 6-2 to move into the Quarter Finals.
I expected a comfortable win vs Sousa who is far more suited to clay courts but he put in a solid performance and fully tested Roger here who did well to shake off his French Open hangover. It's always important to get a win under your belt after a defeat so I think Fed can start his grass court campaign right here without any real thoughts of Clay or the French. New chapter and let's see how he performs with the new racquet on his favourite surface.
Quick Match Recap
Fed was completely untouchable on serve in the first set playing with real purpose but his return games were the polar opposite. Holding comfortably throughout he created 5 break points on the Sousa serve but failed to convert any of them. That meant the lottery of a tie break where Sousa upped his level to lead 5-2 only to get pegged back to 6 all after a tremendous forehand digged passing shot from the Swiss.
Roger then had his first set point at 7-6 but Sousa came up with a big serve to save it. Despite a 2nd serve ace from Fed to make 8 all, he hit a tame passing shot at waist height for Sousa to volley into the open court for 9-8 and the Portuguese took his 4th set point with a booming first serve.
A disappointing set to lose and one that required an immediate response from Roger and although it took him a couple of attempts he finally got the breakthrough at 3 all and then fired down 3 comfortable service holds to take the set 6-4 and level the match. Things were looking up.
If Fed was going to lose it was always going to have to be in straights here and in the third he finally pulled away, breaking instantly to lead 2-0 and then securing the double break with a vicious forehand winner down the line followed with a “Chumm Jetzt!”. At 4-1 bakery products looked a possibility but Sousa made Roger serve it out which he did with ease to close it out 6-2 in the third.
|J. Sousa||R. Federer|
|1st Serve %||70%||83%|
|1st Serve Points Won||51/79 (65%)||57/72 (79%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||20/34 (59%)||11/15 (73%)|
|Service Games Played||15||15|
|1st Return Points Won||15/72 (21%)||28/79 (35%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||4/15 (27%)||14/34 (41%)|
|Break Points Won||0/2 (0%)||3/12 (25%)|
|Return Games Played||15||15|
|Total Service Points Won||71/113 (63%)||68/87 (78%)|
|Total Return Points Won||19/87 (22%)||42/113 (37%)|
|Total Points Won||90/200 (45%)||110/200 (55%)|
Shot of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
Solid serving display from Roger but pitiful on return really. He should have won the first set 6-2 with the chances he created but chipped backhands into the net cost him.
Luckily though his own serve was ultra reliable and as the match wore on he put more balls in play off the return which forced Sousa to push for too much and that lead to errors.
Overall a good first match I think, it'd be easy to be critical of Fed here dropping a set but we've seen Murray blow 8 set points in a tie break today before losing to Stepanek and Nadal crashing out to Dustin Brown 6-4 6-1. It just shows how early grass court matches are never easy so fair play to Fed for getting the job done.
As for Sousa I didn't expect him to have much of a grass game but his early success was all down to taking the ball early which was good to see. He had Fed on the backfoot in several rallies and had he been able to keep it up then the result could have gone his way.
In terms of Fed I'm glad he's reverted back to winning ways instantly after the Gulbis loss but I would personally like to see him forcing the issue out there more, there was plenty aggression behind his own first serves with some sweet volleys but when returning he tended to get a little negative in his play. Sousa eventually did break down but better players probably won't. Last year the mentality of waiting for your opponents level to drop failed him against Stakhovsky so it's not something I think he should rely on on this type of surface, matches can get away super fast.
Back to the Murray and Nadal loss I'm not reading into those in the slightest. Neither Queens nor Halle are hugely meaningful events for those 2 in terms of slam performance as they both come in off the back of successful campaigns at the French. For Fed it's clearly more important as he needs to build some momentum heading into Wimbledon.
Predictions vs. Lu
Bit of a surprise here as I thought Karlovic would come through especially after he dispatched Youzhny in the first round but Lu Yen-Hsun got the job done in straight sets.
Roger has played this guy on grass before at Wimbledon in 2009, winning in straight sets, but it was quite a competitive first set so I expect similar here. Lu is a solid performer on grass and is a typical Far Eastern player – quick footwork, good hands, solid groundstrokes but no real big weapons.
Fed will need to be on form but I think he can get this one done in straights. 7-5 6-2.