Big test of Federer's resolve here as he came from a set to defeat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-1 to make the semi finals in Monte Carlo.
For a while out there it looked like a French Open 2013 flashback but Roger hung tough, didn't get too frustrated with missed chances and eventually served his way across the line.
It wasn't the prettiest match to watch nor did it feature the highest level of tennis. In fact the highlight was probably Fed smacking a ball out the stadium into the Mediterranean sea but the result is all that matters. Let's take a look….
And just before that – live chat was down for most of the first set due to a technical glitch, so apologies if you tried to get on but couldn't. All back working now though.
Quick Match Recap
Tsonga set out his stall early in this one; bludgeoning his forehand and trying to paint the lines to keep Fed at bay. His strategy was obvious just play aggressive and try get as many short balls from Federer as possible to put away.
Despite his aggressive start it was Roger who had the first break point chances at 2 all where he should really have converted. In Fed 3.0 fashion he then got broken in his next service game after Tsonga hit a vicious inside in forehand winner to lead 4-2.
Things got worst as after another wasted break point he was then broken in his next service game as Tsonga took the set 6-2 ensuring he was serving first at the start of the 2nd.
It was a disappointing set for Fed, hitting 9 winners to 16 unforced errors, only winning 53% behind his first serve and failing to convert any of his 3 break points. More on that later 🙂
The second set is difficult to really describe as it was poor from both guys. Roger had several chances wasting 5 break points at 1 all and then another at 2 all. Whenever the chance came the return either flew long or the ball got dumped into the net, it wasn't great viewing.
Understandably frustration was beginning to show on Fed's face and it almost boiled over when he got a code violation for hitting a ball out the stadium at 3 all.
Things didn't get much better for the Swiss as he again missed a break point chance at 4 all and then wasted 2 more at 5 all. He was coming up with some great shots to create the chances just failing to put them away, making poor errors or allowing Tsonga to capitalise on short balls.
At 5-6 it meant Roger had wasted all 10 of his break point chances in the 2nd set. Despite looking solid on his own serve all set he then slipped to within 2 points of defeat at 0-30 but Trademark 2014 Federer steadied the ship to hold and force the tie break.
The breaker was a strange one with Fed racing into a 4-1 lead and then having 3 set points at 6-3. That soon became 6 all but again he didn't back down winning a crucial point at 7-6 to take the set.
Looking back at the set it wasn't a set that Tsonga ever came close to winning, he had 1 break at 3 all but other than that it was Roger who created all the chances. I think the biggest achievement from Fed was not to give up or just say ah it's not my day and give Jo Willy the win. He stuck in there and finally got the reward.
I thought the third set would be close but for one reason or another Tsonga completely went away, dropping serve immediately and letting Roger race into a 5-0 lead. Like Rosol he managed to avoid the breadstick but Roger closed it out to 30 to move into the semi finals.
|J. Tsonga||R. Federer|
|1st Serve %||67%||66%|
|1st Serve Points Won||57/93 (61%)||42/61 (69%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||22/46 (48%)||18/31 (58%)|
|Break Points Saved||17/19 (89%)||2/4 (50%)|
|Service Games Played||13||14|
|1st Return Points Won||19/61 (31%)||36/93 (39%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||13/31 (42%)||24/46 (52%)|
|Break Points Won||2/4 (50%)||2/19 (11%)|
|Return Games Played||14||13|
|Net Points||11/19 (58%)||21/28 (75%)|
|Total Service Points Won||79/139 (57%)||60/92 (65%)|
|Total Return Points Won||32/92 (35%)||60/139 (43%)|
|Total Points Won||111/231 (48%)||120/231 (52%)|
Thoughts on the Match
I was down 6-5, 0/30. It was a tough point at 15-30 as far as I remember with a half volley backhand defense kind of thing. It wasn't looking good there. Clearly was quite frustrating for a long period of time, missing all those break points. Now, looking back, I can take also some positives out of the match. It was just many things went wrong at the wrong time for me: Jo playing well, me playing wrong at certain times, wrong shot selections. It was a tough day at the office. I'm happy I found the way to tough it out.
Another match that shows the many different qualities Federer possesses as he dug deep to grind out the victory. It wasn't won by pretty forehands just a nice dose of Swiss determination.
Nothing seemed to be going right for him for almost the entire match, Tsonga was hitting the lines and Fed's game was just ever so slightly off. It would have been easy to fold after seeing so many break point chances go by but he didn't.
The key to the match was 0-30 then 15-30 at 5-6. Both those points could have ended differently but it was all about confidence levels and even though his game wasn't firing on all cylinders he found a way to hold.
Nadal has won a ton of matches in this manner, and whilst you can't draw many comparisons between the two it just shows what can happen if you give yourself a punchers chance by refusing to roll over. He held serve from a tough spot and then won the tie break before streaking to victory.
It wasn't vintage, we saw some terrible shot selection on break points but the score book says Game, Set, Match Federer 2-6 7-6(6) 6-1 so it's ultimately a good day at the office 😀
Predictions vs. Djokovic
Big upset here as Djokovic defeated my pre tournament dark horse Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in 3 sets 😉
I didn't watch so can't comment too much but looks like a similar sort of match to Roger's. Few problems early before turning the screw to win comfortably in the third.
The match stats are quite similar too aside from the break point conversion 😀
Onto the semi final and always tough to pick a winner between these two. Djokovic has won their last 2 meetings on clay but Roger does lead the H2H 2-0 in Monte Carlo albeit from matches in 2006 and 2008.
I think on current form Djokovic is the favourite but it's a real coin toss and I think it will go 3 sets. He's on a high right now after winning Indian Wells and Miami but at the same time his run does have to come to an end at some point.
Much depends on how sharp Roger is feeling physically as the match vs. Tsonga today was quite a tough one and Fed did a fair bit of running.
I think if Fed has the explosiveness in his legs tomorrow he can get it done but he'll need to back up his first serve really well with the forehand. Movement will be key too ensuring he can turn as many backhands into forehands as possible so he doesn't get pinned into the corner like we saw in Indian Wells. There he got a little flat towards the end and ended up always on the defensive flicking backhand half volleys with minimal power.
I'll pick Djokovic in 3, but hopefully he listens to what Becker tells him and Fed can give himself a shot of winning his maiden Monte Carlo title.
Finally, big surprise in the other Quarter Final as Ferrer took out Nadal in straight sets. Ferrer hit more forehand winners than Nadal which is unheard of and it's the first time he's beaten Nadal on clay since Stuttgart in 2004. Quite surprising as the Dull slump continues, going to be interesting to see if he can defend the French.
What are you predictions for the semi finals? Will we get an all Swiss final come Sunday?