Bit of an upset here as Dominic Thiem defeated Roger Federer on his favourite surface in the semi-finals of the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart. The Austrian saved 2 match points in a match blighted by rain delays to come through 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-4.
Not Roger's best performance and he'll be a tad disappointed to lose it considering he won 1 more point in the match and was generally the better player for the most part but he at least has 3 matches under his belt ahead of Halle.
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and elected to serve holding to 15 to kick things off. Thiem matched that to level but in game 4 the Austrian dropped serve after double faulting at 40-30. Roger consolidated to 30 for 4-1 but had to save a break back point at 4-2 before holding and serving out the set 6-3.
Into set 2 and it looked as though Roger had the measure of Thiem but he stupidly took his foot off the gas, missing an overhead and dropping serve to fall 2-0 behind. Thiem was able to take full advantage going up a second break and moving into a 5-0 lead. Roger held to avoid the bagel and hit back to break for 5-2. That was quickly 5-3 and with the pressure back on Thiem to serve it out he again faltered as Roger broke then held for 5-5. The Swiss then had 15-30 on the Thiem serve but couldn't take advantage. A love hold from Federer sent the set into a tie break.
The breaker was a bit of a weird one from Fed, after looking imperious in them so far this week, he relinquished an early mini break, missed 2 fairly easy match points, didn't land enough first serves then played a daft sliced drop shot which he thought about too much by watching Thiem and not the ball. Thiem took full advantage to take it 9-7.
With rain already falling during the breaker play was delayed for around 30 minutes. Upon resumption Roger saved a break point in game and then had 2 of his own on the Thiem serve, hitting a wild forehand on the second which allowed the Austrian to make deuce.
In game 4 Roger had another two break points but couldn't convert. At 3-3 Roger got himself into trouble by hitting over the backhand after a long rally dominated by slice, he came up with 2 great points for 30 all but slipped to 30-40 then missed a volley to get broken. Another rain delay followed and when the players came out on court Thiem held to 15 to consolidate the break, Roger held for 4-5 but the Austrian served it out in style to 15 to make yet another ATP final.
|R. Federer||D. Thiem|
|1st Serve %||63%||61%|
|1st Serve Points Won||52/69 (75%)||46/62 (74%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||17/40 (43%)||19/40 (48%)|
|Break Points Saved||2/5 (40%)||5/8 (63%)|
|Service Games Played||16||15|
|1st Return Points Won||16/62 (26%)||17/69 (25%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||21/40 (53%)||23/40 (57%)|
|Break Points Won||3/8 (38%)||3/5 (60%)|
|Return Games Played||15||16|
|Total Service Points Won||69/109 (63%)||65/102 (64%)|
|Total Return Points Won||37/102 (36%)||40/109 (37%)|
|Total Points Won||106/211 (50%)||105/211 (50%)|
Thoughts on the Match
Bit like Monte Carlo this one – good week, disappointing loss. Obviously it's good to see him back, 3 matches played so he will be happy as got lots of information blah blah more positive spin stuff. But I put this in the category of matches he should never lose. We got vintage Fed in the first set as Thiem never settled but Roger took his eye off the ball and it cost him. I'm not sure how Thiem managed to lose a 5-0 lead on grass with a serve like his but he did and then in the breaker Fed just didn't have that killer instinct to kill things off when he had the chance. Same story in the third set – lots of chances early doors but didn't take them and went onto lose.
So yeah not great viewing but I don't want to sound too downbeat as you can't expect the world in the first tournament back. On a more positive note Fed looks pretty relaxed on the court and generally just happy to be playing. He definitely got annoyed when he was broken in the decider as he gave the net a swipe after he missed the volley so no doubt feels pretty similar to us watching. We still got flashes of brilliance but I don't think Fed's shot selection and match feel are quite there yet and why he lost today. A few points stick in my mind: the 2 botched overheads (very rare for Fed), the drop shot in the breaker where he wasn't committed and then the game where he got broken in the decider; on the first point it was a lengthy slice exchange where he decided to hit over it and lost the point. Always dangerous when you ‘change' what comes at you. Kills me every week as a club player and even get's the pro's too. That kinda sums it up the only other thing to add is credit to Thiem for staying with Fed all the way and taking his chances to make his first final on grass, for my money he's been the third best player so far this year behind Djoker and Murray.
Anyway next stop Halle, the draw is out and I'll be doing a post on it pretty soon. Let me know what you thought of this in the comments.