Well what can you say about that other than immense? It's been long overdue but we got a rip-roaring performance from the GOAT as he defeated Djokovic 3-6 6-3 6-2 to book his place in the Dubai final.
As per my match prediction I gave Roger about a 20% chance of winning this one but he delivered on all fronts and proved me wrong. From start to finish he showcased his brilliance in all areas of the court and defeated a guy who is currently in his prime. Quite an amazing feat and just shows there's still some amazing tennis left in this guys legs.
The serve and aggression were of course the key and he was able to hit all of his shots with conviction here. Looks like now he can move freely without the back hindering he's in a much better space mentally and there's a boatload more self belief. Looks like the new racquet helps a little too ;).
Quick Match Recap
The second point of Djokovic's opening service game decided the intensity and excitement of this match. And it also decided the outcome of the first set. Let me explain, at 0-15 the Serb came up with an incredible get to win a point he had no right to. Roger played almost the perfect point yet Djokovic tracked down a drop shot to stay alive. To make matters worse had Roger had the nouse to challenge he'd have won the point as hawkeye deemed it out.
You could see that this rattled Roger mentally and scrambled his senses, it was like getting caught by a sucker punch. In fact you could liken it to Djoker's return in the USO Semi Final on match point in 2011; it just threw him.
Looking mentally shot Fed then got broken in his opening service game and Djokovic strolled into a 3 love lead.
Roger then won 5 points in a row to hold and create 0-30 on the Djokovic serve before having a chance to break back. That got snuffed out with some clutch play from Djokovic as he moved into a 4-1 lead.
A couple of close games later and Djokovic served for it at 5-3. On set point Roger came up with tennis from another planet to find deuce but Djokovic didn't bat an eyelid and fired down two big serves to take it 6-3.
That was the key difference here as when Djokovic came up with something special Roger blinked. But when Roger came up with something special, Djokovic didn't and that's why he won the set.
After seeing the stat that all 16 of Federer's wins against Djoker had come after he won the first set I wasn't too optimistic about his chances in the second.
The first bit of drama came at 2 all where Roger had to save a break point. Whereas the point at 0-15 decided the outcome of the first set, the sequence of points from 30-40 here decided the outcome of match.
We've gotten used to Roger wilting and dying under pressure in several match over the last couple of years but here he stepped up to the plate. It was clutcher than clutch and he pulled off an incredible hold with some quite incredible shotmaking when he needed it most.
Adrenaline fired up he then created 0-30 on the Djokovic serve before the heavens opened, that didn't break his momentum though as broke the Djokovic serve for the first time when play resumed and then went onto close out the set 6-3. He dropped only 1 point behind his first serve in this set and was serving peRFectly.
Third set shootouts are always tough to call but with Roger's game clicking he used momentum, chip charge and his backhand down the line to make Djokovic doubt himself.
Some Edberg like net rushing saw him create a break point chance in Djokovic's opening game and a double fault put Federer into a 1-0 lead.
Consolidating was always going to be key and at 15-40 it didn't look pretty but back to back aces and another epic point saw Federer hold for a 2-0 lead. Has there ever been a better player at finding a timely ace? 15-40 and he fires down 2 huge first serves. Genius.
2-0 became 3-1 30-40 and again Roger had another chance to break, the first he played too passive but he soon got a second bite of the cherry and took it with a sweet passing shot.
A hold for 5-1 meant Roger had won 9 out of the last 11 games and after Djokovic held for 5-2 it was the moment of truth…
Shank 0-15, FH long 0-30, big serve 15-30, error 15-40 and it's not looking good. He then digs deep to make deuce, winning another epic rally in the process and then closes it out to take his first match point. Boom, it doesn't get any better than that does it? 😀
|N. Djokovic||R. Federer|
|1st Serve %||62%||60%|
|1st Serve Points Won||36/53 (68%)||35/46 (76%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||19/33 (58%)||18/31 (58%)|
|Break Points Saved||4/7 (57%)||5/6 (83%)|
|Service Games Played||13||13|
|1st Return Points Won||11/46 (24%)||17/53 (32%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||13/31 (42%)||14/33 (42%)|
|Break Points Won||1/6 (17%)||3/7 (43%)|
|Return Games Played||13||13|
|Total Service Points Won||55/86 (64%)||53/77 (69%)|
|Total Return Points Won||24/77 (31%)||31/86 (36%)|
|Total Points Won||79/163 (48%)||84/163 (52%)|
Both guys with a positive winner to unforced error count, shows how high quality the match was. Federer showing us how its done at the net 😉
Shot of the Match
Thoughts on the Match
Not sure where to start with this one but it's definitely one of those matches to savour. We'll be seeing points from this one in Federer tribute videos for many months to come that's for sure.
I can say with certainty that it's the best match I've seen him play for a while. We got some good ones at the Australian Open when he defeated Tsonga and Murray but beating prime level Djokovic 6-2 in the third set coming from a set down is uncharted territory.
I said in my last post that quick courts + Federer = awesomeness. So to see him use hyper aggression, chip charge + his backhand down the line and come out on top against the defending Champion is even better.
I think it was Robbie Koenig who once said in commentary something like “this guy is just so talented it's beyond a joke” and he couldn't have been any more spot on. Some of the shots he comes up with are just ridiculous and there's about 10 from this match alone. It's highlight reel to remember.
We've always known Roger is on another level talent wise though but today he also showed that he is mentally in a much better place than last year. Back issues are no more and the new racquet is an extension of his arm meaning he can move freely and trust himself.
The main thing that impressed me was of course saving that break point in the 2nd set but also the way he showed composure on several 30 all moments. There were some pretty huge points out there today and he came through every test. It would have been easy to just fold as Djokovic struck sweetly off both wings but he found that extra shot when he needed it.
It's also added some substance to Roger's own claims; he's said many times he knows he can still compete at the top level but the press and fans have doubted him. Today he answers the critics once more and finally delivers on his word. It's a good day to be a Fed fan 🙂
Predictions vs. Berdych
Although this match was worthy of being a final Fed must now face the resurgent Tomas Berdych if he's to win a 6th Dubai crown.
If you thought Roger had a bad 2013 then Berdych definitely did winning zero titles. But this year he's started with a bang, making the semi finals in Australia and winning Rotterdam. Fair to say he's looking dangerous.
He also beat Roger here last year in the semi finals so he is going to be a big test. Considering Roger's track record against this guy on fast courts this match is definitely not a foregone conclusion regardless of how well he played today.
I think Fed can get the job done here but he's going to have to play at a similar type level to the Djoker match. Holding his own serve and taking the chances on the Berdych serve are going to be key. Those chances will definitely come but Fed will need to be ruthless and make sure he doesn't slip up in any of his own service games.
The Berdych game is the biggest on tour and there's no chance that Fed is going to out hit him from the baseline so he's got to play smart and aggressive tennis. We always stress variety and I think that will work here, we saw today how effective coming to the net can be so he must continue with those plays.
Berdych is nowhere near capable of producing passing shots like Djokovic when on the run so I think coming forward will definitely be profitable. Berdych may be able to out muscle most but he lacks variety and the ability to really hustle. I always cite his mental weakness but I reckon Fed should be able to exploit his stretch backhand and ghost into the net for easy put aways. We shall see 🙂
Anyway I'm picking Fed to get it done, it'd be a much needed title and although a loss wouldn't undo his good work totally it'd be a kick in the balls he can do without. Fed in straights, 7-5 6-4. Allez!