Evening all 🙂 Sweet win here for the GOAT as he continued his bid to win a 7th Cincinnati title seeing off Andrew Barron Murray 6-4, 7-6(6).
Tonight's encounter was far from Peak Fed but the Swiss won the big points when he needed them to record victory in 1 hour and 37 minutes.
The win means he's now won the last 5 meetings against Murray, the last 10 sets and has faced just 1 break in his last 38 service games against the Scot. Impressive numbers. And should Roger win tomorrow's showpiece he'll also return back to Number 2 in the World Rankings ahead of the US Open.
Quick Match Recap
Murray won the toss and elected to serve. Roger immediately posing a question, holding 2 break points before Murray dug in to start with an important hold.
At 1-1 the Swiss created his third break point of the set, hitting a sweet forehand + drive volley combo at 30 all before breaking to lead 2-1. Murray had a slight window to hit back at 0-30 but Roger won 4 points in a row to hold. The one break proved the difference and Fed sealed the set 6-4 with a big inside in forehand that clipped the line.
Into Set 2 and Murray began to make things more competitive, holding to love in the opening service game hitting some timely big first serves. Despite looking comfortable Murray's big problem was he was unable to a foothold any of his return games despite Federer only making 55% of first serves.
In game 6 the Swiss was again the one holding a break point, but Murray held firm and both players rode out the next 5 service games with little drama to force a tie break.
With Federer holding a 7-2 advantage over Murray in tie breaks it was advantage Switzerland and he moved up an early mini break to lead 3-1. At 4-2 Murray got back on serve hitting a well struck return from out wide on the deuce court.
At 4-5 Fed serving the GOAT then had to come up with some stupidly good forehands to stay level, skipping round what could have been a backhand to drill a winner up the line. Just immense footwork and I think that point won him the breaker. 5-5 then became 6-5 Federer giving him match point only for Murray to save it with a big serve. On his next serve though Roger came up with a sliced short return + lob + half volley winner to setup his 2nd match point which he took in style with a huge inside out forehand which gave him a volley put away to seal the deal 8-6 in the breaker.
|A. Murray||R. Federer|
|1st Serve %||61%||55%|
|1st Serve Points Won||36/49 (73%)||27/35 (77%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||17/31 (55%)||23/29 (79%)|
|Break Points Saved||3/4 (75%)||0/0 (0%)|
|Service Games Played||11||11|
|1st Return Points Won||8/35 (23%)||13/49 (27%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||6/29 (21%)||14/31 (45%)|
|Break Points Won||0/0 (0%)||1/4 (25%)|
|Return Games Played||11||11|
|Net Points Won||5||13/18|
|Total Service Points Won||53/80 (66%)||50/64 (78%)|
|Total Return Points Won||14/64 (22%)||27/80 (34%)|
|Total Points Won||67/144 (47%)||77/144 (53%)|
Thoughts on the Match
The old adage you're only as good as your second serve held true for this one as Federer won 23/29 (79%) of points behind his and that proved the difference between the two. Murray actually held up well considering his marathon matches against Dimitrov and Gasquet but he couldn't get any footholds in the return games to really make an impact.
Roger wasn't having his best returning day either to be honest but he just kept Murray at arms length throughout, fending off a mini Murray fightback in set 2 where he built some momentum and winning the big points with some line finding groundstrokes and clutch serving.
All in all it was another committed and solid display from the Swiss to get the job done without any real fuss and he's now on a 5 match winning streak against Murray stemming back to the 2014 Australian Open.
Predictions vs. Djokovic
Next up is Djokovic who again had to dig deep to defeat Dolgopolov in three sets in an up and down match. You gotta admire Djokovic's resilience in these types of matches where losing would be the easy option; he always seems to find a way through. Dolgo should really have seen him off though as at 5-4 in the 2nd set tie break he backed off coming in behind a decent serve only to get caught in no man's land and dumped a slice into the net. It would have been an easy put away volley but yet again Djoker made him play and eventually made him pay.
Obviously the last match between these two was the Wimbledon final which wasn't the preferred outcome for Fed fans, or 99% of those watching to be fair, so it would be a good day if Fed could win his seventh Cincinnati final.
Based on court time alone you have to like his chances as Djokovic looks slightly weary after Montreal and a string of three setters in Ohio but it is a final so anything can happen. We've seen Djokovic look dead and buried before only to raise his level when it really counts and there's plenty to suggest he might do the exact same tomorrow to complete his set of Masters 1000 titles.
One good thing for Fed heading in though as he hasn't peaked too early. At Wimbledon he played an unreal semi final and a somewhat disappointing final. Against Murray this time he was pretty scratchy but clutch enough (winning 79% behind his second serve like I mentioned above) so I'm hopeful tomorrow he can bring his A Game, peak at just the right time and get the job done. Keep coming forward, play on his terms and hopefully it all works out 🙂