Another final and yet another title for the GOAT as he scored a 6-3 7-6(11) victory over Pablo Cuevas in the inaugural TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open. The win means Roger now has 85 career titles across 19 different countries on the ATP Tour.
The victory also sees the Swiss win his first title on red clay since the 2009 French Open and he delivered exactly what the tournament organisers and home fans were hoping for; kicking off the Istanbul Open with a bang so that it can remain a fixture on the ATP Calendar for 2016.
Quick Match Recap
Federer opened things up with a love hold and then broke the nervy Cuevas in his opening service game before quickly consolidating to take a 3-0 lead. A great start for the Swiss against an opponent he'd never faced before.
The one break proved decisive and although Roger got pegged back to deuce at 5-3 he held serve to take the opener 6 games to 3 without running into any difficulty on serve.
Into set 2 and Cuevas steadied the ship on his own serve and both players exchanged back to back holds. At 3 all Roger made his first inroads on the Cuevas serve and comprehensively broke to love. I thought at that point it was all over but Roger delivered a slack service game to get broken back immediately.
The Swiss then had a chance to re-break, reeling off three genius points in a row to create 0-40 but Cuevas saved them all before holding for 5-4. Roger then reeled off two love service games in a row to force a tie break.
The tie break was one of the craziest I've seen in a while with both players having chances to win it but playing tentatively when the opportunity presented itself. Roger was the first to hold match points, moving into a 6-4 lead courtesy of a flukey return that crept over the net. However he couldn't capitalise as Cuevas levelled for 6 all, only to double fault himself and give Roger his third match point. On this one he missed a simple backhand slice dropshot and then blazed a forehand long to fall 7-8 behind. Cuevas decided to make a serve and volley play but dumped the volley into the bottom of the net. Fed then had his fourth match point at 9-8 but again failed to convert, losing both points on serve and having to save his second set point with a brilliant backhand down the line return winner.
At 10-11 Roger faced another set point but with 2 serves in hand he came up with a great play to level at 11-11 and then played a majestic volley deep into Urguayan's backhand corner to setup his fifth match point which he finally converted after a string of powerfully hit forehands.
|R. Federer||P. Cuevas|
|1st Serve %||71%||67%|
|1st Serve Points Won||38/51 (75%)||30/52 (58%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||13/21 (62%)||15/26 (58%)|
|Break Points Saved||0/1 (0%)||7/9 (78%)|
|Service Games Played||11||10|
|1st Return Points Won||22/52 (42%)||13/51 (25%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||11/26 (42%)||8/21 (38%)|
|Break Points Won||2/9 (22%)||1/1 (100%)|
|Return Games Played||10||11|
|Total Service Points Won||51/72 (71%)||45/78 (58%)|
|Total Return Points Won||33/78 (42%)||21/72 (29%)|
|Total Points Won||84/150 (56%)||66/150 (44%)|
Thoughts on the Match
A very good week for Federer here and he delivered the title which lets face it everyone expected him to win. It might only be an ATP 250 but he was playing with a fair bit of pressure on his shoulders – he probably thought he should win it himself, the tournament organisers will most definitely have wanted him to at least make the final and the both Fed fans at home and in the stadium were hungry for a clay court trophy.
Luckily after two hard fought three sets victories the final was a much easier matchup for Fed and apart from the unnecessary drama in the second set he was able to play the match on his terms and the result was never really in doubt. Very pleasing to see him continue to move well and hold up physically after back to back to back three setters too.
I didn't know much about Cuevas before the final but it was apparent from the first few games he doesn't really possess the style to cause Roger too many problems; his forehand isn't a weapon and Roger handled his backhand easily from the back of the court. His return of serve wasn't an asset either and Fed got plenty of free points on serve. Cuevas of course hits a decent ball hence the ranking of #23 but you need a little bit more than that to make it competitive against the top 10.
The Uruguayan did however do well to recover the break in the second set and showed some good fighting spirit in the breaker, in fact he should have won it if he was able to show a bit more composure but Federer made him play one more ball and he missed it. Roger himself should have got the job done earlier though, hitting a few tight shots on the match points to let Cuevas back into it.
I'm happy he got it done in straights though as it means that little bit extra recovery time for Madrid. Fed will play his first match on Wednesday against either Gimeno-Traver again or Kyrgios who lost the final to Gasquet in Estoril. Winning the Istanbul final should be a pretty good confidence boost for Fed so I hope he can keep up the form heading into a tournament where he usually plays well. Allez!