Never doubt the GOAT huh as Roger produced a masterclass on Rod Laver Arena to subdue hard hitting Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3 7-5 6-4 and setup a juicy Quarter Final encounter against Andy Murray.
You all know I said Tsonga was a minor favourite in this one but as I said in my prediction post, Roger could win if he played smart tennis and that's exactly what happened. In some ways he looked back to his best but I won't get too far ahead of myself just yet 🙂
Either way it was an imperious performance and was the peRFect birthday present for Stefan Edberg as Roger came to to the net 41 times during the match winning 34 of the points, hit a string of awesome drive backhands and ultimately outplayed the Frenchman to come through in just one hour and 52 minutes.
Quick Match Recap
Roger started this one extremely sharply, breaking serve in the second game and holding comfortably throughout the first set despite not really hitting many first serves. Good omens there as it meant his ground game was on song.
It was obvious that Roger had a clear plan of attack from the word go and he was able to really get his shots off when he needed them; slice, serve and volley, everything just seemed to fall into place when he needed it and he took the first set 6-3.
In all the matches I can remember between these two Roger has always managed to start well but has often been pegged back as Tsonga got more of a foothold in the match but this time around Roger stood firm, really holding easily with great variety and although Tsonga managed to hang tough until 5 all in the second Roger took his chance immediately when it presented itself to take it 7-5. Clinical.
The second set really had a bit of everything, great point construction, using the slice to drag Tsonga out of position, drop shots requiring the Frenchman to use every sinew of his athleticism only to find Roger perfectly in position to pat the ball back into the open court. Demoralilising.
The third set was really where Roger had to make it count and it looked like his early pressure had effected Tsonga's mindset has he handed his serve over tamely for Roger to lead 2-1.
The writing was on the wall at 0-40 on Tsonga's serve in the 7th game and when he blazed a ball out of the arena it looked like his frustration had caught up with him. However that seemed to work in his favour as he hit 3 monster serves and some passive returning from Fed saw him dig out a crucial hold.
There was always going to be Tsonga storm brewing after saving three virtual match points and he got his only break point of the match in Roger's very next service game. This was his first test and I thought Roger passed it with flying colours, composing himself well to hold and then serving out the match to 15 with a sweet volley on his second match point. GOAT!
All in all a great match, 43 winners compared to 21 unforced errors, plenty variety, plenty of self belief and a fantastic win. What more can you ask for?
|Stats||Jo-Wilfried Tsonga||Roger Federer|
|1st serves in||46/88 (52 %)||48/84 (57 %)|
|1st serve points won||32/46 (70 %)||42/48 (88 %)|
|2nd serve points won||23/42 (55 %)||25/36 (69 %)|
|Fastest serve||224 KMH||202 KMH|
|Average 1st serve speed||191 KMH||184 KMH|
|Average 2nd serve speed||146 KMH||152 KMH|
|Net points won||11/25 (44 %)||34/41 (83 %)|
|Break points won||0/1 (0 %)||3/7 (43 %)|
|Receiving points won||17/84 (20 %)||33/88 (38 %)|
|Total points won||72||100|
Thoughts on the Match
Yeah, I mean, I'm very pleased. Don't think I got broken today. That against a great player. So, yeah, I'm extremely happy how things went for me tonight. I was able to play my game, offensive, mix it up, come to the net. Yeah, I was surprised that things worked out for me.
Tactically astute, focused, aggressive, confident and convincing are just some of the words you can use to describe Federer's performance today. I don't wanna hype him up too much as it's only one match but as fans we got to see a bit of a masterclass out there and it truly was a joy to watch from start to finish. The full repertoire on show and most importantly he executed the right game plan. Maybe there was a little bit of luck on his side that things all fell into place at the right time but at this level you make your own luck so it was fully deserved.
My list of plus points is endless to be honest but things that especially stood out were shot selection, ability to defend and all round movement. The backhand too was looking ripe throughout and it really makes a big difference when he's able to hit that shot confidently. Not only does it let him use it as an offensive weapon, it also allows him to play with more variety and mix it up rather than just hit nothing rally type backhands short in the court. It also stops his forehand becoming too much of a crutch.
Any negatives? I'll be picky but still a little passive on some of the break points and love 30 opportunities, that game in the third where he had love 40 was a great opportunity to put it to bed but hey 3 out of 7 on break points and not getting broken you can't complain too much right 🙂 The chip is just the natural shot to play for a one hander on the return as it's just much easier to execute, driving backhands is almost like a conscious thought which is much harder to remember on the bigger points that's for sure.
So all is rosy in camp Federer right now but now for the harsh reality, Federer at his best is still unstoppable, but the true acid test will be what happens when he has to play a match where things aren't going so smoothly. That could be the next round or the one after or the one after that. Players like Nadal and Djokovic have now made a habit of pulling through matches when not playing at their peak, if Roger can do the same mixed in with playing epically like today then #18 is a possibility. So savour this win for the next 24 hours and then let's see what this guy can do against Murray. This slam is only just over half complete (57% to be precise) so he still has a long way to go, but why stop now? He has to try and keep up his semi final run alive here I think.
Predictions vs. Murray
I got to work extra early today to watch Fed's match but of course Dull took over 3 hours to win a match in straight sets due to multiple time violations and toilet breaks. But that also meant I got to see some of Murray's tennis for the first time this tournament and I tuned in right at the time he served a double fault on match point before losing the third set tie break.
Of course he went onto win in 4 as lucky loser Robert remembered he was French but overall I wasn't that impressed. Murray isn't quite yet back to his best level so I honestly think he is there for the taking. I've gone from picking Tsonga to bump Fed to now picking Fed over Murray in the Quarters 🙂
If Roger makes it physical and makes Murray do the running he has a great shot here. You can't rule Murray out of course now he has 2 slams under his belt but when both at their best Roger is the better player without a shadow of a doubt. It's going to be a different type match to the Tsonga one of course as Murray has more variety in his stroke play but Roger has to keep the aggression up and not let Murray use his backhand offensively.
I think Roger will need to pick his spots carefully when to come in as Murray is a good passer but if he can play smartly again and not get bogged down on the baseline just rallying then I know he has enough in the tank here.
The other quarter finals are all now setup too with Nadal facing Dimitrov who's made his first appearance in the Last 8 of a slam, I actually think this guy has a shot here too, it might be just a bit too soon but I do think he can trouble Nadal. Talent wise he's higher than Nadal but mentally you don't get much better than the Spaniard so Dimitrov will really need to be on it to push him. I expect him to get a set at the least.
Djokovic looks like he is going to progress although Stan can't be underestimated based on his recent performances so it could go 4 or 5 but if Djoker is sharp then I think it could be straights. I think Berdych might take out Ferrer as the courts are working in his favour here so Djoker vs. Berdych is hardly an exciting prospect, unless you're a Djokovic fan of course.
So onto my prediction, I'm picking Fed in straights vs. Murray. Maybe the Tsonga match has clouded my judgement and Roger has dared his fans to dream again but I think if he can get out the blocks quickly then he can assert his authority on the match and keep Murray at arms length. Let's see, should be a good one regarldess, allez!