Not the dominant performance I expected from the GOAT here but he's into the Istanbul Semi Finals after a hard fought 7-6(3), 6-7(5), 6-3 victory over the in form Daniel Gimeno-Traver.
After looking fairly solid in his opening match against Nieminen on Wednesday the Spaniard offered a much sterner test pushing the opener to a tie break, levelling things up in a second set tie break before finally falling short at 3-4 in the decider.
What looked on paper like it could be a rout turned into a 2 hour and 28 minute affair but Fed got it done and will now face Diego Schwartzman in tomorrow's semi final. This glorious chance to vulture an ATP 250 remains a distinct possibility 😆
Quick Match Recap
Gimeno-Traver won the toss and elected to receive. Roger held to love to kick things off before breaking his opponent with a fantastic dropshot to lead 2-0.
The quick start was soon over though as the Spaniard broke back, passing Fed easily and then coming up with a ridiculous return to get back on serve.
At 4-3 Fed then had 2 more chances to get back in front but Gimeno-Traver held firm and the scoreboard moved along to 6 games all.
Roger's 1-4 tie break record at the start of the match was less than stellar but he came good in this one, hitting a sweet dropshot en route to a 4-2 lead before closing it out 7 points to 3.
Gimeno-Traver made the final in Casablanca earlier this year so he's a capable clay court player and he proved it in set 2; breaking Roger at the start of the set. The World Number 62 then saved multiple break points as he progressed into a 5-2 lead.
At 3-5 Roger created 0-40 on the Gimeno-Traver serve and a tame error handed him the break back he needed. Gimeno-Traver then needed a medical timeout for a thigh problem before Fed held to 15 to level at 5-5.
Both players exhanged holds and like the first set two went into the tie break. Here it was Gimeno-Traver who played the steadier tennis, making plenty of balls and taking it 7-5 to level things up.
With momentum on G&T's side he looked to capitalise immediately, creating 0-40 on the Federer serve with yet more solid play. But then came the turning point as Fed battled back saving four break points in total to hold for 1-0.
After some more tough holds he eventually got the crucial breakthrough at 4-3 with a peRFect drop-volley before serving it out to 15. Phew!
|R. Federer||D. Gimeno-Traver|
|1st Serve %||64%||60%|
|1st Serve Points Won||54/68 (79%)||52/76 (68%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||22/38 (58%)||25/51 (49%)|
|Break Points Saved||6/8 (75%)||10/13 (77%)|
|Service Games Played||17||16|
|1st Return Points Won||24/76 (32%)||14/68 (21%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||26/51 (51%)||16/38 (42%)|
|Break Points Won||3/13 (23%)||2/8 (25%)|
|Return Games Played||16||17|
|Total Service Points Won||76/106 (72%)||77/127 (61%)|
|Total Return Points Won||50/127 (39%)||30/106 (28%)|
|Total Points Won||126/233 (54%)||107/233 (46%|
Thoughts on the Match
A hard fought win for Federer here and one that I'm glad that he got himself over the line in. Not his most convincing match of 2015 but Fed's clay court performances haven't been great over the last 2/3 years so having to dig deep to overcome a seasoned Spanish dirtballer isn't a complete surprise. And given Fed's torrid 2013 this is the sort of “winning ugly” match fans were craving in 2014 so I don't think 2015 expectations have to be that much different 😉
Gimeno-Traver doesn't have many big shots but he did play with a lot of consistency and showed good hands hitting lots of well executed dropshots and slices when playing up the court. He also picked his spots well from the behind the baseline, hitting with good spin for the most part but flattening out his forehand on some of his passing shots that left Fed in no man's land by the service line.
As for Federer it was just a mediocre type match – played well in some parts of it but in others just made some poor decisions. His game naturally operates on very thin margins and on clay I think it's tough to balance just exactly how he plays; on hard, indoor and grass he can lean firmly toward attacking tennis but on the dirt he probably has to reign in it a little but at the same time not get too defensive. Definitely not easy to do as it requires more thought process than just instinctive play.
However a tough match it might have been the result is all that matters and Fed came out with the win against an opponent he's never played before. Had he converted the break point chances it could have easily been a straight sets win but irrespective of missed opportunities he was the deserved winner over the 3 sets, winning 19 more points than Gimeno-Traver. It could have been just the type of test he needed to rediscover some form on this surface ahead of the 2 bigger upcoming tournaments in Madrid and Paris respectively.
Predictions vs. Schwartzman
Next up is Diego Schwartzman who defeated Santiago Giraldo in 3 sets to make his first ATP Semi Final. This will be he third meeting between the two and the second of 2015 after Roger defeated the Argentine in Indian Wells.
Both Federer's victories against Schwartzman haven't been the cleanest of matches so it's not unlikely that he could run into more problems when they meet tomorrow. Schwartzman isn't particularly tall or blessed with big shots but he does take the ball early and will look to take time away from Federer on what appears to be a quick-ish clay court.
I'm expecting Fed to come through though, especially after today's match which should have given him some confidence and rhythm on the surface. Fed in two sets assuming the 2h 30m match today hasn't effected him physically. 6-4 6-2.