Bad news for Fed fans here as their Australian Open came to premature end with Federer crashing out in the third round to Andreas Seppi 6-4, 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(5) marking the first time since 2004 that the Swiss hasn't made the semi finals or better in Melbourne.
I definitely didn't see this one coming as Roger held a 10-0 H2H record against the Italian and had only ever lost one set in all their previous meetings. Seppi is renowned as a solid player off both wings with compact strokes where little goes wrong. However he's struggled against top 10 players in the past and with no weapons I was certain Roger would come through comfortably.
For one reason or another that couldn't be any further from the truth and although he had chances in both the second and the fourth set he fell way short; playing passively on the bigger points and lacking the rhythm & power in his ground game to ever play the match on his terms. It wasn't a rout of course and had a few points ended differently he may well have come through, after all he won 145 to 144 in the match, but when you look at who did what on the court Seppi was the worthy winner and deservedly faces Nick Kyrgios in the next round.
Quick Match Recap
Roger won the toss and elected to serve, firing down an ace on the first point before holding to love. He then forced Seppi to deuce in his opener but the Italian held. At 2-2 Seppi began to find more rhythm from the back of the court and had his first chance to break serve, Roger however shut the door with a couple of decent serves to hold. At 4-4 Seppi finally got the breakthrough he needed, aided by a double fault and 2 unforced errors to move 5-4 in front. Roger had 2 chances to break straight back with Seppi looking tight but he couldn't take them as he lost the first set 6-4.
No worries when I was watching at the time as the same thing happened just 2 days earlier. But unlike the Bolelli match Roger got himself in trouble immediately in set 2, falling down a break at 2-1. Somehow though he hit straight back to level which was much needed. No more break points were available to either player until 4-4 where Roger was again broken, letting a ball go where he had a routine volley only to see it drop in. Real poor decision making and it showed he had no real belief in what he was trying to do, 99 times of out 100 he takes that volley out the sky and plants it in the open court. This time around he tamely leaves it to get broken 😕 .
Fortunately for him however, Seppi isn't the sort of guy who's dominant when in the lead or when he has the pressure of serving out a set and he again handed the break back. Roger getting extremely fortunate on break point to see the ball clip the tape and trickle over.
The next game was saw Roger hit a between the legs reaction shot before he held to love. Seppi then held to force the tie break. Here Roger got off to a great start, moving up 4-1 hitting a sweet backhand half volley drive winner down the line in the process. The lead was shortlived and from 5-3 up he lost 4 points in a row as Seppi moved up 2 sets to love.
The third set was very much what we've come to expect from Fed 5.0 when he's behind in a match and he played far more solidly than he'd managed in the two sets previous. Not giving Seppi a single break point and taking his own chance early in the set before closing it out six games to four.
Two sets to one was still touch and go with Roger's level but he'd at least given himself some momentum which saw him create a break point in Seppi's first service game. Here I think we got the story of the match as the break point went begging when he hit an unconfident backhand long. No conviction and belief in the shot whatsoever.
After the early chance, both players traded comfortable holds and the only real half chance was Seppi getting to deuce at 6-5 before Fed held to force the tie break. The last time Roger lost two tie breaks in a match was all the way back in Rome in 2011 against Gasquet and he immediately got the mini break only to hand it right back to the Italian. At 2-1 Roger again got the mini break, but criminally double faulted at 3-2. At 4-4 Seppi was forced into the net by a short slice and Roger hit a sweet backhand pass cross court, I thought that shot was going to carry him over the line but he lost the next two points on serve to give Seppi match point on his own, which he sealed by making an incredible passing shot up the line past a despondent Federer.
|Stats||Andreas Seppi||Roger Federer|
|1st serves in||86/151 (57 %)||82/138 (59 %)|
|1st serve points won||67/86 (78 %)||66/82 (80 %)|
|2nd serve points won||32/65 (49 %)||27/56 (48 %)|
|Fastest serve||197 KMH||208 KMH|
|Average 1st serve speed||184 KMH||191 KMH|
|Average 2nd serve speed||145 KMH||155 KMH|
|Net points won||17/27 (63 %)||29/50 (58 %)|
|Break points won||3/5 (60 %)||3/10 (30 %)|
|Receiving points won||45/138 (33 %)||52/151 (34 %)|
|Total points won||144||145|
Thoughts on the Match
Bad loss indeed and the struggles in the Bolelli match were clearly a precursor to this one rather than a one off blip. Hard to really pinpoint why but all facets of the Federer game were just that bit off. Forehand underpowered, 9 double faults which is pretty terrible and just lots of uncharacteristic errors. Watching it on the TV screen it looked like Roger had no real confidence in his shots or what he was trying to do. Sure he came up with some great shots from time to time, impossible not to for him, but whenever you see a player failing to follow through on the backhand it's a sure fire sign you're not feeling good about your game or the match.
The daft thing is despite the errors and passive weak play he should have actually won both tie breaks which would have given him the three sets he neeeded to progress. Like I said above, Seppi strikes a decent ball but definitely gets shaky in some of the bigger moments, Djoker proved it at the French Open when he came back from two sets down to win in 2012 and even Fed had him wobbling a couple of times here in the fourth. However he could never take charge of the points and both guys ending up hitting passive floaty groundstrokes; Fed was the less solid of the two from the baseline and he invariably broke down first. No fireworks from the Italian, he was just that little bit better and things worked out for him when he needed them to.
With that in mind I think overall the result justified the performance and Seppi played the better tennis over the four sets. He backed it too up by conjuring up the one bit of brilliance he needed to when he made the passing shot on match point. Other than that he struck a good ball throughout and kept the ball in play when he needed to which is pretty much what he usually does. Enough to beat Fed when he's playing well? Not a chance like we have seen in the previous 10 meetings but it worked out for him in the 11th.
Not much more needed, time for Fed to assess the match if he feels the need to, hit the Maldives for a week and then start practising for Dubai 🙂