Federer Uses Experience to Get Past Schwartzman In Istanbul

(Just a quick note to let you know that someone told me today that they are not able to view the reader comments on their Ipad with my new theme, and that I am working on the issue)

  • Federer vs Schwartzman

So another nailbiter today as Roger scraped by Schwartzman 2-6, 6-2, 7-5. For the third time this week Roger played against someone with no serious weapons, and for the second time he struggled mightily. But at least he is winning. One of Federer 4.0’s main characteristics is his mental strength and ability to win ugly and grind out matches. The other one is, of course, his improved net game. So at least he is staying true to Fed 4.0 by grinding out wins against lesser opponents.

It’s not pretty, but a win is a win. I have already said if he wins the tournament he would have done his job. Schwarzman is 5’7” and, therefore, doesn’t have a single big weapon, but he has solid ground strokes and moves quite well too. Things were looking bleak when Roger lost the first set 6-2. Had he lost this match it would have qualified as one of his worst clay court losses to date, but fortunately he reversed the first set score and from there on it was just a question of waiting for Schwartzman to choke.

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And Schwartzman did just that when serving at 5-6 in the third set to stay in the match. From 15-15, he made three straight unforced errors to hand the victory to Roger. That is what you call using experience to get the job done. Roger was clearly still struggling, but he knew if he hung in there long enough his lesser experienced opponent would probably fold. Also the fact that he was serving first in the third set did not hurt. Roger’s break point conversion rate was pathetic again and this time his first serve percentage was quite low too.

But against Schwartzman who he such a small guy that didn’t hurt him too much. I like the way Roger is still winning despite playing poorly. That shows me Fed 4.0 is still around. But he does need to win the title against Cuevas tomorrow for an 85th title. Like I said at the beginning of the week, that would cancel out what happened in Monte Carlo and give him a much-needed confidence boost going to Madrid. A title is a title. They all count. Cuevas is a good player though as he showed today by beating Dimitrov 6-2, 6-4.

  • The Cuevas Factor

Another thing I said earlier this week was that Dimitrov probably won’t make the final, and he was once again very disappointing against Cuevas. Fame seems to be more important to him that tennis which is why I don’t have time for him. As for Cuevas, he is ranked 23rd and has won three titles, all on clay. They were all won in the last couple of years too. Roger has never played him before which make things a little harder. I saw some of Cuevas today and was quite impressed.

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He doesn’t have any huge weapons either but he is a clay courter after all and he clearly knows what it takes on the surface. If Roger wants to win the title he is going to have to improve from his last two matches. He is now playing against a guy who has actually won ATP titles. I am looking forward to a good contest. I am expecting Roger to play better too after grinding out two tough matches. If he wins the title Fedfans can look forward to Madrid with renewed hope but if he loses he has serious problems.

  • Kyrgios and Thiem

Finally, Kyrgios and Thiem was playing today in Estoril and Munich respectively. Kyrgios had another good win over Carreno-Busta and will play against Gasquet tomorrow for the title while Thiem had a disappointing 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3 loss to Melzer. I watched that match and Thiem lost the match in the first set tie-break. He led 4-1 with two serves to come, missed a sitter at 4-4, and double faulted at 5-5. A mental collapse that maybe has to do with the fact that he played his own countryman.

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Thiem is usually mentally strong and playing your own countryman often creates a different kind of pressure. I’m not too worried. At least he got two clay court wins under his belt. He is still young and I have high hopes for him. Also in Munich, Murray has made it all the way to the final where he will play Kohlschreiber. So he could well win his first clay court title tomorrow and become a real factor on clay this year. I still don’t think he has a great game for clay, but he can surely have some good results and beat top players.

  • Highlights

  • Stats

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The  is in your court.

Posted in ATP 250, Istanbul.

16 Comments

  1. Federer badly wants this title I think. With this final he has made a clay court final 15 years in a row. Not bad for a guy who is supposed to be really bad at clay I think. Also think Federer will want to do well in Madrid as well because if he withdraws from Rome he could be really undercooked come Wimbledon. Also I think he will want to test himself against a falling Nadal.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    ‘Not bad for a guy who is supposed to be really bad at clay I think.’

    Who said Roger is bad at clay? He is one of the best on the surface of all time.

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    OMG that was me trying to be sarcastic with all the people saying he is useless in clay nowadays..

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Fair enough but how am I supposed to sense sarcasm over the Internet?

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    My bad. Anyway I still think Fed really needs to decide how he wants to play to win clay court matches. He can’t keep going three sets everytime at his age.

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    And I just saw Cuevas vs Dimitrov highlights. This guy could be a real test for Roger. He looks better than Schwartzman and Gimeno Traver !!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Well, he needs to attack the net as always. He should have done that on clay even when he was at his physical peak. If he did he would have fared much better vs Nadal. But instead he tried to beat him from the baseline.

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    That’s true but I am not talking about streamlining his game to beat Nadal, I was talking more about putting away journey men a little easier. If we look at his last 10 losses in clay it reads: Monfils, Monfils, Gulbis, Chardy, Wawrinka, Brands, Delbonis, Tsonga, Nadal, Nishikori. Only one of these is to Nadal and none to Djokovic. Mind you this was 2013 Nishikori who is not the player he is today. So basically he first needs to figure out a way to win matches comfortably against others. Like how he was winning matches in hard courts this year – from Dubai to the Indian Wells he didn’t drop a set. I know Monfils and Tsonga can be considered big players but definitely don’t think Roger should have lost those matches if he played his A game.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I wasn’t talking about Nadal either. He is just playing poorly. There is nothing wrong with his approach. He just needs to find his game on clay.

    [Reply]

  2. I think we should be happy that Roger is able to grind out the win in these kinds of matches,rather than worrying about his from being poor. As you mentioned, this is one of the improvements seen in Fed 4.0 from other versions. It’s reasonable to say that Nadal has won close to 50% of his matches just by hanging in it and letting his opponent fold. Fed didn’t use to do that in his prime, but till 2007 it didn’t matter since he used to win 90% of the matches anyway. Only since 2008 when he started declining it started to affect him a lot. Now it’s kind of inevitable for Fed to ‘win ugly’ in these kind of matches, especially on clay, since he has to adjust his game a lot on the surface.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Good post, Nakul. He definitely needs to grind it our more these days. Just can’t afford to throw in the towel if things don’t go his way on a given day.

    [Reply]

  3. Cracking new look on this ‘ultimate tennis blog’ been a busy boy Ru-an congrats. I’m really glad to see that Fed won even if it looks as though he’s not playing his best, good to see him having to grind it out. I didn’t watch the other semi final, Dimitrov just doesn’t do it for me sorry to the Dimtrov fans. Somehow or other to me this court just doesn’t seem like a regular claycourt, haven’t seen any of the slides that usually comes with reaction to drop shots etc., of course maybe I’ve just been watching the wrong matches! Was just thinking when I was watching Fed sign all these autographs he must truly be exhausted when he finally gets to sit down….he sure gives the tournament his time so today hope for a good match so C’mon Roger x

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thank you, Elizabeth!

    [Reply]

  4. Well Federer squandered 4 match points in that nervy tiebreak, 3 on serve I think…fortunately Cuevas chocked a bit on his own set points and finally Federer grabbed the initiative. Well I think he will feel good about winning a tight one, and the 1st set was high quality from him. But you can see he will have trouble on clay from now on, as there are no easy matches for him and his backhand is exposed. Too many UEs on neutral rallies, his opponents are not stupid…

    Annoyingly there seems to be an agreement to ignore Madrid 2012’s clay victory (the blue clay). Even Federer didnt’ correct the interviewer when she said it was his first win since 2009 ‘on red clay’ as if Madrid does not count…

    [Reply]

    steve Reply:

    He played a lot of choky, garbage points in the TB but the last few points were high-quality from Federer, not just Cuevas’ mistakes. Cuevas didn’t choke on his last set point–Federer produced an amazing, laser-like backhand DTL return winner off a pretty good serve that left Cuevas stranded in no-man’s land. And Federer came up with a perfectly placed volley to get his final match point.

    Agree it’s annoying that everyone has collectively decided to forget about Federer’s blue clay title–the only one in the history of the men’s game now that the ATP caved and made Tiriac switch back to red clay. However, the point is taken that it played very differently from red clay, and since all the tournaments are on red clay, he’ll have to get used to playing on it if he wants to win more clay titles.

    This is an important title for him, not just to introduce himself to a new fanbase but to get that winning feeling back on clay after three years without a clay title (six years without a red clay title). Can’t say he didn’t earn this one as he was made to work quite hard from the QFs onward. I think it’s been quite educational for him, in that it helped him to figure out what works and what doesn’t work in his new game plan on clay.

    It should be good preparation for Madrid and RG (possibly Rome, depending on how he feels after Madrid).

    [Reply]

    Bharata Reply:

    Thanks for correcting me – you are right about the good play at the end, I ignored that fine backhand return winner when Cuevas tried to serve and volley. The stream I was following kept on cutting off during the points (it magically would work between points) so I could not see much of the rallies in the tiebreaker. I’m glad to hear he really ‘won’ it and not just relied on a choke.

    [Reply]

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