ATP Masters 500Dubai Duty Free Tennis ChampionshipsRoger Federer

Federer Tested Again in Dubai; Makes 11th Semi Final

The Swiss defeated Marton Fucsovics 7-6(6), 6-4 to move into the last four

An eleventh semi-final in Dubai awaits for Roger Federer as he defeated Marton Fucsovics 7-6(6), 6-4 to keep his hopes of career title one hundred alive at the Aviation Club.

The Swiss has been tested each time he's stopped on the court this week and today was no different, the seven-time champion had to save two set points in the first set tie break before coming through an entertaining but tense second set to remain unbeaten in Dubai Quarter Finals.

Quick Match Recap

Federer Fucsovics Dubai

Fucsovics won the toss and elected to receive, fashioning a breakpoint before Roger recovered to hold for 1-0.

A hold to fifteen saw the Hungarian level and that trend continued throughout the first set with both men holding comfortably and no further breakpoints created for either player.

In fact, the only danger came after the brief rain delay at 5-5 when Roger slipped to 0-30, however he held and we were soon into a tie break.

Into the breaker and it was Roger who got the early mini-break for 2-0 but a backhand wide helped Fucsovics level for 2-2. The Hungarian then got himself in front with a mini-break of his own for 5-3 and held a set point at 6-4 on his own serve but couldn't convert.

Roger then held his next two service points to lead 7-6. A broken string on his missed first serve seemed to disrupt Fucsovic's rhythm and he dumped a forehand into the net to drop the set 8-6.

Roger has managed to win the first set in his previous two matches this week but had yet to avoid a second set walkabout. That looked like it was about to change when he broke in the opening game and by holding for 2-0 he had won 12 of the last 15 points.

However, he failed to keep the advantage, not finding enough first serves in game four as he was broken back to fifteen. That gave Fuscovics a much-needed boost and he began to take control from the baseline holding for 3-2.

In game seven Roger was handed a code violation for shouting FUCK at 30-15 as Fuscovics held for 4-3. The Nyíregyháza native then fashioned a breakpoint for 5-3 but couldn't convert despite having two bites at the cherry when the point had to be replayed after Federer's backhand was called out then correctly overruled.

Into game nine and both players looked quite tight but it was Roger who capitalised to create a breakpoint at 30-40. It should have gone his way after he got on top in the rally but he was convinced Fuscovic's ball was going long, realised at the last minute it was in and ended up playing a half-hearted shot.

Fucsovics then held two game points, only to get pegged back to deuce on both of them. The Swiss then had two more break points but they too went begging.

Another brief rain delay halted play for a few minutes and on resumption, Roger had his fourth break of the game and finally converted it when Fucsovcics went wide with a forehand.

Serving it out was never going to be easy and at 0-30, Fucsovics was in with a chance but Roger reeled off three points in a row and converted his second match point to take it 6-4.

Match Stats

  Marton Fucsovics Roger Federer
Aces 2 2
Double Faults 0 2
1st Serve 49% (40/82) 63% (50/80)
1st Serve Points Won 70% (28/40) 76% (38/50)
2nd Serve Points Won 55% (23/42) 43% (13/30)
Break Points Saved 71% (5/7) 67% (2/3)
Service Games Played 11 11
1st Return Points Won 24% (12/50) 30% (12/40)
2nd Return Points Won 57% (17/30) 45% (19/42)
Break Points Won 33% (1/3) 29% (2/7)
Return Games Played 11 11
Winners 19 19
Unforced Errors 20 34
Net Points Won 78% (14/18) 78% (14/18)
Total Service Points Won 62% (51/82) 64% (51/80)
Total Return Points Won 36% (29/80) 38% (31/82)
Total Points Won 49% (80/162) 51% (82/162)

Highlights

On Court Interview

Thoughts on the Match

Federer Shoes Dubai 2019

Another test for the Fed meister here and he was outplayed for a lot of match, never being able to dictate play from the baseline which made for another tense evening. Fortunately, his serve, guile and a little bit of luck got him through.

To me, he's still playing tentatively out there like he has something to lose so we're not seeing him at his free-flowing best. Maybe it's the monkey on his back of title number 100 or perhaps just an age thing but he doesn't look as  relaxed as we're used to.

Having so many options is both a blessing and a curse and we're often seeing conservative play or overthinking points which means he's not bossing rallies and his opponents are getting on top. Fucsovics managed it and had the upper hand from the baseline for the most part. 

All Roger's best tennis tonight came when it was pedal to the metal and moving forward at all costs, especially now he's not got the foot speed of yesteryear. That's only happening in fits and starts of late so we're seeing matches go very close and winning by hook or by crook rather than style.

The opponents are playing a part too of course as they're playing well. The margins are likely getting narrower at 37 so guys that would have been beaten handily in the past now have more of a punchers chance so I think Fed still deserves a lot of credit for coming through these types of matches.

In doing so he's giving himself more chances to find his best form and get some momentum. Will the semi-finals be more of what we've seen already or can he turn on the style? Who knows but at least we get to find out.

Predictions vs. Coric

Fed Coric

Next up is Borna Coric who defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili in three sets. The Croat has moved through the rankings in the last 12 months moving from the top fifty into the top 15 with some impressive results. None more so than his run to the final in Shanghai last October where he beat Roger in the semifinals in straight sets.

I guess you'd describe him as a lesser version of Djokovic in how he plays but he's improving all the time and will surely fancy his chances given he's beaten Roger twice last season and ran him very close in Indian Wells.

The first match between the pair was actually in Dubai where Roger schooled him but that was in 2015 on a quicker surface and a more confident Federer so replicating that seems unlikely.

Do we get another testing match that could go either way? Probably. One advantage for Roger is that it's just gone 1 am in Dubai and the match has only just finished so he should be the fresher of the two.

What are your predictions for the semi-final? Let me know in the comments.

Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or tweeting about tennis I play regularly myself and use this blog to share my thoughts on Federer and tennis in general.

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43 Comments

  1. He keeps dodging bullets. Hopefully he’ll have played himself into some greater confidence but agree the next match could go either way even on a good day. Hope it IS a good day in any case. Still seeing some good points in the mix, which is encouraging; agree with your observation that he seems to be overthinking it sometimes. He said something himself about needing sometimes to just let fly & not consider all possible outcomes.

  2. Phew, it was a tough match to watch! How on earth did he come through in straight?! Marton played strong and solid tennis while Fed was pushed around most of time so it was a great escape. Considering against 10y younger guy, he fought well. Two more win to go, though I scare this lesser version of Djokovic to be honest.
    Thanks Jonathan for the quick post.

  3. ? “The Nyíregyháza …” makes the spelling of Fucsovics seem piece of cake – and the tempting of cheating with copy/paste irresistible so that I did. But the tempting of learning this impressive word to impress suitable people is also rather attractive – so I think I’ll print and place under my pillow in bed hoping to learn it quicker than slowly… – Well – and “To me, he’s still playing tentatively out there like he has something to lose so we’re not seeing him at his free-flowing best. Maybe it’s the monkey on his back of title number 100” I agree in. Not a piece of cake it seems. He has suggested so himself a little bit. – Age? Well he was sharp at the Hopman and start of AO, I don’t think that decrepitude may take the better of him that fast. – I hope his team will support him best possible to care less about this unimportant number and give fun and freedom what it deserves.

  4. Very close indeed and as Roger mentions in the interview from the score you would think it was not so difficult…but it was.
    He had some brilliant shots but also too many outs. The good thing is that somehow he stays strong even during tricky moments.
    Coric will be another test for Roger, but hopefully he’ll pull out safely.
    Go go Roger!

  5. Great write up. I agree that everyone is closer to him, so it’s a testament to his competitive toughness that he comes thru these tight ones. I never thought he’d lose,just wondered if we’d get another 3 settereveryonr has been tested these week in tricky conditions. Fed no different.

    Coric v tough tho and has beaten Fed last 2 outings. He cld be wearier tho given his time on court and later finishes.

    Allez Fed

  6. The weather in Dubai hasn’t been great with rain and wind. I always think that matches with rain delays are very tricky. I think that Fed did very well, two rain delays playing a very strong man ten years younger than him. He is really quite amazing.

    As for Boric. Well he had to play a three setter and finished later,but he is much younger. For some reason, I think Fed will win this one. Either that or Boric will bore us all to death.

  7. Hmm… I didn’t really enjoy the match. Fed is playing too conservatively as if he is fearing something. It’s more of the 2018 Fed: grumpy, tentative and not free flowing at all. Oh, well, he’s human, right? I hope that whatever has been annoying him will go away…

    1. I thought it was ok, just every match has felt like it took ages to finish. Feels like I’ve watched about ten matches this week, when it’s only been 3!

  8. Tiebreak over, I said to myself “so now this is where he goes walkabout, at the beginning of the second set”, but he went and got a break, and I thought perhaps I’d misjudged him. But no, he’d only delayed it a little 🙂 Guess we’re going to have to get used to this sort of thing 🙁 It may only have been a 2-setter, but it was a lot longer than either of his other matches, so I hope it hasn’t taken too much out of him. It’s time he had a win against Coric again.

  9. Another close match, but a win is always good. Not looking too confident, possibly due to him being a step slower and his serve not as unbreakable as it used to be. Hope he can come out on top in the next two, but beating Coric and Tsitsipas back to back does not sound as easy as it used to 🙁 . I wish the court played faster and we get the darn 100 finally.

  10. What I saw of short HL’s Monfils was amazing. Not too sure that Tsitsi will pass him this time. As for Coric I hope like hell that Fed has his now practiced amazing fighting spirit making his performance click and prevail. Playing during night doesn’t make the court faster does it? But maybe he has got a bit used to it by now.

  11. Thanks Jonathan for the write up and all the comments by the crew. I will try to watch the Boric match, haven’t been able to catch any of the earlier ones from Tokyo. I wanted to get to this tournament and had my chance, but waited too long for the tickets. I have not seen Boric play this tournament but he clearly has the tools to beat Fed if he is on and Fed is passive. Hopefully Fed comes in and decides to play freely. What the hek, why not.

  12. Another stress filled affair. I agree with your thoughts and I’m sick and tired hearing about win 100. Needs to get that off his back.
    I just watched the Stan NK match. For some reason, I was routing for NK. He has such talent and some of his fh returns were crazy good. Made Stan look like an amateur. Now the second match of the evening starts at 11:30 pm. No one in the stands, what’s with that?

    1. NK,the bad boy of tennis,such an enigma.Capable of beating the best and then just sort of gives up,
      although I presume he didn’t this time.I suppose he is one of those irritating players who spoil someone’s run for a title and then disappear.The hard work and commitment are missing but the
      talent is outrageous.Perhaps the right coach could channel it,who knows.

  13. I reckon if he can’t win here better play some 250 to get that monkey off his back so that he can swing freely again

  14. No idea how he managed to get a two-set win. The other guy was playing well.
    Waiting with trepidation for this afternoon’s match, fingers crossed that brilliant Fed turns up and not his evil unshaven twin.

  15. Now that was a comprehensive beating of a good opponent (admittedly, not playing great). Strong serving, mashed backhands, consistent forehands, smart point construction. Roger’s head was there today, which is good to see. Hopefully he can get a measure of revenge on Tsitsipussy, who had a tough out today.

  16. This was champagne tennis against Boric today.
    Thank you Roger, very smart play.
    He knew Boric is exhausted and he took full advantage of it, drop shoting constantly – reminded me very much of the Halle Final 2017 against A.Zverev who came in after a long semifinal against Gasquet and a doubles semifinal right after that.
    This seems to be the perfect game plan for tomorrow as Tsitsipussy must feel the full Marseille tournament week plus the full Dubai tournament week including todays there hour battlee against Monfils…

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