Feels good doesn't it? Seeing Fed back to winning ways as the maestro won his sixth Dubai crown and 78th career title by beating Berdych 3-6 6-4 6-3 in the final.
It was another great showcase of mental strength from the Swiss who backed up his defeat of Djokovic with his second victory in as many days from a set down.
12 months ago matches like this were getting away from him but throughout the week he's buckled down and found a way to come through.
Against Berdych things weren't looking too rosy but he managed to find another gear when he needed it and come up with that bit of magic turn it around.
It almost feels like a turning point type victory considering it's his first title since Halle and now means he's won at least 1 title every year for the last 14 years. I'm hopeful this can setup his season and give him the belief to go deep in the Slams and the Masters 1000 tournaments.
Quick Match Recap
So into the match recap and I always knew this one was going to be tricky. Prime Fed used to school Berdych but with a game as big as his it's not so easy anymore.
In fact so far this season the Czech has the highest % of points won behind the first serve than anyone else on tour. When he's able to plant his feet at the back of the court I would say he's the purest / biggest ball striker in the game. That's a tough proposition on any surface.
We've become accustomed to Roger starting slowly this week but here he came out sharp breaking to lead 2-1.
Berdych hit back immediately before holding and breaking again to lead 4-2. The Czech was dominant from the back of the court and able to apply pressure on the Federer 2nd serve. With Roger making only 33% of his first serves and only winning 1 point behind his second delivery the early warning signs were there.
It took 28 minutes for us to see the first serve and volley attempt from Federer but in doing so he held to love for 3-5 forcing Berdych to serve out the set. The Czech obliged with some big serving to close it out to 30.
It was an edgy set from both guys but Berdych was doing the job on serve. Fed only managed to make 40% of his first serves and looked static from the baseline. But it wasn't dire straits just yet, towards the end of it I felt like Roger was close to finding his game and had more of a willingness to move forward.
After firing down an important hold at the start of the second Roger's first serve again deserted him as Berdcyh broke for the 3rd time to lead 3-2. A killer blow.
It wasn't looking good but here we got the changing point of the match as Fed broke back immediately before firing down a love hold to lead 4-3. Finally it looked like he'd got more of a spring in his step.
At 4-4 he then fired down another love hold to lead 5-4 before breaking to love to win the second set. 8 straight points when moments earlier he was on the brink of losing. GOAT material.
3rd set and a hold to 15 meant Roger had won 12 of the last 13 points.
He then had 2 break points in Berdych's opening service game but they both went begging. A visbily annoyed Roger then had to save a break point of his own in his next service game. Here was great testament to his focus, after wasting chances he could have gone off the boil but he stuck it out.
At 2-1 and a couple of crazy rallies later Roger had another 2 break point chances. The rally at 30-40 was ridiculous and at least 3 of Federer's mishits landed flush on the line before a Berdych error gave him a 3-1 lead. Lucky? Perhaps but you make your own luck in this game.
The most important game of the match came at 4-2 with Berdych creating 2 break back chances. This was the ultimate test of Roger's resolve here and he passed with flying colours, coming up with clutch play to make deuce. He then shook off a double fault on game point to win the next 2 points and hold for 5-2.
A match point presented itself in Berdych's next service game but he found 2 big serves and it was up to Roger to serve it out.
He won the all important first point and then closed it out to 15 when a Berdych backhand sailed wide. Genius!
|R. Federer||T. Berdych|
|1st Serve %||51%||48%|
|1st Serve Points Won||36/43 (84%)||27/41 (66%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||19/41 (46%)||20/44 (45%)|
|Break Points Saved||7/10 (70%)||6/10 (60%)|
|Service Games Played||14||14|
|1st Return Points Won||14/41 (34%)||7/43 (16%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||24/44 (55%)||22/41 (54%)|
|Break Points Won||4/10 (40%)||3/10 (30%)|
|Return Games Played||14||14|
|Total Service Points Won||55/84 (65%)||47/85 (55%)|
|Total Return Points Won||38/85 (45%)||29/84 (35%)|
|Total Points Won||93/169 (55%)||76/169 (45%)|
Thoughts on the Match
It's the mental belief that you're gonna win instead of losing – I think that's what I got back right now, I got a little lucky. I just fought well and I couldn't be more happy with the outcome. I was able to stay calm and once I got back on even terms I started to play better. I really enjoy playing against Tomas, who is a great player and has had a great streak.
Well where to begin? I sensed a lot of relief from the fans when Roger won this one so I can only imagine how ecstatic he'd have been himself. It's been a poor last 18 months for him with back injuries and tough losses but this victory is something to savour.
It's not just the winning aspect either, it was the manner in which he won it defeating Djokovic from a set down and then Berdych from a set and a break down. That shows serious character and mental strength. It also just reinforces that he is the full package, not just a genius with the racquet, he can also dig deep and win matches from losing positions. I, and many fans have sometimes questioned Roger's mental toughness especially of late but when things are in harmony he is very difficult to beat. The margins are so thin with this guy really, one thing out of synch and his whole game can be off but when he is balanced there is really no stopping him.
If we look at Halle last year, where he wasn't really playing well in fact his win was almost flukey; it's clear he didn't get much confidence from a win like that. But here it's different, he won it the hard way with 3 tough 3 setters in 7 days.
It looks like the racquet is working a treat too, his backhand is solid and he looks confident with all his shots. There's no second guessing or wondering about whether his equipment is up to the job. He can play with instinct and now his confidence is growing he can also play without doubt. Onwards and upwards I say, Top 4 ranking awaits if he keeps up this form.
Anyway hope you guys enjoyed the tournament, live chat was great during the week especially for the blockbuster matches against Djoker and Flappy Berdman so thanks to all who participated.
Next up is Indian Wells, I'll be doing a draw post once it comes out and live chat will of course be on during the matches. Time difference is a bit of a killer for me with this one but I'll keep up 🙂