Well we're finally here, it's been uncharted territory for most of 2013 but Roger finally scored his first win against a top 10 player since the Australian Open as he defeated Juan Martin Del Potro in 3 sets to move into the Semi Finals at the Paris Masters.
To say it's been a long time coming is an understatement but after today's performance it was almost worth the wait as we were treated to some great tennis with Roger playing the most consistent match I've seen for some time. It wasn't quite peRFect from start to finish but it was pretty close; the first set was near JesusFed level and then regrouping for the third to break three times in a row was the icing on the cake.
Quick Match Recap
Like most of his matches of late Roger was out the blocks quickly, firing down 2 aces in his opening service game that he held to love. He then had a break point chance immediately with some great play but wasted it when he went inside in with a forehand that sailed long.
That missed opportunity didn't have an effect though as he held comfortably and then got the breakthrough in the next game with some really good point construction and variation that threw Del Potro completely out of sync.
After holding for 3-1 we were treated to a bit of a masterclass in mixing up the pace and using the drop shot to catch Del Potro off guard to dominate pretty much every point. To be honest Roger should have broken again as he had plenty inroads and only Del Potro's clutch serves kept in within striking distance.
After struggling to close out sets against Anderson there were some question marks other whether Roger would serve it out at 5-3 but he did so without difficulty holding to love and winning that all important first set.
I thought after such a strong display in the first set Fed was getting this one done in straights and it looked like he was going to early getting several 0-30 and 30 all chances on the Del Potro serve whilst holding comfortably himself but he just couldn't quite get the breakthrough.
Del Potro definitely upped his game in that second set by serving bombs but Roger gave him a chance to get into a rhythm by choosing to just rally with him from the back of the court. Seems like he forgot that the drop shot won him several key points in the first set as he failed to use it once in the 2nd set.
That ultimately turned out to cost him as at 4-5 he played a very hesitant service game to get broken which leveled the match at 1 set a piece.
After disappointingly dropping serve at the end of the second it was important Roger managed to regroup quickly for the decider, Del Potro had the fortune of serving first too which made it that bit trickier as Fed was now playing catchup despite being in front for most of the match.
I was slightly concerned at 0-1 when a flukey net cord return gave Del Potro 0-15 but Roger held comfortably and then put together a great return game at 2-2 to break Del Potro to love.
That wasn't the end of the drama though as in true Roger style he dropped serve immediately with a slightly reckless service game coupled with some Del Potro wrecking ball forehands on the return.
However unlike Basel this didn't phase Roger as he broke Del Potro's very next service game, held to love and then broke Del Potro for the third time in the set to seal the deal 6-3 4-6 6-3. Boom!
|Stats||R. Federer||J. Del Potro|
|1st Serve %||68%||65%|
|1st Serve Points Won||39/47 (83%)||34/54 (63%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||14/22 (64%)||14/29 (48%)|
|Break Points Saved||2/4 (50%)||2/6 (33%)|
|Service Games Played||14||14|
|1st Return Points Won||20/54 (37%)||8/47 (17%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||15/29 (52%)||8/22 (36%)|
|Break Points Won||4/6 (67%)||2/4 (50%)|
|Return Games Played||14||14|
|Total Service Points Won||53/69 (77%)||48/83 (58%)|
|Total Return Points Won||35/83 (42%)||16/69 (23%)|
|Total Points Won||88/152 (58%)||64/152 (42%)|
One of the cleanest matches you will ever see from Roger. Solid in all areas.
Shot of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
Well what you can say other than it's quite enjoyable to see Roger can still play tennis when he wants to huh? I think this was one his best matches in a long time and even though the scoreline suggests it was quite close I thought he was by far and away the better player on court today.
We got to see a little bit of everything including some genius drop shots and powerful first serving from the GOAT. The first set was ridiculously good from him as he hit 17 winners to only 4 unforced errors, couple that with 77% first serves and there's no way he's losing a set with those kind of numbers.
Dropping the second was a little disappointing but who cares? **** happens sometimes so I'm just happy Roger hit back to get it done in the third. This match was almost must win and seems Roger knows it too as he kept his focus and intensity levels high.
I think the keys to the match were Roger's ability to hold serve comfortably and how he was able to defend well from all corners of the court. His slice backhand really prevented Del Potro from flattening out his ground strokes and that either drew an error or allowed Roger to get back on the offensive himself to hit a clean winner. Oh and the short slice return of serve worked pretty well too 😀
Prediction vs. Djokovic
So this is the first meeting between these two since last years World Tour Finals where Djokovic prevailed in straight sets to take the title. That one was a real rollercoaster match and Roger threw away the lead in the match a couple of times at key moments so probably has some regrets in that match he wants to put right.
Because it's been a while since they have both played it's quite difficult to know totally what to expect, Djoker has looked in serious form since the US Open, winning Beijing and Shanghai and he swept aside Wawrinka today rather easily.
Probably the scariest thing is how he crushed Isner the round before; after losing the first set in a tie break he won the next 2 sets 6-1 6-2. Ok I expect Djokovic to win against the American but he completely crushed a guy with a huge serve.
That shows you just how well Roger is going to have to serve to get it done I feel, today was a great serving display so we'll need even more of that; it has to be with pinpoint accuracy otherwise he'll be in trouble. I always back Roger to break Novak's serve but it's imperative he can keep hold of his own. I think the most important serve for when Roger is playing well is his one down the T on the ad court, he usually goes for that when he's feeling confident and makes it, so watch out for that one.
Whilst it's been a while since they played there's no real secrets as to how both guys will setup to play – Roger will go aggressive and Novak will look to hang in the rallies whilst still playing somewhat aggressive himself. If Roger can be the one making more of the plays and his groundstrokes hold up off both wings I fancy his chances here.
His winning % of points at the net as been great all week so I hope he comes in a lot to try end points when he has the chance. We always see the best of Fed when he throws in a ton of variety, every point ends up being different be it a serve and volley, a dropshot, a chip charge he can keep his opponent guessing and it really does make them doubt.
If winners outnumber unforced errors I'm picking Fed in 3; 7-5 3-6 6-4. Allez!