Hey guys, a routine win for Federer here as he comfortably defeated French Qualifier Lucas Pouille 6-4 6-4 to move into the Quarter Finals at the BNP Paribas Masters.
This one always looked like an easy matchup on paper and although Pouille played well the Swiss was able to play in 2nd gear throughout and get himself over the line without expending much energy after his long 3 setter vs. Chardy on Wednesday.
The win has set up a tie with Raonic who beat Bautista-Agut earlier in the day and I'm sure he'll be keen to put in a better showing against the GOAT than he's managed in their previous 2 encounters where he's been made to look amateur.
Quick Match Recap
As we've seen many times against an inexperienced opponent Roger won the toss and elected to receive. Pouille responded well though holding to 15 after making some solid first serves.
Roger then levelled to love and both players traded back to back holds as the scoreboard ticked along to 3-3. Up until this point Pouille had look impressive on serve, using the outswinger on the ad court well and backing it up well with some meaty forehands. However in game 7 Pouille lost 4 consecutive points on serve from 40-15 to get broken and Roger took the first set 3 games later 6-4. Looked like Fed just decided it was time for a break after seeing what Pouille had to offer.
The second set was more of the same with Pouille again serving well and playing the right sort of match by staying aggressive wherever possible and keeping Fed honest at the back of the court. The Swiss had a break point at 2-2 but the Pouille served his way out of it in confident style. However just like the first set he crucially dropped serve at 3-3 to put Roger well in sight of the finish line. Pouille had 15-30 in Roger's next service game but wasn't able to capitalise and although he held to love for 4-5; Fed served it out easily enough to take it 6-4 6-4 in 1 hour 14 minutes.
|L. Pouille||R. Federer|
|1st Serve %||61%||54%|
|1st Serve Points Won||37/47 (79%)||27/29 (93%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||10/30 (33%)||15/25 (60%)|
|Break Points Saved||8/10 (80%)||0/0 (0%)|
|Service Games Played||10||10|
|1st Return Points Won||2/29 (7%)||10/47 (21%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||10/25 (40%)||20/30 (67%)|
|Break Points Won||0/0 (0%)||2/10 (20%)|
|Return Games Played||10||10|
|Net Points Won||6/11||14/21|
|Total Service Points Won||47/77 (61%)||42/54 (78%)|
|Total Return Points Won||12/54 (22%)||30/77 (39%)|
|Total Points Won||59/131 (45%)||72/131 (55%)|
Thoughts on the Match
Not much to report on this one other than it being a steady performance and job done with minimum fuss. Fed looked far more at ease with the conditions today so it looks like the Chardy 3 setter did him quite a lot of good. From looking unsteady at the start of yesterdays match he was much better at constructing points today and now has a handle on how the surface is playing. Today wasn't physical in the slightest either so he should be in good shape for his 70th Quarter Final appearance at Masters 1000 level in 114 attempts. Decent strike rate that one 🙂
In terms of where the match was won I think Fed was just better on the important points and played well when he needed to. No fireworks necessary just some solid play from the back of the court, transitions in when he needed to and capitalising on some costly Pouille errors. Serve wasn't quite rocking and rolling but Fed didn't have to face a single break point so it was never really an issue. Like I said above just a 2nd gear type of match where Roger knows he's unlikely to get into too much trouble out there. He said in his post Chardy match interview that he'd practised with Pouille once before so he clearly had some idea of what to expect. Not saying he took him lightly but he obviously knew he would have the upper hand regardless.
As for Pouille I thought he played a pretty good match; made a lot of decent first serves (out-acing Fed) and played quite aggressive when he had chance. Just a few mistakes at key moments to get broken once each set were his downfall. Beating Nieminen & Johnson in qualifying and then Karlovic and Fognini in the main draw is a good tournament though so he could be one to watch in the future.
Predictions vs. Raonic
Next up is Milos Raonic who defeated Roberto Bautista-Agut in straight sets earlier in the day. RBA was up a break in the second set but let it slip and it proved costly. Raonic hasn't been in great form at all lately and Sock should have beaten him in the 2nd Round on Wednesday but unfortunately the American struggles to get it done as he suffered a similar fate vs. Dimitrov in Stockholm a couple of weeks ago.
Roger leads the H2H with Raonic 6-0 and has pretty much schooled the Canadian in their last 2 meetings; breaking his serve easily and never looking troubled in his own service games. Milos has gone into all those matches in good form too – so considering he's not been playing that well lately it will be interesting to see what happens here. Will it be the same old story or will he come up with something special?
Raonic has one of the best serves in the game right now but on this surface big servers haven't really had an easy time of it. Karlovic was defeated easily by Pouille and Isner knocked off by Monfils last night. Of the other big servers only Anderson and Berdych remain but they back it up with a solid ground game on both wings.
Agut was also able to break Raonic twice but couldn't take advantage so I'm expecting Fed to get the job done yet again based on what I've seen this week and in their previous encounters. I think Raonic can make it close if he serves smart – takes pace off, mixes it up but if he just goes for bombs then I doubt it ends well for him. I'll pick Fed in 3 sets. 6-4 4-6 6-4.