Hey all, what a week for the GOAT huh? Save 5 match points on Wednesday and then lift the title on Sunday. As if beating Djokovic in sublime style wasn't enough, Roger topped off his week in Shanghai defeating surprise package Gilles Simon 7-6(6) 7-6(2) to lift his 23rd Masters 1000 title overall and 1st in Shanghai.
This one wasn't easy however as Simon showed why he's extremely difficult to put away, moving well laterally and striking the ball cleanly off both wings from the back of the court. It was inevitable Fed didn't quite reach the heights he managed vs. Djokovic but the good news was he played a mentally tough match and won enough of the important points to get himself over the line. A huge testament not just to his ability but also his competitive edge to win matches when not playing at peak level. Allez!
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and elected to serve. His aim was obviously so start strong but he fired down a disaster opening service game to get broken to 15. Simon consolidated with a love hold to lead 2-0.
No fireworks from the Frenchman, just well placed shots and zero errors. Fed on the other hand got dragged into a baseline fight with Simon who massaged the ball round the court and Roger's clarity of thought wasn't quite there. Almost like he had too many options out there that he wasn't sure what to hit which lead to mistakes and poor shot selection.
This pattern of play continued until Simon served for the first set at 5-4. This time around it was his turn to deliver a horrible service game to get broken. Somewhat inevitable as he was serving at a mere 30% for the set but Fed had committed 14 unforced errors already by this point. Luckily the Swiss tightened up his game when it mattered to get back on level terms.
The break back gave Roger a much needed boost and he held to love for 6-5. Simon found himself facing 2 set points in his next service game but he stepped up to the plate to force the breaker.
Roger's tie break play this week has been exceptionally solid and here was no different as he delivered some timely first serves right when he needed them. The only real moment of danger was when the Swiss missed a routine volley at 5-4 which lead to Simon having a set point at 6-5. 2 solid serves snuffed those out and he converted his own set point with a tremendous dipping backhand passing shot down the line.
After dropping the first set Simon took a medical timeout off court for what appeared to be a groin issue. This meant the start of the second was a little flat for both players as the intensity Fed had built had faded somewhat. Roger was still pressuring but Simon just refused to go away, coming up with some very solid play and injections of pace when he needed them.
Both players held comfortably until 3 games all and at this point Roger was just starting to get a foot hold in the set, using his variety and slice to devoid Simon of any pace. It set up a break point for him in game 7 but again Simon held firm.
3-3 soon became 5-4 Simon with the pressure on Fed to serve to stay in the set. He did so emphatically holding to love in 1 minute and 20 seconds. The Swiss then had a 0-30 inroad in Simon's next service game but committed 3 consecutive errors as the former world number 6 held.
After holding in style at 4-5, this time around Fed got himself in trouble at 15-40 but he came up with the goods again when it mattered, playing fearlessly off the ground to force the tie breaker.
Winning the first point on serve is always important and Fed got off to a flyer in this one serving his way into a 5-2 lead. He then ran around the backhand on a second serve to blaze a winner to give himself 4 match points, closing it the first time of asking as Simon netted a forehand. Game, set, match, Federer.
|R. Federer||G. Simon|
|1st Serve %||70%||51%|
|1st Serve Points Won||39/50 (78%)||28/46 (61%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||15/21 (71%)||28/44 (64%)|
|Break Points Saved||2/3 (67%)||6/7 (86%)|
|Service Games Played||12||12|
|1st Return Points Won||18/46 (39%)||11/50 (22%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||16/44 (36%)||6/21 (29%)|
|Break Points Won||1/7 (14%)||1/3 (33%)|
|Return Games Played||12||12|
|Net Points Won||24/35||3/9|
|Total Service Points Won||54/71 (76%)||56/90 (62%)|
|Total Return Points Won||34/90 (38%)||17/71 (24%)|
|Total Points Won||88/161 (55%)||73/161 (45%)|
Thoughts on the Match
Another great week for the GOAT topped off with a title that was missing from his trophy cabinet. Like he said himself he got extremely lucky vs Mayer but he took full advantage and ended up being the worthy winner beating the World Number 1 en route to the title.
As for this match it wasn't the greatest to watch and Federer played averagely I thought. Early on he got dragged into Simon's style of play and committed too many errors. It was only thanks to a disaster service game at 5-4 from the Frenchman that he stayed in the first set. After that he clearly realised that he had to play with more variety and more aggression to throw Simon out of synch. He did that by using the slice backhand and taking pace off the ball, Simon moves superbly well from left to right but when he has to step into the court and generate his own pace then his usually flawless ball striking begins to make errors. This tactic worked peRFectly for Fed and he managed to dig deep in the tie break when he needed to with some precision serving. I thought when he missed that routine volley it could have ended badly but he didn't let it phase him. The point for point mentality paid off here and he cranked up his serve at just the right time.
After the Simon medical timeout at the end of the first there was a bit of a lull from Fed but he really should have broken late on in the second only for Simon to play solidly to force another tie break. Fed used his experience though to get it done, preying on some weak second serves to seal the deal.
Just a very clutch match from a guy with a champions mindset. I thought as the match wore on Fed did a good job of focusing on what he had with his gameplan, early signs were Simon was going to hypnotise him with his counter punching style of play but Fed broke out of that by mixing it up and avoiding predictable patterns of play.
All in all a great week for the Swiss and this is the first time since 2007 that he's won a title on Asian soil. He's always played pretty well in Shanghai but has been on the end of some beatings here by Murray over the years so to finally win it is a dream come true really for himself and the fans. It's just another notch on his legacy too, still winning the big titles at age 33 and taking on guys that are smack bang in their primes. 4 titles already this year, back to #2 in the world and playing his best tennis of the year so far. Somewhat of a shame that he's fallen short in the Majors this year but I feel like there's still more to come from him on that front. He lost to the better player at Wimbledon and his legs were gone against a red hot Cilic so there can't be any complaints. I'm now looking forward to the remainder of the year that is hopefully sealed with a Davis Cup victory.
See you in Basel!