Boom! Big win here for the GOAT as he took down Djokovic 7-5 6-2 to setup an all Swiss Final in Monte Carlo.
I wasn't sure what to expect going in and even though Djokovic faded badly in the second set with some sort of wrist injury he lost to the better player on the day.
The press are going to talk about the injury being a big deal but if you take to the court then you are fit to play. Roger lost several matches last year due to a bad back but the fact is he still chose to play them and you credit his opponent with the victory regardless.
From Roger's side of the net he played with conviction from the word go, struck the ball fantastically, defended superbly and was able to move well out the corners to turn defence into attack in the blink of an eye. His aggression and ability move forward unsettles Djokovic as he can't get the rhythm he requires from the back of the court.
Quick Match Recap
This one started with a confident hold to 15 from Djokovic in his opening service game. Some circles expected him to withdraw prior to the match but it looked like he had come to play despite heavy strapping on his right arm.
Roger immediately found himself down 0-30 on his first service game after 2 unforced errors but he hit back to back drive volleys off big first serves en route to holding for 1-1.
Both players traded confident holds until 4 all where Fed had his break point chance but couldn't convert as Djokovic held for 5-4.
The set was extremely close at this point but it was Roger who had been asking more questions on the return up until the 10th game where he slipped to 15-40.
Staring down at 2 Djokovic set points this is where the Swiss won the match playing 2 genius points to make deuce. It was just extreme confidence from him and he never took his foot off the gas until the point was won. We then got the point of the tournament so far finished with an exquisite Federer dropshot as he leveled for 5 all.
Djokovic then moved into a 40-0 lead on his next service game but Roger reeled off 5 successive points to break, doing so with a deadly low slice that drew the error from the Serb. 1 minute later and the turnaround was complete as Roger served it out to 15 to take the set 7-5. Winning all 11 of his forays into the net and converting 1 out of 2 break points.
The loss of the first set clearly effected Djokovic's belief as he went down an early break in the second before Roger held for 3-1. He clearly needed the first set to give him that mental edge but by losing it his dodgy wrist became more of a problem.
3-1 soon became 5-2 as Roger fired down 2 confident holds before serving it out to 30 to book his spot in the final.
|R. Federer||N. Djokovic|
|1st Serve %||70%||68%|
|1st Serve Points Won||33/40 (83%)||24/40 (60%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||10/17 (59%)||12/19 (63%)|
|Break Points Saved||2/2 (100%)||2/5 (40%)|
|Service Games Played||10||10|
|1st Return Points Won||16/40 (40%)||7/40 (18%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||7/19 (37%)||7/17 (41%)|
|Net Points Won||13/14 (93%)||3/7 (43%)|
|Break Points Won||3/5 (60%)||0/2 (0%)|
|Return Games Played||10||10|
|Total Service Points Won||43/57 (75%)||36/59 (61%)|
|Total Return Points Won||23/59 (39%)||14/57 (25%)|
|Total Points Won||66/116 (57%)||50/116 (43%)|
Thoughts on the Match
I think this was another confident display from Roger as he played solidly from start to finish.
He could have quite easily lost the first set which would have been against the run of play but he played lights out on the break points. The 2 points at 15-40 were ridiculously good and that hold won him the match.
When Fed is moving well and he has nothing else on his mind other than forehands and backhands he plays with a 100 times more conviction when it matters.
Had Djokovic won the first set it could have given him that shot of adrenaline he needed to put the wrist injury to the back of his mind. But by losing it, he lost self belief and his wrist began to prey on his mind.
I think we saw the same with Federer last year, in some matches he got very close to winning, but there were just too many questions and doubt in his mind about his back.
But like I said above, when you to take to the court, you are fit to play the match and here the better man won. Roger played better in all areas and struck the ball sweetly off both wings.
Predictions vs. Wawrinka
With Wawrinka beating Ferrer in the first semi final we now have an all Swiss Final on the ATP tour for the first time since 2000 where Roger lost to Marc Rosset in Marseille.
It's also the first time we've had 2 players in a Monte Carlo final with a single handed backhand since 2001. In that one Gustavo Kuerten defeated Hicham Arazi. 13 years on which way will this one go?
I didn't see the Wawarinka match but according to reports Stan completely blew Ferrer off the court in the first set hitting winners left right and centre.
I wasn't sure on his form coming into this one but on his preferred surface he's clearly playing at a high level after a mini slump post Australian Open.
Despite Stan's form and slam win I still pick Fed to get the job done here as he know's Stan's game inside out.
Few players understand an opponents strengths and weaknesses better than Fed so I think he's going to unsettle Stan and win his first Monte Carlo title at the age of 32.
Roger leads the H2H 14-1 and in all those meetings I never got the sense Stan believed he could win. Even in Indian Wells last year where Fed had a bad back he couldn't find a way to win. That doesn't bode well for him.
It will be interesting to see if the Australian Open win has changed Stan's mental makeup against his master. Winning Down Under did allow him to step out of Roger's shadow a bit so maybe now he has the belief he's just as good. I guess we'll find out.
Stan clearly has the game to win but can he cause Roger problems? I think he's going to have to serve incredibly well and really keep Roger on the back foot. Roger has far more in his arsenal so he can win the match a number of ways whereas Stan only really has one way of doing so. That puts Fed in the driving seat for me.
I'll pick Roger in 2 sets. 6-2 7-5. Allez!