So Roger's into his first final of the year coming through a tough battle with Jeremy Chardy 6-3 6-7(3) 6-3 and he'll now face his old rival Lleyton Hewitt for a shot at the title.
Chardy turned out to be a much tougher test than those guys, mainly thanks to his trailblazing forehand that really eats up anything short in the court, he also served above his usual level and with Roger not returning that well it made this one a close encounter that could have gone either way.
Quick Match Recap
Like the last 2 matches Fed started brilliantly, holding to love and breaking Chardy immediately to lead 2-0. Chardy looked a little out of it early on as Roger was able to dictate most points by hitting with depth all setup by his first serve. 2-0 was soon 4-1 but by this point Chardy had just started to find his feet and began holding serve more comfortably and by the time Roger served out the set 6-3 things were getting a lot more even.
The second set was really all about the serve from both guys as neither player managed to create a single break point chance. The sun on court seemed to cause Roger a few problems and I thought his level just dropped ever so slightly compared to the first set. He was still looking solid most of the time but some weak returning and nothingness groundstrokes allowed Chardy to get into his comfort zone.
Roger's big test came at 4-5, where he was pegged back to 30 all and then deuce, he got a little lucky but managed to hold. He then had 15-30 on the Chardy serve but some tame returns allowed the Frenchman to hold for a 6-5 lead. A quick hold from Fed then took things into a tie break.
Chardy immediately got the mini break but gifted it back with a wild error but Federer couldn't get his nose in front and played a little too predictably as Chardy streaked away to take it 7 points to 3. It was actually a very one sided tie breaker and Chardy's hitting off his forehand really gave Roger a lot of trouble.
The third set was always going to be a close one and it's the first time this year Roger has been tested. Conal pointed in live chat that apparently in every match that went to a deciding set last year Roger was broken within the first three games of it.
For a minute it looked like we were still in 2013 as Chardy had a break point in Roger's opening service game which he failed to convert. He then had 15-30 but some imperious serving from Roger (checkout the aces column below) got him out of trouble. Roger was serving like a demon really at this point but still Chardy was the one looking more comfortable out there, however at 4-3 the Frenchman played a disaster of a service game slipping to 15-40 with sloppy play and then double faulting to let Roger serve it out, which he did with ease hitting an ace on match point, a nice end.
20 aces? Insane.
|Stats||R. Federer||J. Chardy|
|1st Serve %||59%||50%|
|1st Serve Points Won||46/56 (82%)||36/43 (84%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||23/39 (59%)||21/43 (49%)|
|Break Points Saved||1/1 (100%)||1/3 (33%)|
|Service Games Played||16||14|
|1st Return Points Won||7/43 (16%)||10/56 (18%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||22/43 (51%)||16/39 (41%)|
|Break Points Won||2/3 (67%)||0/1 (0%)|
|Return Games Played||14||16|
|Total Service Points Won||69/95 (73%)||57/86 (66%)|
|Total Return Points Won||29/86 (34%)||26/95 (27%)|
|Total Points Won||98/181 (54%)||83/181 (46%)|
Thoughts on the Match
I think you can look at this one two ways really, you can worry and think that oh it's still the Roger of 2013 looking fragile but I take the other view and personally think this was a good match for him here. It was almost a scare in a way as he could have quite easily lost it had Chardy not given him a little bit of help but the main thing is he held his serve all the way through and is yet to be broken all tournament.
Throughout last year Roger's game was pretty off, shanks galore, tame errors but the biggest factor in the losses was him dropping serve too easily, today he cut that out and it basically won him the match. Time and time again he found big aces when he needed to and if he's able to not get broken his chances of winning the match increase dramatically.
There's no doubt his overall level dropped a touch today compared to his previous 2 outings but in a way that wasn't a bad thing and was perhaps more about Chardy's level than his own. We'll definitely see a match like this in a slam soon enough where he has to hang tough so it's important to see if he was up to the task or not, fortunately he was.
In someways it would have been interesting had Chardy not dropped serve cheaply when he did but I think Roger did play a part in that as he refused to go away and just kept taking care of his own service games which put some scoreboard pressure on the Frenchman.
As for Chardy his forehand was what I expected really; huge, and I think he served above his usual level which made it tighter than it should have been. To a degree Fed played into his strengths giving him plenty time to setup the forehand with his expansive takeback by providing him with lots of shortish balls right into the strike zone.
I thought he'd have used the slice a little more and chip charged but perhaps the pace of the Chardy groundstrokes rushed him that bit too much so he couldn't move in quick enough.
Either way it was a good test, not the prettiest to watch as the serve dominated but definitely a mental boost for him when combined with his 2 routine wins earlier in the week.
Predictions vs. Hewitt
Next up is Roger's old rival Lleyton Hewitt who defeated Kei Nishikori in 3 sets which is a very big win for him. I predicted pre tournament that Nishikori would lose early but he proved me wrong here before finally coming unstuck against the Aussie crowd favourite.
I didn't watch but apparently Nishikori's game deserted him in the final set and Hewitt took advantage. I am also hearing Hewitt looked tired out there after slugging it out for 2 and a half hours in the hot Brisbane sun which has been at record temperatures today so that definitely bodes well for Fed.
Roger leads the H2H 18-8 vs Rusty so I'm fully expecting him to win here, they haven't played since the Davis Cup in 2011 which Roger won in 4 sets but their last meeting on the tour was the Halle final of 2010 where Hewitt took title.
This would be a nice time for Roger to exact his revenge, Halle is a 250 tournament too so if Roger wins this it'd be a nice reward. It'd also be a great start to the year considering he'd have tied his title count for the whole of last year in just the first week of the year.
You can never count Hewitt out just because of how he plays the game but I think Roger is just better in all areas, Hewitt has also been shaky mentally the last season or so if Roger keeps the pressure up and serves well he should get it done in straight sets. It could go 3 just based on how their matches usually pan out but I'll pick Fed in 2; 6-4. 6-4. Allez!