Federer Gets the Key Win Over Del Potro, Sets Up First Meeting with Djokovic in 2013

Hi folks. There were three reasons why I thought this was a key match:

  1. Roger had lost his last three matches with Del Potro which cost him two Basel titles. He needed to set the record straight.
  2. Roger needs to gauge his game against the best right now, namely Djokovic.
  3. Roger has to keep the momentum from Basel going into the rest of the indoor season. A loss to Del Potro today would have halted his progress.

I have emphasized the importance of the indoor season enough after Roger’s confidence was at an all time low this year. It can make a huge difference to his year and to his form in 2014 if he ends this year on a high. This match against Del Potro is about half way through his indoor season and with the win he confirms that he is back. Making the semis at Paris is a better result than making the finals in Basel not only because he gets more ranking points out of it, but also because he beat Del Potro this time. Thus we can be sure he is still growing in confidence and gaining momentum. I said I would like to see him make semis here and he delivered. Anything from here on is a bonus for me. Building confidence after the low that Roger reached is a gradual process, and I don’t expect him to beat Djokovic now. Not saying he can’t, but I’m not putting any pressure on him to do so.

4/6…

But let me get back to the match against Del Potro quickly. I felt Roger had a great chance of winning this but I’m very careful to put expectations on Roger these days. Roger had a break chance in the opening game but missed a forehand when he was in control of the point. Other than that Roger came out looking awfully sharp and set up another break point at 2-1 after a beautifully constructed point which he finished with a pleasing volley. He then broke after hitting a short chip return which resulted in Del Potro making an unforced error. I don’t like the chip returns unless they are either very deep or very short. It was an effective play because it was short enough and stayed nice and low which especially for a tall guy like Del Potro can be tough to control. At 3-1 Roger held serve with two consecutive drop shot winners, the last one of which was particularly pleasing.

Things continued going with serve and Roger won the 1st set 6-3. It was the sharpest I had seen him since the Australian Open. He made 77% first serves and had a winner to unforced error ratio of 17-4 after the 1st set. He then had a break point in the first game of the 2nd set but started looking hesitant and failed to convert. Things went according to serve until 4-5 with Roger serving to stay in the set. Immediately he looked hesitant again and made a string of unforced errors to drop serve. It was a clear case of cracking under pressure but I was expecting Del Potro to take a set at least anyway, and I was still optimistic about Roger’s chances. At 2-2 Roger broke Del Potro to love after some beautiful base line play. The celebrations from Fedfans were short lived though as Del Potro broke right back in the next game to level at 3-3.

Convinced? Not quite convinced?

Again there was hesitation from Roger. Fortunately he broke again right away to take a 4-3 lead, and this time he had no problem consolidating to lead 5-3. For good measure he broke Del Potro again instead of having to serve it out. So in the end he ran away with the 3rd set after the lapse in the 2nd set. The match stats were as good as you will see them from Roger. The serve has really clicked of late which of course is a key shot for Roger when he is playing well. The net play has been very good too. In the end confidence solves everything. But of course it doesn’t hurt that Roger is playing indoors right now. It’s a lot harder for him to play like this outdoors, but it’s a start. Next up is Djokovic then and I was gonna say I look at this match as something fun. If Roger wins it then great, but that is not the first thing I am trying to get out of this match.

It’s the first time this year they face off after Djokovic dismissed Stan 6-1, 6-4 today. He is obviously on a rich run of form and will be very tough to beat. With the way Roger is currently playing and improving with every match you certainly wouldn’t put it beyond him to be victorious, but it is important for him to see where he stands with Djokovic right now too. If he loses he will take a lot from it and if they face off at London again he will know what to expect. He can lose to him tomorrow and still beat him in London, like he did with Del Potro in Basel and Paris. He may not be quite confident enough yet to beat Djokovic, and the slightest hesitation or lapse will cost him the match. But you better believe if he loses and faces Djokovic again in London he would be in with a great shot of winning. And London is where it matters most.

 

Highlights: 

Interview:

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16 Comments

  1. This was a great match! I was really happy with Federer. Serving, defense, net points won, winners to errors ratio, seems like everything starting to click. Roger’s confidence is building more and more, which like you said is crucial. I hope for a win tomorrow but won’t hold it against him if he loses . Thanks for the quick write- up. Gasquet choked against Nadal, absolutely no fighting spirit! Looking for to tomorrow.

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    Dave Reply:

    Sorry, looking foward to.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    No worries Dave. I didn’t watch Nadal vs Gasquet because only one outcome is possible. Don’t care for Berdych vs Ferrer either. I don’t care about the top half for that matter. NAdal will make the final and face Roger or Djokovic. Nice to see you added a pic.

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  2. Hi Ru-an, Greetings to you. Have been looking forward to your blogs on each of Roger’s matches as I have not been able to watch his matches. Always was eager to find out the results, so great to see Roger doing well. The stats today show positive…. Bravo Roger, keep up the good work.
    Thanks for all your well stated blogs, Ru-an.
    Kindly,
    Dolores

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Nice to hear from you as always Dolores. I’m glad you find my blog useful.

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  3. I am very happy with Roger right now.. He beat Del Potro today which is great for his confidence and for his game. The indoor season has been a great reset point for Roger and I am impressed.

    It would be great if he can take it one or two steps further but will see.

    One match at a time! :-)

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  4. Allez!!!! Roger was fantastic!! Djoker will be VERY tough next round. Stan played really excellent tennis and still got schooled. Wow. Don’t care about Fed winning, just want to see him play clean and FIGHT until the last point.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I think it will be a good match Eric. Djokerer matches usually are. They match up well. Fed will try to be the aggressor and Djokovic will come up with some unbelievable defensive plays again. It will be close. It will be a question of whether Roger can impose his game on Djokovic and win a couple of key points. I think the game is there to beat Djokovic but not sure about the mental side yet. He may just not be confident enough to believe he can beat Djokovic yet and falter on a couple of key points. Then again he could just surprise us.

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  5. And by the way… Am I in a Fed induced high or are we seeing some unbelievable tennis lately? Nadal/ Jersey was really fun, Stan/Djoker excellent, Delpo/Dimitrov was great, even Isner. Good time to be a tennis fan and if this keeps up the WTFinals are gonna be epic!

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  6. Ruan, I would also like to thank you for your timely blogs, especially of late. I certainly appreciate your efforts in keeping me personally informed of Roger’s matches. If it weren’t for you, I would have to check the net somewhere so thanks a bunch! Keep up the great work.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    No problem Karrie and thanks. I enjoy it.

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  7. Ru-an, to be honest Ferrer is a fighter, but against Rafa?? Do we have to even watch that match??
    Unfortunately I cannot watch Roger’s match, but would it not be nice if he would beat Novak? Kind of revenge the loss of the WTF 2012 where HE should have won?? What chance does Roger have against Novak?
    Like you I am already proud of Roger. But so hope he wins today…

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    Ru-an Reply:

    They will probably play again in London. I’d prefer he wins there if he had to lose one.

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  8. This is the smartest match Federer’s played in some time, perhaps all year. Besides the all-important serve, he was moving really well, that was key to his ability to mix it up and outfox Del Potro in the rallies. He kept very good length on his groundstrokes, didn’t leave too many mid court balls hanging for Del Potro to punish, and changed the pace, using a lot of biting slices and short chips/drop shots.

    Since Del Potro won his first Grand Slam, Federer was 1-4 against Del Potro in indoor matches, until today. So it was very important for him to get this one.

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  9. Good effort from Federer, was not sure he had enough in the tank to down a red-hot Djokovic after such a draining match against Del Potro. If he’d had more confidence, he probably could have won in straight sets, but having only recently come into good form, he was just a little hesitant in that second set and it cost him. At least he still has a bit of time to improve in London.

    For the WTF, Federer’s been drawn with Djokovic and Del Potro in his group, along with Gasquet. Nadal has the easy group, with Berdych Ferrer, and Wawrinka, none of whom would have the nerve to win even if they started 6-0, 5-0, 40-0 up and Nadal was playing on one good leg. Someone upstairs wants to ensure Nadal an easy path to the semis–WTF, indeed.

    With Federer’s luck (he’s ranked 5 in the world right now) he’ll get Djokovic right off the bat and Del Potro for the second match. Only good news is that he gets some days off between matches.

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  10. I actually think that Roger thanked this match. He’ll have no break between Bercy and London so this loss will give him more time to recover.

    I think that with a bit if luck he can beat Del Po, Gasquet and Djokovic in his group. He took a set off Djokovic today so he is on the right track.

    If there was a week between London and Bercy I would have wanted Roger to push and fight a bit more today, but with the current schedule the loss will do more good for Roger and he’ll get much needed rest…

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