Roger Federer is through to the third round at the French Open after calmly dispatching Marin Cilic 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 to become the oldest player to make the last thirty-two at a Grand Slam since Ken Rosewall in 1978.
The win sees Federer move to a 10-1 lead in his head to head against Cilic, and he overcame a second-set blip, along with a first-ever time violation to progress comfortably after 2 hours and 35 minutes.
The Swiss will next face Dominik Koepfer, who defeated Taylor Fritz in four sets to make the third round in Paris for the first time.
Quick Match Recap
Cilic won the toss, elected to serve and kicked off with a confident hold to love.
Federer looked to be responding in kind after racing to forty-love, but he was forced to save a breakpoint before finally holding for 1-1.
In the third game at thirty all, Federer made an early move on a second serve return which seemed to catch Cilic's eye, drawing a double fault. Federer converted the breakpoint when Cilic netted a backhand.
The Swiss was forced to deuce in game four but held for 3-1 and then secured the double break, rushing Cilic into mistakes from the baseline.
Cilic fashioned his second breakpoint of the set in a bid to recover one of the breaks in game six, but Federer again came out on top in the mini-battle, finding a string of solid serves to lead 5-1.
Federer was soon serving for the lead, and he delivered his best service game of the set, holding to love to take the opener in 30 minutes.
Into set two, and Cilic had to come through a lengthy opening game, saving a breakpoint after being up forty-love.
The Croat then came up with some solid returning, picking Federer's serve early to break for 2-0.
At 0-3, Federer slipped to 15-40 but found a forehand winner and an ace to make deuce before holding. Federer then fashioned two break-back points, but Cilic saved both of them.
At deuce, the umpire, Emmanuel Joseph, gave Federer a time violation for going to the towel, which resulted in a lengthy discussion between the two. Federer asked a sheepish looking Cilic if he was playing too slow.
A third break point came Federer's way on resumption, but Cilic saved it, and he held to lead 4-1.
An exchange of holds saw Cilic move up 5-2, and he broke a rattled Federer for the second time to take the set 6-2. The Swiss only winning 59% and 17% of his first and second serve points, respectively.
Into set three, and both players held after being forced to deuce. However, Federer found a way through in game three, converting his third break point with a clean backhand winner to lead 2-1.
A love hold consolidated the break, and the 2009 champion then created 0-40. However, a glaring forehand miss kept Cilic in the game, and he went onto hold for 2-3.
Had Federer held, he would have soon forgotten the miss, but Cilic hit back, hitting some great returns to get back on serve.
A love hold from Cilic meant Roger was quickly asked to serve again, but he steadied the ship with a love hold of his own to make 4-4.
Two more love holds from each player saw the set result in a tie break. Cilic began with an ace, which the umpire deemed out, but Federer overruled it.
Federer won both his service points and was gifted the first mini-break thanks to a Cilic double fault.
Two more service holds put Federer 5-2 in front, and he was soon two sets to one in front, cleanly winning his next two service points to take the tie break 7-4.
After a brief toilet and sock change break, Federer kicked off set four and held to lead 1-0.
Cilic needed to respond after dropping the tie break, and he did so with a love hold. Federer responded in kind to lead 2-1.
The fourth game saw Federer create a 0-30 window, and although Cilic recovered to thirty-all, he couldn't find enough first serves, hitting a costly double fault to drop serve.
Federer then held to fifteen to take a 4-1 lead, and a love hold in his next service game put him 5-2 in front.
With Cilic having to serve to stay in the match, Federer ramped up the pressure to create 15-40, and although Cilic saved the first with a forehand pass up the line, a backhand long gave Federer the win in 2 hours and 35 minutes.
|Marin Cilic||Roger Federer|
|1st Serve||77/120 (64%)||80/177 (68%)|
|1st Serve Points Won||58/77 (75%)||60/80 (75%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||17/43 (40%)||21/37 (57%)|
|Net points won||15/19 (79%)||8/15 (53%)|
|Breakpoints won||3/8 (48%)||5/16 (31%)|
|Receiving points won||36/117 (31%)||45/120 (38%)|
|Total Points Won||111||126|
|Max Serve Speed||212 km/h (131 mph(||199 km/h (123 mph)|
|1st Serve Average Speed||196 km/h (121 mph)||183 km/h (113 mph)|
|2nd Serve Average Speed||154 km/h (95 mph)||156 km/h (96 mph)|
Thoughts on the Match
It was a very good match for me I thought. A bit of up and down in the second and third set, but the good thing is I feel like I come out of a match like this and I know why it was up and down. I was able to attain a solid level once he did break back in the third set and things were looking dangerous for me. I'm happy I was able to step up a gear, stay with him and then pull away from him. I think that gives me a lot of confidence.
That fourth set was really big and nice for me. Because it's hard to replicate those kinds of pressure moments like third set tie-breaker, one set all, and then you know everything goes flat at the beginning of the fourth set but you have to stay on top of things and I was able to almost find another gear which he couldn't which was very nice for me. Federer on his win over Cilic
A very tidy performance from Roger here, and you'd have to say his best match post comeback in terms of the calibre of opposition and his level throughout the four sets.
I thought he looked strong physically, which is a good sign, and his game didn't waver much during the match, the serve was strong, and he invariably came out on top on the pressure points.
This was the complete opposite to Geneva, where he looked dazed and confused in the last four games of the final set, whereas in the key moments today, he was calm and played the right shots to come through comfortably.
There was, of course, the second set blip after he received a time violation which clearly surprised him. Fed is fully aware he's probably the quickest guy on tour between points, so receiving the violation not only confused him, it riled him up a bit, and his whole game dipped. Fortunately, he settled back down fairly quickly and played a solid third set breaker.
As for Cilic, he definitely helped Fed out with some untimely double faults, and he is the type of player that will let you off the hook, but I thought Fed did a good job of not allowing him to set his feet and ask him the right questions on big points.
Cilic was also a good opponent for Federer to test the legs without expending a ton of energy. Cilic can make you have to defend with his rapier-like groundstrokes, but he is not someone who is a relentless hitter that makes it all about endurance with long rallies. So while it was testing, it wasn't exhausting, and that's important given his overall lack of court time this year.
Quick Take on the Time Violation
The time violation was the main talking point, and it occurred after Cilic had said to the Umpire during a changeover that he wanted Federer to be quicker getting the towel between points. That caused the umpire to issue Federer a time violation in the next game as Cilic was ready to serve.
Players have 25 seconds between points, but Cilic needs to get to the line early as he spends around 10 seconds bouncing the ball in his pre-service routine. But he will only start bouncing the ball after he looks up to see the opponent is ready. So any delay from the opponent puts him close to going over the 25 seconds and at risk of receiving his own time violation.
This is one of these scenarios where the rule doesn't really work. The rule states that the returner must play to the reasonable pace of the server, which is fair but is it reasonable for Cilic to rush just so he can commence his rather unique ball bouncing routine, which leaves the returner having to wait ~10 seconds before he serves?
While this isn't going to be a problem in most matches, it does raise the question of how the tour can improve the shot clock. Any suggestions?
- Looked strong physically
- Served well on the big points
- Recovered well after the second set
Predictions vs Koepfer
Next up for Federer is Dominik Koepfer, who defeated Taylor Fritz in four sets. That result is an upset in terms of rankings, but Koepfer is a solid player and, from what I've seen, always puts up a good performance (vs Stan last year in Paris and vs Medvedev US Open 2019), so it's not a surprise to see him make the third round.
Federer has never played the German before, so he won't be too familiar with his game which is always interesting, however barring Rafa, Fed's record against left-handers is rock solid, so I like his chances of making the last sixteen.
What did you guys think of the win against Cilic? Predictions vs Koepfer? Let me know in the comments.