Roger Federer is into the Halle Quarter Finals after digging in to save two match points against Benoit Paire, eventually prevailing 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(7) in one hour and 59 minutes to make the last eight at the Gerry Weber Open.
The Swiss had to call on his experience in the third set breaker to hold his nerve, hitting a brave full-blooded forehand from his shoelaces at 5-6 and then managing to hit an aggressive backhand on the return at 6-7 to draw an error. Pretty clutch stuff to prevail and he's kept himself in with a shot of his 10th title in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Quick Match Recap
Paire won the toss and elected to receive. The Frenchman won the first point with a blistering return but Roger held to thirty for a 1-0 lead. Paire was then quickly level after holding to fifteen. The two then exchanged back to back holds and in game seven it was Paire who held the first break points of the match thanks to a sweet lob.
Three big serves got Roger out of trouble though and he was able to break in the next game for 5-3 as Paire's frustration boiled over, throwing his racquet around after a string of missed first serves. Roger served it out 6-3 with a minimum of fuss.
Into set two and with Paire still seething it looked like Fed would put the match to bed at 0-30 and 30-40 but Paire somehow got out of the game. That gave him some real impetus and he went onto break the Federer serve twice in succession for a 4-0 lead. The Swiss was able to recoup one break but he couldn't restore parity as Paire closed it out 6-3.
Federer served first in the decider, holding to love for 1-0 and immediately had a half chance at 0-30 but some tentative returning allowed Paire to hold. The next four service games were held for the loss of just two return points but in game seven things began to open up; with Roger getting pegged to deuce and then fashioning a breakpoint on the Paire serve in game eight which he couldn't convert. A love hold followed to put the pressure straight back on Paire and two games later it looked it might tell as the Frenchman slipped to 15-40, only to find some big serves to hold and force a tie-break.
Into the breaker and Roger soon forged a 3-1 lead but Paire fought back, winning four points in a row to gain the advantage and he held match points at 6-5 and 7-6 only to see Roger erase them with some brave play which had the crowd gasping before he finally closed it out 9-7 in the third.
|Roger Federer||Benoit Paire|
|1st Serve||63% (57/90)||58% (66/114)|
|1st Serve Points Won||74% (42/57)||71% (47/66)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||61% (20/33)||50% (24/48)|
|Break Points Saved||60% (3/5)||71% (5/7)|
|Service Games Played||15||15|
|1st Serve Return Points Won||29% (19/66)||26% (15/57)|
|2nd Serve Return Points Won||50% (24/48)||39% (13/33)|
|Break Points Converted||29% (2/7)||40% (2/5)|
|Return Games Played||15||15|
|Net Points Won||70% (21/30)||65% (20/31)|
|Service Points Won||69% (62/90)||62% (71/114)|
|Return Points Won||38% (43/114)||31% (28/90)|
|Total Points Won||51% (105/204)||49% (99/204)|
Thoughts on the Match
It was a very tight match, I was lucky, the tiebreakers with Kyrgios helped me physically to gain confidence, during the match I had moments where I thought, you played well in Stuttgart, it wouldn't be to bad to lose here, but then I managed to focus again.
A very close match this one that could quite easily have gone the way of the Frenchman had he managed to find a first serve on match point. But he didn't and his forehand let him down when he needed it most as Roger played with enough conviction on the match points to erase them.
It wasn't the prettiest match from Fed and I guess you could say he looked a bit lackluster on the return but overall I think he was the better player over the course of three sets. I know the fans expect peRFect tennis every time he steps on the court and as soon as he dropped a set my Twitter timeline was full of injury speculations about how he was clearly struggling 😆 didn't look like it to me but who knows. But irrespective of that, what a lot of tennis fans need to realise is that Roger Federer doesn't play tennis in a vacuum, sometimes his opponents do have a say in how well he will play on a given day. And Paire certainly played his part in stemming Roger's free-flowing tennis today; he served well with a lot of variety and his yo-yo level of tennis didn't give Roger much rhythm of the baseline. As a result, it turned into a match where Fed had to stick it out, get a bit of luck and keep his focus to avoid defeat. Sure he could have played better by not letting his serve go AWOL in set two and return a bit more purposefully throughout but he hung in there and got the job done 🙂
Predictions vs. Ebden
Next up is Matthew Ebden who I had a feeling would do well here given the number of matches he's already played on grass this year and his come forward style causing problems as it's rarely seen on tour. I saw a bit of his match vs. Chardy in Rosmalen and he was impressive, pretty weak serve but that actually gives him more time to close the net where he's very effective.
The Aussie saw off Kohlschreiber in three sets today and he'll be bringing plenty serve & volley to the court tomorrow so it should be fun to watch. It could also be a tough match too depending on how sharp Roger is. He'll need to be moving well to make sure he's there in time to make those passing shots difficult as Ebden has decent hands. Historically Fed has done a pretty good job at rushing players who are supposed to be the ones doing the rushing so I think he'll prevail, all about keeping focus for those openings against a net rusher. Hopefully, he comes through in 2 sets.
What did you guys think of Federer's performance today? Predictions for tomorrow? Let me know in the comments.