Day 10 of the BNP Paribas Open and the Roger Federer phenomenon continues as he defeated Milos Raonic 7-5 6-4 to move into Sunday's final without dropping a set.
The win saw Fed reach his 40th final at ATP Masters 1000 level and awaiting him is Djokovic who crushed Murray in the earlier semi final.
Quick Match Recap
Raonic won the toss and elected to serve, firing down a love hold to kick things off. Roger then quickly levelled without any problems for 1-1 before making his first inroads on the Raonic serve with some smart plays but the Canadian held to 30. Raonic made deuce on the Federer serve before the Swiss held for 2-2.
In game 5 the first break point was fashioned on the Raonic serve but he cranked out some huge serves to take a 3-2 lead. Both players then exchanged back to back holds and the scoreboard ticked along to 5-5. Here Raonic slipped to 15-40 and although he fought back to deuce Roger converted his fourth break point of the game and then served out the set to love 7-5.
Momentum was well and truly with Federer now and took full advantage, breaking Raonic in his opening service game of set 2 with some rip roaring backhands before consolidating to take a 2-0 lead.
Early breaks of serve aren't always the easiest to keep hold of and at 2-1 Fed faced his first break point in 3 matches but it was saved with a big first serve and he went on to hold 3-1.
Raonic wasn't going to roll over though as we saw last Night against Nadal and he continued to serve big only dropping a handful of points on serve as the score moved to 5-4 Federer who was just 1 game away.
With Fed looking to close it out Raonic came up with a great first point for 0-15 and then Roger ballooned a forehand way long to slip to 0-30. Raonic then missed a big chance to create three break points and Fed clawed his way back to 30 all before coming up with an insane defensive point to bring up match point which he sealed with a forehand volley into the open court. Allez!
|M. Raonic||R. Federer|
|1st Serve %||58%||67%|
|1st Serve Points Won||28/37 (76%)||33/42 (79%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||16/27 (59%)||14/21 (67%)|
|Break Points Saved||5/7 (71%)||1/1 (100%)|
|Service Games Played||11||11|
|1st Return Points Won||9/42 (21%)||9/37 (24%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||7/21 (33%)||11/27 (41%)|
|Break Points Won||0/1 (0%)||2/7 (29%)|
|Return Games Played||11||11|
|Net Points Won||11/19||12/19|
|Total Service Points Won||44/64 (69%)||47/63 (75%)|
|Total Return Points Won||16/63 (25%)||20/64 (31%)|
|Total Points Won||60/127 (47%)||67/127 (53%)|
Thoughts on the Match
Another top notch victory from Fed here and an example of the many ways he can win matches. Beating Berdych was all about movement and controlling the tempo of the rallies with aggression; against Raonic it was hustling on the return and keeping himself in the points which he did fantastically well; defending brilliantly off both wings to get the all important break in each set.
Fed has clearly become way more accustomed to the conditions this week and he's hitting both his forehand and his backhand very sweetly. The cross court forehand in particular has been a joy to watch and is a key shot in his transition game; perhaps even more so on this surface as it takes spin quite heavily so working the angles is a great way to get your opponent out of position.
The slice was also a key shot today and Fed mixed it up quite often, tall guys hate the ball down at their feet and Raonic is no different. Using the short slice to bring Raonic in and have to hit up on the ball and the deep one which Raonic will always try and run around; both those shots brought errors at bad times for the Canadian and helped Roger earn the breaks.
Really just another top performance and Fed is now on a 19-set win streak, dating back since Dubai. GOAT 🙂
Predictions vs. Djokovic
Next is Djokovic who defeated Murray handily in straight sets. I was expecting way more from Murray here but he put in another insipid performance to only capture 5 games and record his worst defeat against Djokovic since Monte Carlo in 2008. Big 3 + 1 clearly.
So can Roger do what he couldn't last year and beat Novak on a slower style hard court? The 2014 final went to 7-6 in the third so it was very close and I think Fed is playing much better now than he was then, especially off the forehand. The same too could also be said of Djokovic though who got the year off to a flier by winning the Australian Open so it's really tough to call.
Interestingly Fed hasn't beaten Djokovic 3 times in a row since 2007, so that does show how close this rivalry is and that maybe the odds are against him. Fed in his pomp owns Djokovic but this is a cross-generational match and it might boil down to the fact Djokovic is the younger of the two and the surface is well suited to his ‘defensive whilst staying somewhat offensive' game style.
On the flip side, Fed knows a vacation awaits after this, there's no Miami to even think about, so he can leave it all out on court and make it physical himself if he has to. If he plays at a similar level to the Sock/Berd/Rao matches and gets his variety going I reckon he has a pretty good chance.
I think I've picked Djokovic to win the last 2 times these two have met and it has worked out pretty well 😉 so I'll go Djokovic in three. More cowbell please!
What do you guys think?