Afternoon stroll here for Roger as he comfortably defeated Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-2 6-2 6-3 in 1 hour 41 minutes to advance smoothly into the second week at the Australian Open. The win sees him make the latter part of a Grand Slam for the 27th time in his career without dropping a set and he'll now face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who defeated Gilles Simon comfortably in 3 sets. He's going to be handful folks.
I predicted a routine victory but thought the Russian would hustle quite well and despite only winning 7 games for brief periods he did threaten the Swiss with some crisp hitting and no fear on his groundstrokes. So whilst a it was a relatively short and one sided match it was still one where Fed had to work hard for most of his points which makes it a good workout ahead of the tougher tests that lie in wait.
Quick Match Recap
This one started out with what appeared to be an attempt at some mind games from the Russian, he took ages for the coin toss, won and elected to receive and then waited an age to get ready once time was called. I think Roger actually tried to give him some back when he took a total air shot on his first serve but he soon found himself staring down at 2 break points. Both were comprehensively saved and he got the important first game on the board.
Gabashvili started reasonably well with some crisp hitting but Roger soon got more into the match and a double fault from the Russian saw him take a 4-2 lead, the Russian had a break back chance immediately but that was saved and Roger broke again to seal the set 6-2 hitting 12 winners to 4 unforced errors. Nice!
A routine hold at the start of the second meant Roger had won 5 games in a row which soon looked like it was going to be 6 as he had 2 more break chances but couldn't take them. At 2-1 he fashioned another 2 more break point but again Gabashvili came up with the goods before finally at 3-2 Roger got the breakthrough, holding quickly and breaking again to take the set 6-2 just like the first.
The third set looked like it could see a dip in form from Roger as he faced 2 break point in his opening service game but again he composed himself to save them and then pulled away in the fourth game to lead 3-1. He should have probably sealed it with another 6-2 set as he had match point on the Gabashvili serve but pulled the trigger too soon, however that didn't prove to be a problem as he served it out easily 6-3 to move into the fourth round without any real difficulty.
|Stats||Teymuraz Gabashvili||Roger Federer|
|1st serves in||63/91 (69 %)||45/73 (62 %)|
|1st serve points won||38/63 (60 %)||39/45 (87 %)|
|2nd serve points won||10/28 (36 %)||16/28 (57 %)|
|Fastest serve||194 KMH||202 KMH|
|Average 1st serve speed||178 KMH||180 KMH|
|Average 2nd serve speed||148 KMH||148 KMH|
|Net points won||7/19 (37 %)||11/20 (55 %)|
|Break points won||0/5 (0 %)||5/14 (36 %)|
|Receiving points won||18/73 (25 %)||43/91 (47 %)|
|Total points won||66||98|
Point of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
Another solid match and now he can head into the second week where the real test starts with some confidence and knowledge he hasn't expended too much energy in getting there.
Gabashvili did a decent job of sticking around and not making it too easy today I thought and was probably guilty of letting Roger off the hook a couple of the times when he had openings. Clearly his plan was to just try hit big when he had a chance but he's just not quite good enough to execute that gameplan without making errors at key moments hence the one sided scoreline.
The Russian would hang in there early but eventually Roger found the break in each set and was able to streak away. It was just an all round tidy performance; the serve was solid, backhand although not quite there with timing held up well and the forehand was reliable enough throughout. No breaks on his own serve which is good to see and despite that lapse game vs. Kavcic in the 2nd set he hasn't dropped serve all week.
If I have to be uber critical I don't think he hits the running forehand that well and it's an important shot especially against hitters like Tsonga so that will need to be on song come Monday.
I had to fight to get the breaks, but I'm happy I didn't waste any time, I'm happy to be in the fourth round again because Wimbledon and the US Open didn't go so well so this is a bit of a nice change. At the end of the season my confidence was a bit up and down with the old racquet, I was double faulting a lot. With the new racquet I feel the benefit of the power, I'm not double faulting and I'm able to mix it up. The most important thing of all is when I'm playing and not thinking about it because that can become very crazy in your head if you're thinking about your racquet all the time.
Predictions vs. Tsonga
Next up will be a repeat of last years Quarter Final here in Melbourne as Roger takes on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and I feel it is going to be a real test. As I revealed to you guys in my last post I make Tsonga the slight favourite here based on how he's playing so far and how he chooses to play the game. He always seems to play well in Australia too so clearly likes the surface.
I think Roger needs somewhere near his A game to see this guy off because he just has one of those styles of play that can get away from you pretty fast. If you let him settle down and start creaming the ball then he can just slip into almost like a trance like state where he's serving bombs without even thinking about it. That's when he's at his most dangerous so it's up to Roger to prevent him zoning in.
For Roger to win the key will be taking care of his own service games comfortably and giving Tsonga a ton to think about on his own serve. Tsonga's big weakness is his lack of tennis brain so if Roger can chuck in a ton of variety, use all the angles he possesses then I know he can come out on top. Any sort of passive play is probably going to cost him so stepping in on the backhand to take it up or down the line will be a shot to look out for and he's going to have to crank the FH up notch too. It looked a little lazy today like he was rolling it in so it will need to be hit with force against the Frenchman.
I also don't think Tsonga has the passing shots of Murray, Djokovic or Nadal so I'd imagine getting to the net will be a profitable play too if he can come in behind solid enough approaches.
So I make Tsonga the minor favourite and can see him winning in 4 the good news is that there's no way it can get any worse than last years French Open quarter final. If Roger can up his level then he has a very good chance of winning this match but he will need to play better than he has managed in quite a while. Here's hoping, allez!