ATP Masters 1000Roger FedererRome Masters

Thiem Takes Out Federer 7-6(2) 6-4 in Rome to Make Quarter Finals

A shortlived tournament for the GOAT in Rome as he fell to a 6-7(2) 4-6 defeats at the hands of Dominic Thiem at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. After seeing off Zverev in straight sets yesterday the Swiss was visibly hampered today with a back injury and Thiem was far too strong in all areas; winning through in just 79 minutes to make the second Masters 1000 Quarter Final of his career.

The loss raises question marks over Federer’s fitness ahead of Roland Garros and whether he can overcome the back injury sustained in Madrid. Today didn’t look great as he refused to even attempt certain shots, wasn’t moving well and didn’t chase down anything that was close to being a lost cause.

Quick Match Recap

Federer Rome 2016 Back Problem

Federer won the toss and elected to receive. Thiem held to love in impression fashion for a 1-0 lead. Roger immediately has to snuff out a break point at 30-40, reeling off three big serves to level. At 2-2 Roger created 0-30 with a stunning backhand down the line and went onto break serve thanks to a classic 1-2 punch. Thiem however was able to hit straight back thanks to a poor game from the Swiss where he made only 3 first serves and double faulted at deuce en route to dropping serve.

Both players then exchanged holds and at 5-5, Federer had 2 break points but couldn’t convert. After holding his own serve a tie break ensued and Thiem ran away with it, winning 5 points in a row from 2-2 to take the opener.

I wasn’t sure Roger should even continue after dropping the set but of course he did and held his opening service game to 30. In game 2 we saw the first SABR of the week, albeit unsuccessful as Thiem quickly levelled for 1-1. In game 4 the Austrian saw 2 break points pass him by from 15-40 but on his third attempt he converted and consolidated the break to 15. A break point in Roger’s next service game followed to put him virtually in the Quarters but the Swiss saved it en route to holding. Another hold to 15 put Thiem 5-3 in front and he was able to close it out comfortably in the 10 game to 15 and move into the Quarter Finals.

Match Stats

R. Federer D. Thiem
Aces 5 5
Double Faults 1 2
1st Serve % 63% 62%
1st Serve Points Won 30/47 (64%) 31/39 (79%)
2nd Serve Points Won 17/28 (61%) 16/24 (67%)
Break Points Saved 3/5 (60%) 2/3 (67%)
Service Games Played 11 11
1st Return Points Won 8/39 (21%) 17/47 (36%)
2nd Return Points Won 8/24 (33%) 11/28 (39%)
Break Points Won 1/3 (33%) 2/5 (40%)
Return Games Played 11 11
Winners 18 29
Unforced Errors 34 13
Net Points Won 9 12
Total Service Points Won 47/75 (63%) 47/63 (75%)
Total Return Points Won 16/63 (25%) 28/75 (37%)
Total Points Won 63/138 (46%) 75/138 (54%
SABR 1/2 (50%) 0


Thoughts on the Match

Federer Thiem Rome 2016

Strange one this Roger actually started reasonably well going up a break but as the set went on he looked to be struggling more and more with his movement. He gave up on several points with no effort to chase down the ball. And all you can say is that he looked ‘off colour’ often choosing to chip it rather than rip the shot even though he had plenty of time to do so. Looking at the stats 73% of points in the match were under 5 shots as Roger just flat out refused to engage in any sort of rally; that translated to 34 unforced errors compared to Thiem’s 13.

So what can be be made of Rome? There’s big question marks over his fitness as the back (or any other niggle he has) is clearly a problem. How big a problem we don’t really know and he has 10 days to sort it out before Paris.

The positive is that he actually stepped onto court for the first time in a while and actually played pretty well. He schooled Zverev and it wasn’t as though Thiem ran away with this one. In fact Fed had the beating of him in many of the points but couldn’t make enough balls to keep the pressure up. So even a crocked Federer is still able to produce high quality stuff on the court, the only limiting factor is his ability to play close to 100% physically which is such a huge part of the game on pretty much all surfaces especially clay. I guess he can leave Rome knowing his game / touch are right there but he needs to play nigh on pain free to truly compete.

As for Thiem, he played pretty well and did a good job of staying fairly focused on his side of the net rather than let Federer’s hampered movement alter his gameplan. He took the scenic route rather than the autobahn to win the first set as he should have won it without needing a tie break but he got it together when it mattered and that put him firmly in the driving seat for him to come out the deserved winner.

Anyway what do you guys think? Was Fed right to play? What is his next move?


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. Thanks Jonathan – you say all I also thought, so not much more to say. It was clear this was more training than result-hunting – although the ranking would have been nice to keep.
    As I said before I think he has a sleeping virus, which wakes up now’n then. It can be fought, but not with antibiotics of course. Maybe with more healthy diet. Ask Djoko?

    1. All i care about right now is for him to recover for the grass and hard court seasons because he has tons of points to defend… If he is not ready for RG, he should rest and recover. His game is there, just like Jon said, but not being able to move properly is just a nightmare for him and all of us.


  2. Apparently Ivan told Sky Sports that Fed’s back injury is a result of his altered playing style to suit his knees. If that’s the case then it’s more worrying than it might appear to be since one complication can lead to another. In his PC, Fed sounded upbeat as always though, and assured that he’s confident about playing RG. Hoping for the best. Of course it goes without saying that health has to be his foremost priority and should skip RG if needed.

    1. Altered style ? wonder what changes he was referring to. Was he just mentioning an altered style he might be using while the knee rehab or is it something he plans to adopt from here on.
      His service motion seems to be the most changed to me over the years, the knee and back bend have been reduced quite a bit IMO and it especially effects his second serve a lot.
      Federer used to have one of the best second serves in the game but nowadays it doesn’t seem to cause any problems to opponents and instead often puts him in immense pressure when he missed a few first serves

  3. 5th. He should have skipped Rome. Backs need rest not match play. I thought he’d learned from 2013 when he kept playing with injury and it messed up most of the year. Wondering if not playing RG might be the best in the long run. Shame to lose that GS streak though.

    Well, maybe I’ll pick Thiem for the title? Maybe Stan will start something?

  4. I’m confused. The ATP stats had 48% FS for the first set and 82% for the second set, yet the ones Jonathan’s posted on Twitter are completely different? Can you *get* FS stats *that* wrong?!

    Really disappointed that he seems to be more crocked: I suspected as much from watching the live scores, but it’s still sad to hear it confirmed. If he *has* had to alter the service motion to accommodate the knee rehab, I do hope it’s only a temporary problem.

    1. Although actually, now watching (or attempting to – they seem to have stuck again) the live scores, I’m reminded that they were doing some silly things this morning too – like showing a scoreline which never existed when you went to look at the stats, so perhaps they were just off.

      1. It’s whatever’s on ATP website. They weren’t being live at all yesterday evening – I had to keep refreshing to see what was happening.

  5. I thought it wasn’t a wise decision to play Rome despite him lacking points in the ATP race 🙁
    Perhaps he should skip RG and rest three weeks for the two grass tournaments in the lead-up to Wimby. Playing on RG clay is just going to strain any niggling injuries he still has.

  6. I’m encouraged. Except that a pattern seems at stake – a brilliant match followed by a disappointer…(but always containing several amazing shots – and this one was no exception). He’s still very interesting to watch, win or lose. For how many can you say same? Roger the unique. And why not GOAT, at least for his hordes of fans.

  7. Stans out!!!. Djokovic or Murrays tournament now. Hope Nadal can have a Deep run though.Federer will play RG and may skip Stuttgart if the back is worse, By Halle he will be at 100% Ready for an 8th Wimbledon and a Gold Medal In singles

  8. I’m sort of leaning towards Conal’s suggestion to skip RG – although obviously it would be awful to have to wait another month to see the champ again. It’s worrying to hear that the adjustment he has made to his service motion to take the pressure off the knee has now caused a problem with the back. The difference in the knee bend is obvious; clearly he is not getting the ‘lift’ he would normally have and is thus putting pressure on the back because of it.

    Maybe it would be better if he did not put himself through BO5 grinding at RG, followed by a surface change to grass; this sounds like a recipe that could be a disaster. He’d be better having more time to strengthen the knee and sort out the back issues properly, then continuing with his planned Stuttgart/Halle appearances before Wimbledon. I suspect though his consecutive slam appearances means a great deal to him. A real Catch 22 situation. or, it’s shit getting old. 🙁

  9. What the heck is happening?! Both Djokovic and Berdych getting bagelled? Has everyone got bad backs?!

    1. My oh my, a double bagel for Berdych by Goffin…that’s terrible. Djokovic got the win, but a double bagel in 1st set. Goodness, they’re all looking very shaky. And Murray delivered one to Chardy, 6-4 in 2nd, so a straightforward win for him.

      1. Ha Ha! What a flock of jerks. Bagels galore. Once upon a time time it seemed that Djerk-o-tronic had finally learned how to serve but this? Last Cincy final showed the first glimpses of a failing gear but this?…

      1. Berdych has been a good regular player for quite a few years. In fact, I think he’s one of the players whose ranking has changed the least, sitting comfortably most of the time between 6 and 8, or so for the past six years.

        But that also mirrors the fact that he is stuck on the same type of game for too long, from where the chances of going to the next level (whatever that may be) are close to null. It’s as if he has already hit his ceiling.

  10. Thiem has had a great year and will likely be in the top 10 soon. Fed actually did quite well considering he couldn’t hit a kick serve or move the way he normally does. He was still striking the ball rather well at times.

  11. Considering situation, Roger played decently though results never in doubt after he gave back break in 2-3 on first set….

    I am not sure what he learned, but he sounded as he needed this match to get more information about his competition ready…..Hope he is healthier for grass/hard court season after (so far) sloppy season….

    1. Yeah he started pretty well, helped a bit by Thiem not making too many balls but after that break back he looked like he couldn’t move properly. Even to the backhand side which he’s normally fine with.

  12. Wise words from the champ:

    An interview on Swiss TV:
    ‘Q: And how do you feel about the fact that Switzerland trembles anxiously because of your physical problems?
    RF: They shouldn’t do that. It belongs to sports. Injuries always happen. For 16-17 years, I don’t want to say that I was spared but I was very lucky. Now I’m going through tougher times. Unfortunately, it happened when I was already at the tournaments. I was unlucky with the back in Madrid and the stomach in Miami. I could play well in Monte Carlo. Here I was still trying to come back after what happened in Madrid. That’s why it’s been hard in the last couple of months. But nobody should feel bad for me, not at all, because it’s been going too well for me in the last 17 years. It belongs to sports.’

    It’s a good reminder to us all that Feds, notwithstanding his hard work and strict fitness regime, has been incredibly ‘lucky’ throughout his career. He had mono in 2008, but was able to play through it, fully recover and despite the Wimbledon disappointment, was still able to pick up the USO slam. Look at Soderling, and Ancic (remember him?), both of whom were never able to recover sufficiently to return to the game. When Soderling was struck down he was rising through the rankings and could, I feel, have possibly picked up a slam or two. Now, all he will be remembered for is the player who beat prime Rafa at RG in 2009.

    Just hope that he is able to bounce back sufficiently to turn the year around. 🙂

  13. Mono-wise, I think it’s more that Soderling and Ancic were incredibly *un*llucky: it doesn’t usually hit people that hard 🙁

    1. Fair point Alison, nevertheless, it is pretty unusual for someone to continue playing as Feds did when you think of the incredible standard required.

      1. I’m not entirely sure of that: I believe it *is* possible for someone to suffer from mono with such mild symptoms that it’s only realised later when maybe some blood test or something is run and it shows up markers for the illness.

  14. What do we think of the Monaco withdrawal? Strategic ..? Helps Rafa get number 4 seed at RG. Feeling a bit dispirited and cynical since this happened hut apologies if Pico’s hip is really bad as he has been off tour for a while hasn’t he?
    It’s Friday the 13th. and all those upsets and bagels were bizarre, what will the next few matches bring.? I am kind of glad now Fed is out of it – maybe Pouille the lucky loser will win it LOL Roma you are crazy albeit a very beautiful setting

    Just hoping Fed is protecting his true state and he can overcome any problems and that he actually created the baseline level he needed by the useful workout /rehab match play with the two very likeable, talented and respectful up and comers Zverev and Thiem.
    The reasonable score lines reflected RF is still in touch with the tour and fingers crossed he plays RG to keep his GS record continuity stats alive, there is still time to build and be in a good condition to go deep. Also hope if he can’t that everyone resting like Wawrinka will have a crack in Paris.

    I agree Jonathan any grand slam without Fed should be declared illegal! Allez

    1. I’m not sure why Monaco should be keen to help Rafa get back to No. 4 (is he in Rafa’s half of the draw. I’ve lost track)? It *is* really annoying, though, to have a gap in the draw in an M1000 – wish he’d lost, then, and let Stan through. Oh well, best of luck to Pouille – I liked what I saw of him when he played Roger at RG a few years ago (was it the dreaded 2013?), and he seems to have been doing well recently.

    2. Rafa and Monaco are best buds…

      Fed not played Pouille at RG. Only meeting was in Bercy, close match. Maybe you’re thinking of Goffin?

      1. Well, I’m pretty sure I saw him play at RG. Maybe it was against someone else.

  15. After reading comments, I was practically expecting to see Fed hobbling around the court, and I really didn’t see that. Yes, his movement was not as good later in the match, but also Thiem was doing a great job hitting behind Roger – caught him going the wrong way several times. Obviously it’s disappointing to lose the finalist points, but he’s just really not in the same place at all this year – and Zverev/Thiem was a hard draw too.

    I was wondering if what he’s learned is that he’s only got the stamina for about a match and a half right now – but then he managed better than that at MC. He certainly seems clear himself that he’s not “moving correctly”, but seems to be pleased about other aspects of the game.

    I’d like to see him keep the GS streak alive at RG. But if he doesn’t, because his back isn’t up for it, then that’s what he needs to do – definitely don’t want to see him making it worse.

    My understanding of the comment from Ljubi – and I didn’t see the whole thing – was that Fed was not landing with full weight on his knee, & was therefore compromising the back. Not an intentional technique change; a re-learning of how to rely on the knee.

  16. When you watch Roger walking during the end of the match, you can see his back is a problem. I would guess it’s a disc issue probably L4-5 by the way he is walking…posterior bulge.

  17. Can someone please explain to me, what how that Djokovic-Nadal match was “beautiful”, as described by Nadal? I watched parts of it, and there was nothing “beautiful” about it. It was a grunt-athon, with baseline ball bashing. It was tennis at its ugliest. The fuck is Dopal talking about?

    1. Yeah it was a classic grind fest. Djoker did hit a couple of crazy shots when he was under barrage of shots where he just redirected the ball. But other than that – boring.

    1. Haha Sue, nearly anagram’ish!
      But now to something else: brave Nishikori nearly won yesterday. Djoko won AGAIN – although with most extreme edging. Please explain to me – how? How long? I cannot stand his mimic, sorry. I only follow his game in order to see him defeated…sorry. And tonight same final as usual. I won’t watch it. Not that masochistic. Tennis…may it be nice to watch some day again, I pray every night for this to be again, for Federer to come healthy again, dear God!

  18. Pity Nishikori couldn’t get it done… Though as much as I am not a Djoker fan, and I like Lahyani, Novak did not deserve that warning. Not sure I rather lose, Novak or Muzza, talk about the lesser of two evils… Of a tennis point a view I’d say I prefer Djoker’s game, though I’m sick of him winning everything… ^^

    1. Well Djoker was bouncing the ball up to 10 times per serve….I started counting like the good old days.
      He was over the time allowed.
      Laylani did tell Djokovic he had a broken string. Is that correct? Is that fair to Nishikori…Kei would have won the next point. Isn’t Djokovic responsible for his own equipment? Am I being nasty? Sick of the guy winning!

      1. Sick too. Some unhealthy vira generated. And I don’t want any of them to win tonight. Loselose

      2. [Laylani did tell Djokovic he had a broken string. Is that correct? Is that fair to Nishikori]

        I see nothing wrong with that. An umpire can stop a point if a stray ball is rolling around, or a ballboy or girl isn’t in place in time. They can tell the player their shoe lace is out. So why not tell them about broken strings? All in the spirit of the game.

      3. Hahaha! I watched that clip. It was a break point against Novak, so Nishikori wasn’t amused. He actually muttered, “Fuck!”.

        It didn’t matter as he did break and the scores were level at 4-4 I think. So, it didn’t impact the result.

      4. Sue, true I’m sick of him winning, but I think it’s still important to stay fair.

        Didn’t not expect Muzza to win in two quick sets though…

      5. Actually, I expected him to win – although possibly not that easily. I guess maybe the extremely demanding match yesterday and the 5 hours’ difference in start times may actually have made a difference. Still, at least if he was to take the No. 2 slot back off Roger he’s actually done it good and proper, rather than hanging onto it by his fingernails only due to Roger being injured.

      6. Not having a go or anything, but isn’t rising when your opponent is injured perfectly legitimate? I don’t think it’s any less “good and proper” than when Roger took world number 1 back in 2009 when Nadal was out.

        End of the day, it’s a job of a tennis player to remain fit.

        Obviously, I’m expecting someone to mention doping, which would be a pointless tangent, but I honestly see nothing wrong with Murray becoming number 2. It’s not his job to ensure Roger is fit.

      7. Absolutely agree John! Same with 2011 end of year when Feds won everything after uso with smoker having played too much

      8. John, of course it’s perfectly legitimate. It was the fact that he was barely keeping his nose in front for three months while Roger was shedding points, rather than actively stepping up and getting the results to put clear water between the two of them that disturbed me. Heaven knows, he’d had a number of chances in March and April.

      9. Alison, fair enough. It’s worth noting that Murray exited just Indian wells and Miami so early though; utterly reasonable to have that kind of run, and now, his clay court season has been incredibly good and consistent.

  19. I picked Murray to win Rome on Tiger. Thinking he could be the favourite for RG. Murray played an amazing championship point. Couldn’t believe he made that.
    Djokovic was angry about the court surface and I think he was complaining in Madrid too. Perhaps his zen attitude is a little thin.

    1. Zen? Novak is no zen. Whenever he looks zen, it’s just a marketing facade.
      Unleash him, and all the varnish cracks. Uruk-hai, that’s the real him.

      1. Haha, Rui – and oof. But Murray defeated him (helped by Rafa and Kei), to solid his no. 2… 🙁
        And still Uruk-hai’s position is very far from threatened.

      2. Yes, Murray the Moaner will be hovering around #2 for quite some time. I don’t know how much of his recent performance was courtesy of easy draws or due to an actual improvement of his game.
        Anyway, he did some sharp shots and the matchpoint was a worthy one.
        Normally he would not be able to defeat Djerk-o-tronic. And normally Fed would reduce him to vulgarity.

      3. It took three top 10 players to prevent Djokovic from winning a Masters 1000. What will it take to prevent him from winning a slam?

    2. If Sue is ‘Sue’ on Tiger Mobiles Tennis Challenge then you won the Rome one. Good call on Murray 😆

      I think he is Top 3 faves for RG. Djoker and Nadal the others. Tempted to leave Rafa out but he has played fairly well this year on clay.

  20. Bellucci and Robert played tougher than the average player ND gets in the early rounds, he also did not get much rest time and the rain upset him big time….he will surely be rested and better able to pace himself at RG let alone what luck the draw brings him.
    Was good to see Murray play with a spring in his step and not do the usual routine of chuntering, hip clutching, negative self talk etc. and take the opportunity offered. Nice win, first UK player in eons to get that lovely looking Rome trophy.

    1. Robert and Bellucci are both awkward customers. Murray has had another good clay season. Maybe he can go one better in Paris this year depending on the draw.

  21. Good poser – Sid the Cookie Thief
    You are rightfully of the firm belief
    That it takes a lot to take Novak out
    You are correct, without a doubt

    But the fact does still remain
    Clay is against Novak’s grain
    On it he is never at his best
    So its going to be a real test

    And so I hazard a simple guess
    For Novak the FO will be a mess
    Surely, by the quarters he will fall
    If not to Stan then to Rafa Nadal

    1. Good one, Murli. Djokovic could be facing burn out. He won’t be my pick for RG. I think Roger should skip RG and start again on grass. His record at GSs had to be broken some time. What a shame though.

  22. Actually, I think Djokovic won’t win Roland Garros.
    Rome showed he’s mentally drained – from the very first match on. All the matches he played made that even worse.
    And I’ve noticed for quite some time now that many of his first (two) rounds he’s not ‘in’ it. I guess players know that by now and will try to take their chances.
    In general it’s: the further he comes in the tournament, the better he gets. But that was absolutely not the case in Rome.

    Anyway: I do hope Roger will compete too, just for record’s sake. For health’s sake, I’d say: skip that tournament and get all the way in the grass- and hardcourt season.

    1. [In general it’s: the further he comes in the tournament, the better he gets. But that was absolutely not the case in Rome.]

      He is keeping his cards close to his chest.

    2. Thing is, in a best of five, it’s a lot tougher to beat him. There are only a few players who could sustain the level of tennis over 5 required to beat Djokovic on clay right now. I would include Nadal, Wawrinka, Murray, and Nishikori in that group. I would put Fed, Tsonga, and Thiem outside of it but not too far outside.

    3. I actually think losing Rome probably helps his Paris chances.

      Over 5 I wouldn’t include Nishikori to beat Djoker. No proven track record of doing that.

      1. I wouldn’t trust anything from tennisworldusa. That doesn’t mean it’s not true, though. I hope he recovers properly – not ultimately concerned whether he plays RG or not.

      2. Thanks!

        I actually like his record of god-knows-how-many consecutive slams he’s played, would mind him adding to that number ^^

      3. That is correct, David. 2:40 a.m post NY time. But that was the only thing available at the time. Made for a terrible night of sleep, and I woke up with a bad cramp in my leg. Really hope he plays and little damage results.

  23. I just saw a photo of rf practising on court 1 so he will most probably play RG.
    This FO is exciting ,hope federer stays healthy and strong!

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