Roger Federer's 2017 winning streak came to an end as he went down 7-6 (7-1) 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-4) in 150 minutes against Alexander Zverev.
A close match that the Swiss could have won after serving for the opener at 5-3 but Zverev came up with some huge ball striking, and 200 km/h + serves to find his way through in three tiebreaks.
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and elected to serve, hitting two aces en route to a love hold. Zverev held to 30 all in his opener, but game six saw the Swiss draw first blood to lead 4-2.
At 5-3 Roger served for the set but was broken to 30. A tie-break ensued, and a two double faults in the opening exchanges set the tone with Roger losing it 7-1.
Momentum was now with Zverev, but it was Federer who mustered two break points in the first game of set two. He couldn't convert, and neither player got another look at one as the set went to another tie-break.
Again Roger went down an early mini break but was able to recover and lead 4-2 at the change of ends. Zverev won both points on his serve to trail 4-5, but the Swiss came up with the goods to take it 7-4 and force a decider.
Set three was more of the same, this time Zverev failing to convert two break points at 1-1 and a further chance at four games all. Like the two sets previous the third resulted in a tiebreak and again it was Federer having to play catch up, slipping to 2-5. The Swiss won both points on serve for 4-5, the second after a 32 shot lung buster of a rally but Zverev reeled off two good serves to take it 7-4 in the decider.
|Roger Federer||Alexander Zverev|
|1st Serve %||64%||66%|
|1st Serve Points Won||61/81 (75%)||55/75 (73%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||24/43 (56%)||28/40 (70%)|
|Break Points Won||1/4 (25%)||1/7 (14%)|
|Net Points Won||20/28 (71%)||13/23 (57%)|
|Total Points Won||117||122|
Thoughts on the Match
It's tough to enjoy a loss whatever the circumstance but as far as defeats go this is one of the better ones as it was a good workout.
Zverev was the better player on the big points today and never allowed Federer to dictate play. He moves well for a big guy and hits with a lot of power. Tough for Fed who managed to get him on the run plenty of times, but Zverev can get back to neutral or offence thanks to his long reach very easily.
We didn't see as much variety from Roger today which in hindsight may have helped, but it's tough to say. I'm not sure the slice takes that well on this type of surface (may explain why Djoker is so good on it as he loves above waist high balls) so you can't say with any real conviction it would have worked if he's mixed up the pace or come in more. Zverev seems pretty comfortably hitting all types of balls.
The positives for Roger are he wasn't far off winning, was only broken once in 3 sets and got the toughest workout he'll have had for a while. He's no doubt being practising points and sets hard in Dubai, but there's no way you can replicate a three setter like today. Both players took it seriously enough and it will serve as a good marker for where Fed thinks his game is at ahead of Melbourne.
Predictions vs. Gasquet
Next up is Gasquet who made it two wins out of two by defeating Dan Evans in the day match. A good start from the Frenchman who took out Zverev in his first match in straight sets. I didn't see the encounter to know how Zverev played but for Gasquet to win 77 to 55 points probably indicates Fed isn't quite at the races yet.
Based on that you'd say Gasquet could be the favourite going in, but it's a matchup that does suit Federer. Gasquet has flashy strokes, a decent enough serve but his forehand isn't great, and he doesn't do too much that can trouble Fed so I'll pick Roger in 2 assuming he's not feeling the effects of today's 2 hours 30-minute battle.