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 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.
|R. Federer||D. Thiem|
|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|
|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%|
Thoughts on the Match
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?