Another sweet performance here from the GOAT has he booked his place in his 5th Indian Wells defeating Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3 6-1.
In a match that lasted just over an hour it was complete one way traffic as Roger outclassed the Ukrainian in every department.
Dolgpolov has been in fine fettle this week defeating Nadal and Raonic to make his first M1000 semi final but today his game misfired. Windy conditions seemed to play on his mind and he made far too many errors to ever get a look in.
Roger was again solid in all areas, serving with precision and just playing great tennis with an air of calmness and confidence. Let's take a look at the match…
Quick Match Recap
With Dolgopolov winning the toss and electing to receive I had my suspicions this one would be over quickly.
Why would a below average returner elect to let the best front runner in the game get himself into lead? It shows a real lack of belief.
Roger held his opening service game to 15 and was already finding the spots on serve before Dolgopolov had his first encounter with danger dropping to love 30 at 1-2. He went onto hold but finally came unstuck at 3-4 with a succession of wild forehands.
The wind was wreaking havoc on the Dog's game as he struggled to make even routine shots. Looking at his box and the sky continually as the errors flowed from his racquet.
As always though it is all in the mind and the conditions are the same for both players. It effected Roger too as he struggled to time his backhand but he just got on with it serving out the set to 15 to take it 6-3.
It was a clean set from the Swiss who hit 8 winners to 8 unforced errors, serving 6 aces and made 71% of his first serves. The only real test he faced was deuce at 3 all but 2 big serves got him out of trouble.
With Dolgopolov looking increasingly frustrated it didn't get any easier for him at the start of the 2nd set as he got broken immediately. Sick return from Roger here on break point to put one foot into the final.
2 easy holds from Roger followed and then we had the longest game of the match which lasted around 9 minutes and contained 7 deuces. We also got to see an insane get + passing shot from Fed before he finally converted his 5th break point of the game to lead 4-1.
4-1 was soon 5-1 and Roger then broke to love to close it out 6-3 6-1. Routinerer.
|A. Dolgopolov||R. Federer|
|1st Serve %||39%||72%|
|1st Serve Points Won||16/24 (67%)||23/31 (74%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||14/37 (38%)||10/12 (83%)|
|Break Points Saved||5/9 (56%)||0/0 (0%)|
|Service Games Played||8||8|
|1st Return Points Won||8/31 (26%)||8/24 (33%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||2/12 (17%)||23/37 (62%)|
|Break Points Won||0/0 (0%)||4/9 (44%)|
|Return Games Played||8||8|
|Total Service Points Won||30/61 (49%)||33/43 (77%)|
|Total Return Points Won||10/43 (23%)||31/61 (51%)|
|Total Points Won||40/104 (38%)||64/104 (62%)|
Shot of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
Hard to analyse this one as Roger was too good in all areas. Dolgopolov had a bit of a nightmare to be honest and the wind + the occasion completely put him off his game.
I think the matchup was clear too and it's one that works in Roger's favour. I asked myself before the match in what areas could Dolgo hurt Roger?
He's not a great returner, isn't going to grind and doesn't have a standout weapon. Those things just don't cut the mustard against Fed. He is able to neutralise Dolgopolov's game completely and make him miss by forcing him to go for too much and try outlandish shots.
Dolgo is also in the Monfils league when it comes to tennis brains and court sense as he just plays one way and never adjusts. Fed plays instinctively but can win matches in multiple ways, these guys just smack it and see what happens.
Case in point when the wind was swirling the ball all over the place and Dolgo still tries to smash an overhead at 150 miles an hour. It was an accident waiting to happen. So I expected a bit more from Dolgopolov considering he beat Nadal but Fed just knows how to play these guys. He handles them and the conditions with ease.
As for the tennis on Roger's side of the net he was just solid. Came up with the goods in all his service games and didn't face a single break point. Despite the wind and Dolgo's flamboyant groundstrokes he hit cleanly off both wings to move into his 116th career final. A good days work.
Predictions vs. Djokovic
So we got a Djokerer final on our hands here after Novak took care of big serving John Isner. It was hardly vintage from Novak who got broken twice when trying to serve it out before losing the second set on a tie break. He's looking sloppy but he's still winning which is the main thing.
Maybe he has played himself into form after droppings sets you wouldn't expect him to but I'm not totally convinced he's at his best. 2011-2012 he was unreal clutch but recently he's looking depleted of confidence. Smashing racquets, failing to serve out sets. Tennis is of course all about on the day but that could play a part if the pressure is on him
On the flip side after not winning a title pre Indian Wells for the first time since 2006 he is bound to be hungry to kickstart his season. I figure he will be right up for this and especially keen to avenge his loss in Dubai.
So can Fed beat Djoker twice on the bounce? It kinda feels like it shouldn't be possible based on results over last ~3 years but the way Roger has been playing since in Dubai and at Indian Wells I think it is.
Fed beat Novak back to back in 2012 at Wimbledon and Cincy so I see no reason why he can't do it here. He has got way more determination on court compared to last year and the willingness to dig deep to get the win whether it's with silky forehands or running from corner to corner.
Novak has the edge in Indian Wells winning their sole encounter in the 2011 semi final 6-3 3-6 6-2 before defeating Nadal in the final so this one is real tough to pick an outright winner from. Current form – you say Fed. But Djoker is in his prime right now and edges the H2H over the last 2 years.
I think we'll definitely get a good final with both guys keen to lift the trophy it's just going to be about who plays better on the day. No real secrets on the court between these two and it's a good matchup for both guys.
As for where the match will be won and lost Djoker's gonna have to defend well whilst staying offensive whereas Roger needs to keep him off balance by mixing it up before pulling the trigger on the forehand.
The Federer serve is of course going to be key too and with Djoker's return he will definitely have to dig himself out of some sticky situations like in Dubai. I think if he can serve clutch when he needs to then the match still lies on his racquet.
I'll pick Fed in 3. 6-4 4-6 6-4.