Federer Into Brisbane Final After Chardy Scare

Not pretty but a win is a win. I got pretty excited in my last post after Roger’s first two matches, but I was still cautious. Roger’s form improved in the indoor season but it was nothing spectacular. If he was ever going to get back to top from it would take more time. The start in Brisbane was good but the match against Chardy is a reminder that Roger was still losing in straight sets to the likes of Robredo just a few months ago. But you can’t really find fault with a win. Roger started well enough as he broke Chardy’s opening service game. He held serve until he won the 1st set 6-3. Everything was going smoothly and it looked like it would be another routine straight set win. Then at 2-2 in the 2nd set Roger had Chardy at 15-30 on his serve after a deft cross court angle winner with Chardy at the net.

It was a small opening. I think Roger then hesitated and missed a regulation forehand. He was in a position to get the break again but this time he hesitated. This was a constant theme in Roger game last year, the mental lapse in the 2nd set after winning the 1st set. It cost him because they went to the tie break which Chardy won 7-3 after another regulation forehand miss from Roger. Shades of 2013. Then in the 3rd set Chardy just threw it away at 3-4 with a string of errors and a double fault on break point. Roger went ahead and served out the match to love at 5-3 with a 20th ace on match point. As is often the case the serve saved him. Aside from the high number of aces Roger made 59% of his first serves and served 3 doubles. So the serve was definitely a positive that could be taken out of the match.

The serve has been good all week and the new racquet may well assist him a little in that regard. His ground strokes has also looked slightly more powerful. The other positives is that Roger converted 2/3 break points and never dropped serve, facing only 1 break point. So in the end it was a match that reminded of the 2013 Roger but like I said more time will be needed for Roger to get back to his best. I was excited after he destroyed Matosevic but not so much that I’m shattered or anything. I’ve known for a while that the indoor season was just the start of something. It didn’t mean he is now going to dominate 2014. But it is once again progress. Every win is a step closer to his best, even if it is an ugly win. I do however think it is crucial that he wins the title tomorrow. He will revive his old rivalry with Hewitt who had an impressive 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 win over Nishikori.

Nice photo…

It’s inspiring to see Hewitt continuing to do what he loves and still having good results. Him and Roger is the same age and find inspiration from each other. That said they both badly want to win the title and will have no mercy on each other. What I would like to see tomorrow from Roger is another polished performance like in his first two matches. But more importantly he must win the title. If it’s another scrappy win it won’t be ideal but if he starts the year with a title that would be just great. He ended last year well but failed to win a title during the indoor season. So for his confidence winning a title is the next step, even if it is just an ATP 250 event. He just needs to get that winning feeling back. Then he can go to Melbourne with maximum confidence as well. Hewitt will obviously not just roll over.

He is playing at home and he fights for every point. If Roger plays like he did against Matosevic he can for sure win in straight sets. Hopefully today was just an ‘off’ match and Roger would have gained some more confidence by coming through it. Today was overall not the best day for Roger because he lost his doubles too. No problem. As long as he win the singles title it’s all good. I definitely don’t wana see another Halle 2010 final. That would halt the progress Roger has made of late. It’s about steady improvement. We all wana see a new Roger who destroys everyone in his path but it doesn’t work like that. If he is ever gonna taste grand slam glory again he is going to have to get a lot more confident. I don’t even know if it’s possible. A lot of people seem so assured that he will win more slams, let alone just one more.

Personally I am not that convinced. But I don’t need to be because I live in the moment. As long as Roger’s confidence steadily improves I think he can win another slam. The game is still there. But it is clear he is not confident enough yet to win a slam, and only time will tell whether he can build up to that level again. I’m only concerned with the present and right now Roger needs to win a title badly. He only won one title last year in Halle and he needs to see some reward for all the recent progress. Never mind the match against Chardy. If he wins the title it will be all forgotten. Then he can go to Melbourne and if the courts are faster as they say then he can still make an impact. Nadal won the title today in Doha after beating an on fire Monfils 6-1, 6-7, 6-2 in the final, and that after he apparently said he has ‘no chance’ to win the Australian Open…

Highlights:

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22 Comments

  1. Hi Ruan,
    Great post. I was having nightmares of Roger 2013 too in the second set. He looked disheartened and didn’t have the spring in his step we had been seeing all week. But that serve impressed the hell out of me! A reviewer on Tennis.com mentioned that the bigger racket may be helping Fed on his backhand and serve but may be costing him on his forehand which requires a different kind of acceleration and control. What do you think? Also, Chardy is an all or nothing kind of player and that showed today. Hewitt is more steady, with no big weapons per se but an amazing fighter. My sense is that this is 50/50. If it’s a hot and humid day, and the conditions are a factor, Fed will lose if it goes to three sets. IF he plays aggressive first strike tennis, then victory in two. Your thoughts?

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Sakhi. I don’t agree about the forehand. His forehand has looked just fine to me this week, if not bigger than usual. I think Hewitt is the kind of player who can make Roger pay if he is not on his game. For instance if he plays like he did against Chardy Hewitt won’t just throw his serve away like Chardy did in 3rd set. That said Roger did serve very well which made it impossible for Chardy to break and that creates a pressure of its own. But yeah I do think Roger will have to play better than he did today. Then he shouldn’t have any problem beating Hewitt. I’d like to think his chances are better than 50/50 too. He is after all ranked 6th while Hewitt is ranked 60th.

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    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Ru-an and Sakhi. Sakhi, were have you been??
    Ru-an, you are right. May not have been a nice win, but still he fought and won. But…. I saw Hewitt vs Nishi. THIS Hewitt will not lose. He was tired, bothered immensely by the sun, but he fought and fought. Roger is the better player, but if he thinks he can defeat Hewitt just like that, no way…. After like 8 years Hewitt is there in the final so he will win no matter what. Roger better not underestimate him and win fast and in straights or fight himself through it. We know Roger said himself that he will be “fhisically ready” around April, but he really needs to give it all for this title. The season is long, we won’t know exactly what he will win, so it will be nice for him to have atleast one title.
    One point I also want to make is that Roger kind of does not seem to have “two the same matches in a row”. If he destroys Mato then his next match is difficult. So, if he hits 20 aces today and in the final his serve is not the same, then what?? Will Roger win if his serve is not up to it??

    And Ru-an, what about Rafa? Played all his matches 2 mostly 3 sets, over lets say more than 2 hours, Monfils destroys everyone in short matches and in 2 sets (especially Mayer) and still Rafa beats him so “convincingly”…. What is it with this guy??? You should have seen Monfils destroy Mayer with his serve and today??? Rafa could have lost ALL his matches…. but he didn’t. What is it about him that only Novak can beat him and no one else???

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    Alex Reply:

    We do not like Rafa as fed fans but like Ruan has written many times on here, there are some things to admire about him. He is ruthless and fearless, a true warrior who will adapt his game and tactics to meet new challenges. Every single point is important to him, no matter what the scoreline. I’m glad that at least we have Djokovic who will continue fighting for the forces of good against the monster. Meaning that Djokovic is a very likeable guy and a good sport whereas Nadal is definitely not a good sport who will use every dirty trick in the book to win. Of course there are many parts to the equation, some of which we can only speculate even though deep down we know there is something fishy going on. And of course there is the youth factor and that those two are consistent just as federer was back when he was younger.

    AND we are still waiting for Murray to have a breakthrough against Nadal. That would be EPIC.

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  2. Wouldn’t say this match indicates that Federer’s shaky or lacking confidence or anything. In his prime years he had plenty of matches in which he won despite being outplayed for large stretches. There are many ways to win a tennis match besides overwhelming the opponent with a masterclass, and Federer knows them all.

    You have to give some credit to Chardy, he took out Murray in Cincinnati last year, and he showed his talent again. He decided he had no chance to live with Federer from the baseline so he went all-out trying to make first strikes and hit risky shots. It very nearly worked, but eventually he self-destructed and Federer was able to serve it out without any fuss.

    Federer did what he had to do, held serve and waited for Chardy to come down from his high level, which the Frenchman obligingly did. In retrospect, winning the first set before Chardy had a chance to get fully into the groove was very important, it forced Chardy to take big risks and push his game to its limits just to catch up to Federer.

    The conditions might have made a difference, this was his first day match in Brisbane and the ball flies more in the hotter, quicker conditions which might have aided Chardy’s super-aggressive game plan.

    Hewitt is a very wily and dogged competitor and he knows all the tricks. He won’t give up on any balls and Federer will have to play extremely well to beat him, especially since Hewitt will have the home crowd on his side. It’s a day match so the conditions might favor Hewitt (Federer prefers the cooler, damper conditions where he has more time to work the ball).

    The X-factor is whether Federer has adjusted sufficiently to the new racket to be able to execute his game plan. Hewitt is one of those players who has to be beaten, his game is steady and consistent and doesn’t collapse.

    If Federer is playing his best game, Hewitt loses (as the record shows). But if he’s not, Hewitt has a puncher’s chance. And as we’ve seen for many years, Hewitt always takes his chances. So it’s up to Federer to make sure he stays on top of Hewitt and doesn’t give him any opportunities.

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  3. As long as he keeps serving a lot of aces, no problems with the serve ;-) He hasn’t been broken all week! Just needs to work on the return and that shouldn’t be too difficult, considering Hewitt’s serve isn’t great.

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  4. Ruan..I think you are severely underestimating how well Chardy can play in patches.. You obviously did not see him play against Del Potro last Australian open when on that day he had believe it or not, the bigger forehand..

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Why do you think that? I said before the match he is your typical French shot maker but inconsistent, and that is exactly what he proved again vs Roger.

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  5. WTF is going on? Am watching the match live –Fed has made more unforced errors than I’ve ever seen him make at the beginning of a match, looks out of sorts and is down two breaks. This might be over in an hour.

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  6. I’m watching this and it is a dire situation. The sun in gonna be coming in as well in the second set. Fed must be tired and the heat is not doing him any favors. He will lose this match.

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    Alex Reply:

    I was hoping to jinx it but in the end I called it. Pretty sad stuff.

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  7. He looks tired — i think the heat and the five sets he played yesterday has done him in. I’m watching the tennistv.com feed and the aussie commentators are saying how stiff he looks and it could be his back. oh no.

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  8. okay, now we’re on again. fed seems to have woken up and taken a set off hewitt. let’s hope he can stay focused and win! what a roller coaster. somehow even if he loses, this isn’t as stressful as watching him lose to nadal!! go fed! keep serving those aces and this will be over soon.

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  9. Roger slices and chips way too much on his second serve return. This is a bad habit that he really needs to fix. That kind of return poses no threat to his opponent and has hurt Roger repeatedly on break points and other big points as well.

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    David C. Reply:

    I am talking about the backhand side return, of course.

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  10. Well, it’s quite frustrating to watch. Roger is having the same old problems again and again, e.g. can’t convert on break points, backhand errors, play badly on the big points…etc. He really needs to play a bit differently and also much better.

    I also think with another baby on the way, I am not sure if Fed realizes that it makes things even more challenging for his tennis career. Sorry I sound too negative here, but if this is Roger’s level now, I am afraid he will fall off the top 10 soon. I really hope I am wrong and that he can win at least another major, but things are not looking good at this point.

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    Ken Reply:

    Well said David. After seeing another pathetic performance from Federer today, he’ll most likely fall out of Top 10 soon, may be even Top 20. It was excruciating to watch him throw away point after point needlessly on backhand and even on forehand side. What a waste.

    I’d be very surprised if he even reaches the quarterfinals of the Australian Open this year. With this level of play he’s not going past the first week of any Grand Slam this year.

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  11. I have to say that even though Federer lost, and made all those dreadful unforced errors, it was still a fun match to watch. The Aussies love him so much and Hewitt was equally respectful in his speech. I just think Fed was tanked –he looked tired after having played so much tennis this week. I think he will be in fine fettle by the Aussie Open. Remember folks, it’s still a new racket, and as Ruan said, it will probably take a few months before we know what Fed can still do!

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  12. What can I say? I had my doubts about Roger. I just felt that as much as I wanted him to win this title badly, it would have been a little to easy and too soon to reap the benefits from the switch to the new racquet but it would sure be nice.

    Roger is struggling, that’s for sure. He’s getting better though. It’s a little bitter sweet because Roger was really in a position to win this having the great H2H against Hewitt. I should have known better though.

    This time, however, I’ll be a bit more patient with Roger and give him more time. Nevertheless, his chances for Australia will take hit based on this.

    I still think that he can probably reach the QFs but anything farther than that will be hard to achieve at this point.

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