Another roller coaster at the US Open for Roger Federer as for the second time in three days he went five sets before finally overcoming Mikhail Youzhny 6-1, 6-7(3), 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Last night's Second Round was the 17th meeting in 17 years between two veterans, who first played each other indoors in Stockholm in 2000 and somehow Roger managed to maintain his perfect record against the Russian last night; coming from two sets to one down and taking advantage of a hobbled Youzhny who suffered from cramp midway through the fourth set to move into Round 3.
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and chose sides. Youzhny then elected to receive, and Roger held to 30 to start proceedings.
With a big fat zero in the wins column for Youzhny, it wasn't a surprise to see him drop serve immediately and Roger barely put a foot wrong in the set, moving up 5-0 thanks to some wonderfully executed drop shots. The Swiss had two set points for a bagel but couldn't convert but served out the set comfortably 6-1.
Finally getting on the board at the tail end of set 1 seemed to give Youzhny a burst of energy and he responded by moving up 2-0 at the start of the second. However his lead was short lived, Federer winning four straight games for 4-2 but when serving for a two set lead, his game went AWOL as the Russian broke before taking the tie break 7-3 to level the match.
With Federer's effortless tennis from the first set a distant memory, Youzhny took charge in the third, breaking for 3-2 aided by a smart challenge and some top class backhands that left Roger flat footed. In game nine the Swiss had to save two set points, but Youzhny held to love to take the set 6-4.
Into the fourth and Roger was able to raise his level, breaking early to establish a 4-1 lead, but again he couldn't serve out the set as he was broken at 5-3. Fortunately, he was able to respond immediately by breaking to take the match into a decider
Another fifth set lottery awaited, but at one all in the decider, Youzhny cramped up after attempting a backhand smash. The Russian clearly hobbled somehow held for 2-2 but with his serve now sub 100mph, a seventh double fault allowed Roger to lead 4-2, and the GOAT crossed the line at a canter from there to take it 6-2
|Match Statistics||R. Federer||M. Youzhny|
|First Serve % In||87/140 (62%)||109/177 (62%)|
|Win % On 1st Serve||68/87 (78%)||68/109 (62%)|
|Win % On 2nd Serve||27/53 (51%)||30/68 (44%)|
|Net Points Won||39/48 (81%)||16/30 (53%)|
|Break Points Won||8/16 (50%)||4/8 (50%)|
|Receiving Points Won||79/177 (45%)||45/140 (32%)|
|Total Points Won||174||143|
|Distance Covered (M)||3334.8||3466.5|
|Distance Covered/pt. (M)||10.5||10.9|
Thoughts on the Match
I'm better than the first round, so I'm happy. This match wasn't about the back, which is good. This is more just a grind. I felt different, completely different, the way it played and everything. But I'm really, really happy I got through. My preparation hasn't been good at all here. I knew I was going to maybe struggle early on. Maybe I struggled more than I would have liked to. But I'm still in the draw, which gives me a chance. I still believe I'm going to pick up my game and become just more consistent because I'm not playing all that bad … With a bit of fatigue, that's OK. I've done that hundreds of times. That's not something I'm too concerned about.
Same shit, different day for Federer at the US Open 🙂 after going five against Tiafoe I thought things might go a little smoother against Youzhny who's looked like a spent force in recent years but nope, another match that goes the distance. It's the first time Roger has played back to back five set matches in the opening two matches of a Major in a career so at least there's a new record.
Like the first round, this match was another topsy turvy affair. Roger started impressively with a spring in his step to dominate the first set. But after failing to take the second set, his level dropped, and the unforced error count began to rack up.
Once Colonel Youzhny levelled, he got a nice shot of confidence and began to hit through his backhand to cause Roger a lot of problems. I think if he hadn't dropped off a cliff physically with cramp in the fourth and fifth he might have finally broken his duck in the H2H. But fortunately for Roger, he was the fitter guy over five and came out on top.
So result aside is Fed over his injury woes? I think it's safe to say to no after his first two matches. He's downplaying any problems in interviews with the back problem described as ‘a thing of the past', but I'm not sure I buy it. The problem is he's excellent at masking problems – he rarely shows them on his face, and with his hand eye coordination, he is always going to hit the ball sweetly enough even if he's not moving well.
But there's just no way a fit Federer goes five sets against Youzhny in 2017. He may well be on the mend to the point it's not getting worse, but you can tell from his movement he's not close to 100% yet. Some shots work fine, but the serve is down on speed, overheads don't look comfortable, and he's not getting down low enough on certain balls. It seems to happen in patches too, for the first set he looked on top of everything, then he was suddenly laboured. So it's like he's playing at 60% then able to up it 80% for a short period before dropping back to 60%.
Predictions vs. Lopez
Next up is Feliciano Lopez who defeated Fiasco in 4 sets. Like Youzhny, he too has a shocking record vs Federer with 0 wins. Check out that overhead miss in the final set tie break in Madrid 2011 for a quick summary of the rivalry so far 😆
However, based on what we saw last night, nothing here is a given. Lopez has a better serve and if he can hold it together mentally then he surely has to fancy his chances. Fed's played 10 sets now and we're only in Round, 3 so I honestly have no idea what to expect. I'd like a match where he's ‘fucking flying all over the court‘ but that seems unlikely.
Roger says he expects to get better from here, if that's the case, he can beat Lopez handily. But if he's not able to get about the court as efficiently or dig out the low balls as well then it's wide open. Youzhny had some nice success with the slice, and that's Lopez's best shot, so my prediction is another roller coaster 😀
What did you guys think of this one? Let me know in the comments along with your predictions for the Lopez match.