ATP Masters 1000Cincinnati MastersRoger Federer

Rublev Routs Federer at Western and Southern Open

The Swiss fell to a 3-6, 4-6 defeat at the hands of the Russian qualifier to bow out in the third round.

Roger Federer’s stay at the Lindner Family Tennis Center is over all too quickly as the seven-time Cincinnati Champion bowed out to Andrey Rublev in just 61 minutes.

Playing the 70th ranked qualifier for the first time, the Swiss never recovered from a sloppy start and was outplayed in all areas as Rublev won through 6-3, 6-4 to move into Friday’s quarter-final.

The loss means Federer’s preparation ahead of the US Open is somewhat hindered, having played just two hard court matches ahead final Grand Slam of the year after choosing to skip the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Quick Match Recap

Fed Rublev Cincy

Federer won the toss and elected to receive. The Russian kicked off with a hold to fifteen, making 5 of 5 first serves to get off to a confident start.

Roger was looking for a similar hold, but instead, his first serve was nowhere to be found, and Rublev moved up an immediate break for 2-0. Fortunately, the Swiss hit back, converting his third break point of the game after Rublev had recovered from 15-40.

Federer won Cincinnati in 2012 without dropping serve during the whole tournament, but in game three he was broken for the second time as Rublev moved up 3-1. That was consolidated for 4-1 to give Rublev a three-game cushion.

A hold to fifteen gave Roger his first hold of the set for 2-4 but Rublev continued to rush the 7-time champion from the baseline with a comfortable hold for 5-2.

That was soon 3-5 with a hold to love from Federer to put a little pressure on Rublev to serve it out, but the 2017 US Open quarterfinalist delivered, holding from 15-30 to deservedly take the first set. 

Into set two and Federer kicked off with a hold to thirty. Rublev quickly levelled to love, and the pair exchanged holds again as the score moved to 2-2.

Another convincing hold put the Swiss up 3-2, but after Rublev levelled for 3-3, Fed dropped serve for 3-4. A hold to fifteen moved Rublev up 5-3 and by this point he’d made just six unforced errors to Federer’s eighteen.

Roger kept in touching distance with a hold for 4-5 and at least asked Rublev if he could serve it out but he showed no sign of nerves as he sealed it 6-4.

Match Stats

  Roger Federer Andrey Rublev
Aces 6 5
Double Faults 2 0
1st Serve 65% (32/49) 61% (33/54)
1st Serve Points Won 63% (20/32) 82% (27/33)
2nd Serve Points Won 53% (9/17) 57% (12/21)
Break Points Saved 25% (1/4) 67% (2/3)
Service Games Played 9 10
1st Serve Return Points Won 18% (6/33) 38% (12/32)
2nd Serve Return Points Won 43% (9/21) 47% (8/17)
Break Points Converted 33% (1/3) 75% (3/4)
Return Games Played 10 9
Winners 20 17
Unforced Errors 19 6
Net Points Won 37% (7/19) 83% (5/6)
Service Points Won 59% (29/49) 72% (39/54)
Return Points Won 28% (15/54) 41% (20/49)
Total Points Won 43% (44/103) 57% (59/103)


Thoughts on the Match

Federer Cincy Rublev 19

He was super clean. Defence, offence, serving well. Didn’t give me anything. He was everywhere. So it was tough for me, but excellent match by him. I was impressed. Federer on Rublev

A somewhat surprising loss here for Roger as he was the heavy favourite but as I alluded to in my quick prediction, Rublev’s game can catch fire with how he hits the ball, and that was the case today.

The Russian was better in all areas, and the stats clearly show it. He served better, was able to convert more backhands into forehands than Federer, made just six unforced errors in the match (five of them in the first set) and was even more effective at net winning 83% of points to Federer’s lowly 37%.

So while the match was more about Rublev hitting the cover off the ball and giving Roger little time or rhythm, I thought Roger’s performance was rather tepid. Not much enthusiasm from him and after getting off to a poor start he was never really able to gee himself up to get back into the mixer.

There was some slightly better serving in the second set, but the best of three format didn’t give him much leeway to figure out Rublev’s go-to plays and with free points hard to come by on serve (winning just 63% behind the first delivery) it was over in an hour which is his quickest loss since 2003 against Franco Squillari.

Closing thoughts are Fed has played worse matches yet still walked away as the winner so it’s not a dreadful loss and these results can undoubtedly happen.

The next stop is New York where he’ll come in relatively undercooked having played just two matches on the Deco Turf. As a result, it’s going to be interesting to see what kind of level he can muster, especially when faced with opponents who won’t let him have it all his own way. 

What did you guys think of the performance? All about Rublev or was Federer flat? Let me know in the comments.


Editor of Perfect Tennis and a big fan of Roger Federer, I've spent countless hours watching and analysing his matches. Alongside playing the sport, I also enjoy writing about the tour, rackets, strings, and the technicalities of the game. Whether it's breaking down the latest tournament results or discussing the latest gear innovations, I'm always eager to share my insights with fellow tennis enthusiasts.

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  1. Wondering if it’ll turn out in 6 months’ time or so that something was troubling him … Just watching the scoreline, I didn’t feel he was invested in the match.

  2. I discovered a new thermodynamic equation:
    NoServe + NoReturn = NoWin
    from which one can derive:
    NoCommit + NoFightBack = PackYourBags

    Hmmm… is there some Challenger that Roger can attend in order to get some more practice matches before US Open?… If not, he’d better get his stuff together fast otherwise he’d better fill up the caravan petrol tank and spend all September driving. There are worse things to do, though. Hehehe.

  3. Disappointed. Hope he can prepare better for us open. Why was this match not televised on tennis channel? They were showing doubles matches. Even Venus match was not shown.

  4. Now, more seriously, without having watched any match video nor written words except Jon’s writeup, I had seen a few Rublev’s matches a few weeks ago and noticed how well he is moving and his aggressive and purposeful shot making. He can progress much further if he stops complaining about himself. I guess it comes with age and experience.
    I wasn’t expecting Roger to lose this match, to be honest, but it was not a complete surprise. Anything less that full aggression is calling to be pushed against the wall by a younger talented opponent who happens to be in the zone on a particular day (it’s not something we haven’t seen Roger doing “some” years ago, is it?).
    I hope it was the case today and not something wrong with Roger, either physical, mental or Father Time whispering “peek-a-boo”!

    1. Rubllev plays always this game, when he is in form. And he is. He defeated Thiem in Hamburg, just playing like this and Thiem was too slow. How could Fed not been too slow against such a game?

  5. Oh well shit happens, just need to regroup and hope for easy draw at USO. Rog will have to play himself into form at NYC

  6. Thanks Jonathan. Watched the highlights, looks like Rublev won on his racket. Good match from him, he would have won against most players today bar Nadal or Novak. He took down two Swiss so far, if he plays like this, he will take down more top players.

    1. Two wins vs top 5 players I think for him, pretty good. When he has a hot hand he’ll be tricky for all. Crap second serve and will have too many bad days to win big titles though I think but who could be wrong.

  7. I’ve just watched a bit of highlights; it appeared that Rub was brilliant and Roger was a bit slow and ha chances, which he didn’t/was unable to grab them. No doubt disappointing for USO preparations. I hope that Roger will be back stronger at USO. Indeed, your prediction was spot on as if Rub was hitting balls cleaning and was very fast. I thought that not a long time ago, he could not volley but he appears to be improving fast.

    1. Yeah, he was a step slow looking, exacerbated by Rublev cracking forehands.

      I think he’s a poor volleyer overall, but he made one pretty decent one and the rest were fairly routine balls. Fed never tested him by bringing him in. All on his own terms.

  8. All about Rublev and Fed just not engaged.
    Felt as flat as I did watching.
    I expected Rublev to possibly win given 4 daytime matches to Fed’s 1 dodgy nighttime one.
    Agree with Alison. Fed just not invested. Also, he looked really rushed by Andreas first strike.

    Onwards, play himself in in 1st week of USO in bo5 format, with hopefully a kind draw.

    You said it all Jon

  9. He didn’t mean “Get lost” to himself, right?
    Anyway, I was impressed and surprised how well Ruby played. Thanks for the post, Jonathan. Now you get unexpected extra good night sleeps before USO!

  10. Nothing to add .Rublev(very annoying grunt)very good,Fed not so.
    Rather a similar match(in terms of Feds play and attitude) and result to the final there last year.Albeit with a different opponent of course.
    Interesting to see how Rublev plays against Medvedev next match.
    The Russians playing well,at least their names are easy to spell.
    The bad news is loss of points,as a finalist he had a lot to defend,and lack of match play before US Open.

  11. Please everyone look at this in perspective Fed is not a machine ! He had a grueling g his words Wimbledon a 5 hour final at nearly 38 years of age he is probably still in recovery mode ! Look at Nadal who piled out of Cin due to exhaustion he is much younger . Maybe Rog should take time out go home to his family and even forget the U S altogether I would not blame him neither should you!
    He is human ! So please lay of him and get some perspective

      1. This can happen every time he meets hard hitting opponent with level and courage.
        But Rublev`s overagressive game is self-destroying. Lots of injuries

      2. Yep, as he’s said before, get a slow start in a BO3 and it can be all over before you know it.

  12. Well, I remember when I was at Wimbledon a year or two back hearing the radio commentator predicting great things for Rublev, and went to watch him on that basis. Perhaps he wasn’t so far off the mark. Plus qualifiers who’ve had a chance to get their game well oiled are frequently capable of causing upsets, particular players who haven’t played for a while, but it’s really disappointing nonetheless.

  13. Rublev came from a successful quali (=2wins) + 2 more wins (R1 & R2 – the latter was a straight set win against Stan). => 4 wins on this surface and he knew the court already pretty well. Fed didn’t. He had a bye in R1 and was not challenged in R2. We see him struggling very often in the early stages of a tournament before he gets used to everything and then he usually steps up his game a lot. This this he had an opponent that was too consistent to turn the page.

      1. PRF, you have done it again, and come up with my favorite snippet. Good one. No more caravanning for Fed.

      2. @stuart belt
        Being beaten within the timeline he normally wins, he unloaded his anger on fans. No autographs today. OK, no caravaning BEFORE tournaments, but I’m now AFTER. Caravaning is better than tennis 😉 You must not go packing after 1 hour and 2 minutes 😉

    1. In addition to what I wrote already I would like to emphasize that Rublev had his 4 matches before exclusively during day sessions. Fed had his only match during a night session…Fed noticed the latter fact in the presser making it very tricky. I guess this is what “fed him up”…

    2. I think your comment is very valid.Rublev is well played in and hit a very hot streak.
      Fed couldn’t handle it early in the tournament.
      Usually,when any of the highly seeded players lose early,it is for precisely that reason,they are
      undercooked and come up against someone playing the match of their life.
      Djoker v Istomin is a good example.
      I was very annoyed last night but more philosophical today.
      It was kind of nice to see Rublev so emotional and overjoyed at his win.

  14. Drove 9 hrs to Cincinnati just to see Fed, got tickets to both Thursday 3rd round and Friday quarter final sessions to see Federer while he’s still at the top of his game. Expected to see him play and compete both days (when’s the last time Fed didn’t make the quarters at Cincinnati?) but instead what we got was this sub par performance, kicked out in 1 hr. Truly disappointing! All credit to Rublev as he played great, but the Fed who made it all the way to Wimbledon finals and 1 pt away wouldn’t have lost to Rublev and lost so easily. He really didn’t put up a fight. He came out flat with little power or precision on his serve and got broken twice. He then started serving better but it was too late. Rublev had momentum and won the 1st easily. Federer keep trying to slice low and take pace off Rublev’s powerful shots, but the change of pace wasn’t bothering the Russian one bit, it just gave him more time to drive the ball. Fed seemed stubborn and reluctant to get into rallies which would mean giving up the baseline a bit and running more, fighting more for the points. He was too cute hugging the baseline, which meant slicing the ball and some quick reflex shots to try and take time away from Rublev, but Rublev was fast enough and less time didn’t bother him, especially as every other shot was a slice that suddenly gave him time. Federer shanked several top spin backhands and even some forehands. He missed some tough volleys that he normally amazingly makes.
    Wimbledon is clearly still haunting him (and haunting me!). I think he went caravanning with family to try and get his mind off tennis and he probably did. But maybe he didn’t practice much and now he’s back he’s got to be reminded of how close he was. He just doesn’t seem to have the fight in him to win points, to try different tactics and figure out his opponent, like he did a month ago. Can’t blame him, but I’m truly disappointed.

    1. It was obviously a great disappointment to make such an effort to see Fed and then see him lose so
      quickly.The first time I saw him play the match was equally quick but with a happier outcome.
      I agree with your point that Fed needed to give up the baseline and slug it out,but this he was
      obviously not prepared to do.
      Not too sure if this is the residue of the Wimbledon final to be honest,although elsewhere a lot of
      people are saying this.The American open will give us the answer there I guess.

      1. Thanks Annie. It looks like Medvedev did to Rublev what Fed should have done. Play some defence, get the ball back and give Rublev more and more shots to hit… Eventually he started to leak errors… Lots and lots of errors. Unfortunately I’m not holding out hope that he’ll do well at the us open. He hasn’t done well there the last 2 years. I think this year will be the same.

    2. Eric what a shame for you to be in Fed’s presence and to come away empty handed, without feeling the famous glow, and only an hour. Did you still attend the tonights’ QF match? Hope you have an opportunity to see Federer play again so you are not haunted by Cincinnati 2019

      1. Hi Chris. Yeah. I saw Medvedev make Rublev look like an amateur. Medvedev got to every ball. He stood 8ft behind the baseline and made Rublev hit one more shot over and over. Rublev just started leaking errors over and over again

    3. Ah yeah not the best live experience, but hey 1 hour of Fed is still more fun than a lot of other players. Still a few nice shots and points. And a road trip to get there, which I guess had some nice scenery?

      He said in press he worked very hard after Wimbledon once back in practice…

  15. Sorry for you, Eric. At least you saw him walk on court to the roar of the crowd. I always get tickets to the 1st two rounds to ensure at least one match. Might as well enjoy the rest of the experience!
    Physical injuries heal but mental ones sometimes don’t.
    True Dippy, shit happens.

    1. Thanks Annie. It looks like Medvedev did to Rublev what Fed should have done. Play some defence, get the ball back and give Rublev more and more shots to hit… Eventually he started to leak errors… Lots and lots of errors. Unfortunately I’m not holding out hope that he’ll do well at the us open. He hasn’t done well there the last 2 years. I think this year will be the same

    2. Thanks Sue. Yeah I kinda wished I came a bit earlier and saw him play Londero. Indeed the crowd support was very one sided!

    1. No. Just watched Gasquet beat Agut and Richard was excellent ! Happy for him. Now, go Pouille for another Frenchie in the semis… A small consolation from Fed’s defeat if he smashes Djoko !

      1. Yes,it was a very good match.
        Absolutely even in the first set but Rechard played very well in the tie break.
        Agut very good in the second.
        Then the third set Gasquet absolutely flew.Best I have seen him play in a long time.
        It would be nice if the second part of my prophecy also goes wrong😊

      2. I’ve seen a bit of Gasquet this week, he has played great. Best I’ve seen him in ages. I was doubtful he would get back given injury and his style but he still got some game.

  16. Further to my last post maybe people a few days off will do him no harm but good as for caravaning ? Any of you been in a camper van for a week or whatever with 4 kids! No matter if it’s one or 5days fun but tireing not much sleep! So a bit of rest ok! Give him a break ! Let him enjoy life occaisionaly with his family x don’t you think he’s earned that!

    1. Well, we are speculating since ever, what Fed would do AFTER TENNIS. Here’s the answer – CARAVANING 😉
      And here’s another consolation. Fed needed just this defeat to qualify today for London. Is the life not beautiful?

  17. Yes, we see this pattern over and over. A player plays the match of his life against Fed and wins. Rarely do we see them play to that level again. They fad into the scenery and spend the rest of their career in qualifying and on the challenger tour.
    Is Medvedev playing well enough to beat Djoker? A shame for Nishioka, a ninja came along and tainted his food.

      1. They are playing on the challenger tour. I saw Kokkinakis play on Thursday in the Van Open. A whack of them are there, Gulbis and Donskoy. Fed slayers. 🙂

  18. Medvedev is playing really really well. His serve is a bullet. I saw him win a game against Struff that was ace…ace…ace…Ace!!! His court coverage and defense is pretty amazing too. So he can definitely challenge Djoker. But Djoker had the experience and might be able to figure out his weaknesses. Not sure if his net game is that good. It will be an interesting match. The big question is can anyone challenge Djoker for the US open? Love to see a new winner there. Or even better if Fed can find a way to the trophy.

    Thank you Jonathan for the Federer coverage. I’ve been coming to this site for a long time, and really love your post match commentary! 🙂 First time I felt compelled to comment. Thanks!

  19. I seem to remember Medvedev taking a set off Djoker somewhere,so he may fancy his chances.
    For some reason I always think of him as frail,he was talking about feeling tired yesterday and he has played a great deal
    of tennis recently.I agree with Eric that when it is on his serve is great.
    But he is facing the best returner in the game,sigh.
    For sure not the best idea to let Djoker know he is tired,expect plenty of drop shots and endless rallies.
    He sounds very nice in interviews,quite modest and unassuming.

    1. Yeah I like Medvedev. I like most of the Russian guys tbh, all seem level headed. They have a bad rep in the West but let’s be honest, the west is the place that falling to pieces not Russia. Soon you’d rather have rubles than CHF 😆

      1. East is east and west is west….etc.
        Disappointing first semi.
        Gasquet tired,the RBA match plus the others taking their toll.
        Not long back from surgery either.
        Some excellent shot making from Goffin though.

  20. Novak is out!! YEEEEEESSSSS 😀
    Looked like something was wrong woth his arm? No disrespect, but I hope its a injury…
    Anyways, we’ll get a new winner at a M1000 and tbh im very okay with that.
    Now, Imagine if Nadal didnt skip this… Could have easily won this too. Damn

    1. You hope it’s injury but “no disrespect”. This should not be allowed here, Jonathan. Wishing others injuries. peRFect sportsmanship.

      1. @Jon,
        Joke or not … in my underdeveloped eastern country, trying to follow some western standards, it’s a crime.

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