Federer Bagels Benneteau to Set Up Djokerer 36.0

Well what a special performance that was from the Maestro to dismantle a potentially very dangerous opponent. Benneteau had already beaten Roger twice out of seven matches before this match and came very close to beating Roger at Wimbledon in 2012. And Benneteau came out pretty much in the zone against Roger in the first set on this occasion. He hit some amazing shots including one Federeresque slice/drop shot winner with loads of side spin. He put a lot of pressure on Roger and it looked like this could be another long and difficult night for the GOAT. But there was a key point with Roger serving at 4-4 and 15-30. Benneteau had him in desperate trouble out wide. Roger could only just make the return and Benneteau could basically go where he wanted. He went back to Rogers forehand and Roger pulled off a brilliant passing shot down the line.

Benneteau was well in control of that point and had he won it it would have been two break points and he could well have won the opening set, making this an entirely different ball game. But Roger made a big save and the first set would be decided by a tie break. The first seven points of the tie break went against serve if I remember correctly. Roger was the first one to hold serve at 4-3 with an unreturnable serve and at 6-4 he took the initiative with a backhand cross court winner to win the all important first set. Roger hit some amazing backhands throughout the match and no doubt that is a shot that has improved. After Roger won that first set the resolve of Benneteau was broken and Roger went on to bagel him in the second set. Although Roger played some amazing tennis in that second set it was once again his mental fortitude in the first set that impressed me the most.

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First the way he hustled at 4-4 and 15-30 to avoid getting broken and then seizing the opportunity at 6-4 in the tie break with an attacking backhand to finish the deal. That is what set up the easy second set because by then Benneteau was a spent force. Roger may not have won a slam this year but he may have done something equally impressive which is to prove the critics wrong who says he lacks in the mental department. And that includes me. Roger really proved to me this year that he is mentally extremely good and that there is a reason that he won 17 slams. But I also think he has improved mentally with age because he had to compensate somehow for not having the same untouchable aura he had in his prime. Roger will now face Djokovic for the 36th time in the most exciting rivalry in tennis today. This after Djokovic was back to his best by routining Ferrer 6-4, 6-2.

So actually Roger and Djokovic lost an equal amount of games and are both playing their best. This will no doubt be the real final because the other semi-final will be contested between Simon and Lopez. Simon upset Berdych who he now has 6-3 head-to-head against. And what is more he fed Berdych another delicious bagel. Delicious for me anyway as I can’t stand the guy. As for Lopez and Simon the head-to-head favors Lopez 2-1 and I hope he wins since he has a much more attacking and exciting game than Simon. To get back to Djokerer it’s a tough one to call. I think Djokovic is probably the slight favorite but I wouldn’t be surprised if Roger pulled off the win. One thing that I couldn’t help noticing yesterday against Ferrer is Djokovic’s overhead. It really is exceptionally bad for anyone in the top 100, not to mention for the world #1.

Against Ferrer he had break point at 3-1 for the double break but he missed another sitter of a smash. So really the score should have been 6-2, 6-2 but instead of it at 5-4 Djokovic barely held on to win the first set and was lucky that it did not go to 5-5. It also struck me that Djokovic’s overhead cost him the 2013 French Open title when he ran into the net after an overhead, and consequently the US Open that same year because he was shattered mentally after that loss to Nadal. And yesterday I found out it cost him the Olympic gold against Nadal in 2008 too. So his overhead cost him two slams at least, the Olympic gold, and the golden career slam. And who benefited? You guessed it. It just bothers be that a great player and a world #1 can have such a poor overhead which is one of the easier shots in tennis. He would have been in the GOAT debate by now could he hit a proper overhead, and who knows where Nadal would have been.

Not on 14 slams that’s for sure. I don’t know if Djokovic’s overhead will play any part in his match against Roger but I do know that Roger will be at his very best against Djokovic, and even that may not be good enough to win. At least he was the last player to beat Djokovic in Shanghai in 2010. I remember that quite well but that was still Djokovic 1.0. I think the kind of mistake Djokovic made against Ferrer with the overhead is the type of mistake Roger can and should take advantage of if he wants to win. Other than that he will just have to play almost perfect attacking tennis while mixing up the pace of his shots with slices to stop Djokovic from getting rhythm. Whatever happens I am just glad Roger comes away with his 360 points and made semis so that he can skip Paris if that is what he feels his body needs. This match is a freebie the way I see it but of course a win would be epic!

Hightights:

Posted in Masters 1000, Shanghai.

20 Comments

  1. Ru-an,

    My prediction is that Roger will win in 3 tight sets! ;-) Roger is quite hungry and he has made a ton of finals this years and I expect that to continue. I am actually worried about Simon more. Will see! ;-)

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    Ru-an Reply:

    But Simon is not in the final yet?

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  2. OMG, the backhand, the movement!!! Isn’t Benneteau supposed to be one of Roger’s boogey men?! It is so nice to see Roger playing himself into form as the tournament progresses; which was what he always did in his prime. We are seeing it now in Shanghai. I’m still pinching myself is it happening that he is progressively getting better in every match! Often a let down or bad matches get in the way but so far his level has been on a steady uninterrupted upward trend!! The way he played last night was like he owned the court. He could do anything he wanted. So confident, so free and so deadly! So many fantastic shots; I thought the backhand was especially impressive and lethal!! Ru-an, fantastic wrap up/write up on Shanghai! Pics are again first class! So happy for you that Shanghai is played in your time zone (mine as well!) plus the bonus of the school hols now! Must have been quite a while since you had such luxury! I hope Roger wins tonight (if 70% first serve and backhand esp dtl working well) but I think Djoker’s got it.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi Veronica. Nice to hear from you. Yeah I like what I am seeing from Roger too. It could be that he is still improving after the low of 2013 and I am looking forward to the rest of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 at the AO! Looks like Roger will be 2nd seed and could avoid Nadal in the semis for a change. Are you going again?
    If you say Djoker has got it then it must be true. You have been good with predictions of late.

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    Dolores Reply:

    Veronica, you must be wearing a big Fedfan smile even though you thought Djoker has it….Beautiful, Roger, Bravo you are in the Final.
    Ru-an, great blog as usual, you, along with Fedfans around the Globe are smiling.
    Best,
    Dolores

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Dolores.

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    steve Reply:

    Dolores, the Glückstern must have been shining on him against Mayer. Five match points saved in his first match and now he’s in the final! Hopefully he can come out and top himself against Simon!

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    Dolores Reply:

    Steve, thanks for reminding me about the Glueckstern….may it follow him in tomorrow’s match against Simon to win the title.
    As you say, C’mon, Roger!
    Best,
    Dolores

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  3. Ruan you are 100% right here. Mental strength – I have doubted it and I thought he just relied on his supreme talent to get him through.

    Yet today’s amazing victory really showed this strength. Down 15-30 serving for the match; nails down an ace and then some very difficult volleys to nail it.

    On top of this Federerr’s previous service game he failed to convert 7 game points, some of them on very lucky shots by Djokovic. Ddin’t phase him.

    He had 2 (or 3?) break point chances to go up the double break in the 2nd set. Followed that up with a good hold though with clutch play.

    Tremendous match, Djokvoic was playing very well but Federer’s attacking game won the day. 62% 2nd service points won by Federer against the best returner in the world. And he even hit fewer UEs than the human backboard.

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    Bharata Reply:

    I didn’t even mention above that he missed two match points before serving for the match (!)

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  4. Now am I good or am I good? I told you that Roger is gonna win. And did he win or what? That was beautiful! And it came at a very important moment too! Roger was 18-17 against Djokovic and he didn’t want to become 18-18. Now he is 19-17.

    Arguably, Roger is the best player on the planet right now. He barely lost Wimbledon! He has the most match wins of the year and most top 10 wins in the year. He’s been in 9 finals this year which is mind boggling. I hope that he wins Shanghai and his 4th title of the year. He has been in 4 Masters 1000 finals this year alone. I truly hope that he’ll win Shanghai for the first time – to check off another BOX in his illustrious resume!

    He was in a similar situation in Monte Carlo and he’s got a NASTY opponent in Simon who has beaten him here at this venue in 2008.

    So I predict a tough tough match tomorrow but I hope that Roger will keep his focus and lift this trophy for the first time.

    He got denied in Rome in 2013. He got denied in Monte Carlo in 2014. He cannot be denied tomorrow here! Playing Shanghai would be the most brilliant scheduling decision this year!!! But he has to go out there and win it. It will be very tight and Roger has to be ready!!!!

    Go win it, Roger!!! Allen!

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  5. Hi Vily!

    Chapeau for daring to predict RF victory.

    But please remember your’s first comment ! We should celebrate tomorrow evening.

    Allez Roger !!!

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  6. IF Roger will win tomorrow, then only 90 points will separate no 1 and no 2 in the LIVE ATP race (Djokovich 9010 and Roger 8020).

    Allez Roger !!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I’m sure you meant 990 Rahan. If Roger wins tomorrow it becomes doable if he play Paris. He said he felt fresh after his break so maybe he plans on playing it. But he also said he is not thinking about that now which is of course the right approach. He should be thinking about the final tomorrow.

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    rahan Reply:

    Of course ! Sorry for the mistake :-(

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  7. And a tweet from Greg Sharko:

    Roger wins 60th match of year 11th time in 12 years (60+ wins in a season, excepting of course 2013).

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Also he can top his 2012 season with match wins where he won 71 matches.

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    rahan Reply:

    I hope so ! It will be fantastic !

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  8. Vily, props for your predictions!

    Missed a couple bits of the match here and there, but from what I saw he didn’t have any letdowns. Like Bharata said, he was always focused and fighting even when he missed game points, break points, and match points.

    Djokovic played some of his best tennis, didn’t hand Federer much, served well, hit the ball well, and made his usual miracle retrieving, but he couldn’t keep up with Federer’s attacking, first-strike game.

    Federer served great (the service game where he aced Djokovic four times in a row particularly stands out). His net game was fantastic: he approached on very intelligent shots, hit brilliant volleys and volley combos, and as the match wore on he got better and better at anticipating and covering Djokovic’s tough passing shots.

    He timed and struck the ball very well and was able to stay close to the baseline the whole time. I noticed particularly that he was able to change the direction of the ball mid-rally to wrongfoot Djokovic on key points–a combination of the new racket and perfect footwork. Djokovic got flustered since he couldn’t just leave a neutral rally ball, he had to hit aggressive shots every time, otherwise Federer would put it away for a winner or strike a deep approach ball and come in; it was just too much for him.

    Simon is playing great tennis and Federer has had trouble with him in the past–albeit when he was struggling. We’ve had more than our share of near-misses in Masters finals this year. Here’s hoping he can put this one to bed and notch a 23rd Masters title and his first in Shanghai.

    One thing, Simon is a counterpuncher rather than a first-strike player and will give Federer a lot more time to work the ball. It’s not so much about who can beat the other guy to the punch as it is about tactical execution and mixing it up. The match will be much more on Federer’s racket, the only way he loses is if he beats himself.

    As long as he serves well, doesn’t get sucked into those lengthy, endless rallies, and breaks up Simon’s rhythm with his variety, he’ll come through. C’mon Roger, 加油!

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    Vily Reply:

    Simon is very good at passing shots so Roger HAS to be careful. Playing from the backcourt might serve him well. I don’t want to keep coming and putting pressure on his service games. Simon is one of the few guys that neutralize Roger’s ultra aggressive style. Roger should be smart and take his chances but not be overly confident because it might be trouble. Simon is one nasty cookie. We shoudn’t forget that he pushed Cilic to 5 at the U.S. Open. He knows how to play… Smart tennis tomorrow. No stupid heroics and crazy attacks!

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