ATP Masters 1000Roger FedererShanghai Masters

Federer Saves 5 Match Points En Route To Shanghai Win vs Mayer

Hey guys, the GOAT's underway in Shanghai and if you were expecting a routine drama free match then this one will certainly have caught you by surprise. I'm still not quite sure how Fed won it really but he did so 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(7) saving 5 match points in the process.

Mayer clearly should have won this one in straights but for whatever reason he couldn't get it done. Throwing away the first set when he was up a break and then missing his first match point by a couple of centimetres. Fair play to Fed though, he saved 4 more of them with some clutch play and then came up with a delightful lob on his first match point to get it done.

A tough match and a big confidence booster to come through in two hours and 42 minutes and he plays Roberto Bautista Agut next in the last match on the Stadium Court tomorrow night.

Quick Match Recap

Federer Volley vs Mayer Shanghai

No doubt like most of you guys I thought Mayer would stick around for the party but never really stand a chance in this one considering his poor record of 1-16 vs. top 10 opposition. However he soon dispelled that notion as he broke Fed in his second service game before moving into a 3-1 lead.

The Argentine was impressive in all areas from the word go and bossed all the rallies from the baseline with some crisp hitting. 3-1 almost became 4-1 but Roger saved 2 break points before holding. Both players then traded 2 service holds and Mayer served for the set at 5-4.

Here we had a mammoth service game where Mayer saved 4 break points before Roger finally converted his fifth to break back for 5-5. Needed a little help with a bad overhead miss but good hustle from the GOAT to stay in it.

Roger then had to claw his way out of his next service game, coming back from 15-30 and 2 deuces to hold for 6-5. Mayer looked like he would force the tie break at 40-15 but Fed reeled off 3 straight points to create his first set point hitting an insane backhand passing shot at deuce. Mayer saved it but Roger then created a 2nd opportunity and took it to take the set 7-5.

Into the second and I thought the loss of the first set would have broken Mayer mentally however Fed decided to give him a huge boost by dropping serve in the first game.

That was quickly consolidated for 2-0 and although Fed had a break chance to get back on serve he failed to take it and was broken again at the end of the set as Mayer took it 6-3. Sloppy set from Fed really with some horrendous volleying.

Third set deciders are a complete coinflip in best of 3 but with Mayer having momentum and serving first the advantage was ever so slightly with the Argentine.

Both players exchanged comfortable early holds as the score progressed to 3 games all. At 4-4 Roger had a slight inroad into the Mayer service game but he couldn't turn it into a break point chance and the world number 25 held for 5-4.

Here we had dramatic moment number one of the match where Fed found himself staring down two match points at 15-40. For the first one Fed came in behind an average inside out forehand approach and then had to hit a full stretch volley to stay in the point, Mayer was in perfect position to hit a backhand up the line for a clean winner but he struck it straight into the net tape. Unreal miss real and huge slice of luck for the GOAT who saved the next with an inside in forehand down the line before holding for 5 all.

With Mayer serving to at the least ensure a tie break he then slipped to 0-30 but reeled off 4 points in a row to hold for 6-5. Fed then forced the tie breaker with a solid service hold.

If third sets in Masters 1000 are coinflips then I'm not quite sure what third set tie breaks are but they're certainly tough to call. In this one Mayer got off to a great start, getting a mini break and progressing into a 5-2 lead.

It looked like the match was getting away from Fed as more match points came the Argentines way at 6-4 and 7-6 but again he couldn't close the door and when the Swiss finally got himself in front for 8-7 he came up with a gorgeous backhand lob to take it first time of asking. Heartbreaker for Mayer but a big win for Fed 4.0. Allez!

Match Stats

  R. Federer L. Mayer
Aces 10 3
Double Faults 2 1
1st Serve % 71% 64%
1st Serve Points Won 63/92 (68%) 49/75 (65%)
2nd Serve Points Won 19/38 (50%) 25/42 (60%)
Break Points Saved 9/12 (75%) 6/8 (75%)
Service Games Played 17 16
1st Return Points Won 26/75 (35%) 29/92 (32%)
2nd Return Points Won 17/42 (40%) 19/38 (50%)
Break Points Won 2/8 (25%) 3/12 (25%)
Return Games Played 16 17
Winners 50 41
Unforced Errors 57 39
Net Points Won 25/47 20/36
Total Service Points Won 82/130 (63%) 74/117 (63%)
Total Return Points Won 43/117 (37%) 48/130 (37%)
Total Points Won 125/247 (51%) 122/247 (49%)

Thoughts on the Match

Federer Beats Mayer

Definitely not one for the routine Federer win list but a pretty impressive win for the GOAT and it's not often an opponent has 5 match points but can't close out the match. In fact it's Fed's second best ever performance in terms of saving match points and going onto win and you have to go all the way back to 2003 to better it. Back then he saved 7 match points in a 4-6 6-3 7-6(10) win over Scott Draper in Cincinnati.

I have no idea how he saved the ones in 2003 but I'd probably go with 50% luck and 50% skill in terms of escaping this one as Mayer really should have made that backhand at 4-5 15-40. Fed did come up with a great get on the volley though to at least force Mayer to make the shot so credit where credit is due.

Assessment: pretty clutch overall when he needed to be but not the cleanest match from him by a long shot. The serve was fairly solid for the most part but his volleying was club level if not worse. I lost count of the amount of easy balls he dumped into the net from close range and he ended up 25/47 overall which isn't great. But a wins a win and some of the shots he came up with under pressure were ridiculous. That passing shot in the tie break at 2-5 was seriously good along with the lob on match point and a handful of other genius moments.

As for Mayer well what a heartbreaker; he looked like a broken man at the net which isn't surprising. 5 match points, serving for the first set and clearly the better player throughout the match but he's the one with the loss next to his name.

From his perspective I know it will be hard to really see the positives of something like that but he played a very good match overall just needed to better in the big moments. On the plus side he has moved from 94 to 25 in the world in a year and very nearly beat Fed first time of asking. I don't think he can be too disappointed with that.

Predictions vs. Bautista-Agut

Federer RBA US Open

Next up is Bautista Agut who came through a tough match with Vasek Pospisil earlier in the day. I didn't see any of it but I did keep track of live scores and it was a close one, both players getting into each others service games with ease and they each one 102 points each in the match.

Fed dispatched this guy at the USO in straights but it wasn't the most convincing performance looking back which is why I think tomorrow could get interesting. On a Federer good day Agut is a weaponless baseliner who will get run ragged around the court, however on a Federer so so day he's the kind of guy that makes you play an extra ball and chases absolutely everything down. That makes him tricky to play against as Fed will need to be extremely sharp to get the job done, he'll also have to volley much better than tonight.

I'll pick Fed in 2 assuming the win vs. Mayer has given him confidence of performing under pressure. 7-5 6-4.


Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or writing about tennis I play regularly myself and have a keen interest in tactics, equipment and technicalties of the sport.

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  1. Hey guys,

    Wrong thread, I know, but since this one is active, at least up until the next match- If there’s anyone who would like to send in their contributions for the Federer fan ebook, and hasn’t done so as yet, please send it in to my email id: [email protected]

    The more, the merrier.


    1. I read about this only recently Gaurav, what a wonderful idea! Wishing you all the best in this experience and can’t wait to take a look at it!

    1. Reminds of the outfit he wore at the US Open in 08 with the grey/brownish shorts. That tournament showcased Fighterer both Dominatorer.

      1. I actually really liked this year’s Australian Open outfit. It looked super awesome at night against the stands. Nice rich blue. I even liked the 2013 Wimbledon shirt and specially the shoes (for the Hanescu math with the Orange dash)

        I didn’t much care for the French 2011 outfit. I do think that this year’s is indeed similar to the 2008 US Open one.

  2. Thank John as always great post.

    Now regarding Roger, it was a lucky day for him no doubt, but his mental strenght is there, last year he would just give up, but not this one, he is mentally really well and that is what helps yo in this times when you are not longer a 20 year old boy

  3. This one is fast. Good one Jonathan!

    Could somebody please let Roger know that I don’t have nails to bite for the next match anymore, and I am not sure my heart is strong enough to have another heart attack like that πŸ™‚

    I saw the match at the office, hold my self not to shout (which is so hard on this match), and almost flipped my table when Federer hit the ball out on the tie break.

    Anyway, I am so happy he can manage to win (and Nadal was lose to Lopez)
    Lets Go Roger, Lets Go *clapclap

  4. Too close for comfort. Let’s see if this boosts him for the rest of the tournament, or if it will be like Monfils at USO…

    1. Not sure you can compare that though- Cilic was on fire (looks like a one day only turn up from him) and I doubt any one could’ve beaten him that day.

      1. I do agree, though Fed did fold somehow meekly. Didn’t even make it competitive πŸ™‚

  5. 57 unforced errors over 3 sets. Yikes. Interspersed with, as you say, some brilliant shots. Kind of a hot/cold Fed day. Sure hope he’s gotten rid of the cobwebs; there aren’t many opponents against whom he can get away with these kinds (& quantity) of “cold Fed” moments.

    There were times I thought, oh no, he’s hardly moving, is his back bothering him? Shades of 2013! And other moments when I thought, how on earth did he even get to that ball? Very spotty from our hero; but props to him for not folding. Loved the point to tie it up at 6-6 in the tiebreak – good hustle, good court awareness.

    I hope that when Mayer gets over the disappointment he is proud of himself for bringing some outstanding game to Fed. He just didn’t have the kind of big match experience that will give him a better chance to pull something like this out; but if he keeps on in this vein, he’ll sure have more opportunities. Is this guy from Tandil too?

    1. Answering my own question: no, he’s from Corrientes, much farther north by Paraguay. He lives in Buenos Aires though.

      Apparently his excellent recent results mean he will now be the new Argentine #1 (Delpo isn’t playing right now, of course).

      Another one of these guys getting best-ever results in their later 20s.

    2. Fed’s mental toughness in tight matches has been the differentiator from 2013 and 2014- Huge mental chops coming into this season and he’s really left it all out on the court no matter what. Mayer of course very unlucky but he had Roger on the ropes tonight and should be please with such a performance.

  6. Hi Jonanthan

    Not sure how he squeaked out of that one but so glad he did – impressed that he saved 5 match points – but have to say overall was not impressed with his play you could tell he has had a break – I understand with Nadal losing (with excuse at the ready – how can anyone play tennis if they have apendicitus?) he is now 2 in the world? Lets hope that this scare will motivate him to find his usual tennis game – not sure what to expect tomorrow but I have no nails left to bite – onward and upward Fed –

  7. Hey Jonathan, just saw the vid you posted above from the match. 3rd set, 5-4 40-15 for Mayer (1st MP), oh my God…. if that ball Mayer hit would have gotten over the net to Roger….. it would have been game over right there and then. To be honest, Roger got very lucky right there….. But…. it is about time he gets the luck on his side. Most of the time it is for the other big 3.

    Did feel a bit sorry for Mayer at the net…. looked like he was trying to hold back his tears. No matter if Roger loses from here on, atleast he knows, even when he is rusty, not playing too great, he can still win ugly and fight his way to victory.

    Good times are ahead. Congrats Roger. Started with nr 8, now you are nr 2 πŸ™‚

    Where are those writers/critics who said last year that this year Roger might even not be out of the top 10, but he might even be out of the top 20 πŸ™‚ Loser writers/critics…. when will they learn? Never underestimate or give up on the Goat?? πŸ™‚

    1. Hey similar thoughts! He is so gritty when he needs to be! Didn’t want to turn up at the airport check in with Rafa, Stan et al!! Will make at least the semis!

  8. And still managed to win! That is the point. Good write up J! Pretty average all match, fighting a cold! Lots of sweating and wiping and general annoyance but he played clutch on all of those MP’s and refused to give it away! That alone makes him who he is! Still fighting, still wanting the win! Back to no 2, from no 8 in Jan people! 33yrs old and still the biggest draw in town! Rafa, Cilic, Grigor, Kei, Milos,Stan all out! And Fed still there! Just think about it! And wonder!! Btw, agree re RBA! 2 sets as Fed is now pretty played in! RBA does not serve as well nor hit the ball as hard as Mayer who is top 15 potential I think if he keeps working!

    1. Mayer has flown up the rankings.

      I’m optimistic about RBA match as I think Fed needs his footwork to be right on to beat him handily. Not easy after going to bed at 5am.

  9. Amazing win! But I started to see signs of Roger Federer 2013 edition, with the only plus being the fighting spirit and the never give up attitude, that he has already showed in the last summer (Cinci & USO especially). Casual at the net, a lot of shanks, maybe it was only the rustiness but I think he was a bit slow too. Let’s see how he recovers for tomorrow though.

    1. I think it was the rust, nothing else. That and Mauer was playing the match of his life. Fed still fought it out and won. Credit where credit’s due.

      1. Hey Gaurav, maybe Jon or you should write a post about (and really this is not a joke) why players who play good or average play literally the match of their life against Roger πŸ™‚
        Why when they play Roger they somehow believe that it is easier to beat him than the other 3.

  10. Did anyone read his post match comments. Dorkerer said that he was at one point thinking of going for the all time record for volleys missed. That and midway through the third he was apparently thinking to himself that he had just come off vacation and was bound to be rusty. Glad he dispelled that notion!!

  11. The match nearly killed me! I was screaming, out of breathe, nail biting, face palming and desperately trying to post comments on the chat at the same time! Mayer played great but clearly Fed was struggling, wasn’t he? Amazed he somehow managed to win it.

    Loads of seeded guys including slam winners are out early but he’s still there and will be No.2 again. You gotta admire Fed, really. His high level of consistency over the years alone makes him the GOAT, no question about it.

    Good recap, Jonathan, impressively quick work, well done.

  12. And…I missed all of that. With the year Federer has had so far, I feel like he might struggle till the end of the season.

    So, what is Aunt Toni’s strategy here? Focus only on the indoor tourneys? Basel, Paris, and WTF? Clean sweep?

  13. Wow at 33, Roger is improving even at mental strength dept. At 15-40 and 6-4, a lot players would have folded like cheap tent. Roger keep on coming back, Houdini indeed. At least now he moves up to 2nd. This will help him a lot come AO15. Nadal is trying very hard to re-take no 2 spot even mean risking his health – insane.

    1. If Roger wasn’t around, Nadal would be able not to play whole seasons and not fall out of the top spots. Roger is one of the few players that can accumulate enough points over a course of a whole season and produce consistent play to even overtake Nadal. Roger consistency forces Nadal to have to play through this latest “injury.”

      1. I agree with you. Nadal would absolutely hate finishing behind Roger, especially if he is “playing”. He still has a shot at No.1. He will however do everything to not finish behind Roger, if only to avoid a disciplinary spanking from his evil Aunt Toni.

        “No es aceptable, Rafa, totalmente no es aceptable! Perro malo! Perro malo!”. That may explain why he tugs his behind so much.

      2. Indeed, Fed’s slam performances this year haven’t really been awesome but he’s still accumulated lots of points elsewhere to move up. Consistent season.

    2. I don’t really think Rafa really cares about the tournaments that are after the US Open to be quite honest- Aunt Toni and him are probably 5 steps ahead and are plotting total domination at the AO 15 after what happened there this year.

      1. Hey Alysha, I honestly believe that the only reason Rafa is playing right now is because he wants to be nr 2 at AO to avoid Novak, and that he is trying to make sure that Roger cannot be nr 2. Did not succeed, but oke. I mean, why would he risk his health otherwise? 2014 has not been good for his health anyway, so why not opt for the surgery? Seriously, why risk his health??

        The ONLY reason why I will take Rafa and his injuries seriously, is when something happens to his health during the clayseason. I mean, come on, how can you keep explaining that you are injured, but ALWAYS almost every year after the month May??

      2. Appendicitis is probably a cover up.

        He will be getting some implant fitted that adds 20mph onto his first serve and makes him run 3mph faster. Needs an excuse for the scar.

      3. I don’t know if you guys know this. Doping doctors encourage players to feign injuries as a cover up for visits. It’s business as normal. Why else do you think Nadal and Williams are injured practically throughout the year?

  14. Wow I just watched highlights again. I actually feel sorry for L Mayer at the end as you can see he was close to tears when he was shaking Federers hand. Mayer played the best game of his life and still lost. Looking back if that ball didn’t hit the net or hit the tape and fall over I think Federer would of certainly be going home. Hopefully now Federer can start getting into the tournament plus added bonus of securing number 2 ranking, courtesy of Rafael “use any excuses” Nadal.
    Please don’t mess up now Roger. Come on.

  15. Great write up, Jonathan. i recorded the match and now have time to watch it. I saw some of Nadal/Lopez match. Nadal is beginning to look old. His face didn`t seem normal somehow. Lopez was very low key when he won…must be a rule in Spain.
    i thought this year was going to be strange result-wise….and that seems to be happening. Matches unpredictable.
    Go Fed…2 in the world, amazing.

    1. Hey Sue, thanks for beeing the first one to mention it πŸ™‚ I saw very quickly the highlights and the first thing I thought to myself when I saw a close up of Rafa’s face is….. wow….. he looks old…. when and how did this happen??

    2. Haha ‘his face didn’t seem normal’. Roids?

      I didn’t watch any of it but heard Lopez double faulted on his first match point πŸ˜€

      Strange loss for Nadal, any time he’s losing to any of his Spanish lap dogs then you know he’s out of form. Lopez would usually bend over.

      1. I don’t think he double faulted. I think he took it on the first time of asking. Lopez played very very well. Intelligent play, excellent serving, decent volleying, great forehand and a better backhand than one’s used to seeing from Lopez.

  16. Pretty sure if I google “The Great Escape” this match will be the first result that is displayed. Damn, I’m still trying to figure out how Roger won this man- back to back tournaments saving match points, he’s got to be please with that at least. That was the worst ever volleying I’ve seen from Fed possibly ever? Not sure if down to rust or if it’s something about Shanghai but I don’t feel like he plays smooth tennis in the Asian swing. But hey it’s the first match and what a match it was- that backhand down the line when he got to set point in the first set was unbelievable as was that forehand 5-5 in the third, good stuff from Rog there!

    Elsewhere what happened to Nadal? I heard he has appendicitis or something along those lines, is he out for the rest of the season? If Fed can make the semis I think he will overtake him in the rankings? (correct me if I’m wrong)

    Good win from Roger I believe but hope the drama is kept to a minimum now, Allez!

    1. I think even Fed dubbed this one his biggest escape ever.

      And he’s guaranteed #2 spot now after winning. @vibhuism on Twitter is the rankings GOAT.

  17. Wow! What a match I missed. I suspected he would struggle against Leonardo Mayer. Was he not d guy Roger mentioned in a presser that he was yet to play in a presser last month.
    Well, I expect him to struggle again against RBA and I hope Roger comes through again.
    Hi Jonathan, yeah bcs of work I can only watch Fed on Sat/Sunday (hopefully he stays that long).
    @Jonathan, how does one get this red outfit, I like……..Roger Federer, Man on Fire πŸ™‚

    1. Ok, awesome against RBA who doesn’t hv a hard enough FH to trouble Fed, and plays like someone from the 1930’s! Such old fashioned Stance, and tennis. Fed’s slice played havoc with his flat hitting as RBA cldnt get under the slice to generate spin. Fed was just on his game despite looking v tired and full of cold. Appalling line calls as ever. What is it with Asian swing and line judges??? Now for Benny! Hate the match up but can’t believe Fed will trip up here! Onwards to the SF in straights Plse!

  18. Not sure if anyone’s keeping track but according to my rough calculations, Fed’s guaranteed to rise to World Number 2 next week? Just saying since this page is ALl-Things-Fed right but correct me if I’m wrong!


  19. My poor Roger πŸ™ Nobody cares about him :-p :-p

    Q. The schedule is good for the fans that they put you the latest match every day. Probably it’s not good for you to be put in the last match every day.

    […]It’s going to be another late night here in Shanghai. But now once I’m in the rhythm at least it’s just going to be crazy. Going to go to bed at 3:00, 3:30, then wake up at noon, have breakfast. I don’t know, it’s going to be crazy.
    I’ll come out on court and give my best. As long as the fans and the tournament are happy, it’s all good. Who cares about me, right (laughter)?
    No, I’m happy to be here. I’m very, very happy.

    I just love this guy!! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

      1. Kind of think it has suited him as stayed up late partying when he arrived, clearly jet lagged, and is on a late night body clock. Needs to recharge for Benny tho!

  20. @ Jonathan, re: where do you live?
    Me: Are you stalking me now? πŸ˜‰
    Please can someone tell me what round Federer got to in Shanghai last year? I can only remember the threats on his life that year, but can’t remember anything else.

  21. MUCH easier (and more comfortable) match to watch. Feds looked sharp out there – 90% or thereabouts of 1st serve points won – excellent. So happy this was straightforward and he started (and finished) at a reasonable time. Hope Benneteau (who has often seemed to trouble him) will be a straight sets win also: what’s your take on this one Jonathan?

  22. Delighted that Roger stuck in it to the end – this is what I most admire in top sportspeople. Yes, Lady Luck played her part but one must take the rough with the smooth. Very surprised in one way that Mayer nearly won as I don’t really rate him as a Top 20 player ( 25 in rankings now ). Don’t feel that Bautista-Agut or Fognini are real Top 20 players either. But as someone alluded to above, average players now see Federer as fair game. After all, to beat the legend is no mean feat and a great feather to have in one’s cap. The great Navratilova was a constant target as she got older but she maintained a steely grit which I no doubt Roger will display for the rest of his tennis career.
    If Roger can get by Benneteau in not too difficult a match for him, I think he has a real chance of taking down Djokovic in semi ( can’t see Ferrer taking down Novak ). After all, Djokovic needs to be beaten in China some time so who better than the Master to prevail? And if he can do this, surely he will finally beat whomever is in the final to secure a long-awaited first Masters’s title in Shanghai?

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